Monday, July 8, 2013

Rocky & Bullwinkle: documenting the issues

Let's get right in to R&B and see what we find!  There were a few things that were obvious from inspecting the pre-sale photos alone, and I made note of them all.  Some are fixable, some aren't.

cab wear

minor flaking at bottom center.  Pivot-point damage on Bullwinkle's nose.

missing a decal

wear on the cabinet

wear on the cabinet

So these are all rather minor things for me.  The back glass still looks fabulous and I don't really care about the side artwork.  I'm not the kind of person that would work to have those things fixed.
The big thing is the that Nell assembly is outright missing.  Reproductions are not available.  OK, the motor is available, a band is available, but the gear assembly is not, and everyone is looking for one.  Good riddance to pricey toys.  I'm focused on game play.

So things to add to the list:
1) replacing the SAVED decals.

you can see the minor wear on the lion's pivot point, as well the utter lack of padding remaining at the bottom.

There are some minor issues with the backglass hat trick animation.  There is a bit of wear on the lion, but it's destroyed like some other lions out there.  I found this thread and apparently the lion gets 50V while the other 2 pulls get 32 V, those resulting in the lion damage.  I am going to have to re-learn to solder to connect it to 32V instead.
The padding on the bottom is also decimated, and so needs to be replaced.  That thread links to some stuff I can get at Home Depot to replace it.
The Lion was JUST reproduced in a limited run, so I had to make an order to get one for eventual replacement.   This is a backup part that I probably will never have another opportunity to acquire.
So add to the todo list:
2) wire Lion to 32 V
3) replace the back box hat trick padding
4) replace plastic Lion in hat trick

The hum coming from the speakers seems suspiciously loud, so add that to the list:
5) try troubleshooting audio connections to eliminate hum, perhaps a ground missing?

This is the center drain with the cover removed.  When a ball drains, there is a sensor, and it gets kicked up the little hill and in to the ready spot to be ejected in to the shooter lane.
On the left you can see the metal of the first kicker is totally destroyed, causing it to require multiple attempts to hit the ball over the hill.
6) replace ball drain kicker

there is a crack here at the start of the WABAC ramp.  It doesn't affect game play, but it's something to keep an eye on.  The ramp seems to have been reproduced at one point, but is currently unavailable.  If it comes up again, I might consider buying one, despite the price tag.
7) find a replacement WABAC ramp.

The software display on bootup shows 1.1, and 1.3 is apparently the last relevant update.  The ROMs seem to be available, but I am unsure if I need all of those?   $10 x 5 = $50, but I'll investigate if I actually go buy all of them...
8) Update ROMs to 1.3

I'm not going to bother with this, but I wanted to show that, somehow there is inner cabinet wear.  HOWWWW?

During a game I had the ball just sit flat... in the pop bumpers.  How often does a ball get to rest in the pop bumpers?  I inspected and it was against the post and... that screw.  WHY IS THERE A SCREW THERE?

I checked images on pinside and IPDB, and from what I can see, these other machines don't havea  random screw in the playfield:

Anyone see a screen in those shots???  Nope, me neither.  A random screw like that will bash the pinball, and a bashed up pinball will potentially damage the rest of the playfield..
9) remove pop bumper screw.

And finally, for now, we have this diverter on the left orbit hat trick shot:
 When I was inspecting the game I verfied that the Vertical Upkicker worked, but didn't check the diverter.   Playing at home, when Hat Trick was lit the diverter was not going.  It is supposed to divert it in to the VUK, give the player time to watch the back glass animation, and the it gets kicked up and down the ramp.
The software is at least smart enough to award the Hat Trick on the orbit, but the ball is going far too fast to enjoy the animation.

I pulled out the switch diagram in the manual, went in to the switch test diagnostics mode, pulled off the glass, and tried the left orbit gate:

you can see the switch on the right

with the ball going through, you can see how the switch depresses

but alas nothing was registering
So the switch isn't working.  I went in to the solenoid test and the diverter does indeed work, so we have this problem isolated:
10) repair first left orbit switch so that the diverter can work and the back glass animation can be awesome once more.

