Saturday, February 17, 2024

Hot Glue Step-up Transformer


This seems like déjà vu....

I bought a step-up / step-down 120V - 240V transformer off Scamazon for a upcoming repair project.

The make "LiteFuze" should have been enough warning...








Curious about how well it was assembled I decided to open it up.

Inside was a nightmare of hot glue and questionable parts. I didn't trust any of the components except for the actual transformer.









I ended up gutting the thing and just keeping the transformer and wiring it inside the game with a proper line fuse, fuse clip and obligatory old school hustler terminals.




Sunday, February 4, 2024



Ramune is a traditional Japanese carbonated soft drink served in a Codd-neck bottle.

I found out there's a Japanese store nearby that sells 'em.

Bought a few and actually drank one in the hopes of simulating the dagashiya vibes (traditional Japanese candy store that typically also has coin operated skill games).

Opening the bottle is kinda fun and a bit messy. The actual drink was OK... too sweet for my tastes.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Nishijin Power Roulette Shenanigans

 Nishijin Power Roulette Pachinko machine repairs.

But first…

A recap on 2023.

2023 was the first year since 2012 that I didn’t buy or sell any games.

Late in the year, I had a couple of old friends over about a bingo machine motor. That despite having said multiple times that I didn’t want to talk to anyone. But, a friend in need is a friend indeed and, honestly, I can’t say no to the philosophical godfather of pinball repair in this blighted province of Quebecistan so that’s that.

Now, back to Power Roulette:

I got this Power Roulette in late 2019 with the help of a friend. This game was a poor purchase choice on my part. Despite loving 70's pachinko machines, I don’t like this game. I think Power Roulette is the Nishijin equivalent of Bally Fireball. Highly sought after. Expensive. Overrated. Not that fun. With a big circular useless feature in the middle of the play field.

I know from experience. I own both aforementioned games. I Have no qualms about slagging games I own.

So I got the game, played it a bit. Realized it had a problem. Loaned it off. Got it back... unfortunately (I guess I could have sold it around that time but I prefer trading games). Stuck it in a corner and forgot about it for a couple of years. Which brings us to now. I wanted to fix the game and be done with it.

To fix Power Roulette, I had to take out the complete left side actuator assembly for the tulips and slightly re-position it. The problem is that the unit is stapled.  It's stapled with a particular type of staple.

To properly measure the factory staples, first, I had to delicately remove one of the staples without destroying it or the unit. Easier said than done. 

With a lot of measuring and research I found that closest equivalent to the factory staples are a 21 gauge, 1/2 inch crown, 3/8 length. Now if this was just some no value pachinko machine, the staples wouldn't have mattered, but Power Roulette is a very valuable game so attention to details when executing repairs is paramount. Furthermore I needed a long thin muzzled pneumatic staple gun to get the staples into the nooks and crannies. All that for four (4) staples. These are by far the most expensive staples I've ever driven.


With the repairs done, I don't hate the game as much but I still think Power Roulette is overrated.

Now enjoy a few reference picture of a rare Nishijin Power Roulette.

Whoever on Pachitalk said that you can replace these clips with automotive clips can go fuck themselves. Fuck Pachitalk as a whole

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Off topic: Liminal Spaces

I live under a rock... or... at least... under a bingo machine.

Nevertheless, the Zeitgeist, casting meme like shadows in my allegorical pinball cave, brought liminal spaces to my attention. 

A liminal space is defined simply as a place of transition. In popular culture they are often represented as long corridors or eerie places empty of people.

I realized... I work in one huge liminal space. Machine rooms linked by almost one kilometer of dreary damp empty disorienting corridors.

See and enjoy!



Sewage coming in, Water coming out.

One day, if space travel becomes commercially viable. The insides of huge space freighters will look just like these corridors. They'll probably make the ships out of concrete too to save money.

On these ships, small crews of people will be tasked, as a fail-safe, to maintain the robots that maintain the robots that maintain the ship.

