Pinball Repair

Besides arcade machines, I’m also a big fan of pinball machines. I grew up going to an arcade called JNC that had an entire wall of pinball machines; Black knight 2000, The Addams Family, Riverboat Gambler, Dr. Dude, Earthshaker, T2, Whirlwind, Elvira, and a few others that I can’t remember. Since the place is no longer around, well it is, but just in graveyard form, I needed to pick up a machine of my own.

I ended up purchasing a Whitewater machine and my father has a Whirlwind. I’m pretty much in charge of fixing both.

The tornado drop target on his Whirlwind machine stopped working, or I should say that it stopped working reliably. Sometimes it would register a hit, sometimes it would pop back up. You’d never know and that would disrupt the game.


I lifted the playfield and checked out the board below. To give you some background, this machine was purchased from a gentleman in PA, in an area with no cell phone reception or available dental care. Apparently, this individuals soldering skills were on par with his tooth brushing skills.

Here’s the defective board:
IMG_0406 (Medium)>IMG_0407 (Medium)

Lifted traces, destroyed header, an all around mess.

I ordered a new header from digikey , and amazingly it arrived less than 48 hours later.
IMG_0409 (Medium)

I popped out the header, removed the oversized jumper wires and attempted to clean up the board. Nearly all of the traces on the board had lifted due to excessive heat for previous soldering attempts.
IMG_0411 (Medium)

I installed a new header and then used some 24AWG solid core wire to replace the damaged traces. I tested the resistance of each header pin to the opposite end of the trace to make sure that there wasn’t any hidden damage. Once All tested out well, the board was reinstalled in the machine and tested.
IMG_0413 (Medium)
IMG_0412 (Medium)

I wouldn’t consider it pretty by any means, but it’s a step up from the mess that was there.
A quick game proved the repair was successful and the Whirlwind was back in action.


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