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.
I explained to the seller that I was new to the hobby and was looking for my first machine to repair and play. He recommended Demolition Man. The pictures above were the first images I saw of the machine. By the time I was able to arrange a time to visit and inspect the machines, he only had Demolition Man left for sale. He didn't know much about the history of the machine, apart from the fact that it had been sited at a pub in Sydney for some time.
Initial condition report (click on sections below to view details)
Good condition overall.
Average condition overall.
Average condition overall.
Good condition overall.
The game booted and played, but had multiple faults. The Cryo Claw is the main playfield toy on Demolition Man, so having it inoperable was a bummer. The subway ramp had never been cleaned and was black with dirt and dust. The game was otherwise intact. All the ramps were there. I could see that beneath the dirt was what looked like quite a nice playfield. There was only one major area of damage on the playfield - two spots above the flippers where the ball had worn through the top layer of playfield art. Playfield art restorations are difficult to do properly, and I wasn't game enough to buy a machine that needed a lot of playfield touch-up work. However, it didn't look like it would be too hard to fix after I had gained a little more experience (ha!).
So, I bit the bullet. This was the first time I had bought any kind of arcade equipment of my own. A little while after I bought the machine, I had a moment when I realised how cool it was that I actually owned a pinball machine that I could keep in my house and play. So, like an eager kid on Christmas Day, I loaded the machine into my car and brought her home.
The disassembly process was a lengthy one for Demolition Man, mainly because of the mess of ramps over the top half of the playfield. Demolition Man has a lot of ramps. You need to take them out of the machine in a specific order, or you'll get stuck trying to take a ramp out when it doesn't have enough space (been there, done that).
Unlike plastic ramps, which sometimes have a little flexibility, Demolition Man ramps are mostly wireforms, which won't bend. There is actually a guide in the manual (page 1-44) which tells you the order in which you need to take the ramps out. I found that it was actually difficult to follow the instructions because they advised taking the ramps out in a way that was not possible. So refer to the instructions and see if they help; I ended up ignoring them and taking the ramps apart in a different order. Your mileage may vary.
Other than that, there isn't anything specific that makes Demolition Man a difficult machine to disassemble and restore. Like with any machine, take your time and take plenty of photos along the way. Below are some progress images showing playfield disassembly.
After disassembly, the game went through my standard restoration process to get it playing and looking like new. During the restoration process, I dealt with a number of issues, described below.
Tips & Troubleshooting (click on sections below to view details)
Incorrect and missing parts on front of cabinet
The operator who used to own this machine installed an eye latch lock on the front of the cabinet to secure the coin door. I don't know why they didn't just buy a proper coin door lock. A new lock was installed and the door locked and opened as intended.
The start and launch ball buttons had been replaced by generic arcade buttons. The launch ball button actually said 'start'! This was easy enough to fix with new start (part no. 20-9663-1) and launch buttons (part no. 20-9663-B-4).
There were also four screw holes drilled through Wesley Snipes's head to the right of the coin door to secure the eye latch. One day I will get around to patching up the holes in the cabinet but for now I have just left them be.
Coin door damaged and service switch assembly missing buttons
One of the plastic button caps had come off the service switch assembly (part no. 5641-12724-00) on the coin door. I didn't have any luck finding a replacement for the button, and although they are available as single switches (part no. 5641-09312-00), there weren't any available locally! Mark from Aussie Arcade graciously offered to help me out by giving me a used coin door from Twilight Zone (Bally, 1993). The service switch assembly on this coin door was intact and all the necessary wiring was there. I installed the new coin door and the switches worked great. Thanks, Mark!
Tilt switch assembly incomplete
Incorrect and broken parts on flipper assemblies
The flipper return springs (part no. 10-364) on the two lower flippers were the wrong type. The ones installed in the game were stronger than the factory springs. While they worked just fine, I replaced them with the correct return springs.
The EOS switch on the right flipper (part no. SW-1A-194) had been destroyed and was missing one of the switch leaves. At some point, the flipper probably came loose and snapped it off. I removed the old switch and soldered a brand new one in. Fixed!
