(Topic ID: 179489)

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

By NicoVolta

5 years ago


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  • Latest reply 1 year ago by pinwiztom
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    #851 4 years ago

    LOL ok... here we go! A new page, a new story...

    #852 4 years ago

    where is the next page so we can get a new post...

    #853 4 years ago

    Visit #34 - “Major Tom to Ground Kontrol” (and Quarterworld) in Portland and Salem, OR

    The subject: A Bowie-esque escape with Tom and the barcades of Portland

    I enjoy reaching out and talking to friendly people. Everyone has a story, a dream, a hidden potential bundled up inside waiting to take flight… and they’ll tell you about it if the opportunity presents itself.

    I do my best to create these opportunities whenever possible. My main hobby in life is building worlds and expanding minds… including my own. For I often have just as much to learn from someone else as they do from me.

    The lady at the front desk inquired about my Pinball Tour t-shirt: “I love pinball! I wish I could find it. Is that what you do?”

    Twenty minutes later, our conversation drifted to the subject of waterfalls. It seems the Comfort Inn I was staying at is popular with travelers who flock to see the Historic Columbia River Highway. Which was only a few minutes to the east.

    “Oh, you didn’t come to see the waterfalls? You really should go and see them… here’s a map…”

    The map led me through a lush twisty road to…

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    Multnomah Falls. A majestic sight if there ever was one.

    I climbed the trail and crossed the bridge to reach the edge of the cascade. The air was rich and oxygenated with the sweet smell of earth and mist… a sensation which redefined all other earthly concerns as utterly unimportant. At least, for a spell.

    Near the overlook, a fair-skinned kid in his late teens was soaking up nature’s majesty. He remarked upon how wonderful it was to sit in a 67-degree forest versus baking in the humidity back home in Florida.

    “I hope I get to do something like you are doing when I reach my 40’s… that sounds cool.”

    Gesturing toward the waterfall, I replied, “It is, and you will, as long as you remember what you just said and keep this place in mind. You have to drive toward your dreams… no one else will do it for you.”

    A fistbump later - and the Pinwagon delivered me to…

    Latourell Falls.

    *gasp*… so much beauty… again!

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    My mind was awash in so many thoughts and experiences gathered along this journey. I wanted to sit by the river and sort them out, but my schedule was tight and I had to press on.

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    Scenic highway 30 wound its way up the side of the Columbia River until it reached the Art Nouveau-inspired Vista House, a memorial and rest stop for Oregon travelers. One of the engineers of the original highway proposed the idea for the building as…

    “an observatory from which the view both up and down the Columbia could be viewed in silent communion with the infinite”

    …indeed.

    Mission accomplished.

    If it is within your means, I recommend visiting this part of the country as soon as possible. It is one of those places which just might reframe your idea of what is truly important in life.

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    The day was waning and my schedule was making its demands known. And so, it was time to explore one of Portland’s popular barcades… Quarterworld!

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    Quarterworld had a cover charge of $3 to enter. Inside, a colorful hallway of video games lined the entryway.

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    Quarterworld has two bars inside. One of them flanked a tournament area with a huge projection screen to bring spectators into the action. Below, a row of pinball machines were accessible for play.

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    An adjoining room contained several other pins. All of which appeared to play well.

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    Several arcade classics were located in the middle of the room near another bar.

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    At the rear were several “huge games” like huge Galaga, huge Jurassic Park, and huge F-Zero arcade racer which I’d never seen before. Was F-Zero your favorite racing game of the 16-bit console era? It was for me!

    In the back was a stage with an overhead… TESLA COIL? Seriously? Was it merely decorative or actually functional? I didn’t ask… but it looked legit.

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    Next, a trip to Ground Kontrol, one of the first and best barcades to re-ignite classic gaming for the masses. It is located in downtown Portland and has no cover charge… w00t!

    I hung out with owner Jeffrey again and learned he had once ridden the pinball ride at the World of Sid and Marty Krofft back in the day. Jealous? Oh yes. I'm sure that experience helped him become the arcade maven he is today.

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    Ground Kontrol is currently in the process of doubling their floor space. The original “TRON Annex” is being upgraded and will soon join the newer “Wargames Annex” which is now open for business.

    Overhead, a deluxe projection system provided a way to watch fighting tournaments. The other screens added decorative elements from Wargames as well as helpful information about the onscreen action.

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    Look familiar? The design of this badass blinking bar mimics the “WOPR” nuclear launch computer from the film. So 80’s it hurts… in the best way.

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    Kontrol featured one of the PBR Can Crushers on the floor. Dirty Donnie’s artwork looked great on it.

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    The Queen was present as well. It always draws a competitive crowd.

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    I remember seeing Dragon’s Lair in the arcade with a TV on top. Today’s visitors need not miss out on the action either.

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    Before leaving, I had to make my mark on my favorite of the Pac-games… ‘cause it’s half-pinball, yanno?

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    Ahoy Major Tom, we’ve just left Ground Kontrol!

    The next day I found myself in Salem with none other than “the” Tom (pinwiztom). To put it mildly, he is a “somewhat” avid collector of pinball machines. As in… nearly 400. WHAAT?

    How does a single person amass so many pinball machines?!? “One at a time, mostly… it just sneaks up on you”. Sound familiar? I’m sure ALL OF YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT HE MEANT BY THIS.

    Still, few have taken the addiction as far as Tom did.

    Pictured here is the uncommon 2-player EM-version of Sinbad known as “Eye of the Tiger”. It is generally considered to have the best backglass artwork between the two (I agree). However, it is not available in a System 1 solid-state version… awwww.

    Next to it sits the elusive Star-Jet, one of the coolest 60’s Bally pins ever made. It is extremely desirable, and no, he isn’t going to sell it.

