Sunday, November 27, 2016

Introducing... Hollywood Heat

Oh what is that we have here?  Another classic Gottlieb/Premier game, from my same friend who lent me the Arena and notorious Raven to work on.

First things first:  Let's open it up and take a quick look inside an--WOAH WOAH WOAH WHAT'S GOING ON HERE?

That there is the entire transformer block, normally secured to the bottom of the cabinet, wedged at the back.  NOT A GOOD SIGN.
We reattached it, but can quickly see some of the wires are busted off the bridge rectifiers, and zero of the Gottlieb ground mods have been done.

This game is not going to be powered on for a bit, and only in the most cautious step-by-step manner.

wait wut?
What you're looking at above is the collection of elastics and random plastic bits that were used instead of flipper rubbers.  Another bad sign.  This game was kept operational by someone that couldn't even be bothered to acquire FLIPPER RUBBERS.

upper-left mini playfield

There are two missing posts on this playfield, along the left hand side.  I cleaned up the holes and took a closer look and...

You can see metal in them there holes!  That's a very bad sign, meaning these screwed in posts were somehow snapped or sheared off.  WHY????  It will be an immense struggle to try and get proper posts back in to there.
And I actually HAVE the posts, stored from various pasts playfields I've stripped to become wall-hangers.

The ramp had a cupped melty spot thanks to E-Z-Baking from the flasher below.
The front posts also seem a bit odd.  Let's take a better look.

a better shot of the melty spot on the ramp
 Oh wait, yeah, I don't think those posts were correct:
comparison of the posts used, vs what should be there

Someone really must have hated those pointy posts!   These holes will need to be filled and redrilled so proper posts can go in.
The posts in there are actually double the diameter of the standard posts, so that means the ramp shot window is lessened by an entire width of that proper post on the right.

More stuff!  The one-way gate on the left inlane was entirely missing.  I found one place that had the gate bracket, one place that had the gate wireform.  I literally had to order these from two different places.

Right slingshot (we are looking from above) had a snapped switch.  The other switch wasn't perfect, but still perfectly functional.  Ordered a replacement switch and installed it.
Add caption

shop job continues! 
Slowly but surely...

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Rollergames diverter replacement

So the diverter was a bit of an issue.  It had built up some pitting and would not close the gate the entire way.  This meant the ball would get stuck along the top area.  Well, sometimes it would rattle a bit and roll down, sometimes the machine would need a shove.
Either way, this classic game by Steve "king of flow" Ritchie was not flowing at all.

Note the pitting in the bar, dug in by the solenoid slamming the roll pin against it

These diverter bars were considered Unobtainium, but amazingly someone on pinside had reproduced them.  (they apparently still have a few available, so best stock up!)
And the guy that owned the game had already got his copy:


 Only problem is, once it was installed the gates STILL were not closing all of the way!  What's up with that?

Turns out, this diverter bar is the SECOND take on the diverter mechanism.

First version, from the manual:

Second version, via a tech bulletin:

A crucial difference is that the revised version used a special coil stop that was a bit shorter than the normal one.  Part code subcode B, or something like that, and it was no longer around to order.
Luckily it is far easier to subtract than add, so I took to grinding it!  Not on an electric grinder, nope that'd be too easy, I got it in my head to just use the tools I had and grind it by hand.
Not recommended.
(edit: it is Solenoid Bracket Assembly B-13488 revision 'A')

Another look at the diverters:

This is not properly closed...
If the coil stop is too long, the solenoid can't pull in the entire way, and you don't get the proper curve

This smashed corner is an example of the damage that can happen when the diverter is not hitting the correct spot.

And last but not least, I want to mention how annoying games are when the playfield just has a pivot point.  No sliding it up + forward, and therefore no easy access to disassemble the back end of the playfield apparatus.

So what to do?  First, struggle like hell to lift the playfield up off the pivot brackets.  Then get a board and slide the playfield forward, resting the flipper solenoid brackets on to it.  Thanks to the pinsiders for the tips on this.


It should never have come to this.

And Rollergames is gone as well, now!  Back home to it's owner with many a problems solved.
Oh, what to do with all of this sudden space????

