Things I learned this week - 2008 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.

2008-11-01: How not to wire switches by Scott
Had an IJ with a Fliptronics error. Traced the Orange wire from the leaf switch right back to the other side of the same leaf switch.

2008-10-01: Only solder what's necessary.
OK, I'm working on my Star Trek Next Gen... and one of the cannon micro return home switches goes out. Check the diode, it's fine. Put in a new switch. Put it in test mode (switch hanging loose, not installed) click it a couple of times, back to working!
Turn off the game, screw it down, turn it back on, and POP SIZZLE SPARK... Uh Oh... I turn it off immediately to see where the smoke is coming from...
Opto switch board under the playfield... Top two chips (U3 & U4) are cracked and crispy. This is bad.
I know it has to be related... so I go back to the switch I just fixed. and I see a small amount of solder has oozed from the first wire of the micro switch onto the metal plate under it, the one that goes to the motor for the cannon.

2008-09-01: Flying inserts by Mark
My stupidest thing I've ever done to a customer's pinball was to drop the playfield, from leaning against the head, to slamming down on the cabinet front edge, causing a light to smash through an insert, causing the insert (No longer made color or size) to fly out of sight and mind for 2 hours, and luckily finding it 20 feet from the pinball, in the corner of the room.
I glued back the insert, letting it drive over night, and the next day it was just FINE!!! (with slight crack?!) Owner was actually much more relaxed about it than I was.

2008-08-15: Secure the apron by PinballPoor
The metal apron was not screwed down when I lifted the playfield and it dove on down cracking a rare plastic in the upper right and scraping others..

2008-08-01: Drilling holes by Todd
My biggest knucklehead move was drilling pilot holes to mount a Kerry protector, and on the last hole, just went a bit too far ... right through the top of the field.
I nearly cried. I'm sure I'll top it some day. I still have to put my TAF back together.

2008-07-15: Keep the door closed by Chris
So I am in my backyard pitching baseballs to my 8yr. old to fine-tune the ole' swing before tomorrow's game, when he fouls a ball off behind him. It rockets at an angle towards my walkout basement (french swinging) doors as I think to myself "haha-good thing doors these days have tempered glass in them"!
And then it happened. My 6 yr. old daughter decides to exit the basement to join the backyard fun....
Ball goes screaming through the partly opened door just missing the girl and whacks the recently stenciled Old Chicago at an angle just below the siderail and then caroms into the basement wall.
Had the ball been 4-6 inches higher, we would be searching for a *3rd* backglass for this thing..

2008-07-01: No Keys ? Really ?
On a game I bought (Bally Eight Ball) the owner didn't have the keys of the coin door.
Instead of picking or drilling the lock, he had removed the pin that goes in the middle of the hinge. That way he could open the door.
Whilst loading the machine in my car I noticed the keys to secure the backglass were on the backbox. I lock the backglass and put the keys in my pocket.
The next day I take out the keys and notice there are 3 keys on the ring, 2 different types. Sure enough the coin door keys were present and had been hanging on the backbox lock all the time !

2008-06-15: Pinball is hot stuff by Brett
Drilling rivets out of ramps (for example to take a metal flap off) generates heat. Enough heat to transfer to the backing washer and allow it to pull through the ramp! AARGH!
Fortunately, judicious use of a soldering iron to reheat the washer/ rivet allowed me to reposition/remelt the washer back to its original position...
Well, sort of... actually, the washer is now an integral part of the ramp (flush on both sides). Think of it as reinforcement. :-)

