www.slotmachinedepot.co.uk - One Arm Bandits and Slot Machines
Project Restoration - Ruffler & Walker Fill Em Up

Buying any slot machine that requires a restoration can seem daunting even more so when parts are missing. This article takes you on a journey of restoring a Fill Em Up Allwin from Ruffler & Walker, but with one major hurdle, it's missing a major part, the payout handle.

Along with the cabinet restoration you'll see how our contributor tried their hand as metal casting for the first time. Enjoy the trip!

Metal Casting Slot Parts

Having recently purchased a Ruffler & WalkerFill Em Up” Allwin at a bargain price, the restoration project started without a problem. The usual stripping of the workings, and in my case removal of a horrible yellow paintjob from the entire Allwin cabinet.

When I start any project I find the digital camera an essential part of my toolkit. I snap every angle of the outer casing and interior for later reference. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stripped down a machine only to forget where a certain “slidey thingy with a nut on the end” came from, until I look back at the many close up photos on the computer and zoom in and see that “slidey thingy” hidden at the rear of a payout chute! Ahh, relief! No longer do I end up with those ever increasing spare bits thrown in an old Quality Street tin!

I enjoy the taking apart of any mechanical slot as it’s where you begin to see how everything bolts together and an idea as to how the thing works.

Always take care when breaking apart these machines, as a newcomer to the Allwin type no one told me that the glass front just slides in from the top, so while recently cleaning an Elevenses the glass slid up and came down like a guillotine on my fingertips, Ouch! Even more embarrassing when your 9 year old son is watching his “clever” dad and you have to make up the usual excuse, “I knew that’s what would happen!” while pretending it didn’t hurt!

Once everything has been stripped from the case I begin the messy task of paint stripping. Modern chemicals make the job easier, but still messy! This I always do outdoors with plenty of newspaper placed upon the driveway, always use newspaper, not for any other reason than while the chemicals are stripping the paint, you have something to read!
The paint stripper usually takes about 40 minutes to lift the paint then I use a wallpaper scrapper to scrape off the paint. I apply a second coat of stripper making sure it reaches all those creases and cracks in the wooden mouldings.

I ditch the scrapper for this final part and use fine wire wool to remove the last traces of paint, gloves are essential unless you have warts that need removing, some paint stripper chemicals start to burn the skin if left in contact too long, (now how would I know that!)

My Allwin had two other complaints, apart from the yellow paint job now removed. The first was my wooden cabinet frame became the local restaurant for hungry woodworm. Many holes were scattered around the inside, so I used Sikagard Woodworm Killer treatment. Completely soaked the wood by liberally brushing the whole can on every piece of wood, there was no escape for those suckers. I left the wood to dry for a day or two. Woodworm cured, the last complaint was the top panel of the cabinet was “crumbly”, now I love crumbly when it’s a digestive biscuit but not when it’s my pride and joy Allwin!

I did consider replacing the wood but there’s something not quite right when a classic piece of history is rebuilt using modern wood. Maybe it’s just me but I recently saw an Elevenses for sale that looked beautiful but had its entire cabinet remade from new wood, I just felt that the character of the old Bryan’s machine was lost, I like to feel the original wood that left the workshop all those years ago, and has sat in several amusement arcades, touched and played by thousands… well, you know what I mean. So to cut a long story short I decided I’d try and save the top panel.

I sanded gently the rough parts that were beyond repair and purchased a liquid by Ronseal called Wet Rot Wood Hardener. Apparently this soaks into the soft crumbly wood and hardens it. I had nothing to lose. I used the whole can just to make sure, brushed on coat after coat and left for a few days.
The time and effort (and money) was well spent as the top panel was solid. I sanded to shape, and despite losing approximately a sixtieth of an inch from the front lip of the panel it hardly notices.
Once wood repairs complete, the whole cabinet was sanded using 60 grit, then 120, followed by 500 for super smoothness.

Forgot to mention the rear panel of the case was not original, and besides, was so badly damaged that I had no choice but to scrap it and make another panel.

The last step in restoring any cabinet is always the most satisfying. Waxing and staining. In past projects I’ve used one of the Ronseal liquid strainers, but find this too harsh and soaks deep into the wood, so any change of mind on the colour is a no-no unless you want to sand off half an inch layer of wood!
I now use the Briwax Original Wax Polish which is natural beeswax with a hint of colour stain. For the R&W I used the Teak shade as I felt this closely matched the original. Having rubbed the wax in and left for a few minutes I began polishing off the excess to achieve a deep shine of natural wood grain. Job done.

