(Topic ID: 259408)

Help Request (for a newbie)


By Sinballer

42 days ago



Topic Stats

  • 16 posts
  • 8 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 26 days ago by HowardR
  • Topic is favorited by 4 Pinsiders

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#1 42 days ago

Looking for a little help/guidance.

I'm completely new to the pinball repair world. I recently acquired a Williams Space Odyssey machine.
It was in my wife's family's basement when she was a kid and has not been used (or even powered on) in at least 10 years.
Luckily, both the playfield and backglass (?) artwork is in surprisingly good condition. I don't think I'll need to be be doing any type of cosmetic improvements.

After posting on this site earlier (different forum), some helpful people pointed me towards a basic repair guide which was exactly what I needed for a starting off point. I've read/watched a lot of info since and then felt comfortable powering it on and checking it out. BTW, I have a strong background in electronics and electro-mechanics - just unfamiliar with pinball machines specifically. I've done some basic stuff on my own on the machine and with enough time could probably figure things out myself but I'd rather rely on other people's experience instead of having to learn by making mistakes (and likely damaging stuff).

Here is what the initial status is...
All of the fuses check OK.
The machine powers on and most of the lights come on (I'm assuming some are burnt and I plan on replacing all).
The score counters reset to zero (when the start button is pressed)
The only items which seem to function (on the playfield) are the 4 areas that capture/detect/eject the pinball - 2 at either side of the drain area and the other 2 (different style) about midway up the playfield.
None of the scoring areas/targets function. The flippers and pop bumpers don't function either.

So, being adventurous (and not wanting to bother people with REALLY basic stuff), I went through the whole machine and manually activated all of the solenoids and did a basic visual of all of the switches. I found one stepper unit which definitely needed cleaning and another (Bonus Unit) that was iffy. I also found one relay/switch unit (.10 coin unit) which was partially disassembled/misaligned. I cleaned the first stepper unit (basic step-up only) with no issues. I cleaned the second one, which is a step-up/step down unit. The mechanics all function smoothly now but I am having 2 issues with it.
-The first one is arguably my fault. I didn't notice that the gear (toothed wheel?) has a small area with no teeth and so I didn't note the alignment between it and the finger switches (?) which it turns on the other side of the Bakelite board. Any idea where I can get (or figure out) the alignment?
-The second issue should be a basic alignment issue but I'm having trouble with it. I had to remove one of the switch assemblies in order to remove some of the mechanical components for cleaning. I did take photos prior to doing anything so I can see what it should look like. The issue I'm having is that after re-installing the switch assembly, it is not being activated by the post on the metal gear (as it was originally). There's not much play in the installation position so I really don't understand why it's not well aligned now. A side-note is that after removing the switch assembly, I found a Bakelie spacer on the floor, which I didn't notice coming off but it seems obvious/logical that it belongs with that switch assembly. It's the only one that I took out. I've made a best guess about which side of the switch assembly it belongs to but I may be wrong (it's happened once before ). I've attached a photo. Perhaps, if someone has the same stepper unit, they can count the spacers for me or just send me a close-up photo.
-Finally, I'm having trouble restoring the relay/switch assembly (.10 coin unit) at the bottom of the playfield cabinet. When I push the metal activating plate manually, the N/O switches are not closing. I've read at numerous places where switches can be adjusted but I haven't actually seen the method for doing so. Is it simply a matter of bending the metal fingers? I hate bending things instead of adjusting so I just want to make sure that's the way it's done before I mess something up. I can't see any obvious way to adjust the switches. I suspect that this relay/switch assembly was worked on by someone else previously, due the the partially disassembled state in which I found it. Additionally, I noticed an "open air" connection nearby which looks like the original wiring for one of the connection terminals (2 wires) but with a short wire attached (see photo). Not sure why this would have been done. It looks like the 2 wires are long enough to reach the terminal without the short wire extending. The connection does not seem safe/secure/smart like this. am I mistaken? There is also an unconnected wire at the nearby wiring harness but I'm not even sure if this is an issue or not. It's not long enough to have been connected to anything nearby.

Hopefully, the photos are clear enough(if my descriptions aren't). If not, LMK and I'll try to take some better ones (or give you better descriptions).

Thx in advance for any help you could provide.

So, for now, I need a little help with these 3 items.
Once I get past this, I plan on doing a quick basic cleaning of all of the switches

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#2 41 days ago

Theres a good guide here: www.pinrepair.com and I suggest you read that before you go any further.
And, tempting as it is, I would not begin to start cleaning more and more things on your machine or you will likely be putting more faults in it. Better to concentrate on one fix at a time, and move to the next.
The stepper units are often the most common issue on an em so get yours operating correctly and that will often solve lots of other problems that you have. I hope that helps you.

