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
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: