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Stern Nugent

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  • Stern Nugent

    I've had my Nugent for just over a month now and in among lots of playing, I've been hard at work learning about pinball machines and making improvements to mine. I've posted a few pics in other threads, so will try not to duplicate too much - but wanted to go through a few things I've been working on and put up a lot of photos for those who are interested. The follow is a series of changes, fixes, upgrades & mods I've made over the last few weeks. I've had a lot of fun playing my new machine, but equally as much getting my head inside the machine and learning how it works. I'm glad to have an older machine to start with, as I think they could be easier to become familiar with.

    The machine is functional and plays fine, although there are a few issues I needed to sort out. Kind of what I'd expect from a machine that is 35 years old. I suspect I've played it more in the last month, than it's been played in the last few years - so I suspect a few issues are coming to the surface as I play - and that's OK - everything seems possible to fix.

    For the last few years I've had my head inside arcade machines - so Pinball machines are a new beast. I wanted to try doing a few simple things first and use this as a chance to learn some pinball 101. Giving the playfield a clean and changing the rubbers seemed to be a good place to start.

    The playfield has collected dirt, dust, small leaves (?) and bits of plastic that look like they came from some of the star posts.

    Before wiping it all down however, I wanted to replace all the rubbers. The machine came with black rubbers installed and they looked well worn. I've read that black rubbers tend to get the playfield dirty and I found just touching them to remove put black marks all over my hands. The red rubbers on the flippers were also well used and quite dirty – these were removed.

    The star post caps were also well past their used by date. These don’t have and effect on the gameplay, but these look faded and old. As you can see in the photo below, the new white ones look so much better.

    Next up it was time to remove all the plastics and old black rubber. I took the opportunity to replace all the old bulbs with new #47′s.

    I decided to replace all bulbs under the playfield too as most were #44′s. Some were broken too, which I replaced also. I love looking at the wiring on these things. In the future, I will also be replacing the drop targets, so will need to get back under here to remove the old ones and add the new ones, so this was good opportunity to get familiar with the internals.

    I then added all new white rubbers along with yellow flipper rubbers. Yellow was the original colour the Nugent shipped with and it looks alright. I’m thinking I may get a set of blue flipper rubbers at some point as I think blue will look great. All the plastics were reinstalled and start post caps added. I wipes the plastics down also which gave them a clean look – amazing how much dust gets into these things.

    That left me with a nice pile of old rubber to throw out. I also replaced the rebound rubber at the top with a new white disc – looks much better than the old hard black disk.

    The shooter rubber was replaced too with a new tip:

    With that done, I gave the playfield a wipe down with a lint free cloth and used a vacuum to suck up any loose dust and dirt. The glass was cleaned on both sides and added back on. I played a number of games afterwards and was amazed at the improvement the new rubber made. It felt MUCH better.

    After giving the playfield some attention, I shifted my focus to the backglass.

    One of the first things I wanted to when I got the machine was have a look at the game board. All of this lives behind the backglass. There is a lock on the top right of the machine. Sadly this lock came with no key, and I could not locate one inside the machine. Looking at the lock, it appeared that the previous owner had also misplaced the keys as the lock itself looked like it had been attacked with a screwdriver. Using a screwdriver myself, I undid it.

    With the lock undone, I could then slide the actual backglass up and out to reveal the bulbs, score displays and door containing the components.

    The lock itself controls a long metal rail that runs across the top of the backglass. With the lock engaged, the backglass cannot be moved. With the lock open, it removes the metal rail, allowing the backglass to be slid up and out.

    I switched the power on to note which bulbs no longer worked and replaced them. There were also some bulbs missing. At first I thought this was strange, but then after replacing them I noticed that the newly lighted areas showed some flaws in the backglass artwork - so suspect this was intentional. It's not too bad, so decided to leave it with all bulbs. I also ordered 10 blinking bulbs to use across the top row of bulbs (a suggestion from #rob71 )– this will create a binking effect across “NUGENT” “by Stern” and the blast coming from the shot gun in the backglass artwork – just to add some extra flare to the backglass.

    I also replaced the dodgy lock with a brand new one.

    I did some searching online for replacement plastic bezels for the lights – even second hand ones or NOS (new old stock), but couldn’t find anything. I had some thick black cardboard left over from the bezel I made for my pole position machine and decided to craft up some small bezels myself.

    With the bezels made up, they were stapled into position. This helped ensure areas like "ball in play" and "tilt" and the player numbers didn't receive light from other bulbs. If I ever track down some proper plasic parts for this, I'll be sure to grab some.

    Time to look at the playfield again.

