Fire!

Introduction

Williams Fire! was one of the first pinball machines that my wife and I looked at when we were considering our first pin. Ultimately it lost out and we ended up getting an Indiana Jones. Yes, that's a pretty big difference. A few years later I picked up an iffy quality Fire. More specifically, I picked it up at the same time I got Star Trek: The Next Generation. Fire! definitely needed some love, but it sat in my garage for a year before it got any attention.

What's Unique about Fire?

Here are some attributes of Fire! that make it unique:

  1. First and foremost, Fire! is a beautiful game. The artwork is really amazing.

  2. It's a System 11 game (which is unique for me! As of the time I'm writing this, all my other pins are WPC)

  3. It has a real brass bell on the top (that rings)

  4. A very impressive flame effect occurs in the center of the playfield

  5. It has 2 clever ramps that automatically move up and down. These can be used to lock balls.

  6. Two separate ball locks, one on each side of the playfield

  7. "Fire Plug" that pops up between the flippers and blocks the pinball

  8. Ramp that raises from the playfield and allows the ball to "climb the ladder" and enter the building

What in the World is up with that Flipper?

Do you mean the one shown below?

That's how it came. Looks pretty silly, doesn't it? While not apparent from the picture, the right flipper was also in pretty sad shape. It seems the rubber was the only thing holding it together. I replaced both flippers.

None of the Flashers Worked

As has been the case with other games, it turned out that all the flashers (and Fire! has a lot of 89 bulb flashers) were burnt out. I replaced them and got all but 4 to work.

Ok, So what was Up with the Remaining 4 Flashers?

No matter what the game was doing, if I put a working 89 flasher into any of the problematic 4 bulb holders, it would get extremely bight and burn out in about 5 seconds. I applied the same skills that work on WPC pins to Fire's System 11 circuitry and discovered that transistor Q7 was bad. I replaced this transistor and now the 4 remaining flashers work correctly.

Anything Interesting About the Brass Bell?

Other than the fact that it's really cool? Well... I'm happy to report that I was able to clean it and make it look like new. See the before and after pictures below.

That's a pretty amazing difference. I spent about 30 minutes using "Brasso" to achieve this shiny and reflective appearance.

How does the Bell Work?

A solenoid is mounted on the top of the backbox. A hole in the top of the backbox allows the piston to move an arm on a lever. This arm tilts upward and bangs the inside of the bell.

Fire! has lots of Broken Plastics

Fire! has some really large plastic buildings --- one on each side of the playfield. The leftmost and rightmost plastics, in addition to having large buildings, allow the ball to roll on them and then fall into the ball lock. These take a beating and are commonly broken. The first picture below shows how the rightmost plastic piece broke into 3 separate pieces. I've attempted to glue them back together as shown by the next picture. The hammer is being used to hold the parts together while the glue dries.

The Ramp was Dirty!

I'm not sure what the correct term is for the plastic ramp-like upside down U that is part of the first floor on the Fire! playfield. It is constructed exactly like a ramp in other games, but it doesn't cause the ball to move up or down in elevation. The ball loops around the back of the playfield on the ground floor (when it's rolling on the playfield) or on the first floor (when it's on this plastic ramp-like piece). Two separate mechanical mechanisms cause the ball to move from the ground floor to the first floor. For simplicity I'll call this plastic piece a ramp.

As is always the case, the ramp was very dirty. I took if off the playfield and cleaned it. The before and after pictures are shown below. These are followed by a picture of the playfield with the plastics removed and then a picture of the ground floor loop (before cleaning).

How does the Cool Fire Effect Work?

Underneath the playfield is a clear cylinder with a translucent "fire like" image. Inside the cylinder are two 1683 bulbs. When the bulbs are turned on, the translucent art on the cylinder projects a fire-like image. The effect is significantly improved because a motor is attached to the cylinder. Because of the rotation, the projected fire-like patter changes. When viewed from the top of the playfield, an impressive flame effect is visible.

The first image below is the flag cylinder attached to the playfield. This is followed by the flame cylinder removed from the playfield. The mounting for the 1683 bulbs has been removed from inside the cylinder. Finally, a closeup of the 1683 mounting is shown. Not surprisingly, both these 1683 bulbs were burnt out and needed to be replaced.

The Skill Shot was Broken

At first I couldn't figure out how or what the broken skill shot piece should look like. The Fire! manual is a bit unclear if you don't have some idea what the part looks like. I was lucky enough to find a NOS part (A-8785). The broken piece is pictured first followed by the NOS part.

The part installed on the playfield is shown below. As you can see, this part is nothing more than an extension for the red target that sits behind it.

How did you Repair the Battery Holder?

The battery holder was corroded because old batteries had begun to leak. I've been lucky that the couple of times I've run across this, the battery leakage never made it off the battery holder. This is a simple repair (when the battery acid isn't on the board). I desoldered the old battery holder (first picture) and then soldered on a new battery holder (second picture).

What about the Plastics at the Top of the Ramps?

At the top of the left and right ramps are pieces of plastic that hide a target button. The ball hits the plastic, the plastic bends toward the target, and the target triggers. This is a nice way to make a target look less like a traditional pinball target. The plastic has artwork of a woman holding a baby. Unfortunately, these targets were pretty beat up and unrepairable. See the picture below.

Using some Lexan, I cut out two pieces that of almost the same shape. I didn't bother rounding the edges at the bottom since they are not visible. The top edges in the original were very slightly rounded while in my cutout the top is a right angle. I used a dremel-like tool to cut the Lexan. If I ever start reproducing plastics more frequently, I'll need to get something better. However, this is what I had and it worked well. I carefully drilled holes in the bottom for the screws.

The artwork was done with an inkjet printer. I printed the artwork onto white adhesive paper and covered it with mylar. After cutting out the image, I attached it to the Lexan. The result is shown attached to the playfield in the image below. I'm happy with the results. The black isn't as black as the original, but it's not something many people would notice.

Broken Ramps?

Both ramps were broken in exactly the same way. A crack developed right above the small screws that attach the ramp to the playfield. The ramp had completely separated! This wasn't very obvious, however, because this area of the ramp is covered by the spring steel ramp. Prior to finding this problem, I knew something wasn't right because the ramps would slide left and right a bit while playing.

Having spent a lot of time trying to get plastics to glue together in the past (with mixed success), I decided to avoid this and use mylar to hold the parts together. I put a custom cut piece of mylar on the bottom and another piece on the top. This is holding the pieces together very strongly. While the mylar covered the screw holes, it was very easy to screw through the mylar and attach the ramps to the playfield. The first picture below shows a piece of the ramp still attached to the playfield. The second picture shows the repair, followed by a full picture of a repaired ramp.

Is there more?

Of course, but this project has stalled a bit. Please come back again and perhaps there will be more.

Any Comments?

Have any comments, questions, or just want to say "Hi"? Drop me a note using "pins at this website". I'm being vague because of spam but you should be able to figure it out.