(Topic ID: 202217)

First Time Disassembling & Reassembling a Stepper Unit


By PinballFever

2 years ago



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  • 69 posts
  • 15 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 60 days ago by PinballFever
  • Topic is favorited by 14 Pinsiders

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There are 69 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 2.
#1 2 years ago

This is a 1953 Williams Replay unit I'd like to disassemble, clean and lube with teflon grease.

How do you remove the score reel after removing the nut? It wiggles like it could come off but it won't. Do I need to do it from the cog side first?

Also can the switch stacks be safely removed as long as you keep them together?

Cog side shown in second photo for reference.

Thanks,
Bruce

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#2 2 years ago

The wheel should come off once you take the nut off. Switch stacks will need to be removed to get some of the components off

#3 2 years ago

Bruce,

What you are planning to do is a good step in keeping your steppers working optimally.

First, the credit wheel will come off now, just wriggle it a little more aggressively and it will come off.

Second, Its a good idea to undo the screws that hold the unit too the front of the lite box, this will give you more access to the unit.

The switch stacks can be unscrewed but notice there are two stacks either side of the mounting bracket. If the individual bakelite spacers are loose I put one screw back through all of them and keep it all together. I also am suspicious that the vertical switch behind the first switch stack has the been assembled correctly. Its a minor thing but the outside switch has a plated back blade that seems to be inverted in your picture.

The next step is to undo all the springs including the middle one that keeps tension on the cog wheel. I use pliers to remove the sprung arm on this one and let it uncoil about three times usually. Its easy now to remove the coil stops and the coils and all the mechanical parts can be taken to a bench for a good clean and polish. I usually put all the small parts in the tumbler for a day and the springs will clean up like new.

I get spring replacement kits from Steve at PBR and replace often it they look like they have stretched or kinked. The coil stops should be changed if the contact surface is mushroomed or looks damaged, otherwise they go back in 95% of the time. I clean the metal surfaces by degreasing in my ultrasonic or just use a metal cleaner and elbow grease.

Lastly shine up the switch blades and contacts with a dremel wire wheel. The one Nick Volta uses is good I am sure but any of the dremel brushes that the box store carries is fine.

Lastly I minimally teflon lube the metal areas that rotate against each other as I rebuild the stepper.

Takes less than an hour to disassemble and the same to put back together after cleaning.

Good for another 10 years.

#4 2 years ago
Quoted from SteveinTexas:

First, the credit wheel will come off now, just wriggle it a little more aggressively and it will come off.

Steve,

I decided to try removing the Points wheel and it came off easier but it felt sticky as I wriggled it off. This Credit wheel is stubborn, I can't quite get it free when I wiggle it back and forth. What would you use to free it up or dissolve what's sticking inside?

Thanks,
Bruce

IMG_20171108_211025580 (resized).jpg

#5 2 years ago
Quoted from PinballFever:

Steve,
I decided to try removing the Points wheel and it came off easier but it felt sticky as I wriggled it off. This Credit wheel is stubborn, I can't quite get it free when I wiggle it back and forth. What would you use to free it up or dissolve what's sticking inside?
Thanks,
Bruce

OK,

Look at my list of things to do. lets go to the second item, unscrew the unit from the the back panel. Unassemble the electrical switches, coils and springs as I describe.

You can then take the unit to the bench and now go back to the first item. This time get a small hammer and tap out the cog wheel from the replay wheel side and the wheel will fall of in seconds.

#6 2 years ago
Quoted from SteveinTexas:

Look at my list of things to do. lets go to the second item, unscrew the unit from the the back panel. Unassemble the electrical switches, coils and springs as I describe.
You can then take the unit to the bench and now go back to the first item. This time get a small hammer and tap out the cog wheel from the replay wheel side and the wheel will fall of in seconds.

I'll try that after work. Should I leave the cotter pins and clips in while tapping out the cog wheel?

Also should I mark where the credit wheel is in relation to the stepper unit? I took photos for the time being showing the orientation so I can put it back on the shaft the same way.

I plan to follow your list of things to do in order. This is my first stepper disassembly/cleaning/lubing but it needs to be done and there are 5 of them to do on the board before it goes back in the backbox.

Thanks,
Bruce

#7 2 years ago

The wheels can only go on two ways, the shaft is rectangular.

