F(ire)-14 Tomcat; Learn to fly


By gutz

8 months ago


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  • 35 posts
  • 13 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 5 months ago by mgpasman
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#1 8 months ago

Picked up a tomcat from an operator as a part of a bulk buy. The machine was routed for 11 years before it was damaged in a building fire. Some PCBs were yanked for parts and the game was condemned to die in a shed. After 18 years of hot summers and cold winters, it found me. I'm not sure which did more damage, the fire or the storage conditions after the fire. I am glad the op didn't trash it and kept it for so long. It was sold for 'parts' but I will have the final say.

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#2 7 months ago

Before pics. Anything plastic in the head melted. Lots of soot/smoke damage. Bubbled paint on backbox top and a little on the back. The PCBs that were stored in the machine, all fuse holders, hardware, light sockets, and connectors up high (ps and sound board) were corroded/rusty. Knocker too. Not sure if the corrosion started after the fire or during storage.

Translite was missing. Mpu and display were pulled before storage and are not corroded. Speaker panel melted. The legs were borrowed from the titanic. There is a nasty yellow corrosion on the side rails and lockdown bar.

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#3 7 months ago

More pics

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#4 7 months ago

That will make for a nice project if you have the time to spend on it. If you get snowed in, you won't be bored. Good luck

1 week later
#5 7 months ago

More progress pics cleaning up the damage. I have no idea what the corrosion on the side rails and lockdown bar were, but evaporust didn't touch it. They had to be cleaned mechanically with scotchbrite/steel wool. There are still pits in the finish but its much better than before.

The light panel was magic erased to remove soot. Beacon assembly had heavy soot on top that was sanded clean. The bottom was heavily rusted. The bottom was sanded down and painted black. The sockets were corroded but a dip in evaporust cleaned them up and they are working.

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#6 7 months ago

Beacon assembly finished up. I didn't take any after pics out of the machine because I was so excited to get it back on the machine.

Old domes were heated and pressed back into shape and polished ha! The old ones were f*cked up beyond repair and had to be replaced. The red one actually melted around the lamp/post and was a joy to cut off with a rotary tool. All the mounting bolts were rusted and surprise surprise snapped during removal. New beacon motor, center pulleys, nylinears, lamps, and belts. Connectors were corroded, so they got repinned.

Top of the back box was sanded down and repainted black when the domes were off.

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#7 7 months ago

Wow nice work so far, i wouldnt know where to start.

#8 7 months ago

Been following your thread. Lotsa work ahead, your work looks great so far. Did the game have a decent PF?

#9 7 months ago

Outside of cab mostly done. Cab and backbox sides are checked, but considering the history of the machine, they look good. Legs are spares I had, not the legs that came with the machine (i never even bothered unpacking the original legs). Coin door painted.

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#10 7 months ago
Quoted from dozer1:

Been following your thread. Lotsa work ahead, your work looks great so far. Did the game have a decent PF?

Playfield is surprisingly decent for a tomcat. Wear on the top loop, loop inserts, and kickback lane but nothing horrible. Top and bottom mylar with a few high inserts. The goal is to have a nice players machine, and the original playfield will achieve that and will look pretty good considering the history of the machine.

Quoted from crlush:

Wow nice work so far, i wouldnt know where to start.

Sometimes, starting is the hardest part

#11 7 months ago

I have some cool new storage containers. Close up of the pia red dome that had to be cutoff. Also all the roached hardware in the cabinet that had to be replaced.

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#12 7 months ago

Insert panel back in. Sanded backside the best i could without removing sockets and wires. The lamp sockets and wire are rusty, but still work, so I will leave them alone for now. Head brackets cleaned and polished up. Fuse holders and new fuses installed (corrosion). Bridge fuses added.

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#13 7 months ago

Board time! Power supply and sound board area had corrosion issues, many parts were replaced. New caps, fuse holders, new +5v regulator, transistor, and bridge. New connectors on both boards.

For testing, I checked each AC pair of wires from the transformer first. All present! Next, connecting the input plugs of the power supply only, checked for all DC voltages. All present!

Some parts maybe didn't HAVE to be replaced, but without solid power the game won't be reliable. I also didn't want to waste time tracing issues back to questionable components/connectors/corrosion.

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#14 7 months ago

To save some suspense: the mpu booted on the bench (power up only, no in/outputs tested) over a year ago. It was the only thing I tested before packing the game away in the que. Luckily, the batteries were pulled before storage! The mpu and display were in a separate box. I dont think they were stored in the same shed as the machine because they are in much nicer shape. I told myself that if the mpu booted, I would try to save the game. Sometimes the games want to be saved

I replaced the power connector on the mpu, installed the board and only connected the displays and coin door switches. Its alive!!

Only player 1 and 2 displays work. 3 is dead and 4 was missing glass. 'Adjust failure' remedied through the menus, and the machine was in game over mode

Hooked the playfield systems up one at a time and verified through the menus: lights, switches, coils. A few switch adjustments, new lamps, new flash resistor/reflow and I had a 99% working playfield!

