(Topic ID: 179489)

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


By NicoVolta

3 years ago



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    #1251 2 years ago

    Hey folks... sorry for the slow updates this time around. My laptop blew up after the first entry. Will have to post the pics after this weekend when I get back.

    IMG_3254 (resized).JPG

    #1252 2 years ago
    Quoted from CaptainNeo:

    paycut. It's more like double my yearly salary now. Playfield restoration is a long slow process. You think i'm joking when I say I make $4 an hr sometimes. I'm not. There are plenty of playfields i've made $4 hr on. Couple was even $2hr. I've increased my prices but still my hourly rate is low. There is only so much I can charge before you outprice yourself. It's very very time consuming. If I had 4 of me, I could crank out 10 playfields a month and make a lot more.

    You're lucky that people actually want 4 of you. Nobody even wants one of me.

    #1253 2 years ago
    Quoted from beelzeboob:

    You're lucky that people actually want 4 of you. Nobody even wants one of me.

    Well, pretty sure I want two boobs. Oh wait, I mean I could handle two boobs..... Ummm, damn, never mind...

    #1254 2 years ago
    Quoted from beelzeboob:

    You're lucky that people actually want 4 of you. Nobody even wants one of me.

    I said, I want 4 of me. I don't think anyone else does. I know some would be in trouble if there was 4 of me.

    #1255 2 years ago

    Nic you need to line up a class in every state you go through,free to the host and a charge for the attendees.I would gladly pay $300 for a 2 day class and I'm sure many others would also.

    #1257 2 years ago

    I don't know if nic even took pics when he was here.

    #1258 2 years ago
    Quoted from presqueisle:

    Thanks for the clinic, Nic. I think I achieved the trifecta...
    1) Met very nice people and had a great time.
    2) Learned a bunch.
    3) Had Nic beat me on my own game!!
    He had the top score of the 5-6 of us that played the 'World Fair challenge'. He lit up all cars for a special, then blasted through the score replays for a total of 5 replays won. I hope to avenge this loss some day

    Dave- your Orbit was in amazing shape! Not an easy game to play either!

    Quoted from Dah-le:Nic thanks again for an awesome class this past weekend...wish I'd been able to attend both days.
    Saturday was amazing...I'm new to pinball and EM's and keep falling deeper into fun of all of Pinball's aspects.
    Saturday we had some really interesting issues to cover, the most memorable:
    - Orbit was kicking out a ball after the last ball drained (effectively an extra ball)
    - Pioneer was failing to keep proper scoring in a myriad of ways
    These were great to cover all of the main EM components (I'm sure I'll get terms wrong here)
    - Relays/Switches and how to rebuild/adjust them
    - Player Reel's "stepper" and how it functions in the game's
    - Scoring reels and how they function (how to rebuild/adjust)
    - Scoring "Motor" (I think of it as an iterator) and demystifying its function
    - Main logic/state retention and how they control the game
    And more details than you can imagine.
    Thanks to all who brought games and the great stories that came with them...
    Not to mention how they were kept in really excellent shape (Pioneer especially!)
    It would be great to capture the interactive nature of Nic's class in a streaming environment...but it would seem quite challenging to me.
    A couple of key things I'd thing would be very challenging to address in a stream:
    - The class was constantly moving around the machine, often with a limited view.
    - Everyone was contributing something to moving towards a solution...I'd think that'd make audio tough.
    - The pace of the conversation was pretty quick relative to a "chat/text" environment
    But most of all a stream would have kept me from discovering the somewhat magical physical feel of EM machines.
    A fantastic experience, and I learned a ton...I'd highly recommend attending if you are remotely interested.
    -Dale
    ps. Don't forget rulesets on EM's can be complicated too!

    Dahle- I saw you taking notes- any chance you transcribed them? My phone didn't save the notes I was taking with it. Would love to have a copy if at all possible.

    I took a bunch of pics and sent them to Nick. This is his thread and i'll let him post them when he gets back form his trip.

    Hope Dave gets that Orbit up and running!

    It was great meeting Dave, Dan, Kathy & Israel, Dahle & Nick (yes-2 Nicks were in attendance).

