(Topic ID: 179489)

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

By NicoVolta

4 years ago


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    #401 4 years ago

    Visit #10 – Jeff Green (wolftownjeff) in Madison, VA (part 1 of 2)

    The subjects: Captain Fantastic, Old Chicago, Space Mission

    Almost one month and 4000 miles in, I am beginning to feel the demands of living a nomadic lifestyle in my bones. Every day I wake up in a new place with new roads leading me to new faces and challenges. Nothing is consistent. And yet, despite the physical and mental toll, my enthusiasm remains as bright as ever.

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    The lush backroads of Virginia led me through vast green pastures dotted with grain silos, faded red barns, and distant foothills brushed with wisps of grey precipitation. Further still, the road narrowed and darkened with the shadows of trees as pavement became gravel. Where was I being led? The trail was veering quite a bit off the beaten path... up, down, sideways, and through.

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    Finally, a gate… guarded by a fierce grotesque flanked by magenta blooms.

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    I found another guarding the house within the expansive acreage.

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    Nearby, an inviting bench beckoned me to gaze across the adjoining lake, but not before I was greeted by Zoticus and Gato… two rescued German Shepherds who seemed acutely aware of how good they had it here.

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    A third guardian was overlooking the bench near the dock.

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    Jeff and I began with dinner at a lovely (and well-respected) local restaurant, The Bavarian Chef. It was handsomely appointed with wood construction floor to ceiling, large chandeliers, and a generous bar with some of my favorite German lagers on tap. Our server, Tom, is an artist, painter, and sculptor/blacksmith responsible for several local sculptures and commercial ironworks. He was intrigued by the pinball tour and described it as a “once in a lifetime” type of journey, so we extended an invitation to view Jeff’s collection. Tom’s art can be found here: www.tomasjfernandezartist.com

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    Back at the house, Bally’s Fireball demon (noticing a theme here?) led us beyond a wall of classic bagatelle games into the EM room. The first of which was an Old Chicago with custom “mobster edition” stencil work with black accents to emphasize the machine gun and fenders. A custom topper (girl in martini glass) sat atop a nearby bar. Old Chicago is one of my very favorite games (I own one myself) which truly has it all… beautiful art, gameplay, speed, and a fun, well-balanced rule set.

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    Underneath, Old Chicago was blowing fuses, but only after the bridge rectifier; which indicated a problem in the DC portion of the circuit. The rectifier tested OK, so we examined the DC components next. A few diodes were missing across some of the coils, but this is not necessarily a problem. As long as the rectifier is beefy enough to withstand the backlash of current, the game should operate without blowing a fuse. Still... these should be replaced.

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    Ohming out the resistances on the DC coils (and an obvious burnt wrapper) revealed the issue: The middle coil was shorted out. All DC coils were measuring 17 ohms except Mr. Crispy Coil... a paltry 3 ohms in that case. Low enough to short out the circuit after a few minutes of play.

    Note: Many AC-powered games use pop bumper coils at or under 3 ohms... but in this case 3 ohms was drawing too much current for the DC circuit.

    (part 2 to be continued…)

    #402 4 years ago

    Visit #10 – Jeff Green (wolftownjeff) in Madison, VA (part 2 of 2)

    The subjects: Captain Fantastic, Old Chicago, Space Mission

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    Breakfast at day two, and what a view! I couldn’t recall having a better bowl of Cheerios in my life. It was a real treat to gaze across the grass at a 19th-century farmhouse while Gato played near three piles of neatly stacked chopped wood. The experience not only recharged my batteries but dug deep into my DNA. A reminder that I had spent too many years chasing the almighty dollar in the absence of nature… and vowed to right that balance going forward.

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    My attention shifted to Jeff. He has been living on this 65-acre slice of Virginia soil since 1989, slowly transforming the landscape with dogwood trees and tending to the land. He is a guy who laughs loud, takes big bites, wears comfortable plaid shirts with a few holes at the elbows, and tells it like it is… but never in an overbearing way.

    Most significantly, as a pinball hobbyist, Jeff is the embodiment of what unites us: A true independent spirit. For what else than sheer willpower and determination wrestles these giant heavy boxes into a home, dives into perplexing labyrinths of wires and mechanical parts, and does it all for the sake of making a little ball fly around on a board? Especially in a remote pastoral setting such as this!

    Jeff told me his refrigerator was “full of trees” and were planted just before I arrived. 175 dogwood seedlings to be exact. I thus rest my case. Pinball people are a force to be reckoned with!

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    On to the game which continues to shadow me across the country: Captain Fantastic. The flipper shoes were chewed up and thus “memorized” themselves to poor angles. It was a perfect opportunity to demonstrate the sanding flapwheel. These can be bought from China on eBay for nearly nothing… around $6 for a bag of 24. You can also specify the grit (I use 120 as a good all-purpose choice).

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    A little sanding around the circumference, and the shaft was smooth and reusable again.