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    A nice Gusher woodrail with perfect backglass awaits a player. It is one of the few games with a disappearing/reappearing pop bumper.

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    A rare Voltan Escapes Cosmic Doom sits among the collection. Gotta love Dave Christensen’s artwork... hoo boy. This one is insane: Nuclear explosions, lightning, skeletons in flame-robes, mostly naked women with sparkling bras. Just wow.

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    Ah yes, Bally’s undeniable classic: Fireball! Like it or not, it is the most iconic of all EM pinball machines and the one most people remember. Likely because it was also released in a home version, 80’s re-release “classic” version, and Fireball II from Bally’s “Class of ‘81” lineup.

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    A third Astro on the tour?!? Yep. It looks great with a 455 blinker bulb behind the robot’s eyes.

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    Hooray for more beer… and hey… where did the rest of the games go? Well, you can bless your lucky stars and thank Tom for what happened to them. He donated nearly all of them to the Pacific Pinball Museum so that you, yes you, will be able to play them yourself. That’s right, when the PPM opens its next scheduled Pinball Expo, literally hundreds of EM’s will be sitting on the floor… waiting… just for you.

    Hip hip hooray! Cheers Tom & thanks for contributing so much to the world of classic pinball! *clink*

    Next stop -> Blairally in Eugene, OR

    #854 4 years ago

    Nic
    Can not wait for the Blairally installment.
    IF you decide to relocate to the NW, and hope that you do,
    you are more than welcome to stop by again
    to play and talk pinball and down a few brews.
    If you go on a 2nd fix it tour, i will be sure to sign up for a formal stop,
    as you know many of my pins need some TLC.
    cheers Tom

    #855 4 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    *ahem*... I got a fever... and the only therapy I need... is more pinball!

    I like your posts Nic but I think you could use "More Cow Bell" in them, a lot more.

    #856 4 years ago
    Quoted from EM-PINMAN:

    I like your posts Nic but I think you could use "More Cow Bell" in them, a lot more.

    We got cowbell coming up next. Blairally got serious cowbell.

    #857 4 years ago

    Nic,

    Did you happen to partake in the Oregon Trail while out there?

    #858 4 years ago
    Quoted from djreddog:

    Nic,
    Did you happen to partake in the Oregon Trail while out there?

    He can't reply, he died of Dysentery

    #859 4 years ago
    Quoted from northerndude:

    He can't reply, he died of Dysentery

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    #860 4 years ago

    The wonderfulness of this thread Ogden makes me wish I cold dible yuppie posts.

    Okay - rather than go back and fix the silly autocorrect errors I'm just going to type it again...more carefully.

    The wonderfulness of this thread often makes me wish I could double upvote posts.

    Autocorrect turns us all into proteges of E.E. Cummings.

    #861 4 years ago

    I hope to do that this upcoming holiday weekend.

    #862 4 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    Hooray for more beer… and hey… where did the rest of the games go? Well, you can bless your lucky stars and thank Tom for what happened to them. He donated nearly all of them to the Pacific Pinball Museum so that you, yes you, will be able to play them yourself. That’s right, when the PPM opens its next scheduled Pinball Expo, literally hundreds of EM’s will be sitting on the floor… waiting… just for you.
    Hip hip hooray! Cheers Tom & thanks for contributing so much to the world of classic pinball! *clink*

    This donation is a very generous act, Tom. The visitors to PPM are going to be able to view and enjoy these machines for many years to come. What a fantastic gift!

    #863 4 years ago

    NicoVolta, I've loved reading this thread! Your trip has been inspiring, and it's been a blast to enjoy it vicariously through your posts!

    Say, can you give more details on the stealth LED treatment? More details the better, even down to recommended brands & bulb types. I only have a couple EMs, but a lot of early SS, and I'm yet to find an LED look I can tolerate. However, the pics of the stealth LEDs look great!

    Thanks!

    #864 4 years ago
    Quoted from Knoler:

    nicovolta, I've loved reading this thread! Your trip has been inspiring, and it's been a blast to enjoy it vicariously through your posts!
    Say, can you give more details on the stealth LED treatment? More details the better, even down to recommended brands & bulb types. I only have a couple EMs, but a lot of early SS, and I'm yet to find an LED look I can tolerate. However, the pics of the stealth LEDs look great!
    Thanks!

    From Nic in the EM thread:

    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    Comet Twin 2835 warm white frosted and 1SMD warm white frosted non-ghosting.
    The 2835 is cheaper, but it ghosts... so I typically put them in the backbox in locations which are always lit.
    Everywhere else, I use the 1SMD (ball count, game over, tilt, match, inserts, pops).
    I leave 47's under plastics, lane guides, and hole kickouts... they are easier on the eyes in direct view.
    I also recommend the red frosted version of the 1SMD non-ghosting for red star rollovers. Looks very very nice.

    #865 4 years ago

    Hi Knoler... what I originally called "stealth LED" is merely a creative name for a recipe using warm white frosted LED's in EM's.

    https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/stealth-led-a-recommended-recipe-for-ems

    Looking back, that article is a bit long-winded. Basically the strategy is to employ warm white frosted LED's in the backglass, under inserts, and pop bumpers... and leave filament 47 bulbs under the plastics, lane guides, and kickout holes.

    The overall effect is "natural enhanced". Your eyeball only sees bulb filaments directly (easy to tolerate) and everything else is illuminated with LED's. The recipe is a bit brighter than the original look - but in a way which I think retains most of its character, lowers maintenance/cost/heat, and in my opinion brings out more of the artwork in a pleasing way.

    All of my games get the stealth treatment. They look pretty fabulous when placed on the floor next to other EM's with all-bulbs. Photos don't do the recipe justice. In person, nearly everyone is impressed by the effect, even some die-hards.

