Pinball

Labor Day Pinball Maintenance

Didn't have the inclination to fight boat-ramp traffic on the last summer beach holiday of the year, so ended up spending Labor Day weekend fixing things (and cooking things) instead of enjoying the beaches and water.

Instead, decided to tackle a few projects in the gameroom that I've been putting off.

LED OCD & GI OCD

For a game that I know I'll be keeping for awhile - LED OCD is something I'm inclined to add to games but the install process isn't my favorite task.
LED OCD and GI OCD essentially try to make LEDs, less .. umm.. LED-y.     I'm sure they explain it better over at: ledocd.com

Ultimately, they give you finer control over the LEDs in the game by wedging a micro-controller between the original controlled lamps and the lamp matrix harnesses.    The LED OCD micro-controllers endeavor to smooth insert animations to more closely resemble the inter-fade in incandescent bulb animations.  The GI OCD board performs similarly for games where GI animations might be used. (TOTAN, Scared Stiff for instance)

They also tend to just make the LEDs less bright but in a good way. 

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One challenge to the install is actually fitting the board in the backbox so that: it doesn't ground against anything, it doesn't get in the way of the speaker panel but can still be reasonably close for the factory harness to be diverted to the new board.

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GI LCD adds a few more parts, including a breakout board.    

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GI OCD also complicates the mounting dilemma a little, the breakout board doesn't really have enough lead cable to mount anywhere.    They accounted for that by removing the mounting posts and including a large tie wrap, I suppose the intention is to tie-wrap it to a cable bundle.   Oh, OCD-named product, this disturbs my wire management OCD. :)

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GI OCD really only seems to come in handy if you have a game with overly bright GI that needs to be brought into check or if the game has fade effects in the GI as part of the light show.  I'm not really sensing a tremendous difference in the GI board on Scared Stiff, as I did in Tales of the Arabian Nights.     Still, the extra control to dim them is kinda nice.

The video shows the smoothing on the insert animations and the GI adjustments.  Admittedly this quick clip looks darker than it really is in person but I also intended for this game to be a bit darker than normal for theme purposes.

Monster Bash Ramps

I also took the time over labor day to replace the ramps in Medieval Madness.   A task that took me, entirely too long :)
Medieval Madness's ramps were originally flame-polished to a bubbling crisp by a well-meaning previous owner. 

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The end result is nice though, no more burned ramps.  Although the new left ramp has a screw instead of a rivet in the plastic diverter.  I didn't have an appropriately sized rivet on hand but I do plan to address that.

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Speaking of that plastic diverter on the ramps - ever notice them on Medieval?  I never noticed them playing on Pinball Arcade on Steam or at the Pinball Hall of Fame in Vegas.   I guess the purpose is to prevent ramp-rejects from STDM?   Cool idea, I wonder if this came out of initial testing from the prototype batch in March 1997 or was part of the original design?  If anyone knows the story, I'd like to know!

Getting Medieval

Lots of new pinball out there..  A steady stream of interesting-looking titles from Stern, the PPS Chicago Gaming remakes and others are the grease the move the wheels of collection turnover.    A good time to buy pinball and sometimes a good opportunity to pick up classics that have been on the want-list for awhile.

I started the year with a pretty clear mindset in regards to the hobby and my intended acquisitions:  Out With the New, in With Old.   Coming off a disappointing ownership experience with JJP and having witnessed a friend having an even-worse ownership experience with a WOZ and battling Stern Spike Node-board failures on my Ghostbusters Pin, I decided it was time to take a break from modern pinball and pursue some 90's Bally and Williams classics.

Last year around this time it was Attack from Mars.  This year, it is Medieval Madness!

Medieval Madness has been on my radar for a couple of years.   But, my sleep number (the number of Pinball machines I can reasonably maintain at one time) is still 6.  In order to buy Medieval Madness something had to find a new home.  Both for space and because of the big hobby spend..

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It all worked out that in one weekend Star Wars found a good home and the Medieval Madness transaction went through. 

Archived photos from Pinside listing: 
https://images.eyedyllic.com/Hobbies/Medieval-Madness-Pinside/n-3djLCC/

Shipping / Delivery

Medieval Madness was located in the Tampa area.   I needed to get Star Wars to its new owner and Medieval Madness from Florida.    

Plane ticket = $200
Rental truck from Tampa, with mileage = $500
Typical pinball mover dude = $275

STI - Not allowed on my premises anymore.
UShip - $800 avg quote
Roadie - $500, open pick up truck move with a tarp.   No thanks.
RLCarriers - Retail $1600 on a pallet
Seller not willing to take it to Fastenal ($175)

This looks like a job for..

An arcade mover dude!    I posted to the book-of-faces and the village and the four corners of the tubes that make up the internet.   Bob Cunningham wasn't going to be in the area.    Greywolf not coming down the panhandle anytime soon.  Pinballs on the Move, no answer...

Mover Dude

In the end, this isn't a complaint nor a recommendation but at this time I don't really want to publicly influence some guys' livelihood.  I might use him again in the future.  Spoiler alert: The game made it and I'm happy..  There.. were .. bumps along the way, though. So, for now and for purposes of this post, we'll call him Mover Dude. 

