(Topic ID: 18292)

VID's Guide to Upgrading/Rebuilding Flippers

By vid1900

11 years ago

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Topic index (key posts)

15 key posts have been marked in this topic, showing the first 10 items.

Display key post list sorted by: Post date | Keypost summary | User name

Post #6 Get the right EOS switch Posted by vid1900 (11 years ago)

Post #8 Make System 11 Flippers Feel Tight Like Fliptronic Posted by vid1900 (11 years ago)

Post #88 Replace Old Series Coils With New Parallel Coils Posted by vid1900 (11 years ago)

Post #140 Udate Old Solid State Flippers Into Fliptronic Style Posted by vid1900 (10 years ago)

Post #292 List of games with longer/shorter flipper travel Posted by vid1900 (10 years ago)

Post #294 Rebuilding 1967-1979 Flippers Posted by vid1900 (10 years ago)

Post #390 Coil stop differences between system 11 and Fliptronic Posted by vid1900 (10 years ago)

Post #520 Rebuilding Bally Linear Flippers Posted by vid1900 (9 years ago)

Topic indices are generated from key posts and maintained by Pinside Editors. For more information, or to become an editor yourself read this post!

There are 2,884 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 58.
#1 11 years ago

Just got back from a collector's house and 75% of his flippers were weak. Games looked good and clean, but he had no idea how to set up his flippers. There were a lot of terrible flippers at the Michigan Pinball Expo a few months ago, too. Finally, NJGecko wanted to know how to upgrade his System 11 flippers to the newer springs of the Fliptronic era.

Some of this is going to be old hat to the more experienced collectors, but clearly there are a lot of people who need a crash course in the basics:













#2 11 years ago

First, what is going to be wrong with your flippers? If you never rebuilt them, probably everything!

The plunger will be worn, mushroomed at the tip, and have a lot of play in the links.

Your return spring will be limp (or if it is a Sys 11, probably broken).

Your EOS (End Of Stroke) switch will be pitted and corroded.

Your Coil Stop will be concave, causing the plunger to become mushroomed.

Your Coil Sleeve will be cracked or worn.

Your coils might well be the incorrect ones.


#3 11 years ago

The Coil Plunger needs to be smooth so it does not drag in the Coil Sleeve.

A common problem is that the tip will mushroom and bind in the sleeve. This will create drag or seize the flipper entirely.

Another problem is that if the Coil Bracket ever became loose, or a plunger spring ever broke, it can chew up the Plunger. This of course leads to the Coil Sleeve becoming chewed up.



#4 11 years ago

The EOS Switch needs to make solid electrical contact, or the flipper will be very weak.

If the contacts are all pitted and corroded, you can't get good contact.

If the gap between the contacts is not correct, you will have weak flippers (more on this latter).


#5 11 years ago

The Coil Stop takes a constant beating. As the plunger hammers away, it becomes concave and helps shape the plunger into the dreaded mushroom shape.


#6 11 years ago

So, how do we fix all these common problems? We throw all that junk away and get a rebuild kit.

I know, there are people who file the mushroomed tips, clean dirty sleeves and re-stretch springs, but the flippers are the most important part of the whole game. You spent thousands of dollars on your game and now you are going to try and save $20 on a kit??? Your game deserves to play at factory (or better) condition.

You can get a kit from Pinball Life, or any other mail order place. Don't expect to get a genuine Bally/Williams kit in the little plastic box. Nowadays, the patents have run out, so you get an overseas made kit.

If you have a System 11 game, get the newer (Williams reference #A-13524-8) kit anyway. It will have the much desired stronger return spring, and only requires a small (one time) modification to install it. Also get a pair of high voltage EOS switches ( Williams reference #03-7811) as the ones included in the kit are for low voltage games:



Before you order, check page 2 of your owner's manual and make sure that the correct flipper coils required for your game are installed. 50% chance if your game was once on route, at least one of them will be wrong. Sometimes the wrong coils were installed at the factory (like many F-14 Tomcats), so you really need to check this.

