Chronicles of a Pachinko Machine Restoration

Attention:  The information here is listed in chronological order starting with the oldest posts first.  That means the newest information will be at the bottom of the page.  This makes it so you can read a running log of the project starting at the top.  Special Note:  Any information here is to be taken as just that, information.  I wrote the following as a dated chronicle of my progress restoring my machine.  Please understand that many approaches to certain aspects of the restoration changed over time, so I may say something in one post and two weeks later have a totally different understanding of itThis is not to be taken as a guide to restoring vintage pachinko machines.  For the most part I was learning as I went along and I can tell you now I know a lot more than when I first began.  Besides being a record of the machine's restoration for my own personal archival, the information below is presented in hope that it can be used as a jumping off point for others attempting to restore a vintage machine.  There are countless ways to approach the restoration and below is the way I went about it utilizing what little information existed before what I have written here.

Pachinko is still Japan's number one form of gambling, a game where you fire small metal balls into a playfield where they bounce and cascade through rows of pins in hopes they will enter win targets which reward you with more balls.  The balls are later exchanged for prizes or money.  Really pachinko is more like a slot machine than a pinball machine or game.  In the 1960's and 1970's many pachinko casinos had machines exported to the United States.  At the time the machines ran on a different power rating so the importers would remove the power supplies before shipping, this made the lights non-functional but the games still ran fine without them - pachinko machines are pure mechanics.  Due to the complexity and uniqueness of the machines no one wanted to service them so they began to fall out of popularity leading to many wonderful machines being junked.  Newer pachinko machines have video displays, automatic ball reload, automatic push-button ball fire, and so forth but the older machines are starting to become increasingly popular and sought after as antique collector's items.

The second week of April brought with it a trip out to the local flea market to look for video games and other such things.  When looking over the wares of one seller I noticed a pachinko machine that was in really good condition.  I've wanted a pachinko machine for awhile but most of the ones I've come across were severely damaged, missing their back mechanisms, and the seller wanted $40 ~ $70.  In other words big money for junk.  Well the seller of this particular machine wanted $30 or best offer but finally settled on $25.  It needed a few things such as replacement front glass, a full clean up, and of course pachinko balls but other than that it looked to all be there.  Here you will find a chronicle of my progress as I attempt to restore this machine to it's previous glory.

04-05-2005  Today I bought the machine from a seller at the local flea market and brought it home.  Damn these guys are heavy!!  It wasn't that bad but carrying it out from the flea market under my arm was a bear.  I got it home and gave it a good look over and again - I'm really happy with my purchase.  The machine is one of Nishijin's Sophia series, one of the largest pachinko manufacturers on the planet and a good first machine to begin with.  At this point the following items need to be addressed...

After finishing up a basic clean up it looks like all the mechanisms are there however I'll need some pachinko balls to test it.  There are two covers missing from the back, one for the center action target and the other for the payoff mechanism.  Missing covers are common and this really isn't a big deal since all the mechanics seem to still be in place and working.  The mechanisms to open the machine from its frame as well as the glass door and ball load door open releases work properly and close firmly.  I'll probably get a key made for the external lock since I'd like to keep it original as possible.  Also I noticed that there are two grooves for glass panels on the front of the machine.  It turns out when these units were imported to the US only the inner glass was on the machine.  When I get the machine restored I'll replace the inner plexiglass and put a normal glass panel in the outer groove.  Then I don't have to worry about the surface targets being damaged if someone pushes against the front of the machine.  The glass will stop any external damage and the plexi will keep the balls in the machine.  Having the plexi out also let me have a good look at the playfield of the machine.  First off the printing on the back of the playfield is heavily faded but since the machine has an ocean theme it still looks fine but it's not vivid.  There is VERY slight water and rust damage along the very top of the machine above the light bar and an occasional tiny mark here or there but nothing as severe as many other machines I see.  In fact you don't see it unless you're looking for it.  The tulips are complete and seem to be working properly and there are no missing pins although a couple of them will need to be aligned.  The center target is a cute little crab that flips over when a ball reaches him and flips back over upon the next hit.  This piece is bright, vivd, and complete - it also works perfectly.  The spinners are in good condition and all spin smoothly although they are pretty dirty.  The launcher mechanism seems to be working fine as well.  If I'm reading the dating information correctly on the front sticker this machine was manufactured in 1972.  It's a little hard to understand at first but the only page I found with dating information is here - worth a look if you own or are going to purchase a pachinko machine.

I couldn't help myself and decided I'd start cleaning up the machine, starting with the ball feed mechanism.  On my machine this is accessed by depressing a small metal latch located below the playfield glass retainer door.  I completely disassembled it both inside and out.  This was terribly caked with dirt but very little rust on the metal parts.  MAKE SURE THAT YOU KEEP TRACK OF EVERY LITTLE PIECE.  Although it was all held together with small screws they were pretty much all of a different size and shape.  Of course that means they only go back to where they came from.  The last thing you want to do is strip out a cast threaded hole in any of the plastic parts.  Make a diagram if you must or lay the parts out in a way you'll know how to reconnect them.  The actual ball feed mechanism on the inside of the door came off in one part with the removal of just three screws.  Remember that all pachinko machines are probably going to be different inside, it seems that no two are the same.  Although you can gain experience from working on one chances are the next one you see will be totally different - even if it's the same machine.  After getting the feed mechanism off I took the plastic parts from the front that make up the ball reserve tray and launcher window outside and gave them a good scrubbing.  Although the dirt was caked on heavy about 90% of it came off just from using the garden hose and some good scrubbing.  I think used some windex to get off as much of the remaining grime as possible and it's about 99% clean now, of course it's not going to gleam since it was used in a pachinko arcade and is over 30 years old, but it looks really good and won't get your hands dirty.

After that it was time to open up the ball feed mechanism and clean it out completely.  This part seems to get extremely dirty on nearly every pachinko machine.  It's a clear plastic assembly that takes balls from the ball reserve tray and lowers them down into a chute, the balls roll from there onto a lever that drops them down another level into another cute and then the counterweight on the back of the lever resets it back up to transport the next ball.  This lever smoothes out the speed in which balls will progress to the shooter so that balls won't get backed up before being fired.  The spaced out balls continue down into the bottom of the ball feed assembly to where pushing down on the shooter assembly lifts one ball at a time up and deposits it in front of the plunger, releasing the shooter assembly makes the plunger strike the ball and fire it through the machine.  Pushing down on the shooter handle also triggers a pin that lifts yet another pin which slides open a small door at the end of the ball reserve tray, letting the next ball in line fall into the ball feed mechanism.  There's also a manual slider on the front of the ball reserve tray that opens a side door and releases any balls in the ball feed tray down to the payout tray below.

There were dead bugs and all kinds of dirt and grime inside the ball feed mechanism.  Also although it may look to be completely plastic, all the bases of the chutes and chambers on this machine were metal and needed to be cleaned and polished.  There was a tiny bit of rust here but it came off relatively easily with a little scrubbing.  I've heard you can use steel wool to remove the rust but in the case of this machine it's simply not needed since the metal parts are in such good condition - at least on the front.  With the internals of the ball feed mechanism nice and clean it became time for reassembly.  It's amazing that these parts that take such a beating from pachinko balls are held in place with such tiny screws.  There were about a dozen screws between holding the ball feed mechanism together and securing it to the lower door.  Making a note of where they went and the order of which I removed them made reassembly a snap.  However I want to stress that you take your time - restoring one of these machines requires a lot of patience.  Since you really can't pick up parts for these units you have to use what you've got so restore components, not destroy them.  After everything was reattached the ball feed mechanism and ball reserve / feed tray were looking pretty good...

At this same time I cleaned up the railing around the playfield, the bad shot retrieval catcher, all of the chrome inside the machine including the tulips was polished, and I gave the open parts of the background a gentle washing with some water and windex.  I cleaned up the manufacturer and date sticker as well, so that they shine and gleam as they did when the machine was built.  The only real problem I see is this damn store sticker in the upper right hand corner from "Pachinko Palace Imports" that's probably been there since the mid 1970's.  I'll get rid of it sooner or later since it really seems to detract from the over all appearance of the machine.

04-06-2005  Today I thought I'd tackle the payout tray and shooter handle which are located below the ball feed / reserve tray.  Really there's no disassembly here, it just needed a REALLY good clean out.  I gave all surfaces a good scrubbing, making sure to take off as much grime as possible and yet again it about 99% came off.  I also cleaned up the ashtray that sits to the right of the payout tray and I also scrubbed up into the payout chute as much as possible.  If I can at all help it I'd like to leave everything on the back untouched.  I may have to remove the outer chutes and clean them up and I know the first few balls to go through are going to pick up loose dirt but that's a given.  I also cleaned up all the chrome on the lower portion which again was virtually rust free.  The ball launch handle also got a good scrubbing and the results were very nice.  The inside part of the ball launch mechanism is pretty rusty but it works fine and looks okay so I'm probably not going to disassemble it if I don't have to.  I might just scrub it down with some Lime Away while it's fully assembled but that can wait until another time.

I also decided I'd tackle that structural damage to the bottom of the frame today.  There's no way around it, I'm going to have to drill into the front of the machine.  I drilled a pilot hole through both the front and side panels in the best location to replace the original nail.  I made sure to drill a nice countersink in the process since I plan on covering up the hole later on when I restore the lower paint.  I coated a screw in contractor's grade wood glue and carefully drove it into the frame slowly, letting it grip the wood and seat in properly.  I then secured the whole thing with a bar clamp and let it sit overnight to make sure there was a good strong bond.  I also pulled off the spinners that were heavily dirty and gave them a good cleaning.  I used some cotton swabs and water to clean between the pins on the playfield and got rid of most of the dirt.  The ideal solution is to remove all the pins and targets but this takes a very long time and runs the risk of severely damaging the machine, so I stayed away from it.  It doesn't look like it but the tip of each pin is threaded like a screw instead of smooth like a nail, this only adds to the difficulty of removing and reinstalling the pins - another reason I left them alone.  Upon cleaning a target at the top of the machine I noticed the sticker on it was peeling away from its base, in other words the sticker was coming apart from the center.  I was really gentle with this part, cleaning it only with a slightly damp paper towel but that proved to be too much for the sticker to take.  I ended up using a glue stick to readhere the top part of the sticker to the base and plastic.  This is something to consider when cleaning plastic and paper parts of the machines.  Remember that most of this stuff is probably brittle or very susceptible to damage.  Mostly this is caused by age and sun or water damage - take your time and clean cautiously.  I also got that damn store sticker off from the upper right of the machine, it looks 100% better now.  After the full clean up of the front things are looking pretty good...

