Cold Solder Joins; Living in an Analog World

Addams Family Playfield

I have machine #830 of 1001 Addams Family Special Collectors Edition pinball machines.

It is truly an awesome machine. Four flippers, optical targets in the bookcase, automatic flip that learns to hit a particular shot…

The upper left flipper — the thing flipper — had recently started to behave a bit oddly. At first, it was flipping, but not holding (it would bounce at extension and then snap back to resting position). Later, it started holding at maximum extension at random.

Tonight, I dove in and discovered that there was a catastrophically cold solder joint. A Williams pinball flipper is actually two coils; a high power “flip” coil and a low power “hold” coil. Across each coil is a diode that prevents the induced current caused by the collapsing magnetic field from blasting the flipper control board.

Well, the cold solder joint was such that the flipper was “holding” when it shouldn’t have. When we (the machine is actually at my neighbor’s house as a party prop — I just haven’t dragged it back yet) discovered the problem, we shut the machine down. If it had been on location, this problem would have quickly escalated into a full blown flipper control board melt down.

Unfortunately, replacing the diodes didn’t lead to a working hold circuit. Turns out that the coil was on its last legs, too. Fortunately, I had a replacement. Unfortunately, replacing the coil requires enough disassembly of the flipper mech such that any caring maintainer cannot possibly do so without also doing a full flipper rebuild.

So, Thing’s flipper has been fully rebuilt. And now Thing is very confused — “he” has dropped from about 98% accuracy on his auto-shot down to about 20% accuracy. I’m sure he’ll get better soon. Just in time for me to tear down the machine, pack it up, and set it up at the Maker’s Faire. Which, of course, will mean that Thing will be right good confused once again.

Don’t know what the hell I’m talking about? Show up to the Maker’s Faire and I’ll explain. Better yet, I’ll show you because I will be bringing my Addams Family pinball machine to the show.

3 Comments on "Cold Solder Joins; Living in an Analog World"

  1. Mediocre machine, if I might be honest. Gimmicky play that doesn’t hold up well over multiple plays.

    Now if you had an Attack from Mars machine, I’d be impressed. You can play that one til the cows come home.

    And of course it goes without saying that you shouldn’t allow my pinball snobbery to detract from your enjoyment of said machine.


  2. Heh. Actually — I agree, in a way. Addams is a total Lawlor. Once you get good at the machine, it typically breaks down to 2 mediocre balls and 1 ball that lasts an hour+ with multiple stacked extra balls.

    Brilliantly cohesive machine, concept and game play, but — yes — lacking in that total rhythmic ramp-er-iffic, build it up and score the big points, mayhem of a number of other machines. Then again, you don’t truly own a TAF/TAFG until you master the 4 way combo.

    AFM is a truly awesome machine, no doubt. Would love to have one. Hell, continue to look for one.

    Though I would really like to own a Medieval Madness or Bride of Pinbot, too. Actually, I would mind owning a Champ Pub, either. Now that is a game where high scores are defined entirely by your willingness to put everything on the line. Once you are champ, every fight after that is a money fight — meaning you effectively “bet” your current score against your chance of winning. Nothing like crushing the machine, getting the uber-mode, and then ending up with a score less than a total newbie….


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