#3 41 days ago

Specifically, regarding the third issue (adjusting switches), here's a good link:

http://www.pinrepair.com/em/index2.htm#clean
[Section 2f. Before Turning the Game On: Adjusting & Cleaning (Filing) Switch Contacts]

Do you have a schematic and manual? IPDB has the schematic, but you should also purchase a paper copy (details in the popup window on IPDB). They would be a great help in finding (and/or confirming) the home for that broken red-ish wire. Look closely at all the switch tabs in the area, see if you can find where it broke off from.

The two yellow wires look like they broke off the switch tab and were reconnected using that short green jumper - definitely functional but not the neatest fix. Maybe use some electrical tape to cover the connection until you get around to cleaning it up.

#4 41 days ago

First Problem: Here's the diagram of the finger position of the Bonus unit on a Space Mission (4 player version).

2nd Problem: If you are talking about the switch stack in that same bonus unit. The spacer must have fallen off of either the top or the bottom. Try it both ways and see which way opens and closes the switch correctly.

3rd Problem; When adjusting switches you don't actually bend them. I've seen many poorly adjusted switches with bends in them. I would say that you "lean" them in the direction you want them to go. i place the contact adjuster near the back of the stack and softly twist the tool the way i want the switch to go. I use a gentle rocking motion. Sometimes I'll move along the length of the switch putting tension on different areas of the blade. I do this so lightly that I may have to do it 5 or more times to get it to move to the proper position. When you are done adjusting the blade, there should be no obvious bend.
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#5 41 days ago

Hi Sinballer
I join edednedy (post-4) - "not actually bend". I am german speaking - the german word I would use is "Knick" - the dictionnary says https://www.linguee.de/deutsch-englisch/search?source=auto&query=knick "kink" or maybe "buckle" (?). pinrepair has a video - it is about adjusting the (argh) AX- etc. Interlock-Relays in late Gottlieb pins: http://www.pinrepair.com/em/index3.htm#axrelayvideo - at exactly (time) 04:16 to 04:32 the man (Clay) uses a screwdriver to "adjust" a blade --- at time 04:56 to 06:00 he then uses an adjusting tool. We do "kink" the blade just at the place the blade comes out of the bakelite holding - I never did it using a screwdriver but the adjusting tool is excellent - or You may use an small "needle-nosed plier". Greetings Rolf

#6 41 days ago

Thanks for all of the good advice and reference materials.
I've managed to correct all 3 of the issues noted in my previous post.
Additionally, I cleaned/rebuilt the another stepper unit in the backbox, which definitely needed some attention.
I was hoping that fixing up these 3 stepper units plus the .10 coin relay would've advanced me somewhat but I'm still having the exact same symptoms as I did the very first time I plugged it in and tried it.

Specifically (at the risk of being redundant)...
All of the fuses check OK.
The machine powers on and most of the lights come on (I'm assuming some are burnt and I plan on replacing all).
The score counters reset to zero (when the start button is pressed)
The only items which seem to function (on the playfield) are the 4 areas that capture/detect/eject the pinball - 2 at either side of the drain area and the other 2 (different style) about midway up the playfield.
None of the scoring areas/targets function. The flippers and pop bumpers don't function either.
The ball does not get moved from the drain to the start position.

From everything I've read and seen so far about repairing EM machines, it seems to me that the stepper units and switches are the most common trouble areas. I've addressed all of the stepper units and was going to do a light, non-invasive cleaning of all of the switches (while closely inspecting them for other issues) but have been warned off of doing so.
I am going to try to figure out where the unconnected wire belongs. Looking at it closer, I can see that it does have solder on it which suggests that it does belong somewhere and has broken off.

If anyone has a similar machine, perhaps sending me a photo of that relay and the associated wiring would be faster than me trying to track it down in the schematics.

thx again

#7 41 days ago

It sounds like your machine is in a Game Over state. Check the switches and the interlock function on the game over relay. One coil should lock the switches in one direction and the other coil should unlock them to the opposite state.

#8 40 days ago
Quoted from edednedy:

It sounds like your machine is in a Game Over state. Check the switches and the interlock function on the game over relay. One coil should lock the switches in one direction and the other coil should unlock them to the opposite state.

You seem to know your stuff!
Although not working yet, this does give me a good jumping off point to start troubleshooting the problem.

With power on, when I manually activate the game over relay, it latches in that position, the "Game Over" light goes out and ball "5" gets displayed instead.
Additionally, the score for Player 1 advances by 100 points every time I do this and one of the chimes sounds.
The big issue is that there is a loud hum that is audible while the relay remains latched. I can't identify where exactly that's coming from yet because I am releasing the latched relay (manually) quickly out of fear that I'm about to burn up a coil.