    I would like to thank my boss and the owner of Hawk Ford/Hawk Auto Group for allowing me to host the class in our Downers Grove warehouse. (Yes-shameless plug!)

    Hope you had fun Nick during your 3 days in the western burbs of Chicago. Looking forward your update upon your return to Texas!

    #1259 2 years ago
    Quoted from CaptainNeo:

    I don't know if nic even took pics when he was here.

    I want to see some pirate hookers.

    #1260 2 years ago
    Quoted from CaptainNeo:

    I don't know if nic even took pics when he was here.

    I am stealthy but I did! Including a pic of the best Alien Poker I've ever played... which I now respect as a decent shooter thanks to your efforts.

    Quoted from nascarrey:

    I took a bunch of pics and sent them to Nick. This is his thread and i'll let him post them when he gets back from his trip.

    Yes... pics downloaded and coming up this weekend. Mega thanks to Hawk Ford for hosting the class!

    Quoted from TheNoTrashCougar:

    I want to see some pirate hookers.

    IMG_3353 (resized).JPG

    LOL whut? This is the best I can do short notice... but I ain't cheap!

    #1261 2 years ago

    I too have some comments about the class last weekend in Chicago.

    I'm proud to say that I am now a Kool-Aid drinking, card carrying member of the Volta EM army (gang, cartel, brownie troop - whatever).

    College Queens. Incredible artwork, deep ruleset, exciting game play. Think about it Nic.

    I wasn't able to stick around Sunday to see the end of the "challenge", but I'm assuming that I was low score. In my defense I just want to say that I had blisters on the fingers of my left hand, some knee pain on my right side causing me to stand at a slight angle, and a double ear infection creating an equilibrium problem.

    Also, (and you'll find this shocking), but on at least three occasions Karen bumped my elbow when I was attempting a shot. I was surprised too. Just goes to show you that you never really know someone... I would suggest tighter security at future events.

    Then there was Israel. Not there Saturday, mysteriously appears on Sunday and brought by... Karen. Israel was quiet, respectful and kind. I find those qualities to be highly annoying. His silence was deafening. He threw me off my game.

    There were some other things, but I don't want to sound like I'm making excuses.

    And at the risk of sounding petty and paranoid, I think there may have been some cheating going on, and I felt people were out to get me.

    In reality, everyone was awesome! The first time I saw information regarding the event was last Friday, and decided to sign up. Glad I did! Thanks to my classmates and Nic for making it fun.

    Nick Z.

    #1262 2 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    I am stealthy but I did! Including a pic of the best Alien Poker I've ever played... which I now respect as a decent shooter thanks to your efforts.

    Yes... pics downloaded and coming up this weekend. Mega thanks to Hawk Ford for hosting the class!

    LOL whut? This is the best I can do short notice... but I ain't cheap!

    speaking of pirate wench. You take any of mine?

    #1263 2 years ago

    Your a hero. Great job.

    #1264 2 years ago
    Quoted from nascarrey:

    Dave- your Orbit was in amazing shape! Not an easy game to play either!

    Dahle- I saw you taking notes- any chance you transcribed them? My phone didn't save the notes I was taking with it. Would love to have a copy if at all possible.

    PM sent with the transcription (just so happened to do it that day!)...if anyone else want them, please feel free to PM.
    -Dale

    ps. Nazumpan, I think you and I would have had to have a tie-breaker for last place if we'd been able to stay for Sunday.

    #1265 2 years ago

    Just picked up this surf champ on Monday. It's biggest issue was that it wouldn't advance the player or ball count. Plus the scoring was sluggish and the reels skipped points.
    Thanks to the nicovolta acquired skills, I was able to get it fully working!
    I probably cleaned way more relays and steppers than required, searching for the repair, but I know they were done correctly.

    IMG_2610 (resized).JPG

    #1266 2 years ago

    Glad to hear it. Polishing switches with the dremelsaber is how Pinball Jedi enter the Temple of Gleaming Contacts.

    yoda (resized).jpeg

    "Learn to make it right, we must, before what is wrong can easily be seen." ~PinYoda

    #1267 2 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    I am stealthy but I did! Including a pic of the best Alien Poker I've ever played... which I now respect as a decent shooter thanks to your efforts.

