Fish Tales Part 2 - "Rebirth"
How I swapped a newly restored Fish Tales playfield into a Bram Stoker's Dracula machine
Now that I had a fully restored Fish Tales (FT) playfield, I needed a machine to put it into. I already had a Bram Stoker's Dracula (BSD) which turned out to be a perfect candidate. Not only was it the same era machine as FT (which means the CPU, Fliptronics, driver board, etc. were all the same) but it also had the autoplunger as FT did. This meant I wouldn't have to swap out a manual shooter for a launch button (see a similar SWE1/RFM story here).
I took this approach for a few reasons. I would now have two games that would only take the space of one cabinet. Yes, I do have to store the playfield that's not being used, but it's negligible compared to having another entire machine. Another was because I was unable to find a FT machine that had an acceptable, unfaded, collector quality cabinet. The sheer challenge of doing a WPC game swap ala PIN2K was also appealing.
Other than the playfield, there were a couple of other items that were needed to complete the swap. A FT translite and speaker panel plastic. I was able to buy a NOS translite off Ebay, and the speaker panel plastic came from a fellow collector. An entire speaker panel was also found from a parted machine onto which I installed the plastic, a DMD and a set of factory speakers. I had a couple sets of speakers lying around since I had upgraded some of my machines with the PinballPro speaker system/subwoofers.
The pictures above show the game after I had swapped the translite and speaker panel. I installed connectors on the speaker leads of both panels and from the sound board to allow for quick interchangeability.
Next was the playfield swap itself. Since I had already done a NOS playfield swap on the BSD, all the connectors on that playfield into the backbox had already been labelled. I unplugged about 15 connectors and the playfield was easily removed from the cabinet.
Next, the FT playfield was installed into the cabinet. Using notes from a fellow collector and the manual as a guide, I plugged all of the connectors from the FT playfield into the backbox. Each connector was triple checked to make sure I had plugged everything correctly.
Once I swapped the game and sound ROMs, the moment of truth was upon me - powering up the game for the first time. Holding my breath, I flipped the switch. The game powered up and notified me that "Factory Settings" were restored. Using the coin door switches, I changed a few of the adjustments then started the first game.
There were some minor issues. The 'launch ball' switch on Dracula is on a different row than Fish Tales - it's wired as the spinner switch. Luckily the column is the same and I was able to tap the row off of the slam switch on the coin door. So now I have two connectors going to the switch that are easily swapped for either game. The other was a GI problem. I noticed that the lower GI kept blowing a fuse. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that Dracula had 12+ lamps in the backbox that were on the lower GI circuit. Since BSD has very few lamps on the lower playfield, it works fine for that game. But besides the lower playfield GI on FT also being on that circuit, the rear panel GI is ALSO on that same circuit. Way too many lamps on one GI circuit in the FT configuration. The solution was to pull about 8 bulbs out of the backbox GI.
So now I'm the proud owner of the only BSD/FT game in existence - easily converted to play either game in about 20 minutes. It was a lot of fun to do.