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


By NicoVolta

10 months ago


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    #1301 3 months ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    …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!

    What did you think of the game play?

    #1302 3 months ago
    Quoted from Rat_Tomago:

    What did you think of the game play?

    Alas, did not play it, but I am familiar with Cosmos & have played it in the past.

    Cosmos is in the "strong like" category, but not quite "love". The lack of return lanes and the lower mounting of the flippers below the slings makes it a rather reboundy-chancey game. Over time, I've moved away from those types of layouts which often toss balls down the drains or middle without a chance.

    On that note I even sold my Dixieland! Was a tough decision because the rules and layout are pure genius. BUT... absolutely no consistency between games. A bit too chancey. Not being a multiplayer was the linchpin. Would have kept it otherwise.

    #1303 3 months ago
    Quoted from spinal:

    Nic, what multimeter do you recommend?

    Definitely avoid any "Auto Function" style meter (the kind without a knob to select whether AC, DC, Ohms, Amps etc.). For the novice, who isn't exactly sure what to see or expect, they can be rather confusing. In fact, I would even avoid an Auto Ranging meter for about the same reasons.

    As Nic pointed out, just about any meter is fine for EM work, but beware, the really cheap ones can also be misleading as they age and as the battery levels drop. A decent test is to check Volts AC on a known good outlet (110-120VAC) to insure the meter is still reading correctly before trusting what you are getting inside the game.

    Even the Freebee from Harbor Freight is okay until its time to throw it away! Just don't pay the $12-$14 normal price on it. The link MikeO pointed to on Amazon looks to be a really good choice for the price.

    #1304 3 months ago

    D'oh! Forgot to mention our visit to the Chicago Street Pinball Arcade!

    IMG_3258 (resized).JPG

    $15 bucks gets you all you can play as well as a free draft beer at the bar next door. Sold!

    IMG_3260 (resized).JPG

    What is this behind my shoulder? ANOTHER Big Ben in a public arcade? Oh hell. Luckily it played really well, but it's a mighty big request to ask 'ol Ben to uphold all that is good and noble about EM pinball on its shoulders alone. Anyone want to swap one in? Temporarily? Pwease? LOL so be it. At least we got Team EM in the house.

    You can see Rey in the background working his way toward a new high score. I thought it was Medieval Madness (his new favorite... can't blame him there!) but the cab art doesn't quite match from what I can tell. Can you name the game?

    #1305 3 months ago

    That really looks like a Wolverine on the pf...

    #1306 89 days ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    Alas, did not play it, but I am familiar with Cosmos & have played it in the past.
    Cosmos is in the "strong like" category, but not quite "love". The lack of return lanes and the lower mounting of the flippers below the slings makes it a rather reboundy-chancey game. Over time, I've moved away from those types of layouts which often toss balls down the drains or middle without a chance.
    On that note I even sold my Dixieland! Was a tough decision because the rules and layout are pure genius. BUT... absolutely no consistency between games. A bit too chancey. Not being a multiplayer was the linchpin. Would have kept it otherwise.

    I can understand where you're coming from on that Nic and many Bally zip flip games are like that. I find Cosmos to be much less chancey than many others with that same flipper set up. It's also got a really nice 2 stage rule set that I thoroughly enjoy. Love maxing out the 3 ships and then blasting-off for a cool 9 dings and 900 points while the backbox animation runs! It's in the "love" category for me

    Just jumping into this thread and really enjoying reading about your travels. It was great to meet you my friend! You (and Rey) are welcomed to come by and stay a bit longer this time, should you pass through the Chicago area again.

    #1307 89 days ago

    Yo Robo! I've never owned a Cosmos so my opinion would probably shift with enough repeat play. Would rather have it than Dixieland (despite its extraordinary layout) due to the multiplayer aspect... but boy is it close. Having a kick-ass space theme nudges it over the threshold.

    Will have to give Cosmos a serious tire-kicking with Rey next trip. Really enjoyed meeting you & just killer attention to detail down in the arcave... be proud!

    #1308 88 days ago

    Swag from the road...

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    #1309 87 days ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    Will have to give Cosmos a serious tire-kicking with Rey next trip. Really enjoyed meeting you & just killer attention to detail down in the arcave... be proud!

