A Pecos Diary - My Journey to Pinball Operator

(Topic ID: 211448)

A Pecos Diary - My Journey to Pinball Operator


By Pecos

1 year ago



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#1 1 year ago

I have been toying with the idea of starting my own pinball operator business for quite a while now, but now is the time to take this big step for these reasons:

  • I need the space. 37 pinball machines seems to be my limit here at Pecos' Palatial Pinball Parlour.
  • I need the money. I don't expect the income to be much, but even a little bit will be welcome.
  • My machines need to be played. They don't get much play here at the PPPP and they were meant to be played.
  • If my pinball machines will bring even a little bit of the joy that I got from playing pinball in my youth, my efforts will be well worth it.
  • I put so much work into the restoration of my games, that routing the machines from my collection means that I will benefit from all of the hard work to make them reliable and nice looking while still maintaining ownership. I sold some of my games last year and got nowhere near minimum wage for the hours I put into the restoration. Add the costs of the parts, and it just makes more sense to keep the games and try to make money routing them.

I wanted to start my business, Pecos Pinball, as soon as possible, but thought better of that idea. There was a lot of work to be done! I chose April 1st, 2018 because Tucson business license costs are pro-rated by quarter and that gave me a month and a half to prepare.

If it weren't for all of the paperwork required to run your own business, I would have done this a long time ago. I despise with a passion tax forms and all of the documentation needed to do the income, expenses and depreciation. Just getting a Vendor Distributor license in Tucson is a hassle. Michael, who works for the licensing division here in Tucson has been very helpful. He sent me a package of paperwork that needed to be filled out and answered a lot of my questions. I need four licenses:

  • TPT - Transaction Privilege Tax
  • Tucson Business License
  • Vendor Distributor License
  • A license for each pinball machine

In addition, I had to be fingerprinted by the Tucson Police Department. Okay, that is just a tad bit over the top, doncha think?

Getting ready to put my pinball machines on route, now residing at Pecos' Palatial Pinball Parlour, is a big task. Items that don't matter in a home environment take on importance when a machine is put in the public. The coin mechs have to work. Locks are needed for the coin door, coin box and back box. Many of my Project Pins came with no backbox backdoor and the lids on coin boxes always seem to be missing. Tilt plumb bobs and balls for the ball roll tilts are almost always missing and need to be replaced. The games need to play 99% or better and that is a tough task to accomplish. And you want the machine to look as good as possible so playfield touch-ups are important too.

A restoratation of my games is a lot of work. It's hard enough to get a game working 95% and that fits most of my working machines. Getting that last 5% can be a real bear. Here are the steps I am doing in the restoration and the preparation for routing a machine:

  • Remove rust from legs, wax and replace leg levelers with new leg levelers. Shine up the leg bolts.
  • Check power cord for splices. Replace if necessary. Check wire nuts for missing or loose.
  • Remove fuses, one at a time, and check to see if Amperage is correct. Replace if not. Buff with Magic Brush the contact points on the fuse holders and fuses. Pinch fuse holders to tighten if fuses are loose. Replace fuse holders if necessary. Test with a DMM for continuity.
  • Check coin door switches for mal-adjustment. Clean and adjust as necessary.
  • Disassemble shooter rod, clean, replace sleeve, replace barrel spring and lightly lubricate with SuperLube. Reassemble and install. These old plastic shooter rod housings are often broken. A new metal one may be needed.
  • Remove, clean and insert new nylon solenoid sleeves for the pop bumpers, sling shots and flippers.
  • Remove mech board and vacuum cabinet - if needed or dust off mech board.
  • Clean and repaint bottom of cabinet if needed.
  • Glue and clamp cabinet, if needed.
  • Clean and adjust all switches on mech board.
  • Shine all screw heads, washers and metal parts if removed.
  • Disassemble score motor and clean cam and brackets.
  • Clean and adjust all switches on score motor.
  • Clean and adjust all switches under the playfield.
  • Replace all playfield insert lamps with new #44 lamps.
  • Replace all playfield general illumination (GI) lamps with new #47 lamps.
  • Replace all backbox lamps with new #47 lamps.
  • Replace pop bumper lamps with new #47 lamps.
  • Clean playfield and wax with Carnauba Wax.
  • Clean all playfield parts - flipper bats, posts, plastics, aprons etc.
  • New rubber rings on playfield.
  • Disassemble and clean all stepper units - Credit Unit, Player Unit, Match Unit.
  • Disassemble and clean all parts for each score reel.
  • Adjust and clean score reel switches.
  • Clean and adjust all switches in the backbox.
  • Take apart chime box and knocker, if needed.
  • Coat backglass with Triple Thick to prevent flaking.
  • Clean outside of cabinet with blue window cleaner.
  • New locks on coin door, coin box and backbox door.
  • Replace backbox door, if missing.
  • Replace coin box and coin box lid, if missing.
  • Clean and adjust all tilts. Pay special attention to the coin door slam tilt and the kick-off tilts on the bottom of the mech board. These are normally closed!
  • Replace Ball Roll Tilt ball and Tilt Plumb Bob, if missing.
  • Replace coin mechs and make sure the machine will take coins and add credits/start game.
  • Set up replay point values and change instruction and score cards
  • Test tilts, features and play game to find issues

For the solid state games, these tasks need to be completed:

  • Replace all electrolytic capacitors
  • Add NVRAMs
  • New connectors where needed
  • Upgrade Power Supply Boards
  • Add LEDs, as an option
  • Add new drop target decals and Mylar
  • There are always a few lamps out on the old Bally SS pins needing SCR/MCRs replaced
  • Tweak settings to allow for more points, easier to achieve features - but don't give away the store

I'm sure that I have missed something, so consider these lists a work in process.

