From City of Turds to (playable) Gold? A shouda-burned-it El Dorado resurrection

(Topic ID: 191588)

From City of Turds to (playable) Gold? A shouda-burned-it El Dorado resurrection


By goingincirclez

1 year ago



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#1 1 year ago

[UPDATE JAN 2019: After fall 2018's various disasters and distractions, El Doh Rah No is nearing the homestretch toward, dare I say it, almost looksing... presentable?!?!?]

[UPDATE Jun 2018: after many months I finished some other projects including my girls' Bad Cats resto, so now ElDoh is finally up for... Something??! See https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/a-275-el-doh-rah-no/page/2#post-4444687]

Stumbled on an online estate auction for an El Dorado an hour away. Now the surface rust and patina and loose bottom board in the listing pics were clues that this was not a diamond in the city of gold, but what the hell - it's a potentially cheap El Dorado and even my time/transport would be cheap. It had the backbox metal panel and the cabinet looked solid, so I bid what I figured the BG might be worth on its own. And won!

Oops?

I had my expectations fully tempered but when I got there it almost didn't look like the same machine. The streak across the playfield was not odd ball wear, but a rodent trail. And there were a few other rodent tells on playfield nooks.

The wiring harnesses were almost laughably bad. I mean just look at them! How the hell does that happen?

1_20170617_154902 (resized).jpg

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9_20170617_154926 (resized).jpg

All hope is not lost but damn, I'm not sure what to do with this one. My OCD-Challenge self wants to untangle the wires and see if I can get it "working" so I started that. Only to discover that a lot of the female Jones receptacles popped off the plates so, dammit... have no idea what goes where (I might if the mice hadn't destroyed all the schematics).

But the mice weren't the only culprits: someone had deliberately cut the wiring on all of the 10-bank drops and nearby bulbs. A few mangled switches too.

Yet for all this, what about the playfield? It looks recoverable... or is it? I mean I've seen and played worse. I've arguably fixed worse. But something about this has me a little uncertain.

I'm still tempted to see if I can get it running "as found" just because I'm a fucking idiot who enjoys the occasional exercise in futility. Like if I could get it working, MAYBE I'd be motivated to tackle a pf restore.

Anyway. Just posting a ramble, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, I'm not sure where I'm at on this one here.

The best news is the cabinet isn't rancid or anything, it wasn't smelly and gross and neither is the rest. So I'll probably do a Lysol spraydown and let it disinfect in driveway sunlight while I figure the rest of the damage and road ahead.

Any advice or encouragment... or wise DIScouragment... is welcome!

#2 1 year ago

I have a feeling that will probably be the shape my next one will be in ......

#3 1 year ago

Be veeeery careful when cleaning the playfield

#4 1 year ago

What a mess. Good luck.

#5 1 year ago

Frame the backglass and drop the rest off the roof!

#6 1 year ago

I've seen games in worst condition. You can get that game up and working again. Go for it! Eldorado is a great player and will bring you joy, if your a player more than a collector.

#7 1 year ago

I was the guy that upped your bid at the last minute. Didn't think it would be worth much more to make the drive.

Scott

#8 1 year ago

I have fixed worse.... go for it. It will just take time, & you will get much better with schematics when you are done. At least all of the wiring is there...

#1- get a schematic from PBR
#2- find an old Gottleib wiring harness from a parted out machine so that you have correct color coded wire to splice in. I have bought several off of Ebay.

#9 1 year ago

Probably just a fuse......a big fuse....... but I would still fix it, after all it's a challenge and an El Dorado.

#10 1 year ago

Looks fine.

#11 1 year ago

That machine would take every ounce of skill and patience I have to fix, I may have tried it 6 Months ago but it just may not be worth it.

#12 1 year ago
Quoted from phil-lee:

That machine would take every ounce of skill and patience I have to fix, I may have tried it 6 Months ago but it just may not be worth it.

I once paid $200 for a Gold Strike with a slightly nicer play field but bad back glass. Replaced the bottom panel, new back glass, new plastics, bumper bodies, caps, skirts, coils and on and on. By the time I got done I am not sure it was worth it.

#13 1 year ago

You will be able to find guidance from another ED owner regarding your jones plug alignment.