    Just come over to my place and look mine over and help me with the bell knocker in the backbox then you can have some serious fun with my Cosmos.

    #1310 87 days ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    D'oh! Forgot to mention our visit to the Chicago Street Pinball Arcade!

    $15 bucks gets you all you can play as well as a free draft beer at the bar next door. Sold!

    What is this behind my shoulder? ANOTHER Big Ben in a public arcade? Oh hell. Luckily it played really well, but it's a mighty big request to ask 'ol Ben to uphold all that is good and noble about EM pinball on its shoulders alone. Anyone want to swap one in? Temporarily? Pwease? LOL so be it. At least we got Team EM in the house.
    You can see Rey in the background working his way toward a new high score. I thought it was Medieval Madness (his new favorite... can't blame him there!) but the cab art doesn't quite match from what I can tell. Can you name the game?

    I was wondering what happened to this 'stop' on your tour! Thought it was 'cutting room floor' material! LOL
    You didnt mention the $9 pizza next door that we couldn't finish b/c it was so large.
    Big Ben was super clean, but game play is a miss imo.......... They did have some other games that played great and others that need a little tlc. We got to see their new home which was being remodeled. Much bigger storefront! It was a bit out of the way, but I think it was worth showing you Nic..........

    #1311 87 days ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    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…
    » YouTube video
    “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!

    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?

    …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…

    …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!

    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.

    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/

    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!

    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.

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

    …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.

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

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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!

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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

    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?

    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.

    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!

    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!

    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

    It was great to meet everyone. It was more than just a class- it was about making friends and talking about pinball (and other things). We had lunch down the street - was good to bond with my fellow EM classmates over a cheesesteak!

    I did forward this thread to my boss & he sent it to the owner so they could understand what EM pinball is all about.

    We are welcome back anytime, so Nic- open offer to host another class!

    Thanks for a fun weekend Nic-I don't get to take many days off, but I had a blast Friday! Tammy said next visit she'd make it out to dinner with us!

    #1312 86 days ago

    Hi Nic,

    Searched your entire tour and can't find what solder you recommend for EM's- also couldn't find mention of your soldering tools/supplies in your end-of-tour tools list. I only have Gottlieb 70's wedgeheads and saw that http://www.pinrepair.com/em/index1.htm#tools states:

    "Rosin Core 60/40 Solder. This can only be bought at an electronic store like Radio Shack (hardware stores only sell 95/5 lead free solder, which won't work for EM games). Radio Shack's solder is made by Kester, and is good quality. I prefer the thinner sizes (like .037"), but that's me. "

    I'm new to fixing so appreciate any tips - Cheers!

    #1313 86 days ago

    I just bought a roll of Kester 63/37. Good stuff & easy size to work with:

    Kester 24-6337-0027 Solder Roll, Core Size 66, 63/37 Alloy, 0.031" Diameter amazon.com link »

    The "tour tools" are here: https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/nics-american-pinball-tour-aka-im-coming-to-fix-your-games/page/22#post-3878814

    (listed in the key post index at the beginning)

    #1314 85 days ago

    Great thanks! - you didn't have any soldering iron or soldering supplies listed in that list so thought I'd ask. (and thanks for link).

    #1315 85 days ago

    Just bought a Hakko FX-888D. http://www.hakko.com/english/products/hakko_fx888d.html

    Less portable than a simple 40w Weller plug-in stick, but heats up quickly and to a higher temperature too (good for those lamp sockets). Also good for board work.

    #1316 85 days ago

    Great thanks. In other news, on another thread we are debating best (dry) Gottlieb decagon score reel cleaning method (so we don't wash off numbers) and we are currently between A. White Bread(!) and B. Magic Eraser. Your thoughts?

    #1317 85 days ago

    Haven't found a dry technique I like. I use dish soap to get my fingers sudsy and (very) gently glide them across the surface under a stream of warm water to remove the surface dirt. Then let dry and follow up with a windex-wettened q-tip over the white areas.

    Some (usually Gottlieb) numbers can turn into powder under the sink. It doesn’t happen often, but it all depends upon how much sun and heat the reels were exposed to.

    I just take my chances and hope for the best.

