Got another pinball machine in the shop and similar to the Strange World that I did last month. This one came into the shop with various wires cut along with a donor coin door for replacement. The first thing I checked was the ball in play unit along with the score reels. All of them need to be cleaned and adjusted. I decided the biggest challenge of the game would be to the motherboard. I took this out of the game, and started working on it.

The Motherboard

For some reason unknown, the previous owner undid the wiring harness and cut about 15 wires. My guess is there were trying to track down a short and eventually gave up on the game and sold it. My plan of attack was to clean/adjust all the relays in union with fixing the wiring harness. I took apart each relay, cleaned all the switches, and then checked for any needed adjustments. Out of the 16 relays, I only found a couple of switches that need adjusted. The next step was going through the score motor.

Notice the cut wires. I went through the right side and can compare with the left. Look at those sparkly clean relays.

I cleaned and adjusted all of the score motor switches. I found a few switches that needed adjusted and double-checked that they were changing states when the motor ran. I found one loose wire that was coming off the motor, and re-soldered that back on to the correct switch.

All nice and tidy. Can you see the ground wire that I added? It runs to the coin door Jones Plug and then goes to the coin door and on/off switch.

Replacing the Power cord

The power cord looked original, and I took the time to replace it with a 3-prong cord. I ran the ground wire to the side of the transformer, and then ran a wire to the coin door and on/off switch. I ran the wire inside of the harness and connected it to the extra plug on the Jones plug going to the coin door. After doing this, I moved on to the reset unit.

old power cord
Old power cord.

Bonus Unit

This unit was also sluggish, and I took it apart. I threw most of the parts into my ultrasonic cleaner. This does a great job removing the dirt and grease off the parts. I noticed the one of the coil stops feel apart and mushroomed quite a bit, so I replaced it with a new one. I put all the parts by together and applied a thin layer of lube were needed. Retested the unit, and now moves smoothly.

Reset unit
Reset unit

Rewiring the Coin Door Unit

Nine wires needed to be connected. I just spliced (and soldered) one harness into the other. The coin door lights where in a different location, and needed wiring to the new harness. This took some time to do, because I wanted to double check all connections along with trying to run the wires through the existing harness. I thought it turned out okay. I finally had everything done on the motherboard, and now put my attention to the backbox.

Coin door light
Coin door light.

The Backbox

I spent a while taking apart the ball in play unit along with the score reels. When I had them apart, I cleaned all contacts and rivets, applied lube on the rivets, and adjusted contacts.  I reassembled and manually tested everything. All of the units and score reels were advancing smoothly.

After cleaning the units and reels, I cleaned and adjusted all the relays in the backbox. The next test was to finally plug in the game and see what happens.

Ball Count Unit
Dirty Ball Count Unit

Plugging in the Game

The moment finally arrived, and plugged in the game for the first time. I moved all the score reels to zero and hit the replay button and tried to watch the reset circuit go. I noticed that the V relay need to be unlatched and restarted another game. The game reset, ball kicked out of the out hole, and ball moved over the trough switch.

As soon as the ball went over the trough switch the machine went “crazy”. The slingshots were machine gunning, the scores were running continuously, and the lights were alternating. I turned off the game and noticed that a lot of playfield switched needed adjusted. This was due to the game getting new rubbers and just put more tension on the switches. Got the game to settle down and next problem that I noticed was the drop targets. Two banks did not reset on the start of the game and many of the drop targets stuck half way down.

High Hand Playfield
High Hand Playfield

The Playfied

I pulled the playfield out of the game and went through all four-drop target banks. I took them all apart, cleaned, and adjusted. To be honest, this was not an enjoyable task and my time was definitely a lot quicker on the fourth set than the first. Someone on FB recommended a slotted screw starter, and boy, I wish I had it for this process. I kept dropping screws off of my magnetic screwdriver. I went ahead and purchased one and love it!

I put the playfield back in the game and the drop targets moved clean. I had to adjust quite a few switches on the drop target bank and still noticed the two banks didn’t reset at the start of the game. The coil engaged, but not long enough. I adjusted the motor switch and then the problem cleared itself.

