(Topic ID: 302084)

Bally Drop Target Bricking fix in progress work

By slochar

2 years ago


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  • 37 posts
  • 13 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 1 year ago by swinks
  • Topic is favorited by 15 Pinsiders

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    #1 2 years ago

    I've been tired of Bally drops bricking for years. Decided to tackle this after finishing my Mystic playfield swap, because the center bank especially and the side banks to a lesser extent just wouldn't drop. I figured I'd swap a classic stern drop in - nope, too many changes (unless I swapped the entire bank). Tried to shave the bally 'shelf' on the drop to more of a 'stem' like stern has.... nope.

    While mixing and matching stern parts, I noticed that there is a slight bend upward on the stern drop retainer, so that the drop has to go up a slight bit instead of going back directly. I wondered if this is why the stern drops are really smooth. Since I have extra bally banks, I put a small bend in the top plate to make it a hump shape (see pics and video). This works. (See middle of video with direct hits from flippers onto the drop bank).

    Maybe it works better because of the less surface area on the bent part, or maybe it's because of the slight upward bulge. The drops are not noticeably higher up (it's a very small bend). Is it a hack? Maybe. Is it better than hitting a bricked target and the ball draining? IMO, yep.

    It's still not going to drop a target on the sides when you hit the *side* of the drop, but I wouldn't call that bricking.
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    #2 2 years ago

    So the bends basically are just raising the 'up' position of the targets, right? The targets only have a small nub in the center that catches on those bent edges. If that's the case I can't figure out why this would have a noticeable effect on bricking(?)

    Maybe the bend actually really is reducing how much of the target's nub is grabbed, because of the way the edge is bent.

    #3 2 years ago

    The bend makes it more of a ramp. I think it's really just reducing the surface area that's contacted by the target.

    I'll take a picture of the side of the one I bent on the video tomorrow to see how much the angle is.

    I can't argue with the results though. All the drops were bricking terribly before I did this I didn't change anything else just the bend.

    #4 2 years ago

    Like this... but it's a tiny bit exaggerated.

    I really can't see the 'ramp' effect having an effect. The target's nub is flat on the bottom. When the target is hit it's still only going to travel horizontally along whatever edge it is resting on, bent or not.

    I worked on some Stern and Bally drop units but never noticed this kind of bending so my guess is it is not factory.

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    #5 2 years ago

    I just looked at the stern unit, the shelf definitely has a slope to it. The bend I added to the bally top plate was my attempt to duplicate the stern slope. I just looked at several other stern banks I have here, they all have the slope. (And the ballys are all flat).

    I think what's happening is that the bally's brick most people say because it's bouncing back too quickly, so it's going back like it's going to drop, but then springs back onto the shelf. The little bit of the angle lets the drop actually fall just a little bit, so there's no shelf for it to go back to.

    Of course, I just played a game and the center drop bricked on me, but it's still 95% better than the way it was. The bricking ruined the game completely as most of the time when the drops bricked, the carom sent the ball down the cavernous outlanes.

    It's still not up to Gottlieb standards, but I've swapped Gottlieb banks into other games before and it ruins the feel of the game. I spent 4 hours once swapping into a Flash, and I hated the way it played (absorbed too much of the ball speed maybe?) so I spent the rest of the 4 hours refurbishing the original banks and swapping them back.

    If the bend thing hadn't worked, I would have experimented with the bottom plate, and some kind of dual spring setup like gottliebs have.

    Pics of the stern original bend (which is smooth, since it's made that way).

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    #6 2 years ago

    The 'bump' means the target latches a tiny bit higher too, so they should spring downward a tad faster too. And being a little higher it could be slightly changing the leverage point on the target when it is bent back by a hard hit, how it is hitting the rubbers behind it etc. Could be a combination of effects I guess.

    #7 2 years ago

    Another factor.... the center bank center target must be made of different plastic (different era? - all the drops are vintage) as it is not translucent with a lamp behind it. It doesn't drop as well as the others, but still way better than stock.

    I probably really should have just put the stern drops in there. When I had a stern lightning though that had the center bank straight on similar to mystic, they bricked too. (Don't have that game anymore to fool around with though).

    I had horrible bricking on Stern's Freefall when I had that as well, which was completely because of the new repro drops. I no longer use new drops if I can avoid it.

