This Old Black Knight


By toddkay

2 years ago


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  • 20 posts
  • 12 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 3 months ago by mgpasman
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#1 2 years ago

My second pin restoration is finally underway! Earlier this year I drove from Chicago up to Appleton, WI to pick up this Black Knight project machine from an awesome Pinsider for less than $200. I'm only just now starting to work on it as I was trying to finish up my other pin (Bally Star Trek) first. It certainly is a mess, but not for long!

Here she is all loaded up in Wisconsin along with a little something for later.
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It certainly is a mess, but not for long! I knew I'd be buying a new playfield, with this kind of wood wear.
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I couldn't get the board to boot either. I plan to send it out for repair, but to get things moving along I went ahead and grabbed a Rottendog replacement board. I also of course replaced all caps on the power supply.

She's alive! After lots of switch cleaning and adjusting, I got everything to pass the diagnostic tests. Only a few bulbs are out. I also had to chase down a CPU driven solenoid issue (none of the CPU solenoids were firing) which ended up just being a connector issue at the PSU. I have a re-pin kit coming in the mail for good measure, but at this point the game was fully playable! It did however take me a while to realize that the game won't start without all 3 balls in the trough!
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There are some display issues though. P1 and P2 work perfectly, but only the commas are visible on P3 and there's a giant crack in P4 so it's definitely shot. The ball count works fine but the credit display only works when the machine is first powered on, then fades out. The display driver board doesn't appear to be in great shape either - there's a ton of oxidation (or corrosion? or what? It's a white/green powder) on all of the chip pins, sockets, and connectors. I actually just went ahead and picked up a set of Pinscore Displays, which are currently in the mail.
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I'm looking forward to getting rid of this rust.
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#2 2 years ago

I think I'll eventually try my hand at touching up the cabinet. It's pretty good except for the black around the edges. On my first pin restoration project, I sanded down and re-stenciled the entire cabinet. I do not at all plan to do that for this one; at least not at this point in time.

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I did however pick up a new [used] playfield from another great Pinsider. It's in fantastic condition compared to the old one. The ONLY wood wear is on the upper playfield in the ball-plunge tunnel lane and just a little around the lock shot.

Here's just a sample of the upper playfield, before I cleaned it up a bit more:
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So now the fun part: playfield swap! I did one on my Star Trek and learnt a ton, so so far this one has felt very easy even with a MUCH more complicated playfield. I've found that this is the part I love most about working on pins.

Everything off the top:
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All ramps and guides cleaned. My process was to first go over them lightly with a metal brush by hand to take off the bulk of the crud, then scrub them with some Novus 2 on a microfiber cloth, then polish them with Flitz & a buff wheel. It feels darn good to see this kind of progress compared to where it was.

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It's also fantastic to see how well the plastic bits clean up after just a 20 minute soak in some Oxy Clean.
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Here's the old playfield against the new [used] one. I tried scrubbing the old one, but most of that black is caked on. The clear-coat is nonexistent and the wood is severely planked. The guy I bought it from said that the guy HE bought it from said that it had been stored for 15 years without glass on the playfield. My lighting is terrible here, but the new playfield looks fantastic. There's some ball swirl around the flippers, but it's totally fine. I'll get some better photos of it later in natural lighting.
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#3 2 years ago

Flipper rebuild was a bit more involved than I expected, having to get a whole new base bracket since the coil-stop was built into the original. But obviously totally worth it.

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This style of drop targets is way weirder than the Bally ones I have previously rebuilt. A bit finicky to get back together, but it was worth it to have everything mostly cleaned up and with new springs installed. I have some target stickers in the mail.
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Pop bumper all cleaned up and rebuilt. The white plastic was soaked in Oxy Clean to clean it up, and I picked up a new cap from PBR since the original one was heavily cracked. I'm a bit bummed about the cap though, as it's quite a bit different than the original on this machine which had a white center and artwork around the rim. Does anybody know if that version is available anywhere?
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New mechanisms all installed on the new upper playfield. I put a new coat of grey paint down too.
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Here's my very silly workshop:
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Upper playfield is finished:
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After I finished that, I turned my attention to the lower playfield. That's where I stand now, but until next time here's the original almost totally stripped down:
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#4 2 years ago

I have a few questions at this juncture:

-Is it possible to correct warped plastics? All of the larger ones have some serious warping. I thought they were all toast anyway just being so cruddy looking, but I tried cleaning a couple up and they actually end up looking surprisingly good aside from the warping.

