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I have always loved pinball machines, its something about being completely random and a physical ball moving. None of this screens and dots moving representing something, a pinball machine is a physical ball moving around.
So I joined a forum called AussieArcade.com.au. This opened my eyes to the entire world of arcade machines for home use. I was addicted... everyday there were 2 pages of topics which had been updated. I went away for a weekend and ended up with 11 pages of unread topics. (still haven't caught up). I learnt who the dealers were, how to contact them and where to look for a pinball machine.
I organised a personal loan through my bank. All approved. So its now or never. My other half had put her foot down and said the only pinball machines which were being allowed in the MAIN room of our rented place were either Stargate (she's a huge fan as well as me) or Lord Of The Rings (another huge fan). Now LOTR is still an expensive machine and after looking for a while, hardly ANY EVER come up for sale. But Stargate's another story. It was one Gottlieb's best machines (before the company died) its a very jumpy machine with lots of kicker targets and vertical ball shooters. But I had played it once or twice in a REAL arcade and loved it. I found a machine, I could live with and could grow to love.
Found one for sale straight away and the person was willing to jump through he hoops for the bank (stat dec etc).
Well it has finally happened. I am now the proud owner of a Stargate Pinball Machine.
History: The seller has had the machine sitting in his house (not much light) for 6 years. Before then it was in Music Time in the valley. Pretty good I think as most of its life was spent in a home collection. He did mention that he couldn’t set it to free play but apart from that it was all working he said.
Picked it up on Thursday night (01/05/2008) from Redcliffe. Tony (from AussieArcade.com.au) helped me move the pinball machine. He offers a helping hand to pinball lovers in Brisbane and for a small price is able to help you move it, so it doesn’t get damaged. Got it back home, and even Tony commented it was in good condition. Purchased some replacement bulbs off him [20 Standard lights and 10 Flashed lights] (in case some need replacing) a new rubber set (as this had been in a home for 6 years. it needs new rubbers).
Didn’t get much time to play it unfortunately as I was going away that weekend. But in the few games I did have I noticed some small things wrong.
- The TOURNEMENT switch next to the TEST button did not work
- The centre kicker target did not kick. But in the testing it worked fine. (switch problem)
- Some of the kickers/target resets/ball launcher were a little bit under powered. Tony showed me how to quickly solve this 1. just wipe off the excess dirt and usually its back to 100%.
- The Rebellion light didn’t light up.
- The rope light is using RED LED’s instead of BRIGHT white lights. This will have to be replaced.
After coming back from my long weekend holiday I was able to spend some time getting to know my machine.
I started with doing a FULL TEST of the machine. I really like how it allows you to test all the individual items one by one. Noticed some lights were not working. Replaced 5 Flasher lights (behind the backboard , and the rebellion light ). Replaced 3 normal lights (all on the backboard).
The machine was saying the centre kicker target hadn’t been used in the last 15 games. In playing the machine I know it wasn’t working. On a closer inspection under the playfield a wire had come off from its solder. And guess what, it was the centre kicker target. Checking the manual I found the switch and what do you know, its wired to the TOURNEMENT switch as well.
Unfortunately I didn’t have any solder, and could only find a dodgy soldering iron, but after letting it warm up for 10 minutes and then 10 minutes of trying to heat up the solder it finally melted into the blob and quickly I placed the wire into the blob. FIXED! Couldn’t believe it was as easy as that. And after I fixed this the TOURNEMENT switch was working perfectly, I am now able to set the game into FREE PLAY.
Noticing the rope light in its ugliness I ordered a replacement from RTBB.com.au Tony had suggested them as they are a great company and he had used the previously. Also in my order I added a Novus cleaning pack (so I can give the entire game a nice clean), 4 brand new pinball’s (when I clean the game and do the rubber I want nice shiny balls), a drink holder (so I can drink and play) and some leg levellers/rubber feet. So I stop wrecking the wooden floor. All up roughly $110.
I did notice in the manual that the previous owners might have re-done the resisters to put in the ugly red LED rope light. I will have to be careful putting the new one in.
Left To Do:
- Install the new Rubbers
- Clean the entire game/playfield (with Novus)
- Install the new proper rope light
- Clean off the rust on the inside of the legs/make them shiny
- Clean off the rust on the side rails (very small amount)
- Get all the settings how I like them
- Re-do some of the coils/especially the RIGHT ball kicker-uper. Its a little bit underpowered at the moment and it will sometimes not be able to get the ball out, it takes a couple of times.