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    Next, it was time to disassemble a troublesome score reel and teach the "gold standard rebuild". The circuit board was removed and polished with Mother’s Aluminum Mag Polish, and the plunger “skis” were smoothed with the wire cone attachment.

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    Jeff serviced the score relays while I supervised. Verdict? A+ job the first time.

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    We examined the player up unit. It is the stepper which handles various functions such as lighting the player’s “UP” light when it is their turn. As well as directing the commands from the score relays to that player’s score reels. Remember… it is the score relays which control the score reels... they do not spin on their own.

    The contacts on the spider were cleaned and polished with The Magic Brush using the prescribed method with alcohol… “swab, polish, swab”. Then the circuit board was buffed to a mirror shine with Mother’s Mag Polish.

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    Note how the second photo w/flash reveals scratches from a prior sanding. Please do not sand circuit boards. Mother’s polish is all you need to clean and buff them. For stepper rivets and switch contacts, same thing: Do not sand them. Use The Magic Brush instead… swab, polish, swab!

    (FYI – in rare cases, some switch contacts and rivets can be badly pitted and/or have sharp edges – in those cases gently sand to smooth… but still follow up with The Magic Brush to "swab, polish, swab")

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    The 300-point rollovers are supposed to award 300 points and advance the bonus ladder. In this case they were only advancing the ladder.

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    A switch at the bottom of the bonus stepper was the culprit. It is supposed to close (and send a 100-point click to the 100-point score relay) every time the armature advances… but the gap was a smidge too wide. I adjusted it to close earlier in the stroke and all was well.

    The switch contacts then received the swab, polish, swab treatment.

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    The Magic Brush was then dispatched for “tip solder” duty. Jeff and I worked through the entire playfield to renew all of the lamp sockets… and boy did it make a difference. Time consuming, yes, but always worthwhile.

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    This staple puller is great for removing playfield staples. Use it when doing playfield swaps and/or retrofitting ground braid.

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    *knock knock*! Hey hey... look who showed up! Tom’s curiosity apparently got the better of him. He was impressed with Jeff’s collection and the two of them reminisced about bygone local businesses. Turns out both of them grew up in the same area and had similar stories to share.

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    Did I mention Jeff’s games were nice? Yes indeed… make that very nice! Many of them had cleared playfields, painted cabs, perfect backglasses, polished metals, and a sheet of glare-repelling Invisiglass as well. The upgrades continued with Captain Fantastic and Old Chicago receiving the stealth LED treatment (the others are destined to follow). Note Wayne Neyens signature on the Target Alpha apron.

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    The EM Home Challenge continues with another win for yours truly. After rebuilding one of the steppers we played Jeff’s game of choice: Space Mission. The tally is now 7-1. Beware: I may need to borrow your digits as pictured.

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    I generally try to avoid sugar whenever possible, but fine dark chocolate is my one guaranteed weakness. I enjoyed a victory piece from Gearhart’s, a local chocolatier.

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    My visit with Jeff was the perfect game-changer. It reset the tempo of the entire tour and provided us with ample time to impart the knowledge of EM-refurbishment lore. Jeff will soon have an elite fleet of EM’s at his disposal once the "full rebuild" is done. Take note... next time he hosts a tournament, be sure to make an appearance and see these beauties in person!

    Next stop -> Woodbridge, VA

    #403 4 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    Note Wayne Neyens signature on the Target Alpha apron. One of the last he did before leaving us.

    When did Wayne Neyens pass? I'm very sorry to say I missed the news, if he has.

    #404 4 years ago

    Or perhaps you meant before he retired.

    #405 4 years ago

    Nice tip on the dremel mini flap wheels. I'm going to order some up. I swear that I use my dremel almost every day.

    #406 4 years ago
    Quoted from bingopodcast:

    When did Wayne Neyens pass? I'm very sorry to say I missed the news, if he has.

    Oh my gosh... my mistake. I was up late reading about Norm Clark at the same time and got mixed up. Edited and fixed!

    (beet-red embarrassment at the moment)

    #407 4 years ago

    I'm not saying you did it, but Jeff is still looking for his missing money.

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    #408 4 years ago

    Who's hosting Nic in MI? If I wasn't working that day I would love to come watch/help and I have no problem pitching in a few bucks to bring your cost down.

    #409 4 years ago
    Quoted from Puffdanny:

    Who's hosting Nic in MI?

    Seems like Ryan Claytor mentioned a stop at his place.
    There are two of us over here that Nic is scheduled to see, but we're a bit of a drive from you.

    #410 4 years ago

    I am really looking forward to the Nic's European Pinball Tour!

    #411 4 years ago
    Quoted from Axl:

    I am really looking forward to the Nic's European Pinball Tour!

    I like your thinking.

    #412 4 years ago
    Quoted from Axl:

    I am really looking forward to the Nic's European Pinball Tour!

    ...you are a good guesser, Axl. Was it the beret?

    #413 4 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    Was it the beret?

    It was indeed the beret, and that fact that i need help with my EMs.