These people will walk the dreary corridors, thinking back to the good old days when you could open a door to the outside and breathe in fresh air and hear the birds sing.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

1969 Midway Sea Raider repair

Midway's 1969 Sea Raider arcade repairs

To write is to illuminate. The writer must gild the edges of the mundane with his words to evoke something within the reader. But to paraphrase a fellow pinball writer I greatly respect: There's only so much you can write about changing a pinball coil. What then? Coin operated amusement devices are a means to an end. In the collecting world, the means are often confused with the end. The machines themselves are MacGuffins, a device to advance the plot. So to loop back to the Sea Raider(s) what do you do when you have a totally boring road trip and boring repairs? You try to fluff it up somewhat.

I like arcade games of that era. They have a certain naive charm. Over the years I've accumulated a few. Space Gun, Road Runner, Wild Cycle, S.A.M.I. and now Sea Raider.

Yes, the game play is simplistic and repetitive but I just love the colors, the sounds, the black lights the cardboard scenery.

A miniature Potemkin village, an allegory of the world we live in. Cardboard facades, flashy lights and mirrors. All to entertain and liberate you from your coins.










On a personal level, Sea Raider holds a special space in my memory. It was the first arcade game I ever got working. I wouldn't say fixed, but it worked and played- ish. I was 18 and had little repair experience then. I eventually sold the game around 2007 or 2008. I've missed it ever since.


A bit of condensed semi reliable arcade history:

Post WW2 was a time of innovation in the United States. The coin-op industry was no different: Flippers, bowlers, increasingly complex one ball games followed by bingo machines, driving games, shuffle alleys, etc. But by the 1960's what was new and novel was now stale and formulaic. The industry needed something new.

On the other side of the world, by the 1960's, the post war recovery of Japan was creating huge innovation, same with the emergent Japanese coin-op industry. The US coin-op industry took notice of the Japanese innovation boom and copied the games for the western market.

I think Kasco's Indy 500 (1969) produced under license as Chicago Coin's Speedway is the best known of these games. SEGA's Periscope led to Midway's Sea Raider, the first of a new era of submarine games (Sea Devil, Submarine, Sea Wolf). Curiously, Sea Raider cabinet art bares a remarkable resemblance to Bally's 1946 Undersea Raider.


The Japanese influence reinvigorated the North American EM coin-operated industry. These new games had cool effects and electronic sounds. But it was to be short lived: By 1972, the first video games appeared on the market and the rapidly developing solid state and computer technology meant that the days of electro-mechanical technology were numbered.

For more in depth coin operated amusement history, I recommend this super long article about the US and Japanese coin operated industry. It's way more detailed and well worth the read.

Sea Raider repairs:

Sea Raiders is a super basic game to work on. I think it's a good game to work on as an introduction to electro-mechanical arcade repair.

The best games to find are warehouse finds. From experience, the more previous owners between you and the last Coin Operator that put the game into storage, the more questionable repairs and "restorations" the games suffer from.

I was fortunate to find these games in an untouched state (other than the coin door lock that was drilled out). I honestly didn't think there were any warehouse find games like these left in the Republic of Quebecistan. They still have the period correct Dime and Quarter coin mechanisms, the coin boxes with the tops and even the back door keys. The cabinets are solid and have minimal moisture damage.












I have two examples of the same title in similar condition, both operated the same way, stored the same way, even the serial numbers make them less than 10 games apart off the assembly line, so needless to say the repairs were very similar on both games.

The last thing you should do when you first acquire your warehouse find is to plug it in. First: inspect the game. Inspect everything top to bottom, front to back. Start with the plug (stecker), the power cord, the switch, the fuse clips, the fuses, the transformer, all the wiring inside the game. Then everything else: connectors, relays, steppers, motors, coils, etc.

Look for any and all damage, corrosion, missing parts, loose parts. Clean out the cabinet and set aside any parts you may find at the bottom of the cabinet. These parts tell machine's story and can point you towards problems with the game. Then, you have a good overview of the repairs required.


















Sea Raider uses multiple Multi-Products gearmotors. They have felt pads that should be periodically oiled. An oil hole is provided.









