Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Playing Bally Surf-Club bingo (1954)

Is Surf-Club the perfect pre moving number bingo machine?

I was playing it just the other night and I think YES it's the ultimate early bally bingo machine. Before all the magic lines, corners, squares, cards, screens, etc.

The Hold / Double Hold feature is mesmerizing in action. See all the odd or even balls drop through the playfiels at the touch of a button.

Combined with the Super card(s) and the 15, 14 or 9 spotted number feature it's a scoring powerhouse.

Just don't forget to press the yellow button before each coin you drop when betting for extra balls. (hint)

A detailed explanation of the gameplay and repair journey can be found here... I wrote this up a long time ago.

The Super Line and Corner scoring are a bit useless IMO, but that doesnt matter. Cool features nonetheless.

I like Surf-Club so much I have two of them. I use the second Surf-Club to bring to pinball shows. As seen herehere and here I think it's a very good example for a bingo machine and it's relatively compact and lite to move around compared to later bingo machines.

The Surf-Club pictured here is / was my second bingo machine ever. The first being Super Wall Street (Bali). Bought it non working. Brought it back to life.
This actual machine was operated locally back in the day. For this reason, I will never sell it. The machine is patinated and battle scarred but that doesnt matter. When you drop a coin in it's a carnival!

What do you think of Surf-Club?

Super Card Win


Super Card win general view

Main card win

No win, but lots of fun

Live the dream, dream the life. File the dream, dream the file. That's what the spinning beach ball says.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

1958 Bally Skill Parade repair

1958 Bally Skill Parade

1958 Bally Skill Parade

Just getting this machine was an adventure. Drove down to the Old Port of Montreal. Brought it down 4 storeys by hand... with a bit of help from a friend.

View going down the stairs with some bally skill games
Skill games in the Minivan

Most of the repairs were pretty straightforward. I had no manual and no schematics to rely on so I had to use the "force".

Inspect, clean and lube the stepper units. Inspect and burnish the relay switches.

Some of it was just grind work...
Solder all the lamp sockets that had gone bad (all the socket were bad!)
Clean, inspect and burnish all the trip bank switch blades. And that trip bank is massive.

Back door mechanisms

There was some cabinet work involved as well. Parts of the cabinet were loose and the front was falling apart. Making the up shooter unusable. The top of the cabinet was re glued badly by some DPO. Now the top trim for the glass is crooked, giving the impression that the cabinet is about to split apart.

Cabinet clamped together while the PL cures

All in all, it took a week's worth of evenings to bring this thing back to life.

The biggest problem was broken switch blades. To make things a little more difficult, most of these broken switches looked fine in the stack. It's when I unscrewed each individual stack that broken switch parts would fall out. Some were even more insidious and I had to break out the continuity tester to find the last broken (hidden) switches.

Broken switch blades

I've fixed a lot of old Bally's so far and I've never seen so many broken switches in a single game.
It's the same parts as in a bingo machine. So what happened?
I think it comes down to the number of cycles / actuation. Games on Skill Parade are extremely short.

Coin in...Flick... Flick... Flick...coin out...repeat.

One play is literally as short as reading that onomatopoeic phrase. That makes for a lot of play and reset cycles. A lot more cycles than with a bingo machine. I speculate that all those broken switches broke from excessive actuation. Any/every component is only good for so many actuations. Just like repeatedly bending a paperclip, it eventually breaks.

So how do you play Skill Parade.

First, insert a Nickel into the coin chute atop of the machine.

Elegant coin chute

The coin rolls into the play area at the top most skill shot.

Coin at starting position

At this point, additional nickels (up to 6) may be played to increase odds. Additional coins are diverted directly to the coin box. There's no mixer or randomness involved. Each additional coin increases the odds guaranteed.


You flick the nickel through 3 levels of rollovers. Lighting a symbol at each level

Monkey Monkey Monkey

Winning combination of lighted symbols register credits on the credit register.

