(Topic ID: 325715)

1976 Bally Night Rider EM Restoration

By Mathazar

16 days ago


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  • 19 posts
  • 7 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 4 days ago by Mathazar
  • Topic is favorited by 3 Pinsiders

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#1 16 days ago

After doing a few SS restorations, I'm ready to try my first EM. Previous documented restores if anyone is interested:

Williams Black Knight (1980)
https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/1980-black-knight-player-s-condition-to-something-better

Stern Meteor (1979)
https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/1979-stern-meteor-project

Bally Mata Hari (1978)
https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/hardtop-install-for-ss-mata-hari

Bally Eight Ball Deluxe (1984)
https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/hardtop-install-and-restoration-for-eight-ball-deluxe

Bally Black Jack (1978)
https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/my-first-restoration-1977-bally-black-jack-ss

A month or so ago, my CL filter picked up a "pinball" hit for an estate sale set for Friday morning, about 20 miles from me. In the CL pictures, amongst the usual estate sale fodder, sat an EM Night Rider in a dark corner of the basement. I emailed the guy that night asking how much, is it working, and could I possibly come check it out Thursday before the estate sale. Much to my surprise, he answered me within 30 minutes with the asking price and a time Thursday to come by, check it out, and potentially buy it before anyone showed up the next day. He just wanted this pin gone. It's not working - it powers on with GI lit but nothing else happening.

Got there yesterday morning and the guy was nice as can be. His dad passed away a couple of years ago and they're finally getting around to clearing out his house. This was the family pin and it sat in the same spot in that basement for more than 22 years but hasn't worked in the last 10.

A few hundred dollars later, I was loading it up in my truck. He had the key for the coin door but not the backbox, so I had to drill out that lock to break down the backbox for transport.

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#2 16 days ago

My initial goal was to get this Night Rider working and teach myself about EM's. I spent the next several weeks going thru a punch list of things that didn't work, starting with the first issue of it powering on but not starting a game. Once I got by that, it was onion-peeling time. I wound up fixing about 15 things but in the end, I had a dirty, cosmetically challenged Night Rider but working and flipping 4-player games.

If you're interested in the issues resolved, most of them are documented in this thread (where I was reaching out for a lot of help being an EM newbie):
https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/getting-an-em-night-rider-going-again

Here are a few "before" pictures.....

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#3 16 days ago

The backglass is in near-perfect condition. No flaking, no scratches, just a little dirt. Amazing after 46 years.

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#4 16 days ago

I'm still finishing up my Black Knight restoration (down to the coin door....waiting for parts to come back from powder coating) but I just couldn't wait to start tearing down Night Rider after I got a delivery from CPR this evening. I pulled out the Night Rider playfield from the cabinet, mounted it in my rotisserie and started cataloging the parts I'm going to refurbish and the parts I'm going to replace.

OLD & BUSTED:
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NEW HOTNESS:
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The CPR playfield is for the SS version of Night Rider, but topside everything is the same with regards to holes. The underside, however, will require some carefulness. The CPR is dimpled for a SS wire harness which is quite different than an EM harness, so I'll have to make my own dimples. Should be fun!

#5 16 days ago

Pretty pleased with this CPR so far - such an improvement in clarity (and of course, colors). Here's an example where on my original, the background color is bleeding into the tops of the text and the text color is bleeding out of the bottom. The screen pass for the black text outline seems to have been off (too high) when my playfield was made - wonder if that's common or not. Will have to look closer at other NR's when I see them. So nice to see it cleared up on the repro.
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1 week later
#6 7 days ago

