|Air Hockey Tables||Air Hockey Parts & Accessories|
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Air hockey tables have been around since the mid 1970's and were first developed by Brunswick. These air hockey tables were designed to resemble an ice hockey rink and are played in a similar manner. Game play has players attempting to hit a puck into the opposing players goal. Pucks ride on a smooth play field surface that has holes spaced every square inch. A powerful stream of air flows up and out of the holes creating a cushion of air that supports the weight of the air hockey puck and providing very fast and exciting game play.
Each player has a goalie mallet, often called strikers or paddles that they hit the puck with. Some mallet designs provide for some very hard hitting play that sometimes causes the puck to leave the surface of the table. Air hockey tables must be designed with the right rail height and just the right amount of air flow to support the weight of the puck to prevent puck fly-offs. Trying to use air hockey pucks that are too small or light in weight will cause the puck to leave the playing surface of the air hockey table. More on air hockey pucks next time.
Air hockey tables come in several different sizes that range from 4 foot table top air hockey games for kids to full size 8 foot game tables. When choosing an air hockey table, be sure to get the largest air hockey table that you can afford and that will fit in your available space. You will get much more enjoyment playing air hockey on a larger table.
There are many air hockey table choices for your home or commercial game room. Smaller air hockey games are perfect for small children in the 5 to 10 age group. These tend to be made up of table top games and combination game tables that include both air hockey, pool and sometimes ping pong on the same table.
Most home game rooms benefit most from an air hockey table in the 6 to 7 foot size range. These tables tend to be priced in the $600 to $800 price range and are perfect for the 10+ aged youth. These 6 and 7 foot tables are inexpensive and require minimum floor space while still being large enough for everyone to enjoy playing. Unlike pool tables, air hockey tables can be pushed up against a wall and do not require space all the way around the table.
Not long ago you would have to purchase a commercial coin operated air hockey table to get real arcade game play for the home game room. Now there are several coin op game manufacturers who build a line of commercial quality air hockey tables made especially for the home game room. These air hockey tables are essentially the same commercial games they build for coin operation, but without the coin accepting equipment. These home air hockey games have the same heavy duty cabinet, legs and playing surface of the commercial models. When you opt for manual scoring over electronic scoring, you can get great playing arcade quality air hockey tables at surprisingly low prices. Great American Recreation has a complete line of air hockey tables for the home game room. These tables are also great for churches, boys and girls clubs, company employee lounges and other civic organizations wanting a quality air hockey table available with free game play.
Next time we will discuss air hockey puck care and replacement information.
Air hockey pucks come in many sizes and weights. Each puck must be correctly matched to your size and style air hockey table. All commercial quality 7 and 8 foot air hockey tables use 3 1/4 inch pucks. While most 7 foot size tables use the full size 3 1/4 inch pucks, some use 2 1/2 inch pucks. These 7 foot air hockey tables are generally tables made for the home game room. All 6 foot and under air hockey tables use a 2 1/2 inch puck. Most of the 4 to 5 foot table top and free standing air hockey games for children use a special light weight 2 1/2" puck. It is important to use these lighter weight pucks on these tables for free movement of the pucks. Air hockey pucks ride on a cushion of air that is blown up thru holes in the air hockey table's top. If too heavy a puck is used on a smaller table, the puck will not glide around the play field easily. On the same token, if too light a puck is used on a larger air hockey table, the puck is much more likely to fly off of the table top.
Air hockey pucks must be perfectly smooth on each side to ride on the cushion of air and give good game play. As pucks wear, they can become scratched, chipped on the edges or even cracked. Any dirt, dent, bump or chip will let air to escape from under the puck producing sluggish puck performance. While is is possible to extend the life of a puck by cleaning, scraping or sanding each bottom; often it is a better practice to replace the puck. Air hockey pucks are relatively inexpensive and they always find a way to disappear right when you want to play air hockey most. So replace your air hockey puck and buy a few spares just in case.
