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Data East Ball Auto-Launch Assembly Replacement/Upgrade


Many of the Technical Articles on our site contain information and directions involving electronics and circuit board repair. They are authored with the assumption that the reader has adequate experience and knowledge required to do the work being described.

If you do not feel qualified, or are in any way uncomfortable doing any of the work described in any of the articles, then we strongly recommend enlisting the help of a qualified repair person or shop who can do the work for you. It may save you cost, time, and further repair work.

We (Action Pinball & Amusement, LLC) are not responsible for any damage to you, your game, or your property, from doing any work on your game related to any of the articles listed on this site.
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Page Contents:
About This Article:

This article addresses replacing the original "Turbo Boost" ball auto-launch mechanism (Data East # 500-5406-00) in a Data East Star Trek pinball, with the later Sega/Stern auto-launch mechanism # 500-6091-00.

It may be possible to install this later mechanism in some other Data East games that use the same, or similar, Turbo Boost assemblies, but we do not guarantee fit- attempt at your own risk. Please see Compatibility Notes below for further helpful details on installing in games other than Star Trek.

UPDATE: This article was originally created when some parts for the original # 500-5406-00 Turbo Boost mechanism were not available. Since then, new replacement parts have come available in the aftermarket that allow us to completely replace this original Turbo Boost mechanism, so you can now order it complete, or individual parts for it, by clicking here.

Level of Difficulty:

The procedure described in this article is recommended for persons with an 'Expert' skill level who have considerable experience working with pinball machines, pinball parts, and doing custom work. This procedure is not recommended for novice repair persons or other pinball owners who are not well experienced with working on their own games. If you are not comfortable doing the type of detailed work described in this article, we strongly suggest enlisting the help of a qualified repair person who can do the work for you. See our Game Service & Repair page for help with finding a qualified repair person in your area.

Compatibility Notes:

Variations of the Turbo Boost kicker mechanism were used on the following games (see notes below): Batman:
  • We have not had an opportunity to try this modification in a Batman game as yet. Do so at your own risk.
  • # 500-6091-00 has been reported to not fit in Checkpoint, so we do not suggest using it in that particular game.
Monday Night Football:
  • # 500-6091-00 has been reported to not fit in MNF pinball due to space restrictions, so we do not advise using it for that game.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:
  • We advise against attempting this upgrade in a Turtles game. Too much custom cutting of the black plastic apron (score card holder) and shooter gauge are required for the parts to fit, and there is very little mounting area to secure the parts, especially if your playfield wood has stripped screw holes or is otherwise in poor shape due to wear/tear (most are). We gave it the old college try, but in the end, it just didn't work well, and really gave no improvement in performance.

    Better off repairing your original Turbo Boost assembly by using new replacements for the original kicker arm and pivot (515-5350-00 and 515-5048-00), and replacing the coil with a stronger SG-23-750-DC unit for improved performance.
  • Tommy also used an auto-launch mechanism, but due to space restrictions under the playfield in this game, it was designed as a much different unit than the standard Turbo Boost auto-launcher found in other games. It may not be possible to replace the original unit in Tommy with the parts described in this article (we have not had the opportunity to try this on a Tommy game as yet). If you are working on a Tommy game and wish to try this modification, do so at your own risk, and bear in mind that we cannot take parts back on return that have been used or installed.
Other Games:
  • This article does not apply to games that used a button or switch to launch the ball- having auto-launch but not using a manual ball-shooter- such as Guns 'n Roses, Last Action Hero, Lethal Weapon 3, Rocky & Bullwinkle, Star Wars, and Tales From the Crypt.

Original Data East Auto-Launch Assembly:

The original Turbo Boost kicker unit usually got a tremendous amount of use in most games that it was used in, and as a result, was frequently broken or non-functional, and chances are if you run across a game with one of these units in it nowadays, you'll see a unit that's either disabled, worn out and sloppy, or that's had a lot of previous repair work done to it to try and keep it working.

The image below shows the Turbo Boost kicker assembly with the striker type kicker arm (515-5350-00) as used on Checkpoint and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Some games will use the 515-5467-00 kicker arm, which has a hole through the center of it for the ball plunger rod (Batman, Star Trek).