    #1318 85 days ago

    60/40 lead rosin core is still available on eBay, $18 for a 1 pound roll. Just bought one, generic (no markings at all) but works fine and doesn't have any odd smell.

    Consider the Weller solder irons which include LEDs shining on where you work. Greatest invention since the battery powered Dremel. . I think even harbor freight stocks them.

    #1319 85 days ago

    Hi Nico, thanks for the thread I have really enjoyed your enthusiasm, humor and fantastic positive messages during your journey. LOL you make it seem so easy! I'm still baffled as to the cause for my Top Score's not completing the start upseqence, it's not kicking the ball out at game start but your directions all are pointing to the AX relay so I an going to try biasing the switches as you describe and introduce the contacts to my new '443' brush

    For the Canadians out there that are looking for some dremel 443's brushes, if you order online from Home Hardware you can get them delivered for free to your local store. Part # 1280581 with taxes $12.42 for a two pack

    20170905_111026 (resized).jpg

    #1320 85 days ago

    Thanks willbeEM! Very difficult to find 443's on amazon.ca so this is very helpful indeed

    #1321 85 days ago

    I do apologize for causing a temporary spike in Dremel 443 prices. At one point they were almost $10/pair at Amazon... now back to the $5 range.

    sand3 (resized).jpg

    Pinball Jedi, beware... sand people are notoriously grumpy. If they have attacked your game like thus...

    sand1 (resized).JPG

    Fear not! Your dremelsaber may be able to recover the gleaming contacts...

    sand2 (resized).JPG

    ...and restore equilibrium to the Pinball Force.

    #1322 83 days ago
    Quoted from spinal:

    Hi Nic,
    Searched your entire tour and can't find what solder you recommend for EM's- also couldn't find mention of your soldering tools/supplies in your end-of-tour tools list. I only have Gottlieb 70's wedgeheads and saw that http://www.pinrepair.com/em/index1.htm#tools states:
    "Rosin Core 60/40 Solder. This can only be bought at an electronic store like Radio Shack (hardware stores only sell 95/5 lead free solder, which won't work for EM games). Radio Shack's solder is made by Kester, and is good quality. I prefer the thinner sizes (like .037"), but that's me. "
    I'm new to fixing so appreciate any tips - Cheers!

    I was hoping there might be some good, lead-free solder option for game fixes, but it looks like you are shooting down that notion (?)

    #1323 82 days ago
    Quoted from Heretic_9:

    I was hoping there might be some good, lead-free solder option for game fixes, but it looks like you are shooting down that notion (?)

    I don't like lead-free solder for EM duty. Much prefer the high-quality Kester eutetic 63/37 stuff. Flows beautifully and makes nice shiny joints.

    Cheaper 60/40 solder works great too... just isn't quite as nice but we're splitting hairs here.

    Always wash your hands after working with it and use a fume extractor or fan (blowing away not towards the work surface). Good to go.

    #1324 82 days ago

    Nic, so many people say they use exactly 91% isopropyl alchohol but I have 99.9%. Why 91 and I assume both are good right? (Thanks)

    #1325 82 days ago

    Both are good. 91% is cheaper and more widely available (and a bit less volatile).

    #1326 82 days ago

    Chicago visit #4 -> Neo Skywalker (@CaptainNeo) in Burlington, WI

    The subject: Universe

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    After the lively Chicago class, the Pinwagon ventured northward to visit an important contributor to the hobby: Mr. Neo Skywalker, Esquire…

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    …and his faithful manservant to the left whose name escapes me. A quiet fellow was he, but nonetheless impeccably dressed. Surely he had many secrets to tell but was too much of a gentleman to indulge in gossip with a traveling pinball vagabond.

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    Inside, a sassy pirate served up some vintage technology on a platter. Hopefully not a DVD of “Cutthroat Island”.

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    Natasha was eager to read my fortune, but I dared not volunteer. My pinball journey has taken me well beyond my expectations into the unexpected by now. It’s still going great, so let’s not tempt fate, OK?

    Do animatronic characters ever cry? Could’ve sworn I saw a tear.

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    Now we're getting down to business. Serious business. Neo’s full-time business. Restoring pinball playfields to the stars!

