Gottlieb EM Broken drop target

One of the drop targets were broken on my El Dorado pinball game.  I looked online and really didn’t find too many sites regarding how to replace a single drop target.  At the time of this post, I didn’t want to buy new drop targets or rebuild the whole unit.  I just simply wanted to fix one drop target.

Here are the steps that I took in order to complete that goal.

  1. I took the playfield out of the game by removing the three jones plugs and placed the playfield upside down on a couple blocks of wood.  If you place it carefully, you can just rest it on the cabinet.
  2. Next, I unscrewed the six legs (“L” brackets)  that hold the drop target onto the playfield.
  3. With the unit removed from the playfied, I could then remove the other screws attaching the backplate of the unit. I didn’t remove anything else from the front of the unit.  Next, I moved the back plate to the side.  This gave me access to the drop target and the two springs.
  4. The next step was to remove one c-clip from the shaft and remove the retaining ring (white stopper) that holds the shaft in place.
  5. Tip: You can remove the spring on the edge of the shaft, and use it to help install the drop target springs. I ended up buying a push/pull spring tool (affiliate link), which is invaluable for this type of repair.
  6. Grab the other end of the shaft and slid it down the other side.  I followed the shaft with another wire (a bent clothes hanger works fine, too).  This will keep all the drop targets in place.  Leave a gap between the wire and the shaft for the one drop target that you want to replace.
  7. Remove the top spring attached to the top plate.  This allows the target and trigger to move freely and can then remove the spring that is attached to the drop target.
  8. I then took the drop target out of the unit.
  9. To reassemble the unit, just follow the directions in reverse.  One note is that I used the spring that I removed earlier and lowered the top spring and used a needle-nose pliers and attached it to the trigger.  I then attached the top part of the spring to the top plate.  **Don’t forget to reattach the shaft spring when reassembling.

One other tool that helps installing the screws when the playfield is upside down is a starter screwdriver (affiliate link).  Next time I do another drop target replacement, I will make a video of the process.

I do appreciate Pinsider, Pinjunkie16.  He sent me 3 used drop targets for free,and they cleaned up nicely!

4 thoughts on “Easy Method for Replacing a Drop Target in a Gottlieb EM Pinball Machine

  1. It’s interesting that you mentioned how you used one of the springs and used it to help you when you installed the drop target springs. When I was helping my grandfather clean out his attic, I found his old pinball machine that looks like it could be repaired, but I don’t think that I have the experience needed to replace the springs. It may be a good idea for me to hire a professional pinball repair service so that I can have the springs replaced by an expert.

    1. Thanks for the comments. Since the post, I bought a spring pull and hook tool. Makes the work super easy. It’s a good tool to have on hand when dealing with the drop targets. I used it on the Sky Jump repair.

  2. I appreciate how you pointed out all the steps to repair a pinball machine such as removing the legs from it and removing screws as well. My brother told me that finally, he was able to declutter his basement and set it up to become his man cave. I will recommend him to visit my dad so he can get the old pinball machine and look for someone to fix it so that he can place it in his man cave.

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