04-11-2005  I haven't done much work on the machine as of late except look at it and remove the locking mechanism.  The whole thing is one part that contains the lock, spring loaded latches, and the mounting brackets.  It took a bit of work but I was able to remove it without any damage and gave it a clean up, removing as much rust as possible.  I removed the plate around the lock from the front of the machine first so that it wouldn't get damaged.  The locking mechanism is held in place by an series of small screws as well as a nut and bolt assembly that comes through the front.  Again, this probably varies by machine.  I took the lock assembly to a local locksmith in hopes that they can make a key for it.  It's in their hands right now and I'm waiting for a call concerning their success.  Really it all comes down to being able to find a blank that will fit into the small stubby 30 year old lock.  All said and done, if they can make a key, it should cost about $25 - a steal considering that replacing it with a new lock would require heavy modification to the latch mechanism.

04-13-2005  Well it took a couple days but the local locksmith and alarm store was able to make a key for the locking system on the machine.  I actually brought it to them late on the 11th so I figured they wouldn't start any work on it until yesterday.  After I didn't get a phone call from them I called this afternoon.  Turns out that no one in-store wasable to get a key made for it so they needed to wait for one of their outside guys to come in to get it keyed and they'd call me tomorrow.  About four hours later they called back and said the job was done.

A tiny part of the lock inside has been burred off but I was expecting some slight modification to the lock was going to be necessary since it's a non-standard lock.  As soon as I got home I reinstalled the lock assembly bar into the machine and replaced the lock face plate.  The locking mechanism works perfectly, basically it's always hitched closed since it's spring loaded.  Turning the key in the lock turns a little tab up which pushes the spring loaded locking bar up which pushes the two hitches down, allowing the machine to be opened.  The key is used as a handle to pull the machine open, it's a lot like a giant coin box door you find on an arcade cabinet.  The exception is here instead of just a door opening, the entire machine swings open out of its outer frame.  Since the hitches are spring loaded you simply push the machine closed and it locks into place.  The lock itself really doesn't do anything except lift the bar which releases the hitches allowing the machine to be opened.  I've never come across a pachinko machine that actually has its keys.  I suppose that they weren't included when the machines were exported to the United States in the 1960's and 1970's since most of the time the machines were left open on the back.  However I want to box in my machine so that it's all enclosed, aside from keeping the machine's internals clean (or not letting them get any dirtier) it's also how these machines are supposed to be displayed.  Losing massive amounts of balls really doesn't have as much consequence when you can just reach around the side to recover them from the lose ball tray.  When the machine is sealed YOU LOSE, there's no quick recovery.  It's also a lot easier since then I don't have to worry about anyone messing with the internals or filling the win ball hopper improperly or dropping the lose ball tray (and losing those precious and expensive pachinko balls).  Speaking of which, that's the next thing I need to order.

04-19-2005  I ordered 500 pachinko balls from SlotUSA today.  It was cheaper to go after one of their constantly rotated eBay auctions than to purchase them directly and the auction ended for a bit over $20, which after the $10 or so shipping and tax still isn't bad at all.  It's pretty much impossible to find "new" pachinko balls so nearly all the pachinko balls you'll find for sale were previously used in Japanese pachinko arcades.  However SlotUSA cleans and checks them to make sure there are no damaged balls in your assortment.  They should be here by the end of this week and then I can start testing the inner workings of the machine.

04-29-2005  SlotUSA finally delivered my order of 500 pachinko balls and while they did arrive in what I guess could be called a timely manner, I still think it should have been a little faster.  It takes 72 hours to process your order (they say this is the longest it takes - but it turns out this is how long it ends up being no matter what) and then they ship via slow as molasses FedEx ground.  It was $7.75 flat rate shipping though no matter how large the order, which is why I went for an auction of 500 instead of 250, so I guess I can't complain.  One thing to keep in mind, the box is going to be HEAVY and it's going to sound like it's full of ammunition - this could be why they don't use USPS.  Just the same they arrived in a sealed bag all cleaned and polished.

Now that the balls finally arrived it was time to get testing the machine.  First and foremost let me explain how the win hopper works.  You lock the ball purge mechanism and load balls into the win hopper at the top.  They'll begin rolling down the chute and pile up at the center target, if there are enough balls so that there's a solid chain of them all the way up into the win hopper they will push down on an actuator plate just below the win hopper.  This plate allows the ball feed mechanism to load the balls into the machine in front of the plunger.  Basically this is so if the machine doesn't have enough balls inside to pay off winners it won't allow itself to be played.  This is one of the reasons it is recommended you have at least 500 or so pachinko balls minimum per machine.  This will allow you to have a good amount in the win hopper yet still have balls on hand to initialize play with.  If you really get into pachinko restoration heavily you should have about 1000 or so balls in the win hopper at all times, then you don't have to worry about it running out day to day.  Additionally all machines need a lose tray that sits inside the machine at the bottom which catches all the lose balls (and there will be a LOT of them).  You can buy a plastic tray or use anything you like, I have a reinforced shipping container as pictured above and it works great.

Well I loaded up some balls, set the machine level and noticed my first problem, the tulips were jamming up.  After some adjustment and playing around with how the balls drop into them I had this little catch resolved, although the left tulip still seems to back up from time to time, I might have to remove it.. don't really want to since it's the most buried part on my machine but I may have no choice.  After clearing that up I noticed another problem, the center target was never paying out and balls were falling out of the chute from the win hopper on the back left and right.  After thinking about the problem I remembered seeing nearly every other machine have some kind of cover over the chute.. a missing piece.  Without a cover the balls bunch up on top of each other and don't roll smoothly and put pressure to fill the payout target.  I had some heavy card stock I cut to fit and then taped it down over the chute which solved the problem.

With that resolved the balls were no longer dumping from the top of the machine and there was now the proper gravitational pressure from the rest of the balls further up the chute to force the lower balls into the center payout mechanism.  However after playing for awhile the machine was still not paying off when it should have been.  After looking over the center mechanism I realized the problem.

The part that triggers the target to refill with balls from the win hopper has had a piece broken off.  In other words when the balls are paid out they hit a deflector on the bottom which is supposed to make the center piece rock forward, pushing the top lever up and triggering a refill of the center target.  At the same time the top lever moves the center piece back so that it pays off once rather than leaving itself open.  I rigged it so it would slide smoothly and I was getting pretty good performance but it seemed like it was paying off too frequently (since it wasn't closing itself properly).  In the picture above I've drawn what I'm guessing the part that is missing would look like - it's the part drawn in black.  There are a few ways I can fix this.  I can file down both plastic parts so they have easier meeting tolerances but this risks the machine paying off too much.  I can build the missing part out of plastic and adhere it to the existing part, which is probably what I'll do.  Or I can find another center assembly on another machine and swap them.  I'm probably not going to find another center assembly since finding pachinko machines around here with ANYTHING on the back is hard to do as it is.  I have some old plastic storage cases (similar to VHS plastic storage cases) that I can cut a replacement piece out of and then adhere it with plastic adhesive which looks to be the best choice.  The existing plastic is very brittle so drilling through it to attach what it's missing is out of the question.  When I do fabricate the replacement I'll probably make it more robust instead of just being a weak little tab, maybe extend it as far down the center part as possible for added strength.  Keep in mind this center part was originally behind a cover for these reasons.  Anyway, when it lifts up and lets the load of balls currently being held in the target out, they fall down into the tray below, hit the bell inside, and come out the win hole on the front into the ball loading tray.

Aside from the problem with the payout target it seems the machine is working fine.  I have to tweak some stuff with the shooter mechanism to ensure more reliable operation (from time to time it loses connection to the spring pin) but aside from that I'm impressed with how well the machine is working.  I'm planning on looking at the issue of the lights next but that may have to wait until two weeks from now as there are other things to do next weekend.  At the very least I'll clean up the light switches and do a small write up on them that should be up by next weekend's update upload as it seems there really isn't much information out there on how the electrical systems function on these machines.

05-02-2005  Alright, I spent some time really looking over the mechanics of my machine today.  Turns out the damaged piece on the jackpot payout in my last post wasn't as bad as I thought.  Yes, it has been cracked down from its original size but it's not as bad as I expected and drew in my estimated illustration.  Really it's only missing about an eighth of an inch so I fabricated a little plastic nub and attached it to the end of the mechanism and everything works fine.  Really it just needed a little tweak so that when the lever rocks up it can open up and dump the jackpot balls.  At this point I think it just needs a little lubrication.  I'll probably use some Kyosho (Japan's top R/C car manufacturer) hobby grease since it doesn't attract dirt.

Additionally I got an e-mail with a link to a pachinko page where the three wiring diagrams for the Nishijin Sophia series machines can be found.  I already have these diagrams but the versions you can find at this site here are cleaned up versions.  (EDIT: please note that the third diagram appears to have an error, please refer to an update I posted here before attempting to wire your machine)  The site (Dan's Pachinko Data Page) is an excellent resource as he has videos of key mechanisms functioning.  All the information on the page is excellent, but one correction - not all Sophia series machines have four tulips.  The links page there has links to the few other pachinko sites on the 'net including the others I've referenced but later on I'll post a list of links where I was able to grab information.  Really you should read that site over since it will give you a lot of information.  Remember this page here is part of a larger site that I run and is really just to chronicle the restoration of my machine in particular and offer the information to assist any other restorations.  Thanks to Jim for the link!

Actually I was able to grab some very important information at that site concerning the payoff mechanism.  For one reason or another, the little curved latch part of the payoff mechanism on my machine would simply not disengage.  This made it so that when the jackpot payout would dump it's winnings they would be diverted to the lose ball tray rather than being paid out the front of the machine.  The only way around this I found was to rig the latch on the payoff mechanism.  The problem with this is that the seesaw that dumps win balls onto the actuator lever that opens up the jackpot payout doesn't get reset, so payoffs are delayed which ruins the momentum of the game.  No matter how long I tinkered with the mechanism I just couldn't figure out how it was supposed to function originally and any pictures of this part I've seen have been very small or blocked by the cover.  Pretty much all that's been said about it is "this is the most important part" which is no help.  I know how it's supposed to work, I just can't figure out how that latch part is supposed to disengage and allow a payout.  Well after viewing a good picture of the mechanism as well as seeing video of one in action I figured out what the problem was.

There's a little lever that pushes the curved latch part forward, allowing the jackpot payout to pay jackpot balls to the front of the machine.  On my machine the lever was pushed back so it would never push the curved latch forward, in other words the machine was rigged to NEVER payoff.  I loosened the screw, moved it to its proper position and tightened it down.  Now the mechanism works properly:  A ball enters a win target on the front and arrives at the seesaw (1), enters, and pulls the seesaw down.  When the seesaw goes down the little lever that I fixed (2) pushes the latch forward, disengaging it (3), and the ball leaves the seesaw into the lower chute where it will go on to to hit the actuator pedal that pays out the jackpot.  With the latch disengaged the jackpot falls into the payout chute and triggers the rod with the latch on it to jump up, which pulls on a pin that pulls the seesaw back up into ready position (4).  When that rod settles back down the latch engages again and prevents a jackpot from being triggered until another win ball enters the seesaw where the whole process begins again.  It's a huge weight off my mind to finally have this damn mechanism working properly since I kept thinking I was missing a part but it all seemed to be there.  Turns out, as I stated earlier, that the mechanism was rigged and just needed to be adjusted.  I'd say that the lever had just come loose but it was screwed in TIGHT in the improper position so I'd say it was intentional.

