Thursday, September 24, 2020

First Race One Ball Horse Racing Payout Pinball: Overview and repairs

 First Race One Ball Horse Racing Payout Pinball


Thank to Cait and Danny who shared the initial post about this game. I got almost 100 views in the first 24 hours because of their efforts. It usually takes a couple of years for any of my other posts to reach that many hits. If you stumble upon this post and you are into weird and rare gambling machines, please consider sharing this post. I don't have any information about First Race. I'm looking for any information about it. Where it came from, who made it, production details, documentation, manual, schematic, score and information cards. 

As can be noticed, First Race is shown powered up. Here are the details of what's been done so far to get to that point.

Here's a short video I posted on Youtube of the machine on attract mode:


Here's a few playfield details:



Here's a better view of the payout tube and the latch bar solenoid that spits out the coins. The mechanism didn't require any work and works properly on Canadian Nickels. The electrical tape is to stop the terminals on the microswitch from shorting out on the metal mechanism. The switch is to detect if there's enough coins stacked in the payout tube.


Look at the size of the coin box for First Race. It's huge!



The shooter lane and ball shooter gauge


Just look at the shooter lane wear by the manual ball lift and the ball detector switch.


Despite the machine being fitted with a North American standard 120V plug when I acquired it. The machine's transformer is wired for 220V input only.

Plugged as is on 120V, the transformer only outputs half of what it's supposed to.

The transformer normally outputs, 6V, 14V and 24V.

The 14V then goes to a bridge rectifier. The 14V is for all the lights.

The Transformer module will require a bit of repairs to make it safe. Notice the lack of fuses!

Also it looks like this transformer is a replacement of some previous transformer that burned out. Yummy!


I had to go downtown and buy a 120 to 240V converter to properly power First Race.
1000W is more than enough.



The main board is powered by a videogame transformer that outputs +12V, GND, +5V and -5V. 

The power supply can take 120V or 240V input and will output the correct voltages either way. But without the converter none of the lamps or solenoids worked.


Here again, a bypassed fuse. This one is for the line voltage. That's super sketchy.


I had to repair that. I also replaced the marettes by closed end crimp terminals.


There was a beat up looking relay inside the head. It didn't actuate properly and the SPDT switches (in this application only one switch is used) were bent out of shape. It's a 24V relay.

Also, notice the dodgy 4093 chip and a socket, the whole thing dangling in the breeze.


I looked in my stash of parts and found a replacement relay and base. There are industrial parts.
I solder spliced and shrink tubed the wires.


Here's the completed relay swap. Once fixed. I found out that it energises and remains energised when the game is coined up. Relay is de-energised when the ball sits in the shooter lane.



Then I took apart the shutter to inspect the switches and wiring.


Shutter motor is a 25 rpm Crouzet motor. It's geared for 50 Hz so it spins 20% too fast on North American 60 Hz alternating current I think this one is faulty... it keeps spinning for a bit too long on inertia. Looks like it has a faulty brake mechanism.



One side of the switch is a panhead brass machine screw. Other side uses an high silver content alloy contact point. All the switched were filthy and had to be burnished.


All the playfield switch wiring goes to this strip....


Then to this connector in the head. The to a DB-25 connector on the main board (not shown)



First Race is a work in progress, more details to come as the repairs progress.


Please share and comment. 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

First Race: Solid State One Ball Horse Racing Pinball Unknown Manufacturer


First Race: Solid State One Ball Horse Racing Pinball Unknown Manufacturer


A beehive shooter housing and a proper manual ball lift!

Now that's a mouthful, maybe I should unpack that...

The name of the game is First Race. The manufacturer is unknown.



It's a One ball horse racing game: One balls are a type of flipperless gambling pin game that were popular from 1936 up until 1950 when they were outlawed. They can be considered as being the ancestor to the bingo machine.

I have a few older posts about fixing a 1949 Bally Champion One ball: here and some Champion pictures here.

