(Topic ID: 179489)

"Nic's North American Pinball Tour" (aka I'm coming to fix your games!)

By NicoVolta

4 years ago


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    #551 4 years ago
    Quoted from Puffdanny:

    Golden Harvest Restaurant
    1625 Turner St, Lansing, MI 48906
    (517) 485-3663
    https://goo.gl/maps/v5QV9n5k2Wr

    Don't go there for peace & Quiet. A madhouse on weekends. Not counting the sound from the newer Stern pins.....

    10
    #552 4 years ago

    Visit #21 -> Ryan Claytor (RyanClaytor) in Lansing, MI

    The subjects: Thunderbird shuffle bowler and Paul Bunyan

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    7000 miles and seven weeks later, I arrived at Ryan’s house… already bone-deep tired. It was an epic struggle to maintain normal conversation and not fall asleep on the soft sofa recliner.

    Sleep came easily via back-to-back nights of 12-hours apiece. Oy vey! We have not even reached the midpoint of the tour! Recharging at Ryan’s came at the perfect time.

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    Ryan showed me the progress on his Bally Hay Ride. He wasn’t sure which avenue to take regarding the preservation of his touch-ups. I recommended having the playfield professionally clear coated for durability and improved gameplay… but Ryan hasn’t made up his mind yet. Will waxing alone be enough to protect the artwork?

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    It was time to open up The Beast… a Williams Thunderbird shuffle-puck bowler. Quite an ambitious undertaking considering Ryan has never rebuilt an EM before.

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    Like a 4-player pinball machine, Thunderbird sported 16 score reels in need of attention. Actually, 15. The 16th was awaiting transplantation from another machine.

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    We began with a cursory inspection of every relay, motor switch, and stepper mech. Most of it appeared to be configured correctly in good condition. Only two of the stepper mechs were in obvious need of a rebuild.

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    …and then we hit the wall. The entire motor assembly and cam responsible for lifting and resetting all of the pins was gone. Probably parted out for another machine. THE HORROR!

    Without the pin-lifting mechanism, Ryan’s shuffle-puck bowler would be nothing more than a giant paperweight. Nor is it a commonly available part… in fact, far from it! Most shuffle-bowlers have unique lifting motors of differing strengths and rotational pieces. Not good. Not good at all.

    Luckily, hope was regained with a phone call to Steve Young. He knew a guy who stockpiled various EM parts and, as luck would have it, had just the right motor for Thunderbird! Steve also knew how to rebuild it and agreed to do so. And we thus ended our brief work on a happy note.

    Once again, "Thank you Steve!!!"

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    Chuck (ckcsm on Pinside) gave me a tip which I’ve incorporated into my usual routine: Oil the bolts! Just a drop helps them move along nicely.

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    We switched gears with relay class on Ryan’s other project in the queue: A Gottlieb Paul Bunyan. It had the best-preserved backglass I’ve ever seen for this title.

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    Never trust the lasso.

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    The lasso means only one thing: “I am afraid of soldering”.

    Don't be! If you can use a hot glue gun, you can solder.

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    Bunyan was blowing fuses with the right flipper. A suspiciously-crispy coil was the obvious suspect.

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    Only a fraction of an ohm? Bingo. Too low to do anything but short out.

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    New coil = no more blown fuses.

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    Ryan then experienced the joy of repeatedly-almost-fitting new acorn nuts onto Gottlieb’s wonderful playfield posts.

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    Bunyan let out a deafening belly-laugh at his attempts.

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    I then procured a ratcheting socket driver for the job which shut him right up.

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    A reset bank (sequence bank reset) on the underside of the playfield wasn’t latching. It was responsible for resetting the A-B-C targets. The schematic was quite simple… only an armature switch stood in the way.

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    If you’ve ever wondered where the armature switch for a reset bank is located, it is on the lone switch bracket underneath (and frequently in need of attention - “swab, polish, swab” with the Magic Brush).

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    The contacts within most reset banks can be reached with the Magic Brush in place. No need to remove the stacks… just clean, polish, and go. But always look for loose/spinning contacts as you move through them.

