(Topic ID: 239837)

Rescuing a Whirlwind!


By Pinball_Gizzard

1 year ago



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  • Latest reply 1 year ago by Pinball_Gizzard
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#1 1 year ago

I’m not sure this can be called a “restoration” as I won’t be taking every component off the play field, rebuilding the cab, etc. but it will certainly be a refurbishment. Anyhow, on with the show!

First some history, I am new to the pinball hobby having purchased my first machine, Pinbot, about three months ago. Pinbot was very dirty and missing some parts when I got him so I spent about a month in my garage getting that game up and running. It was a great learning experience for me and I definitely got the bug after that.

My Whirlwind took me a little time to track down. I had posted on our local Facebook group that I was looking for good system 11 titles and someone had replied that they thought there was a Whirlwind down in south Texas in a warehouse. The story was it had been in a pizza parlor for years and didn’t see much play. Then it disappeared from the pizza place for years and had recently been seen in a warehouse or storage unit. I messaged the poster several times for more information but never heard back. That was back in January. Fast forward to early March and I was mentioning to my wife that once we got our 3rd pin (we had bought a JP and had a line on a STTNG) one of the pins I would still run out and grab was Whirlwind. That got me thinking about that Facebook post a couple months before that I never heard back on.

So I messaged the guy again, again no answer. At that point I decided to put on my Sherlock Holmes hat and see if I could find this elusive beast. I started calling pizza places in the town where the machine was last seen and got a number for an amusement company who might know about it during my second call. I called them and BINGO! They had the machine in their warehouse. The owner was out of town so I left a message and was told to call back in a few days.

I did get in touch with the owner and he said he had routed the machine in the 90s and 2000s in the local area. He then sold it to a customer who had it in their house for 15 years. He recently bought it back from them because it would not boot. He originally planned to fix it and have it in his house but he didn’t know much about pinball repair and had hit a wall. After hearing I had called he decided he would sell it as he had too many projects. He told me if I wanted to come get it he would sell it for $1000. I almost dropped the phone! I asked him to send pictures to me and I would come get it in a couple days.

A few days later my son and I got up at 2 AM, drove 14 hours round trip and got the machine. Here’s the machine after we pulled it out from behind a bunch of boxes:

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#2 1 year ago

Nice find Pinball_Gizzard, that's a great looking machine. (And it has the topper) Good luck with the refurbishment!

#3 1 year ago

So we got the machine home and I have been working on it for the last couple of weeks. It does have a failure message on boot and about half the gi is out. There are two burnt connectors which will be replaced and hopefully fix that problem.

As for the boot failure, so far I have pulled the battery holder off the board (was very corroded), treated the board with vinegar/distilled water/alcohol and had NVRAM installed. Still same boot failure so I am wondering if a chip has gone bad. I have a pinball repair guy coming out in two weeks to look at it as I don’t do board repairs.

Meanwhile I have been doing cosmetic stuff. First was the refurbishment of the topper. The topper was removed, fan disassembled and parts were cleaned. The base of the topper was cracked in several places so I made a gasket of sorts out of 1/8” acrylic sheet from Home Depot and epoxied that onto the base. I saw this process on another pinside post, thanks to that pinsider for the help! Once that was done the grates were painted silver and the original decals were masked off. Several coats of gloss white later I had a much better looking topper! I also painted the fan blades white. After pics of the cloud will be posted this afternoon, thought I had them on my phone but don’t.
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#4 1 year ago

On to the play field! The field itself is in pretty good shape all things considered. There is some wear at the upper pops but nothing horrible. The paint has faded a bit where there is no Mylar but again nothing I can’t live with. Maybe someday I’ll buy a shiny new play field and do a swap but for now it will get a good cleaning, new plastics and LEDs.

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#5 1 year ago

By the way, if you didn’t know, the way to get to the upper ramp bolts is to take the play field off of the pivots and let the pivot bolts rest on the wood behind the pivots and pull it forward from there. I used a small piece of wood to prop it up onto the lock bar receiver so it doesn’t sit on any components.