Finally, you need to order some flipper bushings. These are very important if you want to keep the flippers from cutting into your playfield, or creating unnecessary airballs. They don't come in the rebuild kits, but you absolutely need them for a rebuild.



#7 11 years ago

Start by labeling the wires that go to the flippers, you can use Blue Painter's Tape. Then label the coils themselves. You can write on the coil plastic with a Sharpie (it cleans off with alcohol). Now you can put the game back together again without blowing anything up.

Unsolder your now clearly marked wires with a 25w soldering iron. If you don't have one yet, your going to need one constantly to maintain a pinball game. Don't buy one for less than $20, trust me on this.

If there are any "lane change" switches and wires ganged up with the EOS switch, label and unsolder those too. Unlike the EOS Switches, the Lane Change switches usually do not need to be replaced, only cleaned. Just pull a crisp $100 bill through the held together contacts, until the bill pulls through cleanly. The first pull will be very black with carbon.

Loosen the flipper nut, and carefully pull the flipper bat out from the top of the playfield.

Next, get out a 1/4" nut driver and remove the hex head screws from around the flipper bracket. Take the whole assembly out of the game and onto a well lit workbench covered with newspapers. If you don't cover your workbench, you will soon be sorry as the whole bracket will be covered with black carbon and iron dust.

The dust comes from the metal on metal pounding between the Plunger and Coil Stop. Some more dust comes from the spark that occurs at the EOS Switch. It's filthy.

Unsolder the EOS Switch Capacitor, and put it aside.

Take the old Coil Sleeve out and discard it. If the sleeve is tight, press evenly on the bench to get it out. If it is absolutely stuck, the coil may have overheated at some point. Replace the coil, they are only $10.

Discard the old Coil Stop, the Spring, the Plunger/Link assembly, the Bushing, and the EOS Switch. No reason to save them as spares, because once you play on a game with new flipper mechs, set up correctly, you will never even think of reusing that old junk.

Take the saved parts to the sink and scrub with Fantastic cleaner (or any other degreaser) and a toothbrush. Don't get the coil label wet or it will fall off. Just use the damp toothbrush and clean the coil inside and out.

Don't put the metal parts in a tumbler for too long or with high abrasives. The parts are zinc plated and the tumbler could remove this protective plating. When you see restored games where the hardware is completely covered with white corrosion, you know somebody tumbled off all the coatings. If you, or someone before you already did this, tumble again and spray with a light coating of clear Polyurethane.


#8 11 years ago

System 11 owners update:

Unless someone really took care of your game before you, you have the awful, conical spring that rides around the outside of the plunger. This spring is usually weak, broken and corroded. It is simply a poor design choice as it chews up the Plunger Link and sometimes the Plunger itself.

No doubt you have noticed the "snap" of the newer Fliptronic games and now you can have their superior snappiness too.

You will need to drill a 1/16" (1.5mm) hole in the Capacitor Bracket. Don't drill through the Capacitor itself (you removed it in the last step, yes?).

Measure from the picture below. Use a punch to keep the drill bit from walking around. Once you drill the hole, file off any sharp edges on both the front and back.


#9 11 years ago

System 11 owners update part 2:

You will note that your new "Fliptronic" arms have spring tabs on them. Never again will they suffer with conical springs.


#10 11 years ago

Now it is time to reassemble.

Put the new Bushing in the flipper bracket. All three nuts on the topside have to be tight, or your playfield can become damaged.

Put the new Coil Sleeve in the coil. This is where it helps to have a bag of Sleeves, because sometimes one will fit where none of the others will. If none of them fit, the coil may have overheated and really (I know, you don't want to spend another $10) should be replaced.

The Coil Sleeve protrudes from the Diode side of the coil. Don't put it in backwards.


#11 11 years ago

Make sure the coil gets installed the correct direction. The Diodes or even the Coil Tabs tend to break if you put them next to the Coil Stop.


