This is starting to look like a video arcade restoration blog rather than a pinball one! However, I am running out of space with too many projects sitting in the queue, so I need to sell some games to make space. Naturally, that means the larger games, particularly the twin driving cabinets, have to go!
It hasn't been too long since I finished with my Cyber Cycles restoration, and now, I'm onto another Namco game. This time it is Namco's Ace Driver: Victory Lap (1996). It might be a little confusing why I have two game flyers at the top of this page. One for Ace Driver, and another for Victory Lap. That's because Victory Lap was not a complete, standalone game. It was sold as a conversion kit for the original Ace Driver (1994), and used the same cabinet and hardware. This restoration was mainly a cabinet tidy-up and go-over, as the game was mostly working when I first powered it up.
It seems to be the season for battery corrosion on pinball circuit boards. Over the last few months I have repaired several Williams WPC-era MPU (CPU) boards which have suffered various levels of battery corrosion. Original WPC CPU boards are now at least 33 years old, which is an eternity when it comes to electronics. By this point, a randomly-selected CPU board will have had many issues during its working life which would have necessitated bench-level repair. However, for the most part, these repairs would have consisted of replacement of a couple of defective components; a relatively non-invasive procedure. Battery corrosion repair is a different beast, and is more akin to amputation followed by transplantation.
Unfortunately for the boards featured in this blog post, the corrosion was discovered too late, so some extensive repairs had to be carried out. This post deals with three levels of battery corrosion: minor, moderate, and major, and the actions undertaken to get the games back into working condition. There is some great information available regarding how to tackle these kinds of repairs, such as the Alkaline Corrosion Abatement section on Pinwiki, and TerryB's Guide to Repairing Alkaline Battery Damage. I used tips from both guides to carry out these repairs.
Life has been busy over the last few months so it has taken me a while to finally write a report on Pinfest 2022. Better late than never, so here it is! 2022 was the first year since the pandemic that things were back to "normal". Machines were set up so the venue was at capacity and social distancing was no longer mandatory. Ticket sales for each session were capped, but this was more to ensure everyone had a chance to play the machines rather than a limit set due to Covid restrictions. Pinfest 2021 was a great show, but it did feel a little emptier than usual, so Fiona and I were excited to get back into the swing of things properly.
It's not often I work on arcade machines, but after grabbing this Cyber Cylces (Namco, 1995) as a part of a bulk arcade machine deal, I found that it was in need of a fair bit of work. So, I figured this blog post would be a good way to record the journey of learning about this game and board system. The pinball purists will have to forgive me, but even though I am a pinball die hard I still have a soft spot for video arcade games, particularly driving cabs. Cyber Cycles runs on Namco's Super System 22 hardware system, which I would say is a difficult system to repair due to a lack of schematics and general repair information. However, if I decided to sell this game, it would need to be in good working condition for the next owner, so I figure that posting some of my successes (and failures) during this repair may help out other Cyber Cycles owners in the future. Jump on, and let's ride...
I haven't had to do a full restoration on a Data East machine in a little while, so it was about time one came around. Enter Jurassic Park! This machine came from a customer who had this machine sitting in their garage. They had just moved house and wanted the machine brought back into playing condition so they could play it in their new house. As expected, the Jurassic Park was much older than the house, and was also in much poorer condition. The game did start up and enter attract mode, but a lot of playfield features did not work and a lot of parts were broken. This was going to be a full-on restoration, and I wanted to add a few little touches to really bring the machine back to its former glory. So, if this pinball machine was 65 million years in the making, then I was in it for the long haul with this restoration.
I've been repairing a few classic Bally games lately, so it's only fitting that this one came into my care recently. Star Trek (Bally, 1979) has some cool playfield features including a saucer which spits the ball out into the pop bumpers, and a free ball return lane. Star Trek appears to be the only Bally solid state game that had a free ball return lane feature, and it was a great way to rack up scores by collecting bonuses continuously. The "Where No Man Has Gone" horseshoe at the top left of the playfield was also a cool gimmick, causing the left pop bumper to fire the ball back at the left flipper.
This will be a relatively short blog post as this restoration was focused mainly on circuit board repairs and upgrades. Only minor playfield repairs were conducted, and the machine was otherwise in good, playing condition. The playfield was stripped and cleaned, various broken parts were replaced, and the flipper assemblies were also rebuilt. However, there's nothing particularly exciting about any of that. Instead, I intend for this blog post to serve as a generic reference for those troubleshooting classic Bally boardsets and to explain some of the basic modifications and upgrades I perform.
Well, the last couple of years have been rough! Last year was the first time Fiona and I had missed out on Pinfest since we first attended in 2015. By the end of 2020, the COVID pandemic was in full swing and travelling hours away for a weekend was just not an option for us. Regardless, Pinfest 2020 still went ahead, albeit at a reduced capacity and with fewer games. I was bummed that I couldn't go to my favourite event of the year, and promised that we would be back in 2021 when the pandemic had completely blown over...
If you ever need proof that pinball was made for adolescent men, look no further than Playboy (Bally, 1978). As gaudy as this theme seems now, it remains a great example of a classic Bally game. There is a reason they made over 18,000 of these - they were fun! The standup targets on one side coupled with the drop targets on the other side made this a fun shooting game. This game was given to me to repair by an elderly customer who had stored it outside in his pergola for many, many years. I initially attended his house for a service call, but was then advised that he wanted the machine to be refurbished and brought back to playing condition. However, this customer did not want to spend a huge amount on the game, so I had to tackle this repair with budget in mind.
Last year marked the 25th anniversary of the original Johnny Mnemonic movie. This year also saw the release of a high definition version of the original film. This means it's the perfect time for another Johnny Mnemonic (Williams, 1995) blog post! This was quick repair job for a customer who wanted to repair his dad's pinball machine and finally get it into working condition again. His dad used to love playing it and it had sat for too long in need of repair. I was happy to help him out as I love being able to get a machine going again so it can be played and enjoyed like it was intended to be!
This restoration was unusual because the machine was brought to me from several hours away. I had been working on fixing the machine for a couple of weeks when the customer asked if I would be able to have it ready by the end of the week (a couple of days away!) as he was traveling back to his dad's place and wanted to surprise him with the machine. I'm not one to say no to a challenge, so as well as playing lightning fast, this machine was probably one of the fastest repair jobs I have ever had to do! As a result, this post will also be in a shorter format, covering just the things that needed attention.
I haven't been posting much lately, nor have I been able to take on much repair work due to a house move (more on that later!). However, I've been able to get stuck into a small backlog of board repairs and other minor jobs while I sort out the housing situation.
After the last repair, I thought it would be a good idea to do a short post to remind everyone to check their circuit boards as a part of their regular pinball maintenance regimen. Circuit board parts fail all of the time, but few of these failures will actively damage your machine. Batteries are the most well-known exception and they will certainly damage your circuit boards if they leak. However, fewer people are aware that capacitors are capable of damaging circuit boards in the same way, and should also be checked regularly for signs of damage.
Here you will find logs of our pinball machine restorations, repairs, discussion about general pinball topics, and recounts of our random pinball adventures.
Check back regularly for updates!
Running this website is a
hobby for me (just like pinball!). I like being able to show off my restoration work so everyone can learn from it and potentially fix their own machines. If you enjoy reading the site's content or it has been helpful to you, please consider donating to offset some of the website's operating costs.