Earthshaker – Firing It Up

Boardset in Earthshaker

After the initial inspection of this Eartshaker Pinball Project – it was time to get the head onto the game and see what I was looking at in terms of electronics, mechanisms and board work. I had made the decision I was going to conduct a playfield swap on this game, as I have managed to come across a better condition playfield that I hope to restore and have clearcoated, that is completely new territory for me, so let’s see how that goes. Putting a head on a cabinet is not the easiest job, but luckily where this project originated from, the previous owner had been kind enough to mark up the connectors to a good standard. If you are removing a head for storage, please be kind enough to yourself, or the new owner to do this. They had chosen to use a mixture of writing on the plug (my preferred method, I use a good sharpie) and attaching “tags” around the actual wires, both work.

The first challenge is to get the wiring out of the playfield and into the back box, on a system 11 game the playfield doesn’t pull forward and verticle like WPC games, it is the older style pivot on the hinges with a bar to lift up. This was a challenge that I chose to tackle in two phases. Firstly, untangle all the wires and lay the two main banks out coming forward, then move the wiring back and up through the head in each bank (left and right), it will tangle again no doubt, but at least by untangling to begin with, you know which wires belong to which side. All things considered though, the inside of the cabinet was in pretty good shape. Given I am planning a playfield swap, it wouldn’t take too much to take the cabinet hardware out and run a mouse sander over the bottom of the cabinet, for that super fresh feel. I will see how I feel whilst doing the swap…

Cabinet interior of Earthshaker Pinball, looking ok.

This was just a diagnostic run, so I had starting making a list of what was needed to get this Earthshaker pinball back up and running, the GI to the backbox would need replacing as you can see. This will involve new locking header pins on the board, as well as a new connector, instead of the IDC connectors used in the factory for ease and cost, I will up-rate these with Trifurcon connectors you have to crimp and then house yourself, they are rated for a higher load and shouldn’t frazzle like the old IDC ones.

Whilst most of the wiring was done and labelled well, the decision was taken to cut some wires from a large capacitor in the back of the head. This then involved stripping back the wiring, adding connectors, undoing the screws from the unit and reattaching the newly crimped wire connectors back onto the capacitor. In removing the capacitor to get to the screws, I found that the unit was glued on, I am not sure if that is factory and given the slots for the zip ties, one would assume not, so I removed this (I had to really… to get it off) – completed the wiring, and reattached with new zip ties. I gave it a little hoover with a handheld hoover I use on these projects, I am nice like that.

With the boards all in and installed, along with the display I was ready to hit the on button…

Board set installed on Earthshaker Pinball

I installed the balls however, wasn’t ready to start a game… I noticed that the plunger was as stiff as Elvira’s last outing on WPC, so I had to have a quick look at that.

Stuck plunger - Earthshaker Pinball Machine

I took the plunger mech apart to find that the plunger sleeve was completely shot to pieces, that must have been what was causing the issue. Luckily I had a spare available in the box of tricks, so after a quick rub down with some isopropyl alcohol, the plunger was reinstalled and running as smooth as… Elvira’s last outing on WPC.

So without further delay, I pressed the magic on button and was greeted with this glorious site and those fantastic 80’s sounds. My lord aren’t they simply stunning. You can see the institute on this game too – which is pretty darn cool.

From this initial fire up and quick test play (as well as other bits I need to do) I have the following next steps to do:

  • Install back box hardware (when it arrives) as this was missing on arrival
  • Install new header pins and connector to back box GI
  • Remove MPU board, remove battery pack and install NVRAM (my current supplier should have stock in a week or so, so will wait on that)
  • Investigate right flipper not working (this game will get all three flippers rebuilt, but that could be a number of causes beyond mechanical)

I may well put the game on legs, although I usually keep it on my adapted lift table to raise and lower depending on if I am working on the boards or playfield, but as the boards seem to have limited diagnosis work needing doing and the playfield is coming out, I may put it on legs for ease. Not sure yet.

Thank you for joining me for this instalment of the Earthshaker Pinball Project – I hope you have enjoyed reading up on my progress, if you have any hints, tips, or comments thus far, please feel free to comment below. Happy flipping!

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