I received a 1965 Gottlieb Kings and Queens pinball game from a friend of mine. My first look at the game was in photos only (see below). I was unsure of the condition, but from looking at the pictures, I assumed it wasn’t going to work.
When I picked up the game, the first repair was to replace the broken playfield glass, which my friend did. I then brought the game home to my shop and was finally able to open it up for a closer inspection. The inside was better than I anticipated. A few obvious flaws was some wear on the playfield around the bottom middle and one of the queens had part of her hair missing (poor thing). This first glance gave me better idea of the condition and what type of work I might be needing to do.
Enough Gottlieb games (High Hand, Strange World, Sky Jump) have come through my shop that I am getting a feel for a certain pattern that seems to be successful when working on them. I like to start with the backbox, move to the motherboard, and then see if the game will start. If a game does not start, I can trouble shoot any problems before the final step of working on the playfield.
As I mentioned, I like to start with the backbox. There was not much work to do here! The process started with cleaning the one, ten, and hundred point relays and making sure the switches were transitioning correctly. The credit unit and the 0-9 unit both moved smoothly and didn’t need any attention. The game did not have any blown fuses and the fuses were the correct amperage. One issue was a spliced power cord. Everything else looked great.
Since the backbox looked good, I went out of order this time and decided to power on the game. I added one credit on the replay unit, and hit the start button. The game did not start. It lit up for a second, but that was it. Upon further inspection, I noticed the motor was not spinning the full 120 degrees. It was only going about 10 degrees. Manually moving the score motor revealed that is was stuck.
At this point, I decided to take the motherboard out of the game and work on it at a more comfortable level. The score motor was not moving, and I looked for any type of binding or something that was blocking it from moving. There was nothing binding the motor, so I added quite a bit force to finally free the motor. The motor had so much grease which had hardened in place. At this point I cleaned the motor along with all of the switches. All was good, so it was time to move on to the relays.
I cleaned all of the switches on the relays and only found one relay that was out of alignment. It looked like someone had monkeyed around with it and the switches were out of the armature and bent.
The next step was moving to the control bank setup. Releasing the wing nuts on the unit gave access to the switches. I cleaned and checked all the switch including the SB Armature switch. When I finished with the control bank, I cleaned and put in a new coil sleeve on the coil that resets the bank. It was pretty greasy. The power cord was replaced and I again applied power.
Powering on the Game
This time the game did reset! When checking all the switches on the playfield, everything worked except the center bumper which was locking on. This was an adjustment on the EOS switch and then all worked as it should. The next step was cleaning up the playfield and adding new rubbers to the game.
The next step was to take apart the playfield and give the game a good cleaning. During this process, I rebuilt the pop bumpers and adjusted any switches. This also gave me the opportunity to go through the other relay bank and make sure everything was transitioning smoothly, and it was. The ball lift assembly was full of dried grease and barely moved at first, so that got a good cleaning. It was pretty gross, and I was impressed at how well it cleaned up.
Finally any burned out lights were replaced , and I noticed a few of the special game lights were not working. This was due to bad resistors on the game. The special light and the four lights on the outholes run off the 25V line, The resistors are used to lower the power so a normal bulb can be used. I placed an order for 75 ohm, 10 watt resistors as I didn’t have them on hand.
One lingering problem I was having was the balls would not all release into the ball lift. The first one would roll out fine, but the next one wouldn’t move without a slight nudge to the game. I took apart this assembly and adjusted the ball trough switches. These changes fixed the problem.
This game was in a lot better condition than I originally anticipated. Cleaning up old, caked on grease seemed to be only one major problem.
This is definitely an iconic game as it was featured in the film, Tommy, by The Who. This was the game that Roger Daltrey was playing in the finals versus Elton John.
As far as playing the game, it was originally set for 3 balls, and I ended up switching that to 5 balls. It was extremely difficult to get all the cards lit. I can usually get a set but getting all them proves to be a challenge.
I’m pleased with how the game turned out and it is a fun game to play!