    Yes... pics downloaded and coming up this weekend. Mega thanks to Hawk Ford for hosting the class!

    Nick- didn't see you post about the class yet-laptop still on the fritz???

    #1268 2 years ago
    Quoted from nascarrey:

    Nick- didn't see you post about the class yet-laptop still on the fritz???

    All good here. Pics transferred & working on the copy.

    I underestimated how exhausted I'd be after returning. Actually I'm still recovering from the original tour & didn't take enough time off to recuperate in the first place. But hey... eclipses wait for no one! :p

    #1269 2 years ago

    Understandable! Get some R & R! That's an order!

    #1270 2 years ago

    Time to go back on tour....Tn needs your help.

    #1271 2 years ago

    Chicago visit #2 -> Tommy Skinner (tsskinne) and Main Street Amusements in Lafayette, IN

    The subject: Surf Champ

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    Yo Tommy! Who needs Google Maps when you’ve got a Red Zone game at the front door? Pretty sure I had the right address.

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    You may recall seeing this pinball shooter skill game at ReplayFX (contained raffle tickets as prizes) and in my coverage of Todd MacCulloch’s arcade collection. It’s fun! I think pinball people probably have the advantage versus the general public.

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    Tommy started his “serious” pinball hobby somewhere around mid-2013… about the same time as me. He’s also been on quite a tear – hosting This Flippin’ Podcast, the Lafayette Pinball League, operating games on location, and fixing/selling/playing dozens more in the process. When the pinball bug bites, it bites deep!

    Before my arrival, Tommy had a local printer create a ginormous schematic for our convenience. It was big, real big, but when is "too big" an issue with schematics? Never!

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    Tommy gazes into the innards of Surf Champ, anxiously eyeing the score motor. No worries… it’s only switches on a wheel. Clickity clack, all in a stack.

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    The AX reset coil wasn’t resetting. I used this opportunity to photograph the scale of the schematic and point out our test locations. Relay O and either R or U should be making the connection, but it wasn’t getting through.

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    I used this opportunity to introduce the alligator-clip bypass method. Indeed, a dirty switch was revealed within the circuit. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to “troubleshoot dirt”. 500 maybe?

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    The relay ladder wasn’t returning to its usual resting position against the metal tab. See the gap? Gaps are bad. Most commonly, the switches are pushing down too hard against the spring… something we correct by introducing “switch bias”. Remember that lesson? Well then… we shall have to revisit it again soon!

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    Tommy began the pinball mantra of swab, polish, swab with the flipper EOS switches. A clean switch gets more current gets to the flippers, which is always a good thing for snappy performance.

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    We can’t forget to polish those rivets, can we? Makes ‘em shiny and nice again… no violent sanding required here.

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    A pipe cutter failed to shorten the length of this coil sleeve. Hilton recommended using one for this purpose. Perhaps he owned an extra-sharp version?

    EDIT: Hilton sez, "Put a plunger in it first"... aha!

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    When in doubt, Dremel it out.

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    Yuck. Disintegrated beer seal. A common issue with chimes, and not the best solution in my opinion. We’re going a different route this time.

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    Let’s try something new… relay grommets! You won’t see these referenced on the official Gottlieb part list for rebuilding chimes, but that doesn’t matter. They work. Part# is GTB-A5240.

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    Getting them installed requires a little squeeze…

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    …but they fit snugly and provide more cushioning (and longer-lasting) than beer seal.

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    Let’s not forget to polish those chime bars with some Mother’s Mag Polish while we’re at it. Clean chimes sound the best.

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    And voila! Another EM lives. Surf Champ is ready for action.

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    Tommy’s collection of pins in the front room indicated a savvy sense of pinball awareness. A nice blend of fun games which were not completely mainstream choices.

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    His NOS Genesis translite was the most vivid I’ve seen in years. Perfect color saturation. I like this one… reminds me of so many campy 80’s sci-fi/fantasy films. Including Xanadu. Can we get a Xanadu pin yet?

