Lord of the Rings Path of the Dead Ramp

OK, finally got my hands on an LoTR. Quite a game! People have been asking for a ramp extension to the Path of the Dead that complements our protectors. SSo I set out to design one that used the Arwen plastic protector as a base.

making these is quite the exercise in 3D geometry. Stern has a couple of things off. The pedestal for the PoTD is too far back compared to the slot in the Arwen plastic, and the hole on the side rail seems to have a somewhat random location. Plus, of course, the usual pinball post tolerances.

Here's the boneyard. We spent a lot of time tweaking to come up with the right design, and work around the placement issues. We're dependent on the precise location of the PoTD. We'll find out how much that moves around. This was built for a July 2004 machine.

First, what you don't see is the drop-in insert for the Hobbiton hole. This is a piece of clear plastic that snaps into the hole, and covers the wood to the very end of the wooden section. Pretty much invisible.

Here's the geometry of the first part. It is held against the PoTD protector by a Cliffy colored sleeve (note: should be green). Once the geometry is good, refinements are easier.

In play, there's no problem. The ball simply runs off of the plastic a little faster. It still flips between the three exit options (Hobbiton, left return rail or playfield). Actually, there is a problem. The ball is  too fast, and is beating up the machine. It bounces off of the side rail, and then goes after the VUK arch, the edge of the Hobbiton cutout, or it airballs onto the playfield for a try at dimpling.

So... another bunch of redesigns. Guide slots, high sides, shaped sides, low sides, lower entry, higher exit, and angled paths.

I ended up with this one. The angle directs the ball right into the VUK. That is, if the ball is reasonably straight coming down the ramp. It doesn't actually touch the ramp until it is an inch or so off of the end., which doesn't always leave time to get the ball straight.

So the  ball still has too much steam. About 80 percent of the time it snicks perfectly into place, with the energy taken out by a piece of dead drop foam. It is quick, and quiet - it really is neat to watch, it happens so fast. But the other 20% of the time, it is going to cause damage on the playfield or hardware.





Here's the first damage spot, the inside corner of the Hobbiton dugout. The black marks show where the ball has been hitting. You can see the clear insert that protects the hole here. Note the damage at the end of the switch slot, now covered by the insert.

And here's the other problem area. Note how the wood is changing shape at the dimple. You can also see cracks in the clearcoat along the angled edge of the hole.

What I didn't show is the edge of the metal VUK arch, which is also taking damage. On my machine, the side rail is OK, but on others you can see the wear through to the wood.

If I could get the ball to the VUK 100% of the time, then I would have a winner.  But at the moment, the machine is no better off than the drop with protectors.