    #414 4 years ago
    Quoted from RCA1:

    Seems like Ryan Claytor mentioned a stop at his place.
    There are two of us over here that Nic is scheduled to see, but we're a bit of a drive from you.

    Driving isn't a problem,I do at least 30,000 miles a year as it is what's a couple hundred more?

    #415 4 years ago
    Quoted from Axl:

    I am really looking forward to the Nic's European Pinball Tour!

    Time for a new car but you can't fit many parts in one of these.

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    #416 4 years ago

    Hey folks... I've been getting a lot of questions about "The Magic Brush" after featuring it in the pinball tour. It is the Dremel 443 carbon steel brush attachment which can be ordered here: amazon.com link »

    (for extra bonus powerup select Dallas Makerspace to help the space with a free donation)

    Home Depot & Lowes never seem to have the 443 in stock. Use it to polish all of the contacts and rivets in your EM's, top to bottom.

    Swab (with alcohol), polish, swab... repeat...

    You will need to disassemble some mechs and relays along the way. Namely, Gottlieb relays which are tight. I will cover my full relay process in an upcoming episode. Stay tuned.

    I'm not the first person to discover the 443... but I did find it independently and have battle-tested it to reach my conclusions over the past three years. It is far better than the "pinwheel" attachment which flings wires everywhere and is vertically-challenged.

    #417 4 years ago

    The Magic Brush is a hand-held time machine...

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    Once you do "the second swab" and see those gleaming contacts, you'll be hooked. Guaranteed.

    #418 4 years ago

    Visit #11 – Dave Nachman in Woodbridge, VA

    The subject: Cabaret

    Returning to the city was a jarring experience. The gas station signs, stoplights, and fast cars swerved into my consciousness with an immediate rudeness. “Ah yes, this reminds me of home”, I thought… not feeling the slightest bit eager to return except to visit my awesome friends and family.

    The Pinball Tour isn’t merely about pinball. It is also about the people who drive this hobby and the places in which they live… the latter of which is the ulterior motive in play. You see, I’m also shopping for a new city. A place with room for 20 EM’s and a restless creative spirit which inhabits them.

    And so, the pinball must roll on… and the Pinwagon eventually reached Dave’s doorstep.

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    Dave’s Arcave (seriously, this basement-thing is off the hook around here) is a rockin’ enclave. If you zoom in on the CD selection in his jukebox, you’ll understand why that should be taken literally… and loudly!

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    Dave’s row of pins includes a special treat: Slash’s own Tales From The Crypt machine. That’s right folks, it was the very first one off the assembly line and sits appropriately next to a Guns N’ Roses machine. How’s that for a legit rock trophy? Way cool! Also note the presence of no less than three gun-themed ball launchers. Down here, it’s rock, lock, and load!

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    Cabaret was a free “pick up or it’s going in the dumpster” find… Dave’s first EM. The backbox was already detached and appeared to be in decent shape, so we began with score reel class. Cleaning, adjusting, and then polishing with the Magic Brush.

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    Dave’s pal Ed got in on the action next: A full stepper disassembly and rebuild. Ed contributed his angular socket driver which made it easy to reach the stop nuts on the bracket.

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    However, I was beginning to notice a few oddities. The bell clapper on the match unit was missing. In its place was a custom version made from twisted wire and a plastic wire nut. It sort of/sort of didn’t work. Most of the time it blocked movement of the arm completely.

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    Another issue on the match unit was a broken coil stop bracket. Hmmmm. It was replaceable and the game would work without it, but not an encouraging sign of things to come.

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    Cabaret was assembled and given a whirl. All of the pops had that terrible junky parts-made-of-felt feeling and most of the features didn’t work. The exterior of the cabinet had been painted black.

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    The backglass had a few touchups but overall looked pretty good.

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    The playfield initially looked pretty good too... until a closer inspection revealed ground-in dirt, large areas of caked-on craft paint, and three missing plastics which had been replaced with translucent red acrylic.

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    Uh oh. Under the hood wasn’t pretty. The mechs were in substantially worse condition than the backbox, with ugly and incomplete hacked wiring to the center pop-up post.

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    All five of the pop “keyhole” brackets and plungers were severely worn.

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    The right flipper coil had jumped out of its bracket and was barely hanging on. The retaining bracket was stripped out. The left flipper bracket was about to fall out of the playfield.

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    Ugh. SS-or-not, it was time for a detour. Dave’s Roy Clark cocktail pin was blowing fuses. We stepped through the diagnostics and everything looked OK except the high-power coil portion of the circuit.

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    We checked the fuse ratings and disconnected the MPU to perform a few tests, but couldn’t locate the cause of the short. Ed plugged in an automotive circuit fault finder, but it didn’t find our culprit. I deduced it was most likely a transistor on the MPU or a diode since none of the coils were shorting an ohm test. Alas, we lacked the time to test the other components.