I use the 'fist test' to find any switches that are set too close. A firm banging of your fist on different parts of the playfield will trigger switches that are set too tight. This is important because kids will take advantage of pins that give free points. I know I did!

I have called my insurance agent to get some quotes on liability insurance but have not heard back.

I thought it would be easy to find some businesses that would want to add pinball machines. It hasn't been so far. I began by dressing up and visiting some local places. The Moose lodge doesn't have the room. The Mulligan's manager has twice told their employees to get my name and number. The manager said that the owner was looking for new entertainment devices; I will keep trying. The local fitness center would be a perfect place to route Hardbody, but their corporate office won't allow any vending machines in their store. I plan to start calling some businesses that are not as close. I called a local pizza eatery and one of the owners was interested when I told them that my pinball machines were vintage, but needed to contact their partner and I haven't heard back from them. There will be no 'Grand Opening' if I can't find some businesses to put my games in!

I plan to route these games:

  • Aztec EM - 1976 Williams, two available
  • Spanish Eyes EM - 1972 Williams, two available
  • Travel Time EM - 1973 Williams
  • Super-Flite EM - 1974 Williams
  • Steller Wars SS - 1979 Williams
  • Future Spa SS - 1979 Bally
  • Mr & Mrs Pac-Man SS with LEDs - 1982 Bally
  • Hardbody SS with LEDs - 1987 Bally

The following games will be available soon:

  • Liberty Bell EM - 1977 Williams
  • Laser Cue SS - 1984 Williams
#2 1 year ago

Best of luck and VERY exciting - would love to do the same some day!

#3 1 year ago

Going old school, very nice. If and when you get some machines out in the wild I am very curious as to how many plays they get.

#4 1 year ago

I ordered two coin plates, 2 Quarters / 1 Game on ebay for Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man and Future Spa. I plan on charging 25 cents for the EMs and 50 cents for the SS pins, but the businesses will have final say on pricing.

One of the items I badly need is coin box lids. I could go to a local sheet metal shop and have some made, but why spend the money I don't have? I thought about several ideas and came up with this one, primarily because I have the parts and tools I need on hand.

Since most of the games I want to route are Williams, I started by trying to copy the original Williams coin box lid. It has a handle, and I wanted to add a handle, but the metal I had on hand that might work was too thick. Even after scoring, the metal was hard to bend. I decided on a simpler solution.

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I am using a radial arm saw and metal cutting blade. It is a big blade and needs two stabilizers so the blade won't break apart. The perforated sheet metal I had on hand has been sitting around for 20 years and is rusty. I started with a drill and wire brush to remove the rust. That worked well, but my angle grinder was faster. I wore a 3M mask to keep the rust out of my lungs and glasses to keep metal pieces out of my eyes - absolutely necessary!

The metal bent fairly easily. The sides were bent to match the original lid.

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The three coin-drop holes and the hole for the lock-tab was made with a Dremel tool using a metal cutting blade. The blades wear fast - about 3/4 of the blade per lid. I painted with Krylon Brilliant Silver spray paint.

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Since I planned on using a handle, the top to bottom length was a bit short for the first three. I don't think this will allow anyone to pry up the front to get access to the quarters inside, but this lid is designed to keep honest people honest, not to keep the persistent thief out. I will fix this in the next batch.

The teeny tiny locks I got from Amazon are a bit of a joke. They looked full size in the pictures but were really small when I opened the package. They should still do the job.

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#5 1 year ago

Find where the hipsters hang out...record shop, comic store, game shop, vintage video games, ...

#6 1 year ago

Best of luck, Pecos! It would be great to see another great lineup available for coin play in Tucson!

#7 1 year ago

Good luck Pecos!

#8 1 year ago

Best wishes !

LTG : )

#9 1 year ago

GET AFTER IT, PECOS!!!

#10 1 year ago

Need to see that the coin box lids don't jam up the coin mechanisms. For games that can take bills you may want to put an bill head on or at least that the place has lot's of change

#11 1 year ago

Following

#12 1 year ago

Stellar Wars was the first game I got working 100%. I have several theories about how well these old games will do on route - SS machines will do better than EMs and EMs will do well only if they play like they did when new. This is why I am focusing on SS games now.

I did the bullet-proofing recommend by Vid and l labeled my boards with the dates, changes and fuse types.

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I added 8A slow blow fuses to the two bridges. Don't want to burn down any businesses!

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I replaced the four middle drop targets, added new drop targets decals with Mylar, and added new purple lane guides and purple pop bumper skirts. Pretty cool, huh! I touched up the playfield and waxed it. Stellar Wars looks and plays, well, Stellar!!

