Friday, December 12, 2014

Corvette right flipper

The right flipper on Corvette just suddenly stopped working.  Since I had recently installed a new flipper button on that side, I went in to the switch test.
I found the left flipper's two switch optos were tight, but the right had a flakey second one!  Reseating the cable seemed to help a bit in the switch test, but still the flipper didn't work.
I ended up removing the fliptronic board:

I cleaned the optos with windex and cleaned the board as a whole.  This improved the performance in the switch edge test!

But, still flipper didn't work.  Under the playfield, the solution was obvious:  wire had disconnected from the flipper coil's lug.  Ooops.
Lesson learned:  Start at the beginning and work backwards, even if you have a hunch where you think the problem might be from.

At the very least, cleaner opto board!
I don't even think the second opto mattered at all though, since there is only a single flipper on the right side.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Baywatch: All together now!

I want to start this post out by reviewing some of the things I am not strong enough for in pinball:
lifting a 4-player EM head on to a machine.
Lifting most heads on to a machine without the crushing fear of it being one hiccup away from smashing.
Putting the small rubbers on those damn Sega posts. Owie my fingers.
Loosening that ONE. DAMN. BOLT. (note: using rubberized gardening gloves did the trick)
Putting cold superbands on to flipper bats!
Removing a non-EM playfield from a machine.
Being the person on the bottom in getting a machine chasis up my stairs.

So many more scenarios to discover!
A million thanks to all of those who have lent their muscle over the last 2 years.

All that said, take a look!

Ahhh all working!

OK a few pitafalls:
I thought I had mucked up this part.  
Testing the game, the ball was flying off in a weird way.  Turns out the bottom screw wasn't fastening the ramp right enough.
Then, turns out the T-Nut in the playfield had raised!
After much fussing, the isuse was that I had not tightened the upper  (right) bolt properly, and that there was too much pressure being applied to the lower (left) nut, and that was drawing the t-nut from the PF.
All fixed!

The guard tower needs to get tweaked as well.   I have to set it slightly lower so that the playfield glass doesn't rub against it at all.

In initial tests the ball was not behaving well on launch.  At the post in the center, the ball had not been clasping the ramp in to the highest position, meaning the ball would slam down in to the posts.
In the photo it is fixed in to the uppermost position.

Having everything fixed makes a huge difference!  The top gate now opens perfectly.  I did not replace the coil, just cleaned the caked on soot.  Guess that was all that was needed, because it now works perfectly.
The gate on the right also works great, meaning the 3 different skill shots are now GO and shots 2 and 3 are super challenging!

The new functionality also adds a lot to the game.  The above shot means that on some Tidal Wave shots, the right gate opens then sends the ball back over the orbit right-to-left, instead of just returning it to the right flipper.

This light orbit rollover will open the upper gate, meaning a full and proper orbit shot can occur!

I have yet to explore the game in depth, but with those 2 gates properly working, the game has become even better!

Now, just a moment while we bask in the beauty of proper GI:

oh and let's just take a before and after example:

cleaned and reinstalled!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Baywatch: reassembly progress!

I have been super busy and only working on this machine in fits and starts.
Each step of the way I have been hand scrubbing each plastic, wireform, screw, etc before putting it back on.  The hardcore people would be tumbling each of the metal parts and repaiting the wireforms and blowtorching the swirls from the plastics, but nuts to that, I barely have the time for this!

This is a huuuuuuge improvement over what it was!  So much brighter, so much cleaner.  I want to get this 100% back together in the next few days.

Dammit, I planned on selling this game, but if it plays that much better after this rebuild?  rrrrrrrggh might be tough to let go.  :)

Next weekend?  There might be a new thing arriving.  Just saying, I might have a beat up Target Alpha on the way!!!!!!!!
Also:  swapping out my ST:TNG playfield for 2 of my grail pieces:  Space Riders and Genie playfields!!!
Also:  swapping out the somewhat dark FreeFall backglass for a classic 60s Williams Zig Zag!
And over the holidays?  A few more marquees are on the way.  Things are all coming together.  :)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Baywatch: How to tear down the playfield!