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    Ultimately, a new first-time milestone was established: Bail out! I only had one day to spend here and concluded that Cabaret had far too many issues for a newbie to iron out. Aside from the nice backglass it was in poor condition, needed a cabinet repaint, and isn’t even a very good game! The playfield has nothing to shoot for, save a center kickout, with no other features except a rotating color wheel which is largely a novelty. And it had no personal value to Dave in terms of its theme or history, either.

    Dave mentioned he was told Cabaret could be saved by spending $6000 to have it restored. At which point I gave him the honest truth… “let this one go, mon… let it go.”

    Likeliest future for Cabaret: Hanging as a decorative lightbox in a frame, with the rest parted out.

    Alas, it happens. Not all make the cut.

    Next stop -> Germantown, MD

    #419 4 years ago

    You are inching closer to Allentown!

    #420 4 years ago
    Quoted from djreddog:

    You are inching closer to Allentown!

    Nic, keep an eye out for a Fan-Tas-Tic glass for a local Williams EM at Allentown, one is needed here in Dallas

    #421 4 years ago

    Just picked up on this, don't where you are in your tour.
    I have about 120 machines, about half of them EM's.
    Be glad to accomidate your expenses. Starting a museum.
    Great town to visit here, 2nd oldest family owned brewry in America.
    You might never want to leave

    #422 4 years ago

    Visit #12 – George Arfken (JustageFehler) in Germantown, MD

    The subjects: Magic Circle, 4 Roses

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    Thrusters… engage! A new day, a new city.

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    I opted to avoid Washington DC traffic and approach Germantown from the west. Before leaving, Dave advised me to take a shortcut via White’s Ferry… a small river ferry still in operation since the early 1800’s. I followed his suggestion to a beautiful tree-lined boulevard which led me to the boatman’s pier. I rolled down my window, handed him five dollars, and the Pinwagon floated across the Potomac just as it might have done in the early 1800’s. All of which was very cool.

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    I was greeted by George’s dog, El Tigre, who was guarding the pins downstairs. Luckily he was a friendly pooch because I’d hate to have a disagreement with him. Check out those teef! Tigre apparently has a habit of “destroying all of his toys rapidly” except for rubber ducks. Which are nevertheless destroyed “somewhat less quickly”. Yeesh! Nice boy, nice boy.

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    George has a nice diverse collection: Classic 60’s Ballys, Williams, Gottliebs, and some solid-states too.

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    Ever seen those boring cards on the apron of a pinball machine? They're about as fun to read as laundry machine instructions, right? Not so at George's place. His cards are fun and informative and look original too. I think I'm going to follow his lead and do this myself.

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    We began the day with relay class using Magic Circle as our lab material. Relays are the basis of all EM understanding. If you can remove, clean, tension, bias, polish, gap, and verify solder joints on one relay… you can do anything in EM Wonderland. Which is why I often start with relays before moving on to things like score reels and steppers.

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    Next, an appointment with the Dremel 443 “Magic Brush” to swab, polish, swab the flipper EOS switches.

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    The Magic Brush is also a wonder at polishing rivets. It takes time, but is strangely addictive. Do you remember the old days of firing up the DOS disk defragmenter? Did you stay up until 3am to watch it finish shuffling those data blocks? Yep... me too.

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    Stepper time with 4 Roses, one of Williams classic reverse-wedgeheads. George checked his phone to compare a photo with the real thing. It is always a good idea to take several photos during your first disassembly of a new part.

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    George proudly demonstrated his “tri-swab technique” for cleaning out a gear axle bushing. But we soon discovered an issue: One of the stepper latching arms was out of alignment. Its rivet had come loose and was allowing the arm to drift in a vertical direction, causing the stepper to seize up occasionally. Not good.

    Time to introduce a new tool…

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    Behold, the bench block! Also known as a jeweler’s block, it functions like a portable milled anvil. Useful for hammering out roll pins and doing small metals work on the go. I bought this one from Amazon for about $15. You might need one too. Great for replacing the roll pins on Gottlieb flipper linkages and such... just tap them out.

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    Our strategy was to hammer the rivet flat using a mini-sledge.

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    George held no hesitations... he was born ready for this moment.

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    WHACK! A few solid blows to the rivet were delivered. In the process, the force of the hammer had slightly flared the diameter of the shaft, requiring use of the sanding flapwheel to even it out again.

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    Ultimately, the stubborn rivet resisted our forceful technique and continued to allow too much vertical movement of the arm. I attached a spare e-clip around the rivet to limit its vertical travel… bingo! 4 Roses was counting up and down reliably again, without sticking.

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    It was getting late but we still had time to check and clean a few score motor switches with The Brush. By now, George was feeling a new level of confidence brimming from within. The look on his face tells the whole story… “motor, schmotor… I totally got this.”

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    4 Roses was now fixed except for a single playfield rollover button. We chased the bad connection throughout the machine, including the backside of the stepper it passed through. However, time had run out before we found the culprit... but our challenge machine was nevertheless ready for action.