With that I can get started on the electrical system since most of the mechanics are now taken care of.  I probably won't get around to purchasing the needed electrical components until sometime next week.  I still plan on running the whole smash on a large 12v battery since I don't want to have to be dependent on a power socket and I'm going to have to rebuild the wiring completely anyway.

05-06-2005  I've been giving my machine an hour or so usage a day since my last repair, just to see if any other problems appear.  Everything is working smooth however there are delayed payouts with the right from time to time, however once another ball follows it they both pay out so I'm going to attribute this to the machine either having some restoration pains or that this is how it's supposed to work.  It could explain that little spring loaded drop down lever that was stuck on the left tulip, the one I rigged to stay in the mid position.  Possibly the tulip is supposed to hold balls that enter when closed or enter through the tulip open sinkhole at the top until you get a ball in the open tulip - then it lets them all into the chute to the payoff seesaw.  The reason I think this is because ever since I rigged the left tulip it pays off immediately no matter if a ball enters through it open, closed, or through the tulip open sinkhole at the top.  Just the same when the balls are released to the payoff seesaw they all pay out their jackpots, so the machine is still running fair and paying out accurately and consistently.  The machine is running nicely, certainly well enough for trouble free home usage.  Also the more I use the machine the smoother everything operates.

10-09-2005  Been a long time, hasn't it?  Honestly I planned on doing some work on the machine this summer but it was simply too hot or there were other things that occupied my time. (imagine that)  However I've gotten a couple e-mails this last week concerning the modification I did to the jackpot mechanism at the center.  I posted a picture a long time ago with my estimate of how large the part that broke off was, then later realized my assumption was far too large and far less was missing of the mech.  Yet I never did show a picture of what my modification looked like or just how little needed to be added.  Well, here it is...

That's it, that tiny plastic tab, that's all that was really missing from the center mech.  Honestly it's supposed to be a little smaller but structurally that was as small as the new part I made could be to remain durable.  As you can see I extended it to run downward to give it a larger surface area to bind against, again, to make it more durable.  The problem before adding this was that due to the mech being shorter than it should be, the base of it wouldn't close up enough to keep balls from slipping out of the jackpot mech.  (it would remain rocked forward just enough to let a couple balls by since the top wasn't making proper contact)  Of course since they weren't winners they would be dropped into the lose ball tray but it was draining the win hopper and getting in the way of the flow of real jackpots.  Additionally from time to time a ball would get jammed at the back of the jackpot mech.  By adding the missing distance the rocker mech is pushed back enough to hold balls in the jackpot payout until the bar above lifts allowing a payout.

Due to the modification still not getting the mech to exactly where it should be, as well as a heavily worn rocker part itself, I had to attach a pachinko ball as a counterweight to the back of the rocker.  Before doing this the rocker would get stuck in the open position but since attaching a pachinko ball to balance things out it works perfectly.  While I'm at it, a picture of the back of the machine...

Looking good and nearly totally clean.  Every 30 hours or so of play the balls begin to pick up a bit of dirt and rust so it's not totally clean.  I do however clean the balls after they start picking up dirt but they come back out of the machine with less dirt and rust on them each time.  Not bad though considering I didn't do a full disassembly of the rear, just a few key (and somewhat easier to access) parts.  Make sure to also regularly clean the rail inside the face of the machine that the balls travel up and around on after leaving the shooter, it picks up a lot of grease and grime.  I also replaced most of the staples that held stuff on the back with small wood screws, they're more durable and make it easier to disassemble the machine for repair.  Of course there's still no electrical system.  I've decided to box in the machine before going ahead with the lighting and wiring as there's no reason to rewire the machine when it's open to become damaged again.  Currently I'm going over a few different ways of building a back / cabinet for the machine, when that does happen it will be documented here.

10-13-2005  Actually did a good amount of work on the machine today, namely beginning to box in the back of the machine itself.  Now this is probably the first and more than likely the biggest modification you will make to your machine and you do have some options.

I want to stress that you plan this out before going forward since you are getting right in there and altering the machine's original frame itself.  Of course there are other ways one can think of however I went with the last option, building a second larger frame around the existing frame.  This way I can beef up the structure of the original frame since it's not as strong as I would like it to be.  I decided to use 7 1/4" long 3/4" pine to build the larger frame.  Front to back seven inches or so is enough to clear the internal mechs and ball hopper with plenty of space yet won't add so much extra material to the machine as to make it bulky.

So I cut two pieces of wood for the top and bottom, to the length of the machine plus the width of the two side boards.  This is a better option than making the side pieces longer since now the massive weight of the machine and new frame is resting on one solid long board at the base, instead of a short board with the sides supported off it leaving all the downward stress to the screws at the bottom.  After that I cut two longer pieces of wood to the exact length of the sides of the pachinko machine, they will be sandwiched in between the top and bottom boards.  (maybe that last sentence made this whole paragraph make more sense)

The existing wood frame of the pachinko machine had seen better days, heck, it was well over 30 years old.  On my particular machine a support board at the base had split and I had to repair it earlier to stop the damage from continuing.  (mentioned in a far earlier post)  The bottom board was chipped and worn down which I assume is common on pretty much all machines of this era due to being set down, moved around, rested on, etc.  Additionally the board that split made my machine not sit quite square so with the new outer frame I would attempt to straighten the machine out.

Due to how old and brittle the existing wood frame is, screws sink into it like it's made out of clay, there is nearly no resistance at all.  Still, make sure you drill very small pilot holes before driving any screws.  You'll soon see that you have one big structural problem on your hands - the corners of the existing frame have nails through them at every turn, so there's not much space to drive a screw.  Of course this would be the best place to screw in but I had to step around the nails carefully.  I started with the bottom of the machine and coated the existing frame with a streak of contractor's grade wood glue.  (I know, I know, that means the machine really can't have this new frame easily removed from it but if it wasn't for me restoring it then it would probably be in a junk pile somewhere by now)  After that I was able to drill three holes in good structurally solid locations, it's easier at the bottom since you have the front panel board to screw into.  I plugged each drill hole with a dab of the same wood glue before driving the screws in.  For the bottom I was using 2 1/2" wood screws.

Time to flip the machine upright and put in the top board and....... you'll notice your first problem.  On the left side you have the huge metal bracket that supports the hinge for when the machine is swung open away from its frame.  On the right side you have the same nail-filled corner and this time there's no big solid front panel to screw into.  Instead you have the inch or so thick top of the machine which has nothing below it except the ball hopper and all the internals.  I was able to find two strategic locations at the top of the machine that had a clear shot for more 2 1/2" wood screws.  Again, a bead of contractor's grade wood glue, glue in the holes, and very slowly turn your screws down and mate the new frame board with the old.

Next I attached the board on the right side, the side where the shooter mechanism is on my machine.  I put a bead of wood glue on the new bottom board where it would meet and another bead of glue on the top edge of the side board before sliding it into position.  Now this is the side where the machine doesn't stand straight, so I gently albeit firmly worked the new side board straight and drilled my pilot holes at the top.  Then I filled them with glue and drove four screws down into the new side board through the new top board.  After carefully flipping the machine over I did the same at the bottom, driving four screws up into the new side board.  This straightened out the machine no problem and added far more structural support to the damaged base.

Now the biggest pain of framing in the machine, the left side.  A pain because you have the hinge brackets and their screws to deal with if you want the board to sit flush.  I used a utility knife to cut out spaces in the surface of the board to help it better mirror the hinge brackets and their screwheads.  Then I went through the same procedure as on the other side, putting a bead of glue on both ends, drilling, putting glue over the holes, and slowly driving in some wood screws.  I didn't completely notch out the side board to match the hinge brackets and screwheads, I just cut out for some of the ones that stuck out more so it doesn't sit totally flush against the side on my machine.  However since there's also a gap on the other side (since the machine swings open from there) it doesn't call attention to itself and looks fine.  I did finally cause one of the side boards to start to split a little with the last screw I put in but I backed off and moved its location.  The split was just at the corner and I was able to repair it.

The next step is to drive in some shorter, inch or so long, screws along the sides through the new boards into the old frame for added strength.  (need to do that, I didn't have any screws of that size on hand)  I didn't coat the sides of the machine in wood glue when installing the new panels but I will drop wood glue atop the holes before driving the next set of screws in.  Honestly this is to give better support to the existing wood frame since it is so old.  I still recommend using long screws for the initial frame constructing and linking to the old frame, you want to make sure it has a solid foundation.

It may not look like a whole lot but now the machine stands completely and solidly upright on its own and I can swing the machine out from it's frame to gain access easily (will be that way once it's secured to a wall at the back anyway).  Now you're asking "where's the back?"  I've cut a plywood panel to the size of the back of the machine but I'm not going to install it until I get the wiring loom and lighting system rebuilt.  It'll be a lot easier to do the work without a back panel attached.  After that I'll predrill some holes and attach the back panel with eight or ten wood screws, I probably won't glue those in so I'd have the option of removing the back panel if heavy maintenance is ever needed.

I was finally able to set the machine up on a table, stand at it and play a game without having to brace the machine against something or have it wobble around.  Just the frame as it is makes the machine far more practical and solid.  So next up will be to drive in some shorter screws along the top and sides for more support.  (probably won't document that)  Then it's time to get to work installing new lights, light sockets, rebuilding the wiring loom, rebuilding the light actuators and installing a power source.  At least now I don't have to worry about the machine falling over in the middle of the night.  If you're playing the cost index game, it was about $20 for the wood for the new frame and the quarter sheet for the back.

Consequently I guess you could totally disassemble the machine down to nothing and completely rebuild an all new wooden frame from the ground up and customize it to your needs, but honestly restoring one of these is a bear to begin with, who would put themselves through fully reconstructing all the woodwork?

12-05-2005  I finally sat down and began work on rebuilding the wiring harness and installing lighting in the machine.  When I bought this machine there were no light bulb sockets, no wiring loom, no fuseboard, not much of a junction board, and one of the switches was beat to hell.  I had been studying the wiring schematic for this particular series of machine for a long time and finally got to work on building it.  I picked up a pack of four mini lamp sockets (vertical mount since my Radio Shack isn't worth a damn - like most), two packs of two 7.5v mini lamps (originally these machines used 10v lamps but 7.5v should work fine), and a spool of rainbow wire as I just realized that I was out of solid core wire.