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    Before departing, I had to pay a visit to Main Street Amusements in downtown Lafayette. A gigantic Pac-Man successfully beckoned passers-by to venture inside. Note the presence of Big Lebowski! Likely to be removed from the floor soon… it’s just too valuable to be on route.

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    Look carefully… the macabre is everywhere.

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    MSA has some really nice games. Including the Attack From Mars LE! Best topper ever.

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    We are not without representation from Team EM. Fun Land rifle game, shuffle puck slider, and a few pins as well. Extra bonus for Spanish Eyes middle-pop action!

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    I spent most of my time with owner Dan (prefers to be stealthy) in the back talking shop, techniques, and fixing a Bally Flip Flop. It’s all about the socializing and fixing for me these days.

    Lafayette was a cool little college town. Walkable, nice size, good vibes. They’re lucky to have guys like Dan and Tommy keeping the good times rolling here.

    Next stop -> Rey Kadon & Chicago classmates in Downers Grove, IL

    #1272 2 years ago

    Thanks for coming through our little town! Had a blast, and learned a lot. Literally, day after you left my 10-year-old knock-off brand Dremel, died. I took your advice and ordered the 8220 and it just arrived last night. Have a couple of days of work ahead of me at the bar then back to attacking more of Surf Champ. Thank you again. -Tommy

    #1273 2 years ago

    damn all those games look to be in amazing condition. Someone is giving them some love.

    #1274 2 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    Hilton recommended using one for this purpose. Perhaps he owned an extra-sharp version?

    you forgot the key step... Put and old plunger on the inside. It gives the pipe cutter something to push against rather than the hollow sleave.

    #1275 2 years ago
    Quoted from Whysnow:

    you forgot the key step... Put and old plunger on the inside. It gives the pipe cutter something to push against rather than the hollow sleave.

    AHA! Gracias, oh Wizard of the Sleeves. I'll update the original post with that critical bit 'o info...

    #1276 2 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    Wizard of the Sleeves

    I think Borat called it the other way...

    #1277 2 years ago
    Quoted from Whysnow:

    you forgot the key step... Put and old plunger on the inside. It gives the pipe cutter something to push against rather than the hollow sleave.

    Ah we tried this when Nic was in Monterey and couldn't get it to work....now I know why!

    #1278 2 years ago

    yes yes. It was sleeve of wizard. So when you address hilton, make sure you say it correctly.

    #1279 2 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    Let’s try something new… relay grommets! You won’t see these referenced on the official Gottlieb part list for rebuilding chimes, but that doesn’t matter. They work. Part# is GTB-A5240.

    I have been using these lately:

    amazon.com link »

    door silencer (resized).jpg

    Chime grommets are $.82/each. Door silencers are $.14/each.

    #1280 2 years ago
    Quoted from Potatoloco:

    I've only watched Dead Flip a couple of times. I'm a Twitch partner and am terrible at the games I play. People ultimately donate or subscribe more because of the personality than the gameplay in these instances.

    potatoloco
    You're a Twitch Partner?! Nice!! What's your name, I'll check you out!

    100% agree on the personality front. It's the selling point of many/most channels on twitch, content comes second.

    #1281 2 years ago

    sooooo.....when are you coming back to MN? I need some help learning to fix some games! The Surf Champ brenna98 posted came from me. I couldn't make it work and he had it running in less than 5 hours! My current project is an El Dorado....I want to keep this one!

    #1282 2 years ago
    Quoted from MNpin66:

    sooooo.....when are you coming back to MN? I need some help learning to fix some games! The Surf Champ brenna98 posted came from me. I couldn't make it work and he had it running in less than 5 hours! My current project is an El Dorado....I want to keep this one!

    Neo has one of my playfields in his queue. If he manages to have it done before it gets too wintery, I might make a run back up there & loop you in. I liked Minnesota while I was there... of course it was late May.

    #1283 2 years ago

    hummmm, i'm trying. As you can see in my playfield restoration walkthrough thread, They take some time. When you updating this thread with IO love?

