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The T3sk3y Defenestrator

Pinball restoration update

A couple of weeks ago, I posted that I found yet another pinball machine – a 1980 Stern Flight 2000 – sorely in need of some love. A quick recap of the issues:

  • Crackly, paint peeled backglass
  • Broken playfield glass
  • A few cracked plastics
  • A 4″ square worn spot on the playfield
  • Missing a lot of bulbs
  • Two broken drop targets
  • The big one – it doesn’t start up

Did I say it was cheap?

Last Wednesday, it came home with me to the T3sk3y compound. As soon as I got the legs and the backbox bolted back on, I started debugging the problems with it. When you it the power switch, it gave six ‘dings’, then hung without going into attract mode. Fortunately, the electronics in this pinball machine were used in dozens of different machines – so they are pretty common. There are LOTS of repair guides on the web, the best of which is at Pinball Fixit Guides. They say that a properly operating machine of this type should ding 7 times, then go into attract mode. The missing seventh ding, according to the manual, signified a problem with the solenoid driver board. This problem was usually attributed to there not being 43v DC supplied to the board.

As I started to debug the solenoid board, the guide had a checklist of things to look at. Here’s how far I got:

Step 1: Check the fuse for the 43 volt supply on the regulator board

Check – it’s blown. I replaced the fuse, half expecting it to blow again instantly. Not only did it not blow, I got the seventh ding and the machine started up! After I cackled wildly, I added credits and hit start. I was able to play a complete game – and nearly everything worked!

I love fixes like that

There’s still tons of stuff to do on it. Since then, I have stripped and polished the playfield using Magic Erasers and the Treasure Cove polishing kit. Most of the ball swirls went away, and it’s nice and shiny. I put over 50 new bulbs in and installed a new bracket to hold the playfield up. My next tasks will be to rebuild the drop target mechanism and replace the rubbers.

As to the backglass, I downloaded a 115MB TIF file of a scanned perfect backglass so that I can reproduce the artwork on the glass. I’m trying to decide if I want to make a translite (about $125) or get a full glass reproduction (about $250). Hmm…

For those with big dreams

Have bigger dreams than just a promotion? Make sure you do it correctly! For starters, be sure to consult the Evil Overlord list on the top 100 things to remember when you become an Evil Overlord.

If you follow that guide and succeed in becoming an Evil world-dominating Overlord, and you want to stick up the world for “Ten Million Dollars” (pinky at corner of mouth a la Dr. Evil), here’s a guide on good ways to ensure world destruction: How to Destroy the Earth. Where’s my mass driver when I need it?

Finally, if you need a civil way to dispose of opposition to your evil plan, Costco to the rescue!! Costco Coffins

Did a week and a half really go by?

Yeah, somehow a week and a half went by without a post or an update. I’m sure -nobody- reads this any more. Oh well. If you are currently not reading this.. a quick update of the past week:


Got all that? 🙂

More details on those details coming up..

Totally Tan!!

A huge thanks to Dad and Mom that came to stay at our house mid-week.. our bedroom is now painted “Totally Tan” (that’d be the color, Vern) and our drapes are nicely ironed – as well as many other things.

We really appreciate it – it looks beautiful!!

2x the Temperature

While everyone back in Minnesota is experiencing the third (or is it fourth?) straight week of 45 degree temperatures, it was 90 where I’m at. Not that it’s a good thing…

I hinted at it a few days ago – I’m actually in Orlando, Florida at this exact moment. For those back home, I thought I’d give a quick update and recap of the trip so far..

We left straight from work on Friday afternoon and caught the light rail for the trip to the airport. Though I’ve never been the biggest fan of the system (I think our population density is too low to make it fly) – the “Downtown to the Airport” subcase does work really well for the couple of times per year that I use it. Heather left her knitting in my truck – and spent the entire train ride fretting over whether she’d make it back in time to get it. Since we were running late to start with – she would have had no room for error.

The flight took off late, and got diverted a couple of times around weather. This made for an extra hour or so on the plane. I had the finale from “The Amazing Race” on my laptop (thanks to BitTorrent) and I was really looking forward to hunkering down and watching it. That’s when the inconsiderate boob and the inconsiderate Mrs. Boob in front of me decided that another 2″ of reclining would make all the difference in the world. If you’ve never ridden a plane with me – I’ll give you a clue. There isn’t 2″ of spare room in my seat space!

Airline Etiquitte 101 people – reclining your chair is the rudest thing you can do on a plane. It doesn’t make you any more comfortable, and it makes it hell for the person behind you. It almost always breaks your laptop screen, too…

If anybody is looking for a gift for me.. I’d like one of these, please.. The Knee Defender

Anyway.. we got to Florida at about midnight, and had a 30 minute wait to get luggage. Uh.. yes, that would probably be one piece at a time for those keeping track.