First things first, I had to bend the screw mounts on the sockets since they were originally designed to be mounted vertically, and were all that Radio Shack had - this resulted in me breaking one of them, but I can just do the wiring now and install that socket later.  I will say that if you aren't comfortable with reading a schematic and doing basic electronics repair, this is a step in the restoration you may want to have someone help you with.  If all your wiring is there and is in good shape then you're lucky, in my case I had to rebuild it all since it was nonexistent.  An important tip when refurbishing the switches is to remove the little copper strips that comprise them, solder your leads to the strips, and then slide them back into their plastic housing.  It's nearly impossible to solder new leads on properly while they are still attached to the plastic housing and all you'll end up doing is melting and deforming it.  I've seen some people rig up arcade microswitches to replace the original contact switches (which I'll probably end up doing with the ball tray empty switch since it's near totally shot) or making new switches based on the original strips.  However if the wiring is there your switches are probably good.  After dropping in the refurbished contact switch strips, it was time to begin rebuilding the wiring harness.

I simply followed the schematic and rebuilt everything one part after another.  To install the lamp sockets I carefully secured them just enough to hold them in (remember the playfield is on the other side of many of these) and then let them rest against their original socket holders.  Granted the new lamp sockets are much smaller than the holders, but they still sit in place.  Yeah, yeah, it doesn't make the machine original but as I've said many times, if it wasn't for me restoring this machine to play condition it would probably be in a trash pile somewhere.  Originally there was a fuseboard in the upper right side of the back of the machine where the main leads met and would be tied into the power source.  On my machine this is missing completely so I ran the wires up to it's location (middle, below) and then hardwired them into a pair of leads that run all the way down to the bottom of the machine where the power source will be located.  Additionally the machine had a junction board on the left side where wires that would spilt to run to multiple locations (such as the winner lights) would be patched, as you can see (right, below) only one of these tabs has survived on my machine.  So I used it where I could and directly hardwired any other junctions inline.

Now I had the come up with a solution to the problem of the socket I had broken.  I decided that I would run the wiring for the socket and next time I was near Radio Shack I could pick up another pack of lamp sockets.  That way all I'd need to do is wire the socket and be done.  Thankfully there is a non-critical light on my machine, the one that comes on when the ball tray is empty.  Since I need to rebuild that switch still anyway, it's really not that big of a deal.  In the picture below you can see the two leads (one of them off an inline junction, originally the leads for this light would run off the junction board) that run down to the ball tray empty light.

I wanted to leave my options on how to power the lights open.  I honestly don't want to have to have my machine plugged in, the location I have planned for it is away from any sockets.  Yet at the same time I want to leave that option open if later on I decide I would like to use wall current.  The answer to this problem is simple, a pair of alligator clips on the end of the power leads, resting all the way down at the base of the machine.

Here you can see the alligator clips connected to a standard 9v dry cell.  I can also connect them to a 12v lantern battery, or to a model railroad transformer (recommended by many who have e-mailed me as well as many pachinko forums) if I wanted to run it from a power outlet.  I'd recommend that everyone use this method for power connection since it leaves your options open.  If I want to change batteries I simply disconnect and reconnect.  If I want to use a transformer I simply clip the leads onto the DC terminals.  Nice and simple and safe.  So as things stand now I simply set the battery in the base of the machine, it's on the side that the door swings to and there's a little excess wire so I don't have to worry about pulling the battery out or having the battery tug on its connections.

The wiring work isn't the cleanest I've ever done but it's all secure and proper, nothing gets in the way, and it all works.  Sure it isn't as nice as the original wiring probably was when the machine was built but I know what runs to where and considering how little I had to work with, I think it's still a nice job for home use.  So that leaves the next steps being to install the ball tray empty light (after I pick up a new socket), final internal cleaning before installing the back panel, another sanding to the frame, painting the frame, replacing the inner and outer glass and then bringing it in and installing the machine.  The sockets, lamps, and wire came to about $10 total.  I think I'll do a running tally right now before I forget...

$25.00 - Cost of machine
$25.00 - Locksmith cost for keying original lock
$30.00 - 500 pachinko balls + shipping from SlotUSA
$20.00 - Wood for new outer frame and back panel
$10.00 - Components to rebuild lighting system

$110.00 - Estimated cost to date.

Remember though that I've been working on this machine now and then for eight months now, so that's really about $14 a month on average up until this point.  (EDIT: the wiring work I did above sucks, please refer to an update I posted here to see a more proper way to go about things)

12-13-2005  After cleaning up the machine only to have it become dusty in storage over and over again, I've finally decided to bring it in and mount it where it will remain for normal use.  I have it sitting on a shelving unit with the top of the frame secured to the wall with a pair of L brackets.  This is very important as if the machine is not secured then it would fall forward when opened.  There's still a good amount of work to do but the mass repair and rebuild stuff is done and outside of staining the new outer frame it can stay where it is for the rest of the work.

Now that I really don't have to worry a whole lot about the machine becoming damaged or getting dirty from being in the garage, I gave it a full cleaning once again.  This included disassembly of the ball feed mech to clean it out, another cleaning of the external parts on the back of the machine and the like.  Additionally I went ahead and lubricated all joints, rollers, springs, anything that moves with some 3 in 1 oil.  This is very important for your machine to work at optimal performance and the oil will also help to remove and keep rust away.  Finally after a day or so of oiling alone, the machine doesn't squeak anywhere.  Take your time with the oil, just a drop here and there and always wipe away the excess.  Now the mechanisms all move smoothly, the latches open and close easily, and the whole machine works better.  I also cleaned up the playfield as it never really got a full cleaning.  Granted my machine's playfield will never look super gloss shiny due to water damage that existed when I picked it up.  However getting any loose dirt and grime taken care of so it won't be picked up by the balls during operation is very important.

I also got around to a repair that was my own idea that I kept putting off.  The very bottom part on the back of the machine, the deflector that dumps down into the payout tray, has a metal plate atop it that the balls roll over.  This metal plate has always been extremely rusty as any moisture would collect down at the bottom where this plate is located.  I've scrubbed it down many times but there's simply too much damage to the plate and when "cashing out" balls or bad shot returned balls would come back they'd pick up rust.  The plate is riveted in place so I didn't want to even try to remove it.  So the solution I came up with was to coat the rusty plate (remember, I cleaned it best as possible before hand) with a durable vinyl tape.  This allows the dimension and angle of the plate to remain in tact however now balls can travel along it rust free.

Next comes the issue of a solid power solution.  The 9v battery I was using to power the machine before wore down after a day or so.  The draw of the always on light isn't bad but once the winner switch gets hit and the two other bulbs come on it pulls more power than the little 9v battery was meant to handle and there by drains it quickly.  I was unable to find a 10v battery at most local stores and I want an easy to replace power source anyway.  I still don't want to use plug in power since the location of the machine is far from an outlet.  However 6v lantern batteries can be found at nearly every discount or electronics store, heck you can get them at most drug stores.  So I decided to use two 6v lantern batteries connected in series to provide around 12v of power.  It's amazing the price difference between brands of these cells, I went for the cheaper ones since they were half the price of the other manufacturers.  I suppose I could always pick up a large rechargeable cell from a hobby store later down the line but this set up should suit my needs.  Keeping with the theme of easy to replace and connect power, I made a little jumper cable with another pair of alligator clips to connect the two batteries together.

The batteries rest nicely inside the machine.  When not in use I simply disconnect the feed to the machine from the negative lead on the second battery.  Now with my particular series of machine the lamp in the upper right corner is always on.  I'm using 7.5v bulbs so the constant draw to the always on bulb is tight but as the batteries slowly wind down it should be less of a concern.  Honestly I'm not worried about it, with the setup as it is everything works a lot better than when I was running the machine off a small 9v battery.  Now when the winner lights come on the always on light just barely dims instead of almost going out as before.  (EDIT: please refer to an update I posted here before using a battery configuration such as this on your machine, there is a risk of power overload)

It cost about six bucks for both batteries and as you can see above the light is bright and strong as are the winner lights once activated.  I still haven't gotten out to the electronics store to pick up some new lamp sockets for the ball tray empty light.  I suppose I'll go over what is left to do.

Now that the machine is inside it's actually getting some use.  Since it's up kinda high I need to get myself a folding stool at the level of the machine since standing in front of it gets old fast, hehe.  The only work, if any, that I'll do on the machine until after the holidays will probably be to install the new ball tray empty lamp socket and refurbish or replace the ball tray empty switch.  After that the machine will be fully functional, the rest of the stuff that needs to be done is really just to get the machine looking restored.  Oh, and of course, constant cleaning and maintenance as things begin to settle in the machine once again.

12-22-2005  I haven't done much work to the machine, as I said in the previous update I won't be doing a whole lot until after this week.  However I did tweak the jackpot mechanism to prevent it from hanging up and getting stuck occasionally.  Many updates ago I explained that the rocker part of the jackpot mechanism on my machine had been cracked and damaged.  To fix this I fabricated a little plastic tab to make up for the small sliver of missing plastic on the rocker.  Although this allowed the machine to function it still would get stuck every now and then as the rocker could advance too far inward and get hung up on the jackpot refill / release assembly that sits atop it.  After studying what was happening I came to the conclusion that the piece I fabricated was just a hair too short, originally the rocker wouldn't be able to lean that far forward.  So I got some rubber feet that are common on things like clock radios and the like and stuck one on the surface of the jackpot mechanism right where the rocker comes into contact.

As you can see in the above picture, the plastic piece I fabricated on the rocker makes contact with the rubber foot and it prevents it from rocking too far forward.  This actually worked out perfectly as the travel distance is exact to the diameter of a pachinko ball, so the jackpot falls out properly and the rocker resets.  Of course lubrication is the key to keeping this part running properly, I may also fabricate myself a replacement cover for this mechanism as my machine was missing one when I picked it up.  Word to the wise about this, originally when I was positioning the rubber piece it fell down into the chute below that leads to the ball loading tray or ball lose tray depending on if there is a jackpot target hit or not.  I was fortunate as I triggered a jackpot and the rubber piece came out the jackpot exit on the front into the ball loading tray.  After that I covered up the chute below the jackpot mechanism before securing the rubber foot in place with some super glue, didn't want it falling down there again, especially this time while the glue set.

01-02-2006  A few things concerning the power system of my machine have come to my attention this week.  First off I had the "always on" lamp burn itself out.  I had some company over and the machine was being played when I noticed the always on lamp flicker then go out.  Upon inspection it was extremely hot and once removed the bulb was charred black.  Moral of the story kids - don't push 12v through a 7.5v lamp running on direct drain without a fuse.  I've scaled back my power set up to a single 6v lantern battery and after replacing the burned out bulb everything works fine, not as bright as it was with 12v but bright enough.  I'm just glad none of the wiring failed or needed to be replaced.  This mistake was nothing but me being stupid and telling myself "it'll be fine."

