1979 Bally KISS Repair/Shop Out

KISS and Pool Sharks on the truck before being unloaded

KISS and Pool Sharks on the truck before being unloaded

So, I picked up a 1979 Bally KISS pinball machine the other weekend along with the Pool Sharks. Overall the game was in pretty nice shape, but did need a little attention both electronically and cosmetically to get up to speed.

A good deal of the time you run into a corroded MPU on these Bally -17 and -35 games, but luckily, this game had a clean MPU; however, the original Ni-Cad battery was still attached to the board. First thing I did when I got it in the house was cut that Ni-Cad off — it’s amazing that thing hadn’t leaked in 36 years. Really, it’s just a roll of the dice when you find one like that. I had a Bally Frontier  that similarly had the Ni-Cad still attached but a clean board, but those have been the only two I’ve seen so far.

MPU, remote pack attached on bottom of board.

MPU, remote pack attached on bottom of board.

After cutting the Ni-Cad battery off the MPU, I added a remote battery pack. The original Ni-Cad’s were rechargeable batteries, so when you add a 3 AA remote pack you have to put a blocking diode in line with the anode to prevent the charge coming back to the non-rechargeable batteries.

The second bit of board business was bringing some attention to the solenoid driver board. This board controls the display power regulation, as well as the transistors that fire all of the solenoids. When I pulled the board out, I immediately noticed a pretty terrible hack from earlier in the game’s life.

Hacked Transistor

Hacked Transistor

One of the transistors had been replaced on the solder side of the board and the previous tech had damaged the through holes and run some jumpers. One of which wasn’t too bad, the other which was pretty shoddy. Having this transistor on the solder side of the board was a terrible idea because it could easily ground out against the ground plane behind the board and short out all over again. I replaced this transistor with a TIP102 on the proper side of the board. I ended up having to keep one of the jumpers on the solder side, but was able to bypass the other.

On all solenoid driver boards from this Bally era, I replace the large C23 capacitor that filters the 5VDC. The original capacitor was a 11,000 uf 20 volt, but you can replace with both a larger micro farad and voltage rating. I have found some reasonably priced 15,o00uf 25 volt caps from http://www.greatplainselectronics.com that fit nicely as a replacement.

After that, I did the two recommended modifications on this board which are: running a jumper from the negative lead of C23 to the trace right below it (on later -35 boards) and running a jumper between TP1 and TP3.

Finished Solenoid Driver Board. Note replaced C23 cap. Other modifications and transitor clean-up on back of the board.

Finished Solenoid Driver Board. Note replaced C23 cap. Other modifications and transitor clean-up on back of the board.

The other board related issue that I addressed was replacing the large 20-pin connector on the power supply/regulator board. It had, over time, gotten very brittle and actually split in two. One wire was even soldered directly onto the male pin and one side of the split was very burnt and brittle. I added in a new female molex 20 pin connector with sturdier trifurcon crimp connectors. This got everything booting and working. Only other functional issue I ran into was a

Replaced 20-pin connector on Power Supply/Regulator board.

Replaced 20-pin connector on Power Supply/Regulator board.

stuck switch at switch 19 which ended up being a bad switch capacitor.

With the game working, I began the clean up and shop out. I cleaned the playfield which had a layer of dirt/dust over it, and then followed up with a good, hard layer of carnuba gold class paste wax to help protect the field during future play. I replaced the star posts with new red star posts, added orange super bands, replaced all white rubbers, cleaned the plastics, added LEDs in the GI, adjusted and cleaned all switch contacts, added a new ball and have tombstone KISS face drop targets on order. The targets are the only thing I am waiting on.

This is the first time I’ve really gotten to spend much time on a KISS game. I think the rules and gameplay are fantastic. It’s a fast and furious game, and the ruleset is simple but challenging. I can see why this game was so popular and sold 17,000 units.

Final Shopped Game

Final Shopped Game

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About Matthew Mandarano

Matthew is a cinematographer and video specialist by day and pinball fanatic at night. Somewhere in between he also finds time to play the guitar, collect vinyl records and watch a good deal of movies and TV shows.
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