    The tricky thing is that warm white LED's lack consistency. Cointaker used to have an incredible warm white super premium (not frosted) which looked perfect in pop bumpers... however... their supplier was unable to maintain the same warm color tone through successive runs. Last time I ordered it looked too greenish/blue. This isn't Cointaker's fault - it could happen to anyone who sells Chinese LED bulbs.

    Currently I have found Comet's Twin 2835 warm white frosted and 1SMD warm white frosted non-ghosting to maintain good color consistency for the recipe. Even so, it is a good idea to order more than you need and compare them in a backbox with the glass off for color fidelity. You will find subtle variations in color tone. Most of the time this will not matter, but if you are OCD about it (I am), you can sort the redder ones from the yellower/greener ones and install where they would be most/least noticeable depending upon the artwork.

    Why two versions of the same bulb? One is cheaper (Twin 2835). Use it in places where the light stays on all the time and thus won't be bothered by ghosting (flicker) issues.

    I also highly recommend the 1SMD red frosted non-ghosting for use under red star rollovers. Just looks fantastic and -extra bonus- no filaments appear between the cracks of the insert.

    If you have any more questions, feel free to add them to the thread here so we don't derail into a LED discussion... lots of variables to go over!

    https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/stealth-led-a-recommended-recipe-for-ems

    #866 4 years ago
    Quoted from Knoler:

    nicovolta, I've loved reading this thread! Your trip has been inspiring, and it's been a blast to enjoy it vicariously through your posts!
    Say, can you give more details on the stealth LED treatment? More details the better, even down to recommended brands & bulb types. I only have a couple EMs, but a lot of early SS, and I'm yet to find an LED look I can tolerate. However, the pics of the stealth LEDs look great!
    Thanks!

    I went to led on my Flight 2000 and love the look. Went with warm non-ghosting for my GI and colour matched the inserts from Comet, came out with a nice look and less power consumption

    #867 4 years ago

    So much awesome info! Thanks Nic, and everyone else!

    -Brian

    #868 4 years ago

    A Hey There to the the people of the Bay!

    It is our pleasure to host Nic at Monterey Flipper Pinball Headquarters this weekend, 7/1 and 7/2, from 10am-3pm (subject to change).

    I would like to open this event up to all of y'all that are interested in learning from this very generous and knowledgeable person.

    $10 at the door is the usual entry - THIS weekend we will open for FREE. All games will be on Free Play as usual. Want to learn, want to play, we got you covered either way.

    https://www.facebook.com/events/1943265485907001??ti=ia

    We are looking forward to your arrival, Nic!

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    #869 4 years ago
    Quoted from CaryCarmichael:

    A Hey There to the the people of the Bay!
    It is our pleasure to host Nic at Monterey Flipper Pinball Headquarters this weekend, 7/1 and 7/2, from 10am-3pm (subject to change).
    I would like to open this event up to all of y'all that are interested in learning from this very generous and knowledgeable person.
    $10 at the door. All games will be on Free Play as usual. Want to learn, want to play, we got you covered either way.
    https://www.facebook.com/events/1943265485907001??ti=ia
    We are looking forward to your arrival, Nic!

    WOW only $10-all games on free play! Great deal there!

    #870 4 years ago
    Quoted from nascarrey:

    WOW only $10-all games on free play! Great deal there!

    I was thinking about this shortly after posting. It is a great deal, and I want to make it a Greater deal. FREE ENTRY this weekend!

    MFP was already covering Nic's trip here - he's coming to help us with our EM games. While we always have a $10 door charge to come play the games, this is a special event where Nic is coming to Teach. I'd like as many folks that are interested to please come on out and Learn. Even if you don't own a game yet, come see what it takes to keep a game running well. (Then we can talk about what it takes to keep 25 games running well, and why we usually have a $10 entry).

    All the games will still be on Free Play

    #871 4 years ago

    Plus! I'm fixin' to Tom Sawyer y'all into whitewashing my fence while you're there.

    Learning is Doing

    #872 4 years ago

    Visit #35 – Blairally (Blairally) in Eugene, OR

    The subjects: Continental bowler, Wizard!, Centigrade 37

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    Growing up, I was a punk rock kid, but you wouldn’t have guessed it by my outward appearance. I didn’t have any piercings or mohawks or cool jackets or anything like that. Partly because I was a clueless teenager, and partly because the fashion-obsessed people around me were often the most boring of all. No time for that! We have some serious s**t to stir up!

    I spent my free time hanging out in Deep Ellum - an emerging art/music district in a sketchy area near downtown Dallas. Artists lived in graffiti-covered warehouses. Xeroxed band flyers were stapled to every conceivable surface. Skinheads and punks wandered the streets bumming cigarettes and breaking things. It was rough, but it was real, and very, very cool.

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    Why do I mention this? Because my visit to Blairally was like opening a time capsule from those old glory days. Blairally isn’t just another barcade… it’s a full layer-cake slice of what Eugene is like across the railroad tracks in “The Whit”. You won’t find hipsters in tailored hoodies or Trunk Club outfits stalking VC’s to invest in their latest ShoeFinder app around here. No ma’am, no sir. These are working folks… artists, radicals, vegans, die-hard independents… and they make their own rules here.

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    Granted, it isn’t 1988 anymore and frankly that’s a good thing. Ellum was a bit *too* rough around the edges back in the day and I wouldn’t want to return to that even if I could. We’re all a bit softer now in our comfortable postmodern world. We can dial up any reality we want with our magic pocket screens, get sushi from the grocery store, miracle up a ride in seconds… it’s almost too easy… and individually we’re a bit less distinctive nowadays for all the convenience.

    So what makes a place worth caring about? It isn’t defined by its amenities on the surface nor a subjective rating from a website. It’s all about the people who live there and what they produce.