    #1284 2 years ago

    Yes! Please keep me in mind....I can make almost any day work, so whenever you are ready!

    #1285 2 years ago

    Got a cordless Dremel for my birthday from the family. Nic's tour keeps on giving!

    #1286 2 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    Chicago visit #2 -> Tommy Skinner (tsskinne) and Main Street Amusements in Lafayette, IN
    The subject: Surf Champ

    We are not without representation from Team EM. Fun Land rifle game, shuffle puck slider, and a few pins as well. Extra bonus for Spanish Eyes middle-pop action!

    Lafayette was a cool little college town. Walkable, nice size, good vibes. They’re lucky to have guys like Dan and Tommy keeping the good times rolling here.
    Next stop -> Rey Kadon & Chicago classmates in Downers Grove, IL

    Nic, I am surprised that you ventured into Indiana it has been called a pinball desert. I thought your trips were always around this dangerous state. Maybe we will see you here more often. Do you fix woodrails? Just wondered if your knowledge goes that far back?

    #1287 2 years ago
    Quoted from CaptainNeo:

    hummmm, i'm trying. As you can see in my playfield restoration walkthrough thread, They take some time. When you updating this thread with IO love?

    Rather ashamedly, I did not find any pics on my phone. But the memory of digitized infinite-loop Also Sprach Zarathustra shall ring forever in my mind. Beeeeep BEEEEEEEEEP BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP..... BEEP BEEP!! So hilarious!

    Quoted from Cheddar:

    Got a cordless Dremel for my birthday from the family. Nic's tour keeps on giving!

    Use it wisely, my friend. The Dremelsaber is an elegant weapon of the Pinball Jedi. No crude blaster sanders needed here.

    Quoted from Grayman_EM:

    Nic, I am surprised that you ventured into Indiana it has been called a pinball desert. I thought your trips were always around this dangerous state. Maybe we will see you here more often. Do you fix woodrails? Just wondered if your knowledge goes that far back?

    I do. Fixed a number of them, but they can be fussy with crappy schematics before around 1948 or so.

    #1288 2 years ago

    well, you can take some when you come pick up your playfield.

    #1289 2 years ago
    Quoted from SirScott:

    I have been using these lately:
    amazon.com link »

    Chime grommets are $.82/each. Door silencers are $.14/each.

    Damn! Those chime grommets are putting me in the poor house!

    #1290 2 years ago
    Quoted from jrpinball:

    Damn! Those chime grommets are putting me in the poor house!

    True, price is moot when you only need three per EM, but hey... solutions is solutions! Door mutes work just as well as the grommets and as long as you don't have to pay extra to ship them (offsetting the savings), might as well pick some up at the Despot.

    #1291 2 years ago

    I'm going to use "chime grommets" as my default goto for any pinball question. Someone mentions their pin won't turn on or score. I'll ask them, "Did you check your chime grommets?"

    Joking of course but it feels and sounds a lot like 'muffler bearings' so couldn't resist.

    #1292 2 years ago

    I think that's a great idea.
    Chime Grommets can be the new "fuse" of 2018.

    12
    #1293 2 years ago

    Chicago visit #3 -> Group class with Rey Kadon (nascarrey) and the Galloping Ghost in Downers Grove, IL

    The subjects: Pioneer, World Fair, Orbit

    Prior to this visit, the only thing I knew about Downers Grove was…

    “I like to shop in downtown Downers Grove. It doesn't take big bucks, and everyone there really is nice.”

    Rey laughed and informed me that in 2017 it definitely takes big bucks!

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    Rey and I were hoping to begin this segment with an impromptu visit to the Stern factory. Alas, they had already departed for an offsite Star Wars opening party so I was enlisted to evaluate a Jokerz! pinball machine instead. It was one of Rey’s favorites back in the day.

    The seller, Robot (yes, his legal name… remember how I mentioned we pinballers are stubbornly individualistic types?), produced the prettiest Jokerz! I had seen since the golden age of arcades. Rich colors, pristine parts, and a beautiful playfield still in original condition with some sort of ultra-nice prototype clear coat on it. Really quite stunning.

