I bought a Spring Break

Chris goes to the Captain’s Auction Warehouse coin-op auction regularly, at least recently. I started getting some bids in on some weirder titles that are going for reasonable prices. First I got a Spanish Eyes, then a Monte Carlo.  Most recently I picked up a Spring Break for $500, plus premiums and tax, which are actually pretty steep.

But I was happy to get it. The game is complete. The playfield is a little rough, but they’re still available. The cabinet is very good.

So far, I’ve found the following problems with it:

  • +5v regulator pot was bad.  They’re all bad, unless they have been replaced.  Mine was running a little north of +5v and the adjustment pot just didn’t work.  I replaced it, and it’s OK.
  • Battery corrosion.  This had one of the “DataSentry” style black batteries of doom.  Unlike my Monte Carlo, which is a few months older and had a beautiful, clean computer, this one has some damage in the reset section.  I have so far removed the battery but not cleaned the damage.
  • Computer has been trashed.  Like every 80B computer, this has a piggyback board arrangement where the solder joints fatigue and crack.  The solution is straightforward: resolder the pins.  The difficulty is that this involves desoldering the board so I can work on the underside.  Unfortunately someone decided to go to war with the thing on the top side.  I did finally get the board off, but I am afraid I have damaged the plated-through holes.  I obliterated at least one pad on the bottom and damaged another.  This won’t be too hard to mitigate, but it probably would not have happened had someone done good work to begin with.
  • Ramp cracked at entrance badly.
  • Sounds lacking.  So I can hear some correct sounds, but mostly it’s static.  Can’t hear the music. I want to take a look at this, but there’s no reason to until grounds are verified.
  • Ground mods not done.  I suspect this is causing sound problems.  At least one set of pins (this game has five) is burned badly.
  • Lots of lamps missing.
  • Driver board has transistors replaced with the twisted-leg hack.  I have the right transistors and I’ll fix that.
  • Black rubber on playfield.  Ew.

On the upside, a lot of lamps DO work.  The flippers are pretty strong.  The cabinet is very good, other than some duck tape glue that should be pretty easy to clean off.  The translite is a little faded, but not too bad.  I dropped in the regulator and computer from my Monte Carlo, and that gave a lot of hope.

You don’t play the paint.

Want to save a lot of bucks buying a pinball?  Look for a “player’s” game, not a “collector’s” game.

Collectors worry about numbers of plays, scratches on the cabinet, “orange peel” effects on the playfield, “ball swirl” marks. They ask, “Is it home use only?”

I suggest asking instead: “Is it fun?”

Always remember: You don’t play the paint. A little wear around scoops, inserts, or a few cracks in the paint can bring down the value, sure, but it generally doesn’t affect play at al.

Massive damage to the paint, or a completely worn out playfield, could seriously affect play. And it’s OK to worry about cosmetics. But it can become an obsession, and it’s not worth it.

Related, You don’t play the cabinet. It is crucial that the cabinet is square, and also important that it keeps out pets, spilled drinks, and dust. Does it matter if the cabinet is faded? Well, sure. It affects the value. If ugly enough, it can annoy one’s spouse.

My Kings of Steel has some cabinet damage. Is it obvious? Not really, because it is cleverly hidden by Black Knight 2000 and High Speed..

That said, I have games where I would swap the playfield, or touch up the cabinet. There is heavy damage and it would improve the cosmetics. But there’s a cost to these, both in money and time. It’s OK if they are not cosmetically perfect.

It’s a pinball machine – not a shrine. – “Shaggy”

Maybe they’re all burnt out.

I powered up my Twilight Zone after moving to a new house and none of the flashers worked. I started checking voltages and cabling. What could have happened?

Flasher bulbs are a bit delicate. The move broke all of them. They were burned out.

When I bought my High Speed, none of the flashers worked. We started checking the large under-playfield resistors. We broke one in the process. Replacing it fixed nothing.

Flasher bulbs burn out and on High Speed, some are wired in series. They were burned out.

Chris told me about working on a home-model game that was showing some massive failure in the lighting, but on closer examination, all the bulbs were burned out.

Always check the easy stuff first!

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