Some tips on keeping pucks riding smoothly on the play field are include placing a piece of fine sand paper on a flat surface, grasp the puck and lightly sand each side so that it is smooth as possible. If the puck has nicks on the edges, you can often use a knife to scrape away the high points of the bottoms before sanding. Replace the puck once they become very uneven. You can spray a light coat of silicone spray lubricant into a clean rag and wipe the bottoms of the pucks and wipe the top of the air hockey table. This will clean and speed up game play, but be careful not to apply too much as the puck may tend to fly off the air hockey table more. You can also get special air hockey cleaner and wax to clean and polish your air hockey top. Be sure to follow the directions on the bottle for proper application.
Whether you call them air hockey pushers, paddles, strikers, mallets or goalie mallets; there are some things any air hockey player needs to know about the care and replacement of air hockey goalie mallets.
Air hockey goalie mallets are a important component to a air hockey table. They must be matched in size and weight for your size air hockey table and your playing style. Air hockey goalie mallets come in sizes as small as 2 3/4 inch in diameter for 4 and 5 foot table top and small free standing air hockey games for children. These are light weight mallets that are easily held by children and contain the correct weight for the size and weight air hockey puck they are designed to strike. Most medium sized 6 and 7 foot air hockey tables designed for the home game room use lighter weight 4 inch diameter mallets with most of these having felt pad bottoms. Coin operated and commercial quality air hockey tables use a heavy weight 4 inch diameter mallet without felt pad bottoms.
Should we use felt pads on the bottom of our air hockey goalie mallets is a common question we get. Felt bottom mallets are usually used on low to medium priced air hockey tables. The felt pads can help cut down on table top wear and reduce noise at the cost of reducing reaction time, accuracy and control. For this reason competitive air hockey players and most commercial quality air hockey tables use goalie mallets without felt pads.
Air hockey goalie mallets do wear out and can get chipped on the edges from dropping on a hard floor or become scratched and dirty on the bottom from long use. While it is possible to extend the useful life of mallets by regular cleaning of the bottoms and lightly sanding the bottoms smooth again, the best practice is to replace air hockey goalie mallets when damaged. While using mallets with felt pads can help with reducing wear on your air hockey table, it can do just the opposite if your felt pads become dirty. Trapped dirt in the pads can act like sand paper, scratching and wearing your air hockey table top. Regular inspection of the mallet for chips and replacement of your mallet felt pads can keep this wear at a minimum.
Complete air hockey accessory kits are available that contain all the playing accessories needed to complete or replace your worn or damaged items. These generally contain playing goalie mallets, pucks, table cover and cleaner all in one convenient kit.
Cleaning and polishing your air hockey table top is essential to it's game play and long life. Air hockey cleaner and wax is available to speed up play and preserve your game table top.
The first step in cleaning is to turn the air powered fan on. You want to start the flow of air through the top before starting to keep dirt or liquid from flowing into the table top causing damage and plugging up the air flow holes. Once the table blower is running, clean the top with a micro fiber or soft cotton cloth that has been lightly dampened with a small amount of mild detergent (dish washing detergent works well) and water solution. Never use an abrasive or harsh cleaner as these can scratch and damage the surface. Wipe the table top all over taking care to not over wet the top. Any blobs of dirt, spills or other foreign objects need to be carefully scraped off if needed. You want to get the entire surface as smooth and clean as possible. Next go back over the table top with a cloth lightly dampened with just water to remove any detergent left on the surface.
After the air hockey table top has dried and with the air hockey table fans still running, put a small amount of good quality table top polish such as Wildcat 125 on and into a clean soft cloth. Use the wax sparingly to prevent it from getting into the air holes. Cover the entire surface evenly. As the polish dries it will begin turning white. Once the polish has completely dried just take another dry clean cloth and buff the table top out to a high gloss. Be sure to do the same thing to your air hockey accessories including the bottoms of your goalie mallets and pucks after being sure they are in good serviceable condition. If you have felt pads, check them for dirt and wear. If they are dirty or worn, replace them. Play a game and see the improvement. It you desire even faster game play you can try spraying a very light coat of pure silicone spray lubricant over the top of the table and buff out with a clean cloth. This will really speed up your game play but may cause pucks to fly off the table more often, so be careful. To keep your table clean with minimum maintenance, you should always cover your table with a good air hockey table cover when not in use.
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