Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sinbad: finally done

There was one nagging thing for Sinbad:  one of the rollover plastic's didn't have a light bulb underneath it.  I had taken the old one out and couldn't for the life of me get a new one inside it.
Welp, we FINALLY got a bulb in to it, and that officially closes out the repair list for that game.  Nothing much else to say, no grand pictures, but damn I love Sinbad and I am happy to say it's done.

Dragon: done!

I had a big day of fixing on Friday, and I am happy to say that I think Dragon is done!

When I first received the machine the owner said that sometimes the game didn't start when you turned it on, it just kept cycling, and so he'd turn it off, then on and try the start button again.
What was actually happening though was that the player motor was moving SO SLOWLY that the startup cycle was taking far longer than a reasonable person should be expected to wait.
This created erroneous scoring issues as well:  After ball 1 the player motor has to advance, but the ball is already in the shooter lane, so the player would shoot the ball, but the motor would be in player 2, 3 or 4 position as it tries to advance to player 1 ball 2.
All this because the player motor was spinning far slower than it should.  I found this thread on MAACA where someone else had the same issue, and described the player motor as a bit difficult to reassemble.  Due to the implied complexity (the guy in the thread repairs BINGO machines, so for him to say it was a challenge is intimidating...) I had someone in to help me open up the motor and clean it up.
After opening and cleaning the drive section, the motor goes much faster, and the startup delay and scoring issues are gone!  The motor was always especially slow when turning it on a first time, but now it is far better.  Odd to think of a pinball machine "warming up", but that is exactly what this one was doing.  But before it never even approached a reasonable rotation speed, even when used heavily.


That same thread also contained another member's insights in to my scoring issue.   Behold the scoring schematics section:

The CE / ML / DM / CM solenoids are the relays that trigger the score reel solenoids as well as the digital chime sounds.
The issue was the make/break relay P.  P, R and T make/break to determine if the pop bumpers are 1000 or 10000.  I had never before found a make/break relay that was gummed up and connecting on both sides, but this one was.  This also explains the intermittency of the issue, since the relay wasn't always engaged.  But when on, both sides of the P relay were connecting.  That is why when I manually trigger the DM relay, the ML would also fire.

Here is a schematic detail of what was firing:

This was also manifesting as another symptom:  When the 2 solenoids were advancing at the same time, sometimes the power wasn't strong enough to clear them to their next position.  AND, if the 10k was rolling over from 9 to zero, then 100k reel would advance as well and there certain wasn't enough power enough to advance all THREE reels properly.
This locked on the relays, and would cause the sustained squeal of the digital chime.   And this was the first and most major problem that the owner was complaining about.


Oh and we also installed a new power plug to replace the busted and frayed one that was causing the underside of the playfield to be hot/live.  Safety first!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

dragon scoring issue...

We are nearing the end of dragon but there are two major issues I have to attend to.
First, the player motor is super sluggish so I will have to dismantle it and clean out the old gunk.  Apparently it is a bit finicky, so I will have some external help for that.

The second issue is a but more mercurial.  I have yet to find the scenario where it reliably happens.
Somehow, the thousands and ten thousands solenoids get linked.
Thousands advance, and at the same time the 10k solenoid advances as well.  If I manually close the 10k solenoid in the back box, the 1k one also fires.
This happens for ALL PLAYERS, so it isn't a sticky carry switch in the score reels.
It also happens when I am tapping the side buttons for 100 points, and when I roll over 900 to 1000, the thousands firing also fires that ten thousand.  That means the O relay, which uses pulses to score 5k, is not the culprit.
It is also not related to any specific scoring switches on the playfield.
So, somewhere in the backbox, right?  We have the player motor stack and the relays for hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, and hundred thousands.  It FEELS like something is wrong there but I am foiled at each inspection.
I'll post the relevant schematics later, as I on mobile, but there are only so many triggers for the 10k reel:  zeroing advance logic, rollover from 9000 points (carry bit from each player,)  bonus counting, and 10k pops. (More? Will check later)

The most frustrating part if the investigation is that it isn't always happening, and I can't quite discern what is different when this issue is occurring.
When the 100k rollover happens at the same time the system is often stuck a bit since (I assume) it doesn't have the juice to advance all three score reels at the same time.  Since the advancement doesn't complete, the relays are still in the on position, and the scoring sound stays on like a squeal until it properly advances.

