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Repair & Maintenance Log

03/04/10: Acquired Game.

03/21/10: New legs, bolts and levelers. Replaced missing head bolts. Cleaned insert panel. Replaced missing/burned bulbs in head.

05/10: Shopped game. Overall the game was mechanically sound, but was horribly dirty. The layer of nicotine on all the playfield parts was staggering. Most of my time was spent cleaning. There was a lot of fighting with T-nuts thanks to generous quantities of ancient thread lock. Heating the T-nut with a soldering iron helped, but I still ended up breaking and replacing a lot of hardware. The jet bumpers were mostly busted up so I replaced all of those parts. Thanks to some over enthusiastic hardware tightening, the playfield plastics are in pretty bad shape with a lot of cracks, warps and blown out mounting holes. But they look reasonable now with all the grime cleaned off. The flipper mechs were surprisingly sound. I cleaned them up and the only wear parts that needed replacing was the shrink tubing on the pawls. I also replaced the flipper bats just for cosmetic purposes. Obviously I replaced all the rubber. And I finished up with a new ball and a new sheet of playfield glass.

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Before shot of the cruddy, busted up jet bumper area.

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After shot with new bumper parts, new rubber, clean parts and clean playfield.

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Comparison between the clean Fishbowl ramp and the still dirty Tiger Ramp. Yuck!

I found a cigarette butt supporting the Seafood Table window. I tossed the butt and replaced the old black foam. I also had to replace some of the screws and T-nuts.

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Cigarette butt window support. Eewh!

Update... I have received a few emails asking about the Seafood Table window hardware. The picture below shows what you're looking for. These parts do not appear to be stocked by the usual pinball parts suppliers and I had no luck at the local hardware store. As you can see I had to buy in bulk and have more than I'll ever use. If you live in the US and are missing some screws or T-nuts, I can send you a few.

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4-40 screws and T-nuts for the Seafood Table window.

The linear target (i.e. the Fish Bone-Us) is the most novel mechanism in the game. As far as I know, this mechanism was never used again. So you probably don't want to buy a Bad Cats that's missing this assembly. Mine worked, but was pretty dirty like everything else. There was a thick reddish blob of goo on the mechanism. I cleaned it up for the most part, but there's still a stain on the frame as shown below. The rubber parts appear to be cut down conical yellow post rubbers. I don't know if this is the original or correct arrangement of rubber. But they cleaned up and appear to grip the target rod well, so I left them as is. The diagram in the manual appears to show round rubber rings. Unfortunately, the rings are not listed as a separate part number. The target rod rides on snap-in nylon bushings. But my bushing weren't holding themselves into the fame anymore and I didn't know with what to replace them. So I used a few small dabs of white caulk to hold the bushings in place. It's kind of hack-looking, but seems to have done the trick. Update: The bushings are available at least from Marco Specialties and are called 3⁄16" Nyliner bearings.

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Linear target mechanism.

05/13/10: Fabricated new playfield plastic. The following procedure was inspired by a segment from the TOP #4 video "Pinball Ain't Dead, It just Smells Funny". While shopping the game I noticed a missing plastic on the right side of the fishbowl ramp entrance. Fortunately I found a scan of the needed plastic on the Internet. I made a simple b&w print of the part and a good color print on glossy photo paper.

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Prints of the plastic scan.

I made the plastic from a small sheet of Lexan purchased at Home Depot. Without removing the Lexan's protective films, I attached my b&w template to the Lexan with spray adhesive. I used a coping saw to rough-cut the part. I left plenty of material around the template so the saw marks could be removed later. Then I drilled mounting holes and test fit the part on my game.

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Test fitting the rough-cut plastic.

I used a drum sander in a Dremel to work the part to its final shape. Then I peeled away the template and protective films. I used fine sandpaper to smooth the edges and finished up with a light flame polishing. Next I worked on the color print. I used an X-Acto knife to cut away all the white from the mounting hole areas. Then I used a black Sharpie to thicken the perimeter key line. Having a fat black line allows more room to fudge when setting the Lexan part in place. I coated the print with a light to moderate sheen of spray adhesive and carefully pressed the Lexan in place using extreme caution to avoid any glue fingerprints on the Lexan. Then I set it aside to cure over night.

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Finished Lexan part glued to the color print.

I rough-cut the print and then covered the underside of the print with a protective layer of Mylar. Then I used a razor to trim the print and Mylar to the shape of the Lexan. Finally, I used the X-Acto knife to cut out the mounting holes.

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A comparison between my homemade plastic and an original. The color and texture are far from perfect, but it'll do.

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Here's the end result. Fortunately there's no lighting under the plastic so its lack of transparency isn't too detrimental.

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This area of the playfield is pretty busy. I doubt that my inferior replacement plastic will ever be noticed from any normal viewing angle.

05/16/10: Added GI light to jet bumper. The center jet bumper on Bad Cats is unlit. Because the bumper is covered by a flat low-clearance plastic, there's no room for a conventional bulb and socket. So I simply skipped the socket a soldered wire leads directly to a long-lasting, low-heat-generating LED. I had a #44-style "warm white" LED on hand, so that's what I used. A yellow zip-tie holds the wires to shape.

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Adding GI lighting to what was an unlit bumper.

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I should have taken another picture before installing the ramp, but here's how the bumper turned out.

01/15/12: Added remote battery backup. Instead of permanently soldering some sort of remote battery setup to the CPU board I made battery place-holders from 1/2 inch dowel. This method requires no board modifications. And no connectors are needed between the board and the battery pack. The battery pack is from Great Plains Electronics. I like that the pack is fully enclosed. I don't like that it has an integral ON/OFF switch. I set the switch to ON and put a blob of silicone caulk over it. The battery wires are mounted to an end of each dowel with a screw and crimp terminal. The screw head becomes the "battery terminal". Don't forget to account for the height of the screw head when figuring the length of the dowel. I wired the battery pack with 8' leads. Instead of placing the battery pack in the head, I drop it down into the body and place it next to the cash box. Opening the coin door is easier than opening the head. The idea is that I'll be better motivated to replace the batteries more often.

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Battery place-holders and remote battery pack. Note the blob of silicone over the battery pack switch.

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Scruffy gives each assembly a quality control check.

The CPU board shows how each battery must be oriented, but does not show the location of +4.5 volts. Before removing the old batteries I used my volt meter to confirm that the lower-left terminal of the battery holder is +4.5 volts. The orientation shown here is correct for most System-11 CPU boards. Grand Lizard is at least one exception. Grand Lizard and the previous System-9 CPU boards (along with their battery holders) are oriented 180 degrees from that shown here.

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Dowel sticks in place.

03/24/12: Installed standard-keyed (751) lock on coin door.

11/23/15: Acquired a complete set of new reproduction ramps from Starship Fantasy.