With the playfield out of the game, I went ahead and went through the six relays.

The current owner removed the flippers, and I started to reassemble them. I could not remove one of the coil sleeves on the coil, and ended up replacing the coil. I noticed one of the EOS contacts was broken off along with a bad coil stop. I went ahead and replaced everything with a flipper rebuild kit. Current owner bought new parts for the pop bumper and reinstalled it, too.

Dirty Drop Target Bank
Dirty Drop Target Bank


I was hesitant when the owner brought the game to me with all of the cut wires and the coin door that needed a transplanted. Once I got going on the game, it was not as bad as I thought it was going to be. There was a lot of prep work before plugging it in, but I believe that helped with less problems in the end. It is a fun game and enjoy the drop targets. I also like how the bonus carries over from ball-to-ball.

Feel free to comment below on what you think of the game play on High Hand.

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11 thoughts on “Gottlieb High Hand EM Pinball Repair

  1. It is important that the 00-90 unit work correctly so the alternating value of the 100-1000 rollover switches work correctly. In many games the 00-90 unit does not rotate, so there is no alternation of the lights and scoring for the upper and inlane rollover switches. The pop bumper always scores 1000 points so hitting it is a quick way to accumulate points, plus it occasionally sends the ball into the drop targets giving an easy way to get some of them down. The pop bumper switch is what sends current to the 00-90 unit to advance it, which in turn sends current to the alternating relay to change the value & lights of the upper and inlane rollover switches. If the 00-90 unit is not moving the match score will never change.
    Very neat how you repaired this game.

  2. I have just started to restore a High Hand and am working through various issues. Most things are working, although the cabinet switch has been bypassed and the pop bumper is not causing the top lanes to toggle. Question I have is, do the targets only reset until you start a new game? If I drop all 4 sets and put the ball in the bonus saucer, the bonus scores and the ball kicks out, but the targets stay down, even after change of ball. Thanks for any pointers as I am just not sure of the game play. Also, the 500 point relay does not seem to be connected to anything, though it can be manually triggered.

    1. That’s correct with the drop targets, they will stay down until a new game is played. Here is a quick look at the schematics. If you need more help, let me know…

      The top lane lights toggle is the AS relay, which is the back box. This can get gummed up. Check and make sure that is moving freely.

      Check the drop target switches. They should be scoring 500 points.

      1. Thanks for the quick reply. Could not see the schematic. Waiting to get a paper copy from the chap who sold me the game. Useful pointers. I need to look at the power as to why the transformer is wired directly to one of the relay, bypassing the cabinet switch.

  3. I have replaced the cabinet switch and altered the wiring from the transformer. Found a black wire to the switch had been cut. Did not make any difference! Soon as put the power on, machine is live.
    Got the top lanes and the in lanes at the bottom toggling with the pop number (AS switch). Cannot work out how the 4 mid lanes get lit and what cause the scoop / saucer to light? Any help gratefully received.

    1. For the side rollover lights, check the B relay. It controls the lights activating.

      For the eject hole light (3 ball), check C, D, and A relay.

      For the eject hole light (5 ball), check B, E, and A relay.

  4. Thanks for that. Will give it a go. Another issue is very noisy relays, especially the relay for the top left bank of drop targets. Any suggestions on how to quieter them? I have slackened the spring, cleaned the end of the relay coil, adjusted the contacts and even put a small packing washer in to put the coiling closer to the moving part. Thanks for your help.

  5. Good advice from Clay. Relays should not buzz. It is a delicate balance between coil pulling strength versus the spring and switches resistance. I also have found that using my classic VCR head demagnetizer can help stop coil buzzing when all the other elements have been adjusted. If a coil is burned it definitely should be replaced. One quick trick to see if the spring is the problem is to temporarily remove the spring and energize the relay…..if the buzzing stops maybe the spring is too strong, then then again the coil might be too weak. Don’t give up, buzzing can be stopped.

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