Saturday, January 30, 2010

Horizontal fingers and payout slides

The last parts left connected to the base plate are all related to the payout system. A word of caution before we proceed: As we remove the horizontal fingers and the payout slides, it's important to keep them in order just like we did for the vertical fingers a few chapters ago. We're going to try to remove the entire horizontal finger assembly as one unit, but if it becomes necessary to dismantle it I'm going to thread a piece of wire through the parts to keep them in order. The same thing goes for the payout slides.

Anyway, let's get to work.

Here we see the horizontal fingers and the payout slides. We can go ahead and disconnect the large springs for the payout slides and the small springs for the horizontal payout levers at any time.

The photo above shows the first part we'll be removing. Since the springs for the coin slides are connected to it, we need to go ahead and slip them off of the ears on the timing lever bracket. Once the springs are free, we can unscrew the two screws  pointed out above to remove the part.

You'll notice that there is a partial date printed on this particular piece, but that will not always be the case. Sometimes when you tear into an old machine you find bits of information like this, which is sometimes useful but often confusing.

The part in the photo above can be removed at this point, although it is probably easier to wait until the coin slides are removed. I chose to remove it now, so that's what the photos reflect. It's secured by a shoulder screw visible in the photo above, plus a spring that is attached to the underside of the base plate.

The safety slide lever assembly is the closest thing an antique slot machine has to a pinball machine's "tilt" mechanism. When we remove the payout slides you will be able to see the safety slide itself, which is really nothing more than a thin piece of metal with a hole in it. It its normal position, it allows coins to pass down through it and out of the mechanism into the payout chute. If the machine has been jarred during its cycle, however, the lever trips and the slide moves backwards to prevent coins from passing through.

The entire safety slide/lever mechanism is sometimes called the "non-beating" mechanism for obvious reasons. Although these are relatively minor parts, they sometimes cause problems. If the small spring attached to the safety slide lever breaks or loses tension, or if the lever gets generally gummed up, the safety slide can travel backwards on every pull of the handle, preventing the machine from paying off. For this reason, if you have a machine that won't pay off at all you should probably spend a bit of time checking to be sure that the lever travels freely and that the attached spring returns it to its proper position.

Here's a view from underneath the base plate:

Once the shoulder screw is removed and the spring is disconnected the lever can be removed, although it takes a bit of maneuvering to get it out from under the coin slides. For this reason, you may want to leave it in place for now and remove it later.

Next, we're going to remove the horizontal fingers and the related bracket as one piece if possible. If you haven't already disconnected the springs shown below, go ahead and do it now.

In the photo above you can also see the screw-in shaft that secures all of the horizontal fingers, and it's perfectly OK to take this shaft out and remove each finger individually. In fact, that may be easier all around. I'm going to leave the shaft in place for now, though, and try to remove the entire assembly at once.

The horizontal payout lever braket is secured to the base plate with a couple of screws. Once they are removed, if you are trying to remove all the fingers one at a time or all at once, you will have to work them backwards GENTLY to get them out of the guide bracket up near the slides (seen near the top of the photo above.)

Sometimes there is a spacer underneath the horizontal payout lever bracket, so be sure to watch for it and replace it when you reassemble the machine.

Let's see what the assembly looks like once we have the assembly off the mech:

All of the fingers look the same, except for the very top one which has the hook for the spring that I destroyed earlier in the teardown (the jackpot finger), and the bottom one which has a protrusion on the front edge (the one-cherry finger.) Even though the middle four fingers are essentially identical, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't keep them in the same order when you reassemble the machine. Parts wear together over the decades, and changing them around can sometimes cause you problems.

You may also notice in the above photo that some of the fingers are bent a bit on the right-hand side. If you encounter parts that are bent inside of an antique slot machine, your first instinct may be to straighten them out immediately. This isn't always a good idea. Bending was a common and accepted adjustment in most antique slot machines. Until you are certain that a bend is causing you problems, you should probably leave it alone. There's a good chance that someone who knew more about slot machines that you do put the bend in the part intentionally a long time ago, and you don't want to inadvertently undo their good work.

Anyway, back to the mech:

Four screws secure the payout slide coverplate. Here's what the underside looks like once it has been removed from the mech:

With the cover removed, we can finally see the coin slides themselves:

At this point, the slides are not secured to the mech by anything, and can be lifted straight up. Be sure to keep them in order!

Notice that I've tied the slides together with a piece of wire to keep their order straight. Remember our discussion regarding the number of coins held in each slide? Here's a visual:

We've only got a few parts left to remove, and they are all secured with basic screws.

Don't misplace the spacer shown above. Without it installed, the horizontal fingers will bind in the guide and not work properly.

We've got another bumper that needs to be removed. This one stops the payout slides at the back, making sure that their holes line up over the circular hole in the base plate that leads to the payout chute.

It's secured on the underside of the base plate with a screw.

This bumper is in better shape than the others we've seen, but it's hard as a rock and will probably also need to be replaced.

There are four posts that held the payout slide coverplate that could be removed from the base plate now, but in general it's not necessary to remove them unless you are doing something extreme to the base plate. I'm going to leave them in place for now.

Believe it or not, that's it! We'll have some minor disassembly to do as we clean the various parts of the mechanism, but we're done with the mech for now. Check it out:


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