I am a bit stumped about where to investigate, because there are so few places where the two scoring mechs could short, and the intermittency just makes it worse.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Getting dirty with Arena!

I am pretty sure this game has never been fully cleaned before.  Some of the rubbers were replaced at some point (including that tragic rubber that melted and coated the playfield with it's debris!) but some of the harder to reach rubbers are seemingly originals.

I took off the Pit playfield and worked on that separately.  Underneath...


dirty dirty.  And that rubber on the right is obviously 28 years old.


I am not a game restorer.  I lack the space to even start collecting art supplies for paint matching, let alone sealing a playfield and all of that.  I clean to my best ability, but one of my goals is to preserve and diminish future damage.
I use plastic sheets to cover the high-impact areas and parts where there is flaking.  You can see by the green insert I have plastic down on that area to preserve it.   On the right, you can see the cut plastic  sheet with the film still on, laid down for sizing.

I am not fixing the paint job, but I do want to preserve it for the chance someday someone will swoop in on this machine and do that restoration, and it will be perfectly operational, and not in any worse shape than when it passed through my basement.  In fact, if I get the game playing super well, it might even serve to inspire someone taking that extra time in the future.

It's hard to see the plastic covering on the left, but that's kind of the point.

I forgot to take a Before picture of underneath the apron, but trust me it was gunky, and cleaned up nicely.


I have managed to trace down a NOS ramp, but I still wanted to clean that area since the intense dirty and debris there easily spreads to the rest of the game.
So with ramp on order, I will do what I can while with the old ramp.


As you can see I have been working hard to get rid of those tiny white dots, the remnants of the disintegrated rubber that had fused to the playfield all over.

And here's a sneak peak of the playfield as it stands!  

I have put a few LEDs in the GI, in the LOK + Pit inserts, and for 3 of the hard-to-see main area inserts.  (blue spinner light, green pit light, and the center CYS CYS orange light)
New ramp is coming from Winnipeg.  A decal for it will be coming from Pinball Resource.
When it is time to say goodbye to this game I am going to do another thorough playfield clean.

Monday, March 9, 2015

How to play Arena...

Finally got the translite back on (had to fix one of the plastic channels) and got the playfield glass back on.  Took a bunch of Windex and elbow grease to clean the playfield glass.  Then I addressed the gunk hidden in the cab's channels and was able to get a bunch of filth out of there, so hopefully the glass won't stick any more.

But I also played a bunch and quickly got in to the winning combo and fully realize why you'll probably never see this machine in competitions.  This game is fabulous, but has one fatal flaw:  The Million Points shot.
There is litereally no point to go for anything else but that, over and over again.  It doesn't get any hard to go for it.
The game should have that as 200k or 300k, and allow it be boosted 3 or 4 times by the playfield multiplier or something like that.  Even if it was just 200k, it'd still be a great shot and somewhat lucrative!  But at a million, everything else falls to the back.

Plunge the ball, preferably in to the lit million shot.
Ball feed out and over the "T" in PIT, to right flipper.
Shoot up center, hitting the "I" rollover, and ball will continue and hit "P", then return to left inlane.
Ball should have enough speed to bounce to right flipper if you just hold it up
Shoot the ramp.  Now that PIT is lit, you get to try that million points shot again.

This KILLS ME.  This game has SO MUCH going for it.  I want to hack the ROM so it only awards the 200k because this is SUCH a cool game, thrown  out of wack by that one value.  Ok, that might still make PIT lucrative as it is relatively safe.
So, maybe each time you make PIT you have to light it an extra time?  Oh to lost potential.