Speaking of 7.5v lamps, I went into Radio Shack to pick up another pack of sockets so I can wire up a lamp for the "ball tray empty" actuator and they had everything but the part I needed.  So upon returning home I began to study the wiring of my machine and something didn't look right.  I had read over the schematic I had picked up online a few times, drew it out myself, and built it in my head before actually building the wiring system so I knew I built it as listed but it still didn't seem right.  So I connected the machine to power and began to poke around with my multimeter, eventually figuring out that the leads that will run down to the eventual "ball tray empty" light weren't carrying any power.  Reading the schematic over a few more times along with checking different points with the multimeter probes revealed that there was a wire running to an incorrect point on the schematic.  After redrawing the schematic and mapping out how power moves around it I made the changes and now everything works fine.

Above you can see my revised schematic with small red arrows mapping out the direction of power travel.  Of course this isn't verbatim how the machine is wired from the factory, it's a schematic diagram, not a pictorial diagram.  I've also went ahead and cleaned up all three of the Nishijin Sophia series schematic diagrams, you can find them here.  Please do not direct link to this file, download it and use it instead.  You have my permission to upload it and host it on another web site however the image MUST remain untouched with the copyright data at the bottom, thank you.  If you have one of these Nishijin Sophia machines with the original wiring intact and know how to read a schematic please check my diagrams against the factory original wiring and let me know if they are correct or incorrect.  If they are incorrect I will update them.  All I know is my revised 4-light two switch schematic works properly as that is how my machine is wired now.

Aside from that the machine worked flawlessly through some heavy use among different age groups throughout the holidays with only one jackpot payout mechanism jam the entire time and that was due to me not properly preparing it.

01-05-2006  Radio Shack actually had my screw type lamp sockets finally, I guess I should have went to this particular store first since it really is the only well run store in the area.  In addition to the sockets they also had the 14v lamps in stock, which is what I wanted to use in the first place.  So I picked up 14v lamps to replace the 7.5v lamps the machine has been using up until this point, they use the same sockets.  This means I am once again using a pair of 6v lantern batteries connected in series for a pull of 12v to run the lights in the machine, with lamps rated for 14v I don't have to worry about overload with the increased power.  14v lamps have a slightly elongated profile compared to the 7.5v lamps but actually looks better since it gets the light closer to the front of the machine.  When I began on the wiring last month I mentioned that I had to modify the vertical mount lamp sockets that most Radio Shack stores have for horizontal mounting.  Remember my machine had no wiring or electrical what so ever aside from the two switches, so I had to install sockets as well.  Common lamp sockets don't match up to the holding tabs on the machine, so I had to mount the sockets with some small screws.  (ALWAYS hand install / remove these with a screwdriver, never drill beyond extremely shallow starter holes in the plastic)  I did this by bending the mounting plate.

Once the mounting plate on each was bent straight then I was ready to go.  This takes a gentle motion to prevent from breaking the socket, as I did before.  For the "ball tray empty" light I actually curved the mounting plate up and around the top like a sleeve that could slide onto the little metal mounting arm on the machine, after properly insulating it with electrical tape.  Additionally the 14v lamps draw slightly less amperage than the old 7.5v lamps, if anything a little less strain on the wiring set up.

Installing the "ball tray empty" lamp socket and lamp also allowed me to finish the wiring solution for the machine and secure everything down and out of the way.  It's a lot cleaner than it once was, especially compared to the pictures I took after building the first phase.  I'll add some new pictures of the finish wiring system in a future update.  The "ball tray empty" switch was still coming up a little short so I shoved half of a toothpick beneath the lower contact to hold it at the proper height - not a good commercial solution but fine for home use and it's been working all night no problem.

I also began working on the problem of the right tulip not shutting.  For some reason it's been really loose and upon shutting would simply spring open again.  Not a big deal but it does make payouts on that side of the machine far too frequent since it's always open.  Upon comparing it to the left tulip I noticed something I had overlooked before concerning a slight difference in how the actuator inside was bent.  I eventually worked the right actuator to match that of the left and it shuts and opens properly now.  However I did notice something after doing this repair.  If the right tulip is closed and a ball enters it, it opens the left tulip as well.  If the conditions are the same and a ball enters the left tulip, the right one remains shut.

Now it's apparent what that little spring loaded drop down lever that I rigged behind the left tulip was for, it was a trigger to pop open the right tulip upon the left tulip being opened.  I'm not about to remove the screw I installed to rig that lever in the mid position, as far as I'm concerned everything is working fine for home use.  There has to be a problem with that mechanism behind the left tulip where it was hanging up, a part I still don't wish to dig out and look at so I'm just leaving it as I rigged it.  It may not open the adjacent tulip, but it pays out in both positions and that's what I'm concerned with.  In a pachinko hall that would be total BS but again, this machine is for home use and it's a minor hiccup that I can let slide.  Heck, I didn't even know it until today and I've had the machine for eight months.

With this update I can now say that the functional restoration of the machine is complete, just need to keep cleaning it as grime works its way out of the more hidden parts.  By functional restoration I mean that the machine works, pays out properly, operates without any major problems, all the lights work and operate properly, playfield operations run smoothly, the lock works and no moving parts squeak.  In other words the machine is fully useable.  Mostly cosmetic things left to do.

I can't seem to get the deals on pachinko balls I did before so I'll probably end up watching eBay.  I really want some blue and green colored balls mixed in with the standard silver, maybe 250 or so of each, to accent the aquatic theme of the machine.  Yet it's been really hard to find any colored balls at all, let alone 250 of each.  Most distributors sell colored balls in amounts of 100 each and want crazy prices for them.  Oh well, I can always wait.  I will admit that I'm nervous about taking the machine down and outside to paint the outer frame.  Even though I'd only be moving it about twenty feet on a hand truck so much could happen.  I'll probably pad the bottom of it just to minimize any disturbance from movement - tilting the machine is where my concern comes from, these machines are meant to be upright at all times.  As far as I'm concerned, after painting and reinstallation, the machine isn't being moved until I change residence.  It's going to stay put where it is.

01-25-2006  This time I'm going to go over some extra information and a few optional things you may want to do.  Since the functional restoration of the machine is complete there are a few extra things that can be done to make things easier for home use.  However first I need to document a problem that has come up a couple times.

My machine developed an electrical gremlin in the "always on" lamp in the upper left.  From time to time it wouldn't come on unless it was tapped a couple times, then it would work fine.  At first I figured this was an electrical short since touching a conductor to the side leads would cause it to light but I discounted this since the other lights on the machine worked fine even when the "always on" lamp wasn't functioning.  Since power for everything is returned on a common lead, if the other lamps were working then there wasn't a short.  Turns out that when modifying the mounting plate for the "always on" lamp I must have bent something so that proper solid contact wasn't being made inside.  This was confirmed when simply tapping the back of the socket caused the lamp to light.  I repeated this with two other lamp sockets and the same thing happened.  I replaced the socket once more, leaving the plate unmodified and the lamp simply sitting inside the light reflector, and finally it worked problem free.  I must have done something slightly different with the other sockets when bending the mounting plates as they work fine.  I swear, these four light, two switch machines are an electrical mess.  That "always on" lamp forces you to make certain decisions concerning the power source / level and constantly pulls power form that power source as well as placing full load on its lamp at all times.  Additionally that lamp gets more wear as its power flow spikes and drains depending on if other lamps are active since they all pull from the same source.  In other words when the "ball tray empty" lamp or "winner" lamps activate, the "always on" lamp dims as power is being bled off from it to run the other lamps - when they go off, power once again spikes full tilt to the "always on" lamp.

The "always on" lamp also brings us to my next modification.  With most pachinko machines of this era you only have "winner" lamps and a "ball tray empty" lamp(s).  Both of these lamps are function activated, meaning that they only light upon certain circumstances - hitting a win pocket and draining the ball hopper respectively.  This means you can leave the power source connected, be it an adapter or battery, and as long as you have the ball hopper filled the lights will remain off when the machine isn't in use.  This also means that one of these machines framed can simply be walked up to and played whenever, no need to worry about the power being off or on.  Now with a four light, two switch machine this is not the case.  Leaving the power on means the "always on" lamp is just that, always on - always under load and if you're using batteries as I am, it is constantly consuming power and draining them.  This means that the machine must be plugged in / unplugged or have the battery connected / disconnected upon every play session.  Usually this leads to the machine always having to be opened prior to play which means those with the key are the only ones who can play using the lights.  If you decide to frame your machine and always have it loaded with balls and ready to go (as it should be) then you need a solution so that you or anyone else can simply walk up, turn the machine on easily and externally, play, and then turn the machine off afterward just as easily.

The solution is a small externally mounted switch of some type.  In the case of my machine I decided to use a simple pushbutton off / on switch.  (if you do this make sure you do NOT get a momentary switch, you need an off / on switch, a momentary switch only connects when squeezed down)  This was a better solution than a toggle switch since the switch itself has a long profile (to reach through the lower wood frame) and I think a small pushbutton looks nicer than a toggle in this application.  When drilling the hole to recess the switch body I ran into a snag.  I drilled directly into one of the long screws that holds the hinge bracket of the machine to its original frame - I hit the sucker head on.  I didn't realize the screw was there until I had already tried to drill the hole so I'll have to fill this with a wood dowel and paint over it later, that's what the hole next to the switch in the picture is.  I moved over about an inch and drilled the hole that would eventually hold the switch.  Wiring it was simple enough, I just broke the direct connection between the machine's negative lead and the negative terminal of my power source (a pair of 6v dry cells) and connected the switch between them.  As the wood frame was thicker than the nut threads on the switch extended I mounted it by simply filling the hole with contractor's grade wood glue and let it set around the switch overnight.  Now when one wants to use the machine all they have to do is walk up, push the switch, toss some balls in the load tray and the machine is ready to go.  Lastly on this topic, I put the switch where it is to prevent its connections from getting hung up on anything inside the machine.  Also notice how the switch is local to the power connection and directly below where the power leads run down the side of the machine.  I left enough slack in the leads so that the frame can swing open completely without the wires being pulled on but not so much slack as to create opportunities for snags.  This is very important.

Next housekeeping addition if you would, is that of a ball catch tray or lose ball tray at the back of the machine.  Most people tend to use coffee cans, plastic containers, small boxes or the like to catch the stream of balls constantly evacuating out of the back of the machine.  Remember whether a ball is a loser or a winner, if it's shot through the machine this is where it will end up - payout balls only ever come from the ball hopper.  When most of these machines from the 1960's and 1970's were sold in the United States, if a ball catch tray was included it was usually just a small plastic high wall container.  Some people choose to use large ball trays from Japan that are normally used to hold winner balls (think of them as slot token cups in a US casino) but they really aren't designed for this task and many balls find an easy way to ricochet out of them.  We all know the last thing anyone wants to do is lose those valuable and overpriced pachinko balls, they're usually the most expensive part of any home pachinko setup.  I had been using a small reinforced cardboard box as a ball catch tray which did a decent job however balls would still work their way out of it.  Once the machine was enclosed this was less of a problem since stray balls would simply be deposited within the cabinet but the risk of them bouncing around and damaging something back there or causing shorts on the batteries was a very real problem.

