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Troubleshooting Williams/Bally WPC System & System 11. 

Setting Up Your Pinball Machines

There was a time when pinball machines could produce a great income even though the machines may not have been adjusted for their optimum performance. We may have gotten fooled by the cash box and believe that there were no unsatisfied players.

This article will be concerned with setting up your machines. I would like to draw your attention to the most important adjustments and how you can check the performance of your machine. I will be referring to the Williams/Bally pinball machines (WPC) however, pinballs made by other manufacturers will have a similar set of adjustments.

BOOKKEEPING

Bookkeeping allows you to check how your machine performs. Williams/Bally pinball machines have an extensive bookkeeping system. The purpose of this article is not to go through the entire set of bookkeeping information. It is something you can explore yourself. However, checking the most important bookkeeping data will allow you to judge the performance of your machine and make necessary adjustments.

THE MOST IMPORTANT BOOKKEEPING INFORMATION:

  • Total Earnings
  • Recent Earnings
  • Free Play Percentage
  • Average Ball Time
  • Time Per Credit
  • Percent Replay
  • Tilts (find in Standard Audits)

Except for the "Tilts" you can find this data in the "MAIN AUDITS". Simply keep pressing the black "ENTER" button inside the front door to view the items in the Main Audits.

TOTAL EARNINGS

This is how much your machine earned since new or the time when the batteries on the CPU Board were replaced. This money counter can not be reset any other way than by temporarily removing the batteries from the CPU Board.

RECENT EARNINGS

The amount shown on the display should agree with the money in the cash box providing that the recent earnings were cleared at the previous collection. To clear this counter, go to "Utilities" and execute "Clear Coins".

FREE PLAY PERCENT

This is a percentage total of all free plays given by the machine. The machine can award  free play for achieving replay level, match number, high score and special. See the example below.

  • Achieving Replay Level             10
  • Match Number (Lucky Number) 10
  • High Score                                     1
  • Special                                           0
_________________________________________

FREE PLAY PERCENT:                    21%

20 to 25% is usually considered a good value, however the machines are factory adjusted for a lower percentage. You can influence the value by adjusting the Replay Level and Match number in "Standard Adjustments"

The High Score and Special are dependent on the player's skill and are usually only minor contributors to the total number of free plays.

AVERAGE BALL TIME

The desirable Average Ball Time is about 1 minute. This will give you 3 minutes of game time (with 3 balls per game). The average ball time is influenced by the angle of the playfield. Use the spirit level mounted on the playfield to adjust the correct angle (6.5 degrees). The top edge of the bubble should be in between the two bottom lines.

The left and the right drain at the bottom of the playfield have adjustable posts. This is another way of adjusting the ball time.

The playfield surface will also have an effect on the average ball time. Highly polished playfield speeds up the ball.

The condition of the flippers will influence the ball time. It's hard to maintain the ball in play with poorly working flippers.

TIME PER CREDIT

The desirable value is 2.5 to 3.5 minutes. In addition to the issues mentioned above, the time per credit can also be influenced by other adjustments:

  • Balls Per Game ( in Standard Adjustments)
  • Game Difficulty Levels (in Utilities)
  • Feature Adjustments

BALLS PER GAME

The number of balls per game can be adjusted in "Standard Adjustments". However, you may find it more convenient to use the presets in "Utilities". The option "Install 5 balls" will for example not only change the game to 5 balls per game but will also automatically adjust the feature adjustments in order to maintain the challenge of the game.

GAME DIFFICULTY LEVELS

The "Presets" in Utilities will allow you to adjust the game difficulty level. The pinball computer will automatically choose appropriate feature adjustments for each particular difficulty level.

FEATURE ADJUSTMENTS

Unless you are a pinball player yourself it may be difficult to adjust the feature adjustments suitably for your site. You may be better off to use the "Presets" as discussed earlier. However, there are adjustments you may find useful to try.

  • Ball Saver
  • Ball Save Time

These two adjustments will influence the Time Per Credit. See the Operation Manual for details.

  • Flipper Plunger

The right flipper button can be used as a launch button if the launch button is faulty.

  • Disable Playfield Device

This is a useful feature, which allows you to disable a broken playfield device. The computer will try to maintain the game without trying to use the defective device until the time the device is fixed.

PERCENT REPLAY

You can check what percentage of free plays the machine awards for beating the replay level. Remember you can adjust the desired percentage in "Standard Adjustments"

TILTS

Check how many times the machine was tilted in "Standard Audits". This number accumulates. Which means if you checked the tilts today and saw a number 120 and the following week the number increased to 144, the machine was tilted 24 times.

Monitor the trend and you may find that 20 tilts a week on average, on this particular site is normal. Be alarmed if there is a sudden change.

What can possibly explain an extra 100 tilts in the past week?

  • The tilt mechanism is badly adjusted
  • The machine has moved and stands on an uneven floor. Adjust the legs.
  • The ball gets jammed and the players try to shake it off.
  • The Operation Manual or some other object was accidentally left in the machine in such a way that it rests against the tilt switch.

Pay good attention to the tilt. The machine will annoy the players if it tilts for no good reason and they will walk away.

Find the reasons why the machine has been tilted more than is usual. You can make the tilt more or less sensitive by a mechanical adjustment or changing the value "Tilt Warnings" in Standard Adjustments.

Let's keep in mind that every site is different, there isn't any universal adjustment which suits all machines and all sites. Checking the bookkeeping will take you only a little time, if something is wrong you'll have the chance to correct it. The benefit of it could be quite surprising.

 

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