    Jokerz! was previously owned by famed playfield restorer Neo Skywalker (yes, his legal name… are we getting the hint yet? *grin*). He says it was the nicest he’d ever seen… and I’d agree!

    Robot (Razerx) had stacks of other nice pins awaiting restoration in his queue. Although modest, I could tell this guy was really serious about pinball. He mentioned he had “a few other games downstairs”… and I couldn’t help but finish the suggestion… YES PLEASE CAN WE TAKE A PEEK?

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    …and behold… Rey played his first-ever game of Medieval Madness and Big Lebowski as I marveled at the stunning attention to detail present within Robot’s majestic pinball lair. A Joust head-to-head beckoned us under twinkly string lights. Other rarities flanked the walls. And then… a glorious row of EM’s… all spectacular. Starting with one of my very favorites: Bally Skyrocket. Yessss! Best light show ever produced by an EM. Followed by Norm Clark’s classic A-Go-Go, a Bally Wiggler, Capersville, and then…

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    …a Cosmos with prototype starfield-black cabinet. Doesn’t it look great? I wonder why they didn’t stick with this color scheme. Looks awesome!

    Did you notice the Bally Star-Jet to the left? It was in pristine condition too. Finding a Star-Jet in anyone’s collection is a pretty good indication that you’re in the presence of serious pinball!

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    Ahhhh! Cross Country! A low-production 60’s-era Bally I’ve been wanting to try for quite a while. Look at the extensive use of natural wood throughout the middle of the playfield as the highway color. Nice touch!

    We thanked Robot for taking time out of his schedule to entertain us before departing. I advised Rey that if Jokerz! was a game he’d been clamoring for, he had better purchase this one. Sure, he could find a cheaper one on Craigslist, but how much money and time would it take him to get it this nice?

    And so, another game joined Rey’s stable.

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    But wait! Before the fixin’s, more games needed playing at the Galloping Ghost… THE WORLD’S LARGEST ARCADE ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?

    Oh, so serious. This modest little street sign belies the glory awaiting you inside. I’m talking 612 playable games serious… with many more waiting in the repair queue.

    http://www.gallopingghostarcade.com/games-list/

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    Folks, I’m not even going to try to review this place. Not here. It’s too far beyond the scope of what I can reasonably accomplish. It suffices to say that if you are reading this, you need to prepare for your pilgrimage ASAP.

    A meteor could hit the building. Or an earthquake. Or a flood. I don’t know. Things happen. Life is chaotic and unfair. But Galloping Ghost is giving reality the middle finger no matter what… BECAUSE WE ARE SO DOING THIS!

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    I was astonished to find a Zwackery! on the floor. Hadn’t seen one of these since the 80’s. The controls are identical to Discs of Tron with the push-up, pull-down spinner and joystick with trigger/button. Which means the only way you can play the darn thing is in person… which means you need to come here.

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    Remember Darius? The ambitious triple-screen side-scroller with branching storyline and awesome music? It’s here… along with its glorious twin…

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    …Dariusburst EX Another Chronicle. Never saw this one before, and it is glorious! Galloping Ghost may be the only place in the USA to have imported it.

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    Yes, they’ve even procured a Galaxy Force II… a major achievement of sprite-based 3D animation before polygons took over. If you remember enjoying sprite-based games like Space Harrier, Power Drift, Rad Mobile, and other Sega AM2 classics, this one ties it all together with a fully rotational cockpit and rockin’ FM synthesis soundtrack.

    It wasn’t able to move during my visit, but Doc says he’s working on getting it going ASAP.

    11 (resized).JPG

    And who is this illustrious Doc? Well, he’s the guy standing next to me. The guy with boundless passion for arcade games crackling through every cell in his body like chain lightning. He teaches repair classes. Helps promote other local arcades. Exchanges tips, techniques, and games with people around the world. Scouts out the rarest, coolest, funnest games on the planet to bring them all here for us to enjoy. And has no signs of slowing… indeed… our quick 5-minute chat turned into almost an hour… and we were just getting started.