Replay register with patina

When there are credits on the register. The Nickel recirculates in the game. There's a sort of coin lockout armature that acts as a bridge at the bottom of the playfield, blocking the coin from leaving play and guiding it to the up shooter lane. At the bottom right corner of the playfield there's a shooter knob that when pushed in all the way shoots up the coin back to the beginning. The recirculated coin hits a switch that subtracts one credit from the register. Additional credits can then be played to increase the odds by pressing button on the front top right corner of the of the machine.

Nickel up shooter

Flicking up that coin back to the top of the game is really cool to see. It satisfying in a tactile sort of way.

As for skill? The flicking mechanisms are pretty vague and the nickel hits a number of metal pins. making the coin bounce around while making kalimba-ish sounds. so it's definitely "Skill"

It's basically a variation on the slot machine

Boo! Camel. No cigar

The one cool thing about winning combinations has to do with the Special.

Any - Any - Special scores 1 in a basic game


Monkey - Monkey - Any scores 2 in a basic game

So what happens when you hit

Monkey - Monkey - Special in a basic game?

First it registers one replay on the register for the Special. Then pause. Then it registers 2 additional credits on the register for the two monkeys. Very cool to see in action

I haven't read any historical details on the design and production of Skill Parade but I speculate it has something to do with the Johnson Act.

One last thing... regarding Nickels:

American Nickels weigh exactly 5 grams and are 21.21 mm in diameter.
American Nickel Wikipedia page

New Canadian Nickels weigh 3.95 grams.
Depending on the year Canadian nickels weigh between 3.95 and 4.6 grams. Diameter varies from year to year between 21.2 and 21.3 mm
Canadian Nickel Wikipedia page

This greatly affects the gameplay. The machines were designed to work with American nickels after all.

Patina! And Nickels

For More information on Bally Skill Games, Check out this page on Pinrepair

The whole acquisition /  transaction of Skill Parade would not have been possible without the help from my friend Caitlyn. Thanks Cait! You made this deal possible! Cait has a blog also and shares and exceeds my enthusiasm for all things coin operated. Especially the Pure Mechanical games. And I'm pretty sure she knows what I have in my coin-op collection better than I do.

The Skill Roll has Patina but lacks Wabi Sabi

1954 United Singapore bingo machine backbox perspective

Recently I did a bit of maintenance on a couple of bingos I had set up in the workshop that havent been played in years. Notably Surf-Club and Singapore.

Crawling under United Singapore I got this view of the mechanisms in the backbox... Thought it looked cool. Enjoy!

1954 United Singapore Bingo Innards. Resistance is futile

Enjoying the view

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Bally Skill Parade 1958 "Skill" game

Coin Machine Lube

Up to very recently, I had only heard that bygone era new pinball machines came with a tube of coin machine lube. I had never actually seen one.

Then in a short period of time I found two! The Gottlieb tube was pretty much all out but the Bally one was New Old Stock (Thanks Rab). The Bally lube is a dark greenish grey (if anyone was wondering).

Here you have it! Side by side. Tubes of Bally and Gottlieb coin machine lube living in harmony.

Cool artifacts to keep on a shelf.

Nowadays, we can easily buy tubes of Lubriplate Aero. My libation of choice! ;-)

Vintage tubes of coin machine lube

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Japanese Pachinko parlor in the 80's

Tokyo-Ga - Pachinko & Mu

Clip from the documentary movie Tokyo-Ga, by Wim Wenders (1985)

Kogichi: The nail man...

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

1949 Bally Champion One Ball pictures

Here's a gratuitous dump of pictures from a 1949 Bally Champion rare horse racing game.
I'm looking for documentation (manual, schematics, etc.) (BTW) on this game.

Inverted cow catcher coin chute. Love it!

A strange serial number badge?

Beautiful side art

An actual production date

The proverbial "One Ball"

More to come...
I'm soldering jones connectors as I publish this.