Aside form all that there is still basic housekeeping to do:
11) level the legs

Oh and everything needs a solid cleaning.


  1. I just recently purchased a Bullwinkle pinball myself. The playfield and backbox hat-trick mechanisms are in excellent condition. The issues with mine that I plan on restoring:

    1. Nell motor is stripped (everything else is intact). Replace Nell motor.
    2. WABAC ramp is missing the decal. Hoping to find new ramp decals from somewhere.
    3. Back-glass has a couple of scrapes in the artwork (looks to be due to the hat-trick mechanism).
    4. General wear/scrapes on the exterior paint job of the cabinet. This is why I got the machine dirt-cheap even though the playfield is great shape.

    Other than that, the machine works flawlessly. I do plan on a full breakdown and cleaning plus LED & rubber replacement job this Christmas even though it doesn't really need it and all the lights are working. I just like the look of LEDs and the fact that you pretty much never have to replace them again.

    1. hi, sounds like our machines were similar. What did you pay for yours?

      Are you just missing the Nell motor, and have the rest of the mechanism? That scenario seems pretty rare.

      Also, do you see my picture above of the pop bumpers and the screw? I was wondering does your machine have that screw there?

    2. Hi Caitlyn!

      I paid $1500 for mine, and it was a from a pinball technician, so he made sure everything was working flawlessly in the playfield (aside from the Nell motor). He even used his entire stash of various colored lights to get everyone of them brand new in the playfield (though again I will be doing an LED kit this fall).

      In regards to the Nell assembly, yes, everything was intact. The motor does turn on when triggered, but the internal part that actually grips and turns the gear is stripped. The tech said this was a common failure because of the spring tension design. The gear is spring loaded to always hold the log in the back position. When the motor is triggered, it has to actively fight the spring in order to move the log towards the saw. Thankfully this will be an easy fix since I all I need to do is buy a replacement motor for about 6o bucks.

      In regards to the screw, mine does not have that. I suspect someone put that in there as a means to potentially prevent the ball from hanging up at that spot (just a guess). Also I was going to suggest the internal cabinet damage you have on the side is likely due from somebody lifting the playfield haphazardly to service it, causing scrape damage (also just a guess).

      After playing the game for a week, I really love it. About the only complaint I have is the right "Rhino" orbit lane is too risky. The ball will almost always come straight down the middle when it returns on the left. I'm told it may be just my pitch angle, but I've tried several different angles and it didn't help. I think it's just the one "rip-off" feature of the game honestly.

      Anyway as I said, the only difficult to fix problem with my machine is the paint job being pretty beat up on the right side of the cabinet. I could easily see this machine going for $2200 to $2500 if it weren't for that. It would make my day if someone came out with replacement decals for the cabinet, but I may end up having to do it myself. Thankfully I'm a graphic artist by trade, so I can handle it if it comes down to that.

    3. Just a quick followup:

      It looks like the original design had a slender metal pin there where your screw is. If you look at the database picture you posted, you can actually see the metal pin. So the pin got broken out on yours, and somebody put a screw there to replace it. Bad call I'd have to say.

    4. I see what you mean about the pin. in the manual, the "playfield parts" diagram seems to show SOMETHING there, but there is no label for it.
      I want to remove the screw because I doubt it's healthy for the ball. Heck the ball STILL gets stuck there even with the screw.

      I think there is something wrong with the mech for putting the playfield up because it certainly is NOT easy on mine.

      My Rhino loop must be tweaked differently because each orbit shot puts the ball back to a flipper for me.
      My critique of the game is all software. I don't like that the WABAC "wizard mode" can be had from a puzzle solve. I also don't like that a mystery award of "Double Score" exists.
      Take those out and I think it's an even game.