Stepper Units:

Make sure the ratchet gear and shaft spins freely. Free up the drive arm... and the reset arm. Check all the pivot points. Clean the coil stops, coil sleeves and plungers. Burnish the contact pads. Check the wiper assembly. Lube up metal on metal moving parts. There are different schools of thought when it comes to choice of lubricants... pick your libation of choice.















To clean the contact discs. I use a green Scotch-brite pad (the 3M ones, not the knockoffs)  with pure Isopropyl and shop rags. Then I use an electrician's eraser or a fiber pen to clean the conductive pads. Then I use a nylon bristle brush to really clean between the pads. Then I inspect for burnt micarta (phenolic and fiber material) between the pads. Remove the burnt micarta with dentists tools or a hobby knife. To finish it off, I buff the micarta with Novus 2 to take off the swirl marks, making sure to remove all the clay residue from Novus.



















On the printed circuit discs for the torpedo course arm disc and the ship target panel disc I use shop rags, Isopropyl and Novus 2 to avoid damaging the traces and pads. Again I check for burnt material. The ship target panel disc is notorious for burning between the pads at the point where the boat reverses.



Selector unit:








The selector unit switches had to be cleaned. The unit is at the very top of the cabinet. Most of the wires used for this sub assembly are solid wires. I thought it better to unscrew all of the stacks at once instead of one at a time and risk breaking a wire. Top switches are for ship hit detection. Bottom switches are for guiding the torpedo arm left or right. Each switch stack had to be handled gingerly to avoid it falling apart. Cleaned the switch points with a flex stone and a small wire brush. While the unit was apart I found a few wires that were improperly soldered.


Torpedo course arm unit:

One of the machines had some damage to the torpedo course arm unit wiring loom. Part of the torpedo arm rubbed on the wiring that interfered with the arm at end of stroke. That made the whole assembly a shock hazard. Got a good zap off that one. Simple electrical tape fix and I properly tucked away the wiring loom to stop it from rubbing.











New lamps for Sea Raider:

Sea Raider uses #1895 12V bulbs throughout the game. These are getting harder to find now. I bought some N.O.S. bulbs from eBay. 



Jones connector at the bottom of the cabinet (not pictured):

There is a Jones connector at the very bottom of the cabinet. It is used for the coin door and the neon light power. In both games, that connector was problematic and had to be addressed.

Sound Unit:

Sea Raider has a sound unit that produces three distinct sound effects: a radar ping (beep), torpedo white noise once a torpedo is launched and an explosion sound for torpedo/ship hits.

One one of my machine, the sound unit worked perfectly.

One the other machine, the radar pings didn't work. I had to replace two capacitors. From experience working on a few games from that era, the old silver Sprague capacitors tend to be problematic.










I didn't have any axial capacitors of the right value on hand so I will have to make do with radial caps. They look sorta bodged in, and they are.








Sound board diagram

Sound board diagram for dummies


In conclusion, Sea Raider is an ideal addition to a game room. It has a small footprint, it's simple (to repair and to play) and it's an artifact of the silver age of the coin-operated amusement industry. I recommend it as a novelty in any pinball heavy game room.


Links/ references:

Pete's Game room Sea Raider repair

Some other Sea Raider repair log Sea Raider

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Two Midway Sea Raiders in 2022

 Midway's 1969 Sea Raider arcade

Midway's Sea Raider

This was my only coin operated amusement road trip of 2022.

I don't go on arcade roadtrips much anymore,

partly because I'm out of space for machines, but that never stopped me before. 

But mostly for misanthropic reasons...

Already in 2019 I was completely fed up with everything and everyone. The last three years have been a complete gong show and my misanthropy has grown by a order of magnitude since.

But a repair dude has got to repair and I got bored.

So I looked at the classifieds... and found a lot of two 1969 Midway Sea Raiders. The games were sold as a pair, non-working untouched warehouse finds at a very reasonable price... 300 kilometers from home.

A quick look at at the cabinet dimensions from the flyer: 23 inches deep meant that I could theoretically fit both game in the back of the minivan. So I took a chance.

The road trip was uneventful except for terrible gas station coffee.