    In short, people are interesting in this part of town, and that's what makes it a place worth checking out.

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    Blairally’s name is obviously a play on Bally’s namesake yet different enough to claim its own identity. Yes, people really do dance here, and the DJ’s are good at mixing up the classics with modern beats. No pretension… just regular folks having a good time.

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    The Bally Force is strong within these walls, as you would expect it to be.

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    Bill Solo (Han Murray?) nonchalantly guards the games inside.

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    Outside, a classic retro game sale and swap meet was being held for the community.

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    At night, local live bands play on the Blairally stage which is themed like a western saloon.

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    The next day, a classic hotrod made an appearance on the lot.

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    Several taco trucks are parked within easy walking distance. This sushi burrito is the same size as a Chipotle burrito, but way more awesome.

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    Blairally’s storage warehouse across the street echoes its eclectic character. Want to buy something? It’s probably for sale… and you never know what you’ll find in a place like this.

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    For example, we found an anonymous Olan Mills photo envelope inside one of the games…

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    …which… uhhh…

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    Wow. It. Cannot. Be. Unseen.

    You saw it here first, folks. Destined to become the next great internet meme.

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    Next door, the pinball work shack was filled with projects, a bead blaster in the bathroom, jukebox, and ample security measures.

    (the machete was for trimming the foliage outside… honest!)

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    Chad worked hard to make my stay upstairs as amenable as possible. Sleeping among the games in this funky workroom-turned-overnighter was so totally old-school Ellum it wasn’t even funny. It brought back so many memories of the warehouse districts and that scrappy DIY determination to “make cool s**t” out of whatever was available. Frankly, I loved it.

    The room’s vintage glow was provided by a Commodore monitor and Atari 800 computer on an upturned milk crate, offering classic games. Nice touch. Made me feel like a kid again.

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    In the bathroom, Chad stocked the mini-fridge with refreshments and a… bag? Of wine? Oh no.

    No… surely he didn’t…

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    Oh my gosh.

    Whenever I visit a new friend, they always ask what I like to drink. Sometimes I’ll use the opportunity to make a joke, “Meh, nothing special. I’m not a primadonna… pretty much anything from Puligny-Montrachet will do.”

    CHAD, I WAS ONLY KIDDING. YOU DON’T EVEN DRINK WINE! TAKE IT BACK AND GET A REFUND!

    Nope… I couldn’t make him do it.

    “That ball bowler has been on the floor for six months taking up space. People love that thing. It’s my most popular game and we are going to get it running again!”

    Allrighty then… challenge accepted!

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    The ball bowler was generally in good shape, but it wasn’t resetting some of the pins. Occasionally, the player count wouldn’t increase either.

    I extracted a huge ghastly ball of steel wool in horror and held it up for all to see before vacuuming out the entire backbox.

    “Do not… allow… this substance… inside any games… please. The tiniest fragments can break off and short out your game in ways you never thought possible.”

    Fine steel wool is good for polishing rusty coin doors with a bit of Brasso and elbow grease. Otherwise… keep it away from the games!

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    Pins 1 and 6 weren’t setting up correctly. I examined the release latches and some weren’t catching properly. I also retensioned all of the springs on the player steppers in the back because some were hesitating to advance.

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    The pin reset arm had an adjustable section to lengthen the stroke. I slid it back about ¼” and retightened everything.

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    Bowler was bowling again! YEAUSSSS! Which made me feel a little better about the wine.

    Ball bowlers require a lot of room in a busy bar but they seem to be worth their weight in gold. People LOVE them and stay for hours to play. Makes me wonder if it would be worth it to build a new one from scratch with fancy new toys. Hmmmm… could be a fun challenge…

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    Behind the scenes, Gavin, Chad, and Tom (teaches basic pinball maintenance on weekends) apply a new decal to an Asteroids control panel. It’s all about the details, isn’t it?

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    Honestly, there’s a heckuva lot more I’d like to write about Blairally and Eugene in general (geez, I didn’t even have the space to write about getting Wizard! and Centigrade 37 up to speed…).

    Blairally is a place which is more than the sum of its parts… retro swap meets, PinGolf cash tournaments, pinball maintenance school, live music, good DJ’s, and of course a wide variety of DMD/classic SS pins/and at least a couple of EM’s. It is a community within a community. The guys work hard to keep the place creative and vital. It definitely has its own character.

    When visiting, you won't be trapped on a pinball moonbase. The whole 'hood is walkable and full of character. Blairally itself is jutted up against the back of a stylish brewery (Ninkasi) where free-spirited kids play acoustic guitar and washboard in the street outside. The sound of train whistles and choppy mopeds mix with the bustle of nearby gastropubs, warehouse jams, recovery clinics, and old dudes in old hats smoking joints while waiting on the bus. Here, the mullet is “in”, and your morning mimosas will be served with a side of Scissor Sisters. Am I getting the Eugene vibe across yet?

    Gentrification eventually ate the best of what Deep Ellum had to offer, but it hasn’t come for Blairally yet. It’s not all grit and adventure around here either. You can still get your upscale fix around the corner if you want it. For example my dinner at Meiji was bouillabaisse, shojin chowder, chef’s salad w/fried leeks and black truffle salt, salmon misoyaki, rose wine, and a slice of Japanese cheesecake topped with pickled strawberries and Mutemuka sake chaser. All a block away, no valet required.

    To sum up, Blairally is a reflection of the unique and funky neighborhood it occupies… and thus, there’s nothing else quite like it.

    Come for the games, stay for the party. They keep it real here.

