(Topic ID: 56780)

Black Sheep Squadron project

By debaser

6 years ago

Topic Stats

  • 34 posts
  • 14 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 4 years ago by Wynndi
  • Topic is favorited by 3 Pinsiders


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#1 6 years ago

Two years ago a good friend of mine called me as his brother had told him that there was a pinball machine in one of the storage buildings at his work that they wanted to get rid of. He asked me if I was interested in it and said I could have it for free if I hauled it out of there. Of course I was interested!

He didn't know the name of the pin but said it had been in their storage building for quite some time. We scheduled a time for me to come out after work the following day. I met him out there and he took me into their storage building. The pinball machine was sitting all by itself in a room of a large storage building. There were no lights or power and it was blazing hot inside the building. Good thing I brought my tools and flashlight!

That's when I saw that it was a Black Sheep Squadron. The playfield glass was gone and the playfield itself was filthy, with a nice coat of dirt over everything. The backglass looked like it was in good shape. In the bottom of the cabinet I found 6 extra score displays which was a nice surprise.

Unfortunately the backbox was locked and there was no key to be found. I drilled it out so I could get the backbox off. The battery was still on the MPU and there was some corrosion on the board tho it wasn't too bad. I clipped the battery off, broke the machine down and loaded it up in my Jeep. By the time I was done I was sweating bullets. I got the pin and put it in my garage where it sat for the last two years.

Just recently I brought it into the house so I could star working on it. Today I stripped the playfield and cleaned it up. I was amazed at how bright and vibrant the colors were after removing all that dirt and grime. It was missing one insert but I found it in the bottom of the cabinet. Quite a few of the inserts will need to be reglued as they are uneven.

I'll post more once I get further into the project.

Here are a couple before and after pics.

IMG_6396.JPG IMG_6544.JPG IMG_6542.JPG IMG_6541.JPG IMG_6556.JPG IMG_6562.JPG

#2 6 years ago

shoulda been interested in that indy next to it lol.
the Black Sheep Squadron you found cleaned up really nicely though. keep everone posted on your continued efforts. i've never heard of this game so it's cool to see you found and (are in the process of) bringing it back to life. good luck

#3 6 years ago

Nice find! It's looking good already. That dirt and grime must have somehow offered some protection for the playfield over the years. Looking forward to updates on this game. I too have never heard of or seen this game...

#4 6 years ago

BSS was the only pin that Astro Games ever made.

They sold them directly to the public for $2499 (2x the price of a Bally at the time) and would place them on location for the customer. The idea was that anyone could become an instant operator.

Astro claimed they would buy back any game that did not make money. 100% guaranteed. I guess they thought that since they already sold the game for double, they were in a position to do that kind of thing.

The problem was that any place that was a good place for pins and video games, already had an operator & a bunch of games installed. So all that was left for these new "instant operators" were C grade locations.

Astro did not even last a year before closing their doors.

Anyone know how many were made?

#5 6 years ago

Never seen one looks awesome!

#6 6 years ago

BTW, great find!

#7 6 years ago

Debaser... welcome to the elite BSS club.
Your BG looks in better shape than mine; which has the blues starting to flake off (especially in the planes).

The targets are at impossible angles... I think I've only successfully spelled SQUADRON once since owning it. LOL

It's an interesting combination of Bally/Chicago Coin/Stern design-pieces it seems.
Let me know if you need the apron cards... I carefully scanned and reproduced mine.
I started to redo the diagnostic sheets too, but haven't completed them.

Vid... no idea how many were made.
My serial number is BSS1263... (front lower-right corner below coindoor)

#8 6 years ago

James emailed me and said 488 were made, but did not give me any details how he got that number.

#9 6 years ago

Quite the interesting color scheme they used, given the theme.

Great story, and great-looking game, congrats.

#10 6 years ago

Never heard of this pin before, but I loved the TV show as a kid. Neat find!

#11 6 years ago

Never heard of this pin until now!!!

#12 6 years ago

That's a darn good find! as said above, keep us posted.
Cheers for all the info as well vid

#13 6 years ago

I need two displays, if you are willing to sell.

#14 6 years ago
Quoted from jespo_19:

shoulda been interested in that indy next to it lol.

That Indy is working tho every once in a great while it thinks a ball got locked and then screws up everything, putting two balls into the shooter lane, etc. It's gotta be a intermittent wire going to one of the 4 sets of optos that can trigger a ball lock as I've done everything else imaginable to fix it. I'll play 20-30 games and it works fine and then all of a sudden it does it. Frustrating to say the least.

#15 6 years ago
Quoted from Timerider:

Debaser... welcome to the elite BSS club.
Your BG looks in better shape than mine; which has the blues starting to flake off (especially in the planes).
The targets are at impossible angles... I think I've only successfully spelled SQUADRON once since owning it. LOL(front lower-right corner below coindoor)

Thanks Timerider! The backglass is in amazing shape which is surprising considering the horrible environment this machine was in for years. It's only missing a small spot in the black area.

I'm looking forward to playing it for the first time. I'll be bringing it to the Pinball Pyramid show & tournament I'm putting together at the Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids, Michigan on September 14th & 15th.

#16 6 years ago
Quoted from bangerjay:

I need two displays, if you are willing to sell.

Don't worry Jay - I haven't forgotten about you. I'll let you know once I get it up and running and where I'm at for extra displays.