However, one part of this restoration was to prove a challenge. My Allwin was missing a major part, the payout handle. Having searched the internet for days and contacting other collectors for any spare handles it dawned on me that there was little chance of finding the missing, essential component.
As seen in Fig.1 the pay-out handle is a VIP (very important part!).

www.slotmachinedepot.co.uk - Allwin Bryans ElevensesHaving looked at several photos of the missing part I made the decision to make one. I considered using wood as I have fairly good woodworking skills and thought this would be the easier option but after further investigation I felt that using even hardwood it wouldn’t have the strength to withstand the rigorous handling it would no doubt receive from players.
So I started to look at making the item from metal. With absolutely no skills or experience of metalwork I decided very early on that purchasing a solid block of metal and filing, cutting and drilling to shape was a definite no go.

Then I began researching the internet on the possibility of casting the handle from liquid metal. Unfortunately all home metal casting involved an expensive furnace that had to reach very high temperatures to melt most metals to liquid form, also the dangers involved scared me off the idea.

I then remembered a friend of mine who made chess pieces as a hobby by pouring metal into moulds, something he did at home. So a quick phone call was made to my friend and Eureka, he tells me about Prince August (yes, I asked him the same question, but it’s nothing to do with Royalty!) a metal that is specially made for hobbyists because it melts at a lower temperature than other metals, in fact a standard home cooker hob provides enough heat.

So I gather all the materials required: Johnsons Baby Powder, a tin of Heinz Spaghetti (bear with me on this..!), pieces of wood and Prince August Metal.
I decided to use the wood was for the mould, however searching the internet I couldn’t find anyone using wood as a mould which made me wonder if there was a reason why. Maybe it couldn’t take the sheer heat of molten metal being poured into it and would possibly burst into flames.

www.slotmachinedepot.co.uk - Allwin Bryans Pace KittyThe common method of casting metal is to use a form of wet sand that has an original object pushed into it forming the mould, but as I didn’t have the original handle and the sand method looked like a lot of messing around and time consuming I opted to take a chance with my wooden method.
I managed to source the measurements for the original handle from other collectors and owners of the Ruffler & Walker Allwin range from which I made a few rough sketches Fig.2 and then proceeded to cut out the wooden mould.

The cutting was done using standard drill bits to drill three different diameter holes. The top widest would be for the handle (42mm dia x 30mm depth), Middle neck (12mm Dia x 10mm Depth), and the lower neck (10mm Dia x 5mm Depth). This lower and middle neck would eventually be drilled to allow a steel spindle to be inserted.

At this point I imagined having the tedious task of hunting down the correct size spindle that could slide perfectly through the hole in the chromed flange on the front of the Allwin cabinet. However, as luck would have it, my first tool draw I opened had an old handle from a broken G clamp, and yes would you believe it, it was the exact diameter required. If only I was as lucky with the Lottery!

www.slotmachinedepot.co.uk - Allwin Fill Em UpThe inner walls of the top hole would need to be filed to create the “grooves” around the finished handle. I made the mould in two parts with wooden dowels as guides to ensure correct alignment when put together.
www.slotmachinedepot.co.uk - Bryans ElevensesThe two pictures below show the bottom half of the mould (Fig.3)  and the top half with my template glued which helped guide my filing (Fig.4).




Once cut to shape both parts were sanded finely to smooth out any nasty scratches on the wood, although I wasn’t too worried about the surface of the finished handle being rough (most old mouldings appear crude anyway!) it was more to ensure the casting would come out of the mould easily.