Also during disassembly I discovered my right side scoop was broken. This will be welded back together.

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#6 1 year ago

Able to get the scoop tack welded back together over my lunch hour. Not sure if I will need to grind down the weld much, will see how it fits first. I would like to leave it if possible for added strength.

Question, is there any benefit to putting in another weld on the other side? I noticed it’s just the form of the steel that is holding it on that side so all the stress of ball strikes is on that one tab that was welded. Not sure if it’s a good idea or not.

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#7 1 year ago

As promised, here is the finished topper:

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#8 1 year ago

Last night was spent cleaning and reinstalling the repaired scoops and working on replacing the plastics on the right side. The right habitrail was also removed, cleaned and polished. Parts are in the tumbler, should be ready to reassemble tonight and then the topside will be done!

#9 1 year ago
Quoted from Pinball_Gizzard:

Able to get the scoop tack welded back together over my lunch hour. Not sure if I will need to grind down the weld much, will see how it fits first. I would like to leave it if possible for added strength.
Question, is there any benefit to putting in another weld on the other side? I noticed it’s just the form of the steel that is holding it on that side so all the stress of ball strikes is on that one tab that was welded. Not sure if it’s a good idea or not.
[quoted image]

Nice work. If you still have it out, it can't hurt to tack that too. Preferably in an area not seen while installed or played.

#10 1 year ago

I did have two more welds put in for added strength so hopefully it won’t break again.

#11 1 year ago

Here’s the current state of the project: all plastics replaced, topside is done. I have to mount the diverter onto the ramp and figure out where some small cloud plastics go but otherwise major work is done on the topside. It’s looking really nice, maybe one day I will do a playfield swap but I think it’s definitely going to be in the “nice players condition” category. Still have to install LEDs and new flashers on the backside of the playfield. After that I’m pretty much at a standstill for a couple weeks till my pinball repair guy comes out to see why it won’t boot. I’m going to wait until work is done before the final Novus 2 and wax of the main playfield.

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#12 1 year ago

Whirlwind is worth the work,it’s what started my addiction

#13 1 year ago
Quoted from romulusx:

Whirlwind is worth the work,it’s what started my addiction

I want to play it so bad!!! LOL

#14 1 year ago

Great work so, far....

Patience.... it will make that first game that much sweeter.

Dave

#16 1 year ago

Why does this kind of thing never happen to me? Oh well awesome score OP. VGame looks to be in damn good shape. If your tech can't figure out your board issue with the alkaline damage get ahold of chris hibler he is an awesome board repairman. Looking forward to seeing your progress on this one.

#18 1 year ago

Are you still working on it...or are you stopped and waiting on Evan?

#19 1 year ago

No updates yet. I’ve been doing small tasks like Novus 2 and wax on the main playfield, polishing a few things, etc. The problem is I don’t have an idea of what really works or doesn’t work on the game since it won’t boot yet.

I’ll be cleaning the cab artwork and probably replacing all the coil sleeves this week.

A little over a week from now is the moment of truth!!

#20 1 year ago

I am wondering if your board is booting in the first place. Normally sys11 boards will give you some sort of error code presenting itself via the diagnostic led.
Hope this helps you narrowing down the issue.

System 11a, 11b, 11c Diagnostic Flashes.
These games do not have a 7 segment display. Instead there is a LED which indicates the memory chip test being preformed. To start the memory chip test, turn the game on or press the bottom CPU diagnostic switch button SW2 on the left side of the CPU board. Quickly count the CPU board LED flashes of the middle (diagnostic) LED, and compare them to the follow chart.