#12 11 years ago

This is the correct installation of the Coil; Diodes safely away from the Coil Stop. It matters, do it right.

Some Coils were installed backwards at the factory, so you may have to pull a little slack wire from the harnesses to reach the proper position. Don't worry if you have to clip a few nylon Zip Ties to produce the slack you need.

If there is a little plastic nipple on the coil, you can cut it off, or cut a little notch in the coil bracket with a Rat Tail File or Dremel.


#13 11 years ago

When installing the Coil, squeeze the brackets towards each other as you tighten the cap head bolts.

You don't want the coil moving around robbing your game of power. Tight is what you want, no play, no slop.


#14 11 years ago

It's not in your kit, but remember to zip-tie your Capacitor to the bracket.

Now solder the Capacitor to the new EOS switch. The Capacitor has no polarity, that is a fancy way of saying that either lead can go to either terminal of the switch.

The Capacitor helps keep the switch from pitting as much. Yes, you should use it.


#15 11 years ago

Now for the section that strikes fear into the nubies hearts = setting the EOS Switch gap!!!

When the flipper is not energized (in its relaxed state), the EOS Switch needs to have solid contact.

So gently bend the leafs of the switch so that they are nicely sprung together. Not just barely together, but actually making good contact.


#16 11 years ago

Now when the flipper is energized (the plunger all the way into the coil), we need the EOS Switch to open or the coil will overheat.

Press the plunger down all the way till it stops with your finger, and make sure the switch gap opens to EXACTLY 1/8" (3.2 mm). Not more, not less. (there are a few System11 games that want less than a 1/8" gap, check your manual)

You may have to fiddle with the leafs to get them touching when relaxed and 1/8" gap when plunged, but it is a lot easier to do on the bench than installed in the game. You will get the hang of it, take your time and get this exactly right.

A Leaf Adjuster tool makes setting switch gaps and tension a breeze. If you own a pinball game, you should have one in your tool box:



#17 11 years ago

In your goody bag, you got a little Gap Tool (sometimes called a fork or by Williams official name "Flipper shaft end play spacing gauge"). Many people do not even know why they have it.

I'm not sure anyone sells them anymore, but the Williams part number was 03-8194.

I measured a few of them and they are consistently .7mm, so maybe someone wants to make a knockoff.

After you put the flipper mechs back on the playfield, you need to set the gap between the Flipper Bat and the top of the Flipper Bushing.


#18 11 years ago

I'm showing the Gap Tool on the Flipper Bushing NOT installed in the playfield, just for clarity.

I can hear some of you moaning that you did not get a tool with your game. Lucky for us, most credit cards are about .7mm thick. Cut a notch in your card and make your own. Don't cut through the magnetic strip or the embossed numbers, if you ever want to use the card again.

The original Williams instructions show the tool being used between the Crank and the Flipper Bushing. It is much easier to put the tool above the playfield, between the Flipper and the Bushing. That way the tool is far from the under playfield clutter. If it is your first time adjusting flippers, you can rubber-band the tool to the flipper so you don't have to worry about it falling off.


#19 11 years ago

Very nice tutorial!! Good info here.

#20 11 years ago

love it. i was just looking at doing this on my Class of 1812. now i know exactly what do do.

is it safe to assume that it is almost the same for the Bally/Williams and Stern machines?


#22 11 years ago

THis should be stickied. Amazing info.

Thank you!

#23 11 years ago


#24 11 years ago

Honestly, you deserve every ounce of karma you got from the thumbs up on every post of that. Very informative for those who haven't done a thing with their flippers and had no clue what they were doing.

#25 11 years ago

This is what makes this hobby great, someone sharing knowledge to help others.

Thanks for posting this.


#26 11 years ago

Best write up I have seen on flippers. The pictures answered alot of questions!

#27 11 years ago

Love this kind of topic. Thanks for taking the time and also for posting great photos.


#28 11 years ago

Nice. Do you have any interest in adding this info to the Sys11 section of the pinwiki? I've written the flipper rebuilding section for Data East, and although they are similar there are definitively enough differences. This is very detailed and would be a great addition!