    I know I've had it on inline drops and single drop (like flash gordon/rolling stones) as well, but no where near as prevalent. I might fast track my Mata Hari swap as that's the only other bally I have issues with (Eight Ball Deluxe doesn't have the bricking issue, and those are new drops, probably the angle you shoot the 7 bank at)

    #8 2 years ago

    I personally researched this when I was at Bally in the 70s. We invested in a Polaroid super-slow-mo instant 8mm camera projector, which was SOA at the time. This allowed Desi D' Percel and myself, actually Desi did the work and I watched, to examine the way targets reacted when hit by the ball and learn why they didn't always fall. When slowed down we learned that when a ball hits the target head on at fast speed the top of the target bends backward into the rubber behind it and bounces back forward before the spring can pull it down. There was no real fix for the problem without a redesign or finding an alternate material to make the targets out of. Any redesign could potentially infringe on Gottlieb's patents so the only fix implemented was adding a ledge to the top of the target.

    Best fix I know to this date is to replace the targets and springs with new parts as the legacy parts are probably worn and dried out.

    #9 2 years ago
    Quoted from BigAl56:

    When slowed down we learned that when a ball hits the target head on at fast speed the top of the target bends backward into the rubber behind it and bounces back forward before the spring can pull it down.

    I could be wrong but I seem to remember seeing pictures of someone here a few years ago who glued stiff steel wire in the back channel of his drop targets to minimise this issue of them flexing?

    #10 2 years ago
    Quoted from Quench:

    I could be wrong but I seem to remember seeing pictures of someone here a few years ago who glued stiff steel wire in the back channel of his drop targets to minimise this issue of them flexing?

    I tried that on one of my Lightning's center drop targets, couldn't really see any improvement. And other things like stronger springs. Never have been able to completely lick the problem.

    3 weeks later
    #11 2 years ago

    Can you check your Lightning's center bank shelf? I don't have any stern drop banks of that era to peak at but based on some of what cottonm4 was posting in the classic stern club implies there's definitely some revisions of stern drops out there. I'd think it wouldn't matter (bally or stern) if you get the target below the ledge it normally sits on, it's going down even if it's bouncing off the back.

    Maybe the stern shelf can be bent back a little more to enhance this effect?

    #12 2 years ago

    I tried this on the Mystic I just rebuilt.

    New Playfield, new “guaranteed to brick” drop targets …

    Works well! The drops do drop pretty consistently.

    Will continue to use going forward. Thanks for the tip!

    rd

    #13 2 years ago

    I have a Stern drop bank with repro drops. If making the bally bank mimic the stern one helps the bally, then what is it about stern repros that make them brick? They already have the "more ideal" shelf, so its something to do with the targets themselves, right?

    #14 2 years ago

    I think it's the plastic the targets are made out of. In my tests, there were 2 types of vintage targets, the 2 that have the translucent plastic drop without bricking 99% of the time. The center drop isn't translucent (even though it's the correct hot stamped design) and drops without bricking about 95% of the time. I don't know what the difference in the plastics is though. I have a couple boxes of about 100 drop targets I've collected over the years that I pull from for replacements.

    I should buy a couple of the new ones on my next PBR order and see how they work out.

    #15 2 years ago
    Quoted from slochar:

    I think it's the plastic the targets are made out of. In my tests, there were 2 types of vintage targets, the 2 that have the translucent plastic drop without bricking 99% of the time. The center drop isn't translucent (even though it's the correct hot stamped design) and drops without bricking about 95% of the time. I don't know what the difference in the plastics is though. I have a couple boxes of about 100 drop targets I've collected over the years that I pull from for replacements.
    I should buy a couple of the new ones on my next PBR order and see how they work out.

    I find the ones from PBR brick just fine if they take a hard direct shot. I strongly suspect the plastic used today is just to far flexible and the head of the target whips back and forth so fast the catch doesn't release.

    #16 2 years ago

    Are there any guesses what family any era of drops were made with? I had a drop break on my Ice Fever and when I got a rep!a cement set they felt like ABS, but the drops for my bally/stern games feel softer for sure.

    #17 2 years ago
    Quoted from desertT1:

    Are there any guesses what family any era of drops were made with? I had a drop break on my Ice Fever and when I got a replacement set they felt like ABS, but the drops for my bally/stern games feel softer for sure.

    Guess I hit quote instead of edit when I went to fix a typo...

