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.
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.
Ever since she first saw it, Tales of the Arabian Nights (Williams, 1997) has been Fiona's favourite game. She loves the artwork, the colours, the sounds, and everything else about this game. And I don't blame her. It really is a beautiful game, and really gives you that feeling of being in a "world under glass" when you're playing it. I think Tales of the Arabian Nights has the best unlicensed music of any pinball machine ever made. The end-of-ball bonus music tune is one of my favourites - featuring what I assume is a qanun playing from higher to lower notes as the lamp bonus is counted down - it almost makes me want to lose my ball just so I can hear it!
So, when the opportunity to restore one of these games presented itself, we jumped at the chance! Unfortunately, by the time we finished the restoration, the game had almost killed us, but it was worth it for the chance to bring this beauty back to playing like new.
It's been a while since my last post! Over the last few months, Fiona and I have been busy with a mix of our own arcade projects as well as various repairs for customers, so let's go over one of the recent repairs for another Fish Tales (Williams, 1992)! This customer had not played their Fish Tales in several years and it had sat around not working. The difficult part was that the customer (and the machine) were in Orange, NSW. A bit beyond the typical house call distance! Luckily, he was able to bring the machine to our workshop for the various repairs that it needed.
Johnny Mnemonic (Williams, 1995) was another machine from our pinball road trip. Fiona and I had tackled all of our previous restorations at a leisurely pace. We'd generally start tearing a machine down for cleaning, clean and repair the parts as necessary, and then put them all back together whenever we had a chunk of spare time. As of late, we had not had that much spare time to devote to pinball. Our last restoration of Doctor Who (Bally, 1992) took us several months because we were so busy with other things going on. It's a little frustrating to have a machine sitting in pieces for so long, not being played. With this restoration, we decided to try something different. We both freed up our Easter long weekend and devoted it entirely to restoring Johnny Mnemonic from start to finish. So come Friday afternoon, we turned our phones off and got to work. Just like the restored machine, our work this time around was fast and furious.
I have to admit, Fish Tales (Williams, 1992) is never a game I had thought seriously about owning. I had seen it a few times but the theme threw me totally off. I hate fishing. So it stood to reason that I'd never like a pinball machine based on fishing, and I never paid Fish Tales much attention. It just happened to be that there were two Fish Tales machines in the lot I purchased during our pinball road trip. I figured I would restore them both and sell them on.
This restoration post is a little different from the others. Both of the Fish Tales games were very similar in appearance and condition, but each had their own issues to troubleshoot. I restored these games at the same time, swapping parts between the cabinets as necessary and they were both finished at around the same time. So I didn't take many pictures of the individual machines. Instead, I'll deal with both of the machines in this single post. The pictures are a mix of photos from both machines, but as they were both so similar, it doesn't really matter.
Ever since I became interested in pinball, I had always wanted to play and own a Getaway: High Speed II (Williams, 1992). The Getaway is a popular machine and over 13,000 were made. As a result, I had played a few in private collections, and had a blast each and every time. It's an incredibly fun game that has wide appeal.
Having only just finished restoring my first machine, I was game for another. I contacted a seller in northwestern Sydney who was selling a Getaway. She and her partner had had the game for several years, but it had never been set up. Her husband had purchased it from his place of work, where it had been sitting around and was no longer wanted. The couple originally intended to have it repaired, but now they were moving house and needed to get rid of it.
I recently got in touch with a pinball machine collector in Glenhaven who wanted to sell his collection. He was moving house and was planning on selling his machines instead of moving them. He had a number of machines for sale, including The Addams Family (Bally, 1992), Demolition Man (Williams, 1994), The Flintstones (Williams, 1994), Rescue 911 (Gottlieb, 1994) and Guns N' Roses (Data East, 1994). This was obviously a guy who had an obsession with the year 1994. He sent me a few images of his machines and I spent some time thinking about which one I wanted to buy.
Here you will find logs of our pinball and arcade machine restorations, repairs, discussion about general pinball and arcade topics, as well as recounts of our random pinball adventures.
Check back regularly for updates!
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