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    The Claytors can cook! We relaxed a bit before the EM Showdown. Turns out I needed instructions in artichoke deconstruction… haven’t eaten many in my lifetime. Delish! Worth the effort for sure.

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    Game of choice was Score-Board, one of Wayne Neyens’ entertaining middle-pop games. Deep into game two on the final ball, Ryan gets his serious game-face on...

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    …shortly before yelling NOOOOOOOOOO!

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    And thus, I depart the happy household with a new 11-4 record. Thanks for the extra digit, Ryan.

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    Ah, but Ryan got the last laugh, having totally destroyed me at Penny Pitch with a goodly number of 3-point zingers. I’ll be back, Penny Pitch, and I’ll make you my… er… winning return.

    Next stop -> Baroda, MI

    #553 4 years ago

    Nic - You need one of these for the Dremel - makes it a lot easier to access tight switch stacks...
    amazon.com link »

    10
    #554 4 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    Visit #18 -> Ryan Claytor in Lansing, MI

    Visit #18A - > Ryan Claytor in Lansing Holt, MI
    So, I gotta say, it was pretty dandy to be able to devote a couple of full days to pin repair. My academic year of teaching at Michigan State University just wrapped and Nic's visit was a great start to my stay-cation. He rolled-in the evening of Monday, May 15th, conveniently in time for some grub, and regaled us with his curmudgeonly hipster musings on national abominations such as...Niagara Falls(???).
    balcky.gif
    Despite his unique perspective on treasured natural landmarks (I guess we all have our pet peeves?) , we had enjoyable and surprisingly coherent conversations with the hard-tourin' self-proclaimed E.M. vagabond, but it was pretty apparent he was in need of the rests when the following morning I woke up, got my 3-y.o. son ready for the day by stomping around over Nic's head (we figured he had that robust circus tent in his basement hide-away to block-out light and sound, so he was probably fine), took my son to a Dr. apt, then to school, came back home, and Nic was STILL OUT COLD(!??!).
    ...or so I assumed.
    Had he absconded with our valuables and fled? At least I know he didn't take our precious...

    I worked upstairs (without stomping this time) until I received a groggy text close to 11am...
    fb (resized).jpg
    After a hearty home-cooked breakfast...? Lunch? Brunch? Whatever it was, it was home-cooked and hit the spot for us both (whole-grain pancakes infused with real fruit [strawberries, banana, and blueberries for the 'MERICAN electro-mechanical tour], real maple syrup, whipped cream, and eggs from only the happiest of hourly-pet chickens).
    From there we assessed the shell of a former bowler,
    IMG_20170516_130843 (resized).jpg
    ...wept some tears upon realization that the...

    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    ...entire motor assembly and cam responsible for lifting and resetting all of the pins was gone

    ...but breathed a sigh of relief once we did some sleuthing for the unobtainium part and actually found it.
    rejoice.gif
    From there, as Nic mentioned, we moved on to another project I had frittered away, the Glorious Gottlieb Paul Bunyan (Wayne Neyen's last solo effort of pinball design), where he taught me the wonders of...
    IMG_20170516_125349 (resized).jpg

    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    ...the magic-up-your-ass-brush-or-whatever…

    ...as we made our way through the patented Tao of Nic's E.M. Restoration Retreat.
    *pours one out in remembrance of Bryan Peterson of Andover, CT*
    namaste (resized).jpg
    The first day afternoon flew by pretty quickly and before we knew it, my wife and our little dude were home. My son is learning how to write his name, and does so a few times before he's able to watch a show before dinner:
    IMG_20170516_182719 (resized).jpg
    Nic integrated pretty seamlessly into our family life:
    IMG_20170516_182615 (resized).jpg
    Good job, Nic. You've earned your Paw Patrol privileges, too.
    While my son and Nic were busy watching the pups save something or another, I was slaving away over a hot grill:
    IMG_20170516_191419 (resized).jpg
    Dinner was served...
    IMG_20170516_193556 (resized).jpg
    ...along with a side of...

    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    ...artichoke[s]...

    ...which befuddled Nic unlike any of my umpteen thousand part electro-mechanical projects. I guess my wife grew weary of his line of questions and went into mommy mode:
    IMG_20170516_195024 (resized).jpg
    Glad it was...

