Saturday, August 30, 2014

Introducing... BAYWATCH!

I am soooo excited to have this here.  Back when I first got back in to pinball, Baywatch was high on my list of machines to own and here it is!
It fit 2 great criteria:  Cheap (thank you cheeseball theme!) and Awesome (thank you, expansive playfield loaded with great shots!)

The guy who lent me Beat The Clock had lent me this game as well, but I quickly realized it was not going anywhere.

I will do a huge teardown in the fall, as the game needs a deep shop job.  I have a stack of stuff coming in.
Ordered some replacements plastics from Bay Area Amusements.
Ordered a snapped wire actuator arm from Pinball Parts Australia.
Ordered an external battery holder and some metal bits from Pinball Resource.
Ordered a full rubber kit, new bottom translite trim, light brackets, replacement coil and other things from Marco Specialties.
And finally, ordered a giant bucket of LEDs from Comet Pinball.

Once assembled, I will be stripping most everything off the playfield, getting all of it working 100%, deep cleaning, moving to full LED lighting, and slowly putting it all back together.

Technical report coming LATER, but for now here is a shot of it with the head off:

Thursday, August 28, 2014

new adventures in leg cleaning!

I took a trip to Home Depot and picked up:
- a 3 foot long piece of ABS tubing, 3" diameter.
- An end cap for it
- a cap with a screw on lid
- some ABS cement, and safety goggles.
A quick google gave me the tips for how to best use the ABS cement, and I affixed both ends without issue out on my back deck.  I let it cure for 2 hours while I made dinner.

What I was left with was a tightly sealed tunnel the perfect size for soaking pinball legs in Evapo-Rust!

Looking down the tube with a leg in it...
Remember that scene in Tank Girl where she is shoved down that ever slimming tube?  *shudder*

Rust spots on the legs...


Black painted legs:  The rust had ruined the black paint areas, but when the rust is gone the damage it did is ever more striking.  Treated, on the left.  Untreated, on the right.

And even the hardware bits got a soak for a few hours:


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Beat The Clock: summarizing what needs to be done.

I've loved my time with Beat The Clock, but at this point almost all of the issues are beyond my current skills, and I will probably be returning it to it's owner.  Looking much nicer, and playing better, and with a checklist of maintenance items to eventually look at.  :)

I did a more thorough investigation to how some of the switches were causing the pops to fire.
I went through more methodically, with the glass off, trying each switch multiple times.  I found that there is a major problem with the switches getting triggered.  I noted all of the misfires, and went to the switch matrix in the manual.  We can see an obvious pattern:

The switch matrix, and I circled switches that when closed would sometimes close another switch.
Horizontal switch corruption!
First though: this wasn't perfect.  Not every single time did I press the "S" target did the right bumper activate, but often.
And Second:  I am not 100% if the inverses are true, it is just most apparent when a solenoid goes off, or the ball randomly ends. (see bottom row: so many things can trigger the outhole switch by accident)

I am guessing this switch corruption is also responsible for how when the ball goes in to the shooter lane, some points can be scored immediately, thus starting the clock prematurely.

Stuffed in with the manual I found a colour printout of a picture of someone else's Beat The Clock.  This confirmed what I had suspected:  That the guides to the left and right of the flippers were non-original.  The right one works great, but the left flipper's plastic is shaped odd, allowing the ball to rest within it's nook/cranny:

yeah that's a great place for a ball to nuzzle in.

Here is a rough zoom-in on the pic:
the original metal guide contours to the flippers' umm.. roundness?

So if a Beat The clock ever gets parted out in the future?  Those lane guides would be a great piece to snag and improve the game play with.

Other things  being done?
As said before I am ordering drops from Pinball Resource.  The "Star+Lines" drops.  And new springs.
A line cord with a ground needs to be installed to avoid shocks.
Replace/fix the 3 lights sockets that are still not working (50k drops bonus, 5k bonus count on bottom, B top rollover)
Also getting a new battery to replace the old old old one, and hopefully it will retain settings again.
On that note, here is a quick reference in how to get the machine back to working when in the test menu:
Option 27: set to 3  (turn on full sound)
Option 32: set to 65 (free play)
and then if the gain still doesn't start, check:
Option 10: set to 5 (if there is a corrupted value ended in 00, game will not start)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

installing LEDs in an EM: my guide

I posted up some advice about using LEDs in this thread on MAACA, so I thought I should repost it here...