    #18 2 years ago
    Quoted from BigAl56:

    I personally researched this when I was at Bally in the 70s. We invested in a Polaroid super-slow-mo instant 8mm camera projector, which was SOA at the time. This allowed Desi D' Percel and myself, actually Desi did the work and I watched, to examine the way targets reacted when hit by the ball and learn why they didn't always fall. When slowed down we learned that when a ball hits the target head on at fast speed the top of the target bends backward into the rubber behind it and bounces back forward before the spring can pull it down. There was no real fix for the problem without a redesign or finding an alternate material to make the targets out of. Any redesign could potentially infringe on Gottlieb's patents so the only fix implemented was adding a ledge to the top of the target.
    Best fix I know to this date is to replace the targets and springs with new parts as the legacy parts are probably worn and dried out.

    BigAl56 I want to say its awesome to hear from they guys who did the testing. Are there any other component tests or problems that you can remember or share?

    #19 2 years ago
    Quoted from Apex:

    BigAl56 I want to say its awesome to hear from they guys who did the testing. Are there any other component tests or problems that you can remember or share?

    Far too many to list here. As time goes by I chip in whenever someone revives a memory.

    1 year later
    #20 1 year ago

    Here is an update on this... The fix does not work long term, or there is some other factor involved. Turned mystic on last week and it's bricking again. Back to the drawing board. Going to try frenchmarky suggestion to smooth out the top of the bank next.

    I have a stern seawitch bank ready to swap in there as well just have to get connectors lined up to make experimentation easier.

    #21 1 year ago

    On Bally games, all D/T rubber rings are doubled.
    If the pictures here are of your game, then, one needs to add a second rubber ring
    to the back sides of each D/T assembly.
    Note:
    with repro playfields the posts are sometimes not positioned to exact placment
    as the OEMs are.

    #22 1 year ago

    On a side note:
    I was hopping to try and do a modified linkage to the plastic
    drop target. I was thinking of an extra spring from the linkage
    to the bottom base plate.. like what Gottlieb has done.

    #23 1 year ago
    Quoted from vec-tor:

    On a side note:
    I was hopping to try and do a modified linkage to the plastic
    drop target. I was thinking of an extra spring from the linkage
    to the bottom base plate.. like what Gottlieb has done.

    I've tried that prior to recent tries.... Doesn't work.

    Also I moved the posts when I did the mystic swap so no double ring needed. I would use a double ring if the ball were in danger of going underneath the plastic.... For the sake of being thorough I'll add one next time I have time and see if there's a difference but knee jerk reaction is that it will get worse since the added ring will stick out more but I'll try anything. A gottlieb four bank won't fit there or I'd already have one in it.

    #24 1 year ago

    Unfortunately there is no tried and proven fix for Bally DT bricking. If the targets and springs are new just enjoy the game as it is what it is. If anyone comes up with a documented fix for Bally target bricking please post it in a new thread.

    #25 1 year ago
    Quoted from BigAl56:

    If the targets and springs are new just enjoy the game as it is what it is.

    Is that what ended up happening at Bally? Not being a smartass here but I can see mgmt saying it's good enough stop working it.

    I myself will keep trying things.

    #26 1 year ago
    Quoted from slochar:

    Is that what ended up happening at Bally? Not being a smartass here but I can see mgmt saying it's good enough stop working it.
    I myself will keep trying things.

    It would be interesting to produce some repro targets using different plastics to see how they compare. No, I don't have a clue how to proceed with that...

    #27 1 year ago

    Have you tried these from Swinks - I think he's down under, and reading the thread below it sounds like these work.

    As soon as I figure out how to make a link to a topic, I will, but for now....

    Classic Stern Tombstone Drop Targets - now available

    #29 1 year ago
    Quoted from slochar:

    Is that what ended up happening at Bally? Not being a smartass here but I can see mgmt saying it's good enough stop working it.

    I myself will keep trying things.

    Gottlieb owned the patents. Bally was limited in what could be done with their available tooling. It was decided the targets worked well enough as-is. If anyone would like to embark on an upgrade project I would start with Gottlieb and reverse engineer. Just don't infringe on any active patents that PBR controls.

    #30 1 year ago

    Even with Swinks targets, the center bank was still bricking on my 81 Lightning. That bank gets mercilessly hammered on this game, with the factory flippers needed to make the ramps. Not as much as the repro hooded targets, but still bricked sometimes. The above-mentioned trick I tried was on the metal drop target ledge - I sanded the top edge with very fine sandpaper to remove any possible roughness and polished the ledge shiny with buffer wheel and polish. Those ledges were simply punched out at the factory and not 'finished'.

