Things I learned this week - 2007 Archive

Even I still learn something new about pins every (few) weeks. Sometimes things I know but still I mess up something because I'm in a hurry or just don't think before I act, when I want to clean or repair something. Or sometimes you can get some funny/weird/.. situations when dealing with people who are not 'into pins'.
Do you have a funny story or something interesting related to pinball or arcade machines ? Please submit it.

2007-12-15: Tie a game down when moving it by John.
I usually move pinball machines all by myself. What I do is set the game maybe 4 feet away from the truck. Then all by myself I can lean it back so that it's resting against the tail-gate. Then I can just walk around and lift the bottom of the game up and slide the thing into the truck. Close the tailgate, strap it down and I'm off.
I actually skip the tying from time to time but that bit me recently. I had a cocktail style cabinet (which is much harder to load by yourself by the way) and I didn't tie it down because I was only going a short ways. Well at the very first stop it slid and smashed my rear window. Lesson learned.....

2007-12-01: Save yourself some time, count connectors by Steve S.
Save yourself some time. At the very least count the number of molex connectors on the circuit board as you remove them. At the most make a diagram. Sometimes I learn the hard way, and more than once this has happened.
This afternoon I was replacing a simple fuse clip on a board. After replacement I reinstalled the board and then none of the 50V solenoids worked. I dicked around for two hours trying to figure out what happened.
Connectors can get stuck or lost behind a board, behind a fat group of cables, or you just don't see it. A simple count would have saved me and possibly someone else some time.

2007-11-15: Looking for your glasses ?
have been looking for my glasses for about 3 weeks. I am working on a Pioneer playfield and often take them off, as I am suffering from the "arms too short" syndrome. I looked inside that game and around the floor shelf etc. Anyway, I found them tonight stuck in the score motor of my Aquarius. I was getting a lot of extra points, so maybe I should just stuff them back in there. They aren't much good for seeing through any more.

2007-11-01: Change batteries by Arcaderehab
Had the game of my life on AFM - after 1 year and 3 months, finally Ruled the Universe, scored 27 billion and change. I was in my glory.
After the game, while it was still on, I figured I'd change out the batteries to preserve the record of this amazing achievement.
Turned the game off and then back on, "FACTORY SETTINGS RESTORED" is on the display.
Well, the remote battery holder is velcroed on the head. When I put it back on, I hit the on/off switch and TEX rules again.
Make sure if you use this type of battery holder you secure that switch.

2007-10-15: Drilling a nos playfield by Dropdeadhippie
Well I screwed up. I'm restoring an F14 tomcat, I get the nos playfield and discover the wonderful world of system 11 clearcoat crazing applies to nos fields too. It bothered me enough to remove the old clear, level the inserts, install insert decals, re-clear (I'll never do THAT again).
So 200 hours later I'm finally starting to near the end of reassembly and tonight my heart just sank. I'm looking at 2 post holes and trying to figure out which posts I need to use and I figure I'll consult my teardown pics - I see the posts but the pics aren't clear enough so off to IPDB I go. Then I realize it, the two posts I was checking for don't really belong on the game at all. For some reason a previous owner had installed them on the original playfield. I drilled out my nos pf using this playfield as a template (another fun job). So now I have these posts right below the upper flippers. This game was going to turn out to be a like new pin and now I can't even look at it :( Stupid thing is I really think it's gonna bother me every time I see those damn posts.

2007-10-01: Handy bumpers
I bought a Popeye pinball machine that hadn't been played for four years. What you don't want to do whilst trying to see if all the microswitches still work, is to put your hand between the lower and upper playfield and get stuck with your fingers on the popbumper skirt. I now know for sure the popbumpers work perfect and didn't know I could pull my arm back so fast !

2007-09-15: Comets in space by Mario
I love these calls.
Hello, Hello...Do you repair pinballs? Yes I do in most cases, what can I do for you? I have a Williams game that quit working and I tried to fix it but I need help. OK, what game is it? It's a space type and amusement park game. It's a what?
It has the space shuttle on the glass and has an amusement park board..
Really...and this used to play?
Yes, well, actually I didn't play it, but the guy I got it from said it did. It should be any easy fix, right? I am not sure where all the plugs go.
My response was this:
Well, what you have is a comet playfield sitting in a space shuttle cabinet. I have never seen this personally but from your discription I would say that is what you have, and no it won't play. I suggest getting your money back. Oh by the way are there circuit boards behind the glass?
"Yes I think there is one". Then he says there is a burn't hole in the board. I asked him if it was a burn mark and he says no, it's a hole about the size of a half dollar.
Then about an hour later I get two other calls from local vendors telling me this guy called them.

