Sunday, January 24, 2010

Now we're cooking with gas

With the reel bundle gone, we can begin the tear-down in earnest. Let's take a look.

We'll start with the reel stop levers. We need to get the levers out of the way, then remove them. The first step is to disconnect the reel stop lever springs. The springs are easy to find... they are the long springs attached to each of the reel stop levers that connect them to the back of the mechanism. As with most springs in the machine, one end will be threaded through a hole and the other end will be looped around some sort of post or ear. Generally it is a good idea to slip the spring off of the ear and leave it connected to the part where it is threaded through a hole.

After the springs are disconnected from the back bracket, you can lay the reel stop levers down as shown above. Now we need to remove the levers themselves by removing the shaft at the bottom of the levers. This is a pretty simple matter, although the shaft is sometimes difficult to remove due to the accumulation of dirt and hardened oil/grease.

Depending on the machine, this shaft is usually held in place by two hairpins or cotter pins. (Regional note: I've noticed that people in the South tend to use the term "cotter pin" while folks in the Midwest and Northeast tend to say "cotter key". Either way, they are the same thing.) On this particular slot machine, the shaft is held by hairpins. We only need to remove the pin pictured above, which is easily accomplished with a pair of needle nosed pliers. Be careful when removing this sort of pin since they have a tendency to shoot across the room and get lost forever if you don't have a good grip.

With the other pin removed, take a small pair of vice grip pliers and lock them on the end of the shaft protruding from the A-frame as pictured above. The shaft should slide straight out, although you will probably have to turn it back and forth and possibly move the reel stop levers as you are pulling.

Once the shaft has been removed, put the other hair pin back in place and store the shaft for future cleaning. As with screws, it's good practice to put pins back in place before proceeding on.

The photo above shows what the three reel stop levers look like once they have been removed. I'm going to leave the springs attached for now just to keep up with them. Note that the three levers are not identical. The one on the right (as you are looking at the front of the mechanism) has an offset and two holes where the shaft goes through the lever. The other two levers are held apart by a separate, tubular spacer that also goes on the shaft.

With the reel stop levers and shaft gone, we have a much clearer view of the base plate. Let's take a close look at the label.

Unfortunately I don't think we're going to be able to read the serial number through all of the dirt, oil and paint. I'll still save the label, but I really wish the serial number was readable. Oh, well... you can't win them all.

The next part we're going to remove is the rear bracket that holds the reel brakes (if present) and the disc stop lever. It also holds the award token release lever on machines that are equipped for a gold award token dispenser. Removal is pretty straightforward since the bracket is only held on by a couple of screws. We'll also have to disconnect a spring from the award token release lever. Before we go on, however, there's a situation we should discuss. Let's take a look.

 As you can see in the photo above, there is a paperclip bent around the bracket, keeping a hooked part behind the bracket stationary. Why in the world would someone do this to a slot machine? The answer is pretty simple, and this sort of "fix" is relatively common on antique Mills slot machines. The part behind the bracket is the anti-check payout hook, and its purpose is to keep the slot machine from paying out coins if someone has played a "check" instead of a coin. Checks look a lot like washers, having a hole in the middle, and were used in some locales to get around anti-gambling laws. We'll look at this part in more detail later, but for now let me just say that this part is unnecessary for a home machine, and generally a pain to work with. The anti-check assembly has a tendency to freeze up or get sluggish, which can keep the machine from paying out correctly or at all. Some people remove this part completely, and others use a "fix" similar to the one above using bailing wire or a zip tie. For now we'll just remove the paperclip and the other things securing the back bracket.

The photo above shows the left side of the bracket after the screw and paperclip have been removed. Note how the bracket fits in between the various parts... this will be important during reassembly.

Here's what the bracket looks like after removal. Notice that the disc stop lever and the award token release levers are still attached. We'll remove these later when we clean this part and put them back in place before moving on. I prefer working on parts and assemblies using this sort of "modular" approach rather than disassembling absolutely everything at one time. It keeps parts together and helps you get a feel for how parts interact on the machine.

Here's another view of the bracket and related parts. You can clearly see the disc stop lever in the foreground. This part keeps the reels from spinning backwards while the mechanism is being cocked.

Next time we'll tackle the main operating fork and related parts.

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