    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    Delish! Worth the [HER] effort for sure.

    So what else? Oh yah...

    You looked just as silly as I did trying to get those buggers on:
    IMG_20170517_114944 (resized).jpg

    We also went over the wonders of Mother's Mag Aluminum polish:
    IMG_20170517_124432 (resized).jpg
    ...and did a bit of playfield cleaning:
    IMG_20170517_165309 (resized).jpg
    The final night we took Nic out to Ethiopian food:
    IMG_20170517_184929 (resized).jpg
    ...where we basked in the glory of their unparalleled lamb and utensil bread.
    Nic, all aforementioned friendly ribbing aside, my family and I really had a wonderful time hosting you for a few nights. Glad we could be a place of...

    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    ...Recharging...

    ...and that I could pilfer a few resto-techniques from ya. Once I get this Paul Bunyan dialed-in, I'll be sure to let you know how wrong you are in your assesment of its gameplay.
    You're welcome back anytime. See ya on Tour #2!

    Added over 5 years ago: Should be 21A, not 18A. Evidentially there was a recount.

    #555 4 years ago
    Quoted from RyanClaytor:

    Dinner was served...

    ...along with a side of...

    ...which befuddled Nic unlike any of my umpteen thousand part electro-mechanical projects. I guess my wife grew weary of his line of questions and went into mommy mode.

    ROFL! Such a good time. Really enjoyed reading that... I like your post better than mine!

    Wanna go on the road as my dedicated photojournalist?

    #556 4 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    ROFL! Such a good time. Really enjoyed reading that... I like your post better than mine!
    Wanna go on the road as my dedicated photojournalist?

    I'll send you my salary requirements. Best of luck with the rest of your ambitious trip, Nic. Don't forget the sleeps.

    #557 4 years ago

    Oh... and for anyone out there planning to visit Ryan and have dinner, trust me: Go Ethiopian and have the lamb.

    Mmmmmmm. Still thinking about it.

    #558 4 years ago

    When are you hitting Edmonton? We would love to show you around!

    #559 4 years ago

    June 2 around lunchtime through early on the 4th. Not much time unfortunately... will be there for NinJaBooT. Then heading through Banff and Kelowna for a nature recharge on the way to Vancouver.

    #560 4 years ago

    Thanks for the credit on using the drop of oil on the bolt routine; an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

    I'm loving reading all the updates and your visit has prompted me to work on my machines almost every day since your visit; having that additional knowledge has helped me sooo much, thanks.

    Ryan if you were closer to me that playfield would already be clearcoated

    #561 4 years ago

    Okay Nic,

    Artichokes: melted butter or Mayonnaise?

    #562 4 years ago
    Quoted from ckcsm:

    Ryan if you were closer to me that playfield would already be clearcoated

    Quoted from CactusJack:

    Artichokes: melted butter or Mayonnaise?

    Melted butter with lemon!!!

    mr-nom-nom-o.gif

    #563 4 years ago
    Quoted from RyanClaytor:

    He rolled-in the evening of Monday, May 15th, conveniently in time for some grub, and regaled us with his curmudgeonly hipster musings on national abominations such as...Niagara Falls(???).

    For the youngsters out there who have never seen the Niagra Falls skit. Sorry, just couldn't resist!

    Nic, you better hurry and get here or you will be sleeping under a pinball machine.

    There will be two middle pop game in the guest bedroom for your pinball playing pleasure at Pecos' Palatial Pinball Parlour!

    Drive safely and enjoy every minute of your journey. Adventures like yours don't happen very often and I am vicariously enjoying it too thank to your posts.

    #564 4 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    Oh... and for anyone out there planning to visit Ryan and have dinner, trust me: Go Ethiopian and have the lamb.
    Mmmmmmm. Still thinking about it.

    Great visit recap! Did you see the elusive Sheba, Nic?

    #565 4 years ago

    Thanks for reminding me about these. I don't have them enough.

    IMG_0422 (resized).JPG

    #566 4 years ago

    How much do those chokes go for in Texas.
    Here in the NW they are $2.50 a piece on sale.
    Used to get them much cheaper when i lived in Gilroy CA
    just miles from the artichoke capital of the world in Castroville.