Saturday started very early – a 7:30 breakfast call from little Mitchell waking us up. I’ve eaten a lot of breakfast burritos in my day – never a breakfast chimichanga. That’s a fine breakfast right there.

Our afternoon was spent at “Gator Land”. Yes, Gator Land. We saw gator wrestling, gator feeding with whole chickens (I somehow doubt they were free range), gator nuggets, petting zoos, turtles, iguanas, and so forth. Not the classiest joint, but the kids LOVED it. Mitchell, Jared, and Natalie were extremely well behaved. Actually, Natalie (who is 6 months), just made little cooing noises and didn’t seem the least bit interested in gators.

After a two hour nap, the family went for dinner at the New York Pizza Department and watched Jared make eyes at the waitress. If it wasn’t for the 18-year age difference, Jared I think had a pretty good chance.

Heather, Debbie and I split off after dinner to meet Debbie’s boyfriend at a sports bar for Trivia Night. I love trivia, but these were some toughies!

Ones I knew:

  • Oldest symphony in the US: NY Philharmonic
  • Phonebook sorted by first names: Iceland
  • What is H2O2: Hydrogen Peroxide
  • 3 wonders of the ancient world: Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Lighthouse of Alexandria, Colossus at Sardia

Ones I didn’t quite get:

  • 5 presidents to survive assassination attempts: I got Reagan, Ford and Jackson
  • Capitols of Switzerland and New Zealand: I said Bern, then changed it
  • Who knew you spelled Ophthomology with an OPH at the beginning?!?

Tomorrow – Kim runs her first triathalon at Disney, and it’s a BBQ with the family! More later as the trip goes on…

It’s great having minions

.. especially ones that find deals on pinball machines for you!

Boy, it’s funny how a hobby takes root and grows. It took me 15 years to restore my first pinball machine – now I’ve had 3 more pass through my doors in the past 3 months. All have been “right place at the right time” purchases.

The latest addition is a 1980 Stern “Flight 2000”. My minion, who is my cousin-in-law (that’s a title, right?) called me last weekend and said:

“There’s a pinball for sale in my neighborhood -cheap. It needs work.”

From my observations, that means just about everything from “blown fuse” to “pile of firewood” to the layperson. It could be a steal, it could be trash. I didn’t even know what machine it was! My minion was able to find out the machine name so I could research.

A little quick research on my favorite reference site, the International Pinball Database showed what it was a pretty popular game and parts ought to be easy to find. It’s sort of a unique game, too – a widebody (6-8″ wider than a standard machine), multiball, speech, etc.

I went over to look at it last night. Overall, it was in better shape than I expected. I was geared for the worst and was pleasantly surprised.

The good?

  • The playfield, which was described as “heavily worn” – was only heavily worn in a 2″ x 3″ area – right at the bottom of Saturn. The rest of the playfield was -beautiful-.
  • The plastics were in great shape and complete – only one crack in the big pieces in the lock section.
  • The playfield was complete, minus 1 flipper rubber
  • The lower cabinet was in beautiful shape, the head wasn’t bad.
  • The displays seem nice and bright

The not-so-good?

  • Backglass – very crackly. Apparently this is the rule rather than the exception for this machine. Apparently it’s also made of “Unobtainium”. I’m going to try to find a high-res scan and maybe have it printed on film.
  • The game is brain dead. It powers up and gives all general illumination, then it gives six dings. It then doesn’t kick out any balls or go into attract. I also can’t run the self-test. Fortunately, they still sell these on eBay and reproductions are only $200.

This one is going to take a little more work than some of the others – but it should be a nice machine when I’m done.

Here is a link to the pictures I took of the machine last night:
Flight 2000 restoration project

I’m cold blooded, but..

.. this is ridiculous.

34 degrees and rainy in May is no good! I wouldn’t say no to a couple of feet of freshies, though. Well, an open ski hill would have to go with that I suppose.

I suspect by Tuesday that I’ll be begging for this weather.. it’s going to be 90 and 100% humidity for me this weekend.. that’s really no good when you are a big ‘un like me..

Beat the Black Knight!!!

I’m off shortly to pick up the latest addition to my pinball collection. I wasn’t specifically looking to buy a machine this week, but I’m always keeping my eyes open for a good deal that I can fix up and resell. Of course, I’ll enjoy it for a while in the meantime.

On Monday morning – I saw an ad on that said simply:

BK2K is the common abbreviation for the Williams pinball machine “Black Knight 2000”. BK2k is the 1989 sequel to the smash hit “Black Knight” – originally released in 1980. Though there are some varying opinions on BK2k – it is a very popular machine and one of the best from the late 80’s. The best part of the whole deal? The price was a fixer-upper price on a machine that was described as being very nice.