    I’ve seen some large arcades in my day, but nothing like this. Arcade-wise, nothing has ever existed on this scale before… anywhere in the world… ever. It must be seen to be believed. Yet the Ghost is still growing and has no plans to stop despite having already reached insane-overload-status.

    Where will the Galloping Ghost end? Doc doesn’t know where that is, and doesn’t care. He’s like the sun… not going quietly but redline-gunning it every day until the power grid explodes, consuming everything in one glorious finale. The Ghost is thus destined to be the last, greatest stand for the classic video arcade, ever, period, the end.

    Go now so that you can tell your grandchildren of the day you stood within the gilded halls of digitized glory as no other had before, or since.

    12 (resized).JPG

    And thus, after a long day, we return to Rey’s to do a little tweaking to Evel Knievel with the nickel hex cap upgrade and lamp socket (tip solder) fixes. Rey then demoed his deluxe Golden Tee w/competition module (for real money!) behind me. Looked almost like watching live TV… really cool. I could see playing this with friends while sipping a brew.

    13 (resized).JPG

    Finally, it was class time. Our first subject was a 4-player Gottlieb Orbit (brought by Dan (danczaz) in the green shirt).

    On the left is Nick (Nazumpan) who was a last-minute addition. He owns a few EM’s including a Bally Freedom and seemed quite intrigued by the possibility of converting it to the prototype middle-pop version. A project which I hope to eventually pursue and share in the future.

    On the right is Dale (Dah-le) who does not own any EM’s (yet?) but has an electrical background and thus caught on very quickly to the fundamentals we covered.

    14 (resized).JPG

    Meanwhile, Rey and Karen (penguin22) were unloading a Gottlieb Pioneer. It was originally a gift from her mother to her father when they were first dating (over 40 years ago) and has sat unplayable for the majority of its life! Oh my gosh… we have GOT to get this going!

    15 (resized).JPG

    The third machine was brought by Dave (presqueisle): World Fair, a classic Gottlieb wedgehead previously owned by none other than our own Dirtflipper. As such, it appeared to be in phenomenal original condition.

    16 (resized).JPG

    On Orbit, we began with the recommended tools on the table nearby and moved gradually into relays and steppers. I don’t recall everything which was done in terms of fixes, but we got the game running except for a damaged AS relay. The nylon finger was missing from the strike plate w/broken housing. Without it, the game wouldn’t be able to alternate left-right lit targets or rotate the bonus counter light. Oh dear. Nothing to do but ship it to Steve Young in the hope of a replacement part showing up.

    Did I mention how much I hate AS relays? I can fix them, but they still suck.

    17 (resized).JPG

    Next, a look inside of World Fair. Super clean as expected. But some of the ferris wheel cars wouldn’t reset at the start of a new game.

    On the left, a long bank of relays controlled the 12 cars plus reset and other functions. Two big coils were responsible for resetting the massive bar pushing all of the relays open. But I noticed only one was moving… the other wasn’t doing its job.

    Obviously, the bar was too long to lift all the relays with only one coil. Hence, the intermittent reset of the ferris wheel cars.

    I cleaned and gapped every switch in the circuit of both coils. *THWACK* good reset every time.

    18 (resized).JPG

    Israel, Karen’s boyfriend, was getting excited with figuring out how the schematic worked. It’s always a pleasure to spark people’s curiosity and see where it leads them.

    19 (resized).JPG

    After World Fair’s issues were ironed out, we had an impromptu competition. Dave shouldn’t have let me go first. My 1650 + 5 free credits earned (I completed all the cars) pretty much demoralized everyone else from the start. From now on I’ll go last, m’kaye? :p

    20 (resized).JPG

    The evening was waning. We combed our way through Pioneer hitting relays, cleaning switches, and optimizing gaps while Karen nervously looked on. I instantly recalled my experience with Bill Hanson’s Spirit of ’76 – it was the trickiest game to fix during my main pinball tour. Would Pioneer foil our efforts?