I ended up modifying my original reinforced cardboard box by building another inside it.  I used an extremely rigid cardboard sheet and cut out four panels, forcing them into position within the original box.  I then secured the panels together and the new structure to the old with high quality thick packaging tape.  The result is a large, strong, high sided ball catch tray.  I designed the new panels with a sloping contour that would build up around the sides of where balls from the lose ball chute and winner mechanism exit the machine.  Additionally it's made to fit nicely inside my custom cabinet which has a thickness of seven and a quarter inches.  The low front allows the tray to fit below the ball exit points while the gradually increasing height of the sides keeps balls from ricocheting outside the area of the tray as they exit the machine.  The high back of the tray serves a few purposes.  The first is to provide stability of the tray inside the machine, the whole thing rests back against the top of this panel so as the weight increases it will lean back firmly due to the shallow channel below it where the old frame is secured to the new.  Second the high back provides even more ricochet protection as any ball that happens to bounce around in the tray will simply do just that, bounce around within the tray.  As the ball bounces around and deflects off the back and sides it loses momentum and will eventually rest at the bottom, this is the same principle applied in many modern firing ranges to prevent bullet ricochets.  Lastly the high back and angled sides make dumping the lose balls into the ball hopper extremely easy as it gives a nice wide ramp to dump the balls along, allowing even and smooth distribution into the ball hopper.  I may decide to transfer over this design and build a few out of thin wood.  If I decide to go that route I may offer them for sale here.  This design seems to be sound as after an entire day of regular play, ball hopper filling, and ball purges not one stray ball got away from the catch tray.

Lastly in this update I'll go over something many may be asking themselves, how to purge all the balls in the machine without having to manually do it from the back.  Once your machine is framed and set up with a good ball catch tray you can purge your machine the way it was intended, from the front.  If you're not going to be using your machine for a couple weeks, are going to move your machine, or are going to be doing basic maintenance and cleaning, it's a good idea to purge all the balls out of the machine.  This can be done at the back by manually tripping the ball purge mechanism but then you need to hold your catch tray beneath the ball lose chute.  Purging the machine while it is closed is a much better idea.  To begin with you need to make yourself a purge tool.

The simplest and best purge tool can be made from a simple paper clip.  You'll want to bend it open so it makes a short rod a few inches long.  You can curve over the end as I did to make it better resemble a key of sorts.  After you have that taken care of look for a small plastic lined hole on the front of the machine, it'll be located in the same area as the purge mechanism is on the inside.  Insert the purge tool, and push it in very gently.  This will cause the purge mechanism to trip and all balls in the ball hopper and upper hopper chute to instantly evacuate down the lose chute into the ball catch tray.  The sound this makes echoing from inside the machine is really hard to explain, it's very much like a metallic roar.  I simply put a pushpin on the inside of the cabinet to store the purge tool when not in use.  Open the machine and you'll notice that the jackpot mechanism is still loaded with balls, in most machines there will still be about two and a half jackpot loads left in the machine.  To get these out hold your ball catch tray below the lose chute, then very lightly lift up and release the little metal paddle at the top of the jackpot mechanism.  This will cause the first load of balls to release and drop down the lose chute and the next load to fill the jackpot mechanism.  Repeat this process until the jackpot mechanism no longer fills, about two and a half times.  Remember to reset the ball purge mechanism after you've cleared out all the balls or you might forget to do so before filling the ball hopper again.  (this is very easy to forget to do in your early days of pachinko ownership, trust me)  If you don't do this then any balls loaded will immediately drop out the lose chute.  Developing a good load / purge routine will keep things moving smoothly.

That's it for now but there's still lots more to do and many more updates expected for this site feature as the restoration continues forward.

01-27-2006  The electrical glitch I had noted in my previous update as being a problem with the lamp socket was incorrect.  Eventually the changed socket began to do the same thing so I took it out to look it over and what did I notice?  The lamp itself was manufactured incorrectly.  The filament on a 14v lamp is supported in the center by a little arm, this particular lamp's filament wasn't held up properly so it became damaged.  That's the reason it would light if I tapped it, the filament would get agitated enough to make contact and light.  Well after I figured this out I went to the trash can and retrieved one of the modified lamp sockets I had thrown out.  I prepared it for installation but as I looked at the upper corner of the wiring system I began to notice just how messy it was.  I had been planning on redoing it eventually as originally I was building it as I went along.  (see the update from 12-05-05)  Recently I noticed little channels and pathways along the covers on the back of the machine - this is where the wiring is supposed to go to keep it out of the way.  Also I originally ran the main connects up to the corner as if there was a fuseboard there, that was my starting point as I followed the wiring diagram.  Well my machine was missing its fuseboard so having the connectors tacked up there just to make contact with the feed wires that run down to the power source was stupid.  So instead of looking at the mess of wires hanging all over the machine, I redid nearly all of the connecting wire, pretty much everything except for the switch leads and ball tray empty lamp.

Now the wires that run up from the power source interface directly with the connections to the rest of the machine at the "always on" lamp socket.  I also repositioned how the lamp socket is mounted so it's more securely attached and easier to get to if the lamp needs to be replaced.  The same was done with the "winner" lamp sockets.  I ran their wiring cleaner and more efficiently and mounted them properly and securely in the exact proper locations.  All these little tweaks make the machine a lot more efficiently wired and more stable, after all I expect this machine to last for many more years.

02-03-2006  Well the problems with the side tulips have began once again.  Although I was able to move around the little legs inside the right tulip to get it to stay closed when closed, it began to pop open or not shut at all again.  I began to mess with it and then I was getting sticking payouts.  That issue went away shortly thereafter though so I figure I must have just moved something out of position momentarily.  The plate inside the right tulip doesn't set down as far as it should, which is why the tulip doesn't shut.  (and when it did shut it never shut properly)  Since I still really don't want to fully disassemble the machine, I'm not going to worry about it.  Payouts seem to be working fine again and that's honestly the only thing I'm concerned about - that and not having any jams.  Listening carefully I know that balls from each win pocket and smoothly rolling down to the jackpot mechanism without any obstructions.  It may seem crazy with the amount of money tossed into the machine to accept little problems like this as nothing but to me the machine is fine and in my experience, messing with it will only make things worse.  There's something mechanically askew with the left and right tulips common trip mechanism (one opens the other, and the sink holes at the top are supposed to open both) which makes me think one of the reasons this machine, that really has nothing else wrong, was at the flea market is because of this.  Eventually that must have been a big enough problem that the machine found its way to a reseller that took it to the flea market.

Also an odd ball came out of the machine last week.  It's not one of the ones I ordered (they're all the same except five or six but I know their designs) and it was pretty dirty compared to the others.  I'm guessing that it came out of a non-ball path in the back.  In other words somehow it got knocked off one of the pathways and ended up in a nowhere zone behind the main cover before I bought it.  For one reason or another it finally found it's way out of the machine.  Upon some inspections of the back with a flashlight I noticed what appears to be a ball in one of these nowhere zones, again, behind the main cover which makes it pretty deeply buried.  It's not blocking anything or in the way of any mechanisms so I'm just going to leave it alone.  However I could have swore that the machine missed a payout over the past couple days, that's probably the ball.  Unless a bunch begin to backup in that area I'm not going to worry about it.  I need to get in my head to quit being so particular about this machine.  I'm going to stain the outer frame, replace the glass panels, and that's it.  It'll be done after that.  A common problem I have with restoration and repair is that I just don't know when to walk away.  I never honestly planned on having this machine 100% clean and perfect, just in playable condition - and that's where it is now.  I honestly didn't know what I was getting myself into when I brought it home but its been interesting and challenging.  As long as balls aren't backing up in a winning pocket or tulip (as was the case at one time) I'm happy and all is well.

Since I talked about a dirty ball that came out of the machine perhaps I should take a moment to go over some cleaning procedures.  The high tech solution, especially if you have thousands of balls, is to use a rock polisher with some light abrasive such as crushed walnut shells and use that to polish your pachinko balls.  The low tech solution, which many pachinko importers in the 1970's used, is an old sock.  Basically you take a clean old sock, throw about 25 pachinko balls in it, and toss them around.  Roll the pachinko balls in the sock between your hands vigorously, shake them around, basically you're trying to use the inside of the sock as a mild abrasive surface to remove any gunk and light rust.  It sounds crazy but it works.  Of course if you have any pachinko balls that are rusted or have pits and damage then you'd be better off simply throwing them away.  It's important to inspect your pachinko balls for damage every now and then.

Aside from that I removed the ball hopper last night and cleaned it out, as well as the top chute that runs down from it and the actuator pedal that sits beneath it.  All were very dirty still but cleaned up relatively easily.  Now that the ball hopper has been scrubbed down it can simply be wiped out when it gets dusty, although since the machine is enclosed this isn't a big problem.  I had cleaned it out a long time ago but I still wanted to give it a good soaking to remove any embedded grime.

I've been looking at some modern pachinko machines and if I buy another anytime soon I think that's where I'll go.  Don't get me wrong, I love my vintage machine but now days many dealers of modern pachinko machines completely shop and refurbish them before the sale.  Also the machines are solid state and less mechanically reliant, which means while they're more complex in design and presentation, they're a lot simpler in terms of operation.  It's the same way with modern slot machines - while modern slot machines are infinitely more complex in design than models from the 50's and 60's, they're far simpler when it comes down to the physical components that make them work.

So with that, the next update will more than likely have to do with painting the outer frame.

02-26-2006  It's been awhile since the last update but I've done quite a few things since.  I'll begin by addressing the problem of the right tulip refusing to close that I brought up in the last update.  As I said before, the plate inside the right tulip doesn't set down as far as it should but this isn't what is preventing it from closing.  Looking at the tulip from the backside I noticed there's a little finger that extends from the plate at the base.  Atop this finger there's a little plastic claw that is connected to a system of plastic rods that runs to a seesaw.  This is the trip seesaw that causes the adjacent site tulip to open when another is hit (the one I rigged on the left side) or both tulips to open when one of the top sinkholes is hit.  When the seesaw is hit the plastic rods push the little claw down, which pushes the finger on the back of the tulip down, which moves the plate inside the tulip up, causing it to open.  I tried to stick a number of objects into the tulip to reach back there and push the finger down more but just couldn't get to it.  On the left side of the machine there is a place where the main cover has a small hole cut into it.  It was only recently I noticed that it was right where the finger on that tulip sits.  Perhaps this is a common problem with these machines and that was a way to adjust it without disassembling the machine?  I really didn't care, that was the solution.  So I slowly drilled two small holes into the main cover near the finger on the right tulip.  Drill slowly so that the coils of plastic you're drilling out will exit the machine with the flutes of the drill bit rather than fall inside.