Someone mentioned that I can get schematics, etc. from IPDB - What is that exactly? I'm not familiar with this acronym. Can someone please elaborate?

#9 40 days ago
Quoted from Sinballer:

You seem to know your stuff!
Although not working yet, this does give me a good jumping off point to start troubleshooting the problem.
With power on, when I manually activate the game over relay, it latches in that position, the "Game Over" light goes out and ball "5" gets displayed instead.
Additionally, the score for Player 1 advances by 100 points every time I do this and one of the chimes sounds.
The big issue is that there is a loud hum that is audible while the relay remains latched. I can't identify where exactly that's coming from yet because I am releasing the latched relay (manually) quickly out of fear that I'm about to burn up a coil.
Someone mentioned that I can get schematics, etc. from IPDB - What is that exactly? I'm not familiar with this acronym. Can someone please elaborate?

It's called internet pinball data base

#10 40 days ago

I think you mean the 2 500 point kick out holes? Machines are usually wired to kick a ball out from game over or tilt or if powered off during a game and the ball has landed in the hole, so that there's a ball to play from start.

If every thing is resetting but not actually starting, check the game over relay and ball trough switch in case it doesn't see the ball and your ball count unit. That should advance to ball 1 at the start of a new game. Try manually advancing it one step to see if the machine then allows the flippers, etc to operate. There could be more things of course but it's a start.

#11 40 days ago
Quoted from Sinballer:

Someone mentioned that I can get schematics, etc. from IPDB - What is that exactly? I'm not familiar with this acronym. Can someone please elaborate?

https://www.ipdb.org/files/2254/Williams_1976_Space_Odyssey_Schematic_Diagram_continuous.pdf

#12 40 days ago

OK, so I may have spoken too soon.
I thought that all of my stepper units were working well but after watching a video that clearly shows that the Ball Count stepper unit, located in the backbox, is a step-up/reset type, I can see that mine was NOT working as it should. It steps up nicely but will not reset well, if at all.
When I remove the "spider contact unit" it works flawlessly. Upon closer inspection, I'm suspecting that someone (not me - I swear!) has bent the fingers excessively, likely in an ill-advised attempt to get it to work better. I'm fairly sure that this is the issue but, being a newbie, I have no reference to compare this against. Some of the contact areas appear to be facing almost sideways instead of down (when it is removed from the stepper unit and relaxed and there is a wide difference over how much deflection (from resting position to contact) there is among the individual fingers. I believe this is causing excessive resistance to the motion of the metal gear which drives it. I believe I'm going to have to bend these back to their original positions but I just wanted to check with the experts to confirm this.

Can you please look at the photos and let me know if you concur?

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#13 39 days ago

http://www.pinrepair.com/em/index2.htm#steps

Clay recommends testing the tension with the wipers installed on the stepper:

[Quote from his site]

"14: Check the finger tension on the rivets. Gently pull a finger back from the rivet, and let it snap back to position. It should snap back firmly, but without too much tension. Fingers that are too tight against their rivets will make advancing or resetting a stepper unit too difficult. If a finger has too little pressure, there won't be good electrical contact between the finger and the rivet. If a finger needs additional contact pressure, remove the finger plate and gently bend the desired finger. If it has too much tension, just bend the finger back slightly (without removing anything). "

#14 39 days ago

The spider can only go on 2 ways as its shaft is shouldered. Try to manually reset it so the linkage is either fully home or fully away. Then put the spider on to see if the arms correspond to the brass contacts on the plate. If back to front, put it around the other way. It should then make corresponding contact as you advance up and down. Then carefully adjust your legs so they gently rest on the brass rivets and make full contact. One you know its correct, take it off and gently clean all contacts and apply a very thin smear of contact grease ( i use Pinball Resource grease) across the plate so everything moves smoothly. Do check the shaft itself isnt gummed up as thats common, and its return spring, if fitted, has good tension. Dont be tempted to over tension it or that puts stress on the mechanism. Some steppers, perhaps all, or the contact plate, can be adjusted to that they can be fine tuned. Usually, it's a small couple of grub screws on the shaft, or screws on the plate. Check these for tightness and only adjust if those fingers will not align perfectly. Check pinrepair website for more clarification if unsure!

1 week later
#15 26 days ago

Hello all,

I am new here and just got the sapce odyssey machine as well. We were able to play it fine when we picked it up, but then after transport it seems to be stuck in 'game over' mode. That is, we can press the credit button and the scores turn to 0 and it tries to go to player 1 but then immediately goes back to game over and we cant play. I am not an electrical engineer, but we do have the schematics. We also have cleaned the connections in the game over relay and noticed that the ball index realy does not operate even manually. I was wondering if anyone had any insight or tips as it seems that everything else is operational.

Really appreciate any help!

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