Stars: finishing up

The last bulb in the game was a connector wire, loose up at the board.  That had all of the lights working fine for a while, until this happened:
look out below!

As it turns out, lights that snap off don't work so well!  Replaced that light socket.

During a few nights of heavy play it was noted that sometimes when some drops were down, they would continue to score 500 points.  Either by themselves, or when a flipper solenoid fired, but it was erratic.  I cleaned the contacts with a flexstone, and hopefully that problem won't return.
new drops and springs were added

cleaning the contacts seemed to help the repeated scoring issue

One issue that does return periodically is the right flipper getting stuck in a halfway position.
This occurs when the up/down rod gets rotated a bit, and sits improperly on the switch beneath the playfield.  I tightened the metal bent around it with needlenose pliers, and hopefully it will sit there properly for a while.
Eventually, that might need to be swapped out with an unbent switch plate.
wire from above is nuzzled between the edges of the switch plate.  Imagine the displacement if that 90 degree metal wire was rotated and sitting on top of the switch's channels.  That would mean the spinner is sitting at the half-rotated position.

And that is IT!   With that I say goodbye to this lovely Stars, back to it's home looking and playing lightyears better than it did when it arrived.

Jurassic Park: ramp hopping

One problem with having games a bit steeper than there normal settings is that sometimes the new physics aren't taken in to account.
The major issue here was that the ball would hop OFF the wireform ramp and in to the right outlane.
right through that gap
Sometimes from the VUK, sometimes if it had a lot of spin coming from the upper left of the playfield.
I got a tip on pinside to just close the gap with a bent paperclip, but I chose to use some 19 gauge wire, and that seems to have done the trick.

It's not classy, but it works.

One of spots the ball would jump off:  When you hit the ramp hard and the ball is being diverted to the right of the playfield, sometimes the ball would jumble around and fall off on to a pop bumper.
This is not mission critical, seeing as how the ball is still in play, and not straight in to the outlane.

check that post in the center, near the top
The support post, center, top, holds the ramp in place along the left side, but it doesn't feel like it is secured to anything.  Because of the wobble, that is why the ball is falling off there.
I will have to take the ramp out and inspect that piece.
These "jumping off the ramp" problems started occurring more when I installed superbands on the flippers, as those seemed to give me far more powerful shots.  No way I would compromise on those now, though.  The game plays far better with those flipper rubbers.  I'd much prefer to address the issues with the ramp itself.

While playing, on 2 different occasions, we had a slam tilt which then resets the game.  Only happened twice, but a bug to check up on.  Inspected wires, went through the switch tests, all seems good, for now...
The slam tilt resides in the same Swith Matrix column as a bunch of the front door switches, but the same row that also contains the "Herrerasaurus - Top" switch, which seems like the most likely culprit.  It's in that three target switch bank I've fiddled with before.  The center red target in the photo below.

And last but not least, I will have to get around to shaving the chasis of the two green targets at the pop bumper entrance.

These get hit from all angles and the outer edge gets caught on the metal backing of the switch, which makes it impossible to depress and register.
It's been recommended to dremel out the side body of the targets to keep the game playing smooth.  I'll get to it, some day...

Friday, September 9, 2016

Introducing... Kick Off!

Huzzah, it is my first Bally electromechanical machine: Kick Off!

Lord Of The Rings has gone back to his home and Kick Off is filling up that empty space.
Back in the spring a pinball friend of mine was selling this game for a decent price, but I didn't have room.  It was a good opportunity, since the seller was someone whose tech skills I highly respected.  (If you can get a game that's been gone over by someone who knows how to make games perfect, it is such an added bonus.)
Another friend offered to buy the game and play it over the summer, then sell it to me, and so that's what we did.  It worked out so well and I'm grateful to have it now.

Want to know what I love about this game?  this:

See that?  That is five ways to drain.  Sure, you can attempt to bounce in from the outlanes, but take note of the gap under the upper flippers.  You try and catch a ball and it rolls up?  That's going up the side, under the upper flipper, and out.