Flash

Display Message

Explanation

1 U25 RAM Failure U25 RAM could not be used. No other tests are performed; the game is locked here until the problem is fixed.
2 Memory Protect Failure This message means: (A) the coin door may be shut; (B) the Memory Protect switch may be stuck in the ON position; (C) the Memory Protect logic is protecting the audit memory; (D) a U25 RAM failure is occurring. Note this test assumes the coin door is OPEN since this test is initiated ONLY by pressing the CPU diagnostic switch (SW2).
3 U51 PIA Failure 6821 PIA at U51 has failed. *
4 U38 PIA Failure 6821 PIA at U38 has failed. *
5 U41 PIA Failure 6821 PIA at U41 has failed. *
6 U42 PIA Failure 6821 PIA at U42 has failed. *
7 U54 PIA Failure 6821 PIA at U54 has failed. *
8 U10 PIA Failure 6821 PIA at U10 has failed. *
9 IRQ Failure IRQ has malfunctioned. It may be missing or too slow or too fast.
10 U27 ROM Failure The ROM (or EPROM) at U27 did not pass its internal checksum. This could be a ROM failure, or its associated components and connections may be causing this problem. U26 ROM test is skipped.
11 U26 ROM Failure The ROM (or EPROM) at U26 did not pass its internal checksum.
* Alternatively, the PIA's associated connections or components are causing the PIA to appear bad.

#21 1 year ago

My best guess however is that PIA's at U41 and U42 are failing. They can get a decent beating with acid damage. Can you post some images of the damage?

I do repairs on board by the way, I repaired a lot of sys11 boards over the years. Once acid damage isn't handled correctly new problems will occur over time. So clean your board with vinegar en rinse with distilled water. (You have done that already).

http://www.flippergast.nl/?p=51

This is a link to my Fire! project, this cpu board was as dead as a doornail. After repairing it the sys11 boards have no secrets anymore.

#22 1 year ago
Quoted from HarrieD:

My best guess however is that PIA's at U41 and U42 are failing. They can get a decent beating with acid damage. Can you post some images of the damage?

Sure, here is a close up pic of the area just underneath the battery area

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#23 1 year ago

has been worked on before. Acid damage tends to go on after a bad repair. What do the flashes tell you?

#24 1 year ago

There’s no specific flashes, the blanking light doesn’t turn on and the diagnostic light flashes continuously

#25 1 year ago

Are your voltages okay? Measure +5 volts and +12 volts

#26 1 year ago

First 5 secs of the video, watch the led's in the middle of the screen.

+5 volt comes on, blanking comes on and diagnostics is flashing fast and continiously. That's normal operation. You say the blanking led is not coming up, please press the diagnostics switch and how many times the diag led is blinking.

#27 1 year ago
Quoted from Pinball_Gizzard:

There’s no specific flashes, the blanking light doesn’t turn on and the diagnostic light flashes continuously

Some theory by the way: if blanking isn't enabled your insert lights, coils and displays aren't enabled. This to protect the machine in case of malfunction.

#28 1 year ago

So today was an exciting day and a little frustrating day but overall I think significant progress was made. Here is the recap:

The pinball tech in our area came over to the house today and spent three hours with Whirlwind. Here is the good and the bad:

The Good:
1. After much work he got it to boot. With the stock game ROMs in the machine it would not go into diagnostic mode at all. He checked multiple areas and felt the ROMs may be bad. We swapped out the ROMs with my Pinbot ROMs and got the board into diagnostic mode. It threw out two codes, 4 and 5 flashes. That meant U38 and U41 had issues. He swapped out both chips and we got the board to boot. After replacing the Whirlwind ROMs in the board it booted into attract mode. So, it does not look like I need a new MPU which is great news.
2. The lights and such seem to work as do the coils.
3. Music works.

The bad:
1. Sound does not work. Tech thinks it is a bad RAM chip on the sound area of the board. He tried reflowing the solder but still no sound. I will need to get a socket and solder that in there. I have a RAM chip from a prior machine that got NVRAM that he said I could plug into the socket and see if that fixes the sound.
2. Multiple switches don't work. Some are on the same wire string, some are elsewhere. Need to trace all that stuff out and see if there are broken wires or bad solder joints somewhere.
3. The AC relay on the Aux power driver board seems to be bad. I will have to order another relay and replace it.
4. The fan spins but rattles like all hell. Will have to sort out what is up with that.
5. I missed some of the incandescents on the machine so will have to make another order with Comet. No biggie.
6. I played a few test games, the left flipper seems weak. It has a new coil sleeve in it so I'm not sure what the problem is there.