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Here is an example of the kind of documentation I am keeping on my pinballs that will be routed:

Capital Gains and Losses Income

Williams 1979 Stellar Wars Pinball Machine
Costs:
Purchased for $550, $500 + $50 bonus on October 26th, 2016

Restoration costs:

$10 #44 and #47 lamps
$15 Rubber Rings
$3 Front coin door lock
$14.00 4x Drop Target - Williams Early A-8146-3 Maroon/Pink $3.50
$4.45 5x $0.89 Purple Pop bumper skirts
$13.95 10x Purple lane guide
$1.25 New pinball

Electrolytic Capacitors – Great Plains Electronics

MPU & Driver Board
$0.54 $027x2 2x 100µF 25V
$4.40 4x $1.10 Molex Connectors
$12.00 5101 NVRAM - $12

Sound Board
$4.50 1x 12,000 µF 25V
$0.45 1x 470 µF 25V
$0.675 1x 1000 µF 25V
$0.27 1x 100µF 25V
$0.18 1x 33 µF 25V

Power Supply Board
$4.50 1x 12,000 µF 25V
$5.40 3x $1.80 100 µF 160V
$0.63 $0.315 2x 6A4 Diode
$2.00 2x $1.00 Fuse Block
$0.80 2x $0.40 8A SB Fuses

Shipping:
$2.63 $24.345/ 225.52 * 24.37
Parts and Shipping $83.67

Total Costs

$632.42

I am keeping this information for tax purposes. It takes me 2-3 hours to go back and document the parts and costs for each machine.

I visited two more businesses today, a bar and a bowling alley. The bowling alley manager told me that their corporate office buys all of their games. The bar is still a possibility.

I am finishing up the restoration on Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man. I got a second coin mech and switch working. It's always nice to have working coin chutes. I had some stuck-on switches. The drop target switches were easy to fix and find. But, after I thought I had gotten all of my switch problems behind me, the game started scoring 500 points at start-up. That is a real problem on Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man because any points scored will turn of the shooter skill shot. I got smart and started testing with the coin door self test. As soon as I figured out that the pinball had to be removed and all targets had to be up, I got to the problem switch - #30 'Wire Spinner.' There are two of these and no matter how much I looked upwise, downwise, sidwise, underwise and allwise, I could see no problems. I decided to remove the wires to the two switches. AHA! The switch problem went away! This meant that one or more of either the two diodes or the two disc capacitors had to be bad. After adding and removing wires, I narrowed the problem down to the right Wire Spinner. The diode tested good, so this meant that the disc capacitor had to be bad. But I thought these hardly ever failed?

Next, I had to learn how to read disc capacitors. There was Y5P and .05M on the capacitor. I thought the M stood for microfarad, sounds reasonable right? Wrong! M stands for +- 20% tolerance and the .05 means .05 microfarad. I went looking for my stash of parts and, surprisingly, I found a .047 uF disc capacitor. I don't even remember what I bought it for but I am sure glad I had them on had. The difference is not big enough to matter, so I soldered it back on and powered up the machine. Success!! What a great feeling to isolate and fix that problem! I still consider myself a rookie working on these SS pins so it took me longer to debug than a pro would have taken, almost four hours, but that is the price of learning.

#13 1 year ago

Man, what a terrific thread, thanks so much for documenting this!

#14 1 year ago

Awesome thread, I am really looking forward to following along

#15 1 year ago

Are you tracking the labor hours that you pit into the machines?

#16 1 year ago

Way to go Pecos! I'm really enjoying following your journey. Thanks for documenting it here.

#17 1 year ago
Quoted from Matesamo:

Are you tracking the labor hours that you pit into the machines?

There is no reason to for tax purposes. I spend 60 to 90 hours to restore an EM. The time spent on SS pins varies widely, but it is a lot less than EMs.

I forgot to mention that I have a Website, pecospinball.com for my business. It's not that important for a pinball operator, but it is nice to have email addresses that end in pecospinball.com. I've been considering getting some business cards, but haven't pulled the trigger yet. Do I really need them?

I contacted one of the local bars today. I will be talking with one of the owners tomorrow. One of the employees told me that they might be interested in adding some pinballs to their entertainment lineup.

I also contacted a local insurance company to get some quotes on insurance. They will be sending me a quote.

I took the left gate apart to clean it. When trying to put it back together again, I could not figure out how it worked. I turned the game on and realized that unlike all of my Williams pins, the gate coil is engaged when CLOSED, not OPEN! Seems completely illogical, but there you are. That is how it works. It was easy to put back together once I realized that.

I got my latest order, number eight, from Ed at GPE. Ed is my SS pinball hero. Life is much better with Ed and Great Plains Electronics filling my orders for electronic parts!

With new parts in hand, I replaced the electrolytic caps on the Solenoid Driver/Voltage Regulator board this evening. The fifth Pac-Man lamp on the playfield was stuck on. I found the SCR number on the schematic, Q6, and replaced with a SCR 2N5064. After powering on, the new SCR is working. It's still magic to me when I replace a part and it works! Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man appears to be playing 100%, probably for the first time in 30 years.

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That big black Richey capacitor is so cool looking! I could have used an axial capacitor, but this is the cleanest look and I don't mind paying a little bit more for a 'clean' look.

I had already replaced the electrolytic capacators on the Squawk and Talk board in late 2016.

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Except for a few colored inserts, the game is now using LEDs, including the Pac-Maze. I will be ordering some colored LEDS soon. Some of the computer controlled lamps were blinking after replacing with LEDs. I ordered a bag of 500 750 Ohm resistors from GPE on clearance for $3.75. I soldered one of them in parallel on each lamp socket with the blinking LEDs. The resistors did the trick! I am using the LED Pac-Maze made by Geeteoh Electronics. I will never have to replace those little incandescent bulbs again! And those teeny tiny bulbs aren't cheap at $1.10 each. There are 50 of them on the Pac-Maze.