#8 2 years ago
Quoted from PinballFever:

I'll try that after work. Should I leave the cotter pins and clips in while tapping out the cog wheel?
Also should I mark where the credit wheel is in relation to the stepper unit? I took photos for the time being showing the orientation so I can put it back on the shaft the same way.
I plan to follow your list of things to do in order. This is my first stepper disassembly/cleaning/lubing but it needs to be done and there are 5 of them to do on the board before it goes back in the backbox.
Thanks,
Bruce

No the clips come off to release the cog wheel spring. Take them all off as their purpose is to retain moving parts and you have pictures on how to put back.

Once you have done one the rest or similar and as easy.

#9 2 years ago

Got it off by wiggling along the threads bit by bit. This is what I have so far and I have questions.

Can the metal sleeve be removed from the coil and replaced with a nylon one? Should I clean it and the plunger instead then put it back together clean and dry? How does the coil stop look?

Also I plan to clean the wheels with Novus 1 or 2 but what would you use to clean the inside? I tried carefully brushing off what I could. It seems nasty from when people spilled drinks on top of the backbox.

This replay unit is missing the decrement coil, coil stop, spring and arm. I should be able to order them from PBR. Would Steve have the arm? The arm seems to be part number 101-AS-4 "Reset Arm Assembly" according to the online Williams 1960 parts catalog at Planetary Pinball.

Quoted from SteveinTexas:

I also am suspicious that the vertical switch behind the first switch stack has the been assembled correctly. Its a minor thing but the outside switch has a plated back blade that seems to be inverted in your picture.

Good catch. I checked the switch stacks on the other stepper units some of them are showing a similiar configuration. I think the round flat contacts should be wiping against each other but how do I make sure this is normal?

Thanks,
Bruce

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#10 2 years ago

Careful with cleaning the wheel. You really don't want the numbers to wipe off. I'll let someone more experienced advise on how best to clean them. I could be wrong but Novus 2 seems like it might be too aggressive.

#11 2 years ago
Quoted from PinballFever:

Quoted from SteveinTexas:
I also am suspicious that the vertical switch behind the first switch stack has the been assembled correctly. Its a minor thing but the outside switch has a plated back blade that seems to be inverted in your picture.
Good catch. I checked the switch stacks on the other stepper units some of them are showing a similiar configuration. I think the round flat contacts should be wiping against each other but how do I make sure this is normal?

A fellow pinsider sent me a photo of the switch stack on his Grand Champion stepper unit and it matches mine. This seems to be the default configuration for this machine. Do you still think that plated back blade is inverted?

Bruce

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#12 2 years ago
Quoted from pinheadpierre:

Careful with cleaning the wheel. You really don't want the numbers to wipe off. I'll let someone more experienced advise on how best to clean them. I could be wrong but Novus 2 seems like it might be too aggressive.

I agree. Novus 2 is an abrasive cleaner and Novus 1 isn't an abrasive cleaner but it's for plastics. (Learned this from Vid1900's guides) I'm going to try cleaning the wheel with dish soap and water and the gunk on the inside with alcohol, simple green or something similiar.

Bruce

#13 2 years ago
Quoted from PinballFever:

I agree. Novus 2 is an abrasive cleaner and Novus 1 isn't an abrasive cleaner but it's for plastics. (Learned this from Vid1900's guides) I'm going to try cleaning the wheel with dish soap and water and the gunk on the inside with alcohol, simple green or something similiar.
Bruce

Just because novus 1 is designed for plastics doesn't mean it won't work here. I'd be less worried about it having some reaction with the paint than alcohol or soap

#14 2 years ago
Quoted from zacaj:

Just because novus 1 is designed for plastics doesn't mean it won't work here. I'd be less worried about it having some reaction with the paint than alcohol or soap

Ok, I'll test Novus 1 in an inconspicious area first to be sure.

Thanks,
Bruce

#15 2 years ago
Quoted from PinballFever:

A fellow pinsider sent me a photo of the switch stack on his Grand Champion stepper unit and it matches mine. This seems to be the default configuration for this machine. Do you still think that plated back blade is inverted?
Bruce

That picture is fine. However here is your picture and I have highlighted what appears different. I believe the blue circled blade is probably incorrect looking at your friends picture.
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#16 2 years ago
Quoted from SteveinTexas:

That picture is fine. However here is your picture and I have highlighted what appears different. I believe the blue circled blade is probably incorrect looking at your friends picture.