    Next stop -> Chris Porter and Andrew Harris in Shasta Lake and Richmond, CA

    #873 4 years ago
    Quoted from CaryCarmichael:

    I was thinking about this shortly after posting. It is a great deal, and I want to make it a Greater deal. FREE ENTRY this weekend!
    MFP was already covering Nic's trip here - he's coming to help us with our EM games. While we always have a $10 door charge to come play the games, this is a special event where Nic is coming to Teach. I'd like as many folks that are interested to please come on out and Learn. Even if you don't own a game yet, come see what it takes to keep a game running well. (Then we can talk about what it takes to keep 25 games running well, and why we usually have a $10 entry).
    All the games will still be on Free Play

    Great gesture-I hope it is a success! Good luck! Wish there was a place in Chi-town that did stuff like this....playing AND learning to work on games=win win!

    Quoted from NicoVolta:Visit #35 – Blairally (blairally) in Eugene, OR
    The subjects: Continental bowler, Wizard!, Centigrade 37

    Growing up, I was a punk rock kid, but you wouldn’t have guessed it by my outward appearance. I didn’t have any piercings or mohawks or cool jackets or anything like that. Partly because I was a clueless teenager, and partly because the fashion-obsessed people around me were often the most boring of all. No time for that! We have some serious s**t to stir up!
    I spent my free time hanging out in Deep Ellum - an emerging art/music district in a sketchy area near downtown Dallas. Artists lived in graffiti-covered warehouses. Xeroxed band flyers were stapled to every conceivable surface. Skinheads and punks wandered the streets bumming cigarettes and breaking things. It was rough, but it was real, and very, very cool.

    Why do I mention this? Because my visit to Blairally was like opening a time capsule from those old glory days. Blairally isn’t just another barcade… it’s a full layer-cake slice of what Eugene is like across the railroad tracks in “The Whit”. You won’t find hipsters in tailored hoodies or Trunk Club outfits stalking VC’s to invest in their latest ShoeFinder app around here. No ma’am, no sir. These are working folks… artists, radicals, vegans, die-hard independents… and they make their own rules here.

    Granted, it isn’t 1988 anymore and frankly that’s a good thing. Ellum was a bit *too* rough around the edges back in the day and I wouldn’t want to return to that even if I could. We’re all a bit softer now in our comfortable postmodern world. We can dial up any reality we want with our magic pocket screens, get sushi from the grocery store, miracle up a ride in seconds… it’s almost too easy… and individually we’re a bit less distinctive nowadays for all the convenience.
    So what makes a place worth caring about? It isn’t defined by its amenities on the surface nor a subjective rating from a website. It’s all about the people who live there and what they produce.
    In short, people are interesting in this part of town, and that's what makes it a place worth checking out.

    Blairally’s name is obviously a play on Bally’s namesake yet different enough to claim its own identity. Yes, people really do dance here, and the DJ’s are good at mixing up the classics with modern beats. No pretension… just regular folks having a good time.

    The Bally Force is strong within these walls, as you would expect it to be.

    Bill Solo (Han Murray?) nonchalantly guards the games inside.

    Outside, a classic retro game sale and swap meet was being held for the community.

    At night, local live bands play on the Blairally stage which is themed like a western saloon.

    The next day, a classic hotrod made an appearance on the lot.

    Several taco trucks are parked within easy walking distance. This sushi burrito is the same size as a Chipotle burrito, but way more awesome.

    Blairally’s storage warehouse across the street echoes its eclectic character. Want to buy something? It’s probably for sale… and you never know what you’ll find in a place like this.

    For example, we found an anonymous Olan Mills photo envelope inside one of the games…

    …which… uhhh…

    Wow. It. Cannot. Be. Unseen.
    You saw it here first, folks. Destined to become the next great internet meme.

    Next door, the pinball work shack was filled with projects, a bead blaster in the bathroom, jukebox, and ample security measures.
    (the machete was for trimming the foliage outside… honest!)

    Chad worked hard to make my stay upstairs as amenable as possible. Sleeping among the games in this funky workroom-turned-overnighter was so totally old-school Ellum it wasn’t even funny. It brought back so many memories of the warehouse districts and that scrappy DIY determination to “make cool s**t” out of whatever was available. Frankly, I loved it.
    The room’s vintage glow was provided by a Commodore monitor and Atari 800 computer on an upturned milk crate, offering classic games. Nice touch. Made me feel like a kid again.

    In the bathroom, Chad stocked the mini-fridge with refreshments and a… bag? Of wine? Oh no.
    No… surely he didn’t…

    Oh my gosh.
    Whenever I visit a new friend, they always ask what I like to drink. Sometimes I’ll use the opportunity to make a joke, “Meh, nothing special. I’m not a primadonna… pretty much anything from Puligny-Montrachet will do.”
    CHAD, I WAS ONLY KIDDING. YOU DON’T EVEN DRINK WINE! TAKE IT BACK AND GET A REFUND!
    Nope… I couldn’t make him do it.
    “That ball bowler has been on the floor for six months taking up space. People love that thing. It’s my most popular game and we are going to get it running again!”
    Allrighty then… challenge accepted!

    The ball bowler was generally in good shape, but it wasn’t resetting some of the pins. Occasionally, the player count wouldn’t increase either.
    I extracted a huge ghastly ball of steel wool in horror and held it up for all to see before vacuuming out the entire backbox.
    “Do not… allow… this substance… inside any games… please. The tiniest fragments can break off and short out your game in ways you never thought possible.”
    Fine steel wool is good for polishing rusty coin doors with a bit of Brasso and elbow grease. Otherwise… keep it away from the games!

    Pins 1 and 6 weren’t setting up correctly. I examined the release latches and some weren’t catching properly. I also retensioned all of the springs on the player steppers in the back because some were hesitating to advance.

    The pin reset arm had an adjustable section to lengthen the stroke. I slid it back about ¼” and retightened everything.

