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Shopping for a Pool Table

If you are shopping for a pool table and you cannot justify the cost of a new Diamond table, I recommend that you try to find a used Brunswick Gold Crown.  Look in local classified ads, ask at shops and pool rooms, and place a want to buy (WTB) post on the rec.sport.billiard newsgroup.

Folks like Gold Crowns mainly because they play about as well or better than anything else.  What really sold me was the way they are built.  Crawl under one and have a look. The frame is the most massive I have seen.  (The Diamond has a much smaller frame but they claim its laminated timbers make it as strong or stronger than a GC frame.  I have no reason to dispute this).  Most tables in the $2000 to $3000 have a Diamond sized (or smaller) frame that is just regular lumber.  The GC slate frames are of sizable stock.  The rail bolts thread into metal plates that are captive inside the rails, not just screwed on to the bottom (which you don't know until you take one apart).   (Other tables' rails may be made like this way as well.  The older Brunswicks have plates, but good ones.)  The legs are the least overbuilt part of a GC but they are still very good.

There were so many used in pool rooms in the 60's and 70's that you should always be able to track one down.  With Dufferin house cues (much better than the usual Valley cues that are standard here in the Indy area), Brunswick Centennial balls, and Simonis 760 or Granito 2000 cloth (I have the Granito, but I think that the Simonis is better) you'll have a table that plays better and will last longer than a new "name brand" table at the same price.

Gold Crowns are not perfect.  Many complain that the pocket sizes are not consistent (sometimes even on one table).  The edges of the pocket castings are very sharp on some (and it can be hard to find an old one that does not have ashtrays in two corners).  The plastic pocket liners don't fit too well and they leave black stuff on your cue and on occasion the balls.  Most GCs will have dings in the Formica rails from balls bouncing on them.  But, given that you can likely get one for $2500 to $3000 loaded and installed, and a Diamond starts at around $3500 for just the table, it's not a hard choice (at least for penny-pinchers like me).   As to buying such an old table, not to worry.  I bought mine in 1988.   It's now over 30 years old.  It's still as solid as any table I have seen, and it's 30 year old Brunswick Monarch cushions are as lively as those on any new table on which I have played (including a new Diamond and Gold Crown).  In fact my table mechanic (who now just restores antique tables) feels that the old Monarch cushions will outlast all of the cushions that are being manufactured today.

The Anniversary was the GC's predecessor.  It has interesting industrial/art deco styling and would be a good table as well.  Later ones had ugly Formica rails, but earlier ones were all Mahogany.  The Continental used what look to be GC rails and pocket castings, straight aprons, and "home table style" legs.  The frame is similar to a GC's, but is of box construction rather than being solid timbers.  I'm guessing that maybe 1/2 the price of a GC would be a fair price?  The bottom of the commercial line was the Sport King.    It appears to use Anniversary rails with plain aprons and post legs.   The frame is made of timbers about 1/2 to 1/3 the thickness of a GC's timbers.    A real find would be a Centennial, which is basically a gussied-up Anniversary.

In 1969, near the end of the boom, a 9' Gold Crown retailed for $1000, a Continental was $770, and a Sport King was $690.  A used Gandy Big G would also be a pretty good table.  And of course a used Diamond if you can find one.

So what do you do once you find one?  You refurbish it so that it looks like this:

 

 

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