    Not many people are skilled in the art of transforming a worn pinball playfield into a glossy and functional work of art. As you can see it requires a dazzling array of paint and plenty of supplies. And TIME. Holy moly… so much time! I imagine Neo’s stereo system gets a lot of play because it is likely the only thing he hears all day before his 3am bedtime.

    Making an honest buck in this business requires a helluva lot of elbow grease. Lucky for us, Neo has extra to spare. I slipped my Skyrocket playfield into his work queue as we continued along the tour.

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    Swords of Fury isn’t a common System 11 game, but it sure is good. No one forgets the LIONMAN bonus callout shot. LIONMAN! I missed… but Neo got him of course.

    Neo told me this was the best Swords of Fury I’d ever see. He might be right. It was the best Swords of Fury I’d ever seen. Perfect original NOS backglass and a glossy playfield touched up and cleared to perfection. It played like glass and looked amazing. Not only that, the “feel” was 100% spot-on... something an obsessive rebuilder like me always notices and appreciates. Neo is obviously one as well.

    What is that on the left? Alien Poker?!?

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    I confess I don’t have as much love for older solid-state Williams games and wasn’t too excited to press Alien Poker’s start button. Williams didn’t get their commercial quality act together until they launched Space Shuttle in 1984. Prior to that, everything (with a few exceptions) was this rather shitty looking dragon fantasy/space ship doodles/7th-grade teenage boy artwork and Alien Poker IS ONE OF THESE.

    What the heck was going on at Williams during this time? Pot brownies every day in the rec room? Bally had fantastic commercial-quality artwork rolling out years prior… Wizard!, Captain Fantastic, Voltan, Harlem Globetrotters, Nitro Ground Shaker, Silverball Mania, et cetera. What the heck? Did nobody care?

    Ah… but Neo had another surprise for me: Aside from being the best Alien Poker I’d ever seen (noticing a trend here), it played fantastically well. Tweaked to the last switch blade. And you know what? I get it. The gameplay is legit. Good flow, good shots, and has that "simple to understand, hard to master" thing in spades.

    OK Alien Poker, you win, even though it took a “Neo game” to get me sold!

    What is that on the left? Ninja Gun?!?

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    Be still, my heart… a real live Kasco Ninja Gun! My favorite EM shooter from the old days.

    Why is it so cool? Theme & gameplay… it’s all there.

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    Ninjas scale the battlements as the tempo steadily increases, then run through the door as orange figures hover at various distances in an attempt to distract you. Followed by ghostly projections of rope-climbing and cartwheeling figures throughout the action.

    All the while, the interior scene slowly changes from day to night. Just super cool.

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    Work time arrives for Zaccaria’s (REE-uh, not RYE-uh) Universe. Neo is quite the collector of Zac’s… but we’ll get into that in a minute.

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    Oooch. Burned stepper traces. That isn’t going to conduct any electricity.

    We fluxed the damage and flowed a river of solder over it, then carefully polished it smooth with the Dremel flapwheel. Followed by the Magic Brush for smoothing.

    Is there a better method (or product) for repairing damaged pinball traces? Like a thin-copper sheet which can be overlaid and applied? Soldering works and should hold up well, but just wondering what else could be done. It always pays to keep one’s mind open to new techniques regardless of prior experience.

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    The rivet from this wiper had fallen out. Yikes! We scrounged and found a machine screw small enough to fit, but without a corresponding nut.

    13 (resized).JPG

    Neo improvised a solution with a small threaded bar of the correct size. Tight is tight and the clearance was good... so in it goes!

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    Sometimes, looks can be deceiving. From a casual glance, this stepper looks OK doesn’t it?

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    Not quite! If the metal doesn’t touch, the switch doesn’t switch.

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    On the backside, another issue: The gear wasn’t ratcheting properly. A bit of investigation revealed a badly worn armature.

    You may encounter this type of wear whenever a game’s voltage is high-tapped for too many years. More voltage means everything wears out that much faster.

    Better to fix what needs fixing, tune what needs tuning, clean what needs cleaning, and leave the voltage at the default level.

    17 (resized).JPG

    Wow... the armature was about to shear off!

    18 (resized).JPG

    Fortunately, Neo had a minty replacement on hand. Worked like a charm.

