How to rescue a

1948 Gottlieb "first flipper" Pinball: Fairy Tale/Nursery Rhyme series game

by Alan Lewis

NOTE: 2009 update at bottom of this page.It works!See the video.


2009 Texas Pinball Festival Grand Champion/Best of Show


The tale:

I bought this pinball a few years ago because I was fascinated with its historical significance. It is one of the Fairy Tale/Nursery Rhyme series of pinball machines that ushered in the flipper era in 1948. I knew it was a project machine before I bought it.

When I went to pick it up the condition became evident. The game was barely held together, you had to support it on all four corners from underneath to pick it up then be in synch with the other person to keep it from twisting and falling apart. It was almost like trying to pick up liquid.






This is the condition of the pinball. It had been in (poor) storage for many years apparently, probably from the 1970's from the look of the graffiti (Love, Peace, the peace sign {upside down no less!}).

The backglass was broken into three pieces too.

But the very important item is that all the original parts were still on the machine. Nothing seemed to be missing.

For some reason this machine was saved. Most pinballs in this shape would have been thrown out years ago.

The mechanisms? Don't ask! All there but very rusty and corroded.






One thing I knew for sure is that no matter how limited my talents are for fixing pinball machines I could not make this one any worse! The only thing that I could do to make it worse would be to set it on fire. Hmmmmm..............

Item number one on rebuilding list; Do not set pinball on fire.

There, now everything else I put on my list will only improve the machine.

I decided I wasn't going to be a purist when rebuilding this machine. The best I could expect was to get a presentable, working example of a historic pinball. So all my decisions were based upon practical considerations. I would use the original parts only if I could make them presentable enough. Otherwise I would get creative, but try to follow the original design the best I could.

The following are links to the rescue plan: (click on the thumbnail)


Playfield and trim

Inserts and other misc. items


D-shaped side strip

Flippers (6 of them!)

I don't have time for all these pages!

Just take me to the BEFORE/AFTER page!

2009 UPDATE: Itís alive!





After at least 40 years of neglect it started up and played a game right away!Amazing!

I first cleaned every contact and freed up the steppers.I also replaced the fuse holders and put in a new power cord.

I have a new found respect for the robustness and longevity of EM pinball machines!

Choose video size you want to view below (Large or Small)

Windows Media Player file

VIDEO: wmv 480x640 (81mb)

Large file size

VIDEO:wmv 240x320 (16mb)

Small file size



Copyright 2007 by Alan Lewis

Do not copy anything without the written permission of Alan Lewis