Replacing Centaur's Drop Targets

When I looked at a bunch of Centaur pictures on the Internet shortly after I bought the machine, I realized my game's drop targets weren't original. Centaur uses 12 drop targets in four banks of four each: one bank where the targets are labeled "O-R-B-S," one where they are labeled "1-2-3-4," and an inline bank of black targets with silver spoked wheels embossed upon them. My game had three of the four spoked wheel targets, but all of the others had been replaced with generic drop targets.


I did some searching on the web, and came across a full replacement set of 12 targets at Steve Young's Pinball Resource. The targets I have work fine, but I figured that, if I'm in this deep, another $50 wouldn't kill me. I placed the

order hoping to replace them while I was tearing down and cleaning the playfield, but they didn't arrive in time.

 

When the targets arrived, it was time to open the machine again. Here's the basic procedure. (The replacement of the ORBS assembly is visually documented in the photo gallery).

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  1. I opened the playfield and secured it with bungie cords to the back box (you can't get at the underside of it very well if you don't open it all the way).

  2. I removed the ORBS target assembly from the playfield. Because I'm terrible at soldering, I kept the wires attached. They are long enough so that the assembly can rest on the side rail of the machine (luckily).

  3. Upon examining the assembly, I discovered that getting the targets out was harder than I thought it would be. You have to do all of the following to get the old targets out: Remove the entire back plate from the target assembly.

    • Remove two of the screws holding the top plate of the assembly and rotate the top forward to free the tops of the targets. 

    • Remove the spring from the target.

    • Remove the cotter pin that holds the target to the metal tab that pivots on the cross-bar. These are held in place by c-shaped clips that are similar to those used to assemble arcade joysticks. Pry them loose with needle nose pliers without bending them, and don't lose them. They're really easy to lose. 

  4. I replaced the targets one at a time (to avoid losing small parts).

  5. I reassembled the target assembly and replaced it on the playfield.

  6. I switched on the machine, coined up a game, and tested the function of the targets. Inevitably, you'll knock the switches out of alignment. Simply bend the leafs on the switches to get them to register properly. (Admittedly a trial and error process that takes some time to master.)

  7. I then repeated the process with the 1-2-3-4 and the inline targets.

 

 

As it turned out, the ORBS assembly was the easiest one to work on. The 1-2-3-4 assembly (which I tackled second) is a bit more complicated architecturally because it has additional hardware that can spot the targets remotely when you hit another target.

 

The biggest challenge of the three was the inline assembly. Even with the playfield all the way open, you can barely get to the screws that hold it on the playfield, and it's a royal pain to get it back in after you've removed it. I actually messed up something in that assembly when I put it back together--the front target pops up to far from time to time, causing it to stick. Not a major problem, but definitely an annoyance. (2020 note: I lived with that sticky target until 2018, when I finally got John, my favorite tech, to take a look at it. Turns out I broke off a small metal stop on the assembly that keeps the target from popping up too far. He found the part for me and, after I installed it, the target FINALLY started working properly.)

 

One thing I learned when reassembling the target assemblies was that even a slight misalignment of the back plate (or side plate in the case of the inline targets) can cause the targets to jump out of their tracks when they reset. The misalignment in my case was that I screwed the plate on in front of the tabs rather than behind it (there are fold-over sections on the sides of the ORBS target assembly, for example, that kind of wrap around the plate to hold it in place). That extra 1/8" is enough to cause the targets to function improperly.

 

I know there's probably not enough detail here to fully prepare you for replacing your own drop targets--I should have written this right after I completed the project, while it was all still fresh in my mind. Hopefully, though, it will help to get you started.