Hi! I have put LEDs in a handful of EMs so far, all to great success.
You are looking for #44s/Bayonet base (they rotate, so NOT the 555s)
I order all of my lights from and am very happy with their prices, products, and ability to ship things with no duty getting charged.

For above the playfield I use almost all white lights. My rule is: if the bulb can be seen while playing, I use frosted "warm white". If the bulb is not directly visible, I use frosted "Natural white" (which are brighter).
Often the only coloured LEDs I use above the playfield are to match the rollover guide plastics at the top.

Under the playfield, I will match the inserts with frosted or non-frosted coloured LEDs for purple, red, green, blue inserts.
Yellow inserts, I use natural white bulbs since the yellow LEDs are often too dim.
If the inserts are clear, but the surrounding paint is yellow, I'll sometimes use non-frosted yellow LEDs under them since the white inserts allow the colour through better.

ALWAYS get flat-top lights when possible. Dome-top lights leave a circle of light on the plastic they are beneath.  There are some uses for dome-tops, but few on EMs.

My first priority is replacing all incandescents in the backbox so they stop cooking the backglass! You can often find creative colour accents to use, but 80% of the time warm white and natural whites (frosted, almost always) are the way to go.
I colour-match with the "game over", and player # lights. And I use natural white for the score reel lighting.
I almost never bother putting LEDs in the match lights though.

Good luck!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

game room: approaching maximum density!

I wanted to take a moment to show off the game room's current state, and go over some of the tools I have been using.
First, the oh so wonderful panorama:

On the far left is a MAME setup in the shelf.
Recent stuff added: 
S.T.U.N. Runner, Space Harrier, and Rampage World Tour marquees
Future Spa backglass
World Cup Soccer 94 and Rocky & Bullwinkle playfields

I want to one day find a very nice Future Spa backglass, but in the meantime I lucked in to a heavily delaminated one for a very good price.
When I had worked on the delaminating Dolly Parton backglass I only used the bottled Triple Thick, slathering it on the back and applying plastic wrap, as per Clay's guide.
When I was fixing a paint flake from the Centipede backglass, a friend spotted it curling and reminded me that acrylics apply tension, and so I had to put it on both the front and back.
I am taking that more to heart this time, trying to get more under.
Also followed other pinsider's advice to use super glue gel under the flakes. 

Getting UNDER proved difficult.  I used fine tweezers, but you only want to lift juuuust a smidge or else you risk snapping the paint flake right off.
this is what a wild Friday night at my place looks like.  Glues, acrylics, brushes, and pincers.  Oh and lots of booze. (not pictured)

I actually had to manually play the woman's chin + neck, as it had flaked off in transit.  Luckily it had been graciously saved for me.

OK so my restore of the back glass wasn't perfect.  Some of the stuff (the Triple Thick?) dried whitish in one part.  But still, it's pretty boss.  Next time I will do it in smaller stages.  Super glue first, wait a day, then coat the hell out of the problem areas with the Triple Thick acrylic goo.

I like having friends wherein describing their jobs it sounds like I know wizards.  Chris is like that.  In aeronautics.  Plays with solvents and epoxies that civilians aren't allowed to buy.  You know, a wizard.
He helped me with my 2 mylar marquees.  All of my other marquees were plexiglass or glass (or thick printed plastic, for Crystal Castles,) so I didn't know how to approach S.T.U.N. Runner and Rampage World Tour with their flimsiness.  Chris was able to custom cut some 1/8" lexan sheets for the front and back of each.

I sealed them at the top only with an expoxy that dried translucent. I am a super newb to epoxies, but my friend with me that night had some experience, and we used most of a whole bottle sealing the two marquees.

2 days later I sanded down the blobular exoxy mess (with bonus fuses newspaper bits!) until they were presentable.

Then I got what I call "my birthday present to myself", consisting of 2 playfields shipped in from Portugal.
Let's do the before and after!!!



Wow, like magic!

Ok it was a bit of work, but not a tonne of work.

Cleaning this up is actually very satisfying.  First thing though was to remove all of the metal bits still there.  Posts are easy, but guide rails are a pain.  I needed the right tools for the job:

I bought these two sizes of punches, and captain slammy hammer there made short work of the metal.
Biggest problem with the metal bits?  Finding a good time to be noisey because yeah there's a bunch of banging involved.

