1986 Williams F-14 Tomcat Repair

Another F-14! I was contacted about some sluggish flippers on the right side of the game, but when I got to the location also found that the machine was in “Adjust Failure” upon boot up.


Damaged original battery holder

Damaged original battery holder

“Adjust Failure” on this era of game points to the RAM not receiving 4.5VDC to power it while the game is off; thus, upon each new boot up the game restores factory settings rather than utilizing the RAM properly to save high scores, settings, etc.

Sometimes the repair for this is as easy as replacing the AA batteries in the backbox, as this is what powers the RAM. However, on older games, most of the time its not as simple as that. Over time, the cheap battery holders on these games can become fragile and break, either from age alone or some amount of corrosion on the contacts.

In this case, there wasn’t any corrosion, but the contacts were worn. So, I replaced the battery holder with a remote pack to get the batteries off the board in case they corrode at any time down the road. This restored 4.5VDC through D2 and to the last two pins of the RAM taking the game out of “Adjust Failure.”

Once that issue was tackled, it was on to the flipper problems. Both sluggish flippers were on the right side. Oddly, one ended up being a mechanical issue, whereas the other an electrical issue.

Added in Remote Pack to correct Adjust Failure

Added in Remote Pack to correct Adjust Failure

The top flipper had a very worn pawl that was causing it to stick. After a rebuild with new pawl, coil stop, spring and sleeve and a file of the EOS switch to clean it up a bit, it was back to working like new.

The bottom flipper didn’t need a mechanical rebuild, but was still sluggish. Ended up that a contact point on the EOS had completely fallen off even though the switch itself was still in tact. I didn’t have that exact switch on hand, but luckily once the screws are out, the whole EOS switch mech will come apart essentially. So, I was able to MaGyver in a piece of a new switch I had to replace the broken part of the old switch, putting that flipper back to new.


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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