Catapult issues resolved

I looked up the part number for the missing catapult screw in the service manual. It is listed as “Cap Screw, 10-32 x 3/8 SH”. There’s alot of information in there – let’s look at each piece one at a time. The screw can be more verbosely describes as such:

So I ran an errand to Osh during lunch and sure enough they had a huge selection of machine screws – got exactly what I needed, and for only 59c:

And voilà! A shiny new screw for my catapult assembly:

Everything came into alignment and the catapult arm moved easily. To my surprise, however, the catapult still didn’t have enough force to propel the ball into the rat hole under the Borg ship! My repair had failed!

I watched the machine futilely try to get the ball to its subway system, launch after launch through the catapult. It became apparent that my repair had done something, after all – it made the launches much more consistent. Instead of a hodgepodge of slow and fast launches like before, the ball made it just shy of the rat hole pretty much every time. So I took solace in the fact that even though I had not solved the problem, I had at least improved the machine in some way.

I thought some more about the problem and came to a conclusion: the catapult is fighting gravity when it shoots the ball up the table. If the incline of the table was too steep, the ball would not have enough energy to get to the rat hole. So I looked down at the feet of the table, and the problem was staring me right in the face. I didn’t bother leveling the table after first getting it to the house! And the leveling feet were extended almost all the way up in the back, and were all the way down in front. Surely the table is too steeply inclined!

Sure enough, after correcting the table angle with the adjustment feet, the ball now makes it easily to the rat hole every single time. That was alot of time spent thinking about a problem I wouldn’t have had if I had simply followed all of the directions in the manual 🙂

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