I see it now. I was looking at the contacts blades instead. I'll fix it and make sure the other switch stacks are correct too. Thanks for pointing it out. I should get the missing parts for the Replay unit from PBR next week.

Bruce

#17 2 years ago

Are these the correct parts for this Replay unit?

I ordered the parts using page 43 of the online 1960 Williams Parts Catalog and Steve found what he was able to but I'm not sure the reset arm and coil are correct. http://www.planetarypinball.com/reference/partsmanuals/WMS_Parts_1960/index.html#/43/zoomed

Is there an online source to see the parts disassembled for this stepping unit so I can compare them?

1. The reset arm pole seems too long from looking at the parts catalog.

2. Should the coil be DC? I thought this game was AC?

BTW, Steve forgot to include the coil stop in the package. I plan to call him tomorrow and can order the correct reset arm if necessary for this unit.

First photo shows the parts I got and second photo shows my friend's replay unit for comparison.

Thanks,
Bruce

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#18 2 years ago

The reset arm looks correct to me. The spring would connect to the notch in the post.

I'll ask Steve about AC/DC tomorrow when I call about the coil stop.

Bruce

#19 2 years ago

Steve is shipping the coil stop today. I'm hoping to get it this Wednesday or Friday so I can finish this stepping unit and start on the next one. It's easier for me to do them one at a time while I remember how they go together.

Bruce

#20 2 years ago

Here's a stepper unit rebuild I did that is similar. Maybe breakdown pics will help someone

https://goo.gl/photos/fsUqqMerwi2A1hMh8

-Jeff

#21 2 years ago
Quoted from way2wyrd:

Here's a stepper unit rebuild I did that is similar. Maybe breakdown pics will help someone
https://goo.gl/photos/fsUqqMerwi2A1hMh8
-Jeff

Thanks Jeff. I especially like the closeups you took at certain angles.

Bruce

#22 2 years ago

https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/troubles-with-my-williams-king-pin-replay-unit

I have a few photos of mine on here. You can see how most of the parts should fit.

1 week later
#23 1 year ago
Quoted from SteveinTexas:

The coil stops should be changed if the contact surface is mushroomed or looks damaged, otherwise they go back in 95% of the time.

The new coil stop arrived from PBR and it looks different than the ones in this game. I pulled another coil stop off the Replay Score unit and it looks the same as the one I pulled from the Replay unit. They look odd to me. Are they "damaged"?

Bruce

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1 year later
#24 9 months ago

Resurrecting this thread.

I decided to stop and wait for the second game (same game as this one) to arrive so I can use it's replay unit as a "re-assembly" guide because I have trouble remembering how this one goes back together.

Photo of where I'm at with the stepping unit. What would be the next step in dis-assembling this stepper?
(First photo shows the front and second photo shows the back)

Would you unwind the spring (counting the number of turns of course) then unscrew the two nuts on the back to remove the posts? Does the center post in the back unscrew so that post can come out?

Replay Unit (resized).jpgIMG_20190211_210906119 (resized).jpg
#25 9 months ago

Going by memory here - one of those screws is a shoulder bolt with a nut on the back side. If you don't remove the nut first, you will snap the bolt when you unscrew it. PBR has the shoulder bolts in case it's too late. Been there, done that!

#26 9 months ago

I'm wondering if I can just remove the gear and the pivoting arms on the front without removing the posts so I can clean/lube them? I don't want to dis-assemble any parts that don't need to be dis-assembled.

#27 9 months ago

Again, going by memory, the answer is yes, but take lots of pictures while disassembling, and count the number of wraps of the spring while taking the tension off. Also, note the orientation of the spring - you don't want to try and wrap it backwards.

You will need to remove the gear shaft to clean it properly, and will have to remove the parts on the pivots to clean them, too. Once that's done and everything is put back together, you should have a pretty snappy stepper unit that will last quite awhile. Don't forget to put in new coil sleeves.

#28 9 months ago

I changed the title of this thread for those taking apart a stepping unit for the first time. (like me)

The only videos or instructions that I can find online explain what each stepper is and how they work. I wasn't able to find any disassembly instructions or blown-apart drawings showing the individual parts for this stepper.

Clay Harrel's video explains stepping units and according to him, my stepper unit is a Single Step Increment/Decrement Stepping Unit. It was missing the coil and arm for decrementing the unit.