    #567 4 years ago
    Quoted from pinwiztom:

    How much do those chokes go for in Texas.
    Here in the NW they are $2.50 a piece on sale.
    Used to get them much cheaper when i lived in Gilroy CA
    just miles from the artichoke capital of the world in Castroville.

    These were pretty small, but I got them at Trader Joe's 4 pack for $2.50. I've been to Gilroy a couple times, garlic festival and bonfante gardens. I remember driving through the artichoke fields on the way to Monterey.

    #568 4 years ago
    Quoted from pinwiztom:

    How much do those chokes go for in Texas.
    Here in the NW they are $2.50 a piece on sale.
    Used to get them much cheaper when i lived in Gilroy CA
    just miles from the artichoke capital of the world in Castroville.

    Artichokes are a thistle flower (read: weed). They are super easy to grow. I have four plants in my yard. Each plant produces at least 20 every spring, plus the plant itself is very ornamental in a classical Italian way. Okay - foodie hijack over.

    #569 4 years ago

    Every time I see an artichoke this video clip always pops into my head.

    #570 4 years ago
    Quoted from pinheadpierre:

    Artichokes are a thistle flower (read: weed). They are super easy to grow. I have four plants in my yard. Each plant produces at least 20 every spring, plus the plant itself is very ornamental in a classical Italian way.

    #571 4 years ago
    Quoted from pinheadpierre:

    Artichokes are a thistle flower (read: weed).

    Can you smoke it?

    #572 4 years ago

    Visit #22 -> Shane Eagan (Insane) in Baroda, MI

    The subject: Cross Town

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    Shane is a nice guy, but I’m going to tell you something that might make you hate him.

    He picked up this Cross Town for free.

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    We’ve all heard of those free “get it out of my house!” deals, haven’t we? Some of us have been lucky, some not. Shane is one of the lucky ones. This Cross Town had an awesome backglass, pristine playfield, and nice cabinet… all free.

    Lucky bastage.

    Cross Town is the replay version of Subway (and the original Add-A-Ball, Flipper Fair). I own a Flipper Fair and can attest to the strength of this layout. It’s fun! A perfect risk/reward balance if you dare to shoot the center target across the chasm between the flippers.

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    Shane was fortunate not to store Cross Town in the outdoor storage shed. The mice really enjoyed his Black Hole speaker cone. Nom nom nom.

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    Cross Town had several issues but for this discussion we will focus upon stepper class. One of the steppers wasn’t aligned with the rivets. An easy fix, right? Right.

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    However, it wasn’t latching properly. As you can see, the armature was installed on the wrong side of the latch.

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    The shoulder screw hadn’t been tightened enough, which allowed too much vertical movement. Always beware of the nut on the underside – loosen it first or else the shoulder screw will shear off when turned. Yes, I have done this a couple of times.

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    The travel length of the step-up armature can be adjusted with this sliding stop. It needed a little adjustment to fully engage the gear with every click.

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    The top switch in the stack was misaligned. Easy to loosen, realign, and tighten down.

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    Finally time to reattach the disc. But not before q-tipping the wipers and springs with alcohol… then a quick smoothing of the wiper surface with the Magic Brush.

    Clean is good. Clean and smooth is better.

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    The disc was reassembled, but some of the wipers didn’t have flexy-wire attached to the tips. Not all games were originally built with flexy-wire attached to each wiper… but it nevertheless adds reliability, so I added it.

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    In EM-land, a belt-and-suspenders approach is often the way to go.

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    Yep, we had relay theory class and rebuilt a few.

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    Yep, did a score reel too. As well as some score motor switches, stepper discs, tweaking playfield switches, and doing some lamp socket (tip solder) fixes as well. We was busy!

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    A quick visit this time. It was already late and Cross Town still needed leveling and some basic dialing-in. But dad gum it… ANOTHER EM LIVES IN MICHIGAN!

