Monday, January 18, 2021

Which one would you rather play?

1972 Bally Fireball or 1940 Gottlieb Score Card?

One is ubiquitous among the serious electro-mechanical collectors. The greatest EM ever produced bla, bla, bla.

The other is extremely marginal.


If you chose the latter, you're my kind of pinballer.


Sunday, December 20, 2020

Allied Leisure Wild Cycle NIB Repairs

Allied Leisure New In Box Wild Cycle Repairs

In the 4 previous posts I unboxed and documented the state of the insides of a New In Box Allied Leisure Wild Cycle arcade machine.

It was a collector's dream of mine to one day unbox a vintage EM arcade or bingo machine so when I had the opportunity to buy this NIB Wild Cycle I did a two day 1400 km road trip to go get it.


You think that because the machine sat unused in its original box for 50 years, that it would be fully working in perfect condition? You are wrong. Cardboard box or not, time and storage conditions affect the machine.

Parts corrode: switch points, potentiometers, connectors, lamp sockets and zinc plated parts.

Grease dries up or goes hard

Rubber parts degrade, turn to goo, become brittle or deform.

Electronic parts like capacitors and photoresistors go bad.

Gearmotors get stuck in their own grease.


There's always the possibility of rodent damage and cosmetically backglass art can degrade.

So If you want to buy a vintage New In Box game: know the risks!

You are rolling the dice on Schrödinger arcade machine. The machine inside the box could be mint or it could be a total POS or something in between. You won't know until you open the box. 

Right out of the box my Wild Cycle partially worked. It turned on and it coined up but road disc did not turn and motorcycle did not steer.

The road disc just needed a bit of hand coaxing to get it started. The gearmotor that drove the disc was jammed in its own grease from lack of use.


For the motorcycle steering I had to change the "O-ring" on the cycle motor pulley and wipe off the old grease on the shaft. Over the years the O-ring got a flat spot that would cause it to jam.

When installing a rubber ring on the pulley. I discovered that the pulley was loose on the shaft. The nylon pulley has a set screw to secure it to the motor shaft. The set screw was loose and the motor shaft would spin freely. Again! right out of the box. A manufacturing defect. The words build quality come to mind...Again! First the crash unit then this pulley. This must have been a "Friday afternoon" machine.

The drive belt in the 8-Track tape player turned to goo over the years. The rubber had the consistency of a jujube melting in the sun. I had to scrape off the old belt and clean the residue with pure methanol.

For the time being I replaced the belt with a heavy duty rubber band until I can find a proper belt. It was more to validate that the 8-Track tape player actually worked. The rubber band, being more stretchy than a proper belt does causes a bit of WOW at startup. The important thing is to choose a rubber band that's not too tight as it will strain the motor and the capstan flywheel bearings. The rubber band has to be just tight enough not to slip but has to track properly.

Once the disc, motorcycle steering and 8-Track work properly. I could finally play a game on Wild Cycle. The first thing I noticed was the bad road detection. It can be seen in a video of another New in Box Wild Cycle: At 1:29 the motorcycle should not be able to drive over the fork in the road without crashing. The detection should be precise and unforgiving. Stay on the track or crash. On my game, the detection was even worse. It was vague and sometimes delayed. Unplayable!

The poor detection was caused by the old photoresistors. 50 years of total darkness inside the box made the original photoresistors slow to react.

To safely get to the photoresistors I had to take out the whole motorcycle unit and track.

First I had to remove the top shield.

Now we can see the motorcycle manakin better

Then I removed the unit to work on in on the "bench".
Nice side shot of the manakin. The paint job on it is pretty bad.

Back shot of the manakin and we can see the solenoid that tilts the motorcycle.

Old photoresistors.

New photoresistors. I put some protective tubing around the photoresistor legs to avoid the legs shorting out on the bracket.

With the new photoresistors, the crash detection is precise.

Last problem I fixed was more of a design flaw.

When a new game was started, if the previous game ended with a crash, the new game would immediately start with a crash. Sometimes even if the motorcycle was centered on the track the game would still start with a crash. I thought that was unfair to the player. I imagined this caused frustration in the arcades back in the day. "Why did it crash! No fair!"

That's because of a design flaw in the off track detection circuitry. The detection circuitry is powered at the same time as the projector lamp. The crash detection is instantaneous at the start of the game BUT the projector lamp does not start emitting light instantaneously. The filament needs to heat up and get white hot. That delay might be tiny, fractions of a second, but electronics don't lie. The photoresistors detect darkness and trigger the photo relay.

Notice the track is Beige-ish white clear while everything else is dark color. There's a black strip on each side of the track. When a black strip crosses the path of the photoresistors, it triggers a crash. Any darkness will cause a crash. Covering up the photoresistors or turning off the projector lamp causes a crash.

Also When the player got to the Champion track it would always cause a crash at the beginning for no good reason. This can be seen in the New in Box Wild Cycle video at 1:43, motorcycle crashes despite being in the middle of the track. Again because of the delay between detection and the projector lamp turning on. Lamp turns off when the game is switches tracks, Photo relay is triggered by the darkness.