All up I’m super excited and happy at my purchase! Now I just have to pay the bank back hehe
So my items arrived, my rope light, cleaners and shiny pinballs. I took off the old rope light, and quickly plugged in the new rope light. As I thought. The rope light stayed on for less then a second then turned off. The old RED LED dodgy rope light had cut the power down. A quick check on AussieArcade (thanks to Pinnies4me for checking his stargate machine) and i had 2x100u resistors instead of 3x3.3u resistors. AussieArcade even found me the resistors I needed on jaycars website. So I ordered 4 (just in case I stuffed one up) and a digital multi-meter(as I don't have 1). All up including next day delivery. $20. I also went to Bunnings and a electrical store and picked up some solder, a soldering iron and some heat shrink.
The resistors arrived. So I quickly went about removing the old resistors. Replacing them was actually very very easy. Once replaced I tried the lights and PERFECT. Nice and bright! Then I went about making sure it would last. So i soldered the rope light onto its connector and even heat-shrinked the 2 wires individually so they wouldn't "touch". Then went about placing the rope light (using zip ties) onto the backboard. All up it is one nice rope light! much better.
Everything was perfect. I had even found ANOTHER target which was not working (outer centre bullseye) and it was again a simple solder a little bit and its working again. I had maybe 5 great games of everything working.. then BAM... the top right flipper was not working.. And when I pressed the flipper button a blue spark was coming out from the button. Turned the machine off and found out that the flipper insides had broken. A small plastic triangle had broken in half and therefore the flipper was not connected to the coil. This meant the End Of Stroke switch for the flipper was not activating so the MAIN flipper coil was on for way to long and sparking. This also meant my slow blow fuse for the flipper is almost at nothing.
Checking on the net and AussieArcade. I could of tried to buy some of the replacement parts and fumbled my way through it. But I had noticed that the flippers were a little weak and they would all need to be done. So I got in contact with Tony again and have organised him to come out and help me/do it. So when he is out I will have the flippers rebuilt. The left up kicker rebuilt, the 2 target reset. And anything else i can squeeze into a hour or 2 of his time.
Tony came around after I had finished work. And spent the next 2 1/2 hours helping me fix up the pinball machine. The flipper was broken, and the others were a little weak. So 3 new flippers rebuilt, just the bits which needed replacing. Also he replaced the coil sleeves on the "problem" coils (shooter, 2 target reset, left Vertical Up Kicker (VUK)). Also a new fuse because my other one was a little bit worn out (about to blow).
After this everything was GREAT! the flippers were a lot more powerful, the kicker worked. All was swell.
It cost me a bit, but I knew the cost would of been around that much when you are buying a "eBay" pinball machine. Its always good to have someone to look at it and make sure it is 100%.
I have been playing as much as I can. Even during my break from work (currently work close to home) so I can get one game in during the day. Some things I have been noticing. The 2 Drop Targets in the middle have sometimes not been resetting correctly. Sometimes it will only put up the 1 or rarely none. So today I removed the entire housing. And noticed if i move the "stopper" on the coil a little bit higher it means when it resets the targets they will go that little bit higher and therefore reset correctly. DONE. Its working fine now. Also I gave the entire playfield (without removing anything) a little bit of Novus #2 and it took off some of the dirt/grim. then left it with some Novus #1 on the playfield. This made the game MUCH MUCH better. This is the lesson that every month or so you need to get the top off and open it up to polish the field a little bit. It makes for a faster game and means you can hit the ramps a lot easier.
Also I took some photos of my attached drink holder. Its fantastic to have a drink at arms length between balls.
Its been a while since posting. But the great thing is the machine has not had ANY problems. Every game has been great, no having to re-launch the ball on the left VUK. Its just been smooth sailing. Today I had some time so I opened the machine (hadn't done that in weeks) gave the playfield a bit of a clean and replaced 4 General Light bulbs. So its all clean and bright looking again! Also I re-did the lock on the machine to one of the 10 same key locks. So when I get another machine (arcade or pinball) i can key them a like.
I replaced the same light that had blown previously. Also gave the machine a complete wipe down. Its so much faster now!
The next day I noticed that a light was blown, also the Centre top kicker was not working. (this is a problem I had "fixed" previously). So I opened it up again to replace the light bulb, removed the 3 bulb board to replace the light and now onto the kicked.
Luckily my brother is very very good at soldering and decided to help me and re-solder the entire section (my job was very messy). And now its GREAT! working 100% and all lights working again :P
Finally. Long time no update. So after a LONG LONG time (a year) I finally moved back to my pinball machine. It worked perfectly after a year not being touched!
After two weeks I ended up cleaning it today, just a quick clean and I replaced 2 light bulbs. Also filed back some of the contacts on the flippers and cleaned the left VUK and top pop bumper (they were causing some issues). Now its playing nice and fast!
Also set the machine on PAY to PLAY mode. Any money placed into it will end up buying Jenn a present. So far it is up to $20.