Start with the upper right wireform.  2 bolts to remove, then slide it out (to the right) from the lifeguard tower.  Then take the right background plastic off to allow you to move the single switch connector through.

DON'T DO WHAT I DID.  Do not start at the top and take off the plastic and try and work your way down.


The lifeguard tower actually comes off quite easily:  First label and undo the 3 connectors for it under the playfield.  Then there is a bolt at the very back of the game, then 2 small screws holding the front of ramp in.  Those ramp screws are hard to get at due to the plunger wireworm in the way, but if you go at an angle, or have a long shaft screwdriver, you should be ok.
Then the whole unit lifts out!
Wow, I wish I knew that 45 minutes ago.


Next step is the plunger lane wireform.  There is the clear plastic assembly that is easily removed, then 2 bolts beneath it.  There are two bolts mid playfield where the wireform connects as well, but the lower one required me unscrewing a flashlamp to gain access.  Then 2 connectors have to be labeled and detached at the back, then fed through the main playfield.
1 of the flashlamps has a wire that goes through the right ramp assembly, so best to just detach that lamp from the wireform because no way in hell are you getting the plug on through.
Then at the top there is one bolt now revealed by the missing lifeguard tower.  Huzzah!

At this point things might seem a bit counter-intuitive, but check the dependencies:
The Earthquake VUK wireform can't be removed since there is a bolt under the Venice Beach Ramp.
Venive Beach is stuck there until the left inlane wireform can be slid out.
Left side wireform isn't going anywhere until the cross-playfield wireform can be detached.
So that leaves us with the Iron Man / Tourist Season ramps for removal.  They are caught under the Earthquake VUK wireform, but by at least removing it's screws, it gives us strategic wiggle room!

I started by labeling disconnecting the 2 lights under the playfield, as well as the switch connector at the back of the ramp, whose wire runs through the back of the playfield.
2 screws removed at the front of each of the ramps, plus 2 screws removed at the back of the ramp by the game wall.
After that remove the sailboat plastic above the drop targets, as that presses down on the ramp plastics.
we're just going to leave it like this for now.

not a good photo, but it really highlights it's filth

Now that the upper right ramps have a bit of wiggle, we can easily slide out the right-to-left wireform that runs across the center.
There is a screw in the center, and after that it can wiggle out at the top and on the loops on the left.

goodbye, cross-playfield wireform!

Now that the cross-playfield wireform is gone, we can remove the left wireform that dumps the ball in the left inlane.
The bolt at the slingshot is easy, but here is a ridiculous thing we now have to do:  To get to the wireform's screw in to the playfield, you have to remove the plastic piece above the shark targets.  To remove the plsatic above the sharp targets, you have to remove the wireform since a welded flasher mount is in the way.
Only way I can see doing this is coming under the flasher with some pliers and manually rotate the bolt and loosen the plastic.  Then you can rotate the plastic out of the way to gain access to the wireform's bolt!
label and disconnect the flashers beneath the playfield and the ramp should slide out.

Yeah you're not getting in to that upper crack without the plastic moved...

Technically, it was easier for me to get to since my plastic was broken. Thank goodness I found a replacement.

Remove the clear plastic protector.  2 screws at the ramp entrance, as well a screw at the back left in a post that is securing it.  Label and disconnect the connector that runs through the wall at the back for the ramp switch.
Reel in horror at the fact that no one was probably been this deep in to the game before and you are fighting against 20 year of soot.

I should have wrote "wash me" with my finger.

With the Venice Beach ramp now gone you can easily access that third bolt for the VUK wireform!  Easy!

With the Earthquake VUK wireform gone, the 2 lights and 1 switch disconnected, and all the screws removed, the last major assembly comes off!

well hello there, dirt farm!

10) the solenoids
At this point there are only 2 other major things I am looking at, the 2 on-playfield solenoids.  One in the upper right hand corner opens the gate, and one on the right opens the kicker that sends the ball on a leftward orbit.  On my game both needed major tending to.

this solenoid pulls down the metal pole

That metal pole hooks in to that metal hook and opens it up for that kick back shot.