I was a bit mystified by these bits for the pop bumpers on WCS:
note:  no indents in their head.  all smooth...

but threaded at the bottom?  How does that make sense?

So I still don't understand why they are threaded if the are just banged in, but after consulting with the pin community, I just banged them out from the bottom.
One small wood/paint chip in all of 9 bangs, so be careful if you do this!  I just assume all of you are better than me at pretty much everything, though.

I decided to also clean the playfield inserts on the backside, thanks to Windex and ample paper towels.
Take a look at the difference of grime levels:

I was very happy with the results, and if I ever do something like run lights behind them, they will be ready to shine!

My room is approaching peak density!  4 is the max of games, and the art space is almost gone.
I have a Stern FreeFall backglass on the way, and a Bubble Bobble marquee waiting for me in the USA.  Also have a lead on a Scramble marquee.
After that, the only marquees I'll be hunting for is Marble Madness, Cameltry, and Metamorphic Force.

To best show them off, I will stack the shortest ones behind the game to give the best chance of seeing each one in the double-row I want to have there.
And after that, it's a matter of trading up for the ultimate playfields that I want, including a Genie and Jungle Queen. Maybe a Bad Cats...

Surf Champ: BONUS!

Surf Champ is coming together nicely!

I took care of a few big things in a flurry of activity.

I have been slowly swapping all of the bulbs in the game to LEDs.  I do a bit here and there, each time allowing a period where I can marvel at the new levels of GLOW and make sure it's the right bulb in there.
And it is finally all done!  Wow, the game really shines.  The only bulbs I don't do are the 10 match # bulbs, because, why, really?
And I try and follow some simple guidelines.  Coloured LEDs should be sparsely employed.  If the playfield bulb can be seen directly, use a warm white.  If it's fully shield, use a natural white.

the bonus lights are all on one convenient bracket, thank god.

I've come up with my new favourite method for working under the playfield:  Rip it out, and lay it down!
I don't have room for a playfield rotisserie (but omg those are awesome,) so I am settling for stretching is across my couch and table, propped with pillows on either end.
Classy, I know, but it gets the job done.

EMs come apart in to primary parts mercifully easy

The left rollover wasn't properly awarding the double bonus.  quick inspection:  Both contacts were not aligned to be activated at the same time, so when a ball quickly went through (or as a slight airball,) it could happen that only the switch with the smaller gap was being hit.  Corrected that quickly.

I then spent a lot of time on the KS relay, which is a small stepper unit mounted to a relay bracket.  I had done some preliminary cleaning before, but it still was not progressing properly.  I wish I had the skill and confidence to take it apart fully, because I think it will need that attention eventually, but I did the best I could from the outside.
It appeared old grease in it had solidified, so I did what I could to get it out of there and get the movement back in full.  I used Q-tips and 99% rubbing alcohol and started advancing it manually, cleaning each part of the cam and gears I could get to.
I also cleaned the external contact discs again, as the active bonus light was wavering sometimes during game play.
I was a bit discouraged while doing this, but after I got it playing again?  I had done it!  The KS relay was stepping perfectly, and with each spinner spin the bonus light was cycling.

I'm just going to pretend this is a meaningful picture to include.

Last but not least?  The big project I started discussing in the last post:  fixing the switch on the drop target bank that should close when all 5 drops are down.
After consulting with a fellow pinballer that had a Surf Champ, and taking notes from a shot of a Spirit of 1976 drop bank which also has the same feature, I knew I needed a plastic spacer.
It probably used the kind of spacer they separate leafs in the switch stacks, but I had no spares.  I even checked the bottom of the cabinet to see if it had fallen down there.

Next step?  Check for shit around my house that is just the right size.  Light, sturdy, plastic.

Yes, I snipped the head off a medium sized zip-tie and it was perfect.
Using the peak of my manual dexterity (my god be grateful I never tried to be a doctor,) and some super glue, I managed to get it in place!  I originally glued the top and bottom, but the top came loose, so I tried to press it on the bottom plate.  Then in the end it stuck best to the leaf, somehow!  So, fine, it's on the leaf.
I sanded excess hardened glue from the plate.  I then had to adjust the switch spacing so that the "natural" position, with no pressure on it, has the switch closed.  Then when any of the drops are up (reset position,) the spacer is opening gap.

