Gilligan’s Island Burned Up Driver Board Repair

If there’s ever been an argument to “upgrade” or convert to LED’s then this is it. This driver board was burned so bad that it damaged the power output connector and the only way to make it operational again was to solder wires directly to it, which I hate by the way but this was the only alternative to replacing the board entirely, at least this tech added connectors to make future service easier.

Even though everything worked, it couldn’t be sold to a customer like that. Someone had actually soldered the fuses into their holders! Since the board was beyond repair I installed a Rottendog board we had in the shop. A total of four connectors needed to be replaced which wasn’t too bad since there was just enough wire and I didn’t need to add any extensions.

The problem with incandescent bulbs is they draw a tremendous amount of power compared to their LED counterparts. Incandescent bulbs draw about 70% more current than LED’s. Even with the G.I. strings being broken into four separate lines on William’s systems 3 through 11, and five lines on WPC and WPC-95 it’s still too much current for the connectors to handle in the long term.

This is also a good time to mention that if you do convert to LED’s you should lower your fuse ratings. The WPC system uses 5 amp slow blow fuses in the GI circuit. You can install 2 amp instead, but if you find they are blowing or slowly failing then up it to 2 1/2 amp slow blow. You want to use the lowest possible fuse that doesn’t blow or fail.

Bally Gilligan's Island WPC driver board badly damaged GI connectors.
GI wires and power output wires had to be soldered directly since the connectors were burned beyond repair.

Other than having brighter lights and color matched insert lamps, this is the main reason to convert to LED lighting. I know some people don’t like adding colors but you can always use warm white LED’s to simulate incandescent lighting. Also some game’s color schemes don’t really allow for color adding to the GI in a way that benefits the game’s look, but cool white can be another option.

Gilligans Island driver board connector repair
With the replacement board installed it’s time to rebuild the connectors.
Gilligans Island power connector repair
Rebuilding the power output connector with new pins and crimp terminal housings.

After the replacement driver board is installed it’s time to start rebuilding the power output connector. Always install a key plug to make sure connectors go to the correct locations and position. You don’t want to plug in a connector one pin off or you will blow things up!

WPC driver board connector repair
Power output plug is repaired, now to fix the GI connectors.
Gilligans Island GI connector repair
One GI connector repaired, 2 more to go.

If you just go down the line, one at a time, repairing the connectors isn’t too bad. It’s always helpful to have a manual handy so you can reference the wire colors with their respectful positions.

Williams Bally driver board connector repair
I saved the GI power input connector for last.

The last connector to repair is the GI power input. It’s a bit of a pain since there are several wires that have to be “jumped” to another pin. You will need to have some extra wire and patience, trying to crimp two wires into a single Trifurcon pin will be a test of that patience.

Bally Gilligans Island connectors are repaired
Now all the connectors are repaired and since LED’s are installed this will never be a problem again.

All of the connectors are repaired like factory and now the board can be replaced in the future if necessary. This is why it’s important to always properly repair connectors. Soldering wires or simply bypassing them is sloppy work and will make future service more difficult, not to mention it’s extremely unprofessional. Also now that the game has LED’s these connectors will never burn up again. Ever.

Below are some more pictures of the ruined driver board.

Burned up WPC pinball driver board
The fuses were soldered in probably because there was so much heat generated it was making bad connections.
Fuses soldered to their holders
Closer view of soldered in fuses.
Damaged Williams Bally WPC driver board
The connectors were completely destroyed from heat due to excessive current draw.

As I mentioned in the beginning, this is a major reason to consider upgrading your pinball machine to LED’s. As the years go on there are less and less of the classic games available. It’s nice when the games are restored but as time goes on games that are “survivors” will be even more desirable. This means they have original boards, mechanisms, plastics etc., and even better if they have matching serial numbers.

Be sure to take these points into consideration when deciding on using LED’s or not. Worse case scenario if you find a buyer for your game who insists on having regular bulbs, and is willing to pay you a lot more money, you can always take the LED’s back out.

Readers Comments (2)

  1. We have one of the Bally Gilligan’s Island pinball machines which stopped working sometime since Christmas 2019 (when I know it was used). We had it repaired a couple years ago after a move, and after it had been in storage awhile. The repairman couldn’t fix it all, but now I am wondering if you can guide me to someone who could fix it? We don’t know of anyone good in this area (Orange County, CA). I was unable to follow all of your technical post above, and I don’t know what is wrong with it. Any ideas to replace the “guts” or to fix it…or…??? Thanks so much!

    • I don’t know of anyone personally in the CA area, you could join some of the Facebook pinball groups and they might know of someone. One of the biggest problems could be battery corrosion damage if you game still has the original AA batteries in it. When you say it doesn’t work, what do you mean? Does any lights come on at all? Do you get any messages on the display? If you give me some more specific info I may be able to point you in the right direction to fix it on your own. Let me know, Frank

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