-Does the Rottendog board accept LEDs without flickering? I'll have to wait and see how it goes, but was considering at least doing some tests with LEDs.

-What's with the difference in pop bumper cap colors? Upon googling, I see both of them in people's machines. I picked up the new red one from PBR because it's all he had, but I kind of like the colors of the original better. Are repros of that version available anywhere?
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-Does anybody have a used coin door they'd want to sell me? Somebody drilled holes in this one to install a security latch. I'm not going for absolute perfection here, but the holes will bother me i'm sure.

2 weeks later
#5 1 year ago

Lots of progress!

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#6 1 year ago

I did NOT think these plastics would be able to bounce back.

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I soaked them for a couple of minutes in OxyClean and was surprised how shiny they came out with nothing more than a light wipe-down. Most of the large ones were severely warped, but I was able to use a heat gun to flatten them out to an acceptable level.

(pre-flattened)

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Most of them look great. I'll still be replacing a handful of them though, as there are numerous cracks and broken corners.

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And lastly, I met up with a great Pinsider at Expo and picked up a backglass from him. Much better now!
(sorry for potato quality)
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EDIT: Also forgot to mention one other thing about that last pic of the machine with the backglass. I was testing various colored LEDs in the playfield at that time, which is why a few of the inserts look brighter than the others. I decided not to go with too many colored LEDs, instead sticking to mostly warm whites for 75% of the inserts. I found the drop target arrows to look good with color LEDs however, as well as the amber colored arrow inserts. I have an order coming in the mail from Comet Pinball.

#7 1 year ago

Looks great! Well Done. A BK project for $200? Sounds like you hit a home run.

#8 1 year ago

Looks great, well done!

#9 1 year ago

Looks good. I like the fact you redid the gray paint on the bottom of the playfields. A machine just doesn't look right without that.

#10 1 year ago

Getting closer! I have my curated set of LEDs installed throughout and have weeded out some intermittent issues by re-pinning some connectors. I have a few questions though that I'm hoping to get some help with.

--Question 01: My speech board is not working. I have all new sound and speech ROMs, but get zero speech. When the speech board ribbon is plugged in the sound effects work through the diagnostic button but NOT during game-play. The game is silent during game-play. When I unplug the speech ribbon and jumper W1, sound effects then work perfectly in game-play. Any suggestions of what could be bad or worth testing next on the speech board? I re-flowed all the ribbon pins.

--Question 02: Row 3 of the lamp matrix is locked on and is slightly dim. When the computer pulses the lamps (LEDs now) in row 3, they get even slightly dimmer. A visual inspection of all the lamps came up with no obvious shorts, and all the lamp diodes on row 3 check out. Transistor Q51 on the Rottendog MPU327 also checks out. Could it be the resistor R110? I don't know how to check it without unsoldering a leg from the board. Any other ideas?

--Question 03: Lastly, I got the retrofit kit for the ball-lock switch trough, but I've never worked with this type of micro-switch and am not sure how to wire it up. Is there any chance somebody who has it installed could post a few high-res photos of their wiring setup please? I'd be eternally grateful!

I can see that those old ball-lock trough switches certainly are a massive PIA. I build some confident that they seem to work while I'm testing, but then the moment I slide on the glass and play a couple games, they act up again immediately!

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#11 1 year ago

You've done this all in 3 weeks? WOW! Great job!
I see that when you moved everything from one playfield to another, you didn't leave everything wired up - You have pictures of solonoids, etc, mounted without wires... Did you reuse the same wiring harness and just decide to do it this way, or did you rewire the whole thing from scratch?

