(Topic ID: 241522)

1951 Universal 5 Star Fixing


By bingopodcast

29 days ago



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  • 16 posts
  • 4 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 4 days ago by bingopodcast
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    #1 29 days ago

    I picked up a game from dennisdodel at the Texas Pinball Festival that needed some work done before it debuts as part of Bingo Row at the York Show this year:

    1951's Universal "5 Star"! (https://www.ipdb.org/machine.cgi?id=864) I was fortunate to have had a chance to visit Dennis last year (https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/visitors-from-afar) and during that visit, I was struck by this beautiful game that was non-functional. I offered to repair it for Dennis, as I love working on United games (Universal was the gambling division of United) and I was very curious to see the insides of this proto-bingo and get a feel for the gameplay.

    The first challenge was loading it up! The game uses a floor-length cabinet, much shorter than a traditional pinball, and it seems all the weight is centered in areas that make it difficult to move.

    That didn't stop me, though - the game made it into my gameroom, and I took an initial look inside to see what might be wrong and get a lay of the land.

    #2 29 days ago

    First of all, Dennis packs games like no one I have ever seen! The game was extremely well protected, and I learned a lot simply by unwrapping it!

    Here are some of the initial problems I noticed:

    1) A couple of pieces of debris came out during shipping from under the bottom board. This game has a board that slides out similarly to the later one ball horserace games, but the board itself is much thinner.

    IMG_20190329_221619 (resized).jpg

    Glad that match is spent! You might notice the label in front there - Ball Lift Switch - this is a lift override button. Interesting placement. The Bally and United bingos had an override button built into the plunger housing, but this game is much more compact. A player would have to reach under the game to press it.

    2) The tilt bob was bent out of its frame, and in a relatively high position. Unfortunately, during shipment, the tilt bob smashed around back and forth the whole trip, and likely contributed most of the dust and debris inside the cabinet.

    IMG_20190329_221635 (resized).jpg

    3) One wire is run outside of the Jones Plugs and held together with a wire nut. No obvious breaks in the jones plug female sides.

    IMG_20190329_221656 (1) (resized).jpg

    Other than that, should be pretty easy going! In fact, that gave me an idea...

    #3 29 days ago

    I have two kids, and I really like teaching them how to take apart and fix things. I feel that this knowledge is very helpful, and my daughters love to play and understand how the games in the gameroom function (kinda like their Dad)!

    Three years ago, I taught my older daughter how to repair/refurb machines with a 1950 Bally Turf King (https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/1950-bally-turf-king-one-ball-horse-race-game). She learned a lot, how to solder, how to electroplate, how to read a schematic, how to adjust switches, clean jones plugs, clean steppers, spray paint, and more. It was a great project and a great bonding experience.

    Ever since that date, my younger daughter Sophie has been interested in learning how to fix games. She has helped minimally with a few games, cleaned a few playfields, and learned the difference between normally open and closed switches in relays, but this was an opportunity for her to really fix a game! Sophie was also now the age that Ava was during the Turf King saga. Perfect timing!

    So I contacted Dennis, who was delighted to have Sophie work on the game. Thanks Dennis!

    #4 29 days ago

    Sophie was thrilled. She started in right away by rebuilding the steppers in the game. They were not in bad shape, but a few were a bit reluctant to step through certain positions.

    IMG_20190331_192757 (resized).jpg

    I like this wiper arrangement on this disc - this was the first unit disassembled, and it kinda sproings everywhere at once. Haha!

    MVIMG_20190331_193332 (resized).jpg

    Scrubbing away on the rivets.

    #5 29 days ago

    Here you can see the motor board sliding a bit out the back of the game to make it easier to reach certain components.

    IMG_20190407_130039 (resized).jpg

    The motor was a typical (though smaller) bingo-style clutch driven affair. I decided that Sophie should learn how to disassemble, clean, and lubricate the motor assembly based on the drag I experienced in moving the fan blade by hand with various clutches engaged.

    Here it is before the switches were moved away.

    IMG_20190407_132424 (resized).jpg

    From a different angle - you can see that the clutches were a little dry on the edges - not completely, but they needed re-lubrication.

    IMG_20190407_132432 (resized).jpg

    Motor shaft is out!

    IMG_20190407_134027 (resized).jpg

    Another angle:

    IMG_20190407_134032 (resized).jpg

    Third angle:

    IMG_20190407_134037 (resized).jpg

    So Sophie removed the motor cams in groups from the machine - as you can see in the pics, they are screwed together in sets of three-four.