This is the solenoid that controls the ball gate at the top right.  Oops, I needed to buy the coil inset in to the bracket!  arrrrgh

Everything else is just your typical cleaning, replacements of rubbers, putting in LEDs, and cleaning + replacing plastics.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Baywatch: getting to the grime

After the utter filth beneath the apron was discovered in my last post, a cursory examination showed a mission critical issue with the shop job:  Nothing else would ever be clean while the trough beneath the playfield was crusted in filth.
It was a common shot in the game, to enter that lifeguard tower, and each time the ball ran the distance it just pushed the dirt along and in to the game.

So no point working on the top (and testing) while this  was there.

filthy filthy filthy trough!
I thought it would be a near impossible mission, but with only unscrewing about 18 bolts, removing 2 standups, and disconnecting 1 switch, I was able to carefully work the ramp out of the harness and off the playfield without having to really disassemble things too much.

I ended up cleaned lots of that caked on blackness as well.

I wish I took a better picture, but ummm, eww.

of course it cleaned up quite nicely:

Then back in to the machine!  Played a test game and it was all good.
I decided to be eager and start the mad puzzle of tearing down the playfield.  10 minutes in?  STUCK.  Dammit.  I'm not strong enough for this one screw.  Booooo.
Will have to enlist help another time.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Baywatch: winter is coming.

Fuck daylight savings time.  Who needs this anymore?  Certainly not parents with young kids.
Welp, now that I see no sunlight, time for a project I guess?  BAYWATCH:  prepare to get shopped!

some of the many replacement bits going in to the machine!

Between parts and LEDs, almost $400 will be put in to it.  And that doesn't even include a DMD swap.

I had a bit of time tonight so decided to work on the apron area.


On the right hand side I could find little pockets of dirt that had obviously been cultivating since 1995.

To get the hard-to-reach areas, I find a utility tooth brush works great.  Then get a clothe in there to wipe up the dirty Novus 2 froth.

I then spent some time with a bottle of Goo-gone and a razor blade to get the old tape off of the apron metal.

And finally, I got to replace my first plastic!  This busted right inlane plastic is the most noticeable of them all.  I added 1" lexan washers to both sides as well, so here is to hoping that extends their lifespan.
note the giant chunk missing

ahhhh all fresh and spunky and protected!

Sinbad: sprucing up a few minor things!

I will have to write a longer post at some point about just how great of a game Sinbad is.  This Gottlieb System 1 is winning my heart.
So of course I had to give it a quick once-over and get it playing even better.

4 new flipper rubbers, a rebound rubber, and a new lamp socket are all this machine calls for.  Plastics have some chips, but are now protected by lexan washers from further damage.  And really the chips don't both me at all.  It's a player's machine, and oh what a machine.

The flipper rubbers are easily swapped and give this game, which is ALL about ball control at the flippers, a new dimension.

The rebound rubber at the top was feeling flat.  The ball just hit it and limped away, so time for a new rubber on it. You hit that rebound rubber every plunge (almost...) and so having it vibrant is really important to the gameplay and general pinball esthetics.

When I first approached switching a rebound rubber I was a bit unsure and went the hard route, doing the nigh impossible contortion to unscrew the mount from the metal playfield apron.  NEVER DO THIS.

The solution is easy:  Get an exacto blade, slice down, peel off old rubber, force new rubber on.

The last thing to do is replace the light socket for one of the top rollover lanes.  I can't seem to get a bulb in to the sockets there, so at some point I will replace it.  And that's about it!

Introducing... Revenge From Mars!