    The original Nugent machines came with solid red lane guides at the top of the playfield. They look OK, but are a little dull. When looking around at various pinball spare parts shops I spied a few transparent red guidesthat would look awesome, so I purchased them. Replacing them was only 5 minutes work.

    This is how the original red guards look:

    I replaced them with new transparent red line guides which look much nicer – especially in the dark with the lights shining through.

    Next up, I wanted to adjust how lenient the return ally’s are on each side. I constantly find the ball going down the sides to the point where I feel I'm being cheated - and it's less fun. So I moved both posts down to close the gap. The ball still goes down there, but much less often now.

    One of the bulbs in the pop bumpers was not working, so decided to replace the bulbs in all 3 at the same time. As with most of the other bulbs, they were #44′s, so I replaced all with brand new #47′s. The cap plastic has burnt on all 3, so I've ordered replacement caps.

    You can see the burn/melted points from on top too

    I sourced 3 new caps with the same star pattern, and replaced them.

    The playfield is looking quite nice under lights right now:

    I purchased some blue flipper rubber and decided to try out how it looked. I had gotten used to playing with the yellow, but will try out the blue for a bit and see if it sticks

    The original leg levellers that came with the machine were impossible to adjust, so I decided to simply replace them – at the cost of under $10, it was an easy decision to make. With some effort I got them off and replaced with the new ones – looking much better and they have been adjusted a few times to improve the gameplay. I’m pretty happy with where they are at now. It was interesting to see how much the gameplay is modified when increasing the height.

    I find the 5X multiplier isn’t fancy enough. The 2X multiplier is green and the 3X multiplier is yellow, but the 5X is just a normal light colour, which I find boring. When I hit 5X - I want it to stand out - so let's change it. Replacing the insert was not an option as I could not track down a 5X insert. (If anyone has one or knows where I can source one, please let me know)

    I purchased a blue bulb to use instead:

    In the dark, it looks awesome – with the lights on it’s less obvious - and this is due to the fact it's just the bulb adding the colour, not the insert. But I like the fact it’s a different colour – it feels more rewarding to see a new colour light up when you achieve that 5X multiplier!

    Time to look at the coin door. The coin door on my Nugent isn’t too bad. It has some rust, and the bolts could do with a polish, but otherwise it’s fine. I wanted to make a few minor tweaks to it though.

    I firstly gave it a good wipe down and clean, removing built up dust, gunk and what looked like the remains of a drink spill.

    I purchased a credit button decal and added that

    When I fired up the machine for the first time, I noticed that the light on the left coin decal didn’t light up. Opening up the coin door showed that the coin mech on the left was not installed, which would explain why the bulb had been removed. I really wanted to add a second coin mech, just so coins could be accepted on both sides.

    A quick search on ebay turned one up and for $20 delivered, I snapped it up. It was already configured for 20c coins and was a match for my existing coin mech.

    One of the previous owners of the machine had installed a microswitch in place of the second coin mech. It was attached to the frame in such a way that when the coin return button was pressed (on the front of the coin door), it would add a credit to the machine. I thought this was an excellent idea as it avoids adding new buttons to the coin door or side panels of the pinball machine. I wanted to keep the microswitch so I could easily add credits. It couldn’t remain in it’s current position and hooked up to the coin return button as it would be in the way of the new coin mech.

    I had a hunt through my arcade spare parts and found the frame for a leaf switch button would fit nicely into to the third coin mech position. Using the frame, I attached the microswitch up using the existing holes in the frame and then put it into the coin door where the third coin mech would have sat.

    One last thing I wanted to adjust was the coin/game setting on the right coin mech. The coin door itself can support up to 3 coin mechs. My machine only has two installed and the plate on the front only has support for two coin slots. The middle coin mech was already configured for 1 coin = 1 game. The coin mech on the right was configured to 2 coins = 3 games.

    The coin/game settings are controlled by 3 separate sets of switched on the game board. Switches 1 to 5 control coin slot 2 (middle), 9 to 13 control coin slot 3 (right) and 28 to 30 control coin slot 1 (left). Interesting the coin slot 1 only has 3 switches available compared to the 5 allotted to coin slots 2 and 3. To achieve 1 game = 1 credit, I only needed to set switch 2 from each set to on. I had originally thought the coin mech on the right was coin mech 1 (looking at it from the inside of the door), but it’s actually coin mech 3 – which makes sense when looking at it from the outside of the door. No doubt this can actually be customised based on the wiring – but I will leave it as is.