      Some more questions:
      What angle slant do you have yours on?
      Did you do the 50V to 32V lion hat trick mod that I linked to in my post?
      Is your lion plastic in good condition? (if not, now's the time to get your replacement)

    5. I'll need to get a slope finder to get the precise pitch degree reading. Right now I just have it set to where it "feels" right. There's still an outside chance the rhino orbit is due to that. Hitting the orbit from left to right is fine, it's just the right to left that is almost certain doom when hit solidly by the flipper.

      That reminds me: If you start to have problems with the ball dropping your flipper at high speed, that's likely due to a dead fuse on the SSFB. I had this problem when I first got the machine, traced it to a bad fuse on that board, replaced the fuse, and now the flipper are super-strong on the holding power. You'll need to be aware of this because this pinball does NOT have EOS switches like most every other modern pinball does. Data East added back in EOS switches on their next machine (Jurassic Park), which was basically admitting it was a mistake to remove them.

      Software: I've got no complaints about the software myself. The double score is all about luck. I can imagine racking up 500,000,000 and then hitting a double score for a cool billion. That would rock! I'm sure you probably figured out the big points in multi-ball, but just in case, here's the simple goal:

      1. When multible starts, your first target is the Hat Trick bay.

      2. When you hit the Hat Trick bay, jackpot lights up on the right ramp. Hit that ramp to win the jackpot.

      3. After hitting jackpot, go back to step 1 to repeat the process and go for double jackpot.

      Anyway, my lion trick appears to still be at factory default 50V. Strangely though, everything is pristine inside there. I may do the mod anyway just as a precautionary measure.

    6. the game has a built-in level, under the instruction card on the bottom left. :) Let me know what yours says.
      I do get a lot of SDTM drains from rejected ramps, but I have to practice my slap saves now.

      good to know about the flipper issue, thanks!
      I'm having an odd power-reset issue (game reboots randomly sometimes) but it's SO intermittent.

      The score-doubling thing bugs me because it makes the game poor for tournaments. There's too much luck in the awards delivered to make it good for competition.

      I replaced my lion plastic, also added new padding on the bottom. I will make a post of it later this week
      Glad to know someone else getting to know this machine as well!

    7. I used the built-in level to make sure the left-to-right alignment is correct, but I have the machine in my garage, which has a noticeable slope downward out to the driveway. As such, I cannot get movement on the slope bubble no matter how much I raise or lower the legs. I've already ordered a slope locator so I can find out once and for all what my degree of slope is.

      I see what you mean about the tournament issue with double score. I've yet to have it come up once I passed 200,000,000 so I don't know yet if the game has a built-in rarity parameter for it. I know there is a tournament setting mode in the game menu, but I've not messed with that.

      Last night, my new dot matrix display arrived. I installed it and everything looks nice and sharp. The original display was pushing 20 years and started to show signs of outgassing. I got the new one at Mad Amusements, which had the best price at $159. Well worth every penny if your display is decaying.

      I've got over a dozen parts still coming in the mail over the next few days. Stuff like brand new balls, a complete new rubber kit, brand new start and Boris buttons, new plastic lane guides, new decals, and a set of various LED bulb designs to test out for my eventual LED replacement project. I've been keeping a text file of all my orders and repairs. It's been quite fascinating learning the ins and outs or restoration as I go along!

      Anyway, that random reboot issue sounds like some power problems. You may need a pinball technician to come diagnose it. That's the one area I'm staying away from in terms of diagnosis and repair, but thankfully my power board and transformer are in excellent condition, and I can always have the tech that sold me the machine come fix those if they do eventually fail.

      So so far the best scores between my brother and I are 400,000,000. I set the machine to 3 balls and one extra ball at 200,000,000 (also set it to not allow more than 1 extra ball per game). This has been our own "tournament mode" of sorts, and it works pretty well for us.

    8. Hey did you ever figure what slope your playfield was at?

      My DMD is seemingly perfect. Only the connectors need to be fixed at all. Still trying to find the exact ones, but it's been pretty reliable since the last time I secured all connectors.

  2. I have two questions:
    1) Does anyone know how to turn the volume down. It's extremely loud!
    2) How do I fold the back case down. I turn the allen wrench to the fold position and it still doesn't drop down.