I GOT IT:  First, skill shot is now 250k.  Then after first round of PIT, you have to light both CYS targets to be able to recollect PIT letters.  BOOM.  There is some fine risk/reward.
Then the guard shots, which are AWESOME, have some lucrative value in lighting that extra ball.
And multiball, the other big goal, is still worthwhile to yield a bucket of points.

Introducing... Arena!

So Target Alpha is out and that freed up a spot and oh look what has arrived!


Gottlieb's 1987 ARENA!
My first Gottlieb Sys80b.

I found a few preliminary things even before even powering on:
hmmm.. original battery?  Thank goodness for no leakage

yeah that might cause an issue with the sound.  :)

the glass was dirty in the seams and was near impossible to slide out!

The game didn't start up readily, and the issue was it couldn't find the balls.  Hmmm where could they be?

2 balls were stuck in at the back.  I also found a manual and a big set of Gottlieb system80b documentation wedged in to the back of the cab!

Entering inside, let's check all of the cool areas in this very original playfield:
this bagatelle styled plunger shot comes in to play a lot in the game.  It has the coveted MILLION POINT SHOT, which is the key of the game.  Like bagatelle of yore, the ball can loop through twice on a good plunge.  Lots of fun.
 Oh but look:  missing that lower plastic, the upper right plastic, and the upper right cover that prevents some airballs.  Plastics are all disintegrating as well, and lots of caked on dirt.

Shot to the upper left rollovers is pretty much always ready for progressing the lock stages.  Lights can be rotated via right flipper.

checking boards online, this ramp (busted on the right) is unobtanium.  WANT.  It seems a new spinner piece had been installed at some point because it is in excellent condition.  Spinner shot sends ball up to upper-left lock area.

LOVE the wall and the guard.  The sounds here are AMAZING, and smashing your way though a wall to get to other targets is lots of fun. 

Once you get all 4 wall drops down, you have a timer to hit the 3 guard shots before the drops reset.  Luckily you can often hit 2 of the guard lights before the 4th wall target is down.  But DAMN what great satisfying sounds!

The game actually played fairly well!  Time to begin some initial cleaning:
ummm what's that white gunk?
 So turns out that white gunk it caked on pretty hard.  It wasn't until I got closer to that post on the far right that I realized what it was:  The rubber on that post had disintegrated in to some kind of sticky goo that had spread everywhere and fused to the playfield.  eep!

right sling with the plastics off.
 Right sling had one of the very few wear spots on this playfield.  After cleaning around it carefully I added a clear plastic sheet in that area.  I'm confused as to how that would be the high traffic damage area though.
This pic also shows the dual gate mechs that allow balls that come in to the shooter lane from the ramp to be redirected back to your flipper.
That first gate can also act as an outlane saver.

repairing the cracked with superglue and plastic sheets on the backside.

left sling area with plastics out:  just dirty.

Here are the right and left sling areas after initial cleaning and repairs:
Right sling area.  You can see the plastic repair at this angle, but not while playing.  Also put some plastic on the big wear spot on the inlane.

left sling area had no breaks and cleaned up easily.

A world of difference.  The old sling rubbers weren't really functional and/or in the right spots.  I also adjusted the sling switches so now the game plays a lot harder than before.

I will eventually start shopping the playfield above the slings.
I did some general playfield cleaning and found that non-mylared areas are EXTREMELY sensitive.  Saw a couple areas with preliminary paint flaking and so a LOT of care will need to be exercside to remove the muck but not strip any more paint.

First impressions:  This game is pretty fabulous, and reminds me of Bride Of Pinbot:  Great art, fabulous sounds, lots of fun...  but basically just one really important overly generous scoring opportunity to go for.

This is the third person that has loaned me a game for shopping.  I am loving this arrangement.  It works great for me because this is what I would normally do:  buy a game, shop it, and eventually sell it and hopefully recoup my material costs.  This way, I don't have to worry about money in any way shape or form (people pay for all parts needed, and transport,) and I get a steady flow of new games to play and tinker with.
Luckily I have discovered a well of people with more games in their collection than time to shop them all, so they're fine with me keeping a game for 4 months.