#29 11 years ago

Thank you!

#30 11 years ago
Quoted from Blackbeard:

THis should be stickied. Amazing info.

+1 on the sticky. great write up! Now you need to post a multimeter tutorial

#31 11 years ago

Bravo! Absolutely worthy of being stickified!

#32 11 years ago

#33 11 years ago

great work.. I also have a video on a similar subject http://pinballhelp.com/fixing-messed-up-pinball-flippers-slingshots-and-ball-kickers/ In this case, fixing some problems with other peoples' "repairs"

#36 11 years ago

Superb! Excellent descriptions. I might just try doing a flipper rebuild sometime.

#37 11 years ago

Great article vid1900. Any interest in posting this on PinballRehab.com? I could post for you and give you full credit if that's easier.

#38 11 years ago

Nice writeup.

I've tumbled flipper bracketry for years, and never had a problem. It's no different than tumbling any other hardware under the playfield.

#39 11 years ago

Thanks for sharing all the info and even including pictures well played vid1900! I am sure this will help many Pinsiders out now and in the future.

(I moved this topic to the technical help sub forum last night)

#40 11 years ago

Yes, PLEASE. A multimeter tutorial. For us non-electrical pinheads.

#42 11 years ago
Quoted from williams:

Nice. Do you have any interest in adding this info to the Sys11 section of the pinwiki? I've written the flipper rebuilding section for Data East, and although they are similar there are definitively enough differences. This is very detailed and would be a great addition!

I'll look on the pinwiki and see what it takes to post.

I'll want to add some more pics and make a few wording changes for clarity.

#43 11 years ago
Quoted from terryb:

Great article vid1900. Any interest in posting this on PinballRehab.com? I could post for you and give you full credit if that's easier.

Sure, give me a few days to add a few more pics and edit a few sentences.

#44 11 years ago

Nice writeup. Thanks.

#45 11 years ago

thanks so much for taking your time on this..very nice

#46 11 years ago

vid1900, this is a great write-up, and I fully concur with doing the spring upgrades to the earlier (i.e. Sys11) flippers, but one thing does concern me - from these pictures you have a low-voltage gold-flashed EOS switch (fliptronics-style) in where the Sys11 design needs the high-voltage EOS switch with the tungsten-contacts.

Like this one:

It is the high-voltage NC switch that also has the stronger spring to hold it tightly closed for good current flow.

The weaker gold-flashed EOS switches (fliptronics-style) are not designed for that application.


Quoted from vid1900:

This is the correct installation of the Coil; Diodes safely away from the Coil Stop. It matters, do it right.
Some Coils were installed backwards at the factory, so you may have to pull a little slack wire from the harnesses to reach the proper position.

#47 11 years ago

Beyond helpful, lets sticky this!

#48 11 years ago

I'm going to check my machines, but I swear to god the coils on every single flipper (2 Sys 9, 3 WPC) that I have, the diodes are butted up to the coil stop, and that's been the case for all prior machines I've owned (3 others, Sys 11a/Old bally SS/Gottlieb System 3) as well. Also the coil sleeve protruding from the non-diode side. Obviously the sleeve has to poke out the end opposite the coil stop or the thing will never fit inbetween the bracket and the stop, but I swear every coil I have is the opposite of what's shown here.

Could see the extra vibration causing the diodes to break when that side of the coil's butted up against the stop, which is getting pounded constantly by the plunger, so +1's for you!

I probably won't be arsed to change the existing ones, unless I'm doing a rebuild, but definitely something to keep an eye out in the future.

#49 11 years ago

very nice dmm tutorial here!

Thanks for posting.

#50 11 years ago

Thanks so much!

I'm going to have to rebuild flippers for the first time on the WH20 i'm picking up tomorrow for the wife's surprise anniversary present. got a good deal so it needs some work, but i'm gonna get some grief until the flippers are working correctly.

perfect timing for this post!

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