Addams Family Power Problems

Not long after I bought my Addams Family, it started resetting (shutting down and restarting) during games. I was new to pinball ownership at the time, so I had no idea what was wrong. Luckily, I had decided to buy from a friendly, local, knowledgeable dealer. Donnie made several attempts to fix the problem, including a nearly three-hour service call at my house one evening, but he couldn't figure it out either.

 

I turned to the Internet at that point and found out that, apparently, this reset problem is not uncommon in Williams pinball machines from this era. According to the online tech reports, there are several potential causes:

 

  • Bad bridge rectifiers and/or capacitors on the power driver board.

  • A bad LED display that pulls too much power.

  • Low wall voltage (not enough power coming out of the outlet). 

 

 

Donnie first had me remove the power driver board--quite an adventure, since there are about 25 different connectors leading into it--and bring it to him so that he could replace the bridge rectifiers and capacitors. I got the board back, reinstalled it, and the problem persisted. Donnie then came out to the house and did extensive check on the machine. He got the power driver board working again (it had died completely due to a broken trace on the board). He then tested the voltage at various positions on the board and found it to be low. He did quite a bit in this long service call, and it was working when he left--but started resetting again soon thereafter. At some point during this call, we checked the wall voltage and found it to be at around 112 volts (rather than the rated 120). 

 

A week later, Donnie dropped by again. This time, he brought two replacement boards for me to try--but he made an adjustment to the power harness that he thought might do the trick. (Changed it to a lower power tap--don't ask me to explain the details.) This seemed to work, but he left the boards just in case. The reset started up again about an hour later, and I did the board swaps with no effect.

 

I eventually checked the pinball collectors newsgroup (rec.games.pinball) and found references to a "line conditioner"--a transformer that plugs into the wall and, essentially, boosts the wall power when it drops below tolerances. I ordered one--a Tripp Lite 1200 (available on Amazon these days for around $100). There were less expensive models, but the maximum amperage of The Addams Family (according to the manual) is 8 amps. This is the smallest line conditioner I found that can handle 8 amps (it actually handles 10). Anyway, the line conditioner arrived, I plugged it in, and now the reset problem is minimal at best. If I hit both flippers within a minute or so of turning on the machine, it will reset once or twice, but after that everything is fine. This is a LOT better than it was before, and I'm satisfied that the wall voltage was the root of all my problems. (2020 note: I never experienced the reset problem again after moving, so...yeah. That was it.) According to sources online, low wall voltage--below 117 volts in the case of The Twilight Zone--can cause these reset problems. If you experience this problem with a Williams/Bally game, check the wall voltage and see if you're having a problem. A hundred bucks isn't a bad investment to make your machine work--and the line conditioner has the added advantage of working as a surge protector as well!