2007-09-01: Cabinet repainting experience by Steve
I just posted a question regarding painting a cabinet and it reminded me of a guy I knew that wanted me to help him paint his game box on an 80s game about 15 years ago. This turned in to a rather silly experience that to this day makes me chuckle when I think about it.
The friend was a major know-it-all and since he knew so damn much about painting, I don't even know why he asked me to help. well maybe I do. I think he subconsiously wanted to share the insanity that was about to happen to us. Both of us started off by drinking a couple bottles of beer before we got started since it was kind of hot outside. On top of that, we did it on his driveway with some visquine laid down to protect the rather steep pitched driveway. uh-oh, not good.
It started to become problematic when after painting some of the cabinet with white paint, he stepped in the roller pan of paint laying on the visquine. He got white paint all over his sneaker and ended up cussing and yelling so much that it was roll-on-the-ground funny. His wife and kids came out to see what was going on and he's screaming and yelling at them to go back in to the house which they finally did after the wife glared at him and mumbled something as she walked off. He was getting ticked at me for laughing so hard but there was still more to come.
We drank a couple more bottles of beer as he tried to clean up his mess although he did kind of a half-ass job on what he was doing anyway and I told him not to telll anyone I was part of this stunt or was even there since I had somewhat of a reputation to maintain. So he finally finishes up his cleaning, takes another pull on his beer and takes his quart can of red paint that had been mixed for him by the local hardware store special for the game. As he's walking on the hot visquine, it causes him to slip and fall flat on his back on the driveway and the paint can goes up in to the air and falls on him. now he's got red paint all over him, some on the game box, and the driveway as well.
There he is sitting on the driveway with a roller in one hand and red paint all over his white T-shirt and face and arms and man is he mad. I was laughing so hard and he was so mad that I decided I should just leave before he turned crazy on me.
a few months went by and I stopped by his house for something else and asked him about the game he was painting. we went in to his basement and there it was - painted completely white. except for the slight pinkish spots here and there that wouldn't cover with only one coat of white paint. he just pointed at it, I stared, looked at him, he shrugged, and nothing more was said.

2007-08-15: Don't forget to switch it on by Jeff G
I've been playing the heck outa my newly acquired woodrail since I got it last weekend. So much so, in fact, that it would appear that I've forgotten how to work my other EM's. Allow me to explain... As I was playing my last ball on the woodrail when I was at home for lunch this afternoon, I glanced over at my "300" and thought, "I'm going to play that game once before I have to head off to work."
Well, I turned off the woodrail and headed over to the "300". I then pushed the red button to start a game. Nothing happened. I tried pushing the button again. And again. Yet again. The game was dead as a door nail.
"Hmmmmmm...", I thought. "Well, maybe the "300" is jealous of the Universe."
Either way, I just couldn't go to work knowing I had a start-up issue with the "300", so I began to troubleshoot. I checked to be sure the game was turned on. I removed the pf glass and lifted the pf to see if I could quickly detect anything. Everything *looked* good. I got out the game's manual and schematic to go though the start-up sequence. I checked a few switches. All looked good. Then it dawned on me...
DUH!! I hit the power switch. I then pressed the red button and all was well.
You see, my woodrail doesn't have a power switch and I got used to not having to turn a game on first. I was conditioned in a mere 3 days...

2007-08-01: hot stuff.. part 2 by TheKorn
Some of the heat sinks on the WMS DMD boards carry LIVE (+ AND - 100V, IIRC) voltage on them.
In fact, if you're unlucky enough to have one hand grounded and touch one of them while the game is on, your finger will be *seriously* hurting for a while! (Guess how I found *that* out??)

