Fun With Pinball

Electromechanical Pinball Repair Books

There have been many books published covering the history, art and culture of pinball machines, most of them full of colorful photos of the games.  Manufacturers also published dozens of parts catalogs full of technical drawings and parts specifications. But there have been relatively few repair guides and service manuals published for electromechanical pinball machines.  Many good resources are available online but the amount of printed technical material is somewhat limited.  The following list includes most of the publications with significant technical material for troubleshooting and repairing electromechanical pinball machines.

Manufacturers' Service Manuals

Three of the manufacturers published their own service manuals, probably in the 1960s or 1970s. 

An Introduction To Bally Flipper GamesAn Introduction To Bally Flipper Games

An Introduction to Bally Flipper Games was published by Bally Manufacturing Corporation with no date, copyright or identified author.  The text mentions DC thumper bumpers which were introduced in the mid 1970s so the the manual may have been written or revised at that time.  The manual includes descriptions of the game components and adjustments, schematic symbols and example circuits, and basic troubleshooting information.

Copies are available online here.

Gottlieb Instruction & Service ManualGottlieb Instruction & Service Manual Gottlieb Instruction & Service ManualGottlieb Instruction & Service Manual

D. Gottlieb & Co. Instruction & Service Manual

©1964 by D. Gottlieb & Co.
Library of Congress number 64-17820.

This ~75 page booklet includes sections on circuit analysis, troubleshooting and repair in addition to the component descriptions.

Revisions to the manual were started in the 1970s but never completed or published.  The cover design matches that of the 1966 Gottlieb Parts Catalog.

An Introduction To Coin Operated Amusement GamesAn Introduction To Coin Operated Amusement Games

An Introduction to Coin Operated Amusement Games was published by Williams Electronics, Inc. probably in the 1960s with no date, copyright or identified author. Unlike the two manuals above the Williams service manual uses photographs rather than line drawings to illustrate the game assemblies.  The manual anso includes some material relevant to shuffle bowlers and pitch and bat games.

Copies are available online here and here.

All three of these manufacturers' service manuals describe their versions of common pinball machine devices, schematic symbols and basic adjustment and troubleshooting techniques.  The Bally and Williams versions include identical passages and may have been written by the same, uncredited author(s). As an example compare their introductions:

Introduction to Bally's service manualIntroduction to Bally's service manual Introduction to Williams' service manualIntroduction to Williams' service manual

Independent repair publications

In addition to the manufacturers' guides above there have been a few other publications by independent authors that cover electromechanical pinball machine repair.

Pinball Machine Repair ManualPinball Machine Repair Manual

Pinball Machine Repair Manual

©1976 Dabney Publications

This ~190 page repair manual was written by Joel Miller under the guidance of Ted Dabney, co-founder of Atari who operated and maintained his own games for a number of years after leaving Atari.  Dabney hired an illustrator for the drawings and self published the book.

Chapters include The Fundamentals of Circuit Control, Adjustment and Maintenance, and Troubleshooting and Repair.

* If you have more information about this book please please use the Contact page to let us know.


Tilt The Pinball BookTilt The Pinball Book

Tilt The Pinball Book Home Maintenance, History, Hot Tips

©1978 by Candace Ford Tolbert & Jim Alan Tolbert
Published by Creative Arts Book Company
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 78-52769
ISBN 0-916870-14-6

Roughly half of the 140 or so pages are devoted to basic tools and home maintenance.

Russ Jensen's Pinball Troubleshooting GuideRuss Jensen's Pinball Troubleshooting Guide

Russ Jensen's Pinball Troubleshooting Guide

©1988 by Russ Jensen and Gene-Del Publishing Co., Inc.

Pinball collector and historian Russ Jensen started writing technical articles for Coin Slot magazine in the early 1980s before writing this guide.  Included are discussions on circuit theory and troubleshooting methods including his own Test Lamp technique.

The first run of this ~50 page guide produced 500 copies after which some photocopies were also sold.  The 2nd printing was published in October 2009.

Pinball Machine MaintenancePinball Machine Maintenance

Pinball Machine Maintenance (originally titled Het Flipper Service Boek)

©1991 by Henk de Jager in the Netherlands
and by The Pinball Resource in the US
ISBN 90-800738-3-0

This ~200 page book was originally written in Dutch and then translated into English. Beyond sections on the standard generic devices there are chapters describing manufacturer specific circuits including reset sequences, ball and player advance, game over, etc..

Pinball Machine Care and MaintenancePinball Machine Care and Maintenance

Pinball Machine Care and Maintenance

©2007 by Bernard B. Kamoroff
Published by Bell Springs Publishing
ISBN 0-917510-13-5  LCCN 99-094686

Although this ~110 page book also covers solid state games most of the material is relevant or specific to electromechnical pinball machines. Chapters discuss symptoms and repairs for various devices in the games.

Electromechanical Pinball Machine Repair and RestorationElectromechanical Pinball Machine Repair and Restoration

Electromechanical Pinball Machine Repair and Restoration

©2019 by Mark Gibson

This is the ~40 page companion workbook to the Electromechanical Pinball Machine Repair and Restoration class that includes discussions of common devices, cleaning, adjustments, soldering, schematics and troubleshooting.

Thanks to David Marston for help with compiling this list.


All Gottlieb® intellectual property used with permission of Gottlieb Development LLC.