#12 1 year ago
Quoted from PA28steve:

You've done this all in 3 weeks? WOW! Great job!
I see that when you moved everything from one playfield to another, you didn't leave everything wired up - You have pictures of solonoids, etc, mounted without wires... Did you reuse the same wiring harness and just decide to do it this way, or did you rewire the whole thing from scratch?

Thanks! Yeah I prepared nicely for this one and was able to do most of the playfield swap, including cleaning & re-building of all the mechs, over the course of two weekends. That is, I spent every waking hour of the weekends working on it. 60 hours probably, including time also spent late on Fridays. Debugging, tweaking, and chipping away at the final touches will be an on-going process though, of course. I also still have not touched the cabinet at all.

As for the wiring harness, my method is to only de-solder the solenoids and GI attachment wires, leaving the lamp sockets and leaf switches all connected to the wiring harness. I temporary loosely zip-tie loose ends of the harness into "zones" to keep it tidy, and carefully lift the entire harness from the playfield as one piece. I store it flat on another large surface where I'm able to freely clean all the leaf switches & lamp sockets without obstructions. With the harness gone, I remove each of the solenoid mechanisms, take them all apart, clean them, replace sleeves, and attach them to the new playfield (as seen in the pictures you mentioned). Then I lay the harness (with leaf switches and lamp sockets still soldered on) onto the new playfield and re-attach everything using the 300+ photos I took during disassembly.

I know a lot of people like to disconnect EVERYTHING from their wiring harness and clean the old one with soap & water, but I'm not yet confident enough to try that.

In general I've found the #1 biggest key to success (in my still very newbie phase) is to go about it in a methodical and organized way (#2 being to take a TON of photos of everything you remove). Here's a pic of how I organize screws and small parts:

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Larger parts (mechanisms) come off the playfield and go straight into labeled zip-lock baggies along with any hardware associated with them. As I work my way through cleaning, I remove them from the baggie one at a time, clean and re-build, then put them right back into it's labeled baggie until the moment it's ready to go onto the new playfield. This lets you methodically concentrate on one part at a time so you don't get things mixed up or get too overwhelmed with the amount of work it is.

Cleaning up and rebuilding mechanisms is actually my favorite part of the whole process. It's very therapeutic to chip away at while listening to some pinball podcasts, and it gives you the most gratification when you see how amazing smooth they operate (and LOOK) when all the crud is cleaned off and new action parts (sleeves, springs, etc.) are installed!

#13 1 year ago

WOW! Great work. Looks fantastic. Another Game saved.

3 weeks later
#14 1 year ago

Beautiful job on a classic game! My thirteen year old protests loudly any time I even mention selling my BK, that is the only non-DMD game that he cares a lick for.

#15 1 year ago

What a difference it makes with a nice play field! Great job. Put a wanted add for that pop bumper cap. I'm sure someone has a good used on somewhere.

1 month later
#16 1 year ago

Looking great! Nice Job!

1 year later
#17 4 months ago

Came here from the horror thread, very nice (and faaaast) done! and one awesome game!

#18 4 months ago

Very nice!

#19 4 months ago

Thanks for the bump guys! Here are a few fresh pics.

I am ashamed to say that row 3 of the lamp matrix is still partially stuck on. I narrowed it down to the transistor, I believe, so I just need to get around to ordering a new one.

AND I still don't have rule cards. Can anybody recommend a good source for authentic cards?

The machine went into storage for a few months while I moved cross country and got situated, and only recently got her set back up next to the new room mate: Blackout. Speaking of which, I am currently actively looking for a new playfield for Blackout, if you have any leads! I'm looking forward to going through this process again.

Machine is working 100% otherwise, though. I still do not have any plans to work on the cabinet. I'm fine with the wood as is for now.

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4 weeks later
#20 3 months ago

You decided to go with the original (broken) bumper cap?

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