2007-07-15: hot stuff.. by Jerry
Right, so I am replacing an upper flipper EOS switch on my Black Knight, get it unscrewed, get my solder iron hot to melt off the wires.
Wire #1 removed just fine, heat up wire #2, push it off of the switch contact, and somehow I managed to flick the molten solder right back up in my face, finger, etc. Hot stuff!
I suppose I should be grateful that I didn't slam my head into the playfield, and slam it shut on me :-)

2007-07-01: Accident waiting to happen.. by Matty
I have a hallway with 2 doors to the garage from it. Just brought a DE Simpsons back from the dead and wanted to take new pictures for the website. Figured hey let me make some new instructions cards for the game before I take the pictures. Slide the glass off and set it against the inside of one of the doors to the garage. Think to myself this is a really dumb place to put this but I'm home alone so nobody's going to come through the door (Big foreshadowing moment there).
Go upstairs to print out the instruction cards. Printer promptly runs out of ink. Rummage around trying to find the ink. 30 minutes or so later I cut the new cards and come back downstairs and go out the other door to the garage. Toss the paper garbage and promptly walk back in through the 2nd door to the inside and yep you guessed it, Kabblamm - Glass 30 feet in every direction in the basement.
Cut myself twice and hit my head on the door knob while cleaning up.

2007-06-15: Always strap down a pinball machiney by Phil D
Always strap down the pin you are picking up, better safe than sorry. Well thank god I did when I had a blowout on the M1 highway, because if I hadn't and it had shifted while I was going sideways across all 3 lanes at 80MPH, I really think the van would have been on its roof!

2007-06-01: What did you do this Sunday.. I screwed up my Adams Family by Dave
Left lower Flipper has always been a bit weak decided to do a flipper rebuild. All went well until I switched the power back on. because like an idiot I wired the solenoid back to front.
I did make a little diagram before I took it all apart but I think I must have got it UPSIDE DOWN when I resoldered the connections.

2007-05-15: Don't ignore the wind by 5voltsrequired
A word of advice when removing an nos field from vehicle. PLEASE make sure if you have to lean it up against the car it is not *windy outside* , and lay it side ways artwork towards tire.
My field took a forward fall screen side to the driveway. Say that's a deep dimple, no wait there is 3 of them. :( :( Although I did not yell out, surely some mindreader felt the chain of choice words!!! So newbies keep this in mind. Thankfully it was not a backglass

Bill had a similar experience: Reminds me of the time I was restoring my Paragon and put all of my good plastics, bumper caps, targets on a piece of card board on my wifes car (many years ago). She drove away and I had to walk the neighbor hood picking up plastics, caps and targets. Some got broke and others survived but it was one bad moment.

This also rings a bell for me. In 2004 we had a booth at the Collector Fantasies show. See the 3rd picture here, our booth is at the right, behind the Judge Dredd. Right at the entrance.. when someone opened a door, a hard wind made one of the bingo backglasses I had for sale fall over and shatter in a thousand pieces :-(

2007-05-01: Be careful when soldering by Don
Please, don't solder with flip flops on... your toes are in danger of flaming hot meteors of solder. I'm in extreme pain at the moment and thought I'd help prevent another pin addict from feeling my pain.
Someone on once posted a similar message.. he was soldering whilst sitting with his legs open in front of a pinball machine, only wearing shorts that didn't cover all parts.. ouch !

2007-04-15: Don't forget the pinballs by Scott O
I notice a bulb out so I remove the lockbar, playfield glass, balls, lift the playfield and replace the bulb. Before putting the glass back in, I clean both sides. I then slide the glass back in and put the lockbar on the game.
I then start a game and realize I haven't put the balls back in the machine.

2007-04-01: Backglasses don't like temperature changes by Gus
A customer of mine wanted to store his CA in my shop while he waits to acquire a new home. He delivered it last night in his pick-up. However, the outside temp was about 18 F and who knows what the wind chill was at 55-60 mph, but when we unloaded it the ink had just peeled ooff the BG. I was able to save about 90 % of it and got it to lay back down. Mind you, I had tripled thicked this glass prior to selling it to him about a year ago. Guess it goes to show that triple thick won't help in this extreme.

2007-03-15: Looking for a screw
This story happened in the same pub where I broke a playfield glass. See the story of 2006-06-15 (Don't break the glass).
An operator I know was installing a new jukebox there, an NSM wallbox. His assistant Robbie was helping. Robbie is a tall man, always in jeans, has a ponytail, and looks like someone you don't want to have an arguement with..
While he's securing the frame to the wall a screw falls on the floor. So he tries to find it..
Try to picture this: a very tall man, on his hands and knees in a men's bar..
One customer saw what happened and asks 'What are you looking for ?'.
Robbie immediately answers 'I'm looking for a scr..' and then realises he'd better not finish that sentence and quickly corrects himself 'Just looking for something that fell, not important', and decides it's really not a good idea to be on hands and knees in that location..