    Bowler was bowling again! YEAUSSSS! Which made me feel a little better about the wine.
    Ball bowlers require a lot of room in a busy bar but they seem to be worth their weight in gold. People LOVE them and stay for hours to play. Makes me wonder if it would be worth it to build a new one from scratch with fancy new toys. Hmmmm… could be a fun challenge…

    Behind the scenes, Gavin, Chad, and Tom (teaches basic pinball maintenance on weekends) apply a new decal to an Asteroids control panel. It’s all about the details, isn’t it?

    Honestly, there’s a heckuva lot more I’d like to write about Blairally and Eugene in general (geez, I didn’t even have the space to write about getting Wizard! and Centigrade 37 up to speed…).
    Blairally is a place which is more than the sum of its parts… retro swap meets, PinGolf cash tournaments, pinball maintenance school, live music, good DJ’s, and of course a wide variety of DMD/classic SS pins/and at least a couple of EM’s. It is a community within a community. The guys work hard to keep the place creative and vital. It definitely has its own character.
    When visiting, you won't be trapped on a pinball moonbase. The whole 'hood is walkable and full of character. Blairally itself is jutted up against the back of a stylish brewery (Ninkasi) where free-spirited kids play acoustic guitar and washboard in the street outside. The sound of train whistles and choppy mopeds mix with the bustle of nearby gastropubs, warehouse jams, recovery clinics, and old dudes in old hats smoking joints while waiting on the bus. Here, the mullet is “in”, and your morning mimosas will be served with a side of Scissor Sisters. Am I getting the Eugene vibe across yet?
    Gentrification eventually ate the best of what Deep Ellum had to offer, but it hasn’t come for Blairally yet. It’s not all grit and adventure around here either. You can still get your upscale fix around the corner if you want it. For example my dinner at Meiji was bouillabaisse, shojin chowder, chef’s salad w/fried leeks and black truffle salt, salmon misoyaki, rose wine, and a slice of Japanese cheesecake topped with pickled strawberries and Mutemuka sake chaser. All a block away, no valet required.
    To sum up, Blairally is a reflection of the unique and funky neighborhood it occupies… and thus, there’s nothing else quite like it.
    Come for the games, stay for the party. They keep it real here.
    Next stop -> Chris Porter and Andrew Harris in Shasta Lake and Richmond, CA

    Another cool stop! If I ever make it to the left coast-im stopping here.....

    Ah, and that picture you found.....CREEPY!!! lol

    #874 4 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    The ball bowler was generally in good shape, but it wasn’t resetting some of the pins. Occasionally, the player count wouldn’t increase either.
    I extracted a huge ghastly ball of steel wool in horror and held it up for all to see before vacuuming out the entire backbox.
    “Do not… allow… this substance… inside any games… please. The tiniest fragments can break off and short out your game in ways you never thought possible.”
    Fine steel wool is good for polishing rusty coin doors with a bit of Brasso and elbow grease. Otherwise… keep it away from the games!

    Worse, Steel wool is flammable! try putting the terminal ends of a 9 Volt battery on a piece of fine steel wool and look what happens.

    #875 4 years ago

    Eugene gets a lot of its vibe, due to the fact that it is basically a college town,
    with the University of Oregon and the Ducks being located there.
    Only bad thing i can say about Eugene is that the home prices are too high,
    nearly as high as Portland.

    #876 4 years ago

    I seriously feel like I just went on a trip with you Nic. I'm not from DFdub, but I have spent a few evenings in the late 90's in deep ellum and I lived in downtown Austin for a spell, so the picture was painted perfectly!

    Eugene seems like my kind of place... although when you come check out my diggs, you may not get that vibe... a solid grounded wife will keep a guys head out of the clouds (sometimes)

    #877 4 years ago
    Quoted from RyanClaytor:

    with 5 days remaining we still need 6 more t-shirt pre-orders if we're gonna make another run at these puppies

    NicsTourShirtMock2 (resized).jpg

    I don't know what sort of magic Nic pulled out of which orifice, but we miraculously crossed the t-shirt pre-order finish line successfully. I placed the order this morning, as promised, and will be shipping this second (and quite likely, last) batch of beauties when I have them in my hands in a couple weeks. Just wanted to keep everyone up-to-date.

    Keep on keepin' on, Nic!
    Ryan

    #878 4 years ago

    Double-post, please delete.

    #879 4 years ago
    Quoted from RyanClaytor:

    I don't know what sort of magic Nic pulled out of which orifice, but we miraculously crossed the t-shirt pre-order finish line successfully. I placed the order this morning, as promised, and will be shipping this second (and quite likely, last) batch of beauties when I have them in my hands in a couple weeks. Just wanted to keep everyone up-to-date.
    Keep on keepin' on, Nic!
    Ryan

    I think for Nic's next tour shirt you should put a Dremel with magic brush in his hand

    #880 4 years ago
    Quoted from girloveswaffles:

    Worse, Steel wool is flammable! try putting the terminal ends of a 9 Volt battery on a piece of fine steel wool and look what happens.

    Best fire starter there is! Keep some in a plastic bag in your glove box, and keep the 9V battery terminals insulated until use.

    #881 4 years ago

    Heading to Salinas didn't want to miss this.

    IMG_2196 (resized).JPG

    #882 4 years ago

    Visit #36 – Chris Porter and Andrew Harris (Lets) in Shasta Lake and Richmond, CA

    The subjects: Aces & Kings, Mainliner bowler, Lucky Ace, Oklahoma

    1 (resized).JPG

    At last… California. Or what I thought was California. As I approached the mighty Mt. Shasta, I would soon learn the area was often referred to as a different state altogether: Jefferson, the 51st state.