After getting a space made large enough so I could get in there and work, I took a pair of small needle nose pliers and gently bent the tulip finger down just far enough so it wouldn't press against the little claw when closed.  This allowed the tulip to shut tightly enough to no longer vibrate open.  At the same time the finger is still close enough to the little claw to be triggered open when the upper right sink hole is hit.  (it doesn't open when the left tulip or upper left sink hole is hit because the seesaw on that side is the one I rigged into the mid position with a screw long ago)  This fix has worked great and the tulip has been opening, closing, and paying off perfectly for weeks.  If I was to fully disassemble the machine I'm sure this could have been resolved with some internal cleaning but I've said many times, I'm trying to avoid that.

Next comes something that I've been dreading for awhile, painting the outer frame.  Dreading it because it means I'd have to move the machine outside and into the shop for painting.  After putting it off for a long time and rain being in the forecast for next week, I finally bit the bullet and decided to paint it.  First things first, I removed the L brackets atop the machine securing it to the wall, and carefully took the machine off the shelving unit it was resting on.  I put an old towel on the bottom of the dolly and carefully maneuvered the machine outside, around the corner, and into the shop.  Before painting the frame I needed to finish up work with the back panel of the cabinet.  Up until this point I had it temporarily attached with four screws I simply had on hand.  While the back panel is really only to enclose the machine, I still want to make sure it is attached securely and flush to the outer frame.  Remember, I built my frame to rest atop something, not to be free hanging from a wall.  So I removed the four temporary screws and replaced them with short inch and a half long wood screws that would sit in flush.  I used four screws on each side and two along the top and bottom.  Nice and secure yet easily removable if I need to do heavy maintenance to the machine that can't be done indoors while it's installed.  Speaking of which, the main advantage to having an easily removable back panel is that I can work on the machine's internals without having to brace the swing out part against something.  Again, if I ever need to do heavy work on the machine this makes it easy to take it out and gain access.  Here's a picture of the machine with the back panel removed.

As you can see, the wiring is a lot cleaner now and with the back panel removed I can easily get access for larger repairs while the frame keeps the machine stable.  With the back panel reattached with the proper screws it was time to begin painting.  I had always planned on painting the outer frame flat black, which would match the two support trim pieces that run along the bottom front of the machine.  I used a multipurpose latex based paint and painted the outside left and right, the entire back panel, top of the frame, front edges of the frame and repainted the original black trim on the front as it was pretty scratched up.  I didn't worry about painting the bottom of the machine as no one would ever see it and I really didn't want to turn the machine upside down or on its side and risk damaging something internally.  Since I had sanded the boards before building the frame I applied a healthy smooth coat of the paint, going back over it again lightly as it began to dry.  The finish result looks pretty nice, the paint did a great job at making the outer frame I built look solid and since it ties into the trim at the bottom it looks like it's an original part of the machine.  The paint also helped fill in the small gaps at the front of the new frame since after years of leaning against something the machine had de-squared itself at the bottom slightly, something the new frame helped to correct.  It also filled in much of the corner wear the machine had at the front from years of sitting on the ground and being moved around as well as surface damage to the trim.

After that it was time to move the machine back in and reinstall it.  That pretty much leaves only a few things to do before the restoration is totally complete...

Amazingly, the restoration is nearly finished.  In researching the Japanese text on the front of my machine, on the plastic piece above the center target, a friend of mine translated it as Saru Kani Kassen or "Monkey-Crab Battle."  Upon further research it turns out there's more to what is on this machine than random characters and items.

Saru Kani Kassen or "The Feud of the Monkey and the Crab" is a traditional Japanese children's folk tale.  Many of the key things from the story can be found on the front of the machine, the picture to the left should help illustrate them.  The story goes like this:  One day a monkey carrying a persimmon seed noticed a crab with a rice ball.  The monkey was very hungry and wanted to get the rice ball from the crab so he offered the crab a trade for his persimmon seed.  The crab refused but the clever monkey told the crab that the seed could be planted and would grow a persimmon tree that would bear a never-ending supply of fruit.  The crab was taken by this and traded the monkey her rice ball for the seed.  (notice the monkey's face on the upper center target and the crab holding a rice ball at the middle of the playfield)

The crab planted the persimmon seed and waited for it to grow.  She watered it daily, telling it, "If you don't bud quickly I'll dig you up with my hoe."  The frightened seed quickly sprouted.  Then the crab said, "If you don't hurry up and grow, I'll snip you in half with these scissors."  The bud quickly grew into a big tree.  Finally, the crab threatened the tree, "Bear fruit or I'll chop you down with an axe."  The frightened tree promptly bore fruit.  By the time the fruit had ripened the monkey returned, climbed the tree and began to eat the ripest fruit.  The crab, unable to climb the tree asked the monkey if he could bring some of the fruit down to her.  The monkey agreed but instead threw a hard, unripe fruit down at the crab, hitting her on the head and injuring her.  (note that when a pachinko ball comes down the center of the upper target and hits the crab, the crab spins upside down as if hit over the head)

The crab's children (shown on the upper center target in the middle inside) cried so much that a bee (shown on the upper center target), a chestnut, a sewing needle (shown on the upper center target as being carried by the bee), and a stone mortar (shown on the upper center target) got together to help the baby crabs get revenge on the monkey.

While the monkey was away from his house the chestnut hid in the ashes of the monkey's fireplace, the baby crabs in the water tub in the kitchen, the bee in the bucket of miso paste (a traditional seasoning made with soy beans), the needle in the monkey's bed, and the mortar above the doorway.  Then they waited for the monkey to return.

In the evening, the monkey came home.  "I'm so cold," he exclaimed, and just as he plopped down next to the fire, the chestnut burst up from the ashes, scalding the monkey's behind.  The monkey ran yelping into the kitchen and dunked his hands in the tub to gather water to dowse his burning pain.  The baby crabs jumped out and snapped at him with their claws.  The monkey then picked up the pail of soft miso to spread over his burn.  The bee sprung out promptly and stung him left and right.  The helpless monkey then retreated to his bed, but jumping into it, he was poked all over by the needle buried under the covers.  Screaming "Ouch! Ouch!" the monkey finally tried to flee the house but just as he got through the doorway, the mortar slammed down on his head.  Groaning with pain, the monkey cried, "I promise I'll never misbehave again!"

Honestly I didn't know of this story until now.  My friend had translated the text on the front of the machine almost a year ago when I first bought it but I didn't look it up until recently.  To me this makes my machine even more priceless since there's something to go along with the theme.  It's not an underwater theme as I had thought before but a Japanese folk tale recreated.

Also before I forget, I removed the counterweight from the jackpot payout rocker a month or so ago.  I used a small rotary tool with a mini sanding drum and restored the smooth curve to the top of the rocker which had been damaged before I purchased the machine.  This allows it to move smoothly and not stick as it did before.

There probably won't be another update until I replace the window panels or fill the holes on the front.  That's really all that is left to do on the machine.  I'm also going to post some pachinko related links here at a later date.

10-07-2006 Eight months since the last update but not a whole lot has changed.  I have yet to replace the glass panels or fill the holes in the front (although that's next) but I have done a few things to the machine recently.  First of all the machine has been operating wonderfully since my previous update back in February.  I've been leaving the machine filled and in ready to play status and it's worked perfect with not a single jam or missed payout.  Over the summer I was gone for a number of weeks on business which was the only time I had purged the machine.  Once I got back I filled it up again and it worked fine.

I've was looking at the wiring in the machine and became unhappy with how it looked.  The areas of colored electrical tape were originally put in to attempt to keep the wires from hanging out freely.  The colors were supposed to code what each block of wiring related to.  However this was honestly a lot of overkill and made the machine look ugly and unprofessional inside.  So I removed the colored tape and a good amount of the black tape that I was originally securing the wires with.  I then better sorted out the wires and secured them with clear sealing tape.  This keeps everything out of the way yet allows each wire to be seen so if problems develop it's easier to follow the lines around.  Hot glue was out of the question since it makes removing and replacing wires far more difficult.  I did leave some black tape in place in areas where it was doing it's job fine and wasn't in the way.  The wires aren't color coded (although originally I intended to have them be) since there were so many changes and rebuilds over the course of me building the wiring loom.

Crystal clear wire mounting makes things easier to follow.

This is the main path of wires that run along the side of the jackpot mech.

It looks like there's no tape there, but there is.  Now the "winner" switch and
tray purge mech are visible through their cover since there's no tape in the way.

Even the lines down to the "ball tray empty" light have been remounted
with clear sealing tape.  Still plenty of give for bulb replacement and maintenance.

With these last small modifications to the wiring, the insides of the machine are pretty much finished.  (unless I happen to come across the missing panels from another machine)  It's clean as it's ever going to be and if you ask me, my wiring work looks better than some of the original stock wiring setups I've seen.  It really was the last part of the machine restoration that was still bothering me but now it's up to a level I feel good about.  Now to put some wood filler in the holes in the front, repaint that panel, then the glass.  It's been nice being able to enjoy this project more and work on it less but I will admit that once it's done, I'm going to miss having it as something to analyze and work on when there's nothing else to do.  I've actually been thinking of restoring another machine if I come across one in decent shape.  Now that I know what to look for and what to test and what I'm getting myself into.  The next update won't be for awhile but should be sooner than this one was.  By that time the machine should be right on the edge of completion.

02-04-2007  It's been quite awhile since my last update but this one is important.  I've finally replaced the glass on the front of the machine, bringing the restoration almost to a close.  There are a lot of questions about replacing the glass:  what glass to use, what size, how many panels and so forth.  To begin with, the size that nearly all machines will take is 16" x 16" x 1/16" thick.  All machines will have grooves for two panels, an inner panel that contains the balls as they move inside the machine, and an outer panel that protects the inner panel from outside forces.  The inner panel should be some form of plexiglass no matter what, since the balls will be ricocheting around against it at all times.  The outer panel can be pretty much anything as the only abuse it has to take is any force outside of the machine.  If you have kids or players that are pushing against the glass a lot, I would stay away from standard glass for the outer panel.  I chose to go with plexiglass for both panels as it looks as nice as glass and is shatter resistant.  Many decide to use one panel plexiglass and one panel regular glass but personally, if you pick the right type of plexiglass, two panels of plexiglass is the way to go.

Most home improvement stores will sell three types of plexiglass, categorized by manufacturer grade.  Optiplex is low grade plexiglass used for light duty applications.  While it looks nice and is strong, it bends a little too easily to be used in a pachinko machine as it will give and curve as balls bounce against it.  The next step up is Duraplex, this is a medium to high grade plexiglass used for heavy duty applications.  While Duraplex is strong, it is also crystal clear, making it perfect for this type of usage.  Lastly is Lexan, super heavy duty plexiglass.  If anyone remembers the short-lived Battlebots series, this is what many of the robots were clad in.  It's super strong, about 150 times stronger than standard plexiglass, and should be considered extreme overkill for pachinko machine usage.  It's also very difficult to cut.  Duraplex is the best route to go for replacing your pachinko glass.  Most home improvement stores will also cut it on site for you for free.  Make sure to inspect each panel for scratches in the protective plastic sheet on both sides before accepting it.  Once you get home, remove the plastic protective sheet from each side of each panel and slip them in.