2007-03-01: These little clips by Mark Sunnucks
Was repairing a Stern MPU from my Flight 2000. Had it on the bench, connected to an old PC power supply. Making good progress.
Then I nudged the clip attached to the 5v test point and it shorted to the resistor next to it. The trace on the back of the board was a ground one and acted like a fuse - it melted through and sent a puff of smoke into the sky. It also managed to fry the U6 Eprom and the U11 PIA.
All is now well and the board is fine but a lesson learned!

2007-02-15: Don't cut too much.. by Jurgen
I had a dmd display on which the power connector was a bit loose. Not a big problem, remove the pcb from the display glass, and re-solder..
Both parts are stuck together using double sided tape. So I used a sharp knife to remove them. Resoldered the connector pins, tested it back in the game.. and nothing ?
Seems I did not cut only the tape but also part of the ribbon connector that goes into the glass, which cannot be repaired anymore !

2007-02-01: Always check the polarity.. by Dan
So I was rebuilding a System 80 power supply tonight. Having done this successfully a number of times, I actually have it down to a formula, and was rapidly proceeding. I plug it into my game for brief testing before I solder the big transistor in permanently. Those of you who have done this know exactly what I mean (I use jumper wires to connect the transistor to its outputs).
I power up the game, and as I am about to probe DC voltages I hear a small sizzle, and then a loud pop! There is now amber fluid on top of the board. I said to myself WTF, and all of a sudden I noticed I soldered in the 470uF, 100V electrolytic with incorrect polarity. Dumbass!
Note: I've had something similar happen to me also. The fluid that spills will corrode components so be sure to remove it asap from your boards !

2007-01-15: Lucky repair.. by Jim F
After a long day, figured I would play a few games of Whitewater. Well, it all starts on the upper play field when a misguided ball manages to repel the rubber under bigfoot just enough to smash the bulb and leave tiny glass shards floating around on the upper pf.
No biggie... first things first: remove lock bar, slide pf glass back and remove broken glass from pf. (Notice the slide glass back comment where I did not actually remove the pf glass since I wasn't going to be there long anyway.. machine still on at this point.)
With the machine still on so I could use the pf lighting to ensure I get all the broken glass, I figure it might be a good idea to use a paper towel to get all the glass pieces and avoid cutting my fingers trying to dig it out from under bigfoot. As Im getting glass out around the bulb socket I discover that the filament to the bulb did not break... just the bulb itself. How did I discover this you ask??? Well, as I'm carefully maneuvering around the socket, it moves just enough to make good contact and illuminate over the top of my paper towel, quickly catching it on fire! No biggie, as I quickly remove it and extinguish before bigfoot gets a real hotfoot.
No sooner does this happen, my Australian Shepard starts barking out of the blue... within seconds I turn and tell him to shut up when the pf glass that I slid down without taking the extra 1.4 seconds to take all the way out, manages to find it's way to the living room floor, only after hitting the coin door, wall, and a pinball leg in the process... I'm now looking at the dog, who's looking at me dumbfounded wondering why I didnt know roughhh...roughhhh, meant "hey dummy grab the pf glass".
Totally amazed that the glass didnt break, I leaned it against the wall, turned the game off, finished extracting the bulb, replaced with a new one, then slid the "still intact pf glass" in to the game, and called it a night. Luckily everything turned out fine, so I guess I should count my blessings that I didnt set fire to bigfoot, or shatter a pf glass on the living room carpet. What a way to finish off the week-end!

2007-01-01: Close the coin door. by Al C.
I bought a (NIB) TSPP as a X-mas present to myself 2 years ago. I wish Stern warned you to not to leave the coin door open when you take the playfield glass off. Within 6 months I put a huge scrape in the playfield glass. I changed the scraped glass with a glass from a game I never play,but the minor scratches from that older game really detracted from its HUO'ness.
Well I finally ordered a couple playfield glasses and they arrived today. When I swapped that "used" glass on the TSPP, wow my (HUO) TSPP is back !

Older stories can be found in the archive 2005 - 2006.