State of the ramps at the start of the project. They were
corroded and discolored. Note overall dust and dirt
From inspection, I could
the original color of the ramps were brass. This struck me as
bit odd as I felt that the silver color of stainless matched the other
ramps better. Nevertheless, I purchased a brass home
carefully reading the instructions, I buffed the ramps clean with
1000 grit sandpaper to bring them to a silver shine, and proceeded to
electroplate them. However, my results were poor. I
able to put down a thick layer of brass. I could tell some
was being put down, but it was faint; even after many
After consultation with the company, it turns out that to plate brass
onto stainless, I would first need to plate with a "Stainless Steel
Activator". Afterwards, I could plate with brass.
that this was not mentioned in the instructions is somewhat puzzling to
After considering it, I decided to leave the ramps the unfinished
bright silver color. I can always plate them at a later date,
I like the fact that I can bring them back to a shine by buffing them,
and that this way they match the color of the other metal ramps.
Sept 2008 update: Wade Lanham informs me that the ramps are not
stainless, but chromed mild steel.
The finished ramps in their native bright silver finish.
Now when a ball rolls
along the ramps,
there is no sound, and the bright finish adds a touch of shine to the
Spinning prop mod
Many IJ owners install a mod that spins the propeller on the
bi-plane. A kit
for a reasonable $30, but I decided to build my own.
From my son's toy box, I found a very small motor and a propeller.
Note that the motor is smaller than the head of a pencil!
I found a propeller and
motor from my
son's toy box. The prop was prepared by light sanding and
with white Fusion
paint. The spinner was painted with red acrylic.
was from a ZipZap
(available at Radio Shack). It was mounted to a
copper wire using solder. The
flexible copper wire allows me to precisely position the motor in the
engine compartment. From examining the pictures of this
it seems to me that the same motor is used in it.
The tiny motor was from a "ZipZap" car. This is an excerpt of
manual so that the reader has an idea where to find them.
The painted prop and motor mounted to a copper wire. I later
added more color accents to the prop (see below).
I soldered the motor to
copper wire by wrapping a few turns of wire-wrap wire around the
assembly. This allowed me to securely solder the two together
with the minimum of heat to the motor. I was afraid that
excessive heat would affect the permanent magnet inside the
motor. The copper wire was then bent into the optimal shape
allow access to the nut that fastens the bi-plane together, and to
position the motor as far forward as possible.
The prop mod installed into the bi-plane. Note the jog in the
copper wire to allow me to
access the nut with my socket driver.
Unretouched photo of the spinning propeller on my workbench.
Once the motor and biplane were assembled together, I proceeded to
install the assembly into the machine's playfield. Although
fit, I could tell clearances were small due to the large size of the
propeller. To improve reliability, I decided to trim 1/4" of
of the prop's blades. I also used this opportunity to paint
tips bright yellow, and added black bolt accents to the base of each
The motor of the biplane was wired in series with a 10 Ohm 1/2 Watt
resistor to the left ramp entrance arrow. This causes it to
occasionally during attract mode, and often during game play.
Ball trough mod
The finished assembly in the machine. Note the added color
touches (yellow tips and black bolt accents).
A common problem with this machine are the two opto-electronic circuit
boards on the ball trough. These are mounted solidly on a
platform that also contains a strong solenoid. The vibration
shock from this solenoid causes the opto circuits to wear out faster
than expected. A common mod is to shock mount the boards by
grommets. The grommets were part number 731K-ND
Rubber grommet inserted into the mounting hole (right), and unmodified
After a fit check, I realized that I had to cut the bottom right corner
that it would not touch the trough. The following night after
this image was shot, I cleaned the excess
flux from the LED joints.
I enlarged the hole with a 1/4" drill bit (no traces are
However, the grommets were a bit big, and I had some effort pushing
them into the hole. After they were mounted (two), I located
board into the ball trough and found out that the extra thickness of
the grommets caused the board to touch the metal of the trough on the
outer edge of the playfield (rightmost in the picture below).
With my circuit board nibbler and a file, I cut the circuit board
back. Fortunately, the board is of simple double sided
construction, and there
are no traces in the overlapping area.