Overall I was a little disappointed we weren't able to get it fully up and running today but significant progress was made.

A few questions:

Should I replace the relay on the MPU at the same time as the other relay? It seems to be working, just not sure if it is worth it to do so.

The left flipper seems weak, I was under the impression that coils don't get "weak" they either work or they don't. That coil already has a new sleeve in it, should I replace the coil?

Thanks!

#29 1 year ago
Quoted from Pinball_Gizzard:

So today was an exciting day and a little frustrating day but overall I think significant progress was made. Here is the recap:
The pinball tech in our area came over to the house today and spent three hours with Whirlwind. Here is the good and the bad:
The Good:
1. After much work he got it to boot. With the stock game ROMs in the machine it would not go into diagnostic mode at all. He checked multiple areas and felt the ROMs may be bad. We swapped out the ROMs with my Pinbot ROMs and got the board into diagnostic mode. It threw out two codes, 4 and 5 flashes. That meant U38 and U41 had issues. He swapped out both chips and we got the board to boot. After replacing the Whirlwind ROMs in the board it booted into attract mode. So, it does not look like I need a new MPU which is great news.
2. The lights and such seem to work as do the coils.
3. Music works.
The bad:
1. Sound does not work. Tech thinks it is a bad RAM chip on the sound area of the board. He tried reflowing the solder but still no sound. I will need to get a socket and solder that in there. I have a RAM chip from a prior machine that got NVRAM that he said I could plug into the socket and see if that fixes the sound.
2. Multiple switches don't work. Some are on the same wire string, some are elsewhere. Need to trace all that stuff out and see if there are broken wires or bad solder joints somewhere.
3. The AC relay on the Aux power driver board seems to be bad. I will have to order another relay and replace it.
4. The fan spins but rattles like all hell. Will have to sort out what is up with that.
5. I missed some of the incandescents on the machine so will have to make another order with Comet. No biggie.
6. I played a few test games, the left flipper seems weak. It has a new coil sleeve in it so I'm not sure what the problem is there.
Overall I was a little disappointed we weren't able to get it fully up and running today but significant progress was made.
A few questions:
Should I replace the relay on the MPU at the same time as the other relay? It seems to be working, just not sure if it is worth it to do so.
The left flipper seems weak, I was under the impression that coils don't get "weak" they either work or they don't. That coil already has a new sleeve in it, should I replace the coil?
Thanks!

It's a shame yall werent able to get it fully up and running. I guess you had to expect some snags when getting one at that great of a price. At least you have plenty of room in the budget.

As far as the coil goes, are you getting proper voltage? You may need to replace it or jyst do a flipper rebuild.

#30 1 year ago

Yeah I was thinking of ordering the flipper rebuild kit. I'll check the voltage at the coil this weekend.

Overall I'm still very happy with the progress, I was surprised that there were so many components on the board that were bad. The PO told me the game was booting when he got it and it stopped booting after he "cleaned" it. I don't know what you do to a machine while cleaning it that causes 3 separate components to go bad on a board... Unless he saw some magic smoke and didn't tell me, maybe that's why it was so cheap lol.

At any rate, as you said I have plenty of room in the budget here, even with the current parts and paying Evan I'm still < $1500 in the machine.

#31 1 year ago

Well, coils do go bad. In case of bad flipper response I always order new coils. In the case of a whirwind the end of stroke switch is also quiet important and to protect that EOS add a proper capacitor (that yellow one) to prevent it from burning in. Also the gap of that EOS is pretty important for the ooomph on your flippers. To check the coils just exchange them from left to right and see if the problem moves. If so, then replace the coil.

Also in regular cases the wrong coil is being replaced by an "operator". Check the manual if you got the correct one (11629 from my head).

