(Topic ID: 161158)

Cleaning Playfield Harnesses - Vid's Guide

By vid1900

8 years ago


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  • 129 posts
  • 52 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 18 days ago by mof
  • Topic is favorited by 206 Pinsiders

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    There are 129 posts in this topic. You are on page 2 of 3.
    #51 8 years ago

    Did this recently with my IJ harnesses. Came out amazing!

    Just be careful nothing can poke down below the rack and block the washer arm.

    4 weeks later
    #52 8 years ago

    I've been told the dishwasher process WILL kill microswitches and WON'T kill them, any opinions?

    #53 8 years ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    They use regular Dawn dish soap, so everything is covered in streaks and spots.

    That's a recipe for a bubble bath all over the kitchen floor.

    #54 8 years ago
    Quoted from miracleman:

    I've been told the dishwasher process WILL kill microswitches and WON'T kill them, any opinions?

    I simply do not understand intentionally introducing liquid water into a wiring harness.

    Some microswitches are sealed, but not most. Most are, however, snap-action and single-metal so there won't be much if any galvanic concern. The issue would be the presence of any sort of lubricant, which IS in some microswitches and both will be mobilized and might kill them.

    The bigger problem I have with this sort of thing is wicking; stranded wire will wick water up a shocking distance into the insulation, it will never dry out as there's no exposure to the atmosphere to do so and over time it will degrade the copper. The wire used in these harnesses is not 100% tinned (that stuff is expensive and usually only found in marine applications; pinball machines typically use the cheapest wire and hardware they can get away with) and thus you're going to intentionally introduce water well up the wiring harness at every end of every connection. Worse, anywhere there's a dissimilar metal (e.g. at a connector, where it's soldered, etc) you've created the conditions for a galvanic cell, which can and will promote corrosion even when the machine is off!

    I've lived around the marine environment and boats my entire life, and have seen ground wires that were never submerged in anything yet the conductors are literal *powder* half-a-foot or more up from the connector after a decade or two! Yes, washing the harness produces a cleaner insulating jacket, but dirt on an insulating jacket doesn't short things out nor degrade the wire inside and wiping it down, while it won't get the side(s) of the jacket you can't reach with a cloth, won't get moisture into the wire itself.

    Now maybe 20 years on doing this will prove to be entirely benign, but I'm not doing it with any of my games.

    #55 8 years ago
    Quoted from miracleman:

    I've been told the dishwasher process WILL kill microswitches and WON'T kill them, any opinions?

    I would not trust any microswitches in the dishwasher.

    Even if they were sealed 20 years ago, they might not still be sealed today.

    4 months later
    #56 7 years ago

    Sorry for ressurecting. How does the fish paper or switch Wafers hold up to the dishwasher? Also, advice as to tickerguy's post and comments on wicking? Seems like every method of thoroughly cleaning a harness involves water and detergent. I'm asking because I'm about to completely restore my time warp and am in the middle of stripping the harness. Not because it's particularly dirty but the PF needs extensive work and all inserts are loose.

    #57 7 years ago

    I just got done washing my Dracula wiring harness, and I am noticing some sort of deposit/ corrosion build up on several of the light sockets, including on the the internal spring within the socket. I am wondering if something on the sockets reacted to the detergent. Has anyone else experienced this? Any advice on how to clean it off?

    Thanks!

    IMG_4319 (resized).JPGIMG_4319 (resized).JPG
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    2 weeks later
    #58 7 years ago
    Quoted from Langless28:

    Sorry for ressurecting. How does the fish paper or switch Wafers hold up to the dishwasher?

    Fishpaper is fine in the dishwasher.

    It's made of vulcanized rubber over a fiber base.

    Quoted from Langless28:

    Also, advice as to tickerguy's post and comments on wicking? Seems like every method of thoroughly cleaning a harness involves water and detergent.

    A little water wicking at the ends of the wire does not hurt anything.

    Many times after washing, you are snipping off the wire ends to re-terminate the connector plugs anyway.

    No one has ever snipped off the old contacts and said "OMG, these are still wet under the insulation!!!!"

    It's not like pinball is a constantly wet environment (and the dish detergent is ph7).

    People have been washing wiring harnesses in their old Gibson and Fender guitars since the 70s and we don't hear any stories about the wire ends corroding (and those old potentiometers were open frame - yikes!).

    People have been washing pinball harnesses since at least the 90s (see rec.games.pinball), and again, we don't hear any horror stories in the last 30 years.

    I've washed probably 100 harnesses and maybe 700+ circuit boards.

    -

    If you want something that's not detergent & water, you can use Carbon Tetrachloride, but to me, that's "too much cleaner" for such a simple job.

