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Bronco was released by Gottlieb in March of 1977. It was one of the last Electro-Mechanical pinballs made as Gottlieb was the last manufacturer to convert to Solid State machines. Bally was releasing SS machines at the same time that Bronco was on the market. The SS version of "Night Rider" was released at the same time as Bronco!
Bronco also came in a
two-player version "Mustang". They both shared the same
playfield and just had a slightly different backglass.
Bronco was the first "EM" pinball machine I owned. I bought it at the urging of my wife who wanted a pinball machine with a horse theme and "the bells". She likes the slower play of the EMs and was bugging me to get one. This particular machine was offered for sale on the Mr. Pinball classifieds by a local seller about 15 minutes away. Needless to say we jumped at the sale and picked up the machine. It was a pretty uneventful purchase for me (every pinball purchase or sale I do seems to have a saga attached to it!) The machine worked fine from the start and was enjoyed for almost two years. I grew tired of it after about one day (it doesn't even have any slingshot kickers!), but it was enjoyed by visitors who where a bit too shy to step up to the newer machines. Typical of Gottlieb pins of the era, it has a symmetrical design (both sides of the playfield are the same) and plays very slowly.
An acquaintance of ours husband owns an antique "marketplace" in town and asked me if I was interested in selling one of my machines there. He was doing up a soda shop type thing with an actual fountain counter setup, an old bubbler jukebox and some restored Vendo Coke machines. He said than an EM pinball would be a wonderful compliment. Neither of my other two EMs (Gottlieb's Masquerade, 1965 and Bally's Captain Fantastic) are in any shape to sell, so I volunteered to bring over the Bronco since it wasn't something I needed to hang onto. I did a quick shop/restoration job on the machine and it was ready to go! He bought the machine in January of 2002 and it sold in March.
is an example of some of the restoration work that was needed before I
could sell the machine.
The bonus ladder had some significant wear that needed to be taken care of. I didn't attempt to touch
up the white however, its almost impossible to match.
I take photos of the playfield from about every angle possible before starting a restoration job. This way I have a reference other than my head when it comes to putting it all back together. The shot below shows an example of two of the photos (digital and printed back out on a laser printer) I used to put everything back where it belonged.
| Here is
the top half of the playfield after the restoration. I replaced
all of the pop bumper assemblies and also purchased new lane
guides. I did reuse the posts after running them through the
dishwasher. In hind sight I would have bought new ones, since the
while had yellowed a bit and didn't look as good as it could with new
lane guides and rubbers.
This shot also shows
Bronco's trademark three single "horse head" drop
targets. The game features three roll-over lanes at the top and
two eject holes.
| Here is
the lower half of the playfield showing the bonus ladder and star
rollover buttons. The game also had another pair of eject holes at
the middle of the playfield that would shoot the ball into the top eject
holes. Probably the best effect on the game.
Two more shots of the playfield, the first completely stripped and the second fully populated:
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