Eventually, I found said dude and after reviewing some of his history and talking to him he agreed that he would be able to work my pick up in for $320.     I pulled the proverbial trigger. After a few promising SMS and Facebook Messenger exchanges I had a decent level of confidence that I the right guy.  Sort of like w/ Bob, you can follow the guy's check-ins on Facebook and get a general idea of his route and location.   

Around dinner-time one evening, I received a missed call and an iMessage photo of a black-painted stick of wood from the seller.   I knew the delivery dude was in Tampa but I didn't know that the move was in progress.   The photo, below - had no caption and set my spidey senses tingling.

 

 

 

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Hours later, I get this story, paraphrased, from the seller:

He broke off a board from the back of the pinball machine while going down my stoop.   He went down the wrong direction and turned and I just heard this sick-grinding noise and a snap.   I don't know if it damaged the art or not.

In fairness. I don't know what happened.  Because I'm not there.   But...... crap!

Whiskey.  Tango. Foxtrot.

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Honestly, at this point I'm stressing the move so I send over this message to the delivery dude and try to get some additional details from his perspective.

On a personal note, at this point in the evening my ADD med has begun to wear off and I'm aware that I'm not always in the best of moods while that happens.  It took extra effort to come across more calmly about the situation than I was actually feeling.. Typically, for that 30 minute-to-1hr of the evening my inner Steve Jobs is most near the surface and ready to burst out when provoked.    I think.. I succeeded in not freaking out..

and... at least I know that I sometimes have unreasonable Griswold-like expectations and standards and that people aren't mind readers and... yada yada..   

The response that I received were the following photos from the move.  Not bad!    Started to freak out less.   Though, there was also Whiskey involved, so maybe that helped.

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General feedback here is that it's cool that he took the time to pull the game out and play it and noted functional condition of the game (draw bridge works, gate opens, etc).   He also paid special attention to note the flaws of the game, like the gash from the lockbar on the front of the cab that the seller had communicated and I wasn't too worried about.   That's cool and I can appreciate that.

I'm personally not a big fan of the head->cardboard->rails sandwich packing method.  I like to use a double or triple folded moving blanket between the head and side rails but that's just me.    Not too thick to generate pressure on the hinges but thick enough to provide a little give on that plane of potential impact.  If you ever watch high-speed camera, slow-motion ripples of impact force transferring through wooden objects, the idea is to create an opportunity for the impact forces to dissipate.   Again, I didn't micro-manage this with mover and he's not expected to be a mind reader - just commentary. :)

The fact that mover dude took steps to protect the rail->head contact points at all is bonus and shows experience IMO.

I did drop-ship from Amazon blankets and plastic wrap for the move but Amazon Prime 1-Day turned into Amazon Prime 3-4 Day and missed the window. 

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I'm also not a huge fan of stretch wrap touching a bare cabinet.   Stretch wrap can stretch and pulls with surprising force with friction against the art.   When I saw these pictures, no blankets involved, my worry ramped back up a bit..  Coupled with the photos of the broken skid, my imagination ran away and I partially expected to receive a large garbage bag with approximately $7k in castle-themed Williams parts and troll head bash toys amongst shards of wood and millions of crystalline tempered glass shards.

My fears were calmed three days later when the machine arrived it was wrapped in an additional layer of (2) moving blankets and another layer of plastic wrap.  It was securely strapped inside his truck and made it without any (additional?) damage.

Also, bonus points that he brought the legs (last move with a different moving dude was missing legs) and the skid and all accessories.  ++ For mover dude.

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The back-right of the cabinet has a significant scrape and a separation in the ply of the head support board.  That scrape is on the same side of the cabinet as the missing skid. From the listing photos, I don't have any way of knowing for sure if this was a result of this move or something else.    Fortunately all easy fixes and didn't mess up the artwork.   At the end of the day, the machine made it to me safely in all of the ways that really matter.  Any damage that is there either from previous ownership or this move - I will easily have fixed and touched up by the weekend.

All things considered..  Mover Dude was a success.  The Seller was flexible and described the game quite well. (Probably under-sold the condition.)

Survey of Initial Condition

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Overall, I'm really pleased with the condition of the game. 
ColorDMD included, LED OCD Controllers included, all things I typically do to games and reduce my shopping list burden on the receiving side. 

The owner said it was a pinballbulbs.com kit and I found some of the color choices to be a bit much for my taste.  A little too much UV and too much green on the castle. Green in the mote, full green strip under by the backboard support, green spots on the castle.

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The Pinball Pro speaker upgrade was a nice touch, the sub almost feels like a shaker motor at times.   Very nice touch and surprisingly good sound for a non-pinsound-based system.

Who Does Number Two Work For?

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The Serial Number on the game is 53359100002.  Production date 5/23/1997.  According to IPDB, 4016 units were built with a production dated as June, 1997.    Prototypes ran in March.  Serial number 00002 with a 5/23/1997 mfg date.    That makes this the second production Medieval Madness off of the line. (Probably)  Inspected by.. you guessed it.. 