Broken playfield plastics
The plastic above the upper flipper (part no. 31-1919-16), is commonly broken on Demolition Man. Mine had been reinforced with a washer to try and keep the plastic in place. You can actually get a steel replacement for this plastic, as well as a reproduction plastic. The stainless steel replacement is potentially worth it if you like the way it looks and it will also protect the area from air balls. I prefer the original plastic, so I will replace it when I can find another. For now, it all holds together fairly well with washers supporting it.
The plastic above the subway chute entrance (part no. 31-1919-14) was also broken. This was only a small chip that didn't bother me, so I didn't look into replacing it.
One thing to look out for is the plastic that sits just below the right pop bumper (part no. 31-1919-17). This plastic is tiny and is often broken or completely missing. My plastic was slightly chipped and I misplaced it a couple of times during this restoration so I'm not surprised that it often gets lost. The plastic usually gets knocked off from balls being plunged onto he playfield and straying from the shooter lane. I used a plastic washer to absorb any stray ball hits and lock the plastic down.
Plastic ramp entrance broken
This actually happened shortly after I had finished putting the machine back together. A ball hit the entrance to the left ramp (part no. A-17786) and smashed into the right side of it, breaking a piece off. This area is mostly protected by a ramp protector and the post at the entrance to the ramp, so it was unlucky that it broke. Some glue was all that was needed to put it back together. I used Revell Contacta Professional glue for this repair, but you can use any strong plastic glue. This ramp edge won't survive many direct ball hits, but as this area is mostly protected by ball guides, it should be fine for a while. If it ever gets completely smashed, original ramps are actually available (PSPA).
Cryo Claw not working
The Cryo Claw wouldn't move during gameplay, and being the main toy on the playfield, it being broken made for a boring game! Having a look under the playfield, I noticed a stray connector hanging loose in the cabinet. This was supposed to connect to a motor driver board (part no. A-16120) under the playfield. The screw holes under the playfield were a dead giveaway that the motor driver board had actually been removed from the game and was now missing. Bummer! The previous owner had actually told me that the claw had stopped working and somebody had taken the motor board out to do some work on it. Obviously, it was never put back in!
Homepin makes replacement boards which are a direct plug-and-play replacement for the motor driver board (John's Arcade). I ordered a new one and installed it; the Cryo Claw then came back to life! Easy fix!
Playfield artwork above flippers was worn away
This was a challenging playfield repair as the areas requiring patching up were quite large. Wear above the flippers in these areas is quite common on a lot of games. So this repair will also help out a lot in future restorations. I generally followed Vid's guide on playfield restorations, which was very helpful. I highly recommend reading the guide in full before tackling these kinds of repairs.
Whenever you have areas like this that need repainting, sand the area down with 400 grit sandpaper to roughen it up and help the paint adhere to it. I didn't do this, which caused some problems with the paint lifting and peeling away as it could not stick to the playfield. Painting on playfields is hard because they are naturally polished, clean surfaces. You need a bit of grit for the paint to stick. When you're ready to paint, mask or frisket the area to protect against overspray. I buy most of my airbrush supplies and paints from Airbrush Megastore, which has a great selection. As per Vid's guide, Createx paints are the go-to product.
Next is colour matching. Fiona helped out with this as she has a great eye for colour. The insert borders are black and orange/red. The orange/red was a hard colour to match as it is fluorescent. We used Fluorescent Orange, mixed with Fluorescent Hot Pink, to get the proper shade. This playfield was not faded at all, but a lot of Demolition Man playfields are. You will be looking at more of a light pink colour if this is the case.
Shoot some layers down with an airbrush, or by hand, if you have a steady grip. Fiona was in charge of the painting and I stood by with the hair dryer to seal and dry the layers as they went down, which was a good system. The main mistake we made here was laying down too many layers. The dry paint film didn't stick to the playfield properly and peeled a little. We were able to push it back down and get it to stick, but sanding the playfield would have prevented this. After the orange/red areas were done, we had to do the black insert borders and areas between the orange sections. This was much easier - just a layer of Opaque Black. We followed these repairs up with some Matte Top Coat to match the sheen of the playfield and blend the repair area in with the original artwork.