    2 (resized).JPG

    Chris found me via Facebook early in the tour. I wasn’t originally scheduled to make a visit to his place, but he wanted to purchase the LOTR “One Ring” shooter I bought from Bill Hanson. Since Redding was directly on the route… why not drop it off in person?

    3 (resized).JPG

    I ended up spending the night after an evening of spirited conversation and pinball. Learned a bit more about Burning Man, how Jefferson differs from the Bay Area which differs from LA which differs from everything else, and the pointlessness of divide and conquer politics in a world where our humanity is far more complex and multifaceted than our culture commonly recognizes.

    But hey, we ain’t got time for that! Redding gets hotter than Baghdad! With the following day’s temperature predicted to exceed 114, it was pedal to the metal to Richmond, CA and its cool ocean breezes.

    4 (resized).JPG

    Andrew, a lifelong resident of the Bay Area, was one of the first respondents to the original tour idea. Would I make it all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge? On time? With my brain still intact?

    Yo Andrew! Made it! Let’s get those EM’s rolling!

    5 (resized).JPG

    Andrew keeps his pinball finds stashed in his officially-titled “Arcave”. Aha! Seems I am not the only one to have come up with the moniker.

    6 (resized).JPG

    Well well well… what a nice diverse selection we have here: Sinbad in SS-trim, Stingray, Comet, Night Rider (also SS), Gridiron (a GREAT 2p pitch-and-bat game), Space Odyssey, Lucky Ace, Top Card, and a few more just out of view.

    7 (resized).JPG

    We began with an Aces & Kings project which appeared to have the telltale signs of “stingy reel syndrome” (getting 40 points instead of 50, 400 instead of 500, et cetera). The score motor had two switch stacks in the forward position (a common culprit)… but it was not the cause.

    8 (resized).JPG

    It was time to stop arching our backs into the machine and get serious. We removed the motherboard for easier access to the motor and lower mechs.

    9 (resized).JPG

    On some machines it is possible to remove only two screws to access all of the motor switch stacks. Doing so makes it very easy to “swab, polish, swab” every contact with the Magic Brush… which we did.

    The motor itself was making an unpleasant grinding noise when in operation. The clutch spindle was cleaned so that it would engage/disengage more easily, but the motor wasn’t stopping on a dime like it should. This “motor drift” occasionally prevented some switches from opening and closing correctly.

    Rebuilding the motor would have to be a future homework assignment while we ironed out other issues.

    10 (resized).JPG

    Most Williams and Bally relays are large enough to service with the Magic Brush without having to take them apart. Andrew took a turn wielding the wonder-Dremel and polished a few switches with ease.

    11 (resized).JPG

    Aces & Kings has a large relay switch bank on the underside of the playfield. It slams all of the relays open with one massive *KER-CHUNK*… which was part of the problem. The action was so strong it was knocking several relays out of alignment.

    12 (resized).JPG

    We noticed the affected relays had switch blades pushing down very hard on them. Reducing the blade tension helped them stay open after a reset but it still wasn’t 100% reliable.

    Neat trick: I filmed the action of the reset bank with the iPhone’s slow-motion video camera. KKKKEEEEERRRR-CHHHHUUUUNNNKKKKKKKK. We could see the reset bar was slamming the relays beyond the point where they latched… which was causing them to dislodge.

    Simple solution: Replace the coil stop with a longer one. We didn’t have one on hand, but I’m happy to report the replacement arrived later and got the job done.

    13 (resized).JPG

    I spotted a tiny image on Top Card’s backglass that I had never noticed before: Two men taking a balloon ride with a heart flag trailing behind them.

    Could this possibly be the first appearance of a gay couple on a Gottlieb game? Well, not quite (“not that there’s anything wrong with that” per Seinfeld). It’s actually an homage to Dave Gottlieb who had just passed away. His employees loved how he ran the company… hence the heart flag. The two gents are supposed to be his son Alvin and son-in-law Judd… awwwww.

    Next time you see a Top Card, look for the balloon!

    14 (resized).JPG

    Ball bowler time. Keeney’s Mainliner wasn’t resetting the pins. It was a heavy beast to tilt open!

    15 (resized).JPG

    Where we see rivets, we often see dirt and wear. Andrew deployed the Magic Brush for polishing duty. Remember – swab with alcohol before and after the brush to get the rivets shiny clean.

    16 (resized).JPG

    The pin reset motor switch was out of alignment and dirty. It received the “swab, polish, swab” treatment and was realigned.

    The pins were now resetting except for one due to a relay bracket which was bent out of shape. It was put in a vise, hammered flat again, and reinstalled. Result?

    17 (resized).JPG

    We got slidey-puck bowlin’s again!

    (the Oklahoma woodrail also received a goodly number of switch adjustments and cleanings to get it going… just didn’t take any pics, oops)

    18 (resized).JPG

    Have you ever noticed the A-K-Q-J-10 targets do not reset at the beginning of a game of Lucky Ace? Doesn’t seem right, does it? Who wants to continue someone else’s game?

    19 (resized).JPG

    I think the game would be more fun if the 10-TO-ACE reset relay fired at the beginning of the game. That way, all of the targets would be unlit at the start.

    Dealer’s Choice (the 4-player version of Lucky Ace) doesn't have this problem. However, the cards reset at the end of every ball, making it much more difficult to light up the extra ball lane!

    20 (resized).JPG

    The jones plug had two free spots available for a new connection. Wouldn't that be an ideal place to wire up the 10-TO-ACE reset relay? Another homework assignment for Andrew.

    21 (resized).JPG

    Lucky Ace treated me with good fortune on the EM Home Challenge… it was another win for an 18-7 record. The streak is back! Andrew, I promise I’ll return for a rematch before long, don’t fret.