    19 (resized).JPG

    Are you cleaning those jones connectors? The Magic Brush is one way to get in there and clean ‘em up. Scotch brite pads work too.

    20 (resized).JPG

    Poor Zaccaria. The wheels were really coming off the wagon by the time New Stars Phoenix was released. What is this theme about?

    Casino bowling? Weird.

    21 (resized).JPG

    This is a very rare game. The last, in fact, that Zaccaria ever made. It has unique score displays, four flippers, and is the only Zaccaria with multiball. You’ll also notice the artwork isn’t quite up to Zaccaria’s usual standard, to put it kindly.

    Neo can fill us in with more details but I believe the art department was all but nonexistent and the game barely made it to market as-is.

    22 (resized).jpg

    What have we here? Zankor! Another Zaccaria rarity and lots of fun. In particular, THE MUSIC IS WONDERFUL AND HILARIOUS. No other game ever out-Zankored Zankor in this regard.

    How to describe it? Hmmmm… let’s see. Imagine playing Super Mario Bros. but instead of castles it had 70’s disco-era casinos surrounded by a bongo-laden jungle.

    Perhaps better to give it a listen yourself…

    » YouTube video

    23 (resized).jpg

    Wow… another rare Zaccaria: Spooky! I didn’t play this one, but in hindsight, I should have. Neo has a YouTube video but it appears to have been shot with analog video. Quality isn’t so hot.

    I’ll film it with 60fps video on the return trip.

    24 (resized).jpg

    Lastly, we leave with the obscure IO Moon… a shameless knock-off of 2001. The huge monolith on the backglass takes the cake, doesn’t it? Pretty hard to defend that in a copyright lawsuit.

    When playing IO Moon, you had better like Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra an awful lot. An awful, awful lot. It restarts at the beginning of each ball.

    Each.

    Ball.

    BEEEEEEEEP. BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP. BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP.

    BEEP BEEP!

    Haha it’s actually a pretty good game and the corniness tends to grow on you. I think we need another video of this as well. Expect a pair of 60fps videos upon the return to Neo’s place when Skyrocket is finished.

    In the meantime, if you need a playfield refinished and fancy Zaccaria’s rarer offerings, you know where to go. Mr. Skywalker is a stalwart defender of the Pinball Force… and it is with him.

    Next stop -> Encore trip to Bob Mlsna’s pinball farm in Rockford, IL

    #1327 82 days ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    The wheels were really coming off the wagon by the time New Stars Phoenix was released.

    One of her legs came off as well.

    #1328 82 days ago

    Wow that spinner music. I am totally going to remix that into an actual song and add it to a future TNA update. Don't tell anyone though.

    #1329 80 days ago

    A little zaccaria disclosure. Zaccaria was owned by 3 brothers. One of the brothers died in the mid 80's. He was the one that was responsible for the art. Hence why you see a big change in the art around the last games to come out.

    In the case of New Stars Phoenix/stars phoenix. Stars phoenix came out first With more traditional art, yellow ramps, and plastics with art on them. Conventional displays. couple months later, they must have decided to use up the parts they had sitting around. Changed the displays to LED's style displays, added the word NEW to the backglass. and did a piss poor slop together art package on the playfield, with no art on the plastics. Very little went into tweeking the physics of the playfield either. Nothing flows smooth and shots are just a little off. If they would have spent a week or more just on physics, it could have been 300% better playing. Good idea, just needed some tweeking. I spent hours upon hours tweeking this game to get it to play as good as it does, but it's still the shittest playing zac i've ever encountered.

    the 2 brothers were still making zaccaria, but also started a new company called technoplay. Same shit, but more involved games. but technoplay didn't last long and was sold as Mr.game. Which just was a shitfest of crappy cabinet design and uneventful games.

    #1330 80 days ago

    It's hard to keep lightning in the bottle once captured, but without a doubt the Zaccaria star shined very brightly during their time. *sniff*

    #1331 80 days ago

    little unknown tidbit. Zaccaria was the 3rd biggest manufacturer of pinball in the early 80's.