Circuit board mounted into the trough. Note the slight
near the blue
line. I had to cut the circuit board back to fit.
This plastic, being in the center of the playfield, gets a lot of ball
strikes, and is frequently broken. I purchased a new one from
for $16. When I received it, I was disapointed to
its color was not the bright orange of the existing part, but looked
brown. Seeing the color mismatch, I decided to make my own
and return the plastic. I called Marcos, and the conversation
with Lisa went something like this:
- Me: I would like to return this plastic because the color
not match the original.
- Lisa: Did you check the color under the protective plastic?
- Me: Uhh, what protective plastic?
- Lisa: Hang on, I will pull one of these parts, and check
the plastic. (after a pause). Yes, the color is bright orange
- Me: Thank you. I did not realize there was a
Sure enough, when I checked, there was a light blue protective plastic
over the item! The color underneath was the bright orange
the original (see below). Boy, did I feel sheepish.
The old (left) and the new plastic (right). The old looked
when I first got the machine, but I touched up the missing orange with
The original plastic was
two ways: 1) cracks on the edges facing the flippers due to ball
strikes, and 2) missing paint from frequent banging against the metal
ball guides underneath. Both of these can be mitigated by a
protector, which I made by cutting them out of a sheet of clear
plastic. This plastic is tough but slightly flexible, but can
easily shaped by tin snips. A set of protectors is also
from Marcos for $45.
The protector was cut from a flexible clear sheet of Lexan.
is the view
from the underside.
After cutting, I used a
small file to
smooth the edge. This made the white edge (due to cutting)
disappear and become almost invisible as can be seen below.
thickness of the protector also prevents the Jackpot plastic from
resting and rubbing on the metal ball guides.
Hard to see, but there is a plastic under the left and right portions
of this plastic.
With this improvement, it should prevent damage for a long
before the ramps and the airplane
I also made a protector for the two plastics under the right (clear)
Both the 'U' shaped one and the one behind it (both shown) were broken
bolt holes due to
ball hits from the pop bumpers and
the standup target.
I also made sling shot and the mode start saucer protector.
After about a month of play, one of the plastic drop target tabs
snapped. These get a lot of abuse, and can still be
purchased. However, I decided to attempt a repair while I was
waiting for the new ones to arrive.
Oops. The middle drop target with its head snapped off.
I used an end mill in my hand held Dremel attachment to rough up the
I first needed to rough
plastic to allow the epoxy more surface area to bite into.
was accomplished by my end mill and my handheld drill. This
tool allows fine control, and I quickly had the two middle channels
thoroughly roughed up. I then dusted and degreased the area
Q-tips and isopropyl alcohol. For the main structure, I
to use lightweight aluminum strips cut from a piece of flashing.
Small strips of aluminum were cut from a piece of flashing with a pair
of tin snips.
They are then sanded rough with 60 grit paper.
The finished result. Although only the middle tab broke, I
mixed up enough
epoxy to allow the reinforcement of all the tabs.
Epoxy was deposited in
itself, and then the head was replaced onto the tab. After
slathering epoxy into the channel, one of the aluminum strips was
pressed into the bed of glue. This resulted in a very strong
joint with lots of surface area. Since the repair of the
one went so smoothly, I decided to reinforce the two side ones as well.
Update: After a few
middle target broke again. This shows that
even with surface prep the epoxy will still fail due to the ball
Oh well, time for new
I obtained new targets from another RGP member at low
decals for them. Instead of buying them (they periodically
up on ebay for ~$12), I decided to print them myself.
Left: decal from ballsofsteel.net
for brighter colors.
My initial printing with
laser printer on glossy paper was not very satisfactory.
to the existing target, the yellow color at the top was not very
bright, and the orange was also a bit dark. With image
manipulation software, I increased the saturation of the colors, and
printed a second batch. This time, it looked very close to
orginal, and I was satisfied.
Left: printed image from ballsofsteel.net. Middle: Original
target. Right: printed from modified image.