The seller was dubious the games would fit in the back of my van but in the end it worked out. With about 1 inch to spare.

I unloaded the games at my Freundin's place and fixed them up over the holiday season.

Next post the repairs

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Naughty Venice

Naughty Bally Venice Bingo. Issues and a operator hack...

Bally Venice Bingo

In my previous post, I published a long play video of my Bally Venice bingo machine being played.

If you are part of the 11% of the viewers that watched the end of the video... You might have wondered why I didn't play for extra balls.

To summarize the last game played:

I get the  Numbers lit in All 4 star zones score 450 feature lit.

I start chucking some balls: I hit the *16, then hit green 19, then *1, then red 2... 

And the last ball lands in *17. That's 3 out of 4 star numbers lit. The camera is still rolling (figuratively speaking). 

I figure I should try punting for extra balls and try to skill shot it, *6 is easy enough to hit.

All my quarters are played with zero credits left on the register but I remember I have a few Quarters in my pocket. I fish out my quarters. Press the yellow button before dropping the coin for extra balls and nothing happens! The yellow button is dead. Dead dead deadski.

Is it supposed to do that, like some kind of devious feature, or did the machine just pack up?

I press the R button in a lame attempt. Hoping that it would shake up the machines Goldbergian innards, but no dice.

I turn off the camera, edit out the last part of the video and I start investigating.

Now that I gave you the play by play. Here's the unadulterated ending of my bingo session.

Let's go straight to the point: The machine did pack up.

That's what I get for not going over the whole machine when I first got it and not playing the game for long periods of time. But it did give me the chance to study the manual and schematics and find some hacks along the way.

After making the video, playing a few games, the yellow button had multiple symptoms apart from the aforementioned dead yellow button:

Sometimes the yellow button would work, but switching between red button and yellow button mode with zero credits on the register... the switching would be difficult.

Sometimes, pressing the yellow button would start a new game instead of playing for extra balls.

Sometimes, once the game was in play for extra balls mode, pressing the red button would play for extra balls instead of starting a new game.

What a mess! I was dealing with multiple intermittent issues. Assuredly multipoint failure.

The suspects were the red button relay, the actual switches on the red button and those on the yellow button too, the before 5th selector lock trip and the extra ball #1 and #2 trips. 

I started with the red button relay... I open the back door to find the relay just dangling.

This is embarrassing.

On the bright side I don't have to unscrew the relay from the board to service it. 

I cleaned the switch points and checked the switch gaps. Then I used beefier screws to secure the relay to the board.

That resulted in no improvements whatsoever on my red / yellow button issues.

Next was cleaning and adjusting of the red and yellow button switches. These switches are finicky AF. The order in which the switches open or close is super critical.

Here's an excerpt from the manual. 

Checking the red and yellow button switches had a marginal effect on the problems.

Next thing to look at was the before 5th selector lock trip.

I was inspecting the trip bank when I noticed a tucked away cut green and black wire near the top of the trip bank. Then I found that the green-black wire went to the 4 star numbers score 900 trip coil. Naughty operator hack.

Might as well fix it. Not my prettiest work but it's functional.

I always wondered why the 4 star pays 900 panel was all scratched up on the backglass. Now back to the yellow button mystery.

I took apart the switch stack that has the normally open switch with the red on one side and the blue white wire on the other. Cleaned the switches... and they were grubby. But that had little effect on my problem.

At this point, play testing the game it seemed like it had gotten worse. Consistently. At the end of a game, pressing the yellow button to play for extra balls would start a new game. That meant the extra ball #1 and #2 trip relays were not tripping when yellow button switch 1 was first closed. Directly actuating the switch in the stack confirmed this. I didn't hear the unmistakable click of the relay trip.

At first I suspected a open circuit between the door and the trip relays but that measured good with the multimeter.

So I went upstream in the circuit and I found it. Turns out it was the timer cam index 16c that was out of adjustment.

The 16C switch in situ.

Since then Venice has been playing great... until the next failure. It has 400 pounds of wiring and relays just waiting to fail.