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    But first - libations and Napoli-style pizza! Fellow pinballers Francis and Roy (left to right) were also present for the classes and remarked how much they enjoyed it and discovered some new techniques. Very happy to pay it forward. We gotta keep Team EM rolling strong!

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    ...as for the EM Home Challenge, it seems we have established a new trend: REVENGE OF THE REVERSE-WEDGES. George took the win on 4 Roses and flashed me a new reverse-wedge-shaped gang sign. My record is now 7-2... with two losses on reverse-wedges. I'll be eyeing the next one on the tour with caution.

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    Just to drive the point home, Dolly whipped up an impressive score to taunt me.

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    ...while their beautiful half-Bengal kitty Pallina feigned interest in order to sneak up on my dinner.

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    The visit with George, Dolly, El Tigre, and Pallina was terrific. A good deal of knowledge was conveyed and I think we will soon see something amazing happen in George's arcave. He's got tremendous energy and enthusiasm.

    Remember when I said pinball people are a force to be reckoned with? George very much fits this description. He is a wizard of pinball logistics and can stuff more games into his downstairs arcave than anyone I’ve met thus far. In fact, once upon a time, George stacked his EM’s sideways, 3-high, by himself, without a crane...

    ...which is totally nuts. But, awesome!

    Confucius say, "He who steps between George and his pinballs may soon find himself flattened".

    Next stop -> Pasadena and Pikesville, MD

    #423 4 years ago

    Keep it going Nic!! Very nice!

    As for Allentown, will you only be there on Saturday since your next stop is Pikesville?

    #424 4 years ago

    Nic is seriously doing gods work with these em's. It was a real pleasure to learn from you!

    -mike f

    #425 4 years ago

    Another fun and interesting post, Nic! Thank you for the updates.

    I do miss the old Defrag.....

    #426 4 years ago
    Quoted from djreddog:

    Keep it going Nic!! Very nice!
    As for Allentown, will you only be there on Saturday since your next stop is Pikesville?

    I'll be there both days. My thread is running two stops behind... it takes time to filter my thoughts and wring a decent story out of them. Especially while traveling, planning the future, and fixing the present. I'm so busy I can barely comprehend what I've gotten myself into... but that's what makes it such an adventure!

    Quoted from Guidotorpedo:

    Nic is seriously doing gods work with these em's. It was a real pleasure to learn from you!
    -mike f

    YW Mike... and expect me to return to check your homework and Shannon's as well. BTW, Crabtowne oysters rock.

    Quoted from AvidListener:

    Another fun and interesting post, Nic! Thank you for the updates.
    I do miss the old Defrag.....

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    #427 4 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    I'll be there both days.

    Awesome! Looking forward to meeting you!

    #428 4 years ago

    Who knew that the BF hammer is a pinball tool?

    #429 4 years ago

    So, let me get this straight:

    I meet Nic at TPF last year. But when I look forward to meeting him at my own local pinball show, Allentown, I can't find the guy. Worse yet, by the time I ask Otaku, Colson, and others where he is, I find out he's left already.

    Biggest disappointment of the show for me.

    Guess I'll catch you again at TPF '18, Nic.

    #430 4 years ago
    Quoted from beelzeboob:

    So, let me get this straight:
    I meet Nic at TPF last year. But when I look forward to meeting him at my own local pinball show, Allentown, I can't find the guy. Worse yet, by the time I ask Otaku, Colson, and others where he is, I find out he's left already.
    Biggest disappointment of the show for me.
    Guess I'll catch you again at TPF '18, Nic.

    He should be there tomorrow, too. ...so I hear.

    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    I'll be there both days.

    #431 4 years ago
    Quoted from RyanClaytor:

    He should be there tomorrow, too. ...so I hear.

    I heard differently, and even if he IS there, that'll make one of us. I'll just have to catch him in the VECTOR booth next year.

    #432 4 years ago
    Quoted from RyanClaytor:

    He should be there tomorrow, too. ...so I hear.

    I spoke to him around 7pm, he was heading out to dinner and then to his next stop. He confirmed he will not be back on Saturday as he initially stated. Nic is awesome, and the shoes were off the hook!!!

    image (resized).jpeg

    #433 4 years ago

    Alas, it is unlikely I will return tomorrow, as I really need the time to write, finish correspondence, and hopefully relax.

    Seems like I missed not only Beez but Todd Tuckey and a few others as well today. :/

    I was only there for about five hours in total... but did manage to meet djreddog and get his tourney machine issue identified (Conquest 200).

    Overall, the state of the EM's needed improvement. While there were a handful of good playing machines, far too many were in need of easy fixes such as rebuilding pops, flippers, and proper leveling. Nevertheless it was a good time & who knows... if I end up moving here I might bring my own personal fleet for a visit one day.

    #434 4 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    I should have one, but so far I've resisted because of the way they look. There is a limit as to how dorky I will allow this hobby to make me.

    Quoted from djreddog:

    ...and the shoes were off the hook!!!