    Once all were removed, she cleaned the gunk off the motor shaft (there was some old grease and rust):

    IMG_20190407_134735 (resized).jpg

    After that, a quick resurfacing with a scotch brite followed by a 0000 steel wool, and the shaft was very smooth to the touch and ready to have the cams replaced.

    IMG_20190407_144505 (resized).jpg

    However, each of the cams had to be cleaned, and the clutch washers had to be cleaned and relubricated. I use neatsfoot compound, as Bally specifies, for lubrication of the clutch washers. The trick, as I told Sophie, was keeping the pieces in the appropriate order and orientation so that you can simply slide them back together again once you're done!

    IMG_20190407_201859 (resized).jpg

    Here it is back in place, very smooth and easy to turn with no slippage. Great job, Sophie!

    #6 29 days ago

    The Jones Plugs were not in bad shape, but I never neglect to clean them - it's quick and easy and prevents future hassles, so why not?

    We also tackled the backbox components (sorry, no photos). Once that was done, I thought she might enjoy cleaning the game, so I had her disassemble the playfield and start scrubbing:

    IMG_20190416_190102 (resized).jpg

    The game wasn't very dirty, but it had been a little while since the last re-rubbering and cleaning, and that tilt bob exploded ev-er-y-where. I have been impressed where we've found the dirt thus far.

    Another few sessions and we should be able to plug it up and see what happens. The game has some kind of electrical issue, and I know Sophie and I will track it down before long.

    #7 28 days ago

    This game looks super interesting. Never even heard of it before you picked it up. Looking forward to video when it's done. Following!!!

    #8 28 days ago

    Nice job guys! Sophie will hopefully carry the bingo torch forward into the future. Keep up the great work and I'm looking forward to updates on your progress.

    A nice old solid brass tilt bob is on the way.

    #9 23 days ago
    Quoted from RyanClaytor:

    This game looks super interesting. Never even heard of it before you picked it up. Looking forward to video when it's done. Following!!!

    It's a very cool game, and pretty unusual - an early bingo experiment. I'm looking forward to playing it myself! I'm hopeful that Sophie and I will have time to get back to it shortly.

    Quoted from DennisDodel:

    Sophie will hopefully carry the bingo torch forward into the future.

    I'm hopeful that both kids might, but at the very least, they are learning how to work on machines, gaining life skills, and we are having a lot of fun and laughter together.

    Quoted from DennisDodel:

    Keep up the great work and I'm looking forward to updates on your progress.

    A nice old solid brass tilt bob is on the way.

    Thanks Dennis - I'll be posting here when there is more to show! Thank you for the tilt bob - we'll put it to good use when it arrives!

    1 week later
    #10 16 days ago

    Sophie and I got back to it yesterday!

    IMG_20190507_205445 (resized).jpg

    First, the tilt bob came in the mail! Sophie was excited to open the package and see the tilt. She had a hard time visualizing how the tilt functioned until she saw this assembly, then she understood immediately.

    IMG_20190507_191231 (resized).jpg

    The majority of our time yesterday was spent polishing various plastic and above-playfield components. Sophie cleaned every post.

    IMG_20190507_201716 (resized).jpg

    She also cleaned the shooter gauge and lifter cover. The shooter gauge had some stubborn dirt in the bottom corner, but Sophie managed to get it clean without hurting the original finish. Shiny and nice!

    IMG_20190507_202103_657 (resized).jpg

    Speaking of shiny and nice... check out this freshly cleaned plastic! I can't believe how nice this thing is - the plastic is VERY thin compared with most plastics on games. The bulb used to illuminate them is a low profile bulb, and I think that helps a lot, but I am still impressed that the ball has not damaged them.

    IMG_20190507_203134 (resized).jpg

    Now that the playfield is mostly complete (I need to order another 4" ring, d'oh!), we started looking back inside the game at the surfaces on which the ball travels. This first picture is of the ball return/trough. As you might be able to see, it is pretty dirty, and we definitely don't want that dirt to come back onto the playfield.

    IMG_20190507_204721 (resized).jpg

    This photo was hard fought/won. The ball lifter is really marvelous in this game - it lifts straight up, so high! Anyway, it is covered in grease and grime down where the ball settles, and it will also need to be polished/cleaned. There are three main trough/lifter assemblies that needed to be removed and we managed to get them all free yesterday.

    Today, we plan to do some alcohol cleaning of the metal parts, then polishing. Due to the awkward nature of the shape of these parts, they likely won't be brand new looking, but they will look nicer than they do right now!

