Six Million Dollar Man fitted with #555 lamps?

(Topic ID: 219154)

Six Million Dollar Man fitted with #555 lamps?


By bestofthebunch

6 days ago



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  • 12 posts
  • 8 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 2 days ago by chad
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    #1 6 days ago

    I have a machine that I've just picked up that has wedge bulb holders throughout and they are not retro-fit. Ive never seen a SMDM with these lamp holders any ideas why this game came with them?

    #2 6 days ago

    Pictures would help

    #3 6 days ago

    Prior to converting to wedge bulbs we did a test pilot run, about 100 games...?, of SMDM that were equipped with 444 wedge bulbs. You have stumbled upon one of those test games. Check the bulbs. The original test used a 444 instead of the production 555 bulb.

    #4 6 days ago

    Yes they are 444 bulbs wow amazing

    image (resized).jpg
    #5 6 days ago

    image (resized).jpg
    #6 6 days ago

    Hi BigAl56, my serial number is 1153 so an early production run so why did Bally not stick with the wedge lamp and go for #44 / #47 on the full production run?

    #7 2 days ago

    Hi Bunch,
    Deffinately you have one of the pilot games that served as the wedge bulb test. Here is what I sent to Jay Stafford at IPDB,

    As everyone knows the 44 bulb was the standard at the time however the brass content of the base was getting expensive. We're talking just pennies but when you purchase millions of them a year it adds up.

    At the time, circa 1978, the available wedge base bulb substitute for the #44 was #444. Supposidly the 44 and 444 were electrically identical except for the base.

    I hand built a prototype game in the old basement lab, then we went ahead and ran a pilot run of about 1-200 games with the wedge sockets and 444 bulbs. These were run in the factory so the games should look professionally wired and not modified after the fact. The sockets used would be a firm black plastic with encased connections. All the games but one are factory wired and should look like they were built that way. My single lab game would not appear quite as professional but the black sockets will give them away as they are expensive and if somebody wanted to retrofit they would probably use a less expensive socket.

    I tested a 444 bulb game side by side with a regular 44 bulb game in the factory lunchroom. Brightness was the same as was reliability of the lamps. Management approved the switch in upcoming production. First we had to use up about a million of the auwful bayonet sockets and 44s.

    Somwhere along the line GE came to us with an alternative bulb, the 555. They claimed it was less expensive to manufacture. Again, maybe 1/2 a penny but it made sence considdering the high volumes. Before I could test it our purchasing department placed orders for millions of bulbs and sockets for the 555.

    When the games started coming out I was amused at the cheaper sockets that had been ordered. While I tested and approved the purchasing department would, from time to time, go rogue and order cheaper substitute parts. The first complaint was the new sockets had sharp metal edges that would cut the hands and fingers of the factory workers. You can just imagion reaching into a bulk box of those sockets with bare hands and scooping them out and handling them as they were installed on the playfield. One line worker told me it was like handling razor blades!

    But the biggest problem was yet to come. I started noticing the switched lamps were failing rapidly on the games in the showroom. Lamps that were pulsed frequently in attract mode were dying in less than a month. Distributers were calling too and complaining the failure rate of the 555 playfield lamps was high.

    Finally, I ran a test on games equipped with 555 vs 444 vs 44 and the tests showed the 555 bulbs where enharently defective. We ran through 4 or 5 different runs across 3 or 4 game productions before GE finally corrected the problems. That is why there are different bead colors in the 555 bulbs. The bead color designated the batch so we could tell the runs apart.

    #8 2 days ago
    Quoted from BigAl56:

    Deffinately you have one of the pilot games that served as the wedge bulb test.

    That is really cool info, thanks for sharing. You must have such great stories to tell. Half an penny doesn't sound like much until you're running a business.
    -Mike

    #9 2 days ago
    Quoted from Grizlyrig:

    That is really cool info, thanks for sharing.

    Just echoing this - super cool to get a "look behind the curtain."

    Thank you so much @BigAl56 !!!

    #10 2 days ago
    Quoted from BigAl56:

    Hi Bunch,
    Deffinately you have one of the pilot games that served as the wedge bulb test. Here is what I sent to Jay Stafford at IPDB,
    As everyone knows the 44 bulb was the standard at the time however the brass content of the base was getting expensive. We're talking just pennies but when you purchase millions of them a year it adds up.
    At the time, circa 1978, the available wedge base bulb substitute for the #44 was #444. Supposidly the 44 and 444 were electrically identical except for the base.
    I hand built a prototype game in the old basement lab, then we went ahead and ran a pilot run of about 1-200 games with the wedge sockets and 444 bulbs. These were run in the factory so the games should look professionally wired and not modified after the fact. The sockets used would be a firm black plastic with encased connections. All the games but one are factory wired and should look like they were built that way. My single lab game would not appear quite as professional but the black sockets will give them away as they are expensive and if somebody wanted to retrofit they would probably use a less expensive socket.
    I tested a 444 bulb game side by side with a regular 44 bulb game in the factory lunchroom. Brightness was the same as was reliability of the lamps. Management approved the switch in upcoming production. First we had to use up about a million of the auwful bayonet sockets and 44s.
    Somwhere along the line GE came to us with an alternative bulb, the 555. They claimed it was less expensive to manufacture. Again, maybe 1/2 a penny but it made sence considdering the high volumes. Before I could test it our purchasing department placed orders for millions of bulbs and sockets for the 555.
    When the games started coming out I was amused at the cheaper sockets that had been ordered. While I tested and approved the purchasing department would, from time to time, go rogue and order cheaper substitute parts. The first complaint was the new sockets had sharp metal edges that would cut the hands and fingers of the factory workers. You can just imagion reaching into a bulk box of those sockets with bare hands and scooping them out and handling them as they were installed on the playfield. One line worker told me it was like handling razor blades!
    But the biggest problem was yet to come. I started noticing the switched lamps were failing rapidly on the games in the showroom. Lamps that were pulsed frequently in attract mode were dying in less than a month. Distributers were calling too and complaining the failure rate of the 555 playfield lamps was high.
    Finally, I ran a test on games equipped with 555 vs 444 vs 44 and the tests showed the 555 bulbs where enharently defective. We ran through 4 or 5 different runs across 3 or 4 game productions before GE finally corrected the problems. That is why there are different bead colors in the 555 bulbs. The bead color designated the batch so we could tell the runs apart.

    Great info. I like reading about that kind of stuff.

    Any comment on the transformer choice? When Bally went to the cabinet transformer the games seemed to run the bulbs a lot hotter.. usually a volt or two more on both the feature lamps and GI compared to the transformer in the earlier games that was getting mounted in the head. Was that intentional to get the lamps brighter and/or use less GI bulbs?

    #11 2 days ago

    My 6 Million dollar man has some of the 1 million awful light sockets in it.
    I swear I have changed them all but there is always another one that doesn't light up....

    #12 2 days ago

    Thank you for posting. I always enjoy the behind the scenes info on prototype games. I had wondered about the "Bead" color.

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