Original Data East Turboboost Kicker Assembly

Modern Stern Auto-Launch Assembly:

The solution that we have come up with for replacing these old units, is to use a modern Stern Pinball auto-launch mechanism, as used on such games as Lord of the Rings, Simpsons Pinball Party, and other modern games.

The modern Stern unit does the same job but has a slightly different design in the kicker arm. Looking at the two parts (old unit and new unit) side-by-side really shows the differences- the new unit is much more robust and heavy-duty, and will likely last a lifetime in any game in home use.


Modern Stern Auto-Launch Assembly


Installing the modern Stern unit in an older Data East game requires removing the old original unit (kicker mechanism & bracket, and coil & bracket) and positioning and installing the new unit. The new unit should be positioned so that it does not come in contact with the playfield wood (at bottom of shooter lane) when it kicks (this causes it to lose strength), and of course so that it doesn't interfere with any other playfield parts or wiring, and so that the playfield can be easily set back into the cabinet without the kicker hitting the side of the cabinet, etc.

Properly positioning and mounting the new kicker unit will usually require marking and drilling some new mounting screw holes.

In most cases, the original coil and coil mounting bracket can be re-used with the new kicker mechanism. Usually the coil and it's mounting bracket will have to be re-positioned as well, to accomodate the positioning of the kicker mechanism, so again, proper positioning and some marking/drilling of mounting screw holes may also be required here.

It's also possible that the ball trough release coil bracket and kicker arm (if used on your game) may have to be slightly repositioned to the left or right, to accomodate the auto-launch coil bracket. Anytime you move either of these types of units, be sure to position the coil bracket in proper alignment with the coil plunger, which is part of the kicker arm mechanism. These parts must fit and work properly together, when mounted to the playfield underside, and alignment must not be off, otherwise parts may jam/stick, operate poorly, or prematurely wear-out. Test the functionality of the parts during or after the repositioning, to be sure everything is going to work right when put back together. Some slight bending of the ball trough release kicker arm may be required if balls are ejected to the plunger lane improperly (don't kick out all the way, or kick out and bounce back in, etc.) A slight (very small) bend to the kicker arm- to the left or right- will change the trajectory of balls being released to the plunger lane.

You can also use the modern Stern auto-launch coil and mounting bracket to replace your old Data East unit, if you so desire. Both parts are very similar, but if you want all new parts, or anything is worn out or broken on your old coil/bracket, you can use the new Stern parts instead.

New Stern auto-launch assembly installed on a Data East 'Star Trek' game.

As most games have different hardware, and different mounting locations (positioning) of parts, there is no "step-by-step" walkthrough of exactly what must be done to replace your old Data East kicker with the new Stern parts, or exactly how or where to mount the parts. So doing this upgrade will require a slight bit of engineering on your part, or if you're uncomfortable doing this kind of work, check with your local pinball repair person or company- they may be able to help you.

Parts Listing:

We carry all the necessary parts for installing the new Stern kicker mechanism in your older Data East game. The following is a listing of items used, part numbers, and links to items on our website where you can find and order these parts. Location of some parts changes periodically on our website, so if you can't find an item, use our Search Feature at the top left of any page, or e-mail us:

Part Description: Part Number: Quantity Used: Notes:
Auto Ball-Launch Kicker Mechanism 500-6091-00 1 Includes parts #1, 2, 3, and 4, in the diagram above.
Coil plunger spring 266-5020-00 1 Part # 5 in diagram above.
Coil mounting bracket 515-6527-00 1 Part # 6 in diagram above.
Coil plunger guide bracket 535-5203-03 1 Part # 7 in diagram above.
Coil plunger guide bracket mounting screws HWR02-090802 2 #8-32 x 1/4 SEMS screw, Phillips head. Sold individually
Coil (solenoid) Varies 1 Part # 8 in diagram above. Exact coil used will vary depending on game. Refer to part # on your old coil, or to your game manual. If unsure, use an AE-23-800 coil with diode.
Coil sleeve 03-7066 1 Part # 9 in diagram above. (Most new coils will come with a new sleeve.)
Mounting screws for kicker and coil brackets HWR02-030606 Up to 9 Hex head wood screw for playfield underside.

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