Cyclone Cleaning Part One

Lower Left Playfield Cleaning First Edition 2.jpg

I put in an order for a set of rubber rings for the Cyclone pinball machine with Bay Area Amusements. As it turns out, their warehouse is less than 2 miles from my house and, as such, I scheduled a pick up instead of paying for shipping. I also ordered a playfield cleaner because, as will be shown in some of the following pictures, the machine is in desperate need of a real cleaning.

I’m really enjoying working on the machine in my workshop. Previously, I have maintained machines in poorly lit areas or in skank-hole bars smoky bars with blaring music and lots of drinks. Having plenty of light and a controlled environment is a welcome change. Though, in truth, I certainly miss maintaining the Creature in the Village Idiot in NYC.

When tearing into a machine for the purposes of restoration, you first focus on getting the machine to boot, making it work to the point where you can put a ball in play and something remotely sensible happens, repair anything obviously broken and then cleaning it up and bringing it as close to perfection as you can.

Lower Left Playfield Cleaning First Edition 1.jpg

For the Cyclone, it already boots and can “play” a game in that the ball can be put into play and the flippers do something. So, I’m up to the repair and clean up phase.

At this point, it is best to choose a particular area of the playfield and fully restore it. In this case, I decided to focus upon the lower left quadrant of the machine. This is the least “populated” area of the playifield. Given the ball guide that comes off the ferris wheel, focusing on this area necessarily requires dealing with the upper left area of the playfield.

The first step is to remove the ball guide that leads from the ferris wheel to the lower left inlane. It hovers over everything that needs to be cleaned and is generally in the way.

Lower Left Playfield Cleaning First Edition 3.jpg

Of course, removal of the ball guide is not as trivial as one might think. There are the obvious screws at the end and along the left side. However, there are also a couple of screws buried nearly beneath the ferris wheel that can be seen in the picture at the left. This is where the savvy pinball maintainer quickly regains their deep affection for their magnetic screwdriver with interchangeable bits. Pain in the ass though it is to get to those screws, the heads are the exact same dimension as the hexagonal part of an interchangeable screwdriver bit. So, pull the bit from your screwdriver and enjoy 3x+ the magnetic power while removing those screws. This is critical. If you lose control of one of those screws, it will quite happily slide its way into some other area of the playfield in a difficult to find and even more difficult to get to position.

Lower Left Playfield Cleaning First Edition 5.jpg

Once the ball guide and the bit of plastic underneath are removed, the full depth of the required cleaning becomes apparent.

Lower Left Playfield Cleaning First Edition 7.jpg

Clearly, the only way to get this machine clean to my satisfaction will be to strip the playfield and deep scrub it and the various components that have been removed. As can be seen in the image to the right, there is good reason for replacing every rubber ring on the machine, too. These are actually identical 2″ rubber rings. The only difference being that the one on the right has been in the machine for some unknown number of years while the one on the left is new.

Lower Left Playfield Cleaning First Edition 12.jpg

Deep layers of grime were found under the slingshot plastics (the triangular things just above the flippers that knock the ball about when struck). Anywhere that there are open electrical contacts and through the playfield mechanics will always build up more grime than other relatively passive areas.

Oddly, it appears that this machine was left with the glass off for some period of time and there was a bit of an industrial accident near it. The playfield has bits of what looks to be air brush paint that splattered across the playfield. Very very fine dots. There are also a number of little toxic green splotches. Fortunately, neither seem to have caused permanent damage and both can be scrubbed out.

Lower Left Playfield Cleaning First Edition 13.jpg

The machine is actually cleaning up quite nicely. On the left is a picture of the lower left portion of the playfield — an area that is not normally exposed — before cleaning. Zoom in to fully appreciate the dirt.

Lower Left Playfield Cleaning First Edition 14.jpg

To the right is the same area after cleaning. Looks much better.

I’ll post some detailed images of the cleaned area once it is fully cleaned.

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One Response to “Cyclone Cleaning Part One”

  1. keith says:

    Would you please take a picture of the ball outhole guide area? I have a Cyclone up in Arkansas that I will soon be having to fix the ball out guide. Occasionally, the ball kicker will kick the ball, but it doesn’t show in the shooter slot… it’s somewhere between the kicker and the slot, so I have to tilt the machine to the right to get the ball to come to the slot… of course it gets a tilt tick when I lean it right. So I’ll end up having to fix whatever is wrong in there. I have never taken the bowtie off, hence have no idea what it looks like. My cyclone works nearly 100%, except the Extra Ball (drain) lights never come on during play, but do during diagnostic All Lights or Single Light testing… possibly the lane change switches aren’t correct? I will likely also strip the p/f for cleaning. What are you using to clean 1) the surface gunk, and 2) the black under-field gunk?

    Thanks for sharing your experiences.


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