My machine now finally looks parlor ready.  Still have to fill in those holes on the front, but that can wait.  However I noticed there was a problem developing with the feed chute that divides the balls into the jackpot mechanism from the ball hopper.  Balls were piling up and not being distributed into the jackpot mechanism evenly, causing there to be too little weight to set off the jackpot mechanism properly.  This chute is supposed to be covered by a plastic panel that seals it off at the top, keeping pressure on the balls and forcing them to stay in single lines.  Problem is that my machine never had one of these panels, I had been using a makeshift cover I built out of some heavy cardstock to replace it.  Well over time the cardstock began to bend and flex, allowing enough of a gap for balls to pile up.

In a somewhat poetic notion of using the old plexiglass panel to solve a new problem, I came up with a more permanent solution.  I removed my cardstock cover and cut a piece from the old beat up plexiglass panel to the same size.  Unlike the cardstock this will not flex, it will remain rigid and seal off the top of the chute.  I anchored it in place with a few carefully trimmed pieces of heavy duty duct tape.

This new method of covering up the chute works perfectly and even better, since it's clear, I can see if there are any jams below it.  Since replacing the cardstock the machine has run much smoother and the jackpot mechanism fills much faster for quicker fast succession payouts.

I will say that since replacing the plexiglass the machine runs a lot quieter.  It's really amazing how quieter things are with two panels of brand new plexiglass on the front of the machine.  Don't get me wrong, it's still loud and sounds like a pachinko machine should, but there's a lot less rattling around.  Ball motion is a lot more true and unobstructed now as well, since the new panel is solid without any cracks or nicks in it, which the old one was full of.  Even if your vintage machine has it's glass panel, it is certainly worth replacing it and adding a second, the whole thing will run you about twenty five bucks.  I still need to fill in those holes in the front and may replace the shooter spring but there's no two ways about it - the restoration is nearly finished.

09-28-2007  Been awhile, hasn't it?  Lots of unrelated stuff has come up and the machine has been done for a long time but it's just now that this documentation gets wrapped up.  All that was left to do was to fill the holes on the front of the machine, one caused by adding a screw for structural reinforcement and the other from a bungled switch installation.  I filled these by plugging the holes with round stock of equal size, held in place with some contractor's grade wood glue.  Instead of attempting to match the paint of the lower panel, I simply painted it flat black, the same color as the outer frame.  It now looks as if it always came like that and the former holes are no longer visible.

For quieter and smoother performance of the shooter mechanism, I decided to replace the spring that gives it tension.  Nothing complicated here, I simply purchased a spring of the same diameter and feel, cut it to size and installed it.  This has made a huge difference in the consistency of each shot and besides, that rusty original spring needed to go.

After replacing the spring I stepped back, took at look and realized something - the restoration was complete.  The machine had been completely restored and was fully functional. (with the exception of that one tulip not opening when the adjacent one is opened)  Both the mechanical and cosmetic rebuild were complete and the machine was running 100% reliably.  This project was finished.

It has been a pleasure restoring the machine, no matter how much work has gone into it, no matter the frustrations that came with it.  These wonders of simple mechanics deserve to be preserved for how complex they are in their simplicity.  That and of course they're a lot of fun to operate and make a nice addition to a room with their unique look.  A big thank you goes out to all those who have e-mailed me concerning pachinko restoration with comments, advice, or just to talk about these vintage machines and share stories about their heyday.  I will continue to respond to these e-mails, as I do to every e-mail I am sent, so go ahead and contact me if you feel the need.  There probably will be no further updates to this page but if there are expect them to be very minor.

The machine at the time of this final posting.

There is nothing on the planet like a vintage pachinko machine.  How these machines accomplish their operations without motors or electronics is their largest appeal in my mind.  Remember, the main functions of these vintage machines are powered by gravity and gravity alone.  Sure, add a couple batteries and you get some lights but they're not required for operation.  They truly are a great conversation piece and I have yet to find anyone not interested in my machine once they see it.

Remember that ongoing maintenance is the key to keeping your machine running properly.  Lightly oil all moving parts on a regular basis and repair or replace any worn or damaged components as soon as possible to prevent further damage.  Also never forget to keep an eye on the condition of the pachinko balls going through the machine, keep them clean and dispose of any that are excessively worn.

Thanks again to everyone, I hope this part of my site continues to inspire people to restore vintage pachinko machines.

03-07-2009  Seems that this project isn't complete.  Since the last update I have moved and the machine has moved with me.  I'll be honest in saying that moving the machine was a little tedious since I was terrified that I'd drop it or something.  However my fears of damaging my years of restoration never came to pass and the machine easily made it to its new location (strapped into the seat of a car, I might add).  Aside from the usual maintenance and oiling I did notice one thing on the machine that I wanted to remove and properly clean.  That part was the jackpot mechanisim, the circular part at the center of the machine on the back.  The jackpot mechanisim holds balls from the hopper until a payout is triggered.  When this happens it dumps the balls it is holding down the chute to the front.  While it is dumping the payout balls, it also prevents more balls from rolling into the mech.  After it is emptied out it resets and fills with more balls from the hopper.  My jackpot mech had always been a little dirty but it was passable, until now when I have the time to fix it and nothing else on the machine that requires attention.

Removing the jackpot mech is pretty easy.  The first thing you want to do however is to cover up the chute below it with some tape to prevent screws and other debris from falling down inside.  After that basically all you do is carefully remove the individual screws and linkages for the jackpot mech.  Everything is externally mounted and should come off, so if you find a screw or nut that is covered up, you probably missed something earlier.  There are also a few C-clips on some rods that will probably need to be removed.  Just carefully slide them away from their rods.  The jackpot mech should come off in one large piece that will later be further disassembled away from the machine.

As you can see, it's pretty dirty inside.  The removed mech is disassembled away from the machine as stated above.  It comes apart in two players and the lever that triggers the jackpot to dump is removed via a C-clip.  There are a lot of pieces for this mechanisim, be sure not to misplace any.

Before continuing I want to take a moment to show what the machine looks like behind the jackpot mech since it's a good way to understand how pachinko machines have multiple layers.  There's of course the playfield, then a space in the middle where balls travel from win pockets down to the payout mech, and on the outside back there are all the chutes and mechanisms.  Behind the jackpot mech on my machine you can see some of the internal middle ramps which guide balls from win pockets down to the payout mech.  This further hammers the point home that these machines should never have balls "hidden" inside.

With the jackpot mech removed and disassembled, I gently cleaned all the surfaces and made sure any gunk was cleared from the pathway the balls follow.  It was far dirtier than I had expected and I'm glad I decided to remove and service it.  Upon reassembly I lightly oiled all the moving parts, including the sleeves the rods slide within.  After that it was only a matter of reinstalling the entire assembly.

Once the assembly was fully installed I removed the tape over the chute and refilled the hopper.  It's amazing how much better things look and how much more efficient the mech works with the paths cleaned.  Of course it also helps keep the balls cleaner since they're not sitting in grime.  This is a part that should be removed and cleaned as needed since it's a point where the balls will collect and deposit any gunk they have picked up.

02-21-2012  Wow it's been a long time since making an update here!  The machine is still functioning fine, just as in the above couple posts.  However due to the volume of e-mails I still receive about vintage pachinko restoration and maintenance, I wanted to go over a few things that I've been slacking on - for quite some time.

First and most importantly is giving credit where credit is due.  Above I did this but it kind of got dissolved into a regular update.  Vintage pachinko restoration owes everything to a small community of enthusiasts who maintain independent websites and answer e-mails.  While modern pachinko has a much larger community and many spectacular resources due to its wider popularity, it really is more or less a footnote for many pachinko enthusiasts.  It really is the smaller part of the pachinko community that keeps the vintage buzz going.  Of course there are a few professional vintage pachinko restoration companies and dealers and of course a full on restoration from them will carry a boutique price.  This is to be expected and is the same for another one of my hobbies, vintage arcade games.  You either do the work yourself and save a bundle or pay a premium for a professional to do it for you soup to nuts.  I've nearly always taken the former approach and learned to repair and maintain things for myself.  That's why being able to share information online about vintage pachinko (and modern pachinko, and arcade games) is such an incredible resource.  A reply from a modern pachinko message board lead me to an enthusiast site which has been the single most useful resource in my restoration.  That site is Dan's Pachinko Data Page.

Dan's Pachinko Data Page is the best jumping off point for vintage pachinko.  Like many of us in the hobby, Dan picked up a machine for twenty bucks at a flea market with the intent to clean it up and get it working, having a background in mechanics.  Whenever there was something on my machine I didn't quite understand I could find pictures and video on Dan's pachinko page that would lead me in the right direction.  Heck, watching a video there is how I figured out that my payoff mechanism was set up improperly.  Additionally Dan hosted cleaned up versions of wiring diagrams for the three most popular Nishijin "B" models.  The original diagrams had been changing hands for awhile but Dan's digitized versions were much easier to follow than (if I'm remembering right) the hand drawn and scanned originals.  Eventually I further cleaned the diagrams up including fixing what I believed to be an error in one of them.  I was later contacted by Dan Reed, the creator of the page, and had my updated diagrams posted on his site.  However I stupidly never gave credit for the original source on the actual diagrams when I uploaded them to my site.  Something like six years later I've finally corrected this.  So now the rework of the rework of the diagram I made and host here, has a proper credit to Dan Reed and Dan's Pachinko Data Page on it.  You can find the diagrams here.  Please download and distribute freely, as always.  Also be sure to check out Dan's Pachinko Data Page as he has the best pictures and videos for getting you acquainted with your vintage machine, how to set it up, and most importantly how everything works.  It really is the best vintage pachinko resource online.

While having a key made that will replace the long gone vintage original is next to impossible, you can still have a key made for your machine.  Any locksmith worth their salt can disassemble the original lock, re-pin or dummy out the cylinder, and get you a key that will work.  As long as a key can be found that will slide into the lock cylinder (usually based off a filing cabinet or mail box key), the lock can be made to work.  Many modern pachinko enthusiasts dummy out the lock cylinder so that any key that fits into the cylinder will turn it and operate the mechanism.  The locksmith that made a key for my machine performed a combination of these two - blowing out the lock pins and then re-pinning the cylinder to a simple custom cut pattern.  It took them awhile to find a key that would fit but then again that's why locksmiths exist.

If you've reached this page through an external link or search engine, it is only a small part of a much larger site.  If the above content interests you then please take a look at the rest of and David's Video Game Insanity!!

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