Sunday, January 24, 2010

Removing the timing lever, main operating fork and A-frame

The next part of our antique slot machine restoration is the removal of the timing lever, pictured below.

The timing lever's job is to trigger the vertical payout fingers so that they travel forward and detect any winning combinations on the reels at the end of the mech's cycle. It's held in place by a cotter pin and a spring that is attached to a lever on the clock assembly. Removal is pretty much self-explanatory.

Next up (or more appropriately off) is the timing lever link assembly. Take a look:

The timing lever link assembly provides an interface between the timing lever (that we just removed) and the clock assembly. On later Mills machines (like this one) there is an adjustment screw that allows you to vary the timing of the payout fingers' release. Optimally, the fingers will release halfway between the stop of the third reel and the point at which the payout slides are released. Anyway, to remove the timing lever link assembly, remove the cotter pin under the adjustment screw on the left of the part, then swing the part out to get to the other cotter pin pictured below.

I'd recommend leaving the adjustment screw in place for now, particularly if your machine was in generally working condition when you started disassembly.

There's one last part we're going to remove before taking out the main operating fork, and it's a little hard to see. It's a small bracket on the back of the timing lever bracket and stud assembly. It is secured with two screws, as seen in the photo below.

Remove those two screws and the bracket will drop and you'll have to fish it out of the mech. It looks like this once removed (with the screws replaced, of course):

With that part out of the way, we are free to remove the main operating fork, which is somewhat like the spine of the slot machine. When the machine is cycled, virtually every part of the operating mechanism depends upon the main operating fork. Removal of the fork should be pretty easy now that we've removed so many parts. The fork is secured by four screws as shown in the two photos below.

Each pair of these screws secures a removable portion of the main operating fork bearings. It's important to note that these bearings should be replaced exactly as they were removed, meaning that you should keep the right one on the right and the left one on the left. You should also keep them aligned the same top-to-bottom, so be sure to keep them straight and replace them immediately after you remove the main operating fork assembly. Here's what the fork assembly looks like after removal:

As before when we removed the rear bracket, we're not going to attempt further disassembly of the main operating fork assembly at this time. We'll tackle that later during cleaning. By the way, notice the grey paint on the spring above. That's a sure sign of someone taking bad shortcuts.

The mechanism certainly looks different now... let's take a look.

The A-frame pictured above should come off easily now just by unscrewing the two screws that attach it to the base plate, but there's a small part that I'm going to remove first.

This part is called the felt pad bracket and assembly, but it sure doesn't look like there's any felt on this one. Removing it is a snap, just undo the two screws securing it to the A-frame, then remove the A-frame itself from the base plate.

Before we move on, let's take another look at what's left of the mechanism.

It definitely looks different. Here's a closeup of the clock mechanism:

If you've never taken a machine completely apart before, take some time now and play with the different parts you see. Take note of how they operate and it will greatly enhance your understanding of how a mechanical slot machine operates.

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