And with the repop ED playfields i bet there is a decent original out there to replace your mouse damaged pf. Yes you will have to totally strip your existing playfield and apply the existing harness tomthe replacement pf. It's not that difficult.

#14 1 year ago

Funny thing is that the backglass looks almost perfect. Go figure.

If you need photos of the wiring harness I'm willing to help.

#15 1 year ago
Quoted from goingincirclez:

I'm still tempted to see if I can get it running "as found" just because I'm a fucking idiot who enjoys the occasional exercise in futility.

I've got a less than desirable machine in my garage that I brought back to "running condition" after investing more hours than it is worth.

I'm not done spending time on it, and although it will always be a POS, it might be my favorite machine.

Fix it and have fun!

#16 1 year ago

Saw that one but looked too sketchy. I got the Getaway from there a few months ago and it was someone's reimport. Crazy mess but I almost have it back up and running.

#17 1 year ago
Quoted from monsonb:

I've got a less than desirable machine in my garage that I brought back to "running condition" after investing more hours than it is worth.
I'm not done spending time on it, and although it will always be a POS, it might be my favorite machine.
Fix it and have fun!

Exactly. No better way to learn pin repair than bringing a basket case back to life. And the feeling when you start it up for the first time & it works is like none other.

#18 1 year ago

That's a great game. If you want to put the time in, I am sure it will look great when you are finished. Good luck

#19 1 year ago
Quoted from WeirPinball:

I was the guy that upped your bid at the last minute.

And thus is a nemesis born...

Boy, it's amusing to see the mixed responses here: A lot of "It can be saved so go for it" with a heavy peppering of "holy heck that's hardly worth it". Nice to know my own feelings are pretty square on the pulse of the pinball hivemind

So with that said, let me give you guys some background. My very first pin was a project Space Shuttle that didn't work, and which I did a newbie all-in "restore". It was the thing that got me on pinside and started this blasted addiction:

https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/space-shuttle-rehab-by-a-pin-newbie-oh-noes

I did lots of playfield touch ups by hand that always seem to amaze people once they "see" them. I took that game to Louisville Expo 2016 and it played near flawlessly (spinner popped loose once IIRC) and finished second in Best of Show (to a pimped Medieval Madness of all things, of course).

Next "restoration" was a Firepower that should have been, uh, set on fire. But I loved the pinball arcade version and wanted to see how well I could comprehensively rebuild a game. Not thread on this one, just a photo gallery. The short of it is, over a year I took a crusty nonworking game and refinished the cabinet, rebuilt the boards, refurbished the playfield with new inserts and a 2PAC attempt. It fought me every step of the way and spawned a few threads here... but I ultimately took it to Louisville Expo 2017 where it didn't miss a beat.

https://1drv.ms/f/s!Aqk71Fif-wQ5iEsxVryhCSI8sGj5

Most recently - and perhaps most relevantly - I finshed resurrecting a Big Hurt that probably again should have been burned. It was awful: moldy, broken, dented and shattered, I essentially got it for free. Needed a complete pf teardown both top and bottom, and rebuilding all mechs. Lots of random issues (board, cabinet, etc) to tackle. Would you have rescued this? This game isn't even as revered as El Dorado!

f190c63fbfc20e7dfb1efe528987367a17645b17 (resized).jpg

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https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/poor-frank-this-big-hurt-is-aptly-named-what-should-i-do

