Fixing messed-up pinball flippers, slingshots and ball kickers

As I continue working on another new machine, Bally’s “Black Rose”, the first order of business is to go over the flippers and other areas where parts are not working. This series focuses on basic problems that occur with pinball flippers and also addresses an issue involving a broken ball kicker (the same assembly that is used on slingshots). Here I address everything from replacing a coil, coil stop, coil sleeve, to determining which parts to replace and which ones to save, as well as wiring problems, end-of-stroke switch problems, flipper bushings and more.

When I first got this game the system diagostics reported an unusual error: “Upper flipper EOS switch stuck closed.” That was a sign that someone had monkey’d with the machine and not done things right. As you will see in the videos, there ended up being a plethora of problems with the flippers in this game, each representing some of the most common problems with modern pinball machines. I go over how to fix them.

In a nutshell, the following issues were found and corrected:

  • flippers needed cleaning and coil sleeves replaced
  • bad wiring job on one flipper
  • broken/improperly-installed EOS (end-of-stroke) switch
  • bad coil stops that needed replacing
  • fixing and re-shaping coil pistons
  • replacing a damaged/melted coil and sleeve
  • fixing a broken armature on a ball kicker (same assembly for slingshots)
  • replacing a broken flipper bushing
  • replacing a flipper return spring that was the wrong type

You may be wondering, why was the machine reporting only one thing wrong when there were so many other issues?  Not everything that is wrong with a pinball machine can be diagnosed by the software.  Obviously things like sticky flippers or dirty coil sleeves can impact performance but still make the game think everything is working.  The same thing goes for the kick-out coil.  The game wasn’t quite smart enough to know it wasn’t working.  One way the game determines if certain features are working is to keep track of how often they are triggered and if a certain number of games is played, without a certain feature activating, the game can sometimes report things broken.  Other times, things may be broken but they are still being triggered (like the kick-out solenoid).  So it’s always best to go over everything carefully to make sure there are not more problems than what is indicated.

16 thoughts on “Fixing messed-up pinball flippers, slingshots and ball kickers


  2. I have a 1977 jet spin the ball kicker doesnt work and it seems to have a switch stuck it runs all the time like when you first put the quarter in and it comes on and goes click click click then stops but mine keeps clicking and the score will not reset to zero when your done with the game any suggestions where to start

    • There is a sequence of switches that are not being properly set to engage the machine to start a game. If the score reels are not resetting to 0000, then the first place I’d check is cleaning the score reel contacts.

  3. i have a disco fever and a time warp and the ball wont return to the plunger. i dont know anything about machines.

    • Did you ever get an answer? I have a Nally x’s & o’s and I’m having the same issue. It did work, just stopped. Everything else works.

  4. Thanks for all the help videos. Love the fact that it is not edited. I have BK2000 & Fire and looking for my next machine. Its imperative to learn how to do some repairs and maintenance to keep the pins running and enjoy them. Your videos and web site is a great help. Please keep them coming.

  5. Hi there I was wondering if you could answer a question to a flipper problem I have. I got a 1993 Bally ‘Judge Dredd’ machine which has the 4 flippers.They all work ok but the bottom right flipper doesn’t seem to have as much kick to it as the rest.So when the ball gets to it hardly launches it.What do you think it might be?

    • I have that exact same game with the exact same problem! I haven’t looked at it yet, but my guess is the coil sleeve is gunked up. The assembly should probably be taken apart and cleaned with alcohol, possibly having the coil sleeve replaced. I have a video on re-doing flippers if you search for it.

  6. I have a ballys x’s & os and I guess it’s called the ball kicker? It when the ball goes down the middle it won’t push it to the plunger lane!

  7. Hi I have a 1980 roller disco machine.tonight I was playing the game and in the middle of it the left side flippers just stop working.the right side still work but nothing on the left.any suggestions on where to look would be greatly appreciated.thanks

    • You’ll want to turn the power off and take a look at the underside where the flipper coil is. There’s a good chance one of the wires got disconnected at the coil. Flippers are very violent parts that take a lot of vibration and often have connections come loose – it may need to be re-soldered.

  8. I have a 1975 Gottlieb goldstrike and the right side flippers stopped working. changed fuses and checked contacts and nothing. I have someone thats gonna jump the button from the left flipper to the right and see if that would indicate wire problem. What do you suggest? Thanks for your time!

    • I would put a meter on the wire and check to see if there’s voltage on it that is comparable to the working flipper. That will tell you if there’s a break.

  9. I watched a video or two of yours and read some stuff. I went and cleaned the contacts of the flipper switches, tested the game, and it seems to be working now. Sorry I even posted on here and bothered you! Thanks.

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