  Number 2

Number 2

Dialing it in

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I added some warm tone LEDs back into the mix to reduce the UV saturation a bit and abandoned the green strip on the castle.  I put in RGB changing LEDs on the castle spots and cleaned and waxed the playfield.   Ordered what I needed from Titan to bring the rubber situation into my liking.

The scoop kick out beneath the left ramp (ejects into the orbit) has a tendency to shoot the ball into drain instead of returning to the left flipper.  The joust / orbit however would return directly to the left flipper.  The scoop appears to be kicking it out too hard and rolling down the inside of the joust orbit instead of against the rail itself.

After adjusting the scoop kickout tension bracket down a few mm, the gameplay feels a good bit more balanced.    

Well, that's it for now.   My last pinball purchase for awhile.    I'll do some arcade-y things next, this fall and winter.   Many incomplete projects over in that side of the hobby for me. :)

Scared Stiff Progress

Scared Stiff cleaning and mods are coming along..  

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Shopping List

ColorDMD: http://shop.colordmd.com/colordmd-replacement-display-for-scared-stiff-pinball-machine/
Pinball Life Lit Flipper Buttons: https://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=3760
Mind Orbits / Cointaker Slow Color Changing Shooter: https://cointaker.com/products/led-lit-shooter-rods
New Lockdown Bar (Pinball life "Seconds"): https://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=2061
New Pinball Glass: https://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=768
New Bat Ramp (LSOG): https://littleshopofgames.com/product/scared-stiff-bat-ramp-with-decal-and-hardware-a-20754/
New Bony Beast Ramp (LSOG): https://littleshopofgames.com/product/scared-stiff-boney-beast-ramp/
New Crate Board: https://littleshopofgames.com/product/scared-stiff-crate-board-ssc001
New Dancing Boogies: https://littleshopofgames.com/product/boogie-man-for-scared-stiff-eatpm/
Robert Winter Dancing Boogie Extension Arms: http://www.robertwinter.com/pinball/ss/kitbm.html
Robert Winter Skull Pile LED Eyes: http://www.robertwinter.com/pinball/ss/kitled.html
Scared Stiff Slingshot Plastics: https://bit.ly/2KIpqh1
Clear Warm White Comet LED: http://www.cometpinball.com/product-p/1smd5050.htm
Flame Comet LED: http://www.cometpinball.com/product-p/fire.htm
RGB Color Changer: https://cointaker.com/products/ct-color-changer
Clear Warm White Retro Cointaker LED: https://cointaker.com/products/44-47-retro
Titan Pinball Glow Rubber Kit: https://www.titanpinball.com/kits/index.php/view/id/126
LED OCD Controller: http://ledocd.com/cart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1&products_id=22
GI OCD Controller: http://ledocd.com/cart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1&products_id=7
Power Splitter: https://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=4234
Power Tap: https://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=5037
LED Strip with Waterproof Coating: https://amzn.to/2AZFoDO

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I tried to "warm up" the tone of the pin. It already had LEDs but many were on the cool side of the spectrum.  I tried both the Cointaker Warm Retro and the Comet Warm 1SMD and found them to be identical to my eye.  Both are still a little brighter and blown out than I'd prefer.  I have a GI OCD kit to put in the pin, which will give me better control over the GI brightness.   Contemplated putting incandescents back in the GI, even.   So far, I don't hate it but I'm not 100% satisfied.   "Needs something".   The flame flicker bulbs maybe interspersed? It would be pricey and may not play well with GI animations in the game..

Custom Paint

 My friend, Nathan provided some inspiration with his background in imagineering-level yard haunts.   He showed me plastic skeletons that he had tea-stained and melted plastic to them to appear fleshy.    Googling some resources I found these helpful:

https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Corpse-a-Skeleton-The-Quick-and-Dirty-Way-/
http://manningkrull.com/manningmakesstuff/making-plastic-bones-look-aged-dirty/

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I re-strung the Bony Beast spine with thin picture-hanging wire and zip tied the LED strip at every vertebrae joint, pointing downward.  Use the waterproof-type LED strips, they are more sturdy because of the plastic casing.  I used Minwax Special Walnut Stain and a bristle brush.  A light coating of spray urethane to seal in the stain.   

Skull Pile

The game was wired for LED eyes in the Skull Pile plastic on the backboard but this was not included when the game shipped.    A mountain of hot glue later, it is mounted and installed.  I went a little overboard b/c the LED and wiring seem quite delicate and I don't want them moving.

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Other Stuff

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The coffin door was a little fidgety.  The door pops open and the coffin inhabitant yells "boo!" and horizontally rotates to allow a ball to eject from beneath.  It would often hang open after ejecting a ball.   When another ball  ejects while the door is open, it ejects the ball over the lane guides into the drain.  I replaced the vertical hinge pin, straightened the horizontal hinge pin flaps and replaced the horizontal pin with a new one.

Finished it out with a color-changing LED spotlight on the sarcophogus face.

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