I called immediately and went to look at it Monday night. If there is anything that I’ve learned about collecting vintage arcade machines is that you can’t really think too hard about things – if you don’t jump on a deal, somebody else will. I lost out on a couple of machines before I learned this trick. When I looked at it, it was in beautiful shape. It was in home use since about ’97 and was well maintained. All it really needs is a good cleaning, new rubbers, a couple of lightbulbs and new decals. The decals are going to be a bit of a pain to replace, but it’ll look mint after that.

The game is fun as heck, too – it had the most bumpin’ soundtrack ever in a pinball machine. It has all the goodies – two level playfield, ramps, and multiball. People have souped up this machine to add aftermarket sound (subwoofers and the whole nine yards) to make playing this machine visceral.

If you want to see more information on the machine.. here’s the link from the International Pinball Database:
Black Knight 2000

I’m stoked – can you tell? Any time anybody needs a pinball fix, come on over! The bar and gameroom is always open..

One of my collection is leaving, too. I needed to make room for the BK2k – so I sold my “Charlie’s Angels” machine. I’ll miss it, but it is staying in the family so I’ll get to enjoy it when I go to visit. Enjoy, Tammy!

No such thing as bad weather…

… just really bad gear!

Heather and I proved that fact with a early season camping trip to southwestern MN last weekend. After a month of 60-80 degree weather, you wouldn’t think that you’d be at risk of getting snowed on while camping the first weekend in May, would you?

Well, it is Minnesota!

We left Friday after work for a trip to camp and bike at Forestville / Mystery Cave state park near Lanesboro, MN. The weather forecasts kept getting worse as the week wore on – culiminating in a predicted high in the 40s with intermittent snow showers. We packed extremely heavy knowing that it was going to be cold. We finally arrived at about 9:30 PM (after unscheduled side trips to drop off DVDs, borrow sleeping bags, eat, get groceries, etc.), only to find out that we didn’t have a reservation.


Yeah, I scheduled the reservations for MAY 29th and 30th. Smooth. Luckily, 2/3 of the campground was empty so we had our pick of spots. Gee, I can’t believe that people didn’t want to camp in 40 degree snowy weather! We set up camp in the dark by the glow of a Coleman lantern and enjoyed a hot chocolate (with extra punch) before turning in.

I woke up at 3:30 in the morning to the convulsive shivering of my wife. I realized at that point that I was pretty dang cold as well. This was when I realized that the water bottle was partially frozen. After convincing her that “more layers = better”, we both put on every chunk of fleece we owned, zipped up the mummy bags fully, and managed to sleep the rest of the night in warmth.

Saturday started out grey, windy, and 40 degrees. Heather and I kicked up the fire and made a warm breakfast of pancakes and canadian bacon. We did dishes and set up the screen shelter in case the weather prediction calling for rain came true. After doing dishes, we bolted for the 11 AM Mystery Cave tour.

There’s not often when you go to a 48-degree cave to warm up, but that’s exactly what happened. We took the 2-hour cave tour – pretty nifty – with a tour group of Hmong. I decided that they are ethnically more suited for cave exploration, as I’ve got a new contour (or two) in my scalp from low ceilings. I was the only one in the tour that constantly had to walk hunched over.

After the tour, we went back to camp and cleaned up for a trip into Lanesboro. Heather had never been there – and it had been years since I’ve visited. 2 hours, 3 Amish sightings, 8 knick-knack shops and 5 bottles of wine later (purchased – not consumed) – we headed back to camp for a dinner of brats and Jambalaya.

The evening was spent around the fire playing Quarto (a very fun 2-player game given to me by Lloyd for Christmas), having a Belgian beer, and relaxing – oh, and trying to stay warm. No lie – we went through about $30 in firewood. Everything, including my 4-Runner, now smells like a forest fire. At least I was able to battle to a draw in Quarto – Heather almost always beats me at games.

Saturday night went better – we obviously learned our lesson Friday night. We went to bed wearing EVERYTHING on Saturday and stayed toasty warm all night – despite sub-freezing temperatures. Even still, but Sunday AM we had enough and packed up to drive home right after breakfast.

It was a great start to the camping season even though it was cold – we really got a chance to relax and spend time together. And, like I’ve always said – there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear!

Here are my pictures from the weekend:
Forestville Camping Trip

30 days – done at last!

Now that April is done, so are the 30 days of Bedhead. All I have to say is:

Thank God

It actually wasn’t much fun remembering to take the stupid pictures – or post them on a daily basis. Oh wait – I never did that.

For those actually waiting on pins and needles for the updates – get a life. For those with a morbid interest in seeing the results, in the next couple of days I’m going to post all the remaining pictures in one big blast. Keep watching this space!

Oh, and it’s really time for a haircut…

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