Friday, July 22, 2005

Some Dust Removed! Treasures Uncovered! Issues Found!

No wonder so many municipalities outlawed subversive pinball machines. This is the GTA: San Andreas sex scandal of the 70s. Her picket sign might as well say 'Ring My Bell' and the clever placement of the censorship star hides the reach-around about as well as the mosaics of Japanese porn. In 1981, a girl that rode my school bus had that same pair of jeans - which very nearly killed me.

The trash pinball machine is damn complicated. And violent. When you lift the playfield and cycle a game, it is like a Dallas lightening storm of relays and solenoids popping, spitting, sparking and cussing with a little Pigpen dust cloud hovering over the whole enterprise. Luckily, there is the superb PinballHQ repair site that is really a world class and generous effort. This is the greatest aspect of the maturation of the internet - obsessives obsessing. There is a downside, though. It sucks you in, and before you know it, you can't imagine how you have lived without a 1926 Bartlett Nickel Digger , the lung testing 1905 Mills Novelty Weight Blower or the horrifically racist and gory Smack a Jap Keep Them Bombing. I hope I find one of those in the trash.

So what is wrong with the Capt Fantastic? Quite a bit, and at the same time, not so much. The electromechanical games require lots of non-digital record keeping like score, who plays next, what ball is in play, etc. To do this requires the machine to be set to a baseline before each game. That is more complicated than it sounds.

The "Repair Electromechanical Coin Operated Games to 1978" is very robust and includes the key to troubleshooting this complex baseline reset:

Bally Start-Up Sequence.

  1. Coin is inserted into the game. The coin relay will energize. It will stay energized through its own hold-in switch and a score motor switch. If the credit button is pressed (instead of a coin being inserted) and there are credits, the credit relay will be energized which energizes the coin relay.
  2. The coin relay will energize the lock relay (this turns the general illumination on). The lock relay will stay energized through its own hold-in switch and a delay relay switch.
  3. The coin relay will energize the reset relay, through a game over relay switch (if your game won't start, try cleaning the contacts on the game over relay; a very common Bally problem).
  4. The score motor will operate. This will energize the score reset relay(s). The score reset relay(s) will attempt to clear the score reels to zero. This is done by operating the score motor. Each turn of the score motor will operate the reset relay once, which in turns moves a score reel one position, until the score reel(s) are at zero. If the score motor continues to run when a game is started, there's a good chance the zero position switch on the score reel(s) is dirty or mis-adjusted.
  5. The coin relay, through the score motor, will advance the total play meter.
  6. The reset relay, through the score motor, will reset the stepper units (zero the ball count and player units).
  7. The coin relay, through the score motor, will decrement the credit unit.
  8. The coin relay, through the score motor, will energize the game over latch relay coil.
  9. The coin relay, through the score motor, will energize the 100,000 relay latch coil(s) (if the game supports scores greater than 99,999).
  10. If the outhole switch is closed (single ball games) or the ball trough switches are closed (multi-ball games), a ball is released to the shooter lane through the outhole relay (single ball game) or ball release relay (multi-ball game) and the score motor.
  11. On multi-player games, the credit button may be pushed again to add a player. This time the coin relay will not energize the reset relay. Instead it will (through the score motor) advance the total play meter, decrement the credit unit, and advance the coin unit.
Now, try following that without a schematic.

Problem number one. When it is trying to reset the score wheels, some of the score wheel solenoids are stuck as a pig at the Great Molasses flood. So, it never gets reset. There are relays that are triggered when the scoring is reset, and if you randomly poke at them with the eraser end of a pencil, sometimes you can fool Captain Fantastic into letting you play. Clearly, some of these solenoids need to be replaced and Jeremy pointed me to the excellent pinball superstore Marco Specialities.

Problem Number Two. This selector control is not working correctly. It doesn't want to advance to the next position despite an intense desire to do so. It could hardly give it more effort as I expect it to burst into flames any second. It may be missing a spring. Or it may just be stuck with goo.

So, I have a couple hours in at this point, and with the exception of a scrap of 400 grit sandpaper and a little contact cleaner, I am still up a quarter. Anybody have a PDF schematic and troubleshooting book?