Saturday, October 12, 2013

pinball repair tech session #1

I had the pinball tech over today and it was a bit of a whirlwind!  I am still a bit of a deer-in-headlights with lots of stuff, it being all new to me, so it was amazing to see the speed and confidence that only so many years of work can condition.

Long story short:  he got so many things taken care of, and even some stuff that wasn't on my wish-list.  I didn't quite order all of the parts properly though, so he'll be back around on Monday to finish up the VUK.
As luck would have it, he recently took 2 dead Stargate machines and assembled one, thanks in part to the great accessibility of Gottlieb System 3 parts from Pinball Resource.  When I exclaimed that it was great so much was available, he reminded me that SO MANY System 3 machines have been scrapped.
They had major issues when they were released, and are really not too popular in the secondary market.  Check the games list.  Recognize any of these from the IPDB top 50 games?  Top 150?  Just Stargate, really.  SMB: Mushroom World gets a bit of love since it's a younger kid-oriented game.

Short story long:  Here's what he got up to.  (Down to?)

First thing he did was take the front apron off to remove the balls completely.  I hadn't taken it off before, so here's a shot of the ball mech for posterity:

Top priority:  inspecting Street Fighter 2 for damage from the big drop.  He found a coil at the back with a bent bracket, and aligned that with a quick bend.  No shorts, nothing else noticeably busted.

Instead of trying it then and there, he went straight to the other items I had mentioned.

The "stargate ramp" coil on the left was crispy and brown, but still seemingly functional.  He pulled it out and cleaned it a tad.  I will order a replacement but he got it going.  Popped in the new fuse, and another note on the hacks from the past operator:  the entirely wrong fuse was used.  As he noted, "an amp off can mean the difference between operating normally and a house burning down".  True that.
this is pretty much how I like my campfire marshmallows

Next up was putting in my power line module that I had bought (NOS) from Pinball Resource.  First there was the horror that when I got the machine it wasn't connected to ground.  Then there was the sigh of relief that while the F1 fuse was MELTED, they had hacked a fuse in on the backside.  Then the horror again, as we realized it was 2 amps over....
yeah, nuts to this.  I don't play around with line voltage.  goodbye, old power unit.

While at that part of the cap he got the ground wires reconnected.  Stripped each  side of the snip, soldering them together, and applied heat shrink tubing. 
tilt bob was reconnected shortly after photo was taken.  I suddenly have an appreciation for the inside-cabinet paint job!  Kinda psychedelic.

When "the accident" happened, I had been cleaning the inner-cabinet rails that held up the playfield, in hopes of making it more accessible.  He was having none of this nonsense and quickly spotted a critical offender.  The back-left playfield bracket was severely warped and causing major issues with sliding the playfield.  He removed it and bent it back in to shape with 2 wrenches and some muscle.
Experience counts.  I never would know, looking a this, that it was horribly wrong.  But it is.  Oh so wrong.

He took out the Williams coil on the VUK and put in the new one I had ordered.  Problem is, I didn't have the correct sleeve for it.  I did not know!  Alas...  While he got it in OK, it's misaligned, a touch loose, and doesn't get the ball up and out OK.
He will be returning Monday with some other Stargate spare parts to fix that last little bit.  It took a while to get to this point, a few fuses were popped, but we now have a plan of action.
This is the Williams coil that causes the ball to slam in to the glass.  Note the spring is bunk and needs replacing too, but as he mentioned, gravity is on our side.

My "mystery of the right slingshot" wasn't actually much of the mystery.  Looking at the schematics I posted, all fingers pointed to the Q3 transistor.  He took the board out, tested it with his DMM, and yup.   Failed.  Always on.
This part became another long part in the repair.   He initially soldered in replacement transistors, but they weren't the correct ones.    Luckily he had brought his spare Stargate driver board, and was able to use transistors from there.
His soldering was meticulous, barely discernible from the factory solder, except by brightness of the shine.

When the pin was turned on it was incredible to see it alive and not on fire!  Huzzah!

All the while during tests we had issues of it saying "same player shoot again", thus registering the outhole over and over again.  This was fixed by moving the balls around and avoiding triggering the outhole switch.  I might have to balance the machine better to avoid this, but we eventually got it to stop occurring.

Considering the level of carelessness the past operator displayed, something to do soon:  CHECK ALL FUSES TO MAKE SURE THEY ARE ACCURATE.  I am not trusting anything else about this machine.

He then moved on to Rocky & Bullwinkle.  I had whittled the problem down to the CN1 power connector, and he took it out, properly re-set the one wire, and now it seems to be aces.  We'll see how long the reliability holds, but so far so good.

Then, Break Shot, where I wanted him to look at the alignment of the left slingshot.  I was curious about how to move/realign it.
he took a gander and discovered alignment wasn't the issue at all, but a clip connecting the sling to the solenoid was busted.  Sure, I might have discovered this eventually, but it's another example of experience solving in 5 seconds what an amateur things about working on for weeks.

I am incredibly happy I made this one final pinball expenditure and will get all the big things taken off the list.
I am very much looking forward to Monday afternoon when I can finally play SF2 with all of the features 100%.

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