Well it took a year but it lives... it's not perfect but it's arguably as good as it could get, and works so well I'm thinking of trying to put it on location here. Provided there is one, but that's another topic.

~~~~~~~~~~~

So yeah. I know anything is possible. My 12yo daughter even agrees, saying this ElDohrahno is only "somewhere between Firepower and BigHurt". She's not necessarily wrong. And I even started untangling Old Rodent Spaghetti Buffet and I think the wiring can be fixed. Lots of splices and patches will be needed, but it's essentially repairable:

20170619_093851 (resized).jpg

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^ That last photo shows the reasonably nice condition of the mechs, but also how they were deliberately cut. Which always begs the question of "why?"... what gremlins could lurk even if I identify and connect the wires? Part of that is what I like. It's an awesome puzzle and your reward is a functioning pinball.

So I want to fix it. I know I can. But Space Shuttle, Big Hurt, and even Firepower did not have THIS:

20170619_093953 (resized).jpg

That's just disgusting, frankly. Like... artistically I'm reasonably confident I could touch it up (see Space Shuttle for evidence) but SHOULD I? That planking... mouse piss in the wood... just... ugh. I'm not sure it's worth the investment.

How long ago were those repros made? If anyone here has a better salvageable spare, I'm all ears...

#20 1 year ago
Quoted from goingincirclez:

Stumbled on an online estate auction for an El Dorado an hour away. Now the surface rust and patina and loose bottom board in the listing pics were clues that this was not a diamond in the city of gold, but what the hell - it's a potentially cheap El Dorado and even my time/transport would be cheap. It had the backbox metal panel and the cabinet looked solid, so I bid what I figured the BG might be worth on its own. And won!
Oops?
I had my expectations fully tempered but when I got there it almost didn't look like the same machine. The streak across the playfield was not odd ball wear, but a rodent trail. And there were a few other rodent tells on playfield nooks.
The wiring harnesses were almost laughably bad. I mean just look at them! How the hell does that happen?

All hope is not lost but damn, I'm not sure what to do with this one. My OCD-Challenge self wants to untangle the wires and see if I can get it "working" so I started that. Only to discover that a lot of the female Jones receptacles popped off the plates so, dammit... have no idea what goes where (I might if the mice hadn't destroyed all the schematics).
But the mice weren't the only culprits: someone had deliberately cut the wiring on all of the 10-bank drops and nearby bulbs. A few mangled switches too.
Yet for all this, what about the playfield? It looks recoverable... or is it? I mean I've seen and played worse. I've arguably fixed worse. But something about this has me a little uncertain.
I'm still tempted to see if I can get it running "as found" just because I'm a fucking idiot who enjoys the occasional exercise in futility. Like if I could get it working, MAYBE I'd be motivated to tackle a pf restore.
Anyway. Just posting a ramble, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, I'm not sure where I'm at on this one here.
The best news is the cabinet isn't rancid or anything, it wasn't smelly and gross and neither is the rest. So I'll probably do a Lysol spraydown and let it disinfect in driveway sunlight while I figure the rest of the damage and road ahead.
Any advice or encouragment... or wise DIScouragment... is welcome!

I hope you didn't pay $275 for it! I wouldn't want something that disgusting even for free. It must smell really bad. Best of luck with it though. You might want to Google "hanta virus" before going any farther, but you've already gotten into it quite a way.
I have been looking for one of those Krause repro playfields for years. Haven't come across one yet. Maybe he should do a rerun on it.

#21 1 year ago

You know, the cabinet doesn't look all that bad. It would be too much of a project for me at this point, so I'd probably part it out and chuck a lot of it away.

#22 1 year ago

I think it's great to see a game like this get saved. Sorry if my first post seemed negative. My personal interest in working on them has worn thin after turning a few basket cases into players. Some people really enjoy working on them, I've started to favor playing as I get older. With that said I love to see a good resurrection and hate to see a complete game get parted. Some people's documented transformations are simply amazing. And I have great respect for people with the skills and patience to bring one back. And a worthy game to invest your time and energy.

#23 1 year ago

That's such a fun game, best of luck on your restoration.

#24 1 year ago

I don't have the patience or skill set to restore a playfield, much less this one. So, with your skill set, I would look for a restorable original pf.