    I wanted to make some more cosmetic changes. The old buttons has faded in colour and were quite dirty. They are cheap to replace, so wanted to do it. I wanted to keep the same colour white button housing as it’s a nice clean white, but the buttons will now be transparent red (instead of white). You can see the difference when the old and new buttons are along side each other.

    Replacing the buttons was as simple as undoing 2 screws each side, popping the old plastic out and putting the new buttons in it’s place. I double checked the switches to ensure they still made a clean connect when the buttons were pressed and also gave each one a clean with a random business card I had handy.

    Since I was in the area of the buttons, I wanted to rebuild the shooter. The shaft was (very) well used and sticking at times. The handle has seen better days and the springs no longer as effective as they could be. The white beehive was also faded, scratched and dirty. To replace the whole thing was going to cost around $15 - $20, so decided why not.

    I removed the shooter and disassembled it.

    Using a new shaft, springs and beehive, I put everything back together and then screwed back into the machine. It has come up looking great. It’s interesting that a lot of shooter shafts these days are slightly shorter than the original ones. The new one I’ve used is 5mm-8mm shorter. The new plunger feels much nicer and the springs make a big difference.

    The only thing I'm disappointed with on the rebuild is the shooter shaft is not quite as long as the original. This one is sold as a "universal" rod and measures 7-7/8". The original one was over 8 inches, but I've not been able to source one of this length. It works, but I suspect the extra length will improve it more.

    Last part for now - rebuilding the flippers. The flippers on my Nugent are in need of some attention. While I can make any shot on the table with them, they often bounce when catching the ball. This sometimes acts as a trampoline by making the ball jump or causing the ball the bounce off in unexpected directions.

    I purchased two sets of flipper rebuild kits. They only came in sets of two, so I will have a left flipper kit spare once all three flippers have been rebuilt. First step was to get the play field lifted up so I could get access to the flipper parts below the play field. I decided to start with the left flipper since it was the worst of all three.

    Here is a picture of the left flipper before I began:

    I removed the coil stop, along with the coil. Then the plunger, bushing and finally the frame. I now had access to all the parts and could start replacing the worn out parts with new ones.

    I was worried the bushing might be damaged and be part of the issue I was seeing with the flipper. But it turned out to be OK. It just needed a good clean. I really wanted to replace them, but sadly could not source the correct parts. The bushing on the left is the one out of my machine and the one on the right is one I purchased hoping it would fit.

    Here is a photo of the old and new flipper components:

    Installed all the parts, and one new flipper.

    I went through the same steps to rebuild both right flippers. I also decided to remove the faded old white flipper bats and replace them with new yellow bats.

    The flipper rebuild was a great success. The flippers are much stronger now and I now need to adjust to using them. I used to be able to use the weakness in them to hit certain targets, but now I’ll have to get some experience up with the new flippers for hitting targets.

    So I've been busy.

    There is sill more to do:

    Drop Targets - I've sourced replacement targets as the painted stars are worn (see previous image). Also, during gameplay sometimes the game does not register that all 3 have been dropped. It only happens sometimes and can often be fixed with a well placed shot at the dropped targets which seems to trigger the reset - so maybe a switch not connecting properly? I'll be looking at that soon.

    Pop Bumpers - The bulbs flicker during gameplay, so want to take a closer look at the connections there.

    Player 4 score - One segment of the player 4 score is missing - sometimes. Right now it's working, but that could change any moment. I've sourced replacement parts which I'm told will fix it. I don't want to bother touching it until it's not working again.

    Playfield surface - needs a proper clean, the use of some novus 2 and some wax. I'll be doing this last since it will probably mean i'll be without the ability to play the machine for a little bit.

    I've also kept all of the original parts, incase I decide to revert anything back.
    Last edited by Jesder; 4th September 2014, 02:17 PM.
    Eschew the standard. Turn the paradigm upside down.

  • #2
    very smooth ..keep at it.
    Now you have the backbox open you can check all the boards are in good order ( no bulging capacitors etc)


    • #3
      Great post!. Love your enthusiasm

      Did you remove the apron and give it a clean under there?. 30 years of encrusted filth!

      Not sure about those Williams flipper bats. Might have to report this to the Classic Stern police


      • #4
        Originally posted by rod71 View Post
        Great post!. Love your enthusiasm

        Did you remove the apron and give it a clean under there?. 30 years of encrusted filth!

        Not sure about those Williams flipper bats. Might have to report this to the Classic Stern police
        I have that on my to do list (remove apron). I got under the plastics at the top and that was an eye opener - so can't wait to see what's lurking down there..

        Yeah the flipper bats - they don't have a W on them - I made sure to avoid a branded version However if you (or anyone) can point me in the direction of coloured bats shaped like the original Stern, i'll go place an order right now I like the old style better, but could not find anything that suited - white is boring
        Eschew the standard. Turn the paradigm upside down.