    LOL. He'll wear THOSE shoes but not a headlamp.

    #435 4 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    I departed St. Pete via the scenic skyway bridge and stopped in Naples for a salmon teriyaki bento box lunch. Then drove eastward across the Everglades to Delray Beach to visit two pinball venues: Vintage Pinball and the Silverball Museum. One of which was to be a very short trip.
    I called ahead to Vintage Pinball: “Hello? The pinball? Yes, we’re open today until 4pm. I think my daughter is upstairs on the porch. She can let you in if she’s there.”
    I thought… only 4pm? On a Friday?

    IMG_0516 (resized).JPG

    Google Maps led me into a tight cluster of shops. All of which appeared to have once been part of a single sprawling large house. Only three parking spaces were available in front, all full. The sign read: Tarot cards, psychic advisor, discount cigars, pet spa, tiki-hut sandwich and smoothie shop, yoga “fusion” (?), and… vintage pinball.

    IMG_0517 (resized).JPG

    I suddenly felt a distinct sadness for pinball.

    IMG_0518 (resized).JPG

    My destination awaited beyond the smoothie hut and umbrellas. But I’d have to hurry. It was already 3pm.

    IMG_0519 (resized).JPG

    IMG_0523 (resized).JPG

    A doorbell chimed upon my entry but no one was inside. All of the pinball machines were powered off, with an array of various things around them: pinball legs, a loading dolly, cargo blankets, bongo drums, and an open bathroom stacked with pinball heads.
    I peeked around a rear doorway and called out, “Hello? Is anybody here?”
    A female voice answered from somewhere down the hall (I could barely see the edge of her face)…
    “What are you doing here? You shouldn’t be here. There are dangerous tools everywhere. Did you see the tools all over the place?”
    (I did not see any dangerous tools… but kept it friendly)
    “Hello… I’m here to check out the pinball machines. I called earlier and the owner said his daughter might be here to let me in. Are you his daughter?”
    No reply, and that was that.

    IMG_0520 (resized).JPG

    IMG_0521 (resized).JPG

    IMG_0522 (resized).JPG

    I thus found myself standing in a dead-silent room of lifeless EM’s, in an odd building, with odd people, uncertain if I was about to be towed away for parking at the clinic next door or perhaps even arrested for trespassing by "mystery hallway girl". I could have switched on a game, shrugged off the weirdness, and started flipping away. But, knowing the Silverball Museum was waiting just around the corner, I decided to snap a few photos and GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE...

    Nic, it looks like you can buy the whole darned place lock, stock, and barrel!

    "33 PINBALL MACHINES FOR SALE - $1200 (delray beach)

    GOTTLIEB, WILLIAMS, BALLY. TOTALLY RESTORED! GOTTLIEB MACHINES ARE: DERBY DAY, PALACE GUARD, BANK A BALL, SUNSET, DOMINO, FLYING CIRCUS, LANCERS, SHIPMATES, SUPER SOCCER, GIGI, RACK A BALL, THORO-BRED. WILLIAMS MACHINES ARE: PAT HAND, SWINGTIME,CASANOVA, TOLEDO, JUBILEE, STAR POOL, STRAIGHT FLUSH, OH BOY, OXO, JOLLY JOKERS, WINNER, TEACHERS PET, BIG DEAL, OLYMPIC HOCKEY,GULFSTREAM, SWINGER. BALLY MACHINES ARE: WIZARD, LOOP THE LOOP, KNOCK OUT, BIG SHOW. PHONE ONLY. I DO NOT ANSWER TEXT OR MESSAGES."

    miami.craigslist.org link

    I, too, feel sad for pinball.

    00m0m_ekuLSiM8Z4y_600x450.jpg (resized).png

    #436 4 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    Alas, it is unlikely I will return tomorrow, as I really need the time to write, finish correspondence, and hopefully relax.
    Seems like I missed not only Beez but Todd Tuckey and a few others as well today. :/
    I was only there for about five hours in total... but did manage to meet djreddog and get his tourney machine issue identified (Conquest 200).
    Overall, the state of the EM's needed improvement. While there were a handful of good playing machines, far too many were in need of easy fixes such as rebuilding pops, flippers, and proper leveling. Nevertheless it was a good time & who knows... if I end up moving here I might bring my own personal fleet for a visit one day.

    You mean I drove all the way from Indiana to give you a headlamp and you've changed your mind on coming Saturday? Oh well...

