If you’re planning on moving with your gaming equipment, keeping everything protected needs to be your top priority.  After all, you have invested some solid time and money into it and the last thing you need is getting your equipment ruined in the process of relocating.

When moving a pinball machine, there are several contingencies you need to address: is this a solid-state electronic machine from the ‘70s? Or is it a newer machine with more complicated mechanics and delicate electronics? How are you going to remove the backbox? What about the legs? What will you use to cover and stabilize the pinball machine during transport?

Moving a pinball machine can be an intimidating endeavor. The sheer size, awkward shape, and deceptive fragility make the task more challenging than moving your typical couch. Luckily, when it comes to moving delicate items, FlatRate knows all the secrets to make sure the process is as streamlined as possible.

Electro-Mechanical Machines

These are the kind of machines that can allow the headbox to fold down. You will want to disconnect the main wiring then find the rear access panel and remove it. There may have been a key at some time for this panel and if you have it, you should use it. If not, you might have to use a screwdriver to gain access. Once that’s done, unplug the large connectors and label them to know where to reconnect once you move the machine.

Early Solid State Pinballs

With older pinball machines, you will need to remove the machine’s backglass. On these, there is usually a lock-in in one of three spots on the headbox: the upper left, upper right, or on top of the headbox in the middle.

Once you unlock the glass, slide it out through the bottom of the headbox. Once it is out, handle it very carefully and find a properly sized box to take it on and wrap it securing it with packing material. It will most likely have an intricate, singular design painted on the surface, meaning that it will be almost impossible to replace or repair if damaged.

Modern Solid-State Machines

Depending on the manufacturer you will either need to use a special Allen key to fold the headbox down, as will Data East, Sega, and Stern, or utilize a simple latching system in the back, like with Williams, Bally, and Gottlieb machines.

How to Remove the HeadBox

If you have a machine from an earlier age, the headbox (essentially the vertical piece that shows the score and main artwork) will probably be attached with 2-4 bolts. They can be easily removed, most of the time, with a wrench or ratchet set.

Most modern machines have hinges on the headbox that allow it to be folded down. You might want to place cardboard or some other shock-absorbing material between the glass of the headbox and the playfield glass.

How to Remove the Legs

Examine the area around where the legs attach to the main playing surface of the pinball machine. Each leg should have 8 bolts connecting it to the main machine. Most likely the bolts will be ⅝ inches or 9/16 inches, so be prepared with the proper wrenches.

Make sure to remember which are the front legs and which are the back legs. Except for Sega pinball machines, most have back legs that are longer than the front legs. You will want to replace the legs in the same spots when you put the machine back together.

Wrapping the Machine

Invest in some furniture blankets and wrap to protect your pinball machine properly. With all that glass, there is a very good chance that something will break if you do not take steps to protect it from the move.

If the headbox just folds down, you will want to wrap that and the main playing box in enough furniture blankets to cover the entire surface area. Wrap the cellophane around it to secure the blankets in place.

Gather the pinball machine legs together and wrap them with one blanket. You can use cellophane or duct tape to secure that package. Be sure to save the bolts, nuts, and other small parts necessary to put the pinball machine back together at the new location.


Unwrap all the pieces and lay them out on the ground. Replace any light bulbs or lamp pieces that you may have taken out for moving and make sure they work before moving on.

Put the pinball machine backglass back into the headbox and lock-in in place. If your headbox is unattached from the main piece, attach the legs back on before you put the headbox back in its spot.

Be sure to put the legs in their proper place so you don’t end up with a lopsided pinball machine. Attach the headbox back on and re-attach any wires that you took apart for transport.

Categories: Moving Tips