OK, I got this one back in September as well but forgot to post about it. 
I guess it just didn't grab me?  It certainly has not held my attention.  Game plays fine, but I think it's the theme more than anything.  To be honest, I am also not a fan of Attack From Mars, so maybe this was a silly get.  But I at least knew it was popular so would be easy to trade along if it didn't grab me.
I plan on fixing it up in all of the ways I am capable and trading it off.  And yes, I already have people with dibs on it.  :)


The first thing that needed to be fixed was the monitor alignment.   It was waaaay out of wack.  Luckily, it was easily addressed via this panel behind the marquee:

A big thing effecting gameplay was that the right orbit shot wasn't registering.  There are two switches, one visible here, and one further up, blocked from view by the ramp:

At first I thought it was just the bottom one since it barely registered, but after replacing the switch there I found the top one was also not registering.  Good thing I had ordered 2 new switches!  With both replaced, the bottom was still a bit antsy, and required bending the switch wire up a bit to be reliably hit.
After that, right orbit was being hit A-Ok.   With any one shot not registering in this game, it is a supreme annoyance.

Another annoyance?  The sheer difficulty of hitting the orbits and ramps!  I found the flipper alignment a bit concave.  This seems to be how the game was designed, but bah!  I felt it stupid.  I adjust the flippers to the traditional settings of being aligned with the inner guide rails.  Now the shots are a bit better.

you can actually see the flipper dots peaking above each flipper.  Tough, I like it like this.

One major thing left to do is get in to the back and try and adjust the focus of the monitor.  Some of the tiny text is a bit blurry, so here is to hoping that can just be adjusted!
Worst case scenario?  Monitor capacitor replacements.  Either way, I will need some help.

Oh and one time opening it I busted one of the couplers for the martian spaceship mod.  I have another one of those on order to replace the busted one.  It's a great effect, gotta get it boomin'.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Surf Champ postlude

2 weeks ago a man drove all the way from Thunder Bay and grabbed Surf Champ.  He had errands on the way, but think:  Thunder Bay is 17 hours away from Ottawa by car.  He definitely wanted this game!

It was one of those special pinball moments:  You could tell from first contact that this pin was important to him.  And when he arrived he appreciated everything about it.  From the way it played, to the way it looked, to the way I had documented it's revival back to fully functional.

He related a story that a family member had an arcade that he grew up around, and had played Surf Champ back when it was new.  First time playing it, when just 6 or 7, he was playing against an adult.  First time on it, first ball, and he apparently wrapped it to 100k+.  Pinball wizard indeed.

I am super happy to know that it has gone to a very appreciative home.  Such is the magic of pinball.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Introducing... Corvette!

 Corvette was a bit of a surprise for me.  I was sad to have Monopoly go at first, but I knew I wanted a change.  I had played this game on location before, but didn't quite in to it.
I am not a car person, so the theme was a shrug for me, but then again so was Monopoly.
Now that I've played it again?  I am really enjoying this game!  This one might last MONTHS and MONTHS in my collection, you never know. 

Much of what is wrong with this game is aesthetic. Some plastic parts missing, cracked plastics, painted cab, etc.
I fixed one thing last night and it fixed the main playing issue:

Check out the right flipper:
hard to see, but that right flipper alignment is trouble!

When the ball comes down the inline, it hits the rubber and bounces.  This game is heavy on the "flow", and that bounce acted as a speed bump.
The flipper is obviously misaligned, so I went beneath the playfield and was able to adjust the flipper location.
(the flipper mech looked odd:  someone had replaced the proper flipper spring with a big one on the coil!  uh oh, will order a proper spring.  Might be best to just replace flippers...)
yeah..... pretty sure that spring isn't supposed to be there.
After alignment, I then had to loosen the right ball guide screws and do a tiny adjustment on the guide to make sure it was flush the flipper.
After doing this, no bounce!  The game is that much faster now.

now the ball flows gracefully from the right inline to the flipper

I want to clean/replace the Light KickBack target as it often does not register on a hard direct hit.
Also will probably eventually swap in LEDs.  Warm whites only, most likely, because this game looks great with dim orangey incandescants.

I also went through my now-mandatory fuse inspection.  Not only were a few found to be drastically overfused, I found a few jumpered entirely:


The scoring + rules doesn't seem to deep, but I imagine I will just be enjoying this game for a while.

Some pics of the arduous setup process my space requires: