Posted by Drew Rudman on May 17, 2013

Centipede Trackball Rehab

So the trackball on my Atari Centipede system has been pretty “wonky” for a while now. Like an amateur, I used to spray WD40 directly on the trackball to keep it spinning freely until I learned how bad that stuff is for ANYTHING. At this point, the WD40 has probably dried and captured a boat load of dirt and dust on the trackball rollers and bearings, so I decided to do a proper job of rehabbing the trackball by directly cleaning and lubricating the bearings inside the trackball mechanism.


Removing the trackball mechanism is fairly straightforward. Simply unhinge the control panel to reveal the underlying trackball unit:


Then disconnect the single molex connector and unbolt the unit from the control panel by removing the 4 nutted bolts holding the unit to the control panel.


The underside of the unit actually tells you to periodically check the bearings for adequate lubrication.


I’m pretty sure that’s never been done on my unit. To access the trackball, bearings, and rollers, unscrew the 6 screws holding the plastic casing together:


Well, it looks like I have more than dirty bearings to deal with.


The point at which the trackball touches the rollers has worn away. I decide it’s probably worthwhile to replace the rollers and bearings at this point. A quick search of the net finds a roller/bearing kit for $20 on I ordered a new ‘snow white’ trackball as well.

I’ll return to this maintenance when those arrive in about a week.

Finally got the trackball replacement parts from ArcadeShop:


Everything looks pretty well made. Look at the color difference between my old trackball and the brand spankin’ new one:


The only tricky part here is removing the wheel from the roller, which is held in place by a single, hex screw.


It actually replaced pretty easy (be sure to thread one of the bearings onto the roller before you reattach the wheel):


Took all of five minutes to replace all of the rollers and bearings:


Lookin’ pretty good with the new ball on top:


All done. Looks great:


and drives even better. At some point I’ll have to replace the control panel overlay, but for a 30 year old system, it’s looking pretty good.

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