    #59 7 years ago
    Quoted from mbt:

    I just got done washing my Dracula wiring harness, and I am noticing some sort of deposit/ corrosion build up on several of the light sockets, including on the the internal spring within the socket. I am wondering if something on the sockets reacted to the detergent. Has anyone else experienced this? Any advice on how to clean it off?
    Thanks!

    You see how crappy the plating was on those old Williams sockets.

    You can wipe the outside of the sockets with an old wax impregnated rag you used to wax a playfield with.

    The inside of all sockets I clean with a Dremel stone:

    Dremel_Grinding_Stone_Aluminum_Oxide_Grinding_Stones_Grinding_and_Sharpen_(EN)(4) (resized).jpgDremel_Grinding_Stone_Aluminum_Oxide_Grinding_Stones_Grinding_and_Sharpen_(EN)(4) (resized).jpg

    1 year later
    #60 6 years ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    So there you have it.
    In less than a hour you have a spotlessly clean harness that is a pleasure to work with.
    No caustic chemicals.
    No driveway rinsing.
    No hair dryer drying.
    No filling and soaking in the bathtub.
    No expensive equipment.
    No unsoldering coils or drop target mechs (how many hours would that add to your job?).
    Once you have done a dishwasher cleaning, you will never go back to any other way.

    Hey, Vid.... how long do you normally allow the harness dry after coming out of the dishwasher so any remaining moisture can drain off? Also, do you use the heated dry function?

    #61 6 years ago

    Usually the harness comes out dry and very hot just in the regular "pots & pans" cycle.

    1 month later
    #62 6 years ago

    I've washed probably 100 harnesses and maybe 700+ circuit boards.
    -

    can i clarify please
    can i put power driver cpu boards for a WH2O in the dish washer

    thanks

    #63 6 years ago
    Quoted from john17a:

    I've washed probably 100 harnesses and maybe 700+ circuit boards.
    -
    can i clarify please
    can i put power driver cpu boards for a WH2O in the dish washer
    thanks

    Make sure if your board has any relays, you remove them before you wash it.

    1 week later
    #64 6 years ago

    Tickerguy gets my vote.

    #65 6 years ago
    Quoted from swanng:

    Tickerguy gets my vote.

    Nobody has a gun to your head, clean your harnesses any way you like, lol.

    -

    I've probably done another dozen harnesses since this article.

    They went into some very high dollar restorations, for some very picky customers.

    Time REALLY is money when restoring pins, and getting a spotless harness that looks better than new in 2 hours is money in the bank.

    One of the first harness I believe I ever dishwashed was Fireball2 back in the late 90s after reading about the process on rec.games.pinball .

    I replaced a coil and the rubbers few months ago for the current owner of that game.

    Nothing was corroded, and believe it or not, it's still pretty clean after probably 20 years. That game is kept in an Ohio basement, one of the dampest places on earth.

    My theory is, that by washing off all the sticky manufacturing oils & plasticizers from the surface of the wires, it helps keep soot and dust from adhering to it.

    win/win

    1 month later
    #66 6 years ago

    Any tips for harnesses with rodent damage? I'm assuming put it through the cleaner (I have an ultrasonic) and then start inspecting... Any advice on the wires themselves? I'll obviously replace the ones that were badly chewed and mostly bare - but is it worth buzzing continuity and repairing ones that just have a few nicks?

    Vid - Thanks again for all you've done and your continued help. I'm sure you can gather by all my posts across your guides I got a bulk deal at a cheap price that has a wider variety of problems than my usual finds.

    #67 6 years ago
    Quoted from statictrance:

    Any tips for harnesses with rodent damage? I'm assuming put it through the cleaner (I have an ultrasonic) and then start inspecting... Any advice on the wires themselves? I'll obviously replace the ones that were badly chewed and mostly bare - but is it worth buzzing continuity and repairing ones that just have a few nicks?

    If the rodents ate the PVC insulation off, but left the copper intact; then just put the closest color shrink tubing sleeve around it.

    You can release the contacts from the Molex plugs and slide the sleeve over the contact.

    If it's on the playfield side, it might be quicker to unsolder a wire, then slide the sleeve over it.

    On tiny nicks, you can use "Liquid Electrical Tape" they have at the hardware store
    71PPTuTOGML._SL1280_ (resized).jpg71PPTuTOGML._SL1280_ (resized).jpgabb29be005e5c7529f7e94f8ea91260d--shrink-wrap-insulation (resized).jpgabb29be005e5c7529f7e94f8ea91260d--shrink-wrap-insulation (resized).jpg

    Ebay or Fry's has huge grab bags of rainbow shrink tubing. Get the smaller diameters that will just barely fit over the connectors.

