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Pinball Cabinet Terminology

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Hope this help clear up pinball cabinet terminology for newbies. (like myself)

Below is a diagram illustrating the pinball terminology used for the outside of a modern pinball machine...



The vertical or upright part of the pinball that is located towards the rear of the machine.

The Backbox houses the Backglass, Displays, Speakers and electronic circuit boards in modern pinballs. In Electro-Mechanical pinballs, the Backbox houses the Backglass, Score Reels and some relays and stepper units.


The artwork located at the front of the Backbox.

Up until the mid 1980's, the Backglass artwork was silk-screened onto the back of the glass. This artwork is prone to peeling over time and should be protected. Modern pinballs have their artwork printed on a "Translite" attached to the glass from behind.

Ball Launch

Launches the ball into the playfield.

Also known as: Ball Plunger and Ball Shooter. The majority of pinballs have a plunger that you pull back on, and then let go, to launch the ball into the playfield area. Some of the modern pinballs have a button to press to achieve this (as shown in the diagram above). There are some modern pinballs that have a Ball Plunger and an automatic ball kicker to launch the ball.


The large lower box of the pinball machine.

Also known as the body. The Cabinet houses the Playfield, Flipper Buttons, Coin Door and Playfield Glass. In Electro-Mechanical pinballs, the cabinet also houses relays, stepper units and motors.

Coin Door

The door at the front of the Cabinet, that houses the Coin Mechanisms.

The Coin Door is also the main access to the inside of the Cabinet. Once this door is open, you can then remove the Playfield Glass to access the Playfield, or operate the Test Buttons to access the Test Functions.

Display & Speaker Panel

The panel located below the Backglass, housing displays and speakers.

This panel is used on modern pinballs due to the need for housing the Dot Matrix display. Earlier pinballs did not have this panel, as the Score Displays were located in vairous positions behind the Backglass.

Flipper Button

The buttons you press to operate the Flippers.

Without these buttons, you could not play the pinball machine. These buttons are attached to Switches which in turn activate the Flipper Coil to make the Flipper Bat move or "Flip".


What the Pinball stands on.

Legs were not always on pinball machines. Originally pinballs were placed on tables or counters. Eventually, the need for pinballs to stand on their own arised, and legs were attached.

Leg Bolt

They attach the Legs to the Pinball Machine.

The Legs need to be attached to a Pinball Machine somehow, and the Leg Bolts are the items that do it. They are usually either a 5/8 inch, or a 9/16 inch Hex Head UNC bolt.

Leg Leveller

Used to ajdust the level of the Pinball Machine.

The Leg Levellers are used for adjusting the height of the rear and front Legs to compensate for uneven floors, and to ajdust the Playfield angle. Modern pinballs have a Playfield Angle of approx. 7°, while older pinballs have a Playfield Angle of approx. 3½°.

Lock Down Bar

Keeps the Playfield Glass in place and locked in.

The lock Down Bar is the main part that needs to be removed if access is needed to the Playfield, or inside of the Cabinet. It can only be removed once the Coin Door has been opened.

Playfield Glass

Covers and protects the Playfield.

The Playfield Glass is a toughened (or tempered) glass, and is there to prevent any tampering with the pinball machine. It also decreases mechanical noise significantly.

Side Art

The artwork on the sides and front of the Cabinet and Backbox.

The Side Art is what decorates the Pinball Machine to give each model a unique look, and to generate interest in playing the machine. Early pinballs had stenciled artwork, while modern pinballs use either silk-screened artwork or decals.

Side Rail

The Side Rail keeps the Playfield Glass in place.

Early pinballs used wooden side rails to keep the Playfield Glass in place, while later models use a Stainless Steel version.

Start Button

Used to Start the game.

The Start Button (sometimes called Credit Button), is how each game is started. Press this once for a 1 player game, twice for a 2 player game, and up to 6 times for a 6 player game (most pinballs only go up to 4 players, but there are a few 6 player machines).

Top Lock

Locks the Backglass in place.

Also known as: Backbox Lock, and Backglass Lock. The Top Lock can be located in a few different positions. Above the Backglass as shown in the diagram, on the top of the Backbox, or either of the two sides of the Backbox. This lock needs to be opened to access items located inside the Backbox. On Electro-Mechanical Pinballs, the lock is located behind the machine, and removes the access door to the mechanicals located there.

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