This is all based on your comfort with working on a mouse exposed game. I assume you would need to disinfect everything, assuming that is possible, and then go on from there.

So if you can get comfortable with it, my vote is restore it.

#25 1 year ago

Sorry, I didn't see where you said it's not smelly. Westley's Bleche White works great on cabinets. It's pretty nasty stuff, so wear gloves and goggles when using it. I usually lay the cabinet on it's side on sawhorses, and do small sections at a time scrubbing with a toothbrush.

#26 1 year ago

Pop-caps look perfect!

Glad you are going to take on the game. Wiring is an easy fix (time consuming, but easy). But that playing field...wow! It's a bummer that people let such a good game just sit around a barn and get eaten up and crapped on by mice.

Looking forward to your progress!
Joe

#27 1 year ago

Nevermind those nattering nabobs of negativism - go ahead and make El Doo-doo-rude-o shine again!

#28 1 year ago
Quoted from balzofsteel:

Nevermind those nattering nabobs of negativism - go ahead and make El Doo-doo-rude-o shine again!

That would be "nattering naybobs of negativity".
I too would love to see this game brought back. It would just be a little beyond what I would be willing to take on.
Where is "boilerman"? He did an "El Dorado" that was caught in a house fire. It came out fantastic!

#29 1 year ago

So here's a question as I'm considering the work ahead. I'd like to bring the bottom mech / relay / motor panel into the house to make it easier to work on the wiring repair. I've actually done similar work to a Sonic Prospector that was attacked by rodents (though not as extensively) and that game has played flawlessly for a year since, so I know it's possible.

Anyway. On Prospector, as well as my Williams Expo and Bally Old Chicago, the relay boards are easily removable. Just unplug the pf, then more jones connectors from the coin door and chime mechs, etc; remove the large screws and lift it out.

But on this El Dorado (my first GTB EM) tho: the coin door and chime mechs are directly soldered to the relays. So in order to remove the board, I either have to unsolder all of those connections (reaching in uncomfortable poses), or remove the mechs from the game and have them dangling in the way. And yet the flipper switches have quick spade disconnects!?

What the hell? Why have quick connects on some parts but not enough to make the entire board easily removable for service? Is this the way GTB built all their EMs, is this El-D'oh yet further hacked than I realized, or am I missing something stupid to make this easier?

EDIT: Oh, and if anyone has any digital schematics or photos of same I could use short-term to help puzzle this out (what loose Jones receptacle / connectors go where, and to what male wire, etc) that would be great! Of course if I can get this to a near-enough-functioanl state to merit keeping it, I'll buy a set from Steve @ PBR. But right now I'd rather not fall further in the hole until I know it's "worth it".

Still undecided about the pf.

#30 1 year ago
Quoted from goingincirclez:

Why have quick connects on some parts but not enough to make the entire board easily removable for service? Is this the way GTB built all their EMs, is this El-D'oh yet further hacked than I realized, or am I missing something stupid to make this easier?

On that year Gottlieb you will have to pull the Tilt Board with the Bottom Board to remove everything. Yes, Gottlieb did it that way to save on a Jones Plug or Two.

#31 1 year ago

You will also have to unplug from each coil lug the knocker unit and the chime unit. And you will have to unscrew the cover/power switch.

Be careful when removing the connectors from the coil lugs. On this era when the coil bobbins are nylon you can pull the lug right out of the bobbin. Nothing sucks more than making it easy to work on by taking it out and screwing up a $10 coil.

I use a pair of needle nose plyers and clamp on the bobbin end of the lug and then pull the connector from the lug. Haven't pulled a lug out since I've used this method.

#32 1 year ago
Quoted from MikeO:

On this era when the coil bobbins are nylon you can pull the lug right out of the bobbin. Nothing sucks more than making it easy to work on by taking it out and screwing up a $10 coil.

Ah, I'd wondered how that happened. I've already noticed a few lugs dangling off the coil bobbins, sometimes with the lead wires attached. Yes this game is a wreck. At least I know that's "normal". Guess the 70's were as bad for pins as they were for cars!

#33 1 year ago

I always found this annoying about working on Gottliebs. Not only is it a pain, you have this big tilt board dangling as you pull out the motor board. Some of their components are so robust and well thought out and then others are just counter-intuitive.

At least your past that weird Rube Goldberg wire actuating flipper thing they used for so long.