After the touch-ups, Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man is looking pretty good!

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I got my NOS coin plates today, shown on the bottom of this picture.

Edit: If you look closely, you will see Williams style flippers on Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man. I am keeping the originals, but these will stay on. I like them better than the Bally flippers. I just scored 1.23 Million and it is a real pleasure to be playing a Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man that is playing 100%. After adding the new coin plates, this game will be ready for routing! Pin #3 ready to go!

#18 1 year ago

Best of luck Pecks.
The bottom of the scores aren't able to be seen on Stellar Wars, I have made that better sometimes by raising the whole insert a touch, Getting the displays centered in the window.
Those machines look really nice!

Added 12 months ago: Sorry for the typo, cannot edit.
Best of luck...Pecos

#19 1 year ago

Very curious what locations you end up with, and earnings

#20 1 year ago

This is great, wish I had an operator like you near me, I would love to play those games.

#21 1 year ago

I am surprised that you can't get a tax break on labor, did you talk to an accountant? Anything you do for business purposes should get you something I would think.

Business cards are a must! Use VistaPrint, spend a couple extra dollars and get the nice stock, coated and double sided. How are you leaving your information for the businesses if you don't have business cards? It adds a professional look that will open doors for you if the owner sees a nice business card and website as opposed to hand-written information. I have been at trade shows where a demo or product revel has been booked solid but leave my card, I get a lot of compliments on the card and get called if a spot opens. Give them a card with your information on one side and a catchy slogan on the other. They will remember it.

Don't pooh-pooh the website either. Even as an operator that could open a lot of doors for you. Make sure every machine has your business card on the apron with the email and website clearly readable. You may be surprised by the people who see the machines in public and a) want one in their business or b) have a machine in their basement that want to get rid of.

#22 1 year ago

Two Spanish Eyes to be routed? Noooo, you should route one and send the other one to me!!!

Seriously, though, good luck, Pecos. I'll be following your thread, looking forward to hearing your stories -- hopefully few to none of which will be tales of woe.

#23 1 year ago

good luck. I love following operator stories.

#24 1 year ago

It's truly a labour of love if you're only charging 25 / 50 cents per game. Will you be splitting that with the location?

#25 1 year ago
Quoted from dr_nybble:

Find where the hipsters hang out...record shop, comic store, game shop, vintage video games, ...

The hipsters hang out on 4th Avenue. D & D Pinball has the market wrapped up there.

Quoted from Matesamo:

I am surprised that you can't get a tax break on labor, did you talk to an accountant? Anything you do for business purposes should get you something I would think.

I can't afford an accountant. I have never heard of a way to deduct your labor when self employed, but if anyone has any info, I would like to hear about it. I have been self employed before and you have to pay for your share of the Social Security taxes plus the share that the employer normally pays - something to be aware of when negotiating a contract.

Quoted from jwilson:

It's truly a labour of love if you're only charging 25 / 50 cents per game. Will you be splitting that with the location?

Yes, I am asking for a 60/40 split with the with all of the costs I will be incurring. I am stuck with 25 cents for the EMs. I am not 100% sure of this, never paid attention to this detail, but not a lot of 70s EMs are capable of taking two coins per game like they were in the 60s. Routing these pins is a labour of love, just like the restoration process for these old Project Pins.

I decided three weeks ago that, even though I was only halfway done with the restoration, that Super-Flite 1 would be perfect to route. It is simple but fun and fast. Plus, I was anxious to play a Super-Flite. I haven't played one since the 70s. This machine was brought back from the dead and one of the games I am most proud of restoring.

The playfield had been stripped down, touched-up and clear coated. I added five more coats of clear.

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playfield_after_clearing (resized).jpg

Fortunately, the person in Phoenix who did the playfield touch-up did a good job of keeping the parts in a box. The only parts that were missing were the pop bumper fin shank screws and Nylock nuts.

The backglass on Super-Flite 1 was horrid, but the backglass on Super-Flite 2 was faded, but nice. It went onto Super-Flite 1.

Super-Flite has the same gear-type pop bumper caps as OXO and DC power to make it super fast. It was made soon after OXO so I have fond memories of Super-Flite.

Game #2, Super-Flite 1, ready to go!

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I began working on Bally Future Spa today. The electrolytic caps were replaced on all of the boards. I also started work on two lids for Bally coin boxes. One will go in Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man and the other in Future Spa.

#27 1 year ago

Saturday was a bad day here at Pecos' Palatial Pinball Parlour. I have moved on to Future Spa. A number of computer controlled insert lamps were out and the 2N5060 SCRs were my primary focus. I thought I had fixed the lamp sockets and completely forgot about any possible connector issues. So, replacing SCRs we went. It turned out that most of the problems were lamp sockets and there was at least one bad pin on one of the connectors. I replaced good SCRs. That wouldn't be too bad if it weren't for my lousy board work. My rookiness was showing. I have had no problems with Williams boards, but the Bally has thin traces. I lost a few pads and lifted some traces. It looks like a newbie did it. I can do better than that!