        • #5
          Originally posted by Jesder View Post

          Yeah the flipper bats - they don't have a W on them - I made sure to avoid a branded version However if you (or anyone) can point me in the direction of coloured bats shaped like the original Stern, i'll go place an order right now I like the old style better, but could not find anything that suited - white is boring
          These could look choice. Dont think you can get them locally though.


          • #6
            The star caps I pictured above came from marco specialties, along with a few other things.

            Not sure on the transparent part (and the ridges) of them though.. I'd love a good solid yellow or blue.

            - - - Updated - - -

            I should add too that as part of the play field clean and wax, I plan to level the inserts - which is why I'm leaving all that until last.

            I've found it really difficult to find exact part numbers for various components of the machine. I've seen newer machine manuals break down the entire assembly of flippers and bumpers and targets, etc so you can easily source a specific spring, or piece of plastic. But the Nugent manual lacks all of that detail. I've seen a book on Marco Specialties that supposedly has part numbers for all the older Stern games (Nugent included), so may purchase that shortly to aid in tracking parts down.
            Eschew the standard. Turn the paradigm upside down.


            • #7
              wow..i enjoyed reading that so much! thanks for taking the time to firstly post all that and secondly for all the work you put in.

              it is awesome to see all your enthusiasm for your game..a game that brings back so many great memories when the game was on location..

              will go as far as saying the above post is my fave on aussie arcade for the past 12 months..

              keep at it have done really well!
              looking to buy gottlieb electro mechanical pinball machines from any era


              • #8
                The one post super cleanup job - great post, thanks for taking the time to show it all. Cool pin and it'll play a heap better now.


                • #9
                  Thanks guys

                  There was actually more content originally, but I found that AA has a 20,000 character & 40 image limit per post. So I had to go back and remove all emoticons, along with a few photos and trim down some parts.

                  I've really have enjoyed getting hands on with the machine - just as much as playing it. I like to log/record things as I go - photos come in handy also when trying to put things back together

                  I did have some sound issues which I didn't go into above and will add a future post in this thread about (once I'm satisfied the issue has been resolved). Some here will remember a thread where I explained some sound issues I was having. Although they were resolved (at the time), the issue surfaced again and again until sound never came back. But i'll go further into that later.

                  I'll be adding more content here too as I address the remaining issues.

                  Thanks also to the people who have been kind enough to PM me with details about things I was looking for!
                  Eschew the standard. Turn the paradigm upside down.


                  • #10
                    Excellent stuff, a great read and an even better result - well done.

                    A comment on the flipper switch - I think you will find the contacts are tungsten and will possibly need filing with a points file. They are different to the other "computer controlled" switches that are gold flashed and are cleaned using a piece of card and NEVER filed.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Homepin View Post
                      Excellent stuff, a great read and an even better result - well done.

                      A comment on the flipper switch - I think you will find the contacts are tungsten and will possibly need filing with a points file. They are different to the other "computer controlled" switches that are gold flashed and are cleaned using a piece of card and NEVER filed.
                      Does that apply to all switched on a machine of this age? Or only the flipper switches?

                      Thanks for the tip though
                      Eschew the standard. Turn the paradigm upside down.


                      • #12
                        A fantastic and thoroughly comprehensive read. Thanks so much for taking the time and effort to share your journey so far
                        I wish you all the best with your Pin journey and hope to see some more updates soon.
                        I love this time in a pinball journey, all the tinkering and getting your head in and learning heaps as you go. And all the cool stuff - bulb changes and rubber replacements etc etc .. then standing back with a beer admiring all your work .
                        Gotta love pinball!


                        • #13
                          What is really cool about the way you're going over this machine and getting to know it, is the day you get hold of a 90's machine you'll feel right at home. Although they are more complex, a lot of the theory of operation carries over to them. So it wont seem so daunting.

                          Way to go man


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Jesder View Post
                            Does that apply to all switched on a machine of this age? Or only the flipper switches?

                            Thanks for the tip though
                            Generally only the cabinet flipper switches - it's pretty easy to tell the difference - the gold flashed ones connect to the switch matrix and don't carry any current to speak of, the heavy switching is done by the transistors.

                            The cabinet flipper switches carry the full current of the flipper coils and you can see by looking at the contacts they are MUCH larger and beefier than the gold flashed ones. These can be filed with glee.....


                            • #15
                              Great thread and good reading. I haven't seen a lot of resto threads on the older Sterns here. well documented with lots of pics, job well done I'd reckon


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