Overall I was happy with the result, but we are our own worst critics! The area sticks out if you look for it as the paint is slightly uneven. This could have been avoided by using fewer paint layers and making sure they stuck to the playfield. Good to know for next time. For the time being, the repair looks pretty good and is difficult to spot under playfield GI lighting.
Subway chute assembly coming apart
The entrance hole (hit from the left upper flipper) is part of the metal chute assembly that sticks out of the playfield below the left pop bumper (part no. A-17620). This assembly is usually damaged because the flipper is not far away and slams balls towards it very hard.
The welding on this assembly was poorly done at the factory, with only a couple of spot welds holding the plates of the assembly together. Usually, the plates on the side of the hole break away from the rest of the assembly. This is exactly what happened on my machine; the plate on the right side was completely detached and the plate on the left was starting to come apart. Having this assembly re-welded properly ensures it will survive for years to come. All credit for the welding goes to a boilermaker friend of mine who made it stronger than it ever was before. Thanks, Daz!
Incorrect pop bumper bracket installed
I didn't actually notice this until I had cleaned most of the machine up and I had started to rebuild the pop bumpers. One of the pop bumper brackets was the incorrect type; it looked like an older Bally/Midway thumper bumper bracket rather than the expected Williams style bracket (part no. B-7417). It worked just fine, but I like to keep things as original as possible, so I replaced it with the correct part.
Ground short row errors
Be careful when reassembling the trigger handles. There is a grounding strap that sits beneath the switch wires that protects them from hitting the handle body. I inserted them the wrong way the first time and had a heap of ground short errors when I started the machine up. It took me hours to figure out where the issue was because I didn't really expect it to be in the handles! Unplugging the handles at the board helped isolate the issue because once the handles were disconnected, the ground shorts disappeared. Lesson learned!
However, that wasn't the end of my grounding issues. After I had fixed the shorting issue caused by the grounding strap in the trigger handle assemblies, I started to see switch issues where every single switch row was throwing a ground short. The physical switches on the cabinet and playfield did not seem to be the problem. After unplugging J209 and J212 from the MPU board, all switches showed as open, including switch 26. Switch 26 in WPC games is always meant to be closed.
This suggested the problem was not with the wiring on the playfield, but with the MPU board itself. To confirm, I used a test lead to ground pins at J207 to those on J209, simulating a switch closure on the playfield. Each pin registered several switch closures each time I made contact instead of just one. Another bad sign. So then I had a look further up the chain at chips U14 and U20. Bingo! One of the pins on the U20 chip had fried!
This is actually a very common issue with WPC systems and can happen if a higher voltage is sent down the switch matrix (such as when you connect a live lamp socket to a switch lug with a screwdriver!). I have no idea how U20 blew up on my machine, but John from John's Arcade graciously offered to help me out by removing the old U20 chip, soldering a socket into the MPU board and installing a new U20 chip into it. He also repaired the traces on the underside of the board which were also damaged. I reinstalled the MPU and all of the switches worked perfectly. Thanks, John!
Trigger handles worn
The trigger handles are commonly worn to the bare metal where the palm rests on the handle. The best way to fix this is to have the entire handle assembly replated with chrome or nickel. This will give it the best shine and maximum durability. The cheaper method is to repaint it with a chrome or silver paint, but the results aren't as nice. I tried the latter method, and followed up with a basic clearcoat spray. The final look is duller than the original and still suffers wear in the same area over time. Getting it replated would make it look better and enhance its durability.
Flash lamps not working properly
During testing I noticed that a few flash lamps were not working on the playfield. I had a look at the suspect lamps and noticed that one of the flasher socket lugs had spun around and was now in contact with the base of the socket, creating a short. I spun the socket around so the lugs were no longer touching. Then things started to work again - sort of. The broken flash lamps started to work again, but they were on constantly. Having flash lamps or coils locked on is a good indicator that there are issues with the driving transistors on the power driver board. This turned out to be the case. The transistor had failed and was providing a path to ground constantly instead of turning on and off. Replacing the transistor fixed the flashers and they starting working properly.
