Pinball Machine Repair

My parents just moved back into their house and their vintage pinball machine returned from storage needing a bit of a tune-up. A key got broken off in the cylinder, the internal ball launch mechanism doesn’t fire, and the flippers aren’t quite as “flippy” as they once were, but otherwise it works. A few lights needed to be replaced before the move - they didn’t magically get fixed in storage. Overall it just needs a bit of TLC. Is anyone interested in being hired to tune it up?

The broken key is not that big of an issue. If it is still in the lock where you can turn it with a screwdriver it is easy to open the coin door or backbox door and replace the lock. Most of us in the hobby order from one of the same two vendors so about 3 different keys will open about 80% of the games in our collections. Worst case the lock will just need to be drilled out. Locks are about $5 each.

The ball trough not kicking balls to the shooter can be several things. More than likely there is a relay that is dirty or the switch gaps are wrong. Common type of issue and generally easy to repair once you find the correct switch pair. Having schematics is essential on these old EM games to make troubleshooting much less of throwing a dart in the dark and trying to find the issue. Schematics are about $30 usually if needed.

Flippers probably have lots of slop in the playfield flipper sleeves, coin stops, and plunger links. A flipper rebuild kit is about $50 or so for this era of game. Fairly easy to install.

A rubber ring kit is about $20-25 and probably would need about $30-40 in either #47 incandescent bulbs or quality EM friendly LED bulb replacements. Original bulbs were #44 and run hot and can warp the inserts or plastics. Most of us change the slightly dimmer and cooler #47 bulbs to take some stress off the game.

A common issue from a game that his been in storage is for it to not properly reset. This is often from the game getting jarred and shaken while being moved causing things to get out of adjustment. Generally a few hours work and an EM can be playing again. The score reels and stepper units also like to get gummed up from the old grease that once lubricated them turning into taffy. Fixing that requires disassembling and cleaning each mechanism and re-lubricating them with the correct amount and type of lubricant. Nearly everything in a pinball machine runs dry with no lube. Any lube applied to any plungers will gum up.

Also changing out all of the coil sleeves is recommended and generally around $20 to do a whole machine.

Generally an EM needs about $200 in parts and several afternoons to go through everything and make repairs and adjustments.

If you want to hire it to be done I have several contacts I can share.


We’d like to hire to do repairs on this one and I believe that we have the schematics - there are lots of paper diagrams in there. And luckily with manual activation of the ball return mechanism, it plays like normal. I’m looking to maybe get an EM machine of my own and fix it up myself, but the movers are taking care of this one - it’s covered by their insurance. Luckily the key broke in the unlocked position, so the inside is accessible and that will be a super easy fix. The rest will need to be looked at. Could you please recommend some people to hire? Thanks so much!

One is Greg Higgenbotham with Legacy Entertainment. 214-394-6505

Leave him a voice mail and he’ll call you back.

There’s another (P1nsmlt#) name obfuscated so Google doesn’t index it… who used to be THE go-to guy but has been having so many issues that folks stopped recommending him. :frowning:

Thanks! I left a voicemail for Greg. I believe that Bob Herbison did the repair about a decade ago - we just unearthed a receipt. Is he still in the business?

Sorry, I don’t recognize the name from repair circles…

Bob is still around not sure he still does house calls

Yes, Bob Herbison is still around but not sure how active he is anymore. Ken Head who is now retired and spends most of his time working on games is really good with EM games. Evan Smith aka The Pinsmith is often difficult to get ahold of but does good work when you can get his attention. I don’t have the time to take on any repairs for others currently but am glad to assist where I can. There is one other technician that I will try to find his contact info and will message you with it when I do. He has been doing house calls for game repair for a while and has a good reputation.

Many of these people are on the DFW Pinball & Arcade Club group on Facebook. I am also one of the four founding members and now primary admin of that group.

I haven’t heard back from Greg Higgenbotham, I plan on calling him back tomorrow. In the meantime, would you mind sending me Ken Head’s info (via PM is fine).

I really appreciate all the help!