Monday, February 16, 2015

Cycle Race Pinball Toy

A friend of mine picked up this little tabletop pinball toy manufactured by Marx Toys. I figure that it is probably from the late 70's to early 80's, just based on the 'Atari-Like' font they used on the front of the box. However, it is not affiliated with 'Atari' in any way from what I can tell.



He asked me to look at it as it wasn't working all that well considering it's age. So, I cracked it open on my home bench and discovered the simplicity of the toy. Basically, there is a metal ball bearing inside the table that is fired around like a real pinball machine. The bumpers on the surface have two contacts in them, one is a sprint to bounce the ball and the other contact is on the bottom under the spring. So, when the ball hits the contacts, it triggers an electromagnet inside that strikes a bell and also moves a mechanical points counter. Basically, that's all there is to it.

The flippers are moved manually with hand-grip levers that you squeeze. The ball launcher is also mechanical and works from the center of the table.

The ball and the contacts have become somewhat corroded over the years so the ball striking the contacts does not always trigger the electromagnet. I was going to pop the table open to clean up the contacts but found that the table is actually assembled in such a way that you would have to break it permanently to get it open. So, unfortunately, this is one old vintage device that is better off not being messed with.



So, I basically just cleaned it up and oiled a small lever connected to the magnet and bell. The bell is louder now but the contacts are still flaky. That's okay, it isn't the real deal and I doubt the owner is very concerned about that anyway. He just thought it was a neat toy from the days of his childhood.


It would make a better decoration on a shelf or hung on the wall I think than anything else.

The Rock-Ola is Cleaned Up Now!



It's exciting that I have managed to clean up my Rock-Ola. After replacing a few obvious problem components and lubricating some easy to access mechanics, the machine seems to be in amazing working order.

I put some good favourite tunes into it and we set it up in our front office. So, intimate enough that if you turn it down, you can privately enjoy some tunes or that it can also be loud enough to be heard across the main floor of the house.

I think that in the not too distant future, I will actually strip the machine right down to be repainted and to grease and oil even the things I didn't get the first time. But for now, it's working really good so I will just let the family enjoy it for a while.

A good friend of mine has been coaxing me to make some offers on more machines that have been appearing online so I can start restoring them and flipping them. He is interested in being a silent partner, so to speak, and to help me out financially if I am serious about making this kind of thing into a more professional hobby. It's something I have to think about as I don't really have the best facilities to work on these things or to store them. My basement is ideal and where my main workshop is, but hauling those machines up and down the stairs could be asking for disaster.

I do have a garage, mind you, but it is small and not exactly secure. I will have to think on the idea a bit more. My heart tells me 'Yes' but my brain tells me to keep my feet on the ground.

Update for the Sony Receiver



Well, I cleaned out the Sony receiver. Mostly just what looked like a bit of sawdust material throughout the inside of it. There was nothing wrong with any of the components so that was a plus. So, I cleaned it out and greased the tuning controls as they were really dried out. I also pulled the tuner display off and cleaned out all the dust that was in behind it.

Then I sprayed contact cleaner into all of the control knobs and switches to get rid of the crackly noises they were making. After making sure the controls were completely dried out after a couple of days, I plugged it in and took it for a test drive. Still sounds amazing. Even better now that the controls have stopped crackling.

A little furniture polish on the wood cover and it looks really good. I might keep it around for my workshop to test audio equipment that I am working on (turntables and such) or just use the radio to keep me company while I work on other things.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Healthy Sony Stereo Receiver



A few years ago, a friend of mine gave me an older Sony Receiver from around 1981 possibly. The unit is not a high-performance amp by any means but sounds amazing when combined with other analogue equipment such as a record player or old cassette deck. So, since it was already in working order, I decided to use it straight from there for exactly the above mentioned reasons.

However, recently, my Rock-Ola investment kind of pushed the other receiver and turntable to the sidelines for a while because the jukebox had to go in the place where the other setup was. That's okay because it gave me time to finally pull the unit apart and get a look at it.



The only obvious issues it seemed to have is crackly control knobs and some obvious dirt and debris trapped in the tuner display area. Both are not a surprise with a vintage electronic. I opened the chassis and was pleasantly surprised that every thing inside is in good shape and there are no failing caps or signs of overheat. Just what looks like a lot of sawdust.

So, I should be able to clean the controls really easily and clean the dust out of it. Not a difficult task. I did find one part of the circuits that looked a little questionable but not an issue for performance. I may put some shrink tubing on those connections. I took a picture of what I was referring to but I am not sure how well it will translate in the photo.

It is as though they realized that they needed to put two components into one space, so they bridged the parts together in a 'V' formation to make it work. I definitely found that odd as I have never seen something like that before. You would almost think it would have been better to put part of it underneath, but, whatever.

There is also a big Red plastic enclosed piece in the middle of the board with no identifiable appearance to it. It just has a model number and says it is 'Patent Pending' by Sony. I'll have to look that one up.

Well, I just started on this project out of boredom of waiting for the other parts to come in for my Rock-Ola. Besides, I don't have much else going on in the cold and dreary Canadian winters.


The Parts Are Rolling in for the Rock-Ola


I had to order many of my new components through eBay, mostly because I found that the local electronics suppliers charge way too much for small parts in some cases. I'd love to buy locally instead of overseas, but I blame that on the local merchants. I have to wait a lot longer for things to arrive, but the time I wait patiently for parts still pays off in the long run.

Anyway, this was not a rant about economics so I will move on. I replaced the obvious parts in the power supply and was able to put it back in the Rock-Ola. I suspect that the caps I replaced there will affect the bad humming sound I was getting whenever the audio kicked in to play a record. I also recapped about half of the amplifier, again only replacing the visually obvious parts first. I did poke around and test other components and really only found a bad diode otherwise that may also contribute to the hum probably I was noticing.



So, the unit powers up again with no issues but part of the electronic selector circuits are still located in the amplifier that I haven't put back in yet. I greased or oiled as many mechanical parts as I could and those parts are moving much smoother. I even solved a record retrieval issue the unit was having just by updating the grease.

So hopefully I get the last of my parts this week and can put this machine back together. And if I am satisfied with the audio quality and overall performance of the machine, then I will look at the cosmetic issues like chipped paint, scratches and such.

But so far, so good. This is very exciting!