The latest addition to the collection came with its fair share of problems. Some of these were purely cosmetic, others were electrical. The steering in particular had been annoying me. Not only was it aesthetically bad, the DC motor used for Force Feedback had more torque in one direction than another.
I’d been fortunate enough to track down a second hand steering wheel, DC motor and 5K Pot off ebay for a steal. A new steering wheel alone will set you back $200 + freight from Namco but I was lucky enough to score the whole assembly for a lot less than this. (including shipping from the USA)
At first I had hoped to just change the steering wheel over and then deal with the DC motor later. As fate would have it, the steering wheel on the current machine had been hammered on to the input shaft. Yes, hammered. The splines were crushed and now it’s inseparable!
Changing the Force Feedback assembly is quite easy. It’s a simple task of removing the dash. Note that I also removed the monitor bezel, but it turns out that you don’t need to take this off. There is a separate dash section held in by two further screws, but this can also stay in place.
I do have to commend Namco for making such a great machine. It’s very easy to service key components and the metal construction is a real step up in terms of quality from the old marine ply and particle board cabinets of the 90s.
As you can see, the force feedback assembly is direct drive. No belts and gears like earlier force feedback assemblies from Namco. Even the pot is connected directly to the motor making for a greatly simplified setup.
Here are the motors, side by side. The only difference between the two was one had a different connector on the pot. Given that the replacement part came from the USA, I can only assume that their cabinets have slightly different internal wiring. Instead of cutting up a perfectly good wiring harness, I decided to change the pots over.
A good trick to ensure pot alignment is to turn both steering shafts to full lock in the same direction. That way, when you change the pot you can be assured that they are in a fairly similar resistance range when re-installed.
Removing a retaining nut is all you need to do and the pot and associate bracket come free. Again – a much improved design over their 90s era configurations.
And done! Not that you will need to do the “I/F reset” in the test menu as the machine is will throw up an error message upon reboot. (Yellow Screen – “Call the attendant”)