    Next stop -> St. Joseph, MI

    #573 4 years ago

    You forgot to mention that every one of the score relays were dirty to the point of total non-function. Also in my defense, I have cleaned and polished all the playfield parts. It didn't look quite that nice when I got it, But I didn't really have to replace much either. I think all I replaced was the flipper buttons and the start button.
    Also I take responsibility for the armature being installed behind the latch and not in front of it. I cleaned and polished all the back box parts a couple of years ago. I also took many pictures, but must have either spaced on that one, or didn't have a picture from the correct angle. or it was wrong previously, but probably not.

    #574 4 years ago
    Quoted from Insane:

    You forgot to mention that every one of the score relays were dirty to the point of total non-function. Also in my defense, I have cleaned and polished all the playfield parts. It didn't look quite that nice when I got it, But I didn't really have to replace much either. I think all I replaced was the flipper buttons and the start button.
    Also I take responsibility for the bracket being installed behind the tab and not in front of it. I cleaned and polished all the back box parts a couple of years ago.

    No worries... just giving you an out on the stepper rebuild if you wanted it.

    Been enjoying some games on it since?

    #575 4 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    Shane...picked up this Cross Town for free.

    Congrats, Shane! How's it playing? Up and running yet?

    #576 4 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    Next stop -> St. Joseph, MI

    is the next stop not Madison, WI?

    #577 4 years ago

    Visit #23 -> Rob Andrew (RCA1) in St. Joseph, MI

    The subject: Gulfstream

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    On the way to Rob’s house, Google Maps led me through a string of small boutique wineries (Michigan makes wine? How 'bout that?) to a dead-end address. I called to ask, “The road stops here. Is this your house at the end of the block?”

    “Not quite”, Rob replied, “keep going past the sign…”

    My eyebrow raised as I hit the gas pedal into the unknown. Once again, as pinball hobbyists, our individuality revealed itself...

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    The road did not end as claimed. A long house with a wraparound deck materialized in the foliage.

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    Rob waved me inside his pinball fortress, shrouded in green. It was yet another fine example of “pinball in the wild”, this time nestled within easy reach of the city. Best of both worlds, methinks.

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    Rob is skilled in computer science and civil engineering. He spends his working days planning and coordinating projects for municipalities and private construction alike. Yet only The Shadow knows what he does for fun… and that Shadow (w/Aurich's fine translite) indeed lives on the lower floor.

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    What have we here? A 1984 Williams Space Shuttle… the game which not only resuscitated the nearly-dead pinball industry, but finally proved that Williams was ready to produce commercial-quality work.

    (and take over the lead from Bally which had dominated the decade prior)

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    Nearby, a Sorceror sits next to a classic Stern Nine Ball. I’m convinced whoever designed classic Sterns must have moonlighted as a calculator designer. MEEP! THREE. TWO. ONE. MEEEEEEP! YOUR SCORE... PERFECT. MEEP! MEEP! Definitely more nerd than geek going on in the old Stern factory.

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    Near the fireplace, Pinbot and his bride vacation in outer space on the Space Station and planet Firepower. By now I was beginning to understand that Rob was a Williams guy.

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    More Williams games on the opposite wall: Earthshaker, Road Show, High Speed, and a new Stern Mustang.

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    The back room offered some diversity: Data East Time Machine, Time Warp’s infamous banana flippers (love ‘em or hate ‘em… you can’t forget ‘em), a Bally Lost World, and a Zaccaria Time Machine.

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    And many more! Vault edition Spider Man, Dirty Harry, Elektra (hooray for Class of ’81!), Caribbean Cruise cocktail machine, Lazer Ball project, and a couple more… including the aforementioned Shadow with Aurich translite in pristine condition. But no time for goofing off! Gulfstream awaits!

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    I noticed the hold relay had a switch which wasn’t closing. The ladder and the coil itself were coming apart too. Without a replacement on hand, I gapped the switches to remain in the correct position.

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    On the 100-point relay, the front lower-left switch wasn’t opening fully. But a bigger issue was lurking in the rear stack.

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    Ew. The contacts had been fused together for a long time and almost disintegrated. Best I could do was to sand, polish, and re-gap with the remaining pieces until a new blade gets swapped in.

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    A floating wire, badly soldered, had crumbled away from the tab. Had to resolder that one.