I fixed this design flaw using a Omron industrial delay timer to disable the photo relay at the beginning of a game OR when the player first gets to the Champion track. The delay timer is powered by the 120V of the projector lamp. At power up it will disable the photo relay for 2.5 seconds, giving the player just enough time to center the motorcycle on the track. After that the detection works normally for the rest of the game or until the projector lamp turns off again to switch to the Champion track. Again it gives the player 2.5 seconds to center the bike on the track. The modification only involved desoldering one wire from the original game wiring and is completely reversible if desired. 

I ran some zip cord, held to the wiring loom with zip ties, to the bottom of the cabinet where I put the delay relay and I chose not to screw the relay socket to the bottom of the game to keep the game pristine.

Pin 2 and 7 of the delay timer are parallel to the projector lamp.

Pin 1 and 3 of the delay timer momentraily cut power to the photo relay for 2.5 seconds once the projector bulb is powered. 2 seconds on the dial is more like 2.5 seconds in reality.

With the repairs and the modification done, Wild Cycle is a fun and challenging game. The 8-Track music adds even more enjoyment to the experience.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Allied Leisure Wild Cycle New In Box Inside photos part III

Allied Leisure Wild Cycle NIB

Here I conclude documenting the insides of Allied Leisure Wild cycle arcade game as it came out of the box. Time for the relay panel.

Right in the middle of the panel at the top. It looks like there's a unit missing. It's the Crash unit. When I opened the back door for the first time, the Crash unit was just flopping around loose. Fortunately the unit was undamaged and I installed it back in its place. The words quality control come to mind.

Crash unit on the loose.

Sound effect board

Plays per coin adjustment

Relay pin legend. All the relays are 120V

Sound effect board

Crash switch assembly front

Crash switch assembly back. Painted cams


Game timer with adjustment potentiometer and resistor. That silly resistor just poking down.

Nest post: Repairs!

Looking good.

I recycled one of the box sides as a wall hanger in the basement.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Allied Leisure Wild Cycle New In Box Inside photos part II

Allied Leisure Wild Cycle NIB

Here I continue documenting the insides of Allied Leisure Wild cycle arcade game as it came out of the box. Here I do the back of the game. Notably the 8-Track player, score unit, motorcycle unit and projector.

At the very top of the cabinet is the 8-Track player. Notice the door flap looks crooked. That's because one of the hinges for the flap was broken. Right out of the box!

The 8-Track has its own power sub assembly board.

Score unit is of a projector type that looks alot like score units found in pingames from the mid 30's to early 40's.

Score unit projects onto a mate window on the "Backglass"

Motorcycle manakin is at the back of the cabinet. The motorcycle is moved left to right by a servo-motor with a pulley fitted with a O-ring on a aluminum channel. There's a small solenoid that tilts the motorcycle onto its side when there's a crash.

Aluminum channel for motorcycle travel

Photoresistors that detect if the motorcycle is on the track. The motorcycle is above a mate projector screen. The photoresistors run parallel to the motorcycle under the screen and point onto a mirror that directs the projected track onto the screen.

The projector unit at the bottom of the cabinet. It projects onto a series of mirrors (not shown) and ultimately onto a projector screen.

There's 3 tracks printed onto the discs. The track select unit slides the disc left to right to align one of the tracks with the projector bulb and lens.

Disc with the tracks printed on. To the left there's a series of cam switches that warn the player of upcoming road hazards. Notice the dust on the disc. Even it the machine was closed up and inside a box, dust still managed to get inside after 50 years.

A servo-motor spins the disk at a speed proportional to the handlebar throttle.

Next post I will document the relay panel

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Allied Leisure Wild Cycle New In Box Inside photos part I

Allied Leisure Wild Cycle NIB

Previous post was all about unboxing Wild Cycle.

Now it's time to document the machine's insides.

I guess this is more of a photo archive than a "blog post" for Wild Cycle since there isn't that many detailed pictures online.

Publishing in one shot all the pictures I have of the insides of Wild Cycle would have made for too big of a post so I will break it up into multiple posts and start with behind the coin door.

Here's a general view of behind the coin door. We can see the coinbox, music speakers, sound effect speaker, coin meter, handlebar shake solenoid, steering mechanism and a small sub board for crash detection.

Coinbox that contained alternate coin entry pricing window and casters at unboxing.

Above the coinbox is a small rough looking circuit board. The 2N 176 transistor is for the steering speed circuit. The neon lamp and Thyristor is part of the crash detection circuit. 

Closeup of the handlebar column that goes to the steering switches. Jones connectors to unplug sub assemblies. Adjustment potentiometer low speed road travel adjustment. 

Steering column, centering arm, left and right switches. The motorcycle is not mechanically steered by the handlebars. Turning the handlebars closes the left or right switches and these drive a servo-motor onto which the motorcycle is attached. The grease on the mechanism still feels fresh after 50 years!

Total coin meter at 99993 at unboxing. I guess this allows for some factory test playing.
Handlebar shake solenoid that makes a big knock felt through the handlebars when the motorcycle crashes. Speaker on the left is for a 8-Track tape player.

Sound effect speaker that makes Put-Put noises relative to the speed of the motorcycle in play. Volume adjustment wire wound resistor below. Notice the speaker is covered in a fuzzy layer of oxide that has since been wiped off with a rag.

Coin mech: US 25 cent mechanism delivered to Canada.

Coin mech and coin switch.