#34 1 year ago

Making the main relay board easily removable from the games was one thing that Williams and Bally clearly did worlds better than Gottlieb. But you can still get it out without having to desolder anything with Gottlieb so it works.

#35 1 year ago

Thanks for the pointers on the relay/mech panel. Turns out on closer inspection, most of the "rogue" terminals DID have spade connects... but not all of them, so it's still kinda goofy. Still, it was easier to remove than I initially thought! So I did a little more cleanup to make it less aggravating to work on, if not perfectly clean, and brought it in the house.

20170622_132629 (resized).jpg

^ So this is what I have. Not many labels left so I don't know what's what. But I started with unbending and routing the wires cleanly to familiarize myself with the colors, uncover any frays, and ensure the switches look good.

20170622_132638 (resized).jpg

^ Does anyone know what that "broken switch" could have been? The tension leaf actually looks machined that small, and there's no wiring apparent that looks like it would have gone here. So what purpose does or did this serve?

20170622_132838 (resized).jpg

^ Two of the female receptors on this jones connector popped off. The broken blue one, I found in the cabinet. Can someone tell me which goes where?

The backbox has a lot more of these broken this way too.

20170622_132745 (resized).jpg

^ Of all the wiring I found cut and broken, the thin white and green one is the only one with no apparent connection. Later on I realized that relay switch (visible underneath the wire) is missing a wire... but oddly enough, it looks like it was unsoldered and not chewed. Can someone confirm if this is indeed the wire that belongs there?

20170622_132904 (resized).jpg

^ Lots of wiring to reconnect and splice. The playfield is even worse! But at least it's straightforward.

20170622_133003 (resized).jpg

^ This thing was just getting started! Oddly enough my Old Chicago came from the same estate broker, and has roughly the same number of plays, but was worlds nicer.

#36 1 year ago
Quoted from goingincirclez:

...
^ Does anyone know what that "broken switch" could have been? The tension leaf actually looks machined that small, and there's no wiring apparent that looks like it would have gone here. So what purpose does or did this serve?
....

It acts as a brake to keep the motor from coasting past the home position.

IMG_0578 (resized).JPG

#37 1 year ago
Quoted from balzofsteel:

It acts as a brake to keep the motor from coasting past the home position.

Yeah, those are often broken off - PBR has them.

#38 1 year ago

So the other day I cleaned up the wiring with a soap bath and water. It's far more pleasant to handle now:

6acf29427cd54de998a4fea6acbf72f13f459560 (resized).jpg

Hoping to splice the wires back together over the next couple days, but I still have a question about the female jones connectors seen below... as in, where do they go?

298a35d5f12b92045c49a01e803a84481c8e6ffe (resized).jpg

I've got the same issue on the backbox:

20170627_154810 (resized).jpg

And on one of the playfield harnesses:

20170627_153435 (resized).jpg

Finally, the playfield's 10-drop bank was both deliberately disconnected as well as gnawed. I found a couple long wires that seem like the should connect there "somewhere", as well as a tuft of cut wires that, all else eliminated, probably need to be re-lengthened and run to that bank:

20170627_153508 (resized).jpg

So anyway... would anyone still interested in my attempt to salvage this game, be able to share photos of these connectors? I figure wire colors on the connectors will be enough of a clue.

I'm hoping to remove the obvious shorts and fire hazards, then connect the pf to see "what happens" and if other stuff works. Or doesn't!

#39 1 year ago

For the female side of the jones plugs just compare to the male side of the connector. Gottlieb would have carried the wire color across the connector.

#40 1 year ago
Quoted from MikeO:

Gottlieb would have carried the wire color across the connector.

Ah, that was an assumption I wasn't about to make or hope for, so that's great to know! Might be enough there for me to puzzle it out after all.

I just hope the one female connector with 5 loose pins, isn't the mate for the pf connector with 5 missing wires. Who wants to place their bets?

#41 1 year ago

Well I think I've finished going through the relay mech panel... but forgot to take a pic of it, so I'll do that later. Meanwhile, some other small progress:

20170625_130149 (resized).jpg

^ Over the weekend I dunked all the rusted parts in vinegar and/or Evaporust. I'm always amazed at how well vinegar works. I only had enough to fill my second leg tube about halfway. So what you see in the photo is the before/after on a leg dunked only halfway for about 24 hours. The final result for these particular legs is not perfection since they are otherwise pitted and flawed, but they should clean up further well with some buffing and polish.