    I'll try to take some better before/after pictures of the metal components.

    #11 15 days ago

    On a roll now!

    We started out yesterday by using Q-tips and 90% ISO to clean the grease and hair off of the lifter mechanisms.

    IMG_20190508_194606 (resized).jpg

    Sophie did a great job on the lifter itself - there was a lot of old grease of a few different types that needed to be cleaned. We will re-lube

    It looks like the mech was lubed several times and someone probably spilled a beer or two in there at some point in the games' life, which of course attracted more junk to the metal/grease. I like to make sure the ball isn't going to bring crud back up to the playfield after cleaning, which means taking apart these types of items.

    But - geez - I forgot to take some good before pictures. Here are a couple after I remembered that I was supposed to do that...

    IMG_20190508_194640 (resized).jpg

    IMG_20190508_194646 (resized).jpg

    And here is a sample of the used Q-tips and the trough taken apart. This is after the initial cleaning and a wipe-down with a metal polish to see if we could get some of the bigger spots out by hand. We couldn't.

    IMG_20190508_200358 (resized).jpg

    So Sophie is learning the cheap-o way to remove rust and grime from an assembly - white vinegar! We had a jug left over from Easter Egg dying, and filled up a drinking glass to the brim with the parts and vinegar.

    This photo is after only a few minutes in the glass:

    IMG_20190508_202140 (resized).jpg

    Overnight, a lot more magic has worked. The assemblies are looking much nicer. Tonight we will rinse and scrub with tinfoil, then follow up with a metal polish.

    #12 14 days ago

    Sophie and I polished up the ball trough assemblies and lifter assembly last night and we got them reinstalled. They look pretty good now! Not perfect, but, as my friend Steve says, "it's old"!

    Then we put together a supply list (which I'll be ordering today). Sophie learned how to use a new tool, the caliper:

    IMG_20190509_203523 (resized).jpg

    The game uses 1" balls. 1 1/16" will jam the lifter.

    Mechanical is done, and we're closing in on the final cosmetic touches before we begin on the electrical.

    Sophie could not reach the kickout, but I disassembled it and removed it from the game to polish as well. I'm not throwing it on a wire wheel, just hand-polishing. Should look a bit better, but of course, not perfect.

    #13 13 days ago

    I have to take a photo of the 'ol gameroom this weekend, so I need to button up the game.

    The kickout was polished and replaced, and the tilt replaced. One of my least favorite things to do is to replace the wire that extends to the tilt rod. The original had about a mile of solder on it, and rather than replace, I decided that we should bend the original rod back into shape.

    Took a few pics!
    IMG_20190510_192341 (resized).jpg

    Fancy playfield!

    IMG_20190510_195505 (resized).jpg

    Fancy tilt reinstalled!

    IMG_20190510_195511 (resized).jpg

    Fancy shiny trough!

    I am waiting on a small order to finish off the game, but Sophie and I can start working on the electrical issues now! There is a wire that does not run through a plug - which is common to about 10 of the playfield switches, and runs to the ball count unit. I need to figure out why the original wire was replaced and fix that to run through the playfield Jones plug.

    #14 11 days ago

    Shop supplies are coming today, supposedly - Sophie and I are looking forward to installing the new lamps and so forth and actually trying the game to figure out what's wrong!

    #15 11 days ago

    looking god man

    1 week later
    #16 4 days ago

    Thanks way2wyrd!

    Sophie and I spent a little time diagnosing the issues with the game today.

    New balls and the final rubber we're put in place, along with 55s in all inserts and fresh 51s under plastics.

    So the game: says there are six games on the counter. Trying to play one off does nothing.

    Dropping a coin , the game will light a card, but doesn't pulse the ball release solenoid, so the game doesn't start.

    Manually lifting the bar, the balls all jump into the lifter assembly, but none are lifted. Pressing the lifter override button under the game, the relay engages for about 2s, then drops out as the cam rotates attached to the lifter. Some switch isn't set right there.

    Pressing this right after dropping a coin throws the game into tilt.

    Dropping another coin adds another card(?) And untilts the game.

    Ditto on until 4 cards are lit, then I suggested that I manually lift a ball. Did so, and Sophie shot it - landed in 11, which lit (most of) the backglass lamps (we haven't reviewed or replaced bulbs behind there yet). She shot another couple and got a three in a row! But it didn't do anything once that happened.

    So! We have some work to do!

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