This is far more epic than the picture lets on.

I ran a test and HOLY SHIT IT WORKS!  5000 points awarded, drops are reset, and the outlanes are both lit for an extra ball.

So what's left?  Only 2 things I can think of:
The left flipper still needs fixing.  I think the coil is too strong, and it can't provide proper voltage on the HOLD when a ball comes at it.  Ordering a new A-5141 coil.
The plastic behind the drops is broken.  I was thinking of getting a new set, as they are still available from Pinball Resource, but I will leave that decision up to the next owner.  For now I think I will try and repair them with crazy glue or epoxy.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Surf Champ: fixing the bonus reset issue

When I got Surf Champ the past owner had two main problems with it that caused him much frustration:  Sometimes the playfield wouldn't reset, and the 2nd player score would never roll the ten thousands.
The HUGE problem, as it turned out, was the 6B relay popping the 10A illumination circuit fuse.  That was a big investigation, and finally solved, and I have no idea if he was aware that the rollover switch was bent away, effectively hiding that wasp's nest.
The score reel issue was simple, cleaned and adjusted the contacts.

So the next big issue for me to tackle was the non-reset issue. 
I quickly observed that when the bonus was too large and the ball went in to the outhole, the game shot the ball to the shooter lane before reseting the relay banks and drops, effectively "saving" your ball.  i.e. you would keep your rollover and drops target process.

To get started, I inspected the relays list:

A few key ones:
K:  Bonus Score Relay.  Seems straightforward.
Q:  Game Over Relay.  I wanted to inspect this one because the game also ends prematurely due to this issue, even though the bonus fully countsdown.  (although not scoring entirely)
O: Ball Return Relay.  The issue starts when the ball hits the out hole, and the cycle ends with the ball getting kicked in to the shooter lane.

click to make bigger

My eyes went to the subtract bonus unit solenoid.  It is activated by the AX relay as part of the reset cycle.  Below that, it is entirely controlled by the K relay.  I thought this part was fine since even though weird stuff was happening, the bonus was being fully subtracted to zero each time.

OK first let me gripe about these terrible reproduction schematics being sold at places like Marco.  The print quality is shit.  You can barely make out letters, especially not O vs Q.  Not because they are small, but because the printing is fuzzy.
And where there are fold lines, all the print has disappeared.  Gah. 

Remember with these schematics:  the switches are all in the state of ball 1 player 1, ball in the shooter lane.  so that means zero bonus.   To the left of the "Ball Return Switch" (the out hole) is a make/break switch for the zero position of the bonus unit. 
If there is bonus?  Activate K.
When there is no bonus?  Activate O.

Check the bonus unit switches:

This was our obvious culprit:  incorrect gapping at the top make/break switch.  Both side are making contact.  Thus when the ball hits the outhole, K is energized, and locks itself on until the bonus is at zero.

But O is also energized so when the motor is advancing the ball gets kicked out prematurely before the full after-ball reset cycle has been able to happen. 
K is locked on and not tied to a motor position, but much of the reset cycle is.

I cleaned and gab this make/break, and voila, the bonus is now counted properly.

Up next?  Well after solving the 6B issue, I have been enjoying the fine gameplay of Surf Champ.  Getting all rollovers hit to light the spinner and left/right rollovers is a big task, but a few things still weren't happening:
On the playfield itself it says:

When the rollovers are lit and the drops are down?  No reset on the drops.  No 5000.  And the bottom outlanes are not lit for Extra Ball & Special.

That would be relay 7B.  Not something that would have been used much, what with 6B being a trap to pop your fuses.
I did a quick trace on the schematics, and besides relay 6B being active, relay 7B needs a switch for all targets being down.   A quick glance under the playfield and I found this:

like an alien landscape
Like the relay 6B bar, this is another mechanical switch.  A bar goes across all 5 drops and when they are all down the little dark "T" shaped piece of metal recedes a tiny amount. 
The switch goes from open to... open?
I've never seen this style before, but you can see tiny drops of glue on either side of the "T" and one on the switch.  Obviously something had been there before and worn off.  A prior makeshift fix that didn't last?

I'm going to investigate that a bit.  Soon, I will have you, my extra ball!!!