RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.

Posted on Jan 1st 2009 at 03:59:48 AM by (jcalder8)
Posted under Pinball, DIY, arcade, repairs

I know it has not been that long since my last entry but I have made a lot of progress recently so I figured that it was a good time for an update.

I was able to finish cleaning the last six rollover switches and overall I am happy with how they turned out. I think some of the dirt might have been holding them in place better though because since cleaning them numbers three and five now have a tendency to stick, which would not be so bad if they did not rack up the score and make a very annoying noise.

I finally have all of my parts in so I have been able to put in some work on the playfield and flippers. I ordered a flipper rebuild kit from www.pinballlife.com. I was able to replace the: plunger, crank, coil sleeve and bushing on all three flippers. Unfortunately this did not fix the weak flippers so I will be ordering new coils, shafts and flipper bats. I probably should have ordered everything all at once and replaced all the parts from the start but I thought that just using the kit would be cheaper, easier and faster, from what I have found so far this is not the thing to do with pinball machines. It took me about 25 minutes to replace the first one, the best advice that I read was to only work on one at a time so that you can see what it should look like by looking at the other ones. After taking everything apart there are a lot of little screws that could be missed when putting it all back together so having the other ones to compare to help make it easier to make sure all the pieces go back in the same spot. I was able to get almost all of the pieces back together with no problems but I think the previous owner over tightened the screws that hold the shaft and bat. The new screws that I am using are slightly smaller than the old ones and they do not hold the shaft as tightly as they should and I have had problems keeping the screws tight, this is the main reason for my thinking that I need to replace the bats and shafts. Another problem that I now have, in terms of the flippers, is that you get bonus points just by pushing the buttons. I have no idea what happened to cause this because I did not think that I could have caused this.

Besides the flipper repair kits I also got some new screws, acorn nuts and light blubs. I replaced 120 light blubs with energy efficient, low heat ones. Unfortunately I did not know that the pop bumpers used different ones so I have to order the style that they use, when I get these replaced I will have all the blubs up and running, currently these are only two burnt out. I have installed some of the screws and a few acorn nuts, the reason that I have not installed them all is because I have been replacing them as I have been cleaning the playfield!

I got the cleaning supply I have been waiting for on December 24th, it was Novus #2 for those wondering. The reason it took so long was that it was sent to my old address and it took awhile to get it arranged to be shipped out to me. After waiting almost a month and a half I have finally begun what I had been looking forward to the most. One of the main reasons I have been looking forward to it is because it is something I feel confident in my abilities, unlike the electronic components. Before I ordered the cleaner I spent a few hours searching the internet looking for different cleaning methods. I was looking for one that did not have too many steps or use many supplies that I could not easily acquire.

I settled on using Mr Clean Magic Erasers, rubbing alcohol and Novus #2. As you can see in this picture the playfield was in need of some deep cleaning and I felt that this was the best route to take.

What I liked most about the method that I chose was that I was not in constant fear of pressing too hard or rubbing too long. Although Magic Erases are about the equivalent of 1500 grit sand paper it does not feel like sand paper so I felt more comfortable using it. For me the first step was to decide which part of the playfield to clean first and then remove the pieces from the playfield. I chose the left front area for no particular reason and got to work removing as many of the playfield components as I could. I did leave a few pieces still attached but I removed most of them. I then had to remove any loose particles that are on the playfield, for this I used some paper towel. Then I got a rag and applied some Novus to it and wiped down the area that I was going to be working on. What this does is take off some of the surface dirt so that I knew where I needed to use the Magic Eraser. After using the Novus I took a different rag and wiped it down again and found the worst areas for ball swirls. Ball swirls are just what they sound like, little circle like areas of dirt left by the ball as it travels around the playfield. The most noticeable areas on my machine are on the skin of the ladies and the yellow paint, that is not to say that these are the only areas that need work but they are the most obvious when looking at the playfield.

I then took a cube, about 2 inches cubed, of Magic Eraser and wet it with rubbing alcohol, as it turned out I used too much and it did not work as well as it could have but it did not do any harm. It is important to use alcohol and not water because water can warp the playfield. The worst part was that by using too much alcohol I had to rub longer because it was just gliding over the dirt. Once the excess alcohol was gone I could start to see improvement almost immediately.

After I finished with the Magic Eraser there is a white residue that is left behind, this is the main reason that I needed the Novus #2. It was recommended on a couple websites to use the Novus to clean off the residue and that by doing so it will leave a nice shine on the table, the websites were right. The Novus took off the residue with no problems and although it does not shine as much as it would with some wax the playfield defiantly looks better than it has in probably 20 years. When I started putting the pieces back on the playfield I was able to replace all the pieces of rubber, which I have to say has made a huge difference in the performance of the machine. The ball gets a nicer bounce off of the bumpers thanks to this and it seems to have sped up the play, although that could also be due to the fact that the ball does not have to force its way through 30 years of crud. The new rubbers stand out nicely, where they do not distract from the art but are noticeable. 

It has taken me four sessions to get the whole playfield clean. My fingers got sore from the scrubbing so I had to take a break after a quarter of the playfield. I could have pushed myself and gotten it done faster but I wanted to make sure that I did a good job and that I would not need to clean it again in a month because I missed areas the first time around. After I got the system down for cleaning I went back to the first area and cleaned it up a bit better and thankfully I did not cause any damage. I was surprised to find that it was the final area, the top left side that was the worst and it was also the area where I caused some damage with the Magic Eraser. I had previously exposed some areas of wood that had been covered in dirt and maybe chipped off a loose piece here or there but in this area there was a lot of yellow paint and so the dirt showed up very noticeably. I was cleaning around a specific spot but I had been moving around a bit so as to not take off any of the paint but just on the other side of my hand was a small spot about and inch wide that I had not been watching. When I was happy enough I moved my hand away and found that I had worn some of the paint off. Not enough to expose the wood but just enough so that it is now slightly lighter than the areas surrounding it.

I think that I have kept you waiting long enough, without further ado here is the before and after.

Before cleaning

After cleaning


One unexpected development is that one of my spinners is no long working correctly; of course I did not test the machine out until I had the glass back in place. I had always suspected that there was something wrong with it as it did not seem to rack up points like I thought that it should. After cleaning and having to take it out and put it back in again it is now more noticeable than it was before so I will be replacing the switch on it at some point, and for good measure I figure I will replace the other side also.

Over the next couple of weeks I am going to buy a soldering iron, coils, spinners and a new guard. Hopefully this will fix all the mechanical problems and I can focus once again on the cosmetic pieces, such as the drop targets.

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I love pinball machines. I wish I was mechanically inclined enough to fix something like that. I've learned that even though I am an engineer my mechanical ability is rather shot.
Great read, and very descriptive too. Smiley
@TraderJake:So far I haven't needed much mechanical know how and there are lots of how to guides out there
@Sirgin:Thanks, I'm not sure how descriptive is too descriptive but I figure too much is better than too little.

I would love other opinions about my blog.
I like 'em. Needs more pictures though, if you could. Wink

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