Let's take a closer look:
flippers resting

first, take note of that drilled hole above the middle rubber band.  That's probably an adjustment, meaning the post could be set at a higher anger, so the gap is smaller, and the ball won't just roll in with the flippers resting.
Buts nuts to that, we want this game to be brutal.  We're leaving those gaps open and dangerous, so you better not plan on letting that ball roll up as you attempt a catch.

flippers up!

With the flipper raised, look at that massive hole.  It doesn't mess around.
And if you get the ball anywhere underneath there?  If you release the flipper, it's just going to swat the ball directly to the outlane.

The game;s backglass is in excellent condition, and the playfield is decent.  Very bright, minimal damage, but lots of cupping around the inserts.  After initial cleaning and waxing, I took some of my low tack laminate sheets and covered all of the inserts to add a temporary touch of more smoothing.

it's very hard to see the covering, which is kind of the point.

Next up is to start swapping LEDs in to the backglass.  I know lots of people hate LEDs in EMs, but for me it's all preservation.
The glass itself will also be sealed with Triple Thick later this weekend.
At some point I'll redo all of the playfield GI and insert lights as well.  Time to place a Comet order.

This game plays FAST and brutal, with tonnes of high speed bouncing.  Cool and calm patience is required to observe the angles and to know when flipping is necessary.

Tomorrow I am going to give it a fresh coat of wax, and see if I can pitch it up an extra whole degree to make it extra tough.
The game gives up the extra ball a touch too early for my tastes, so I am going to see about making it even more of a drain monster.

Also, coloured coded super bands rubber will need to be ordered!

cat on the machines

What do you think you are doing?


get down from there

no, not just to there.

Dammit, Sleater!

BTW I have put up on Pinside ratings and reviews for every game I have had in my basement...  27 and counting!

Things haven't been shifting around much, but expect 3 out and 3 new ones down as we enter the fall!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

gameroom art update!

Newly up on the walls:
Atomic Punk marquee
A much nicer Future Spa backglass
Space Duel and Astron Belt marquees
A rough Peter Pan backglass  (rough shape, alas)

Friday, July 15, 2016

LOTR dmd update!

My friend lent me his NOS DMD and we swapped it in and the power went out again, so we know there was much more to investigate.
We finally traced down cracked solder on the power supply, reflowed that, and put the old DMD back in.


Stars lights!

Stars needs all of it's indicator lights!  Very important for decision making.
After replacing a few more sketchy light sockets, it was time to hunt down the bad transistors.

The manual for Stars is a bit of a mess.  Go download it at IMDB, page 5 is a long list of corrections for the lamp driver board.
On top of that?  We found that even the CORRECTIONS had a mistake!
J1-10 is listed as SPECIAL WITH WHITE STAR, but we confirmed it is actually just the WHITE STAR.

So we proceeded carefully with the transistors we had.  But J1-10 needed a MCR-106 transistor, and I only had bought 2N5060s.  So the game will be missing that single light.
BUT, the rest are now working!

With the light board removed, we also noticed Capacitor C1 was disconnected.  Looking at the schematics, I don't quite understand where J4-3 connects to, but it's back connected now.
Lamp driver A5-J4-3 connects to A3-J3-16, on the voltage regulator / solenoid driver board.
So looking at the schematics, I really think this capacitor is there to connect two voltage test points, so probably not critical to gameplay.

The wires connecting the left flipper are now sealed properly, with the flaking electrical tape removed.

At this point?  I think we might just be one transistor away from a fully working game!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

more public pinball at the Neighbourhood Pub!

Very excited that Ottawa has another wonderful place to play!  Check out Ottawa, Canada over at the pinball map!

We have 3 main spots:
House Of Targ, with 18 pinball machines and an equal amount of arcades
Lowertown Brewery, with 6 pinball machines and I have yet to visit yet...
and now.. Neighborhood Pub at 2257 Baseline Rd, with 9 machines plus a few arcades


Neighbourhood Pub, which I will forever refer to as Neigh-P, is also the first to dive back in to the EMs.
Yes, that is a 60s era shuffle bowler!
They are all wonderfully fine tuned, and a blast to play.