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    Does this solder joint look OK to you? Ordinarily it might… but…

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    …nope. Was cracked and just laying on top. Always a good idea to tug every solder joint as one moves through the mechs.

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    By the way, Rob is a bit of a Green Bay Packers fan.

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    Just a little bit.

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    A smidge.

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    A trifle.

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    A gnat’s wing.

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    After restoring Gulfstream to good working condition and leveling it out, we gave it the stealth LED treatment.

    When it comes to leveling, I no longer use phone apps or electronic/bubble levels. I’ve done it enough times to wing it. Forget the instruction manual… the correct angle is the one which plays the best. Use trial and error to find the best playing angle for your game.

    Assuming the plunger spring isn't over/underpowered, a good rule of thumb is the “twice bounce and drop” technique. When the ball is plunged at full strength, check if it hits the rebound rubber twice before falling roughly into the middle lane. Seems like most of my best-playing games do that once dialed-in.

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    EM Home Challenge update time - Gulfstream delivered the goods. I’m now 12-4 thanks to Rob’s digits. I’ll have to get creative if I go over 15.

    Rob was impressed with the amount of fun Gulfstream provided, especially after dialing in the matrix scoring arrow and a few other tweaks. I have a feeling he might be adding a few more EM’s in the future…

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    The experience of “pinball in the wild” is growing on me. Nature + vintage tech makes for a surprisingly satisfying experience, all things considered.

    If Rob ever decides to open a pinball summer camp, you can bet I’ll be the first to apply for a teaching position.

    Next stop -> Chicago, IL

    #578 4 years ago
    Quoted from Whysnow:

    is the next stop not Madison, WI?

    Indeed, it is. In fact I am already here. The story lags behind reality because, hey, I need time to filter my thoughts and photos.

    BTW, I see a plethora of pretty women at this Starbucks (Broadway and Monona Dr). Wonder why this is. Am I near a university or chi-chi part of town?

    #579 4 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    Indeed, it is. In fact I am already here. The story lags behind reality because, hey, I need time to filter my thoughts and photos.
    BTW, I see a plethora of pretty women at this Starbucks (Broadway and Monona Dr). Wonder why this is. Am I near a university or chi-chi part of town?

    Madison is home to lots of pretty ladies and pretty men. We have lots to offer

    University is large but gone for the summer already so that is the baseline of pretty people in Madison.

    see you soon.

    #580 4 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    No worries... just giving you an out on the stepper rebuild if you wanted it.
    Been enjoying some games on it since?

    No, I'm a big boy, and can own up to my mistakes. Have enjoyed a couple. Now fighting with Dealer's Choice.

    Quoted from RyanClaytor:

    Congrats, Shane! How's it playing? Up and running yet?

    Yes it is. Playing great.

    #581 4 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    On the way to Rob’s house, Google Maps led me through a string of small boutique wineries (Michigan makes wine? How 'bout that?) to a dead-end address. I called to ask, “The road stops here. Is this your house at the end of the block?”

    Not just wines, within say 10 miles from my house in Baroda, there are I think at least 10 microbreweries as well as probably 12-15 of the wineries.

    #582 4 years ago

    OH NO!
    Brett Favre is DOWN!
    Thanks Nic.

    Stuff2 (resized).jpg

    #583 4 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    Indeed, it is. In fact I am already here. The story lags behind reality because, hey, I need time to filter my thoughts and photos.
    BTW, I see a plethora of pretty women at this Starbucks (Broadway and Monona Dr). Wonder why this is. Am I near a university or chi-chi part of town?

    Did u get lost? The wiz is waiting

    #584 4 years ago

    Visit #24 -> Ben Husmann (brandsilence) in Chicago, IL

    The subjects: Team One, Space Mission

    0 (resized).JPG

    Cheers to the journey and the halfway mark. At last, Chicago! Birthplace of nearly all the world’s pinball machines.

    Living on the road has opened my mind and slowed my watch. I hadn’t passed through a major city since Boston, and hadn’t missed being in one. The gentle drift of grain mills and river bridges through my windows has led me to a place beyond roads. Perhaps a good thing, then, that I lacked the time to visit the Stern factory and Pinball Life. I just didn’t have the desire to fight for traffic lanes and parking spaces.