To make matters worse, my cheap $25 Yihua solder station died for the third time. Or is it the fourth? It still works; it is stuck on. I have some replacement heating elements but was in too much of a hurry to put one on. I had no problem putting new electrolytic capacitors in the power supply and sound boards...

There is still one lamp out. I traced it down to J1 pin 12. I put masking tape on pins 11 and 13 and ran a wire to an alligator clip on pin 12. I had voltage, but when I tried to light the 4X bonus lamp, nothing. It wouldn't light any other lamps either. Worse, when I put the connector was put back on, I had no voltage at all. So, my theory is that there is a connector problem and low voltage problem. I am going to leave it alone for now. I will buy some LEDs and hope that there is enough voltage to light the LED.

Another addition to the 'Learning Account.' Yikes!

Do be careful desoldering and soldering boards with thin traces.
Do use a temperature controlled solder iron.
Do eliminate the simple to solve potential problems first.
Don't buy a cheap Chinese soldering station.
Don't shotgun your fixes!

I downloaded some of Inkochnito's score and instruction cards from pinballrebel.com. Thanks guys! I made a few changes.

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I set the switches in the backbox and cleared all bookkeeping data. I put a 'new' used NVRAM in and there was data on it that needed to be reset to zero. I set the number of maximum credits to 15 and number of coins per game. The options were set liberally, but I did set the number of specials to one.

I realized that I hadn't done a full shop job yet, so spent last night doing that. This game is drop-dead gorgeous. I am reconsidering whether I should route it. If I do, it will only be until I can replace it with another pin. I will also be charging 75 cents per game. Playing perfection comes with a price.

Pin #4 ready to go! Albeit, not 100%.

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The playfield on this pin is a mirror finish.

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#28 1 year ago

Finished the Bally coin box lids today for Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man and Future Spa. I used up all of my Dremel metal cutting discs so I used the angle grinder to cut the holes for the coin drops.

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#29 1 year ago

I might suggest - rather than use the original instruction cards on the apron, which are sometimes a little cryptic even to seasoned pinheads; or fancy schmancy colorful cards with info about the machine's programmer, artist, and production run that your average user really won't care about anyway - how about typing yourself up some instruction cards that clearly define what to shoot for and why. People might get into the game more (and spend more money) if they understand the rules behind it, and don't just see some random flashing lights.

#30 1 year ago

Agreed. We all need to get in on this. Tell people what to do and why... and what a “good” vs “great” score might be.

#31 1 year ago

Your Future spa backglass is missing the spectral decal.This happens most of the times and sometimes it is found in the head or inside the cabinet, i even find them sometimes in the manual.
Most people have no idea what it is, since it looks like a normal sheet of plastic.
When you put it back on you will see it adds a nice touch of nostalgia to the game and it is a unique feature found only in this game.

#32 1 year ago
Quoted from jibmums:

I might suggest - rather than use the original instruction cards on the apron, which are sometimes a little cryptic even to seasoned pinheads; or fancy schmancy colorful cards with info about the machine's programmer, artist, and production run that your average user really won't care about anyway - how about typing yourself up some instruction cards that clearly define what to shoot for and why. People might get into the game more (and spend more money) if they understand the rules behind it, and don't just see some random flashing lights.

Quoted from NicoVolta:

Agreed. We all need to get in on this. Tell people what to do and why... and what a “good” vs “great” score might be.

Can you guys please give me some examples? I'm not getting it. I like the originals because, well, they are original. I never read the instructions when I was a teenager playing pinball. All I needed to know was how many games and balls per game I was getting for my quarter and the score for the first replay. Half of the fun of playing a new pinball was figuring out how it scored and what shots were the biggest payoff.

Quoted from cudabee:

Your Future spa backglass is missing the spectral decal.This happens most of the times and sometimes it is found in the head or inside the cabinet, i even find them sometimes in the manual.

Thanks. You are right. I have not found the missing piece. A replacement is discussed here:

Quoted from Pecos:

8"X25" Diffraction Grating Roll Sheet Double Axis 13,500 l/mm Physics Light
ebay.com link » 8 X25 Diffraction Grating Roll Sheet Double Axis 13 500 L Mm Physics Light

Has anyone tried this particular item? Will the diffraction grating give the same or similar effect of the original backglass?

6" x 12" Diffraction Grating Roll Sheet Double Axis 13,500 l/in Physics Light

ebay.com link

Can someone please tell me if this product will match the original? It looks like it has the starlight effect that people talk about.

#33 1 year ago

justagefehler came up with this variation...

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I'm going to do something like it. Maybe with point thresholds and more explicit references of scoring strategies...

#34 1 year ago

I have spent a week and a half gluing and clamping the cabinet of a Gottlieb Surf Champ. I also used 10 ounces of Elmer's wood filler to fix the back panel that looked like a Rottenweiler had chewed on it! I am doing this because I have worked a trade with my Phoenix Project Pin guy for a SS. I want to keep the Surf Champ; except for a painted cabinet, it looks great, but I'm looking for more SS pins to route. I will post pics on Friday of the 'mystery machine.'

I also spent time replacing the bad heating elements in my 853D and 936 Yihua solder station soldering irons. And it is the thermistor, not the heating elements that seem to be going bad. Since I was stuck with them, I went looking for replacement heating elements. I found some really cheap ones from China and I took the chance on them. Parts from China are a last option for me. I have been burned before from a Chinese eBay seller. But I needed them and at $1.55 each or $1.28 each when buying five and free shipping, it's hard to go wrong. I found them at Fasttech They are brand new and work. I'm passing this info on to anyone who has a Yihua 863D or 936 and is looking for a new heating element. YMMV, but I am really happy with these.