#17 6 years ago

Alright thanks , wasn't sure if you were the same guy

#18 6 years ago
Quoted from Timerider:

Let me know if you need the apron cards... I carefully scanned and reproduced mine..

Yes I could definitely use a set of the apron cards. Please PM me the details. Thanks!

#19 6 years ago

I am a huge fan of VMF-214 "the Blacksheep". I have never seen one in person and am always on the look. Great find!! With 488 made I'll probably never find one.

#20 6 years ago

After thoroughly cleaning the playfield, I discovered 11 of the playfield inserts were uneven and needed to be removed and re-glued. Most of them came out pretty easily. I'll be working on that this weekend.

I pulled the MPU board and discovered there was more battery corrosion then I had originally thought. The bottom half of the socket for the 5101 was completely corroded. I removed that socket along with 3 caps and a diode. I sanded down the corroded areas, washed it down with vinegar and water and rinsed it with isopropyl alcohol.

After that I pulled the rectifier board and gave that a once over. Two connectors had burnt pins and the male header pins on those connections were toast. I replaced the male header pins and put trifurcon pins in the housings to replace the toasted pins. I finally got a chance to use my Hakko 808 when removing the male header pins and wow does that do one hell of a job! I can't believe I've went as long as I have without one of those.

All the components on the rectifier board checked out so I reinstalled that and fired it up with just connector J2 plugged in. The voltages looked good so I connected the solenoid driver board to test voltages there and everything was good there as well. So I plugged in the MPU board, turned it on and what do you know, I got the proper 7 flashes and the chimes in the bottom of the cabinet did their little start-up tune. Score!

One of the displays isn't working and the others are making some chatter when they are on. Kinda reminds me of deflection chatter on a vector monitor. I went into lamp test and most of the lamps came on. In solenoid test all the solenoids fired except for 1 chime (it was disconnected and the solenoid coil is burnt so it's probably bad) and the knocker, which was missing.

I didn't test the flippers as the left flipper coil is bad so I need to figure out what Bally coils I can use to replace that along with the bad chime coil and the missing knocker. Anyone out there with a Black Sheep Squadron know what those would be?

IMG_6567.JPG IMG_6568.JPG IMG_6569.JPG IMG_6570.JPG

#21 6 years ago

Flipper, chime and knocker

image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg

#22 6 years ago

Thanks Jay. I figured out what Bally coils I can use based on the wire gauge and windings of the original Astro coils.

Do you by chance have an extra coil mounting bracket and knocker plunger that will work in this pin? Mine are missing.

I tested all the extra displays I had and most of them are dead. I've got two that sorta work and I found some bad transistors on them but unfortunately I'm out of MPSA46's right now so I need to wait until Monday when I can pick some up. I need to do some poking around on the dead displays to see if it's the glass that is bad or something on the board. One of five in my pin is dead as well.

#23 6 years ago

The coil and bracket for the knocker are weird, super skinny. Sorry, I don't.

#24 6 years ago

I got the pin all put back together with cool white LEDs in the GI and new rubbers. I gotta say it came out looking pretty good considering how it looked when I got it. All the plastics and posts were in great shape and cleaned up nicely.

I picked up a Bally coil I thought would work to replace the 10,000 point chime on mine that was cooked but it's physically too big to fit in the plastic chime mount. I think I'm gonna have a hard time finding this coil. Also not having much luck finding the coil for the knocker or the coil bracket to mount it.

For whatever reason the bottom pop bumper is missing the bulb socket so I need to get one of those along with a replacement yellow pop bumper skirt as one of them is chipped. I also need to install a remote battery holder for the MPU.

#25 6 years ago

Here are some pics of me putting the pin back together after cleaning it up.

IMG_6601.JPG IMG_6603.JPG

#26 6 years ago

Pics after installing the new rubbers and after all the plastics were cleaned up and reinstalled.

IMG_6604.JPG IMG_6614.JPG

#27 6 years ago

Forgot to mention that I haven't put LED's in the backbox GI as I ran out. My spinner could also really use a new decal as mine is all brown around the edges. Anyone know if someone has repo'd this spinner decal?

#28 6 years ago

I have an extra playfield, there might be some coils on it that would help.

#29 6 years ago

The coil I really need is the 200036/31-2000 for the 10,000 point chime. Any chance you have one of those you could spare?

I need to finish going thru the extra displays I have to see if I can get any of them up and running and will hook you up with at least one possible two (depending on how many I can get fixed up).

#30 6 years ago

I also need a lock down bar as well. Completely forgot about that.

2 years later
#31 4 years ago

I was reading all about your Black Sheep Squadron resurrection and enjoying all of the great photos. I picked one up last weekend and have been putting it back together a few hours a night.

Mine, S/N BSS1195, was another put away and forgotten copy as well. Stored without play field glass, it was covered in grime and all of the rubber was dry-rotted to oblivion. I had the same exact chime Coil/plunger issue as you but was able to McGyver a solution.

Were you ever able to find out more about Astro? Did you find a parts source? Do you still have the machine?

Main thing I am looking for is backglass. Mine looks ok until illuminated from behind, then it ain't pretty!

I also have a set of production and pre-production art for the backglass that I picked up several years ago. Happy to share images if anyone would like to see them!



#32 4 years ago

Am I mistaken, or are the MPU and SDB basically Bally/Stern boards just with a different name on them?

#33 4 years ago

Pretty much, with the addition of Kilroy hidden in the schematics!

#34 4 years ago


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