First Race is a Solid State game. It's history is unknown but it's well traveled:

I picked up the game in Montreal. It was sitting in the warehouse of a pinball reseller. I remember seeing it there when I first visited the place in 2013. Who knows how long it's been there before that.

It's a "container pin" that was shipped from Dubai. Before that it spent some time in Oman. As explained by the seller.

It looks like it was last operated in South Africa, due to the presence of a South-African 2c coin and a English / Afrikaans sticker on the side of the head.




What's really exciting about this game is that it has a payout tube! Meaning is spits out coins. Fortunately, Canadian nickels seem to work in the payout mechanism.

Payout tube

payout chute

The main board was produced by Getronics Micro-System. It's powered by a videogame arcade power supply.



The board is top quality with a thick printed circuit board, all the integrated circuits are mounted on sockets and the microprocessor is a tmp8085ap. There's an eprom chip labeled 11-1-93 so I believe the machine is from the early 90's. There's a rudimentary lamp driver connected to the main board.

Main board

Lamp driver

Some aspects of the game do look "Home Brew", but the backglass and playfield art looks professional.

There are no information cards on the apron. The ball used is 1 inch like in the older One balls.

One ball size playfield

Looks like a two player One Ball game? I am confused...
Purse, Show, Place and Win odds.
7 Selections.
Digital "Multiplier" and "Credits" displays for Player 1 and Player 2.

Backglass art

Home made or a prototype?

The backbox insert is very well made. The displays are LED 7 segment but all the lamps are 12V, rather than the industry standard 6.3V #44/#47 bulbs. The leg Bolts are also non standard 1/2 inch head.



By the looks of it. The machine was operated for awhile judging by the wear by the top arch rebound rubber.

Is this game a prototype, a one off game, a homemade game, or maybe it's the last of it's kind?

I'm also intrigued by the "raison d'ĂȘtre" of this machine. Laws shape the gambling machines in any given country. What was the legal context that allowed this game to exist. Why a "One Ball" when they were outlawed pretty much everywhere else in the world!

Any information about this game would be appreciated.

So far I've managed to power up the main board. There's an attract mode on the credits displays when machine sits idle, reminiscent of the old Skee all games. The multiplier display goes up by one every time the game is coined up. Shutter opens up when first coined up. Then machine emits a "Bri-Bri" sound and the credit displays spell "Play". I have to find a 120V to 240V converter to further test the game.

Under playfield Shutter

When I first got the game in the arcade

Monday, August 24, 2020

Pinball Queen sets tough pace


My friend Caitlyn compiled this article: Finding Oriena Currie Pinball Queen of Canada

Looking through my pile of Canadian Coin Box Magazines, I stumbled upon another article about the Pinball Queen of Canada.



The article is from the February 1977 Canadian Coin Box Magazine titled Oriena Currie sets tough pace. The article, written by Margaret Mironowicz, is a reprint from The Globe and Mail.

The Globe and Mail - original photo by James Lewcun

At the time the article was written Mrs Currie ran Currie Distributing, Currie Amusements and was a partner in Home Games Inc. Later in the article Mrs. Currie admits "...she doesn't love [pinball] machines and doesn't play them herself, although she used to years ago."

A business woman in the 70's! That's pretty inspiring. Enjoy the scans.

Oriena Currie sets tough pace page 20

Oriena Currie sets tough pace page 21
Oriena Currie sets tough pace page 22


Sunday, May 10, 2020

1940 Gottlieb Score Card Repairs

1940 Gottlieb Score Card

As previously mentioned. I got this machine in 2013. When I first got it the ball shooter housing was busted. It took me until 2017 to find a good one. Found it at Allentown Pinfest.

Unsightly busted ball shooter housing

Much Better

Back of the cabinet was previously broken off and was replaced by some piece of wood. I had to re-glue part of the back and I added some home made angle brackets for added strength. Otherwise the cabinet would have fallen apart again.





