Unsticking a Gottlieb Surf Champ Lockdown Bar

Lockdown mechanism and plunger above the Gottlieb Surf Champ front door The lockdown mechanism removed from Gottlieb's Surf Champ A wire brush loosened rust from the Gottlieb Surf Champ lockdown mechanism Before cleaning and after: the Gottlieb Surf Champ lockdown sliding mechanism

The Gottlieb Surf Champ lockdown mechanism was removed for cleaning. Click photo to enlarge.

My recently purchased Gottlieb Surf Champ had a stuck lockdown bar, so that was the first item to repair. I cleaned gunk and rust out of the mechanism and installed it back in the game. Now it operates smoothly.

Opening the Game

The lockdown lever wouldn't budge, so I applied more force. Work gloves saved my hands from some nasty scrapes when the mechanism suddenly released. Others recommend tying a heavy weight onto the lever and waiting for gravity to do the work.

The lever released the lockdown bar. It came of the game with a reluctant sucking sound, pulling part of a foam strip off the playfield glass. That foam gave its life to protect the game from some sticky liquid spilled long ago.

With the game open and the playfield raised, I could see the eight screws that attached the lockdown mechanism to the front wall of the game. The plunger and its housing passed through the lockdown mechanism, so they had to come out first.

Removing the Plunger

I peeled back the rubber plunger tip to reveal the mushroomed end of the ball shooter plunger. The mushroom was too large to pull through the housing's nylon sleeve.

I rotated the plunger as I filed off the mushroomed metal with a large flat metal file. The metal shavings dropped onto a terry cloth scrap draped over the chimes and knocker to protect them. Soon the end was smooth and beveled. It slid out easily.

Threaded rods extended from the exterior plunger housing through the cabinet wall and the lockdown mechanism. Doubled nuts and lock washers secured the housing in place. A wrench and nut driver quickly released the doubled nuts. The plunger housing and its nylon sleeve slid out of the cabinet wall.

Removing the Lockdown Mechanism

The easiest part of this job was unscrewing the eight wood screws with a flat-head screw driver. With the screws removed, the lockdown mechanism slid up and off of the front cabinet wall. No further disassembly of the mechanism was possible.

Cleaning Out the Gunk and Rust

The underside of the lockdown mechanism had plenty of gunk and rust, particularly around the studs that guide the sliding lock bar. I squirted some WD-40 in those areas to act as a solvent.

I loosened the rust and gunk with a wire brush mounted on an electric drill. Then I wiped away the mess with a cloth. After a few repetitions of solvent, wire brush, and wipe down, the slider began to move with much less effort.

When I was satisfied, I applied Lubriplate white grease where the sliding parts rubbed against the studs. The slider now operates smoothly.

Installing the Lockdown Mechanism

Installation reversed the order of removal. First the lockdown mechanism was positioned above the coin door and secured with eight screws. Then the plunger housing was inserted through the cabinet and held in place with hand tightened lock washers and nuts.

I lowered the playfield and inserted the plunger without springs. Using the ball shooter guide as a reference, I moved the plunger housing to center the plunger tip in the opening. I removed the plunger and raised the playfield to complete the installation by tightening the plunger housing nuts and adding the jam nuts. Finally, I reinstalled the plunger with its springs, clips, and rubber tip. I'll replace the tip later with the rest of the old rubber.

With the playfield still raised, I installed the lock bar and latched it closed. One side was snug; the other was a little loose. Adjustments can be made by rotating the studs under the lock bar. A 5/64-inch Allen wrench loosens set screws in a threaded collars inside the lock bar. One collar was rusted onto its stud; fortunately that was on the snug side. I snugged the loose side and tightened both set screws.

The job was complete when I lowered the playfield, slid the glass over playfield, and locked down the lock bar.

This repair may be obvious to most pinball mechanics. I hope this information will help those facing a stuck lockdown mechanism with no way to look inside.

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