Spent about 5 hours this afternoon tearing down the playfield underside.....here's what I started with:
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About an hour or so into it - started at the bottom/front of the playfield which is heavily loaded with connections (especially the Bonus Unit). The method I use is to unsolder the wires and zip tie a metal-rimmed tag with the location written on the tag (and covered with tape). That, and hundreds of pictures as I go along.
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About 4hrs into it....everything is disconnected, tagged, and photographed.
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Ready for the dishwasher. There is so much dirt and grime on this EM wire harness....you can just lightly touch it and your finger/hand turns black. I probably washed my hands 12 times during the 4hr tear down.
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1hr rinse cycle is all that's needed.
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While the harness goes thru the rinse cycle, assemblies are removed and bagged. Each assembly will be torn down, ultra-sonic cleaned, tumbled if necessary, and perhaps painted if they don't buff out nice. If needed, parts will be replaced before reassembling. The old playfield will serve as a guide for running all new ground wire, installing new lamp sockets, and putting in new t-nuts. I still need to remove and clean the Jones plug sockets, rollover switches, the last two Pop Bumpers, and some brackets.
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Out of the dishwasher and mission accomplished:
- you can now handle the wire harness without your hands turning black
- colors are better identifiable
- tags are still legible, and none came off
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The wire harness will have plenty of time to dry out - it'll be at least 2 or 3 weeks before I'm ready to install it on the new CPR playfield and probably a week after that before I do a simple GI light test on the rotisserie. It'll be spring time by the time I'm able to do the cabinet and a full on power up test.

#7 7 days ago

You must have an understanding wife/no wife... Putting a dirty harness in the dishwasher. I really need to do this with some of the harnesses I get, just totally filthy.

#8 7 days ago
Quoted from pinhead52:

You must have an understanding wife/no wife... Putting a dirty harness in the dishwasher. I really need to do this with some of the harnesses I get, just totally filthy.

Full disclosure....she doesn't know, lol. I'm using the rarely-used dishwasher in the rec room wet bar at night after the family has gone to bed. Shhhhhhh.....

But yes, I do have an understanding wife for her to put up with my pin hobby (obsession!).

#9 7 days ago

Happy Thanksgiving everyone - pinball, football, turkey and family. It's going to be a great day!

De-pop is done...
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Got some goodie bags with new hardware fasteners, lamp sockets and what-not. Next phases....
- Install new T-Nuts
- Install new lamp sockets
- Run new grounding wire and jump/daisy-chain wires for grounding
- Clean up and move over rollover wires, some brackets, and two Jones plug sockets
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#10 6 days ago
Quoted from Mathazar:

Full disclosure....she doesn't know, lol. I'm using the rarely-used dishwasher in the rec room wet bar at night after the family has gone to bed. Shhhhhhh.....
But yes, I do have an understanding wife for her to put up with my pin hobby (obsession!).

I’d get killed if found out too. Very tempting though…..

This should look great when done. Im a big Bally fan and will get one of these one day.

#11 5 days ago

That only took a couple of hours - all of the shiny new t-nuts and lamp sockets are in. One of the trickier things with this playfield swap is that the CPR Night Rider is for the SS version of the game, and the EM wire harness is very different. In most cases, I have to ignore the dimples and instead drill holes where they need to go to accommodate the EM harness. So it's...line up the piece, use an awl to mark the spot, drill a pilot hole with a collar on the bit so it doesn't go too deep, apply some wax to the screw or staple the ends depending on the socket type, and then install the piece. Rinse and repeat.

Tomorrow I'll move over the rollover wires and brackets. I'll probably staple and solder in the ground wire Sunday.
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#12 5 days ago

Following, excellent so far.

#13 5 days ago

If I ever do this game I am determined to figure out how to make it play Willin by Little Feat

#14 5 days ago

Wow! Looking spectacular!

#15 5 days ago

Only had an hour this morning to work on NR - rest of the day is family stuff. Jones Plug Sockets, rollover wire brackets, and pop leaf switch brackets ultra sonic cleaned and installed. Ground wire work starts tomorrow.

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#16 5 days ago

This restoration has a bunch of little sub-restorations coming up after the ground wire is on the playfield. Going to be spending a lot of time on the bench rebuilding each of these assemblies to look as good as possible and work as good as new.

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#17 5 days ago

I'm REALLY getting into this. I have the solid-state version of this game, and am now thinking I see my first post retirement project.

#18 4 days ago

Found myself with an extra hour or so tonight so I got started on the ground wire....knocked out about 75% of it. I'll finish the other 25% plus jumper wires tomorrow.

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#19 4 days ago

Underside ground wiring and jump wires done. Call me nuts, but this is probably my favorite phase of a restoration....there's something relaxing and cathartic about wiring a completely new playfield with new parts. That is, until I power it up months later and spend hours figuring out what I did wrong after something doesn't work, lol.

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