2008-06-01: Working machine goes faulty when buyer shows up by G-man uk
Sold a Data East Simpsons off ebay.
Spent weeks getting this baby back to a nice working condition and last night some friends and I spent a few hours play testing it, to everyone's delight. All working a treat, I retire for the night, a happy man.
Fast forward to this morning, the buyer shows up, I switch it on and offer him a game. Press Start, off you go, right flipper dead. What?!?
So, open it up, start checking, seems like a faulty wire and/or switch (some joker had put microswitches for the flipper buttons). Hmm... check switch, definitely dodgy so I go to replace. The only other switch I have literally snaps in half as I try to install it. -sigh-
Ok, I decide to re-install the leaf switches, at this point, the buyer decided to leave and pick up another machine about 1/2 hr away and come back later.
So, I get 2 new leaf switches on, replace the connector and 8 pins on the flipper board and deal with some dodgy soldering on said board. Now it works, just, but its not perfect, something still not right (cable issue I think, or something is failing on the flipper board). The flipper works 99% of the time, but occasionally will not flip (usually after starting a game).
I'm testing the game and guess what happens next, the ball careers into the three drop targets and one snaps off! Could this get any worse?
I secretly think this machine hates me for selling it.
3 hours later and the buyer is still not back. Figuring him for gone, I pack up and go back indoors. I get a call later, he's still interested, so I'll let him know when I've ordered some parts and got it 100%.
Some days I just wish I'd stayed in bed.

2008-05-15: Best tip in restoration - take your time by Don O.
Have been working on an EM restoration for a while, and after a playfield clearcoat and swap, I'm slowly putting it back together.
Decided to put mylar surrounds around the pops, and screwed up the placement of one of them. Instead of taking my time and using one of the proven methods for removing the mylar, I decided to do it by hand, and ended up lifting a little bit of clearcoat in a few spots. I knew it was stupid, but I was in a hurry.
Remember this the next time you're taking a shortcut in your game restoration. Take a step back and do it right the first time.

2008-05-01: My CFTBL translite flew away by Mike G
While on a ride home, it flew off as the glass was not locked. The machine was transported head down. Glass with tlite moved forward along with speaker panel.
Glass breaks, translite flies away when car is going 65mph.

2008-4-15: Undressing games by Stevebo
I have 3 sweatpants I routinely wear when shopping games. I've used my wife's sewing machine numerous times to repair the pockets in the sweatpants that get ripped when snagging them on the ball shooter. The problem seems to go on for awhile until I get sick and tired of putting a pinball in my pocket and have the thing bounce off my foot as it travels down my leg through the hole in the pocket for the umpteenth time and then rolls under a game towards the back requiring me to swat at Black Widow spiders while trying to retrieve the pinball. Not that I have a ton of spiders in the basement. Actually, I think it's just one and she moves around on the floor to the underside of games just to scare the hell out of me. I usually follow up this process of avoiding spiders with banging my head on the underside of the game box when I don't quite clear it and try to stand up. I think this is her real tactic but it's only a theory.
Well, it looks like my games are on to me. I've been very careful lately when walking around them so that I don't snag the pockets anymore on the ball shooter. They seem to know this and now the coin eject button is snagging the hell out of the pants pockets.
If that isn't bad enough, I squatted down tonight to pick up something I dropped on the floor and as I was using the game to steady myself while getting up, the coin eject button on my Fathom snagged my shirt pocket and ripped the hell out of the shirt. I damn near lifted the game off the floor with my pocket when I stood up so quickly. Riiiippppppp. I could almost hear the other games laughing as I staggered away looking down at a loose flap of cloth hanging down on a nearly new shirt.

2008-4-01: 35 expensive games.. by pinballtom264
Picked up an HUO Sopranos...
This guy paid around $5000.00 for this game new from the company that put his home theatre in and he didn't even know that it had a power switch until I flipped it on it's end to take it out. He had simply used the plug to power it on and off.
I checked the audits when I got home....35 total plays!

2008-03-15: You know it's been a long time you've played pinball..
You fire up a pin and it says factory setting restored.. meaning the batteries are dead.. so you switch off the pin and go watch telly instead.
Yup it happened.

