I've always wondered why the Alien launch ramp was designed the way it was. Why does it launch directly into a dead-end, abruptly stopping and dropping into the right in-lane? Despite several tweaks, I still get the occasional launch failure where it will hit the dead-end and bounce back to the shooter lane.
So I decided to try a little experiment. I wanted to see if I could build a ramp that would let the ball continue on it's launched path - right up into the pops. Of course, this had to be completely reversible, as I don't want to damage my game in any way. When I mentioned this on the main thread, I did get some folks raising some concerns, like it would impact the skill shot. I also got confirmation that one of the original designs of Alien DID have the ball shooting to the top of the playfield, but for the life of me I can't find that now....
Anyway, my experiment was a SUCCESS! I'll post a few pictures, and have video if anyone is interested.
First, I had to remove the stock ramp. This is simple - four nuts and two screws.
Now the tricky part - building a new ramp from scratch. I went to e-bay and found the longest ramp section I could. There was one from a Fish Tales that I was able to snag. I took a dremel to it, and started to cut a length I needed to replicate the original ramp.
In order to make the mod completely reversible, I didn't want to do anything to the stock machine - so I had to figure out a way to mount the new ramp without drilling any new holes or anything like that. Obviously, I will need to use the existing screw holes...so I lined 'em up the best I could, and proceeded to replicate the existing launch ramp...
Hmmm, got some clearance issues here....
It ain't pretty, but it works!! In fact, it works 100%. I've played several games, and have yet to have one failed launch. Not one. There's still some tweaking to do. In my first tests the ball was hitting the glass. That was a pretty easy fix, and now it's just fine tuning. As it stands, the ball will either (1) not make it to the pops, and roll back down the right loop to the flipper, or (2) make it to the pops, where it will either go into the L or V lane, or (3) it will make it past the pops, and returns out the 'lane 3' mini-loop. With options (1) and (2) I still have the ability to hit a skill shot.
I'm not sure if I'll keep it this way, but for now I am really enjoying the new gameplay - especially in multi-ball - good to get some free pop hits.
...and yes, I put some mylar down where the ball drops.