I changed the line cord. Added a 3A line fuse. Redid the 120V wiring to the timer and credit unit. During normal play, pushing in the coin slide would wind up the time clock switch and turn the machine on. After a delay, the clock would wind down, open the switch and the machine would turn off. However, if credits were accumulated during play, machine stays on as long as there are credits on the unit.

The circuit looks like this. This shot is from a Gottlieb Humpty Dumpty Schematic.


I noticed the transformer was replaced at one point. I left it as is. The wiring looked sound.

Under every ball of electrical tape hides a horror

There was a couple of busted male jones plugs (a 10 pin and a 20 pin) I had to change. The thing about these old Gottlieb games is that the connectors used have shorter pins than later games. I managed to find the correct plugs in my pile of parts.


I changed the fuse clips. They were both bad.

Total play meter gave up at 4999 plays

The plastic insulators on the brass armature flaps of the trip banks had disintegrated. Some had turned to goo. Some were brittle and were falling apart. I suspect someone at one point used contact cleaner to clean the trip bank switches. The chemicals attacked the insulators.


Fortunately I found some donor plastic insulators from a parts trip bank I had.


Looking in an early 50's Wico parts catalog, I noticed the insulators were listed so this might not have been an uncommon problem at the time.



Then I tightened up all the switch stack screws. They were all surprisingly loose.



Then I went over and cleaned every switch. They were all caked over with corrosion and old dust. It's easier to do the work with the playfield flipped over.


Then I did the head. Cleaned the switches. Burnished the pads on the contact discs. Small top stepper unit is for the 100 points. Bottom left is credits. Bottom right is is 1000 points stepper. R type relay in the head is for the 100 points step up coil.


One pitfall to avoid on these large Gottlieb stepper units are the insulators on the ratchet gear pins. The ratchet gear has one or two pins for the zero and the open at top. The insulating material on the pin tends to perish and fall apart. The stepper unit frame is either hot or wired to the common, so once the unit resets or maxes out (depending on the case), the uninsulated pin shorts out on the switch blade. So pay close attention to those insulators.

Stepper I had in a box of parts. Easier to photograph

After all those repairs. There comes the time consuming part. Troubleshooting! Troubleshooting is a difficult thing to explain. It's a skill in itself. It involves a lot of observation, circuit tracing and thinking. These old games were frequently modified by the operator, some features were removed. You have to figure out what was done and reverse it. You have to play test the game, try all the features. make sure they work. On Score Card, the Rollover Special feature was disabled. a jumper was removed on the rollover feature stepper.

Special rollover feature stepper.

 Reset arm is actuated by slide.

These old Gottlieb pingames usually had a relay map stapled to the inside of the cabinet. No map in Score Card! So here's what I figured out for relay functions.

Left R relay is the slow drop impulse generator control. Switch stack to the right is the Knock off button.


Right of the Knock off button switch stack is the Hold Relay. On the right is the Tilt relay.


Before the Score motor, there was the Slow drop impulse generator. It generates impulses at a slow and steady rate for the knock off reset and the special rollover features.


Resistor seen in front of the slow drop is for the chime coil. Lowers the voltage. The chime looks like a re-purposed door bell, seen in this machine also, so it seems like it was from factory.

Interesting and random stuff:

Resistor in the backbox is for the TILT light.


Backbox notice.



Time clock. Switches on / off 120V. Pin on slide pushes the arm to wind up the clock


Under playfield, tilt spring. The spring is the same as for the spring bumpers.


A piece of copper was added between the tilt bob and the cabinet armor. It zaps you if you touch the armor. 


Panel Scoring is displayed going up to 69 900 points...


But there's no light behind the 60 000 panel. Maybe that 60k panel was there just for the symmetry of the backglass.



Coin slide and free play coil.
S.P.D.T switch enables knock off button in rest position or energizes free play coil if the slide is slightly pushed in.



Infamous Knock Off button on bottom of cabinet on the left side.


This is as much pinball repair as it's experimental archeology.

Enjoy!