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#15 7 months ago

This could wind up being a real nice F-14 when you are done with it. Gotta say, it looked like a parts machine to me when I saw the first pics, but you have really been bringing it around.

#16 7 months ago

The machine was missing the translite and kruzman hooked me up with a nice one (and glass)! Installed new trim, which was a snug fit. I warmed up the trim with a heat gun to 'open' them up. New speaker panel plastic installed and pinscore display installed. Players 3 and 4 are working, thankfully no mpu issues! I will wait until all the up/down/in/out is finished on the speaker panel to peel the coating (bluish tint in the pics)

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#17 7 months ago

Nice work!! Your beacon lenses look really nice and clear. Especially the "clear" one but the blue and red ones also look really nice. Ive noticed that some of the new ones dont look that nice. Where did you get them from ? Marco ?

#18 7 months ago

Hell yes,dude.. f14 rules.. now I'm going to hit my flippers..

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#19 7 months ago
Quoted from SUPERBEE:

Nice work!! Your beacon lenses look really nice and clear. Especially the "clear" one but the blue and red ones also look really nice. Ive noticed that some of the new ones dont look that nice. Where did you get them from ? Marco ?

Thanks! I picked up the beacons from planetary pinball because they were the only site (that I frequent) that had all colors in stock. I went with the clear dome because the 'white' looks too opaque in the pictures to me. Maybe it isn't as opaque in person? The clear looks good on the cab, but holy hell is it blinding! I didn't do any polishing to them before install. Up close they're not perfect, but they look good from the player's perspective.

#20 7 months ago

Awesome thread!

#21 7 months ago

The last board to hook up was the sound board. I had apprehensions with this board because there was a dated tech note (pre-fire ) in machine saying "loud hum from sound board - disconnected sound board". It was also the only board left in the machine (Mpu and displays were stored in a separate box, power supply was inside the coin box but I don't know for how long) and I figured it was left behind for a reason. Upon inspection, the sockets and socketed chips didn't look good from the corrosion. I measured the capacitors (keeping the hum note in mind) and the radials were not horrible and all the axials were bad. Replaced the axial capacitors and fired it up to hear sound board issues Some static, missing sounds, and no sweet ass tomcat melodies. Repair notes in this thread: https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/system-11-sound-board-repair-d-11581-f-14-tomcat

After the repair, I cranked up the volume and smiled This is what it felt like: » YouTube video

#22 7 months ago

Looking good, those new light domes look awesome

#23 7 months ago

Playfield out and bottom cab is cleaned up

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#24 7 months ago

I'm guessing the fire occurred in 1999 based on the tech notes and tax stamp. The original displays must have not lasted very long, looks like #1, #4, and #2 were replaced.

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#25 7 months ago

Playfield full teardown shop job. Didn't take many pics, I was in 'go' mode

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#26 7 months ago

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#27 7 months ago

Looking good!!

#28 7 months ago

Nice work! Lots of work...

#29 7 months ago

Amazing!!!

#30 7 months ago

Looking awesome Zach!!
I look forward to checking this out in person sometime soon!!

#31 7 months ago
Quoted from CyberNinja24:

Looking awesome Zach!!
I look forward to checking this out in person sometime soon!!

Damn it, jimmy...now everyone knows our real names!

Everything put back together and this bird is flying high. Still need to compile the total cost of the project. Waiting for a larger order to pbresource to pickup new enhanced kill targets, and a gpe order for a new sound ribbon cable ( old one works but is very crispy). Other than that, I'm closing the restoration book on this f(ire)-14 tomcat

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#32 7 months ago

Incredible!!!!

#33 7 months ago

A great job, you saved this beauty to face the certain death.
And again a cool story that all the work was worth it for this most underated 11 pinball machine.
There's something magic on the F-14 and she always possess me again and again, even if I want to play a quick game.

#34 7 months ago

Project costs:

Purchase: $100
Cab
Leg parts (feet, bolts, protectors) $15
Translite/Glass/Trim $115
Beacon parts (3 Domes, motor, belts, pulleys)$140
Speaker panel $75
Playfield Glass $22
Misc (shooter parts, locks, hardware) $23

Electronics
Display $200
Components (power supply: connectors, caps, transistor, ic, fuse holders, fuses. Sound board caps, connectors, Snubber resistors, ribbon cables, ect.) $50

Playfield/shop out (balls, lamps, rubbers, coil sleeves, targets, coil, mech parts, flipper rebuild, pop bumper parts, posts/domes, plastics)
$260

Shop supplies
$10

Shipping
$50

My time: priceless

Total cost $1060

1 month later
#35 5 months ago

Wow, a real labour of love. If time is money, these projects are rarely worth it (I get the same feeling when watching Wheeler Dealers on Discovery), but I am sure glad people do them nevertheless!

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