I came across this “Slot Machine” in an antique store in 2012 and scooped it up for $30. I love early mechanical or “coin op” pieces and have always wanted an official slot machine but have resisted spending $1-2K to get one. In the mean time, this guy would suit me just fine.
As I later learned, machines of this type are called “trade stimulators” and were commonplace in areas where gambling for money was outlawed. In the case of this machine, a user would insert their coin, pull the knob and if they won, the machine would spit out a token. That token could then be exchanged for a certain dollar amount from the store owner. Other variations of these machines would spit out colored marbles instead, with each color being worth a certain amount. It was a creative way to skirt gambling laws.
The piece wasn’t in terrible shape when I got it – The lock was broken and one of the wraps was missing from one of the wheels as you can see in the picture below.
As you can see, the original paint was pretty rough – even after a cleaning. The decision was made to go ahead and do away with the original paint and replace it. The below picture is the only view I took of the internals of the machine.
Not realizing I’d be posting pictures from this project on the Internet at a later date, I did not take any “tear down” or “rebuild” pictures. Instead what you see below is the final product. The white and blue were applied using Rust O Leum from Lowes with 2 applications of the Clear Enamel to finish it up. The lock was also replaced with a standard off the shelf lock from the hardware store.
In a lucky break, the missing wrap from the first wheel was actually sitting in the bottom of the machine when I opened it up. The original glue had dried up and the wrap simply fell off. I used an Elmer’s Glue Stick to reapply the label as I didn’t want to oversaturate it with liquid glue. Had the wrap been completely missing, I would likely have taken a wrap off the second or third wheel, copied it, reprinted it and aged the paper appropriately.
The mechanics of the machine work pretty well although about once every ten pulls the machine seems to get off track and needs to be opened up and tinkered with. Total cost: $50.