Dear Santa,

I am an arcade technician for Alpha-Omega Amusements – corporate office is in NJ but I work out of one of their mid-west sites in Wisconsin (has about the same climate as the North Pole).

About a year ago, I received a Water Blast 2 Pl water game that is made by Bob’s Space Racers. This game is a popular game and almost every one of our customers wants to play it.  You may know BSR because you have probably seen their space ship that is often out on Christmas Eve delivering games throughout the world, much like you and the raindeers do.

The game looked great but I soon discovered that it was somewhat of a maintenance nightmare to keep running.  Note that we do not have free labor Elves available, just me. Easily ten or more times per day I had to take apart both of the water gun nozzle tips to remove many small particles (about the size of salt crystals) that were clogging the tip opening. This would happen six or more times during a shift to each side, and each time I would have to remove the tip and ream it out with a wire.

I tried replacing the water with distilled water instead of tap water but that did nothing to improve the situation. I did notice significant corrosion of the internal and external threads of the two aluminum gun barrels. The female threads of each of the aluminum barrels actually ‘crumbled’ as did the male end of the barrels.

Eventually, I replaced both barrels with new ones from the manufacturer. This cost my company money and made me look ‘naughty’ when they totaled up my parts bills for the year.  Within a week, the newly ordered aluminum barrels developed the same corrosion tendency and the continuous plugging of the nozzle tips continued unabated.

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After a little research, I discovered that mixing aluminum stock with brass was not a good idea, in fact, it was a very bad idea. The anodic corrosion index between these two metals is more than twice the accepted maximum allowed.  It was the mix of metals that was causing short life for the aluminum gun barrels and the repeated tip cloggings were due to the result of the galvanic corrosion between the aluminum and the copper with the aluminum crumbling and flaking off.

* Most experts, which I certainly am not, suggest that when you have 2 dissimilar metals you will get corrosion in a wet environment if the anodic index rating of the 2 metals is greater than a 0.15 differential. We have a 0.30 differential between the index values of brass and aluminum.  To quote the experts:  “Brass is incompatible with aluminum, per Mil-STD-889 [link is to free spec at Defense Logistics Agency, dla.mil] (and Notices 1, 2 & 3 thereof).”

I decided then that I had to take the aluminum out of the equation so I made a ‘Plan’:

The Plan.

 1) Replace the aluminum gun nozzle with a 1/4” ID – 3/8” OD red brass pipe nipple 6” long.. Cost $4.

2) Then put a 3/8” cap on the pipe (Cost $1) and drill and tap the cap to accept the OEM brass gun tip.

This should put an end to the corrosion problem ….and all for only $5 per side. I am also hoping to use the aluminum nozzle (with a larger bore drilled through it) as a loose sleeve over the brass pipe. I don’t know if that arrangement would also be corrosive but it would look better than just a brass “pencil” sticking out of the gun barrel.

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The Actual Process. I removed the aluminum gun barrel, sliced off the threaded male end, and bored a hole through it so that a 1/8-inch brass MIP pipe nipple 6” long could be passed through it. I re-tapped the female thread in the gun body to match the 1/8-inch brass pipe end. I used a brass ‘reducing coupler’ on the other end to match with a steel pressure washer gun tip that I bought online, and which has the same opening as the OEM brass tip. The brass pipe inside of the aluminum decorative cover would now be the conduit for the water—not the aluminum. The aluminum is now just a decorative cover and is no longer in contact with the water.

Aluminum “Gun Barrel” O.E.M. Brass Nozzle (far right). I sliced off the right end (last ¼-inch thread) of Gun Barrel to remove corroded internal threads.

RESULT – My little project was completed around Halloween. After 60+ days I have had ZERO clogs and it has not been necessary for me to clean either gun barrel tip even once. I think it is safe to say that this was a successful improvement modification that took less than an hour of actual work, cost $10 in parts for the two guns, and saves me a few hours per week of ‘boring’ maintenance.  Needless to say, the Water Blast now makes more money.  Reminds me of the past Christmas’s TV ads showing the Maytag Repair technicians waiting by the phone with no service calls coming in.

Santa, the balls in your court.  Please get this information to Bob’s Space Racers, to all water game manufacturers around the world, and of course to every game technician. This could be a Christmas present that will keep on giving. Best of all, Bob’s Space Racers makes many other models and they do have the best water games in the industry, so even they should like this gift.

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Santa, one other tip… Please include in your letter to the game manufacturers:   Do Not paint the inside of the plastic shroud of the targets. THE PLASTIC IS WATERPROOF!! It does not need to be painted. By painting it the manufacturers have doomed some poor technician to fishing out the peeling paint pieces that the water pressure gun routinely “blasts” off the targets until the technician gets sick of it and stresses out. I eventually removed the PLASTIC shroud and used an electric drill with a wire brush attachment and scraped the hell out of the inside of the shroud in order to get the damn paint out of all the nooks and crannies of the shroud interior!  Just a suggestion……..doesn’t cost the manufacturer a penny to not paint the plastic and would have saved me several pounds of labor.

That’s about it Santa… Please deliver this letter, and as the saying goes, ‘the sooner the better’ and make the New Year an easier one for all my fellow techs around the world.

 

Yours truly,

Ray Dachik

Alpha-Omega Amusements

North Central Regional Technician/Manager

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