Archive for May, 2009

Recent purchases

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

I’ve recently bought a few bits and pieces for cleaning the playfield, following things I’ve read on RGP and These include:

3M Finesse-It – for cleaning the playfield (a lot of restorers swear by this stuff)
2000 grade sandpaper – for polishing the playfield/apron having sprayed it
A magic eraser and Bref Power Fettlöser (fat remover) – to help clean the playfield

I’ll go into detail on how I use these items once I’ve used them.

Watch this space!

I also bought some TAF “goodies”, including a TAF decal and some rare promotional plastics, just for the hell of it!

TAF decal and TAF Promotional Plastics

TAF decal and TAF Promotional Plastics

Bookcase rubber

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

I had to order some components from Best Of Pinball today for my Flasher problem. Last month they actually had sent me an email offering to mount the bookcase rubber onto the bookcase for me (see the problem reported in January). So I thought I’d take this opportunity and return the pieces to be assembled for me.

However, at the last minute, I thought I’d actually give it a go myself. Yes it was one of those “without thinking” moments (which actually ruined my new TAF apron) but still I went ahead with it. Fortunately this didn’t go wrong this time and I actually mounted the rubber onto the bookcase successfully. I then took this assembly and mounted it onto the new bookcase base to ensure  the rubber stays in place, securing the whole thing with electricians tape, until I come to mount the new bookcase into the machine.

My Flasher problem

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

As reported in April, I have a flasher problem, which is proving to be a challenge. It turns out that there are 5 separate flasher “circuits” each with at least two flashers connected in parallel.

The flashers flash by being “turned on” (having 20V applied to them) very briefly. As they’re 12V bulbs they therefore “flash” very brightly. The flashers always have 20V applied to one side of them and the other is left floating (ie not connected), meaning that no current can flow, so that they remain off. However, when turned on, the floating side of the flasher is effectively grounded through a power transistor (TIP102). This power transistor is turned on using a signal transistor (2N5401). Simple.

So now to my problem: when I test the flasher circuits separately using the testing procedure, each circuit flashes as it should. However, when I test all bulbs and flashers simultaneously, the Train/Upper Left Ramp flashers (which are connected) flash very dimly as do the Telephone/Upper Right Ramp flashers. This is also the case during game play. Interestingly though, during game play I’ve noticed that when the Telephone lamp flashes, sometimes the Upper Right Ramp flasher doesn’t appear to flash as brightly. As these two bulbs are connected in parallel, this is very strange.

The two problem flasher circuits are connected to the same pin of J107 on the WPC power board (pin 6), so in theory, it could be, that when all the flashers and lamps are activated, that the 20V supply on this pin is less than the supply on pin 5 (to which all other flasher circuits are connected). However these two pins are connected together on the power board, so that can not be the problem.

To see whether there was a problem with the resistance of these two flasher circuits, I briefly shorted their corresponding pins on J126 to ground (thereby by-passing the “grounding” circuitry) and both flasher circuits flashed as expected. This implies to me, that the problem is actually with the two grounding circuits not grounding completely (although I find this hard to believe).

So I’ve decided to replace the Bridge Rectifier (BR4) which provides the 20V supply to the flasher circuit and its corresponding capacitor (C11) as well as the TIP107 and 2N5401 for both “grounding” circuits.

Hopefully with these updates the supply to the flasher circuits will be good as new!

Metal Brackets

Monday, May 25th, 2009

The plastics for the bookcase, telephone and bearkick ramp are attached with metal angle pieces to their corresponding plastic supports. So I will have to acquire these brackets also if I don’t want to use the old ones, which I don’t.

A few enquiries on RGP and revealed nothing other than a recommendation to get such angle pieces from the local hardware store. So I went looking.

I found two potential solutions: angle strips one out of aluminium and one out of plastic, which I could cut. As they didn’t have my required size (15mm x 15mm) in aluminium, I opted for the hard plastic version.

Plastic angle 15mm x 15mm

Plastic angle 15mm x 15mm

Display Foil

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

I saw some display foil for the dot matrix display (DMD) advertised on The idea of this foil is to reduce display glare from the pinball glass – even with the fantastic new glass with minimal reflection (which I still haven’t got), the DMD reflection can still be seen and so could disturb, so I acquired one.

It turned up today and my first impression was one of disappointment. I guess it’s just a polarising sheet preventing light from travelling in the vertical plane. However by testing the foil – by putting one end at right angles to the other, which due to the polarising nature should block all the light – some light was still seen to shine through.

Still, I will need to test the foil in situ on the machine itself to see whether it actually brings anything. Unfortunately I don’t have my glass mounted on the machine at the moment, so this test will have to wait.

New Thing Box

Monday, May 18th, 2009
Marked Thing Box

Marked Thing Box

My Thing Box is marked. It always was. So I have three options: either I cover it in one of the several available sticker sets, I mod it like this or I simply get a new one.

As I’m trying to keep my TAF as original as possible (with only a few slight improvements) at this stage I’ve decided to go for a new box.

To remove the marked box meant me having to remove both the telephone plastic assembly and the acid plastic assembly. From the two, the acid plastic assembly was the most dificult to remove as to do so (without removing the plastic ramp) meant using a ratchet spanner within a very confined space (I did this as I want to continue playing pinball even with the box removed). As they say – “lazy people take most pain”.

