(Topic ID: 169670)

Why is my pinball machine electrocuting me?


By PinJim83

3 years ago



Topic Stats

  • 29 posts
  • 23 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 3 years ago by MrBally
  • Topic is favorited by 1 Pinsider

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tester (resized).jpg

#1 3 years ago

So I've been fixing up a Williams System 9 Sorcerer I picked up a couple weeks ago and have it up and running with a newly refurbished CPU I was able to find. While working on the machine, however, I noticed that the left rail was shocking my forearm when I was leaning over the playfield. I put a meter on it and I get anywhere from 10 - 20 volts and .5 - 1.0 Amp on the rail. It doesn't seem to matter whether the game is turned on or not, the current is there regardless so long as the machine is plugged in. Any ideas on where to start? Thanks in advance, gang!

#2 3 years ago

Have you looked at your plug to see if it has a ground prong missing? It's a grounding issue somewhere that much I'm sure of.

#3 3 years ago
Quoted from RWH:

Have you looked at your plug to see if it has a ground prong missing? It's a grounding issue somewhere that much I'm sure of.

Grounding prong on the plug is intact.

#4 3 years ago

Is it shocking you with you touch another machine?

#5 3 years ago

Unplug the machine ohm the ground prong to the ground on the transformer. See if you have continuity. (0 ohms)

#6 3 years ago

Check your wall outlet for proper grounding. Perhaps that outlet has a ground problem?

If the machine is plugged into an outlet strip, try a different strip.

#7 3 years ago

I think you mean shocking you. If it's electrocuting you, it means it was built from an old electric chair.

Sorry. I will leave now.

#8 3 years ago

How is voltage getting to the rail? Fixing the ground problem is a must. Doesn't the presence of voltage indicate a short that should also be addressed?

#9 3 years ago

I've been zapped by side rails on a few games because of missing or bad grounds.

#10 3 years ago

I made a Youtube video on my White Water because of the same issue of the rail shocking me. It turned out to be the plug of the game was not grounded. I show in the video how to replace the two prong plug to a three prong plug.

www.PinballSupernova.com

#11 3 years ago

It could very well be the outlet that has the grounding problem. I have felt that before as well. It was the outlet in my case.

#13 3 years ago

Shocking

#14 3 years ago

This is a ground fault either coming from an improperly installed receptacle (which is more common than people realize), power plug, broken ground braid, or potential broken wiring inside the cabinet.

There are other causes but these are the most common.

Use the "forearm test" (above your wrist) on all areas of the cabinet. Let the game be energized for a couple of minutes. Every place you feel the "tingle" is related to the fault.

Identify quickly as the problem will not get better, but worse.

#15 3 years ago
Quoted from PinJim83:

It doesn't seem to matter whether the game is turned on or not, the current is there regardless so long as the machine is plugged in. Any ideas on where to start?

I would start with the power box; with the game off, you should not have any voltage anywhere (except the convenience outlet) as the power switch should be a DP-DT and breaks both the hot and neutral lines to the transformer.

#16 3 years ago
Quoted from Travish:

I think you mean shocking you. If it's electrocuting you, it means it was built from an old electric chair.
Sorry. I will leave now.

You are correct, if you were electrocuted, or electrocution means you didn't live to tell about it!

Many don't know the difference. Common error...

#17 3 years ago

Have you tried plugging the machine into a different outlet that is grounded, or use a power strip with a grounded indicator to determine. I had a similar issue with one machine, turns out the outlet was not grounded "Remaining old electrical from the early 40's" I plugged the machine into one of my new outlets from renovation and all shocks cleared up.

#18 3 years ago

I keep one of these in my toolbox. Quick fast easy way to check an outlet.
Many different brands available at most box stores. I prefer the ones with
the GFI button so you can test any outlet easily.

tester (resized).jpg

#19 3 years ago
Quoted from xTheBlackKnightx:

Use the "forearm test" (above your wrist) on all areas of the cabinet. Let the game be energized for a couple of minutes. Every place you feel the "tingle" is related to the fault.

For extra excitement, work up a good sweat on your arm before testing.

#20 3 years ago

that's how a machine shows that it loves you

#21 3 years ago
Quoted from xTheBlackKnightx:

Use the "forearm test" (above your wrist) on all areas of the cabinet. Let the game be energized for a couple of minutes. Every place you feel the "tingle" is related to the fault.

You might want to use your VOM meter rather than your forearm, lol.....

#22 3 years ago
Quoted from vid1900:

You might want to use your VOM meter rather than your forearm, lol.....

I think the M is already meter.
That would read volt ohm meter meter.

#23 3 years ago
Quoted from Arcade:

I think the M is already meter.
That would read volt ohm meter meter.

LOL

Of course, but if I write "use your VOM" somebody always PMs me asking "what's a VOM".

#24 3 years ago
Quoted from vid1900:

You might want to use your VOM meter rather than your forearm, lol.....

Some people do not have the tools, or do not want to buy them. Generally, if the voltage is low this is not dangerous, but I don't advocate avoidance the problem.

In the long term, I agree everyone should buy the right tools for the jobs to work on pinball machines, but many still do not.

#25 3 years ago

Black and white wire may be mixed up in your outlet.

-2
#26 3 years ago
Quoted from homebrood:

You are correct, if you were electrocuted, or electrocution means you didn't live to tell about it!
Many don't know the difference. Common error...

The difference is amperage, not the lack of electricity. Electrocution is also known as electric shock, and in no way suggests death.. Same thing.

#27 3 years ago

According to the dictionary "electrocute" specifically means to execute or kill someone by electric shock.

#28 3 years ago
Quoted from xTheBlackKnightx:

Some people do not have the tools, or do not want to buy them. Generally, if the voltage is low this is not dangerous, but I don't advocate avoidance the problem.
In the long term, I agree everyone should buy the right tools for the jobs to work on pinball machines, but many still do not.

There is no way to know that the voltage is low, his meter readings are very questionable (like how did he go about measuring the amp draw?). He could easily have 120V between that rail and ground. His statement saying the voltage is there even when the power switch is off supports that as a reasonable possibility because 120V is the only voltage inside that machine when the switch is off. Maybe the day it tickled his arm he was wearing good shoes and was well isolated so only got a tickle, maybe the next time he's barefoot and perspriring and he's dead... making the title of the thread come true.

#29 3 years ago

When I worked on a route and had a problem with frame rails causing "tickling" between two machines; it was always* a broken 3rd prong. If I wasn't carrying a replacement plug end, I always had a spool of 16 or 18 gauge wire. You would cut off a 12' piece and attach it to the ground braid in the backbox, route it through a rear vent hole and into the machine next to it. Connect that end to the ground braid. Problem solved temporarily until you could follow up in a few days with a new plug end or cord. The length allowed movement of one machine for service.

Keep in mind this was before the days of Home Depot, Lowe's, Heckinger and Builder's Square so you couldn't simply drive a few miles and get one. Hardware stores, which closed early, were your only choice. The only "superstore" for building materials was Forest City that became Handy Andy but bankrupted thanks to Home Depot/Lowes.

*: One time, and only one time someone had removed the nut holding the ground braid to the side rail bolt on a Bally pin. All I had to do was reconnect it.

Thus, to troubleshoot; take a jumper wire to one rail and then to the rail on the pin next to it. If touching both together cures the shocking sensation, figure out the disconnect. If instead a spark/explosion takes place and the circuit breaker or GFCI trips, you have a bigger problem. Standard electrical troubleshooting techniques apply.

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