    22 (resized).JPG

    I love anything “tiki” and the Bay Area has a variety of tiki bars to choose from. However, not all tiki is created tikqually. For example the venerable Tonga Room is the oldest tiki bar around (with extraordinary interior décor), but during my visit it was packed with 20-somethings listening to hip-hop and dancing. Eh… no. No thank you. Run for the exit, I did.

    Trader Vic’s has a hotel location near Berkeley. The view overlooking the bay was a huge plus, but the scene wasn’t so chummy. Dressy dates, expensive food, a bit too touristy. Wasn’t quite right.

    Pagan Idol is a relative newcomer in Union Square and it hit the mark. It put a spooky undersea Jules Verne twist on the familiar tiki formula… very cool. But I wasn’t about to drag Andrew across the Bay Bridge for a single drink, so…

    We drove to Alameda for a farewell cocktail at Forbidden Island. It’s a great little neighborhood tiki bar which, thankfully, played the correct music (vintage 60’s surf/Martin Denny tunes). It is also located near the Pacific Pinball Museum and Annex… which means…

    Next stop -> Pacific Pinball Museum and Annex in Alameda, CA

    #883 4 years ago
    Quoted from RyanClaytor:

    Double-post, please delete.

    Delete.jpg

    J/K Glad I got my shirt during the first run.

    #884 4 years ago

    Good schooling

    IMG_2216 (resized).JPG

    IMG_2217 (resized).JPG

    IMG_2221 (resized).JPG

    IMG_2224 (resized).JPG

    #885 4 years ago

    Nic, you're welcome back ANY TIME....and I think a rematch is in order. Especially since your "hack" failed on my first ball of the first game. BEST damn single ball I've ever had on that game

    The new plunger and coil stop works perfectly on the bank of relays.
    Large relay switch bank on the underside of the playfield.
    Used coil stop from PBR (all they had)
    Had to shorten the new coil stop for it to work properly.
    Figured I might as well replace the plunger since I was in there, and was ordering parts anyways.

    FYI, the score motor still isn't always stopping soon enough. I'm thinking the spring on the clutch is wearing and is weak. Got any advise on how to disassemble the motor assembly? It appears to be riveted together.

    #886 4 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    Next, a trip to Ground Kontrol, one of the first and best barcades to re-ignite classic gaming for the masses. It is located in downtown Portland and has no cover charge… w00t!

    Ground Kontrol is awesome. I've been there a half dozen times or so. Portland does pinball right, no doubt about it.

    #887 4 years ago
    Quoted from Lets:

    FYI, the score motor still isn't always stopping soon enough. I'm t Got any advise on how to disassemble the motor assembly? It appears to be riveted together.

    Multi products used to have a rivet kit for use after cutting open the gearbox. Check with Steve Young at Pinball Resource to see if he is still willing to sell them. I believe he will only do the work in-house now and not sell MP parts.

    But I have opened them up before and resealed them with finish machine screws and lock nuts. It all depends on if they have to sit up against any mounting plates.

    #888 4 years ago
    Quoted from CactusJack:

    Multi products used to have a rivet kit for use after cutting open the gearbox. Check with Steve Young at Pinball Resource to see if he is still willing to sell them. I believe he will only do the work in-house now and not sell MP parts.
    But I have opened them up before and resealed them with finish machine screws and lock nuts. It all depends on if they have to sit up against any mounting plates.

    I already sent an email to PBR....they're closed till the 10th (I'm not opposed to having them rebuild it, depending on price). I thought about drilling the rivets, and just bolting it back together as well. For the moment though, it seems to be working correctly. Thanks!

    #889 4 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    Visit #35 – Blairally (blairally) in Eugene, OR
    The subjects: Continental bowler, Wizard!, Centigrade 37

    Damn - you got me thinking about Blairalley, it IS a cool venue & the guys that run it are real pinheads too. It's just 50 min South of me, I'm going to have to make another trip down there.

    Did you check out Level up while you were in Eugene? No EM's as far as I know, but quite a few modern pins.

    Dasvis

    #890 4 years ago

    Learning to read EM schematics:

    IMG_1225 (resized).JPG

    #891 4 years ago

    Out of curiosity, what is the magic brush attachment for the dremel?

    #892 4 years ago
    Quoted from amkoepfer:

    Out of curiosity, what is the magic brush attachment for the dremel?

    From a previous post:

    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    One tool I recommend everyone get is a Dremel (preferably w/lithium-ion battery) with carbon steel brush tip #443.

    #893 4 years ago

    Thank you, i couldnt find that post

    #894 4 years ago

    At the windup of the tour, it might be useful to post a summary of useful links from this thread: everything from direct order of the Dremel & etc. items, to perhaps these various regional public arcades / barcades / "museums." Sort of a Baedeker Guide for this thread. That way, no immediate need to search through it all. Just a suggestion . . . .

    #895 4 years ago

    Yes indeed I will be posting a substantial epilogue to this unique adventure.

    #896 4 years ago

    Only two weeks left... so much done, so much time, and yet how quickly in hindsight it passed...

    #897 4 years ago

    ...aaand soon we will begin the final segment: REGION 5 - Southwest Return

    Short but sweet!

    region 5 (resized).jpg

    #898 4 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    ...aaand soon we will begin the final segment: REGION 5 - Southwest Return
    Short but sweet!

    Hopefully you'll be getting out of San Diego before the madness known as San Diego Comic Con starts.

    #899 4 years ago

    So I gotta ask Nic--whatcha gonna do when the "tour" is all over???

    #900 4 years ago
    Quoted from Lefman:

    So I gotta ask Nic--whatcha gonna do when the "tour" is all over???

    My guess is sleep and then start planning the next one.

    There are 2,359 posts in this topic. You are on page 18 of 48.

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