I know its been a while since I posted any articles but as I resume doing in-home repairs I hope to get back to posting somewhat regularly again.
If you haven’t had a chance to check out my three part write up of a Bally Gold Ball pinball machine last year, check out part one here.
I get a text last week from a guy with a Bally Gold Ball that powers up and won’t do anything. By powering up I mean you can see the glow from the displays and that’s it. Gold Ball doesn’t have G.I. lights the same as other games of the era. All lamps, including G.I., are computer controlled which is similar to Williams’ WPC games. If the logic board isn’t running, the G.I. will never come on. Having G.I. that comes on when the game is powered up makes it easy to see that at least the game is getting power.
I was getting info from the customer while scheduling a time to visit and found out the game sat in storage for several years. Of course the first thing I’m thinking is the logic board will be completely acid damaged. When I arrived I was pleasantly surprised to see the battery was removed prior to storage. The board still had some corrosion damage, but it was minor and not enough to keep the game from running.
Some of you know early Bally games have a handy diagnostic feature, which is probably why it’s my favorite of the early systems. The first thing to always do on a non working Bally game is to take the backglass out, open the insert panel and observe the LED flashes on the MPU board. The number of flashes you get, or don’t get, gives you an idea of where the problem is.
There’s tons of resources online about how to count the number of flashes and troubleshoot less than the seven required for a successful start up so I won’t go into it here.
I was only getting two flashes which means the game ROMS and the 6810 RAM passed but not getting a third flash means trouble with the 5101 RAM. This is the same RAM that is powered by the battery while the game is off and holds operator settings such as replay values and high scores.
The chip sockets on the Bally MPU boards are at their end of life and need to be replaced, especially if you are having problems with your game, particularly intermittent problems. Sometimes you can get away by just pressing all the socketed chips in on the board to “fix” any socket issues but I had no luck this time.
I pulled the MPU board out and removed the 5101 to clean the legs. They weren’t really dirty but I cleaned them anyway, sprayed the socket down with contact cleaner and reinstalled the chip. Still no luck getting past two LED flashes. I had an extra 5101 RAM chip in my box and popped it in. The board fired right up. Before screwing the board back down I installed my battery board to make sure this game is never the victim of acid damage.
The look on the customers face, to see how happy he was that his game now works again is what makes this work worth while. He immediately said “I haven’t heard that sound in years!”
Since the game spent several years in storage, and now in his house not working, it needed a good cleaning. I spent the next two hours cleaning the playfield, replacing burned out bulbs, replacing the rubbers and verifying all coils and switches work. There were a few other issues that needed to be addressed too.
Some of the feature lamps under the playfield were working intermittently and the playfield G.I. was randomly coming on and off. Reheating the pins on the boards took care of that issue. The last issue was the ball gate that keeps the standard pinball and the gold pinball in their respective positions in the trough wasn’t closing. The sleeve for the diverter coil needed to be replaced and the plunger needed a good cleaning.
Gold Ball keeps the standard pinball and the gold pinball in separate locations so the game can keep track of which ball is on the playfield. When the gold ball is in play, all scores are tripled. This is similar to Williams Twilight Zone which has a ceramic pinball in addition to five standard steel balls. The Twilight Zone game knows when the ceramic ball, called the “Power Ball”, is in play by a sensor in the trough. It changes game play because the ceramic ball is not only lighter and faster, it’s not affected by the magnets.
Gold Ball doesn’t have this feature so it has to divert the gold pinball back to its place in the trough when the it drains, it does this with a coil operated gate. If the gate doesn’t operate correctly it will cause issues with game play such as the gold pinball being on the playfield when its not supposed to be or one ball never going into its correct location.
This Gold Ball could use some cosmetic work but the customer isn’t interested in doing that, he just wants to play the game.
Overall the game looks and plays great. It should provide many more years of trouble free service.
Thanks for checking this article out, check back soon for more articles and tech tips.