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How long will they last? I have no idea. I now have three working soldering irons so even if one dies, I will have two backups. Now, I can get back to board work with soldering irons that heat to the right temperature.

#35 1 year ago
Quoted from Pecos:

I have spent a week and a half gluing and clamping the cabinet of a Gottlieb Surf Champ. I also used 10 ounces of Elmer's wood filler to fix the back panel that looked like a Rottenweiler had chewed on it! I am doing this because I have worked a trade with my Phoenix Project Pin guy for a SS. I want to keep the Surf Champ; except for a painted cabinet, it looks great, but I'm looking for more SS pins to route. I will post pics on Friday of the 'mystery machine.'
I also spent time replacing the bad heating elements in my 853D and 936 Yihua solder station soldering irons. And it is the thermistor, not the heating elements that seem to be going bad. Since I was stuck with them, I went looking for replacement heating elements. I found some really cheap ones from China and I took the chance on them. Parts from China are a last option for me. I have been burned before from a Chinese eBay seller. But I needed them and at $1.55 each or $1.28 each when buying five and free shipping, it's hard to go wrong. I found them at Fasttech They are brand new and work. I'm passing this info on to anyone who has a Yihua 863D or 936 and is looking for a new heating element. YMMV, but I am really happy with these.

How long will they last? I have no idea. I now have three working soldering irons so even if one dies, I will have two backups. Now, I can get back to board work with soldering irons that heat to the right temperature.

I totally get the thing about money and tools. Occasionally I cheap it and usually regret it. After burning through a couple cheap irons I finally plunked down for a Hakko station. The difference is HUGE: less than 30 seconds to the temperature of your choice, reliable and waaaaay better tips which actually made my work better.

#36 1 year ago
Quoted from Pecos:

Replace all electrolytic capacitors

I've been operating games since 2012. I know this will probably ruffle some feathers, but for the most part this is something you don't need to do. And I'm basing this is real world experience over the years, not pulling generic "advice" out of my ass.

That being said, ALWAYS replace the little 100uF cap on Data East and WMS System 11 power supplies. It also isn't a bad idea to replace the big caps that filter the 5v power such as the 12000 uF on the Bally SDB and the 18k uF one on WMS power supplies. But I'll admit that I usually don't anymore if the cap's capacitance and ESR tests good. And some small caps on sound boards and other areas seem prone to failure. Of course visually inspect the caps and replace anything that looks suspect, but replacing EVERYTHING is not needed. Get a good digital ESR/capacitance meter and save yourself a lot of time and effort. Yeah, the ESR won't identify every problem, but I've found it to be right 95% of the time or more.

One thing that is necessary is replacing the connectors for the 5v chain on WPC games. This means the connectors at J101 and J114 on the driver board and at J210 on the CPU board. It is also a good idea to replace the 0.093 connectors at the transformer plug that bring 9v AC up to the driver board at J101. Doing this significantly cuts down and usually eliminates reset issues for these games. Also inspect the header pins at these connectors, but I've found that they usually are fine and don't need replacement unless you have reset issues or they seem heat stressed.

#37 1 year ago

Next game up - Hardbody. Not much needed to get this ready. In the past I had already:

Put new playfield rails inside the cabinet. The old ones had worn so much that the playfield would literally fall into the cabinet.

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New NVRAM added:

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I didn't need to do much in the backbox. The boards have already been reworked. All I did today was add some labels showing the date of the rework. I had done some beta testing and had a wee fire on the power supply board. OOPS! All turned out well though. The machine used to have to warm up before it would start. After the power supply rebuild, it started right up.

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LEDs had been added to the playfield, both GI and inserts.

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Today I added a second coin mech and got that working. It had some coke goop on it so I cleaned that up. It was rejecting too many quarters, so I adjusted that.

It is easy to forget to replace the beer seal on the underside on the lockdown bar. If Hardbody is going into the public, a new beer seal is not an option! You can lead the public to drink, but you can't make them put their beer bottles in a beverage caddy!

I used a chisel to remove most of the old beer seal. I let the remaining bits soak in Isopropyl alcohol and they came off pretty easily.

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Hardbody is not 100%. There is one lamp out under the ramp and some flashers are out, but I don't have the time to fix these issues now.

Game #5, Hardbody, ready to go!

#38 1 year ago
Quoted from Pecos:

Game #5, Hardbody, ready to go!

Do you have a plan for the busted station 3 plastic? If not, pm me.

#39 1 year ago

What's the verdict on the new venues, Pecos?

#40 1 year ago
Quoted from pinheadpierre:

I totally get the thing about money and tools.

I was fortunate enough to be gifted a Hakko desoldering tool and it make board work almost fun. I have saved countless hours of work and it has made me much better at doing board work. And I need all of the help I can get!

Quoted from Pecos:

Replace all electrolytic capacitors

Quoted from stangbat:

I've been operating games since 2012. I know this will probably ruffle some feathers, but for the most part this is something you don't need to do.

What kind of lifetime do you expect for electrolytic capacitors?