    Chicago proper, you can wait for my return. I am headed to a place where no map leads.

    001 (resized).jpg

    Speaking of maps... iPhone navigation doesn’t give a fig about how you get there, only that you get there as quickly as possible. I thus found myself driving through some tough-looking ‘burbs on the south side. But I’m a person with a “cosmic” outlook in general and enjoyed seeing the big picture… cracks, graffiti, and all.

    01 (resized).jpg

    Ben (brandsilence on Pinside) is a graffiti artist. Among his creations include colorful street murals for “The Grocer”, a local business. It must be a delight to see such whimsical pops of color amid Chicago's steely urban thicket of grey.

    1 (resized).JPG

    Ben led me through a lovely backyard garden to his mancave-pinball-garage in the back.

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    Pinball machines greeted me at the door while hanging lamps overhead revealed a bit more about the owner’s creative side.

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    Fishy-poo (my name, not Ben’s) took an immediate interest in our preparations. Ben allowed me to feed him, which was nice.

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    We began with relay class on Team One. I emphasized the importance of tugging on the solder joints while working through a machine. Looks can be deceiving when it comes to reliability. Always check each one as you go.

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    The switches appeared normal in the energized position. However…

    6 (resized).JPG

    When closed, the top three contacts were all touching. Not good. Switches with three blades should be in an either-or position, never all at the same time.

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    Time to rebuild the ball count stepper. Always a good idea to take photos if it is your first time.

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    Fishy-poo grimaced at the amount of grease in the mechs. We concurred and stripped it down to clean everything.

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    The shoulder screw was caked with dried grease. As mentioned previously, we made sure to remove the nut underneath first before turning the screw.

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    Ben cleaned the armature with a q-tip while I adjusted the springs.

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    The distinct ratchety-click-click of a clean, well-adjusted stepper sounds and feels terrific. Getting there is also a big part of the fun of pinball ownership. Go ahead... press some relays... click some steppers... feels good after a rebuild!

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    Below, a motor switch wasn't closing as the disc whirled by. The “thing” which rides along the edge of the motor disc and lifts the switch stack is called a “switch dog”. It was misaligned and caught on the bracket. We unscrewed the switch stack, adjusted the tilt to center the "dog", and it was lifting like a champ again.

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    Inside, a hanging sign called attention to Ben’s work ethic. I would agree he practices what he preaches. He showed me a couple of pinball playfields he had restored and cleared. They were smooth as glass and looked great.

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    Bowie, Zep, and a bubble-cover turntable? Yep, I was definitely among friends here. We also drank some red wine in this room which only amplified the awesomeness.

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    Ben has joined the “middle-pop club” with his 1972 Spanish Eyes. Norm Clark perfected the middle-pop layout with this machine. I call it the “castle layout” because it has a moat and hidden drawbridges under the flippers which will drain the ball if you aren’t careful. The artwork doesn’t appeal to everyone (no boobs, spaceships, lasers, aliens, etc.) but it is certainly distinctive. And obviously very much at home in an artist’s collection.

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    Ben’s Space Mission was lovingly restored. We worked out a few kinks before returning it to service. It was the first Space Mission I had ever played with a glossy clear coat playfield… which is DEFINITELY the way to go! Fast, furious, and so much fun! Now I need one.

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    EM Home Challenge update time - the winning streak continues! A new 13-4 record stands tall on the tour. All in good fun, of course. It was a short visit but nevertheless an enjoyable sneak peek of life on Chicago’s west side. Note: They need more Tex-Mex around here!

    pintour2 (resized).jpg

    Farewell for now, big city...

    Next stop -> Rockford, IL

    #585 4 years ago

    Nic
    for the latecomers,
    it might be easier to navigate your journey,
    if you (key post) index
    your visit/repair blog entries.

    #586 4 years ago
    Quoted from pinwiztom:

    Nic
    for the latecomers,
    it might be easier to navigate your journey,
    if you index your visit blog entries.

    That's a lot of stops! Not sure how I would do this yet. Lots of work keeping everything on track.