2008-03-01: What's that sound ? by Jeff
I delivered a CFTBL to a workmate. It was lugged up 2 flights of stairs with a tiny landing in between through a narrow doorway and used the existing pool table and some blankets to set it up with legs on as space was at a premium in the attic/gamesroom.
I'd had this machine for over a year during which I'd rerubbered, globed, popbumper mods, film overlay etc. so you could imagine when I turned up for work on Monday and asked "How did the family like it?".. Reply was Great!!! except for the occasional loud "Crack" noise that comes from it like an Amp fusing.
Being duly worried that a transformer was about to cause a China syndrome I investigated the creech after climbing the stairway to heaven and no obvious problem or smell of a pin in it's death throes. Was duly advised to have a game and just see. Sure enough - 2nd ball with the junior of the family playing the noise occurred from the backbox/speaker area followed by a 3 fold "there it is". Well I pi--ed myself as they had racked up a SPECIAL and upon later inspection found that the daughter had been reading the manual and had done the factory reset to extra easy. Game still playing great and thank the man above the machine doesn't have to come back down for surgery.

2008-02-15: What interlock switch ? by brokenvette
Im replacing switches on my new Medieval Madness. I was replacing them on the right ramp entrance. My daughter was trying to help me( yea right) and I unknowingly reversed the wires. I turned the machine on and nothing happened. No ball popped out, no flippers, no pops of any kind. I'm going oh shit. Then I noticed that I reversed the wires on the switch so I reversed them and turned it back on and still nothing. I'm getting really worried. I check all fuses hoping to find one bad and no luck.
At this point its 1:00AM and Im mad and heartbroken that I broke my price so I go to close up the pin. I unplug the soldering iron and guess what, the iron is plugged into the plug inside the pin and coming throught the coin door and the door is OPEN. I shut the door, turned on the pin and guess what, everything works including the switch that I had replaced. I didnt know weather to be mad at myself for the stupidity or be relieved that my prize wasnt broken.

2008-02-01: It was a great playfield.. by Eric A.
After a long wait and nearly a year and a half I was repopulating my banzai pf restored by playfield renovations.
A friend came over to pick up a couple games I sold him and I wanted to show him how nice the pf turned out. I went to turn it over and the whole thing came crashing to the ground.
I guess it could have been a lot worse as the artwork and assemblies are undamaged but CRAP!!!! I'm going to cry myself to sleep again!
See picture.

2008-01-15: Plug in all the boards by Stevebo
You know you've been working on games too long when you decide after 4 hours of working on several games to finally throw your boards you had stacked up by the Eight Ball Deluxe Limited Edition back in to the game that WAS working, and now no longer seems to work.
You search and search trying to figure out what the heck is wrong. You get the 7 lights on the CPU board so think nothing's wrong there, but when you push the credit button, it changes after saying the "Eight Ball Deluxe - Three Ball" voice to "Two Ball" and acts like it wants to start but won't kick up the ball for play. And what's that "Two Ball" voice about? All you did was hit the credit button.
Then while scratching the old noggin' and checking voltages and some more head scratching, you happen to look to your left while peering in to the backbox hoping something will miraculously cure itself and notice that there's an empty space on the backside of the backbox light board on the right hand side next to the other two boards. And what's those 4 connectors doing there that aren't plugged in? DOH! There's supposed to be a light driver board in there. The game won't work OK with that board missing. Jeesh! What a waste of valuable time screwing around like that.

2008-01-01: Early christmas repairs by Mario
Amazing, six calls since in the first week of december alone and I see about 4 messages not checked. Local sales and Ebay junk bought for Xmas is starting to show up on my answering machine.
Here's a few:
Really need this fixed right away. I have a party scheduled. It's probably an easy fix. The guy who sold it to me told me so.
I bought a pinball off Ebay and it stopped working. Can you fix it right away. We would like to play it today.
I just got this pinball from a guy who gave me your number. He said you could fix it cheap.
My favorite: Hi, I bought this pinball locally but the guy only sells them, he doesn't fix them. He gave me your number and said that you could fix it and that you sometimes do free housecalls. We can't afford much on repairs.
Gotta love this holiday!

Older stories can be found in the archive 2005 - 2006 and archive 2007.