At the end of my previous update, I was really close to having the repair work on Playball complete. I haven’t had as much time as I would like lately to look at the machine, so it dragged on a little longer than I had hoped. The time has come though to get the machine running 100% and returned to its owner. I had two issues on my plate to deal with. The first was the third base lamp occasionally not lighting up when it should and the second was the score motor continuing to run intermittently during play. The third base issue turned out to be a dirty shoe on the hit unit. I had somehow missed cleaning it along with the others in my last update. Nice and simple. That just leaves the dreaded score motor.
Having made some good progress on Playball in my last update, it’s time to continue the push forward and get this reset issue sorted out. I took a couple of days away from the machine to clear my head and (hopefully) prevent myself from making any assumptions on the machine. The fact I can play a game on it when manually pulling the control bank arm in tells me the game is close – something is just not quite right. There isn’t a lot on this game that has to be reset in order to start. My primary focus here is the control bank – and quite specifically, the SB armature switch.
Not long after finishing up on my X-Files machine, I was contacted by a guy who needed some help with an EM machine he owns. After reading the various posts I made on Space Orbit (Gottlieb) and Mariner (Bally), he was hopeful I might be able to assist with fixing his Playball machine. EM’s are really interesting to work on (plus a challenge), so was happy to offer my help. No promises were made, but I’d do what I could. Playball is a baseball themed pin released by Gottlieb in 1971. It has two sets of score reels, one to track the score and the other to track the home run count. It lacks a plunger to launch the ball, instead the ball is launched from between the flippers using the right flipper button to trigger a slingshot style arm. This actually gives the playfield area a little more space and room for features. Another really cool feature is the game has a ball save – if you fail to hit a 10 or 100 point target, the ball can be played again. I didn’t realise this kind of feature was present in EM’s – neat! I like the playfield on this game and I think it would be a fun title to play. That’s enough incentive to get cracking on it and get it working again so I can get a few games on it before it goes back to the owner.
Over 12 months ago I purchased my first EM – Space Orbit – which is a Single player add-a-ball machine that was exported to Italy by Gottlieb. The machine eventually found its way back to Australia, changing hands via the Pinball Shed and a private collector before it reached me. For the most part, the machine has been running fine. Some initial issue with one of the add-a-ball switches requiring adjustment and the stepper unit that rotates the lit WOW lamps. But that’s about all. My intention isn’t to service the whole machine, but to look at a few issues that have either crept into the game play over time, or have been there since day one and sort them out. The first issue I want to look at is the vari-target. This is one of the main shots on the game, so it’s important it functions correctly. The idea behind it is simple – hit the ball against the vari-target arm as hard as possible to push it back – the further back it goes the more points you get. If you get it all the way back and the lamp is lit – you also score the special (or in this case WOW) – which is a free ball.