Saturday, November 27, 2010

Into the sunset

And this, my friends, is it for a while.  The F-14 is done, for now.  Is it perfect?  Not at all.  However, it's in very nice shape, everything works, all of the parts are there, and it's 1000% better than when I got it.

I had some pretty lofty goals when I started.  Make it perfect.  Factory perfect.  Better than factory perfect.  Knowing next to nothing, it didn't seem unreasonable to shoot for the moon.  Like many of these projects, you start out and wonder, "How hard can it be?  Especially if I'm determined!"

Well, it's hard.  This week it will be 9 months since I started and in that time, I've met a few dozen really great people.  I've traveled 4 different states to find parts, machines, and pinball shows.  I've had the privledge of unboxing a new machine with a new friend, and I've seen how even a brand new machine is imperfect.

Chad and I had the goal of finding a few machines.  I think we thought it would be great to have maybe 3 machines each to work on over the past 9 months.  We've done much better than that.  I've purchased 7 machines and sold 2.  Chad has found 7 machines, and sold one.

This has been a great experience, and I'm so happy to be done.  I was afraid it would end up like other hobbies of mine, where it was fun at first, but then got old and I was done with the hobby before the year was over.  While I may be done detailing my repair efforts on pinball machines, I'm not done with pinball.

I have tournaments to enter, I have my first DMD machine to purchase (Dot matrix display -- basically a more modern game that is expensive), I have a few more machines to clean up, and then Chad and I have to do what we originally set out to do -- Start selling games.

Selling games, just to feed the habit.  You have to be a special person to make a living doing this.  However, I would like to get those fancy games that cost $3,500 each.  The way to do that is to buy a game for $300, fix it up, and then sell it for $1,000.  All the while having fun, meeting people, playing pinball.

Thanks for reading this blog.  I'm not sure what my next updates will be or when, but I'm sure I'll have something to say every month or so.

Here is my current basement lineup.  The F-14 is truely my first shopped machine.  The other three in this shot were purchased with a little more experience and savvy.  They worked pretty well when I got them, all there is to do is to clean them up and play them.

F-14, Mr. and Mrs. Pac-Man, High Speed, Space Station

One last pass on those slingshots and pop bumper

Unfortunately, no pictures on this post.  Entering the home stretch, I put the playfield back in, put the old head on, connected the wires, and it all worked beautifully -- Except for the slingshots and pop bumper.

I thought that maybe my past board repairs failed, but I learned some things about troubleshooting coils.  If you connect a wire to ground, and then touch the metal tab on the transistor for that coil, if everything is correct, the coil will fire.

Also, you can touch the ground to the non-power lead on the coil (maybe you can touch either tab, I'm not sure and I wasn't going to try this late in the game) and it will fire, if everything is correct.

None of the coils would fire.  I checked the power and accidentally fixed the problem.  The coils were getting about 25 volts.  I tested the voltage up at the power supply, and it was 40 volts.  This seemed odd.  So I checked the coils again and they were at 40 volts, and they were now working.

Just touching the wire going to the power supply was enough to re-seat the wire well enough to get a good connection all of the way through.  Knowing this, I replaced the whole connector, and the game is 100% now.

I just have to slide it into place, put the new glass on it, and be done!