    21 (resized).JPG

    It’s always a good idea to manually click the score reels to all 1’s before hitting the start button. That way you can see which ones lag behind the others (if any) to determine if they need servicing. Slow-motion video capture can be even better for viewing the behavior of ill-performing mechs.

    Up to this point, the game was rock-solid except for one thing: The game wouldn’t count down and score the bonus from the center hole unless “double bonus” was lit.

    We combed the schematic at least three times. I just couldn’t find the circuit for counting down the bonus. Was the schematic wrong? The group was in general agreement… it just didn’t seem possible.

    22 (resized).JPG

    Which, of course, it wasn’t… because WE DIDN’T READ THE GAME INSTRUCTIONS. It isn’t supposed to score unless double bonus is lit! That’s why the schematic only had a circuit path via the double bonus relay… major d’oh! We all had a good laugh out loud session at this discovery.

    I never read the instructions and it finally bit me!

    23 (resized).JPG

    Pioneer was revived and playing well. Despite not working for decades, the backglass and playfield were thankfully preserved in really good shape. We were all excited for Karen to reunite this family gift in working condition… finally!

    24 (resized).JPG

    And so, three more classic machines were returned to service and many more minds expanded with fresh EM knowledge. Along with a possible newly-engineered twist for an old problem… but we shall have to wait for a future chapter for that.

    Big thanks to Rey & his company for providing our classroom workspace!

    Next stop -> Neo Skywalker in Burlington, WI

    #1294 2 years ago

    Thanks again for putting together a class Nick! The big problem we fixed with Orbit was that it was kicking out a ball when the game ended. Also, I learned that it should have a chime unit (although it was a German reimport and chime might have been removed prior to original export). I found a chime unit and already installed it and got it working. I shipped off AS relay to Steve Young. Can't wait to get her back and tinker some more!

    #1295 2 years ago

    Hey there they all are. I thought maybe we were all on the cutting room floor It was a great group and I had fun meeting you all. Yes, Thanks Rey! (and your boss) for the space. That was really nice.
    On World Fair the more perplexing issue I had was that the ones and tens were scoring oddly. Alligator clips showed where the problem was (two hidden switch tabs touching) and it has been playing like a champ. Thanks Nic!

    #1296 2 years ago

    Nic, what multimeter do you recommend?

    #1297 2 years ago
    Quoted from spinal:

    Nic, what multimeter do you recommend?

    I'm still using a digital generic brand w/manual-selector dial from the 80's. Works just fine.

    IMG_3414 (resized).JPG

    Actually I've never comparison-shopped multimeters. Am I missing out on some new fabulous 3D touchscreen model?

    #1298 2 years ago

    The only thing I care about in a meter is audible continuity beeps, Voltage (DC and AC), Resistance and Current measuring capability. Diode testing is nice, too (but not required).

    Most other things, unless you're doing bench testing, are overkill. Especially for EM.

    I used to be a die-hard analog meter person, but they are pretty hard to find these days. I still zero out the meter before measuring, though.

    #1299 2 years ago
    Quoted from brenna98:

    Just picked up this surf champ on Monday. It's biggest issue was that it wouldn't advance the player or ball count. Plus the scoring was sluggish and the reels skipped points.
    Thanks to the nicovolta acquired skills, I was able to get it fully working!
    I probably cleaned way more relays and steppers than required, searching for the repair, but I know they were done correctly.

    Dave (Brenna98) has stumbled across a fundamental truth in EM-land...

    "I probably cleaned way more relays and steppers than required, searching for the repair, but I know they were done correctly."

    That -certainty of knowing- is what drives a "fixer" to eventually become a "rebuilder".

    What lies beyond is the pleasure of experiencing every infinitesimal click throughout the game, every mech, every switch, every piece operating perfectly. Mindfulness expressed via mechanical synchronicity... and a strong sense of achievement which also happens to bring joy to others.

    Best hobby in the world, bar none.

    #1300 2 years ago

    This is the one I've been using. Got a great recommendation on it for good value from one of the premier pinball techs here in town.

    amazon.com link »

    What I miss the most from the cheap Radio Shack unit I was using is the auto ranging. But that isn't a big deal.

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