I got a TAF machine a few months back and have been loving it, it doesn't need a lot of work, but it needs some love here and there. So I decided to document my work and what I found and post it all under this forum topic for others to see how I do my fixes, get ideas, or even suggest better ways for what I'm doing.
Just a brief history of the machine so far (from what I remember).
GETTING THE MACHINE:
When I first saw the machine, it powered on, it played, but had some lights that didn't work, sound issues, and other random glitches. Also the previous owner had replaced a few things trying to have the machine look like the Gold model as much as possible. Including the EPROM chips, pop bumpers, Things box, the legs, and the wire track. My dad and I loaded the machine in his truck and took it to my house. The bad part was it didn't fit in the door way, and around the corner up the stairs where it's new home would be. We took the machine to my dads garage, where I nervously (never owning/working on a pinball machine) took the head off the unit. This made the machine thinner and lighter. Took it back to my house, we got it in the house, but still not enough room to get it around the corner with the hand truck. So, we remove the hand truck from the equation, and my buddy and I lifted the machine by hand and force our bodies to muscle it up those stairs. Dad watched from afar with a soda in hand laughing and glad it wasn't him.
With the machine upstairs, we got it back on the legs and attached the head unit. My dad and my buddy left and called it a night, I stayed up trying to plug everything in correctly (luckily I took photos on my phone that helped) once all plugged back in. I held my breath and switched it on. No smoke, no pops, nothing but good signs of powered on and working! Now onto the journey of trails and repairs.
BEFORE THE MACHINE:
A few things I ordered in anticipation of this machine was the fuse kit for "The Power" (also from Pinball life" and I got a complete LED kit (normal brightness, as the rep told me Super Brights were to bright in his opinion) from pinballheaven.co.uk. the LED kit was a nice cheap kit, it didn't look bad, but there were some issues. one issue was a good amount of the play field LEDs would ghost (at the time of ordering I didn't know this was a thing or a issue) and the blinking LEDs for the back glass, would all blink on and off at the same time rather than random. I did not like this. I got the replacement blinking LEDs from cointaker.com and once they came in I installed them and they are incredible! one more thing the Pinball Heaven LEDs didn't include was a bulb for the "start button" no big deal, but would have been nice. I also ordered a used Chair cliffy protector off ebay for more than half off the cost of a new one, but did not need this since the machine already had all the cliffy protectors already installed (as well as a few other mods)
The machine powered on and worked, but there was a few things that needed some adjustments and fixes. I'm not sure what I have pictures taken of, but as I find them I'll add them.
- One issue was the back box did not light up at all -
I didn't notice this when I picked up the machine, it may or may not have then, but it didn't now. After some looking online and looking at the boards in the machine, it became clear that the problem was burnt connectors. I ordered replacement connectors from Pinballlife.com and the crimper tool from Amazon.com. I redid the wires and pin connectors, and while I had the board out, I reflowed all the connections on the board. The machine now powered on and lit up perfectly!
- Thing would lose the ball -
Every so randomly, when shooting the balls to thing locked for multi-ball, thing would take the ball, and then I would never see that ball again. The machine would go to search mode, I'd hear the plungers fire, but nothing would ever come. Id have to bump the machine on the right side with my hip to knock the ball free (where ever it was) and then the machine would continue with the game. Most times I'd get a TILT for this, so this had to be fixed. After looking under the play field, I noticed the ball was getting stuck in the metal box under Thing, it wasn't rolling to the next location to be fired to where it needed to be. The holes of the metal box wasn't lining up. I pushed on Things metal under box and felt it move a little. I then looked further around the box and saw then the box had been removed at some point and when reinstalled, it wasn't fastened all the way. I tightened the box screws and felt the box pull about a half in closer to the play field. Ever since, the issue has been resolved and the ball has reached its destination every time!
- Never Loose a Hi Score or Risk Battery Damage! -
One thing I had to get as soon as I saw it was the "anyPin NVRAM" battery replacer from lockwhenlit.com. This was a straight forward install, I de-soldered the current RAM chip, in it's placed installed the socket for the anyPin NVRAM chip, and plugged it in after setting the dip switches correctly. IT WORKS AWESOMELY!
- Loosing Sound -
Randomly when playing the game, I'd lose sound and music. The music would just cut off, and sound effects I know should play, would not. I removed the sound board from the machine and reflowed all the connections I could with my soldering iron. I also replaced the factory EPROM sockets with the newer and better contact making sockets, that the anyPin NVRAM chip shipped with. Doing this ensured a better connection with the sound chips. I also programmed new chips on my EPROM programmer as well, using the latest Gold ROM version for my machine. Only 1 issue came up, when I unsoldered one of the original chip sockets, I guess I didn't get a clean solder removal on one of the legs, and I ended up pulling a circuit trace. I was able to follow the missing trace and solder in a new wire to bridge the connection. With the board re-flowed, new chips, and new sockets. The game never had a audio hiccup again, in fact, I started hearing new voice work I never heard before!
- Coin Door Half Working -
One thing I discovered after turning off free play, is only the right coin slot would work, not the left. I opened the coin door and noticed that the mech for the left slot was missing! Luckily PinballLife.com sells a replacement mech for $9.95 and it worked great! even better then the original one in the machine. Next time I order from them I'm going to tack on another to replace the old one.
Currently I have a few things I'm still working on. (mostly just waiting on parts)
- I went to rebuild the flippers, but noticed that none of the springs matched each other, and are very loose and mangled. Looks like the previous owner just put in what he had laying around to get the machine up and running again
- Color fixing
I'm in the process of replacing the gold items with their normal colors. I replaced the pop bumpers already. I'm having the brass wire track (which is flaking) stripped and chromed plated in the next week or so. Soon I'll replace the machines legs as well with chrome ones, replacing the current brass ones. I think I'm going to keep things box gold for now, since It looks better to me, plus it has the decal mod installed, which goes very well with the gold color.
- Coin Box
My coin door looks just... awful, you'll see in the pictures I'll post soon. It's not so much the door, but the Quarter inserts and reject buttons.. just ew...
- Pinched wires
Looks like theres a few wires under the play field that were pinched, barely together, and exposed. I'm going to cut these, insert a heat shrink tube, solder them, and shrink that tubing.
So far I've tried a whole kit from Pinball Heaven, then tried a few from CoinTaker, and most recently tried a few from Ablaze. The Pinball Heaven ones are cheap, and looked good for their price, but I just wanted something better. Ablaze was the same, I ordered a few to fix my ghosting issues, they did the job, Looked very good, but I had a few quality issues, where a few of the LED domes would fall off the led and need to be re-glued. I have a Complete Super kit with Ghost Busting technology upgrade as well as their new pop bumper Afterburner lights on order from CoinTaker. The package ETA is tomorrow and I'm excited to try them out. They also include a Start button LED so thats a huge plus in my book.
- The Future? -
Things I would like to fix in the future would be to have the play field's paint restored to it's former glory, fix some water warping on the underside of the cabinet, and do some touch up painting on the speaker bezel. where the machine says "T*H*I*N*G" my "I" letter has a small speck of paint missing from the black letter, curious whats the best paint/marker to fix this, without causing shadows or mis matched color.
Adding photos to this topic, I have a lot of them, just need to upload them.
Also, my dad may be picking up a "Mustang" pinball machine from 1977, with all my leftover LEDs I'm sure I can make him a kit for his machine. I may have a section on this machine too in the future.