    I can tell the difference when pushing the targets with my finger, target moves smoothly before dropping. Before they felt hitchy/grabby as they moved off the ledge. In fact after the smoothing I found one of the Swinks target's ledge nibs had gotten so chewed up by the previously rough ledge, now it wouldn't even stay up on resets!! I attribute this to that particular spot on the ledge being extra rough + the somewhat stronger springs I had installed months ago. Other two targets were fine. Bricking seems to be much rarer now, not annoying me anymore. I figure the unfinished edge of the ledge was helping the targets get snagged as they bounced forward after a hard hit. Should also prevent excessive wear on the target nibs especially if you are using stronger springs. Not saying this is a total fix, but it helped.

    #31 1 year ago

    I'm trying to carve out time to fart around with this I have some more ideas to try. What's strange is it initially worked great and nothing else really had changed except time.

    #32 1 year ago
    Quoted from slochar:

    I'm trying to carve out time to fart around with this I have some more ideas to try. What's strange is it initially worked great and nothing else really had changed except time.

    Entropy of the universe, man. It's a bitch.

    #33 1 year ago

    Many years ago I had a Stern F2000 that the count down bank would not
    work consistently.
    The metal links were worn out..etc. I re-drilled the main
    pivot hole and added the nylon snap bushings.

    In all it fixed the assembly, but made the targets "drop" kind of stiff and very controlled
    instead of quick and jerky.

    #34 1 year ago
    Quoted from BigAl56:

    It was decided the targets worked well enough as-is.

    The original tombstone style ones (like night rider) were fine - I never had bricking there. It seems like when they changed to the hooded style for ball rollovers that's when the problem started. The single and inline banks seem to work ok (EBD/flashgordon for me) and my 7 bank on EBD is fine as well. Mystic is the PITA, I tried tombstones there before I even did the PF swap, same blah. That's when I was going to put in the gottlieb bank until I found out that gottlieb 3 banks are really gottlieb 4 banks with a target out, which just won't fit.

    I did actually take a gottlieb 5 bank and one of the 4 banks and put it in a wms flash although that was more for reliability over the horseshoe contacts that were stock - took a couple of hours. On playing it the first time, I *HATED* the 'feel' of the game and I switch them back. That's where my avatar pic is from the 5 bank spelling 'BELCH'

    I've got a couple of ideas on how to get the targets to pull DOWN even if they bounce off the back of the slot like the slomo videos all show which ultimately is the cause of the brick. The raised indent I put in the top plate might just not be high enough I'm going to try a wedge shaped shim there assuming I have/can find one in my parts bins (I'm thinking the one from the williams system 11 style drops). Thicker side of the wedge on the edge of the drop bank plate, so that it can't 'go back' once it goes forward (unless its being pulled straight up on reset).

    #35 1 year ago

    Have you tried the updated tombstone targets from swinks ? I know he makes them for stern. Not sure if he has them for Bally though.

    I think he has hooded ones too.

    #36 1 year ago

    No, I haven't because I have a semi-large stash of 'vintage' stern drops that suffer no bricking whatsoever. I have used the new repros from PBR on a couple of games which is what helped me determine that the new drops being made just suck with the bricking. If I need new stern drops in the future I'd probably get swinks'.

    I don't think he makes the bally equivalent, but since it's just the rib that's different, could probably shave it off. I've done that before in a pinch when I needed a bally drop and didn't have any.

    #37 1 year ago

    The PBR and then Planetary Pinball sell the classic stern remakes with hoods as the mold was modified for the later sterns with hoods and therefore the non-hooded mold does not exist anymore. PBR had them made with more flexible Nylon which contributes to the issues of bricking.

    When I originally reverse engineered the Classic Stern Drops a friend sent me a couple of bank with the drops and one was with the rib and other without the rib and the drop assembly had a plate reverse to accomodate the non ribbed classic Sterns. I offer both on Shapeways but only the ribbed from myself as more common but can get a much better price on bulk orders.

    I also modelled the 80's Bally drop which is up at Shapeways but not cheap as Shapeways price / print fee is high.

    When I compared the Classic Stern and Bally Drop targets digitally the similarities are:
    - they share the same shape and face tilt angles and holes are the same as well as the target shelf edge (where the rib leads up to)

    The differences are:
    - Bally has the re-enforced mid hole where the spring attaches
    - Bally has the extra nib on the bottom for different switch activation
    - Bally has not rib but some classic stern also had no rib based on what was supplied to me
    - Classic Stern target stands taller but funny enough it is the same distance as the Bally with the nib at the bottom
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