    Liquid Electrical Tape only comes in Black, White, Red, Yellow and Blue. They used to sell Clear, but I have not seen it lately.

    #68 6 years ago

    Here's a clear one.

    https://www.amazon.com/Star-Brite-Liquid-Electrical-Tape/dp/B000BO93RG/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top

    Not the best price, but you can probably find that brand someplace else.

    3 months later
    #69 5 years ago

    So, I joined the club last night, brand new Bosch dishwasher installed Friday, first "load" was the lower playfield wiring of Black Knight.
    Bosch doesn't have a "pots and pans" cycle; "Extra Scrub" is the one that sounds the most gnarly and is the setting all the way at the end I figured "heavy cycle" would go longer and be the most thorough cleaning. Also, I filled the detergent cup with powdered dish detergent, why be bashful.

    The results were decent, but not quite the "magic trick" I was hoping for. Everything is obviously much cleaner than when it went in, but the 2 underwhelming realizations were:

    1) a couple of (small) areas of the wiring didn't seem to have really been cleaned. So maybe I need to be more judicious about how I place the looms?

    2) the chalky white oxidation common on metal playfield brackets (coil for pops and slings and drop targets) seems to have been utterly unaffected. I've been having a work drought accompanied by tons of home expenses, so buying an ultrasonic cleaner at the moment is a bit of a non-starter. I like to take drop targets apart and wax them as a matter of course anyway (and hit those metal brackets with a coating of spray clear), so this isn't a crushing disappointment, but it will mean handling all of the smaller ones one at a time in a way I'd hoped to be spared.

    Additionally, and this is a pretty minor quibble but just for the record, in my case the copper parts didn't come out of the washer looking like shiny new pennies. They are clearly cleaner than they had been, and I have no doubt the contacts benefit from the washing, but again, didn't quite have the "ta-da!" finale to this process I was primed for.

    Everything is a learning process, and it's entirely possible that I missed something early on in this guide, but just thought I'd share my results. I still have today to do the cabinet wiring if anyone wants to chime in quickly before my wife comes home tomorrow

    #70 5 years ago

    Did my harness for my sinbad. Did 2 cycles as I flipped it over for the second.

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    #71 5 years ago
    Quoted from sethbenjamin:

    1) a couple of (small) areas of the wiring didn't seem to have really been cleaned. So maybe I need to be more judicious about how I place the looms?

    You can snip a few zip ties and let it really get in to the trouble spots.

    I've cleaned a harness where someone had sprayed, what I assumed to be WD40, on all the mechs.

    It was still dirty after a cycle, so I snipped the zip ties in the bad areas, and pre-soaked it with Dawn to break up the oil, then ran it again.

    2nd time was the charm.

    Quoted from sethbenjamin:

    2) the chalky white oxidation common on metal playfield brackets (coil for pops and slings and drop targets) seems to have been utterly unaffected.

    If we put a rusty head of a shovel in the dishwasher, it would not come out as shiny bare metal.

    The fine sand in the detergent will clean off some oxidation, but if it's deep, you need to tumble with abrasives for 48 hours.

    Unfortunately, an ultrasonic will not clean off oxidation either.

    Quoted from sethbenjamin:

    Additionally, and this is a pretty minor quibble but just for the record, in my case the copper parts didn't come out of the washer looking like shiny new pennies. They are clearly cleaner than they had been, and I have no doubt the contacts benefit from the washing, but again, didn't quite have the "ta-da!" finale to this process I was primed for.

    Again, probably just depends on how oxidized they were to begin with.

    Also, the Harder your water is, the less effective the detergent.

    And of course, you might have to experiment with detergent. The worst is Cascade With Dawn - it does not even work on food (the "dawn" part tricked me, knowing how good real Dawn is on oil). The stuff I'm using right now is Kirkland Premium, for whatever that's worth.

    If the copper bottoms of your pans come out like shiny pennies, then that's a good soap for your switches.

    1 month later
    #72 5 years ago

    Should I snip off relay boards so they don't get the dishwasher treatment?

    #73 5 years ago
    Quoted from heni1977:

    Should I snip off relay boards so they don't get the dishwasher treatment?

    The detergent has fine sand in it, so you want to remove the possibility of any grit getting in the relays.

    Same with enclosed switches that are not waterproof. We don't want them filling with water that will never dry.

    #74 5 years ago

    Awesome,Thanks Vid!

    3 months later
    #75 5 years ago

    I'm not comfortable putting that stuff in my dishwasher, but there were several $25 working dishwashers on craigslist in my neighborhood, so I picked one up and am going to give this a try.