The coin door mechs also got a dunk and turned out nice enough. A friend of mine likes the challenge of polishing metal, so we'll see how they turn out.

20170629_091700 (resized).jpg

Thanks to the tip about line colors crossing connectors, I reassembled the female Jones plugs in the backbox. Not all of the wires crossed identically, but most did. Process of elimination pegged the oddball wires to locations where at least the trace colors matched, so hopefully that's that.

20170629_091708 (resized).jpg

Had lots of odd connections to fix: a coil lug here, a switch lug there, a busted wire here, a jammed mech there. This is an after shot. I am somewhat puzzled by this game's condition. My bid gamble was largely influenced by the backbox cover being present with keys in the listing photos. Yet, based on all the leaves, cottonwood seeds, dirt, and other effluvia in the backbox, I'm quite confident this game spent some time opened up and left for dead in a barn.

20170628_183952 (resized).jpg

^ I wiped the score reels and cleaned up surface grime but there was still plenty more inside.

20170628_220306 (resized).jpg

^ More dirt!

20170629_091740 (resized).jpg

^ So the backglass is not perfect, but it's presentable. I need to ponder how to seal what's there before touchup. I've done Triple Thick on some other glasses and have been pleased, but for some reason I'm not feeling that here.

The good news is, I found several GE 455 bulbs in the panel. I understand those are pretty sought after these days. Maybe I can recoup a few bucks ha ha, provided they don't all explode when I re-connect this to the mech panel and turn it on to see what happens...

#42 1 year ago

If you want to divide and conquer as you start powering it up you should be able to get the game to power up and reset without the playfield plugged in. That would be my recommendation to isolate any issues the playfield might contribute.

It is a game worthy of the effort you are putting into it and I, personally, am glad you are moving forward with it.

#43 1 year ago

You are truly a dedicated pinball enthusiast sir.

#44 1 year ago
Quoted from Sinistarrett:

You are truly a dedicated pinball enthusiast sir.

Well that's certainly a charitable way of putting it. I tend to think of myself as the guy who won't give up until he blows the last hole in the hull he's standing in.

On that note, on with the saga. Here's the mech panel with repaired harnesses, and all of the legible labels I was able to salvage from the nest:

20170629_181253 (resized).jpg

Of course the final step was to cut off this house fire ignitor and chuck it right in the trash:

20170629_165625 (resized).jpg

And with that, time to connect the harnesses to the backbox and turn on the power:

20170629_210632 (resized).jpg

It seems I now have the world's most pointless and deformed sewing machine as the score motor ticks happily away ad infinum. Which probably should be expected since the cabinet and pf mechs are nowhere to make its acquaintance. At the very least I can say no relays stuck on, but I'm not sure what else should happen. The score reels did attempt to reset and mostly did, but I will need to clean them a bit more - again, as I expected.

So I didn't start a fire, and our patient has a beating heart. Still a long way to go, but this is an encouraging sign.

#45 1 year ago

These are the great pinside threads right here...

#46 1 year ago

I'm horrified when I see the photos but at the same time it's making me think "Hey. My project isn't that bad, I can do it."

Bruce.

#47 1 year ago

Yeah I bought a jacks open off I think the same website the pictures they take are not the best odd angles, not the whole machine was shown but I was happy with it was sold as non-working got home it and plug it in and plays great the backglass was repaired and I could not tell in the pictures.

#48 1 year ago
Quoted from goingincirclez:

So I didn't start a fire, and our patient has a beating heart. Still a long way to go, but this is an encouraging sign.

I love these extreme project pins. Nothing like the feeling of getting them up & running.

#49 1 year ago
Quoted from FunriseGuy:

I have a feeling that will probably be the shape my next one will be in ......

is this you making an offer to buy?

#50 1 year ago

That eldorado needs to see thetrough roll over switch activated to advance the ball count unit. FYI. I just fixed up one of these. They are really a great playfield design.

http://pinballmd.com/1975-gottlieb-el-dorado-wedge-head-repaired-and-ready-for-pickup/

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Playfield - Toys/Add-ons
Bright Lights Pinball
$ 19.95
From: $ 16.95
$ 175.00
Lighting - Interactive
Professor Pinball
$ 200.00
Lighting - Interactive
Professor Pinball
From: $ 19.50
$ 239.99
$ 229.99
Lighting - Other
Lighted Pinball Mods
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