From https://www.illinoiscapacitor.com/pdf/Papers/Life%20expectancy%20of%20Aluminum%20electrolytic%20capacitors.pdf

"Aluminum electrolytic capacitors slowly degrade over time and once the capacitor has degraded beyond a specified amount, the capacitor is considered to have failed. Most capacitors are considered a failure when the capacitance has changed by 20 to 25% of its initial value.

Aluminum electrolytic Capacitors load life’s ratings are generally expressed between 1000 and 10000 hours at their rated voltage, maximum temperature rating and with maximum ripple current applied to the capacitor."

"When life expectancies exceed 15 years the expected life of the capacitor should be limited to 15 years mainly due to the sealing materials deteriorating over time."

The pins I am routing are 35 to 40 years old! All of the electrolytic capacitors I replaced were original. I did leave these capacitors in for home use but they are going to get a lot more play in public and when some electronic component fails, I don't want to have to worry about the ancient electrolytic capacitors.

Quoted from Atari_Daze:

Do you have a plan for the busted station 3 plastic? If not, pm me.

I think you should get some kind of award for noticing! I had no plans to do anything with it until I read your post. I will now PM you.

Quoted from RyanClaytor:

What's the verdict on the new venues, Pecos?

Still a 'no go', but I am working on it. Business owners don't spend much time at their businesses and are hard to track down. Leaving your name and number isn't very effective. They are generally too busy to put you at the top of their queue of things to dueue. I just have to find some way to let the local business owners know how great these vintage pinball machines look and play!

#41 1 year ago
Quoted from Pecos:

The pins I am routing are 35 to 40 years old! All of the electrolytic capacitors I replaced were original. I did leave these capacitors in for home use but they are going to get a lot more play in public and when some electronic component fails, I don't want to have to worry about the ancient electrolytic capacitors.

I'm giving you advice based on years of real world experience operating games that are turned on 14+ hours a day, not advice based on a paper that someone wrote based on theoretical expectations. I've got tons of games reliably running original capacitors with no problems each and every day. Maybe if I wrote a paper on it someone would believe me, but I spend my time operating games instead of handwaving. Plenty of Pinsiders can attest to how my games operate and that they aren't flaky and they don't have problems. Take it or leave it, it is your time and money.

#42 1 year ago
Quoted from stangbat:

I'm giving you advice based on years of real world experience operating games that are turned on 14+ hours a day, not advice based on a paper that someone wrote based on theoretical expectations. I've got tons of games reliably running original capacitors with no problems

I completely disagree. The caps are cheap enough that replacing them won't break the bank and the time spent is minimal. Its obvious that replacing the caps on a supply or driver board are more important than say replacing caps on a sound board. Pecos you are moving in the right direction.

I would say my other piece of advice is to take the money you earn on the old games and work towards acquiring newer generation titles. The public will play the classics for a bit and then they will start to tank. Because of this the older games will need rotated out at a higher rate which is more work for you.

#43 1 year ago
Quoted from Pecos:

They are generally too busy to put you at the top of their queue of things to dueue.

LOL...dueue.

#44 1 year ago

I was visiting my Project Pin guy in Phoenix a while back when I saw a Surf Champ. It wasn't his Surf Champ - it was in for repair. I mentioned that I had a nice Surf Champ. Ever since, he wanted mine. I was fine with that. I was looking for a Williams SS Project Pin and he would look for one so we could do a swap. Add to the fact that I had eight Gottliebs in the house, none of which worked, and I was more willing to give up one of my Gottliebs. Since I believe that SS pins will do better on route than EMs, the swap made sense to me.

There was a fly in the ointment. The cabinet on Surf Champ was busted up pretty badly. I worked a week and a half to put it back together.

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The back left leg bolt tee was missing and so was a lot of the wood. I have a Sonic pressed wood cabinet that was beyond repair that I took some wood blocks and the leg bolt tee section from. These went into Surf Champ. The bottom back cabinet looked like it had been chewed on by a gorilla. Gorilla wood glue and Elmer's wood filler to the rescue. It took 10 ounces of the wood filler to fix the back panel. Several wood veneer pieces were glued to the inside and outside of the back cabinet bottom. It was finally fixed and is now as solid as the day it was built.

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My Project Pin guy got his Surf Champ and I got a Bally Globetrotters On Tour.. It wasn't a Williams, but this is a nice game and I am happy to get it. It needed a MPU - it was missing - and he found one for it from Kris at Firebird pinball. It takes a lot of help to get these Project Pins ready for routing. Thanks Kris!

I picked up Harlem Globetrotters on Tour a couple of days ago. I found out that a Project Pin swap is twice as much work as picking up a Project Pin!

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I started working on Harlem Globetrotters yesterday. More pics here of it:

https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/what-machine-did-you-bring-home-today-post-your-pictures/page/164#post-4285239

I hope to have another SS pin ready for routing soon.

#45 12 months ago

The first thing I always do when I bring a new Project Pin into Pecos' Palatial Parlour is to remove the rust on the legs and put on new leg levelers - 2" in the front and 3" in the back. This is the best time to do this since the legs have already been removed. Here, we have the legs from the Harlem Globetrotters On Tour I recently acquired.

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I use blue glass cleaner and 500 grit sandpaper. Three of the legs were better than average and one was worse than average. The leg leveler was rusted in place and took quite a bit of elbow grease to get it off. When done, I put some Mill Wax that I had on hand on both the legs and leg levelers.

