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Refurbishing Wico's "The Boss" joystick (with photos)

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One of the nice things about Wico's "The Boss" joystick is that they were made by a manufacturer of arcade controls to near-arcade standards.  Their major components are also the same parts as used in Wico's arcade controls, so they're eminently serviceable, and have generally robust construction overall.  Having recently purchased a couple on eBay, it became evident that both needed some attention, but no howtos or guides were cropping up for disassembly.  That's where this thread comes in.


Note that this is not a full restoration: the goal is only to restore proper feel to the stick.  However, as doing so involves a complete teardown of the stick, other components (springs, leaf switches) that may need replacing will become obvious throughout the process.  And cleaning as you go is a good idea 😁


Although the pictures show a green PCB with one black and four white leaf switches, there's also at least one variant using a light beige PCB with one black and four brown leaf switches; the two joysticks that I bought turned out to be one of each type.  Functionally, they're exactly the same, so these instructions apply to either one.  If there are other variants, I am unaware of them and encourage posting pictures in this thread to aid with understanding any differences.


Before starting into tearing the stick apart, have the following available:


  • Philips screwdriver
  • 15mm open-end wrench (optional, but makes life much easier)
  • Small flathead screwdriver, needlenose pliers, or C-clamp removal tool
  • Wico 3/8" Joystick Centering Grommet
  • Cleaning supplies (Isopropyl Alcohol, paper towels, etc.)



Step 1: using the Philips screwdriver, remove the four screws on the bottom of the case and separate the case halves.  The white leaf switches are assigned to the four cardinal directions, the black one is assigned to the fire button, and the red disc presses down on the fire button switch.




Step 2: make sure that the fire button is pressed completely down against a solid surface while performing this step: failure to do so will result in both the fire button and its spring taking flight.  Remove the black leaf switch from the two posts it is attached to by gently pulling straight up on its body.  Move it out of the way to the side.  Place the open end of your 15mm wrench under the red disc (colour may vary) in the middle.  Taking care to not crush any of the leaf switches on the PCB, use the 15mm wrench to lever the disc straight up and off of the shaft it is attached to; this may require a surprising amount of force to accomplish.  Be careful to not lose the red disc; if you do, the joystick cannot be reassembled.




Step 3: carefully let the fire button out and withdraw the assembly from the grip; spring pressure will make it want to shoot out.  Do everything right and you'll have removed the three pieces illustrated below.





Step 4: remove the strain relief from the upper half of the joystick case, and remove the PCB altogether.




Step 5: take a good look at the internals that are now exposed.  In the exact centre is a round grey actuator, held in with a C-clip; behind that is a square white box containing (amongst other things) the centering grommet that is to be replaced.




Step 6: press the round grey actuator inwards (towards the grommet box).  It's under spring pressure, but will move.  This should expose the C-Clip.  Use your small flathead screwdriver / needlenose pliers / C-Clip tool to remove it.  Again, take care to not lose the C-Clip - lose it and the stick cannot be reassembled.  Once it's out, withdraw the joystick itself from the case.




Step 7: Remove the grommet box, noting the black plastic dust washer between the top of it and the upper case.  To disassemble the grommet box, use a small flathead screwdriver in the centre hole to prise the flat backplate away from the box itself.  Again, be careful to not lose the spring inside the grommet box or reassembly won't be possible.




Take a moment to compare the difference in condition between the old grommet and the new one.




Before proceeding with reassembly, take a look at the following photo.  Note that the grommet sits higher on top than on the bottom; this is important to know ahead of putting everything back together.




Step 8: reassemble the grommet box.  Hold the box part of the case in your hand with the opening facing up.  Insert the grommet, tall end first; it should lightly snap into place.  Now set the metal washer on top of the grommet's centre bushing.  Insert the joystick through the grommet and washer from below.  Next, slide the spring down the joystick shaft until it's on top of the washer and snap the backing plate into place.  Finally, reattach the round grey actuator to the end of the stick and secure it with the C-Clip.


Reassembly is pretty much the reverse of removal.  Don't be surprised if reattaching the red disc to the fire button shaft requires some decent pressure to make happen.  If you've done it right, you'll feel two clicks before it's fully back in place.


Hope this is useful to someone looking to put a bit of life back into one of these sticks!

Edited by x=usr(1536)
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