    I did manage to complete at least one cleanup task tonight: Reviewed the thread and tagged everyone with their Pinside username. Will be sure to do this going forward too.

    #587 4 years ago

    BTW, the drink pictured was a lavender and lemon martini. My new favorite cocktail.

    #588 4 years ago

    Very nice work, and Wow, what an adventure.! Thanks Nic
    This is thread of the year honors.!

    #589 4 years ago

    Hey, Nic-
    I'm sure I'm too late and your itinerary is full. Looks like you're in IL right now, any chance you'll be coming through MN and have a moment to spare to help me troubleshoot a '78 Williams-United Topaz shuffle alley with a pin not working issue?

    #590 4 years ago
    Quoted from squeekybobo:

    Hey, Nic-
    I'm sure I'm too late and your itinerary is full. Looks like you're in IL right now, any chance you'll be coming through MN and have a moment to spare to help me troubleshoot a '78 Williams-United Topaz shuffle alley with a pin not working issue?

    Can't make it this time. I'll barely make my remaining MN appointments as-is... will have to get you on the next round.

    #591 4 years ago

    A few Chicago midpoint milestones:

    Miles driven: Approx. 8,000
    Days on the tour: 54
    Gasoline bought: $439
    Games fixed: Approx. 60
    EM Home Challenge record: 13 wins - 4 losses
    Visits made: 27

    It's like working in the service industry during an earthquake. You're on your feet all day, long days, except your days off are spent driving behind the wheel and making future arrangements. So far I've been clocking a minimum of 150 miles per day on average. Which is a lot when you are longing to rest, capture your thoughts, and write. The differences in beds alone prevents your body from reaching an equilibrium when resting from visit to visit.

    The first month was rough. The east coast demanded a tight schedule with back-to-back stops coupled with several rainy and cold days in between. Subtle differences in the air and water composition also threw off my equilibrium. Honestly there was a point where I thought I wasn't going to make it, but my body finally adjusted. Now I'm good to go the distance. Proud to say I haven't missed a single scheduled visit yet.

    We've got some very interesting stops coming up! I'm looking forward to sharing them and revealing the fixes for more crazy problems out in the wild.

    #592 4 years ago

    Hey folks, this page is already getting pretty scrolly. Let's push the posts to 600 and start a new page.

    Any feedback you'd like to give? Going well thus far?

    #593 4 years ago

    This has been my favorite thread all year. Thanks.

    #594 4 years ago

    Here is a post to push it toward 600,
    always look forward to reading about your next stop
    can not wait until you get to the NW,
    hopefully we can cross paths again somewhere
    while you are up here.

    cheers Tom

    #595 4 years ago
    Quoted from TigerLaw:

    This has been my favorite thread all year. Thanks.

    Completely agree, best thread going!

    #596 4 years ago

    It's awesome, Nic. But keep it all in one thread. You can index it when you're home and rested. There is already a wealth of EM repair info here that I'd like to reference in the future.

    You should also consider, when indexing your stop, referencing what fixes you discuss. It really is a wonderful wealth of knowledge here. Keep up the good work!

    #597 4 years ago
    Quoted from beelzeboob:

    It's awesome, Nic. But keep it all in one thread. You can index it when you're home and rested. There is already a wealth of EM repair info here that I'd like to reference in the future.
    You should also consider, when indexing your stop, referencing what fixes you discuss. It really is a wonderful wealth of knowledge here. Keep up the good work!

    He wants to go to the next page, not start a new thread. This particular page is long to scroll through is what he was referencing. So here is one more post to get us closer to the new page.

    #598 4 years ago
    Quoted from djreddog:

    He wants to go to the next page, not start a new thread. This particular page is long to scroll through is what he was referencing. So here is one more post to get us closer to the new page.

    I'll do some key post indexing for him sometime this extended weekend. One more post to new page.

    #599 4 years ago

    600 bump.

    #600 4 years ago
    Quoted from djreddog:

    He wants to go to the next page, not start a new thread. This particular page is long to scroll through is what he was referencing. So here is one more post to get us closer to the new page.

    Sometimes I have a problem with the English language.

    There are 2,359 posts in this topic. You are on page 12 of 48.

    Hey there! Got a moment?

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