(Thanks to Clay for creating this very useful video, he has a great EM repair site at pinrepair.com)

Quoted from SteveinTexas:

The next step is to undo all the springs including the middle one that keeps tension on the cog wheel. I use pliers to remove the sprung arm on this one and let it uncoil about three times usually. Its easy now to remove the coil stops and the coils and all the mechanical parts can be taken to a bench for a good clean and polish. I usually put all the small parts in the tumbler for a day and the springs will clean up like new.

I took this stepping unit apart following the instructions above from steveintexas in post #3 and the mechanical parts are being cleaned in my sonic cleaner.

I think I can just clean the two posts that are left on the frame. I don't want to remove them if it's not necessary.

BTW, I got a new coil, springs and new arm from PBR. The new arm is shown at top right in the photo below.

DSCN4857 (resized).JPG
#29 9 months ago

Look how clean and shiny the metal parts are after cleaning them in the sonic cleaner, especially the springs and gear post!

Tomorrow, I may try removing the nuts on the back then the two posts on the front so I can put them in my sonic cleaner. (It's too cold outside to use my tumbler)

DSCN4860 (resized).JPG
#30 9 months ago
Quoted from way2wyrd:

Here's a stepper unit rebuild I did that is similar. Maybe breakdown pics will help someone

https://goo.gl/photos/fsUqqMerwi2A1hMh8

-Jeff

@way2wyrd Thanks for the photos, was this a rebuild with new parts or is disassembling/cleaning/reassembling a stepper unit considered a "rebuild"?

Quoted from Briehl:

https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/troubles-with-my-williams-king-pin-replay-unit

I have a few photos of mine on here. You can see how most of the parts should fit.

@briehl Your stepper unit looks amazingly clean. Did you clean it? Also did you ever resolve the problem you were having in your thread?

I studied both your photos and they'll be very helpful as I reassemble this stepper unit.

Tonight, I removed and cleaned the rest of the metal parts in my ultrasonic cleaner. Tomorrow I should be reassembling it.

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#31 9 months ago

No broken shoulder bolts - good deal.

#33 9 months ago

@Billc479 Is this the shoulder bolt in my screenshot? I see it in the Williams 1960 Parts Catalog as "Shoulder Screw". It seems to be riveted to the frame but fortunately it moves freely.

@spinal I found your thread when I first searched this forum for stepper teardown and rebuild instructions. Your questions in the thread are insightful. Thanks for contributing this resource for those doing it for the first time.

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#34 9 months ago

I'm exhausted (not from working on the stepper), will probably start putting this stepper back together tomorrow.

Disassembling this stepper unit is pretty easy, even for the first time and assembling it should be as easy but the scary feeling was that I wouldn't remember how it goes back together, even with pictures. I had to reassure myself that I have another stepper unit still together for reference.

My concern is installing the new arm correctly because the original arm and coil were missing when I got the game. The Williams 1960 Parts Catalog should help with this. (screenshot from the parts page below)

(I have to admit the metal parts for this stepper unit look so clean that I'm really looking forward to getting it back together and seeing how smoothly it works)

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#35 9 months ago

Mine were all originsl parts. Just a tear down cleaning and reassembly.

--Jeff

#36 9 months ago

In your shot of the parts, the item I was referring to are the screws (bolts) on the right side of the picture. They have a straight slot screw top, and if you go to unscrew it without taking the nut off underneath it, you will shear the bolt. I did that not once, but twice while rebuilding steppers - a real pain in the butt. Shipping usually costs more than the part.

#37 9 months ago

@way2wyrd Makes sense. A rebuild would be like rebuilding a pop bumper or flippers with all new parts. This is just a tear down cleaning and reassembly.

@billc479 Got it. I noticed how unique those those bolts are and would hate to do the same thing. I'm glad I took the nuts off first.

I'm going out of town, will reassemble this stepper when I'm back Sunday.

#38 9 months ago

I have a question for you guys. What was the FIRST time like for you? There's always a first time for everything.

Did you learn hands on from someone else? Was it scary the first time you started tearing down and rebuilding steppers?

#39 9 months ago

Pinball -

Part of me wants to break out in song, but I'll resist. For me, I watched many videos before taking the plunge. I was really nervous about the spring winding count and the alignment, so I took lots of pictures and made lots of mental notes, many of which I forgot. I had been warned about the shoulder bolts and forgot about it until the bolt snapped off.

