Saturday, October 28, 2017

My Next Project

I've been asked by a few fellow pinball collectors what's my next project now that OXO is done.

It's not like I lack options...

Bally Challenger
Bally Beach Time
Bally 2 in 1
Bally Stock Market
Gottlieb Score Card
Sea Breeze

To name only a few

The "B side" of the basement is a mess!

My next project is enjoying what I have in my gameroom. Taking the time to stop and enjoy what I've accomplished so far. I've been repairing games non stop since September 2012. I've had a game (a long series of games) in my repair bay for the last 5 years. Some of it is a bit of a blur. All this dedication to amusement machine repair; was I running from something? Perhaps. I need a bit of a break. A bit of a breather.

I will prioritize helping other collectors with their projects. Pinball is supposed to be a social activity.

I try to spend some of my free time in my basement game room, playing games, drinking beer and listening to music.

I have 5 CD changer I hooked up to my obsolete stereo. I put it in spiral mode.
As I write these words, the 5 CD's are

Beatles Abbey Road
Radiohead Airbag / How Am I driving
Kraftwerk Man-Machine
The Smiths Meat Is Murder
Joy Division Unknown Pleasures

With the music blaring, all my games ON, lights flashing, chimes ringing and the right blood alcohol level: the moment is sweet. What's not to like.

Basement Game Room

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Williams OXO back from the dead

Back in late September I picked a cool project game that's been on my want list for awhile. 1973 Williams OXO. I always liked the artwork and colors of the game. The 3 x 3 Tic-Tac-Toe card is a miniature version of a bingo card in a sense.

The game I bought was a bit of a mess. The lockdown bar was "misplaced", most of the flipper mechs were purloined, the knocker assembly was missing, the ball trough switch was AWOL. The ball shooter and housing was missing and the spare one that came with the game was cactus. The coin door wiring was hacked and the flat bar protecting the trip bank was missing.

Hopefully I had a spares of all the aforementioned parts, coming from a WMS Super-Flite I picked up for parts. I know super-flite is a pretty rare game but the one I picked up was missing the head and the body was rotten beyond repair. I also picked a williams gulf stream playfield that donated a few parts to the OXO.

Oddly, the chime unit was still in place, which was a surprise. Usually, they're missing in this kind of deal.

The worst thing about my OXO was the wiring harness that was hacked between the head and the score motor panel. I guess someone wanted to take the game apart didn't notice the jones connectors. According to the guy representing the seller, all the wires were correctly repaired.

In a Williams game, the same wire color can be used 3 or 4 times in the same wiring loom. That makes the risk of crossing wires extremely high. However, I trusted that the previous repair guy did his homework and correctly matched the wires.

The repair job was a mess of electrical tape and poorly crimped butt joint crimp connectors. I redid all the joints with solder and heat shrink tubing.

However, there were signs that some wires were mixed up... The game was over fused with 20 and 30 Amp fuses. When I first turned on the game after resoldering all the spices, the game was locked up. Completely unplayable. Doing all sorts of crazy stuff. Solenoids energized and extremely bright lamps all over the backbox. Obviously, there were a few crossed wires.

I began the painstakingly long process of figuring out all the crossed wires. It involves a multimeter, the manual, schematics, a good deal of logic, a good sense of observation, patience and intuition. In the end there was close to 20 crossed wires (out of 60! Ouch!) I reversed the mistakes on the female part of the jones connectors in the head. I realise the connector map is no longer "original" but it seemed like the easiest way to fix the crossed wires.

After that I had to take care of the trip bank. I think the playfield if my OXO was dropped at one time. There's a weird bend in the trip bank that makes the switch adjustment a bit tricky on a few switch stacks. Also, over time some switch stack screws got a bit loose, that allowed some switch stacks to shift a bit and short circuit to the frame by way of the switch actuators and the set-up bar when the bar would reset the bank.

After the trip bank, There were a few odds and ends to take care of, little stuff to dial in the game. The most noteworthy repair was re-winding a 6 Volt coil for the triple bonus relay from a 120V trip bank reset coil I had laying around, Both used 24 AWG wire.

In the end, I'm happy. I got my OXO and got a good challenge out of it. To put a price on the number of hours I invested in the game added to the price I paid for the game, this game is a disastrous money pit. However, I suspect there's not many EM repair guys that would have taken on this project. I did it for myself, for the challenge of chasing bugs. The game would probably have ended up chopped as spare parts or something eventually. It would have just rotted in the corner of some warehouse in Syracuse NY.