    1 week later
    #76 5 years ago
    Quoted from polyacanthus:

    I'm not comfortable putting that stuff in my dishwasher, but there were several $25 working dishwashers on craigslist in my neighborhood, so I picked one up and am going to give this a try.

    Make sure you hook it up to the HOT water on your laundry tub.

    #77 5 years ago

    I didn't put a harness in yet, I need to lay a square of wire mesh in there to keep danglers above the rotating wand. But I did put a bunch of other stuff in there and it did a pretty good job, big time saver.

    #78 5 years ago

    You can get "Rabbit Wire" by the foot at the hardware store if you need to keep danglers out of the wand.

    Zip tie it in place.

    (of course, nothing stops you from ziptie-ing any danglers to the existing rack, and skipping the Rabbit Wire.)

    #79 5 years ago

    Once again, VID for president !

    #80 5 years ago

    I have a roll of it, it's just not important enough to me right now to go rummaging through the shed in the dark when it's 17° out.

    #81 5 years ago
    Quoted from fast_in_muskoka:

    Once again, VID for president !

    Prime Minister?

    #82 5 years ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    No, actually it wont.
    (and you are not getting the pony Santa promised you, either)

    You could buy a cool 22 liter ultrasonic cleaner for $299 on ebay.
    [quoted image]

    For what it's worth, I would not recommend that unit. I purchased it and while the ultrasonic portion worked well, I could not get the heater to heat the solution hot enough even after running it 3 times for 10 mins.

    #83 5 years ago

    The Ultrasonic I have takes about a half hour to hit temp

    I usually fill it with hot water, add the de greaser, then hit the heat button.

    If you are in a hurry, fill it with hot water and use your wife's Sous-vide to heat the solution

    #84 5 years ago

    Not many Canadians on here . . .

    Quoted from vid1900:

    Prime Minister?

    #85 5 years ago

    Just a note
    I boiled the kettle and used boiling in the ultrasonic and fuc#rd it big time the sudden high temperature did something to the unit and its not coming back
    Tap hot water ok

    #86 5 years ago

    Boiling water is dangerous.

    It may have tripped the over-temp sensor inside the unit, shutting it off.

    1 week later
    #87 5 years ago

    I'm looking down the barrel of a positively FILTHY Addams Family pin. Like, I am certain nobody has ever cleaned it, ever. Going full on playfield swap, CPR gold playfield, so obviously everything needs to be super clean.

    The previous game I tossed in the dishwasher was Black Knight, so it only had leaf switches. I'm gathering from what you're saying here that I should leave the switch matrix wiring out of the dishwasher, as it can mess up the microswitches?

    #88 5 years ago
    Quoted from sethbenjamin:

    I'm looking down the barrel of a positively FILTHY Addams Family pin. Like, I am certain nobody has ever cleaned it, ever. Going full on playfield swap, CPR gold playfield, so obviously everything needs to be super clean.
    The previous game I tossed in the dishwasher was Black Knight, so it only had leaf switches. I'm gathering from what you're saying here that I should leave the switch matrix wiring out of the dishwasher, as it can mess up the microswitches?

    same here need to clean a very dirty earthshaker harness but not sure about the switch loom, don't really want to de-solder every microswitch.

    4 weeks later
    #89 5 years ago

    Im in the same boat as well. Looking at restoring a Shadow and want to make a comprehensive list of things that need to be de-soldered. As far as I understand the components that absolutely cannot go in the dishwasher are:

    Coils
    Sub-Microswitches for ramps/ rollover lanes etc
    Standup targets
    Circuit boards with power relays still attached (desolder these and reattach after?)

    Things that can go in but make me nervous:
    Molex connectors still on the harness
    Lamp boards with twist sockets removed
    GI and Lamp sockets
    Flasher sockets
    Leafswitches i.e. EOS switches and kicker switches (there are wood spacers on these so I would assume the water would cause swelling and ruin them)
    Mechanical assemblies minus their coils

    Can anyone confirm that I have the right idea with this list? I would love to make cleaning this filthy harness as efficient as possible.

    #90 5 years ago

    coils are fine they are just insulated windings on a bit of plastic with a wrapper. I left the coils on the loom and they came out great molex connectors are also fine and nothing happened to the leaf switches (just zip tie the stack like vid says so they dont seperate)

    I'm still on the fence with the micro switches though. But will probably just de solder them to be on safe side

    #91 5 years ago
    Quoted from russdx:

    I'm still on the fence with the micro switches though. But will probably just de solder them to be on safe side

    I leave them on then replace them with new ones when I'm done. They will fill with water that you can't get out. Once the game is done, you may not have issues. Give it a few months and you might notice you have to hit a switch a couple of times before it activates. That's the corrosion starting to take effect.