Neigh-P does 45 cent wings on Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays, and they are delicious and probably the most affordable meal in the city.
MAACA people are going to be meting there on Wednesdays (with the wings special honoured,) I think.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Stars: lighting update

I got in a bag of light sockets, so it was time to start tackling the light bulb issues on Stars.

First up was the task of figuring out what sockets do not make a good connection, and therefore should be replaced.
Open the game door and press the test button and all of the controlled lights will start flashing.  With the playfield up, for each one that doesn't blink, I use an alligator clip to jump from the connection of a working light to a non-working one.

If the light does not light then, you know you have to replace it.  I replaced about 5 of them.  
There are also a handful of lights where the light is rather dim, due to dirty sockets, and I'll probably replace those as well.  
Stars uses a single lamp driver to drive both Stars on the playfield:  the one at the target, and the same colour at the spinner.  Problem is, if one lamp socket is dirty and intermittent and goes out temporarily, the other other will as well.  So doubly best be sure the lights are OK.

But now that the bad sockets are located, time to move up the chain to the connectors and the transistors on the light board.

Lord Of The Rings: oh to play it again one day...

My LOTR's DMD was crisp and clear, no lines missing. One day when playing, the DMD just went blank. No glow, no lines, no single pixels.
I turned the game off. Next day, it played fine and bright and clear.
Happened again a week later (I was playing sparingly,) was displaying fine, then the DMD turned off mid-game. Turned the game off, then tested it the next day, and the DMD turns on fine.
Then it happened a third time, and now the DMD won't come back on at all.
Does this sound familiar to anyone? Seems like odd behaviour.
5V LED light on the DMD back is on.
I tried reseating all of the cables, then tried jostling them a bit, didn't help.
I unplugged the cable from the power and tested the power supply outputs. Got all good readings, except the 12V was reading as 0, but I don't didn't see that the 12V did anything in the schematics. Then found an old RGP post saying that 12V wasn't used, so not that?

soooo that 12V goes nowhere?

Also there have been a few other stuck ball issues, like the ball getting stuck at the bottom of the Legolas ramp, or in the Gimli VUK, wedged between the post and the wire ramp, sometimes with the help of the Balrog toy.
These issues are addressed in this post, and I will look to follow their fixes.

I really wish I could be playing this classic game!  It's spent far too long out for service, considering how long I had to wait for that darn switch switch to arrive.
I guess I could play it without the DMD?  But mehhhhh

Jurassic Park: plastics + rubbers

Sometimes a few small changes can really be a sea change for a game.  Minor prior annoyances that perhaps dulled your enthusiasm are melted away with the blistering gameplay that feels so NEW and vital.  But what has happened?  Nothing but changing a few rubbers, and voila.

feels so good

I was weaning off of JP, there was just something missing, so I decided to try the Super Rubbers.  Ordered 3 orange ones, and oh my, this feel like the way JP was always meant to be played.
The bounces, the control, the colours, it all seems SO APPROPRIATE.
The game is just more fun now.

In fact, a new problem arose:  The shots up the ramp happened with such bliss and accuracy, that I might need to modify the rails to prevent the ball from sometimes hopping off.
We already had a similar issue near the VUK where sometimes the ball would hop off to the outlane, so perhaps we can research both and tackle that problem.

I'll call you Orange Upper Flippy

But another big improvement was getting lexan plastics cut in the shape of the chipped ones.  A friend with a JP wanted to trace mine, so I got copies at the same time.
The lexan was thin enough so that the cracked plastic can sit on top.
This is most noticeable of an improve in the upper right, as this is what it looked like before when the plastic was cracked and the portion where the rivets would be are not there.

Yeah, not pretty.  I had switched this to a ziptie, but still not optimal.

fresh cut lexan piece

old broken plastic sits on top of the lexan piece, allowing the lights to be attached properly.
And also above the center scoop:

old plastic was busted in upper right

At this point the main thing to do is work on the standup tarrgets, reinforce them with a stabilizer from Mezel Mods, and perhaps slice away part of the edging to prevent them from getting and no longer registering.