Six Million Dollar Man fitted with #555 lamps?

(Topic ID: 219154)

Six Million Dollar Man fitted with #555 lamps?


By bestofthebunch

9 months ago



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  • Latest reply 8 months ago by RoyGBev
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    #1 9 months 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 9 months ago

    Pictures would help

    #3 9 months 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 9 months ago

    Yes they are 444 bulbs wow amazing

    image (resized).jpg
    #5 9 months ago

    image (resized).jpg
    #6 9 months 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 9 months 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 9 months 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 9 months 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 9 months 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 9 months 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 9 months ago

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

    #13 9 months ago
    Quoted from barakandl:

    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?

    I could write a book on the original solid state Bally power supply and the burning connectors. I guess I contributed to a whole cottage industry of rebuild kits out there for those original style power supplies.

    The story in brief goes like this, per the book specs the Molex connectors and pins should have worked fine. When GI pins started burning Molex said, "move the board, it's getting too hot sitting on top of the transformer", so we moved it to the side.
    When pins still continued to burn Molex said, "try these new Trifurcon 3-sided pins. That'll fix it"
    When the pins continued to burn our French and German distributers said "Fix this or else we will not import your games!"

    So Doug Macdonald turned to Molex's rival AMP and they had us redesign the power supply to utilize universal Mate n Lock connectors that finally stopped the burning. We were able to reach out to our transformer supplier, Ravenswood, and order heaftier transformers with the M&L connectors pre installed at the factory to make assembly of the PS faster.

    So the voltage to the bulbs may appear higher but that is probably a combination of lower resistance of the M&L connector combined with the heftier transformer.

    #14 9 months ago

    Al,

    I wish you could write that book about Bally pinballs. It would be so great to know more about the various decisions that were taken and the behind the scenes engineering of these machines. In the meantime, thank you so much for these great stories.

    Yves

    #15 9 months ago

    Interesting Bally info. Personally I prefer the 44/47 sockets myself. My Fireball II has the 555s and I hate 'em.

    #16 9 months ago

    Very interesting indeed. I will check my 6 Million $ Man to see what style socket it has!

    #17 9 months ago

    Wow, love reading posts like this. Nothing like getting info right from the source!

    #18 9 months ago

    For what it's worth, normal production 6mdm should have bayonet lamp sockets. I can't remember the first game to utilize wedge bulbs but we had to run through a couple million bayonet sockets first before we could switch.

    On another side note, besides GE we purchased 44 bulbs from Phillips. The dutch made Phillips bulbs can be identified by thier silver base rather than brass. These bulbs were so sensative to vibration that we couldn't use them in the playfield. We wound up using them in the backbox only for a year or so until we got rid of them.

    #19 9 months ago
    Quoted from Pbpins:

    Very interesting indeed. I will check my 6 Million $ Man to see what style socket it has!

    If you have not had to replace a socket, my guess is you have the 555s.

    AL, thank you for sharing. Very interesting finding out about such things.

    #20 9 months ago

    Very interesting & informative post.

    I bought a spare SilverBall Mania PF at Allentown just for parts, I think it was $20 or something ridiculously cheap..... I bought it MOSTLY just for some spare bayonet lamp sockets........ & I got it home, looked at it more closely & it had all wedge style sockets in it..... I thought WTF, who would have changed all those sockets? I'm going to have to take closer look at it & see if it looks like a hack job or what. Is it possible it was done at the factory with wedge sockets?

    All my Ballys (Feb 1980 SilverBall Mania being newest I own) including a Six Million $ Man have bayonet sockets.

    #21 8 months ago

    I can't remember which game was the 1st to use wedge bulbs, it would be interesting to hear back from everyone. I suppose the official manual would have the wedge bulb part number in it. I'm gessing though, if someone went to the bother and switched out every socket the original playfield mounting holes would not all line up and there would be lots of extra holes and sloppy resoldering.

    OK, ya got me thinking this morning so I went back and looked in the manuals and the first game to use Wedge sockets and 555 bulbs in production appears to be Eight Ball Deluxe. That makes sense now that I think about it, that was the first game where we got flooded with bulbs faling complaints.

    #22 8 months ago
    Quoted from BigAl56:

    I can't remember which game was the 1st to use wedge bulbs, it would be interesting to hear back from everyone.

    I think the first SS Bally to use the 555 was Eight Ball Deluxe. EBD also brought in new pop bumper assemblies, replacing the older starburst cap style. The previous two games, Xenon and Flash Gordon, had the starburst caps in translucent clear color, the only Bally pins to have that IIRC.

    People hate on the 555 and its cheap wedge socket but from my experience they are more reliable than a Bally SS full of loose old corroded half-working bayonet junk. The lamps in my Centaur and previously-owned Elektra work well, with only one or two flaky sockets, which I was able to fix just by cleaning and bending the contacts a bit. And as for those rotten bayonet sockets in pop bumpers, I replace them on every game with a wedge socket, and usually an LED.

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