The rightmost image looks more like the original except it has darker
The printed images were
cut out with
a very sharp pair of scissors, and glued to the target with glue from a
glue stick. This type of glue is dry, and does not cause the paper to
curl. I then laminated the target with clear tape, and the
look very close to the original (except for the part under the
11/2010 update: Links from theteardown.com:
Two mods were made to the mode start saucer: one was the
application of foam rubber on the deflector bracket, and the second is
the addition of LED lighting on the saucer (ball trap).
Two mods on the Mode Start Saucer. A rubber pad (black
bounce outs, and the saucer is lit up by an LED. The view is
from the point of view of the
player, and not very obvious from this low angle.
One common problem with
start saucer is that balls may bounce out when they are hit into the
saucer. To prevent this, one can purchase a rubber padded
deflector from places like Pinball
. A simpler way is to apply some adhesive
on the metal tab of the deflector. To make the application
easier, use a piece of double stick scotch tape to stick the rubber pad
onto your finger. Then, reach into the mechanism and stick
pad with its own adhesive onto the deflector. I obtained the
rubber padding from Martin (pinbits.com
is the same material that was used on my MM
Merlin ball lock
. I could tell this rubber pad
effective as soon as I shot my first ball into the saucer.
ball no longer makes a sound when shot into the lock, and just goes
Update on the rubber pad (10/23/06): It is about 1/8" thick
has an adhesive back. I performed a drop test over a concrete
floor, and dropped a pinball from one foot height. The ball
bounced about 1/8" to 1/4". Note that the pad was not glued
the concrete floor, and some bounce is due to the remaining curvature
in the pad. I presume it would be more 'dead' if glued down.
The second mod is to light up the normally dark saucer with a jumbo
super-bright white LED that was painted red. This was then
to the GI circuit with a current limiting resistor. As can be
seen from the photo above, this mod causes the saucer to light up like
a pit of fire, and is very aestheticaly pleasing. Although
low angle of the photo makes it not very obvious, the saucer is quite
bright from the point of view of the player.
Adding bass boost
On my TOTAN and MM, the sound was greatly improved by changing the
speaker and increasing the gain
cabinet speaker amplifier
. However, this did not
work at all
on the IJ. The sound did not sound right. There was
much midrange, and after boosting the gain of the cabinet speaker up
very much, the amp started to clip. Clearly, the WPC-DCS
generation of electronics has inadequate amplifiers for big sound, and
I realized that I needed to add a amplifier such as others
recommended the Rampage
from Audiovox, and since it was only $15 (+$10), I
it a try.
The new amp mounted next to the new cabinet speaker.
The amplifier is powered
from the 12V
that is available at the coin door interface board. After
connection, I found that the midrange was too loud, just as before
(except no more clipping). To address that, I added a passive
pass RC filter with a corner frequency of about 240
was selected by experimenting with various values until the predominant
sound came from the backbox speakers, and only a nondirectional rumble
could be felt by the player. To compensate for the reduction
amplitude (the input impedance of the "high level input" is 100 Ohms),
I increased the gain of the backbox amp by putting a 110 Ohm resistor
across R37. The RC filter was implemented on a small perf
and mounted next to the amplifier.
Wiring diagram of the amplifier. The "high level inputs" are
used. A passive low-pass
filter was added to reduce the midrange. The gain of the
is turned up to maximum.
During the initial
hookup, I did not
connect the chasis input connection and there was a loud hum on the
speaker. This hum would only go away when both connections to
WPC-DCS amplifier were disconnected. It thus looked like a
loop/common-mode voltage problem. After connecting the
connection. to the ground braid of the cabinet, the noise went away.
The new amp is powered from the 12V available at the coin
door interface board.
Using an ammeter, the DC
current into the amp was measured to be a steady state of 200mA,
peaking at 500mA during loud passages. I don't think this
additional load will overstress the power supply. Since it is
unregulated and fused, it should be easy to repair if any problems
New flipper and rubber
Due to frequent play, the tip of the left flipper broke. I
received a free one from Rome,
. He also included two yellow flipper
rubbers! I think they look most appropriate on the IJ.
Before and after pictures of the flippers. They are courtesy
another RGP member.