Having removed both assemblies it was a simple matter of taking out three screws to remove the box (for some reason there were only three screws holding my box down, although it was designed for four).

Incidentally, in removing the acid plastic assembly, I revealed two #44 GI lamps which weren’t working. I wonder how many years ago they burned out?

TAF Shooter Cover

Friday, May 15th, 2009

My recently acquired Shooter Cover from a Whirlwind Pinball doesn’t have the right dimensions. So I once again had a look around the internet and eventuall found the following through

TAF Shooter Cover

TAF Shooter Cover

“Just what we’ve been searching for”. Of course I would have to redo the decal, but hey that shouldn’t be a problem…should it?

Matching colours

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

So I’ve got my graphic and I’m going to have my new plastics soon (having ordered them through pinball dreams). I just need to print the graphic out on a suitable medium and stick it onto the plastic. I have two options for the medium to use: either using tattoo foil or using a self adhesive foil – both on a transparent substrate. In both instances, I would then use an adhesive white backing to disperse the light.

According to the excellent tutorial at an ideal medium for the white backing is Mactac 9800pro, which is available online. So I’ve got this. I’ve also got both tattoo foil (from Data Becker) and some A4 transparent adhesive foil from PaperMagic to try out. Now to the graphic.

The most important (and difficult) part of generating the graphic is matching the colours. Considering I’ve got five different versions of the Thing Flipper plastic – all with different colour variations – I’m guessing an exact match is not imperative. The only thing that is important, is that the left and right curtain plastics match and that the colour is close to that used for the curtain on the playfield (incidentally I never realised the graphic was part of a curtain until I started all this!).

For the colour matching I decided to print out some grids, like colour matching charts. As my printer (a Canon IP4300) uses CMYK colour mixing (as do all printers) to print images, I thought it would be easier to use a graphic programme which could easily manipulate and print out CMYK colours. So I turned to Photoshop to produce the grid.

I started off by producing a grid of 20 x 21 boxes (yes, I made a mistake – it should have been 21 x 21) . As I was trying to match the red, I chose Magenta and Yellow as the two main colours. Each column had increasing amounts of Magenta (from 5% to 100% in 5% steps) and each row had increasing amounts of yellow from 0% to 100% in 5% steps.

Magenta vs Cyan grid

Magenta vs Cyan grid

I printed this page out (letting the printer manage the colours). Unfortunately none of the reds matched the red of the plastic. So I produced 20 additional pages based on this grid, but with increasing values of Cyan on each page – each page with 5% more Cyan than the previous. I printed these out. From the resulting grids I found a near match to the red (C=20%, M=100%, Y=100%, K=0%). I was also able to match the other three colours:

dark red = C=55%, M=100%, Y=100%, K=0%
yellow = C=0%, M=15%, Y=100%, K=0%
dark yellow = C=45%, M=50%, Y=100%, K=0%

However, I was unhappy with the yellow and dark yellow and after a bit more experimenting and the printing of several mini-grids, finished off with colours of :

yellow = C=0%, M=14%, Y=100%, K=28%
dark yellow = C=43%, M=52%, Y=100%, K=9%

So now it was time to try out the print outs on both the tattoo medium and the sticky transparent foil. I started with the tattoo and boy was that difficult! Having printed it off, not only was the quality bad, but removing it from the backing was a struggle! I then tried to stick it onto white paper (to check the colours), but it was so sticky, flexible and stretchy, I just couldn’t get it to stick right:

My first attempt at using tattoo foil - a disaster!

My first attempt at using tattoo foil - a disaster!

So moving onto the sticky transparent foil, I had more luck – although the colours changed quite a bit printing onto that medium – but I found that covering the image in a yellow filter with a 7% opaque value, restored the colours. So the red finished with a value of:  C=18%, M=93%, Y=100%, K=0%. I stuck this graphic onto a piece of Mactac 9800pro white backing just to see the result, and was suitably satisfied:

graphic on foil and white backing (with original plastic on top, for comparison)

graphic on foil and white backing (with original plastic on top, for comparison)

That’ll do!

Incidentally, producing the colour charts was a pain. So that you don’t have to go through that, you can download a zipped version of the photoshop file here. It’s 7 Mb (compressed) in size (85 Mb actual), so you need to want it!

“Gold” plastics

Thursday, May 14th, 2009
"Golden" Plastics?

"Golden" Plastics?

If you’ve been following this blog closely, you’ll have noticed, that I’ve acquired numerous NOS and used plastics. Whilst going through these today, I noticed three plastics which appeared different to the others.

The three plastics pictured above all have what appear to be gold highlights on the graphics instead of the normal light brown colour.

A quick posting on RGP for clarification yielded nothing though. I thought these plastics may have been for the TGA Gold run, but apparently they weren’t. Could they be prototype plastics?

Curtain graphic for Thing’s Flipper plastic

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

With the new plastic for Thing’s Flipper, which is larger than the original and where several holes have disappeared or moved, a new graphic had to be made based on the current one. This was achieved with Paint Shop Pro:

Curtain graphic

Curtain graphic

I took the opportunity to include the lowlights on the ropes, as with the playfield.