    #437 4 years ago
    Quoted from beelzeboob:

    So, let me get this straight:
    I meet Nic at TPF last year. But when I look forward to meeting him at my own local pinball show, Allentown, I can't find the guy. Worse yet, by the time I ask Otaku, Colson, and others where he is, I find out he's left already.
    Biggest disappointment of the show for me.
    Guess I'll catch you again at TPF '18, Nic.

    nic tracked me down friday afternoon. i am not the easiest to find either. i am the "THE ELUSIVE BIGFOOT"
    really glad i got the chance to meet him, a real asset to the EM group.
    also finally got the chance to catch up with Jr.
    the show did have quite a few em's much more than in past years. but like nic said most did play on the poor side.
    got to talk with quite a few em guys i don't see to often.
    the things for sale were price a little high, but that is the trend and i don't see that reversing anytime soon.

    bigfoot1 (resized).jpg

    #438 4 years ago

    BTW regarding EM's which need work and have broken plastics... Ryan is starting to crank them out. Bookmark this link for future reference:

    https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/more-repro-plastic-sets-by-ryan-claytor-at-pinball-resource

    #439 4 years ago
    Quoted from jahbarron:

    LOL. He'll wear THOSE shoes but not a headlamp.

    Mining lamps got nothin' on my Union Jack Tommy shoes, mang.

    #440 4 years ago
    Quoted from Pecos:

    "33 PINBALL MACHINES FOR SALE - $1200 (delray beach)

    Must be a typo? $36.00 for each pin. Where can I sign up, for that kind of pricing. Even $1200.00 each seems odd.

    #441 4 years ago

    They are $1200 each. They have been for sale for months. The owner thinks they are all like new because the have all had the cabinets "repainted". If they were half as nice as he thinks they are they would all be gone at this point. Even still if you are looking for a certain title, some are hard to find.

    #442 4 years ago

    Visit #13 – The Crabtowne hooligans of Pasadena and Pikesville, MD

    The subjects: Cherry Bell, Old Chicago, Target Alpha (x2), Space Mission, Card Whiz

    I’ve now spent more time in Maryland than at any other time in my life. As I continue northward through the lush greenery, I’m noticing a shift in accents and pronunciation. A smidge more of that Bwahston and Joysey thing is sneaking into the vowels… as well as a refreshing “no BS” attitude from the locals.

    People around here say what they think, and that’s that. Which can be jarring to those who expect to be humored and coddled wherever they go, but I find it a welcome change. Realness is good, even when it’s a little rough around the edges. And speaking of roughness, the scenery is anything but! No McMansions, no pretension, no insecurity… just rolling farms graced with blooms untouched by time. With every turn I hope I never reach the end of the road.

    (note: perspective may change if I ever stay throughout a full winter here!)

    1 (resized).JPG

    2 (resized).JPG

    First stop: David Delsignore in Pasadena. The welcome mat and front door sign instantly confirmed two things. First, there was absolutely no doubt this was the correct address. Second, we’d be getting along just fine.

    3 (resized).JPG

    Déjà vu! Another Cherry Bell so soon? This was David’s first EM. Like Jeff’s, it was also in great shape.

    4 (resized).JPG

    David was well-prepared with the largest printed schematic I’d ever seen. Big is good and paper is a must. Ever tried to read a schematic on a smartphone? Can be done, but ew... not fun.

    5 (resized).JPG

    Relays, relays, relays under the playfield. We took one apart and a screw fell into the bottom of the cabinet. Argh! I always recommend placing a towel over the “motherboard” to catch falling parts… and somehow never remember to do it myself.

    6 (resized).JPG

    Towel in place, we continue. A switch biscuit falls off and we think we are home free. But we don’t see it on the towel because this particular biscuit was made of white plastic… HAH! Foiled again! We spend a good 10 minutes searching before we find it resting against a white coil, camouflaged like a plastic chameleon lizard.

    7 (resized).JPG

    We examine our newly polished and gapped relay after installing the missing biscuit (note there are many plastic ones in the stack… anyone know why?). We used a scrap of paper to check the gaps. Naturally, in this house of geekery, it came from a Dr. Who Yahtzee scorecard. Were you expecting otherwise?

    8 (resized).JPG

    A score relay gets the treatment with the now-ubiquitous (and fun) Magic Brush.

    9 (resized).JPG

    We fix, we chat, and four hours is gone flat. David’s Cherry Bell is well on the way to a full rehab. But it is not quite playable yet and we have run out of time on this mini-visit. Thus, the EM Home Challenge will have to wait until after…

    10 (resized).JPG

    …Crabtowne! Equal parts seafood joint/bar, liquor store, and arcade on the outskirts of Baltimore. Lots of games to be found here! Check out the latest list: http://www.crab-towne.com/arcade-games/

    11 (resized).JPG

    It was $1 oyster special night, so I had three Bay Point and three Mighty Saltys. Should have had more! Oysters in this part of the country are the best I’ve ever had.

    12 (resized).JPG

    Mike Frasca and Shannon Schreier (in front, left to right) are the chief tech-nerds who keep this place running. We spent a few hours on Old Chicago reviewing EM fundamentals and rebuilding relays. George and Jose (uncle_jose also pictured) enjoyed ad-libbing and contributing their signature humor… indeed we had as much fun as it looks in the photo. Also note: Coil dust eternally present on my fingertips.