    Micro switches are so important to the game I like to start out fresh with new ones.

    I sell them here, if anyone is interested.

    https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/cherry-micro-switch-with-diode-installed

    #92 5 years ago

    There we go. I'll refine it but you get the idea

    IMG_20190415_204929818 (resized).jpgIMG_20190415_204929818 (resized).jpg
    1 week later
    #93 5 years ago

    Hello,
    I am new here and also started my first pinball restoration on my first pinball machine.
    It's a Williams Jackpot.

    I was wondering,
    How do you prevent your metal parts from corrosion after dishwashing?
    Or after tumbling?

    With kind regards,
    Tdibertje

    #94 5 years ago
    Quoted from Bryan_Kelly:

    I leave them on then replace them with new ones when I'm done. They will fill with water that you can't get out. Once the game is done, you may not have issues. Give it a few months and you might notice you have to hit a switch a couple of times before it activates. That's the corrosion starting to take effect.
    Micro switches are so important to the game I like to start out fresh with new ones.
    I sell them here, if anyone is interested.
    https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/cherry-micro-switch-with-diode-installed

    Ah very good, i decided to remove them and hand clean in the end. What's your shipping to the uk like?

    #95 5 years ago
    Quoted from russdx:

    What's your shipping to the uk like?

    Not really sure, but I've sent 15 of them in a padded envelope to Australia for about $15. I would imagine it'll be about the same.

    3 months later
    #96 4 years ago

    Well, my dishwasher routine didn't turn out well. It left white pitted residue on all metal parts! ran it twice. Now I have twice the amount of cleanup work. Liquid detergent, soft water, extra hot, pots & pans cycle. Not sure if I can change anything to make it better? This kinda of sucks.. Oh well, next time I'll leave well enough alone. Any other suggestions would surely be appreciated?
    Scott

    #97 4 years ago
    Quoted from Slogan1111:

    Well, my dishwasher routine didn't turn out well. It left white pitted residue on all metal parts! ran it twice. Now I have twice the amount of cleanup work. Liquid detergent, soft water, extra hot, pots & pans cycle. Not sure if I can change anything to make it better? This kinda of sucks.. Oh well, next time I'll leave well enough alone. Any other suggestions would surely be appreciated?
    Scott

    Simple green and a toothbrush cleans residue off effectively.

    Rinse with hot water. Air dry or blow it off with compressed air.

    I use the electric air gun, a hair dryer also works.

    Get a 22L sonic cleaner.
    Whole harnesses, lockdown bars and pretty much anything fits.
    Stuff comes out really clean and new for the most part.

    I use it for tons of stuff.

    Bigger is definitely better on these.
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    #98 4 years ago

    I guess the old metal plating was pitted to some degree. Wasn't visible to the naked eye though. Then salt residue from the water softener probably enhanced the pitting, is my guess?
    It comes off, just more hours of work ahead! Oh well, guess everything will be super clean after that!
    I usually clean everything by hand, in hind sight I wished I continued that trend. The harnesses weren't very dirty to begin with. But figured I'd try the dishwasher.
    Anyways, moving forward & continuing the PF swap. My 1st one by the way!
    And thanks for the tips Pinballinreno.
    Have a good night pinheads...

    #99 4 years ago
    Quoted from Slogan1111:

    I guess the old metal plating was pitted to some degree. Wasn't visible to the naked eye though. Then salt residue from the water softener probably enhanced the pitting, is my guess?
    It comes off, just more hours of work ahead! Oh well, guess everything will be super clean after that!
    I usually clean everything by hand, in hind sight I wished I continued that trend. The harnesses weren't very dirty to begin with. But figured I'd try the dishwasher.
    Anyways, moving forward & continuing the PF swap. My 1st one by the way!
    And thanks for the tips Pinballinreno.
    Have a good night pinheads...

    If the plating was worn and corroded, no amount of cleaning will fix it.

    However once the oxidation and rust is removed, the pitting will remain.

    2 months later
    #100 4 years ago

    Also had the same problem with oxidation on the metal parts. It just wipes off for the most part, but its a lot more work. I'm quite disappointed, I feel like I made it worse than it was before, and compromised the coating on the metal parts.

    I think it may be caused by the dishwasher salt, or the detergent? Liquid or powder dishwasher detergents aren't common over here in The Netherlands, just those tabs, so that's what I used. Pots and pans cycle.

    What do you think, should I get some powder or liquid detergent and try again, or leave it at this (and clean manually)?

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