Restoring a Pinball Machine

This Gottlieb Fast Draw pinball machine was manufactured in 1975. I didn't have any real experience with pinball machines when I purchased it, but I had a lot of fun learning. (There are some truly excellent resources on the web, particularly Apart from some dirt and a few missing parts, the machine was in pretty good condition.

The machine has an unusual provenance: it was originally owned by the The O'Jays and was a fixture in their Ohio studio.

A view of the Gottlieb Fast Draw playfield.

This is the machine's backglass (and an unfortunate combination of sexism, racism, and imperialism.)

The Gottlieb Fast Draw back glass.

Not much peeling of the backglass paint, but I sprayed it with glazing to keep it that way.

The rear of the back glass.


Here are some before-and-after shots of the playfield. (Use the slider to alternate between the “before” and “after” shots.)

Detail of the left playfield plastic, before the restroration.
Detail of the left playfield plastic, after the restroration.
A detail of the left side A and B rollovers.
A detail of the left side A and B rollovers.
The Gottlieb Fast Draw playfield, before restoration. The Gottlieb Fast Draw playfield, after restoration.

The playfield itself was in good shape, apart from some "planking" in the upper playfield area.

Planking in the upper playfield. A view of the upper playfield, showing the A, B, and C rollovers, three bumpers, and the add bonus targets.

I removed all of the playfield inserts and re-set them.A view of the bonus counter light inset area. All of the insets have been removed.

Here are the drop targets.

The left side drop targets. Four are yellow, with an image of a cowboy on them. The middle target is black, with the image of a horseshoe on it.

Hitting all of the targets causes the horseshoe target to pop back up for a chance at 5,000 points.

The drop target mechanism.

Because this is a four-player game, there were 16 score reels to disassemble and clean.

Gottlieb Fast Draw score reels. The score reel disassembled for cleaning. The printed circuit board inside the score reels.

The official looking "manufacturer's certificate" is a sly bit of visual rhetoric; it lends an air of legitimacy to the machine. Pinball had a reputation of being connected to gambling and the Mafia, and machines were banned in many jurisdictions.

A closeup of the "Manufacturer's Certificate" above the upper left playfield. The background is a green, curlicued certificate frame and resembles currency or an old stock note. It reads, in all caps, "This machine is designed and manufactured to be operated exclusively as an amusement device. It is approved for transportation in interstate commerce under section 1178 of Title 15, U.S. Code (P.L. 81-906 as amended by P.L. 87-840). It is not subject to the Federal Occupational Stamp Tax on Coin-Operated Devices, having been excluded from sections 4461-2 of Title 26, U.S. Code, by P.L. 89-44." The model is stamped "Fast Draw" and the serial number is 13060. The address on the bottom reads "D. Gottlieb & Co., 185 Lake St. / Northlake, Illinois, U.S.A."

Cool side art.

The upper side art, an image of a cowboy stenciled in orange and blue paint. The lower side art, a n image of a stagecoach driven by three horses into a mountainous landscape.

The machine is completely electromechanical—all relays, switches, and solenoids—nothing digital here.

A view inside the machine, through the coin door. Behind the scorewheels. The player selector appears underneath the scorewheels. Control relays underneath the playfield. More control relays underneath the playfield.