Now it's in my game room for myself and my friends to enjoy. Spread the joy trough pinball.

Friday, October 20, 2017

The worst phrase for a EM pinball repair dude

Often seen on Williams pinball schematics from around 1976

NOTICE Due to wire shortages beyond our control, some wire colors may be other than indicated on wiring diagram.

Grrrr. And my multimeter is out of batteries.

[Imagine Picard Facepalm Here]

Better hope there's a jack (jones plug) layout and detailed relay switch info.


Welcome to flavor country

Thursday, September 7, 2017

2017 Ottawa Pinball and Gameroom Show

On September 2nd and 3rd was the 2017 Ottawa Pinball and gameroom show at the Nepean Sportsplex.

Game setup was on Friday the 1st. My contributions to the show were Bally Wizard!, Hokus Pokus and Delta Queen.

Friday Setup

Setting up my games

The show is an occasion for people of all ages to enjoy pinball in all it's forms. For the people from the pinball community, it's another occasion to hang out, chat, and drink beer.

There was around 100 games, some from as early as mid 1960's all the way to new games. All the games at the show were supplied by vendors, operators and the general pinball community.

My favorite game at the show was Williams Fan-Tas-Tic. I had never played it before. It's a lot like Williams Spanish Eyes, but with a bonus, left outlane kick back, right outlane return and a roulette.

Williams Fan-Tas-Tic
There was an IFPA sanctioned O-Town Throwdown Tournament.


Tons of fun. Can't wait for next year's show.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Bally On Beam gameplay

There's a few gameplay videos on On Beam on Youtube, but there's no any real explanation on how On Beam is played.

I will try to explain how to play this semi-rare Bally game from 1969.

But first a bit of background information. On Beam was designed by Bob Jonesi, whose only other pinball contribution was on 1976 Atari The Atarians, on which he did the design, concept and mechanics according to ipdb.

The basic objective of On beam is to rendez-vous the space ship with the space station. It's a simple objective, in the same sens as climbing mount Everest is just reaching the summit of the mountain. The HOW TO is a whole other story.

So when On beam Starts, The Space Station appears on one of the 4 beams (A Pink, B Orange, C yellow or D teal). Also, the spaceship in on one of the 4 beams, not necessarily the same beam as the space station.

For the rendez-vous to happen, the spaceship has to be on the same beam as the space station. To switch the spaceship from one beam to the same beam as the station the player must hit either the correct (lit) mushroom bumper or the correct (lit) top rollover. However, if you hit any other A, B, C or D target that is not lit, it will send the spaceship to the respective beam.

There is a Beam-O-Meter on the playfield that indicates on which beam the ship and station is on.

The player may also try to take a chance and hit the captive ball saucer or the bottom inlane rollovers, to send the space station to another beam on a pseudo random base. Also, the bottom outlane rollovers change the space station beam on, also on a pseudo random base.

Once the spaceship is on the same beam as the space station, the player must hit various targets to advance the spaceship towards the space station

The slingshots, top rollovers, lit pop bumpers and centre targets advance the space ship. The spaceship advances from left to right, reaches the end and then advances from right to left. When the spaceship is on the same beam as the space station and in the same place. 3000 points are scored, the center target is lit and the station jumps to another beam.

Hitting the lit center target lites a star on the bottom left of the backglass and lites an insert between the flippers. When the insert between the flippers is lit, the ball, once in the outhole, is kicked back into play. One kick back per lit star on the backglass. Up to 5 stars can be lit.

On beam is a heart pumping, fast playing, vicious frustrating machine that unrelentlessly punishes the player for making the wrong move. It forces the player to have the utmost ball control skills and to constantly adapt his playing strategy. I think it's a brilliant game. It's one of the best Bally release of that era I would even go as far as calling a masterpiece. The electro-mechanicals are the closest thing I've seen to bingo machine complexity so far. And it has real 5 digit scoring! No dummy reels here. I strongly encourage pinball fans to try On Beam. It's not a game for everyone I concede, especially in an era where the standard is to reward the player for a task that gives the illusion of being difficult, but that's an whole other story.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Working on 1939 Keeney Thriller

Almost done!
Lots of work was necessary to bring it back to life.
Beautiful game. Thrilled to have it.