This should have been obvious but neither I nor the original owner thought to try this. I've done it now and it seems like it's going to work, just a bit of a trick getting everything put together just right. Thanks for the suggestion. It's obviously a little bit shorter and tighter now which may mean it will break again at some point. But it does have a slightly bigger hook on it now than before so maybe it will hold up fine.
Thank you, I had not found that blog. Just from some quick reading it does sound like it's the buttons that are the issue with the ball speed, and not the flippers themselves. Here's something I didn't think of that I will try first before doing anything with the buttons or flippers though. He used a little bit of armor all on the playfield to lubricate it a bit. The graphics on the playfield are literally just paper glued to the medium density board, so that's creating a lot of friction. Would Armorall be the best product for this or should I try something else? I have some leather furniture cleaner which may be pretty similar to Armorall, given that he says he uses that stuff on his furniture too.
"The other night I wanted to make the play field surface pop a little more. I don't have wax, which is what is used on real pinball machines. I don't know how well wax would work in this case because the artwork on the surface is actually just paper permanently adhered to a piece of medium density board. I did however had a bottle of Armor All. Yes folks, this stuff ain't just for cars. I use this on a ton of other stuff like hardwood furniture, speaker cabinets, etc.
Rather than spray directly to the surface (not recommended) I sprayed just a little bit on a folded up paper towel and started to gently wipe it around the surface. Then I wiped the excess off with a clean paper towel. This leaves an invisible slightly oily layer, making the surface slippery and smooth. When I started up the machine again and started playing.... WOOAH!!!! That ball just flies all over the play field. This added much more speed and drastically preserves the energy to the ball when hit by a flipper or bounced by a bumper. So count surface friction as another factor in the slow-ball movement issues. It's ridiculous how different it feels now. It feels far more like real pinball machine gameplay."
Edit: Looks like he did end up using wax on this playfield:
"Also finally broke down and used car wax to polish the heck out of the surface. I didn't do a full strip of the play field. I only removed the rails that go across the field from the right ramp to get it out of the way. After that, I added a generous layer of Armor All."