Good luck, whirwind is a decent game.

I see no need to replace the relay by the way.

#32 1 year ago
Quoted from HarrieD:

I see no need to replace the relay by the way.

The issue is some of the coils don’t fire in solenoid test, you get double firing of other coils instead which he said was the relay not working and not switching between coils. I may have not understood him completely though.

#33 1 year ago
Quoted from Pinball_Gizzard:

Yeah I was thinking of ordering the flipper rebuild kit. I'll check the voltage at the coil this weekend.
Overall I'm still very happy with the progress, I was surprised that there were so many components on the board that were bad. The PO told me the game was booting when he got it and it stopped booting after he "cleaned" it. I don't know what you do to a machine while cleaning it that causes 3 separate components to go bad on a board... Unless he saw some magic smoke and didn't tell me, maybe that's why it was so cheap lol.
At any rate, as you said I have plenty of room in the budget here, even with the current parts and paying Evan I'm still &lt; $1500 in the machine.

Great progress so far. My guess is that a flipper rebuild would solve that issue but you can check for any slop in the linkage and the EOS switch contacts/gap in the mean time.

For the sound, did you try reseating the sound ROMs and/or looking at the connector out to the speaker and play around with the volume pot in the cabinet? Maybe it's been my bad (then good) luck but I've had a few system 11 sound issues, but they were all related to either a bad connector at the sound board or ROMs that needed to be reseated. The volume pots can get flaky if the game has been sitting a while too or maybe a broken wire. Hopefully whoever looked at the game ruled that out though.

Since you are new to the hobby it seems like you are learning rule #1 about buying games - "untested/was working when I put it in storage/probably an easy fix/just needs a fuse" means the game is broken and will need a bunch of work 99.9% of the time, with a .1% margin of error . Not necessarily a bad thing if you like a project like I do, but is unfortunately the marketing a lot of people use especially on FB and CL.

#34 1 year ago
Quoted from Pinball_Gizzard:

Yeah I was thinking of ordering the flipper rebuild kit. I'll check the voltage at the coil this weekend.
Overall I'm still very happy with the progress, I was surprised that there were so many components on the board that were bad. The PO told me the game was booting when he got it and it stopped booting after he "cleaned" it. I don't know what you do to a machine while cleaning it that causes 3 separate components to go bad on a board... Unless he saw some magic smoke and didn't tell me, maybe that's why it was so cheap lol.
At any rate, as you said I have plenty of room in the budget here, even with the current parts and paying Evan I'm still &lt; $1500 in the machine.

Evan is a genius when it comes to pinballs. I have no doubt he could have made it work if it were possible with what was available on hand.
Having said that, I am sure that new parts are needed. If he gave you a list (he usually does), then I would start getting the items of it in the order he said to get them. It sounds like coils and a flipper rebuild are musts. Maybe eos switches.

What was on his parts list for you to buy?

#35 1 year ago
Quoted from Pinball_Gizzard:

The issue is some of the coils don’t fire in solenoid test, you get double firing of other coils instead which he said was the relay not working and not switching between coils. I may have not understood him completely though.

The relays are known for developing cold solder joints; also the relay fires on its own transistor, and is also fused. So make sure to check the simple things first. The relays are fairly durable devices and despite all the times I've first thought to myself "must need a new relay", that has yet to be the case. Not ruling it out and your tech obviously has local experience, but the answer could be simple. I had a Space Station (same gen as Whirlwind) melt down on me once with all kinds of "relay" symptoms and it turned out to be a fuse.

As for the coil, does it get noticeably warmer than the ones that are working? If so that points to improper wiring, or an EOS switch adjustment. Over time they can go bad if issues are uncorrected. But again, check the simple freebies other already mentioned, first.

For your switches, make sure to consult the manual and the switch matrix. "Same string" could refer to a wire, or game logic (MPU board). On games of this era, the interconnect board in the "neck" of the cabinet is a known trouble point - make sure to check the connectors there.