    #1332 79 days ago

    Nic, from your experience, what is your view on the tension between these two approaches to fixing a non-working machine?:

    A. Fix the minimum and don't touch the rest (Top-down approach) For example:

    https://havepinwilltravel.wordpress.com/intro-to-em-pinball-machines-and-their-schematics/

    "Don’t clean switches willy nilly, because you will create more problems. And the only thing worse than a problem is multiple problems, which can make troubleshooting VERY difficult."

    B. Methodically test/rebuild every component (bottom-up approach)

    I can see benefits to either approach depending on the situation. For example, if only one switch is broken, then might be best to get fully working before rebuilding components (then if problem is introduced will likely be last thing touched). On the other hand if there are many components not working it might take less time to go through them all in detail than it would to try to diagnose a very complex issue caused by interaction of many factors. Your thoughts? (Thanks)

    #1333 79 days ago

    I'll let Nic answer your question, but I will say he told me he spends 40 hours going over games he gets.

    #1334 79 days ago
    Quoted from Backyardace:

    I'll let Nic answer your question, but I will say he told me he spends 40 hours going over games he gets.

    I think I spend 40 hours on the minimalist approach

    #1335 79 days ago
    Quoted from spinal:

    (paraphrased) Nic, from your experience, what is your view on these two approaches to fixing a non-working machine?

    A. Fix the minimum
    B. Rebuild everything

    Ah, the eternal question! The answer? "It depends"

    For a newbie who has no idea what a relay is supposed to do, or a stepper, or the score motor, or how any of it works whatsoever... definitely "A". Take photos, ask questions online, proceed one baby step at a time, and leave everything else alone.

    ("A" is also preferable when hiring on-site techs when time is at a premium and billed by the hour!)

    For everyone else, "B". Rebuild it all.

    Almost none of these machines have been maintained properly. They've been limping along from one haphazard fix to the next over the past several decades. The entire apparatus is kinda like one huge series circuit. The dirt... the problems... they add up. Time to reset the odometer with a full rebuild.

    Granted, a minimum time and knowledge commitment is required to do a full rebuild. It isn't difficult, but it does require deliberate, ongoing effort to learn how everything is supposed to work.

    Repetition is the key. If you can dedicate yourself to rebuild just one relay a day... you'll soon move beyond the elementary knowledge of how it "does work" into the realm of how it "should work". At which point you'll be thinking like a pinball machine.

    Quoted from Backyardace:

    I'll let Nic answer your question, but I will say he told me he spends 40 hours going over games he gets.

    40-50 hours is a rough estimate, minimum, not including playfield cleaning/plastic polishing/rust removal/etc. A true full OCD-restoration of a machine can go 100-200 hours... sometimes more. But hours well spent nonetheless!

    #1336 79 days ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    Almost none of these machines have been maintained properly. They've been limping along from one haphazard fix to the next over the past several decades. The entire apparatus is kinda like one huge series circuit. The dirt... the problems... they add up. Time to reset the odometer with a full rebuild.

    40-50 hours is a rough estimate, minimum, not including playfield cleaning/plastic polishing/rust removal/etc. A true full OCD-restoration of a machine can go 100-200 hours... sometimes more. But hours well spent nonetheless!

    TOTALLY true. If you buy an old EM & want it to perform as it was intended, you WILL need to go thru EVERY part of it.
    Time consuming to say the least, but with small baby steps over a (long) period of time, it can be done.
    Just don't expect to recoup your labor costs when selling. These machines are labors of love to repair properly.

    #1337 78 days ago

    Hi Nic, I read through all your stepper rebuild posts and have some questions as I'm getting ready to do my first (while we wait for your rebuild vids hah).

    Q1: When you do a total stepper rebuild, sometimes I see the stepper removed from the machine and sometimes work is done while it's attached to machine. Isn't it best to completely remove (unsolder if you have to) in order to fully clean/rebuild it?

    Q2: During your travels, sometimes stepper parts were cleaned using an ultrasonic cleaner, sometimes washed and sometimes only some parts were swabbed with alcohol to clean (springs, rivets). What is your ideal, time is not an issue, method for cleaning stepper parts? If wash, what solution do you use? (Simple Green?) Do you own an ultrasonic cleaner/would you recommend one?