Figuring out flasher or coil issues promptly is important as any locked-on power circuit will either melt coils (if a coil transistor is locked on) or melt plastics if nearby flashers are locked on.
Sound board upgrades
This is a small upgrade I do on all WPC DCS sound boards. The ceramic capacitors at C37 and C45 are unnecessary, and were actually removed from the next revision of sound boards (WPC 95), as described on Pinwiki as well as on Pinball Rehab. I removed them both from the board. This cleans up the sound effects a little and makes the sound clearer.
Make sure you completely reassemble the upper part of the playfield before reinstalling any of the ramps. Why? Since Demolition Man has so many intertwining ramps covering the top half of the playfield, getting back to that area to install a forgotten component is near impossible (also been there, done that). You don't want to have to take the top half of the playfield apart more times than you absolutely have to, so be thorough the first time around.
I chose light blue Cliffy post sleeves for Demolition Man, as the playfield has blue accents. I ordered new white flipper bats and fitted them with blue Super-Bands to match the post sleeves. I replaced all of the rubber rings with new black rings.
I installed LEDs from Luke's Pinballs throughout the whole machine. I used blue frosted globes in the inlane/outlane ball guides, as well as on the back panel of the playfield. Most of the ramps have blue decals at the entrances, and there are flashers behind the blue transparent plastic along the top edge of the playfield back panel. I used blue GI lamps and flashers in these locations to accent the blue that was already there. I also used blue frosted LEDs in the flipper inlane ball guides. I replaced the globes around the Cryo Claw with red frosted LEDs, matching the colour of the original bulb sleeves. Everywhere else on the top of the playfield, I used frosted white LEDs for general illumination. I used coloured LEDs for feature lamps underneath the playfield, and matched them to the colours of the inserts. There were two exceptions: the four freeze inserts and the multiball inserts. The freeze inserts are white, but I used blue LEDs to give them more of a 'freezy' look. The multiball inserts are also clear, but I think they look boring with plan white LEDs. I used four different colours which I thought best matched the name of the multiball: green for fortress multiball, yellow for museum multiball, red for wasteland multiball, and blue for Cryo prison multiball.
Below is a spreadsheet containing the LEDs I ordered for my machine. Feel free to edit and use it as you wish.
I also purchased a Makrolon playfield protector overlay from Precision Gas Springs. The protector looks great and makes the game play very fast. This works well on Demolition Man because it adds to the frenzy of making combos and hitting the ramps. The only issue I encountered with the protector was balls getting stuck under the upper left flipper. The protector creates a small ditch under the flipper which the ball would normally roll out of, if not for the high plastic protector edge. Push the protector as far as possible towards the left of the playfield. Something can be wedged in between the two posts in this area so the ball can't come to rest here (I used a thicker post rubber), but be careful not to obstruct the flipper's travel. Some tape on the playfield area not covered by the protector to bring it to the same height can also help.
When properly cleaned and adjusted, Demolition Man is a very fast game dominated by combos, ramp shots, and great flow. For our first restoration, Demolition Man was a great success. It is not the easiest machine to work on as there are a lot of ramps to deal with and the Cryo Claw and elevator can sometimes be troublesome to get working poperly. Nevertheless, with Demolition Man, we learned a lot about how pinball machines work and what is involved in getting them up and running. And so began our pinball hobby!
Edit from 2017: It is interesting to see how your pinball tastes develop over time! Reading back over this post in 2017 and knowing what I know now about pinball, I am kicking myself that I didn't make a move sooner and take the Guns 'N' Roses! It is an awesome game that I have only played a handful of times. However, I don't regret buying Demolition Man at all. It was a great first machine to tear down and rebuild.
Here you will find logs of our pinball machine restorations, repairs, discussion about general pinball topics, and recounts of our random pinball adventures.
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