I replaced the electrolytic capacitors on the solenoid driver board. I have no idea what was intended here:

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The power cord had been spliced without the grounding plug. Yikes! That will have to be replaced immediately.

I knew of no repair guides online for these Bally pins like Harlem Globetrotters On Tour. I would normally test the voltages coming from the power supply with all connectors removed except for those that supplied power to the power supply. Without this guidance, I decided to to plug it in and measure the voltages at the test points with all connectors on. Don't try this at home kiddos, it can damage your boards if the voltages are too high. I must have had the luck of the Irish with me because nothing fried. I found the voltages to be low, 3.9V when it should have been 5V and ten point something when it should have been 12V. I put the rectifier board on the top of the list to rebuild.

I found Vid's guide for bullet proofing this era of Bally SS pins and began to apply the knowledge found there.

The rectifier board was in dire need of rectifying some major problems. Hacks had been done!

The old 'remove connector and solder' method had been done:

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The connectors on Future Spa had to be repinned and replaced, so I am not surprised to see an issue here.

I took off the rectifier board and transformer and took it to the bench for rework.

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I don't normally replace the .156 male header pins, but these were just begging to be replaced and very well could be the reason for the low voltages.

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Order #9 to Ed at GPE includes the parts needed to replace the header pins and female connectors, better diodes, new resistors and some fuse clips. Two of these were just plain gross! Everything except the varistor will be replaced on this board. Thanks Ed for keeping me in parts!

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I already had some of the beefier bridge rectifiers on hand, so those were replaced. I ordered some heatsinks for these, per Vid's recommendation.

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I called to get quotes from more insurance companies and I am pretty depressed. One agent told me that it would cost me $1100 to $1200 minimum for insurance after telling him I expected to receive less than $2500 per year. Those numbers don't add up!

Called some more businesses who might want vintage pinballs in their restaurants and bars. More work required. April 1st is looming and the joke will be on me if I don't have places to route my pins!

#46 12 months ago

Following and excited about this news.

My parents live in Tucson half the year at the Saddle Brook active retirement community. I usually visit a couple times a year and we always go downtown to the current pinball spot.

I would recommend routing some of the EM's near Saddle Brook. Older crowd would probably have a lot of nostalgia for these pins. And they usually are looking for fun on a budget. Either way, I will make sure to find your games when I visit and drop some quarters.

#47 12 months ago
Quoted from Pecos:

I replaced the electrolytic capacitors on the solenoid driver board. I have no idea what was intended here:

.

There was a Service Bulletin issued for that about 40 years ago. Seriously.

That Solenoid Driver/Voltage Regulator board was not the revision level for Harlem Globetrotters. It will work fine. With that added capacitor that is. IIRC, the sound board is the reason for the modification. The older Bally SS machines with chimes are what was being made when that early SDB was made.

#48 12 months ago
Quoted from Elicash:

I would recommend routing some of the EM's near Saddle Brook. Older crowd would probably have a lot of nostalgia for these pins. And they usually are looking for fun on a budget.

That is a great idea. Unfortunately, that is a one hour drive for me and I am trying to keep my games on the east side of Tucson.

Quoted from MrBally:

There was a Service Bulletin issued for that about 40 years ago. Seriously.

That Solenoid Driver/Voltage Regulator board was not the revision level for Harlem Globetrotters. It will work fine. With that added capacitor that is. IIRC, the sound board is the reason for the modification. The older Bally SS machines with chimes are what was being made when that early SDB was made.

Thanks MrBally for the info. Guess I will be looking for some .01 uF disc caps and making that mod!

I have been working on a spreadsheet to be placed with each machine to keep track of games played and monies earned. I finished a first shot at it today:

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There are two pages, enough for one entry per week. I will take pictures of this physical spreadsheet and add it to my PC version after each route collection. At the end of the year, I will print a copy for the business owner so they will have the information they need to do taxes.

I will probably be changing it when I use if for real and find out that I've missed something.

PM me if you want a copy of the file, but please remember that it is only the rough draft version.

#49 12 months ago

I've got no idea what was in the service bulletin about the bridged capacitors... But mixing the ceramic with the electrolytic does change things. Total capacitance goes up (c Total = c1 + c2) Frequency response changes slightly since the devices have different characteristics (ESR - equivalent series resistance differs) Also they behave differently for reverse voltage.
I wouldn't be surprised if the original design either should have had a higher capacitor value or required two different types for frequency response characteristics.
Bridging them was definitely a low cost modification that didn't add to much to the manufacturing process.
It's been a long time since I've thought about hardware design at that level! Kind of fun to see this since I doubt modern hardware sees many changes like this.

Good luck with the journey!

#50 12 months ago

While waiting for the electronic parts from GPE, I decided to shop out the playfield on #Harlem Globetrotters On Tour. This playfield might be a repro. It has a mirror finish and is in super nice shape for a pinball machine made in 1978. There is only one small wear spot about the size of a dime to the left of the middle pop bumper. Except for putting some new decals on the spinners, this playfield is done. I do plan to buy a playfield protector for this game as soon as I can afford it.

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Quoted from Matesamo:

Don't pooh-pooh the website either. Even as an operator that could open a lot of doors for you.

I added to my Website, Pecos Pinball, some pics of the games currently available. Those were some really good ideas that you had Matesamo! Thanks!

I can now reference my Website when talking with potential business owners who might be interested in adding a pinball to their business.

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