    (many thanks again for answering questions about your approach - invaluable to newbs like me)

    #1338 78 days ago
    Quoted from spinal:

    Hi Nic, I read through all your stepper rebuild posts and have some questions as I'm getting ready to do my first (while we wait for your rebuild vids hah).

    Q1: When you do a total stepper rebuild, sometimes I see the stepper removed from the machine and sometimes work is done while it's attached to machine. Isn't it best to completely remove (unsolder if you have to) in order to fully clean/rebuild it?

    Q2: During your travels, sometimes stepper parts were cleaned using an ultrasonic cleaner, sometimes washed and sometimes only some parts were swabbed with alcohol to clean (springs, rivets). What is your ideal, time is not an issue, method for cleaning stepper parts? If wash, what solution do you use? (Simple Green?) Do you own an ultrasonic cleaner/would you recommend one?

    A1: Yes, it is usually best to remove the mechanical bits from the machine for servicing, but no desoldering is necessary. Just remove the screws attaching the coils, switches, and wiper disc.

    A2: I don't have an ideal method for cleaning parts yet. I own an ultrasonic but haven't used it... will soon. In the meantime I've been using alcohol, qtips, and patience to get the job done.

    #1339 76 days ago

    Happy to report the dremel magic brush does a great job cleaning early williams solid state drop target boards and horseshoes.

    #1340 74 days ago

    Nic-
    Can you recommend a smaller magic brush that I can use on the female end of jones plugs?
    Need to get in there to make them shiny like the male end

    #1341 74 days ago
    Quoted from brenna98:

    Nic-
    Can you recommend a smaller magic brush that I can use on the female end of jones plugs?
    Need to get in there to make them shiny like the male end

    I don't (yet) have a satisfactory solution for this. Agreed it would be better to have one... anyone?

    #1342 74 days ago

    These might work. They are stiff steel brushes designed to clean out the hole in a pace desolder heater where the tip goes. Not cheap but perhaps someone can buy the pack and then split it?

    I have some at work. I will have to see how they fit the Jones plug hole.

    http://www.newark.com/pace/1127-0006-p5/wire-brush-3-18mm-pk5

    #1343 74 days ago

    Along those same lines? And should fit into dremel... but possibly still too large?

    https://www.walmart.com/ip/18mm-Brush-Diameter-Steel-Wire-Pipe-Tube-Cleaning-Chimney-Brushs-2pcs/159628540

    #1344 74 days ago
    Quoted from CactusJack:

    These might work. They are stiff steel brushes designed to clean out the hole in a pace desolder heater where the tip goes. Not cheap but perhaps someone can buy the pack and then split it?
    I have some at work. I will have to see how they fit the Jones plug hole.
    http://www.newark.com/pace/1127-0006-p5/wire-brush-3-18mm-pk5

    Link not working for me

    #1345 74 days ago
    Quoted from Pinzap:

    Along those same lines? And should fit into dremel... but possibly still too large?
    https://www.walmart.com/ip/18mm-Brush-Diameter-Steel-Wire-Pipe-Tube-Cleaning-Chimney-Brushs-2pcs/159628540

    Unless extreeemely fine and flexible 18mm will be way too big.

    #1346 74 days ago

    18mm is wayyy to big. you need 2 to 3 mm. Even 3 mm with the shaft might be too big.

    #1347 74 days ago
    Quoted from CaptainNeo:

    2 to 3 mm. Even 3 mm with the shaft might be too big.

    I haven't tried it on this, but a loop of stripped16-18G stranded copper wire would probably work. Twist the loose ends together to create a gripping point for the chuck. If you reverse direction from the twist it will open up the strands to provide more contact points and the copper's fairly soft.

    I've done this to clean out similar holes where I felt a drill bit would probably bore out material.

    #1348 74 days ago
    Quoted from spinal:

    Link not working for me

    Just Google the PACE part number 1127-0006. You will get a number of hits.

    #1349 74 days ago

    The museum in Banning has some of the more well-known Zacarias, but I've never seen several of the ones that Nic featured in this thread.

    #1350 74 days ago

    Found this in the gun cleaning section.
    It seems to work ok for cleaning the female jones plugs, but you have to start the dremel inside the hole or it will flap around.

    IMG_2700 (resized).JPG

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