    13 (resized).JPG

    Day two leads me across town into an epic arcave owned by James, one of Jose’s local pals. As you will see in the photos, James (unfortunately didn’t get a photo) possesses a massive hoard under his house.

    14 (resized).JPG

    Over the years, each game was individually wheeled from the driveway, around the back, down the hill, onto the stairs, and wrestled into this subterranean passage of arcade glory.

    15 (resized).JPG

    James owns some rather uncommon arcade titles such as The Pit, Assault, Looping, a Monaco GP in cockpit trim, Major Havoc, and other impressive selections.

    16 (resized).JPG

    James is more of a buyer than a fixer. Casey (pictured) regularly assists him with the technical side of things. We examined a Target Alpha which wasn’t displaying the 1-2-3-4 player lights nor the ball count.

    17 (resized).JPG

    Gottlieb trivia time: Were you aware that the entire stepper unit and frame is electrified? Sure is! The electrical path for the light bulbs actually travels through the metal frame itself! From there it runs up the gear shaft to the triangular plate on top of the wiper disc. Finally, a small piece of flexy-wire connects it to a wiper snowshoe as it turns round. Pretty ingenious way to create an electrical connection, aye? Otherwise a wire might get tangled up as the unit rotates.

    In this case the wire was broken somewhere higher along the harness before it joined power. Alas, time ran out again, so a jumper wire was connected for temporary power (and will be Casey’s homework assignment).

    We also demoed the stealth LED technique on Space Mission. Looked nice!

    18 (resized).JPG

    I picked up a custom “six and a half pack” on the way back to Jose’s place, which sent George and me into laughing fits. The clerk, however, was only slightly amused.

    19 (resized).JPG

    A license plate in the driveway confirmed the likelihood that Google Maps steered me in the right direction.

    20 (resized).JPG

    Jose fired up the grill as we discussed the “Eras of Pinball”… early Williams, Bally, and the phenomenon of “Gottlieb guys” (more on that topic later). Pictured left to right: George, Eric, Brendan, Jose, and Shannon.

    21 (resized).JPG

    Jose’s fluffy pooch competed with the Target Alpha schematics for attention. I gave in and petted the lovable grey mop, only to discover later that he had run off with my ratcheting screwdriver pack!

    The player unit coil wasn't firing so we alligator-clipped our way through the circuit to the score motor.

    22 (resized).JPG

    The motor switches were gapped correctly. What else could it be? We disassembled the upper stack to reach “A level” and used the Magic Brush to swab, polish, swab the connection.

    FIXED. The player unit was clacking away once more. It was yet another notch in the Magic Brush’s now-dazzlingly-notched belt on this tour. Card Whiz also received a few blessings from The Brush.

    23 (resized).JPG

    It was getting late, but Jose held one more trick up his sleeve. Alexa was programmed to light up his arcave and power on all the games with the simple command, “Alexa, turn on pinball”. Like magic, we heard the cheepy-bee-beeping of Paragon and the stern robotic warning “No one escapes the Black Hole” only moments later. Which was awesome and perfectly set the stage for the EM Home Challenge on Jose’s game of choice, Jumping Jack.

    24 (resized).JPG

    It was a three-game showdown and I honorably duked it out to claim a new 8-2 record. Jose graciously lent his digits for the official tally.

    I had a lot of fun with the Crabtown posse! Everyone was super cool and Jose really knows how to throw a good party for local pals and pinballers. He recognizes life is meant to be lived and if you hadn't guessed by the wild streak of color in his hair, he truly lives the "carpe diem" philosophy to the fullest. Rock on.

    I'll be back again fellas. Need another round of oysters and pinball.

    Next stop -> Asbury, NJ

    #443 4 years ago

    Sounds like a massive amount of add-a-balls awaits you at your next Stop?

    #444 4 years ago

    It was great to meet you and chat with you at Pinfest. Watch out for that "Delta Queen" dude on your next stop. He might rap you in the head with a ratchet! Oh, that's right. He can't do that anymore because I bought his ratchet at the Pinfest flea market! You're good to go!

    #445 4 years ago
    Quoted from CactusJack:

    Sounds like a massive amount of add-a-balls awaits you at your next Stop?

    You know your regions a little too well, sir.

    #446 4 years ago

    Silverball museum in asbury park is awesome. Enjoy!

    #447 4 years ago

    If you leave Asbury without going to the Asbury Park located Silverball Museum I'm going to kill you.

    Love,
    Steven

    #448 4 years ago

    Nick, It was great meeting you at Pinfest.
    Your advise on fixing my Target Alpha was right on. Thanks!
    Good luck in your travels!

    Eric

    #449 4 years ago

    Sent you a PM Nick

    #450 4 years ago
    Quoted from ryansherwood:

    Silverball museum in asbury park is awesome. Enjoy!

    Quoted from Otaku:

    If you leave Asbury without going to the Asbury Park located Silverball Museum I'm going to kill you.
    Love,
    Steven

    I will have to take my chances! No time to visit the Silverball... but hey... that means a return trip is in order.

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