I was pleasantly pleased after cleaning and reassembly to find that it worked really well. That gave me the confidence to start rebuilding other steppers that I had nursed into working order. I still have several EMs in the queue, so I will be working those this summer. One thing that I wish was easier was to remove the entire device without having to desolder wires or remove coils/switches. I have found that its a lot easier to work on the steppers on the belly boards with the board removed and placed on the bench. You have better lighting, and you're not standing on your head.

All the stuff I do is based on what I've read, viewed, and experienced. At times I wish there were people who I could work on machines with, but then again, I tend to like to do things my way, so it probably would not work out. I do like to transfer my knowledge when possible, that is one of my cheap joys in life.

Thanks for posting your travails - I'm sure it will benefit many in the future.

#40 9 months ago
Quoted from PinballFever:

I have a question for you guys. What was the FIRST time like for you? There's always a first time for everything.
Did you learn hands on from someone else? Was it scary the first time you started tearing down and rebuilding steppers?

Heck yeah, I started on a random internal spin/stepper unit for Spin a Card, was amazed it came out right. Now? Just serviced 2 4-player games and cleaned every stepper. Its rough when the units are frozen with 50 year old grease.

Now its just a routine part of servicing a pinball machine, if they don't work right, play will never be correct. Its a bonus when zero position is marked by the Factory or a previous Operator.

#41 9 months ago

IMG_1804 (resized).JPG

This before picture on a 63 Williams illustrates a stepper with only the factory grease, low plays on the meter and frozen up. Forensics say a machine purchased new, never serviced at all as far as steppers and retired when it locked up.

IMG_1809 (resized).JPGIMG_1810 (resized).JPG

Just to say that each stepper in an EM is a section of the brain, or logic the mpu in SS usually takes care of. Any section that doesn't work right introduces erratic behavior.

If you buy a 4-player project and discover frozen steppers, you will be an expert at the disassembly/ clean process when you finish if you want the machine to play correctly.

#42 9 months ago

billc479 I've been wanting to break out in song because it's such a good feeling to get this part done. I also lost my mental notes where everything was but I got it. I feel like I'm joining a "stepper club" of sorts with members being those that have done it.

phil-lee I hear ya. This has given me a newly found confidence to do the other steppers for this game.

I had mental images of everything flying everywhere but the middle spring on the cog wheel is easy to unwind 3 times.

#43 9 months ago

I decided these clean metal parts would look out of place against the dirty frame so it needs to be cleaned too.

I tried toothpaste with toothbrush, simple green and citrus degreaser but the frame still looks grimy as you can see.

Any tips? I may try Awesome or whatever that stuff is at dollar tree. There has to be a solution that will clean this grime off the zinc coating. (I want to clean around the labels so I can leave them original on the frame)

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#44 9 months ago

I use a wire brush and some simple green. If i really want them to shine i use the buffer wheel. Also cleaning the frame helps any arm that actuates against it.

#45 9 months ago

Is this a soft wire brush? I don't care about the shine. Just want to clean the grime and stuff off and leave the zinc coating.

#46 9 months ago

Mother's Mag & Aluminum polish seems to be doing the best job of cleaning this frame. Tried Comet and LA Awesome from Dollar Tree, they didn't do any good either.

I plan to stop by Ace hardware tomorrow and see if they have anything for cleaning the grime off this metal.

#47 9 months ago

I use Coleman fuel, a Proprietary form of Naptha. Leaves the surface dry and free from silicone and greases if applied properly.

#48 9 months ago

Good idea. I actually have VM & P Naphtha and will try it on an inconspicuous spot in the shed tomorrow. I'm thinking of doing a light cleaning of the frame and a deeper cleaning where the metals move. I'm not shooting for an HEP restore here.

#49 9 months ago

I have good luck cleaning any kind of oil or grease with mineral spirits. It doesn't evaporate as quickly as some other solvents so you get more working time and maybe fewer fumes. I use it with cotton swabs or a rag, or with an old toothbrush for stubborn stuff. Once degreased, fine steel wool works well to remove soot, oxidation, rust, etc. from metal parts.

/Mark

#50 9 months ago

I have mineral spirits and also have fine steel wool which I was planning to use to smooth the posts and where metal rubs against metal. Will try both tonight.

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