Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Modern Firepower Pinball Project - Playfield Machinery

After installing the various posts on the playfield, I turned my attention to the playfield machinery.

I had already decided that there was a correct order for installing all parts on the playfield.  Posts first, simply because they are small and on the top.  Then machinery, because there's normally only one correct way to install these large metal assemblies.  Next come targets and stand up switches, as they too can only be installed one way.  Then come the rollover switches, which have a little more leeway in installation location.  Last come the lights, as they have the most flexibility in installation location - so long as they are under the correct insert or hole, you can mount them however you like.

I installed the pop bumpers first.  These are standard Williams style pop bumpers.


The playfield looks a bit more complete now that the pop bumpers are installed.

The slingshots are actually Data East and are not original on this playfield.  I find the all-in-one design vastly superior and much easier to install and maintain.  Luckily they fit perfectly.

Something here does not belong.... can you figure it out?  That's right, a modern Ball Trough.
One of my goals for this project was to use modern pinball parts.  Many of the mechanical designs from even the 80's are large and clunky, and in some cases lack functionality.  The feature I hated most was the old ball trough.  It only held 3 or 4 balls, requires four large leaf switches, and uses two separate solenoids, one to move balls from the drain onto the ramp, and a second to throw balls into the shooter's lane.

Early on I had purchased a modern ball trough.  I know this design was used by Williams on their 2000 era machines (both of them, before they went out of business), and I believe is also used by other manufacturers.  The all in one design is vastly superior: seven ball capacity, optical switches, and only one solenoid to throw balls onto shooter's lane.

Unfortunately, it doesn't fit Firepower or other 80's era pinball playfields.  Part of the trough extends up through the playfield to funnel balls into shooter's lane, and this part was a few millimeters wider than the hole in the playfield.

The clearance was so close I couldn't resist pulling out my router (technically a Dremel with router attachement) and widening the hole just enough to make it fit.  Sacriledge? Yes, but definitely worth it.

The ball trough didn't fit the stock playfield, so I used a router and carefully enlarged the hole in the playfield to make it fit.

I mistakenly installed the flippers before the ball trough.  I then got to do it again...

After repositioning the flipper, it aligns perfectly flush with the ball trough.  Always test fit all pieces before drilling holes.
 I had already installed the flippers long before I enlarged the hole for the ball trough to be installed.  When I finally installed the ball trough, I found it was overlapping with the right flipper assembly.  I had to reposition the flipper to get everything to align correctly.  While it would have been smarter to install the flippers after the ball trough, I was able to fix my mistake by used toothpicks and wood glue to fill in the old screw holes before drilling new holes.

Another view of the pop bumpers.  The coils are not all the same strength... wonder how that will play.

Here's something else that doesn't belong, an all-in-one eject assembly from a different pinball era.

To make it fit, I had to Dremel off the metal ball catch ring (didn't fit the playfield) so I could use the red plastic parts instead.  I also had to enlarge the holes in the plastic cup to make room for the switch and the coil plunger.  Works perfectly!

Up top, I also installed the ball saver kickback assembly (on the left drain lane).

Another view of the modern ball trough.