Quoted from grantopia:

"untested/was working when I put it in storage/probably an easy fix/just needs a fuse" means the game is broken and will need a bunch of work 99.9% of the time,

No kidding. If it worked, or was as easy to fix as "replacing a fuse", why leave the money on the table? Of COURSE a seller would test or fix it to have a working game worth more money if it was as simple as that!!!

Yet, I've found no matter what, always plan on an extra $100 no matter what condition the game is in:

- Broken? $100 to fix it playable
- Playable? $100 to make it 100% working
- 100% working? $100 to clean / shop it
- Clean? $100 to dress it (upgrades, etc)
- Dressed? $100 to nitpick and personalize...

It can become a money pit if you let it. So always keep things as simple as you can.

#36 1 year ago
Quoted from Daditude:

Evan is a genius when it comes to pinballs. I have no doubt he could have made it work if it were possible with what was available on hand.
Having said that, I am sure that new parts are needed. If he gave you a list (he usually does), then I would start getting the items of it in the order he said to get them. It sounds like coils and a flipper rebuild are musts. Maybe eos switches.
What was on his parts list for you to buy?

Oh I’m not upset with Evan at all. He made an amazing amount of progress in three hours. I just got my hopes up when he got it to boot after two hours that we would be able to get it 100% that day. Didn’t happen and that’s fine, like I said this was a project and I knew that going in. It will be a great machine when it’s done.

Basically he told me to get the relay and some crimp pin connectors to have on hand. He suggested I trace out the wires on all the switches and make sure there are no breaks or bad solder joints. He was wants to pull the sound RAM chip off and solder a socket in there and then put in the RAM chip I have in spare parts in to see if that fixes the sound issues.

The sound ROMs were reseated and inspected and the volume pot, while crackling, is not the issue.

I placed my order with Marco today. I’m pretty confident I can do the relay swap myself and put in the socket for the RAM chip. Hopefully that solves the sound issue and then it’s just chasing gremlins out of the machine.

I also ordered a flipper rebuild kit for the game while I was paying the shipping from Marco.

#37 1 year ago
Quoted from Pinball_Gizzard:

Oh I’m not upset with Evan at all. He made an amazing amount of progress in three hours. I just got my hopes up when he got it to boot after two hours that we would be able to get it 100% that day. Didn’t happen and that’s fine, like I said this was a project and I knew that going in. It will be a great machine when it’s done.
Basically he told me to get the relay and some crimp pin connectors to have on hand. He suggested I trace out the wires on all the switches and make sure there are no breaks or bad solder joints. He was wants to pull the sound RAM chip off and solder a socket in there and then put in the RAM chip I have in spare parts in to see if that fixes the sound issues.
The sound ROMs were reseated and inspected and the volume pot, while crackling, is not the issue.
I placed my order with Marco today. I’m pretty confident I can do the relay swap myself and put in the socket for the RAM chip. Hopefully that solves the sound issue and then it’s just chasing gremlins out of the machine.
I also ordered a flipper rebuild kit for the game while I was paying the shipping from Marco.

3 weeks later
#38 1 year ago

Update:

I ended up ordering a new interconnect board after fighting with the stock one and not being able to solve my lighting issues. It alive and playing although it needs a few switch adjustments. I have side art blades to install and I might put a set of pinstadiums in there but we’ll see. I also have to tweak the LEDs because I ran out of blue and a few other colors so there are white placeholder LEDs in there now.

Happy with the result so far!

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Cabinet - Other
Rock Custom Pinball
From: $ 20.00
Cabinet - Other
Rock Custom Pinball
3,800 (Firm)
Machine - For Sale
West Chester , PA
2,700 (OBO)
Machine - For Sale
Heel, LI
$ 54.99
Cabinet - Shooter Rods
Lighted Pinball Mods
$ 54.99
Cabinet - Shooter Rods
Lighted Pinball Mods
$ 49.95
Lighting - Led
Pin Stadium Pinball LEDs

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