I was happy with the wooden mould so preceded to the casting stage. First I sprinkled a small amount of Talcum powder on to the surfaces (now you know why I needed it!) as I’d read that this is a tip professional casters do to help avoid the metal sticking to the sides of the mould. Use a fine paintbrush to “dust” the talc on all inside surfaces.

www.slotmachinedepot.co.uk - Allwin BryansThe two halves were then clamped together but I guess strong elastic bands would suffice. Pouring the liquid metal in to the wooden mould at this stage would result in a solid handle; however, this one needed a hollow handle. I guess I could have drilled it out after but decided to make a small wooden dowel (actually sawed the top off my broom handle as it’s diameter was just right!!!!) and this I would suspend over the top opening of the mould (Fig.5) to create the hollowed out centre.

www.slotmachinedepot.co.uk - AllwinNow came time to begin heating the metal, but first open my can of spaghetti and discard content, yep that’s right I need something that can accommodate the molten metal (using your best saucepan is not a good idea!).
Dropping the solid chunks of metal into the can (Fig.6) and applying the heat only took about 2 minutes to being the melting process. If I’m honest I wasn’t too sure if the can would melt too… But worry not as I read on the internet that tin has a much higher melting temperature than the casting metal I was using, phew!

www.slotmachinedepot.co.uk - Allwin Mills One Arm BanditThe metal purchased from Ebay was Prince August (Fig.7), a low temperature melting metal, primarily used by model makers of toy soldiers.

Once the metal was pure liquid, I adorned the safety gloves I’d purchased earlier that day along with my protective glasses, as hot metal can sometimes spit and splash.

I forgot to mention that I did heat the wooden mould briefly in the oven prior to clamping together to ensure there was no moisture in it otherwise splashes from hot pouring metal can occur.

www.slotmachinedepot.co.uk - Allwin Mills War EagleOnce the metal was runny I carefully poured it into the top of the mould. It stays liquid for about 30 – 40 seconds so gently tap the side of the mould to ensure any trapped air is released and all crevasses are filled throughout the mould. (Fig.8)

Leave to stand for approximately 20 minutes until its warm to the touch, the wood will be very hot for a while and one of my worries about the wood burning was unjust as the liquid metal did not reach high enough temperatures to cause damage to the wood.


www.slotmachinedepot.co.uk - Allwin Ruffler and WalkerThe real thrill of casting is the breaking of the mould to release your engineering masterpiece!
It may have been nice to reuse the mould but unfortunately the main body of the cast handle would not release itself from the upper part of the mould, so much for the talc! So with no other option I used a chisel to carefully tap the mould and split it apart to reveal my first ever metal casting (Fig.9)

www.slotmachinedepot.co.uk - Allwin Bryans One Arm BanditWhen the handle was cool enough to hold I filed the surface to remove the rough spots (Fig.10) and also to do a final bit of shaping. The metal is still soft so can be filed and sanded very easily. As the metal was filed it revealed a gorgeous shine almost chrome like.


Once all shaped and smoothed I needed to drill out a hole to take the spindle (Fig.11), making sure that I drilled dead centre and to the correct depth.

www.slotmachinedepot.co.uk - Allwin Bryans Elevenses Pace Kitty MillsI had already found a piece of steel rod as mentioned earlier that was a perfect fit through the Chromed flange fixed on the front of the R&W case.
I cut the rod to length and pushed tightly into the handle’s drilled hole.

www.slotmachinedepot.co.uk - Allwin Jennings Sun ChiefI considered gluing the rod into the handle to stop it from slipping, it’s my guess this pay out handle gets twisted many times through its lifetime, sometimes very aggressively by some people so I decided to drill a small hole through the middle neck of the handle and the steel rod and insert a small pin (nail!) just to be sure there would be no chance of the handle slipping on the spindle (Fig.12).

Like all projects that involve effort its worrying when doing minor things such as drilling holes and tapping nails at this late stage as one slip or mistake and the whole thing is ruined! Luckily I took my time over this part and all went well.

www.slotmachinedepot.co.uk - Allwin Bryans Fivewin BullionTo finish I lightly rubbed the whole thing over with fine steel wool and coated with lacquer to protect the shine, but also to avoid the deposit of metal upon the players sweaty hands. This type of model maker’s casting metal is like handling old coins for a while and leaves your hands grubby!

www.slotmachinedepot.co.uk - Watling One Arm BanditThe Prince August metal is paintable which would not require the clear lacquer coat as protection.

Once the part was in place on my “Fill Em Up” Allwin (Fig.13) the whole effort of design, build and Casting was well worth it. I wouldn’t hesitate at casting again should I find myself in that position of unable to obtain rare parts. However, some of the steps I did on this project I’d probably do a different way. The mould probably took the longest, not to make but to design. I had no end of papers with scribbles on thinking out the best way to create a mould whereby the metal can be poured and reach all areas.

The Prince August Hobby Metal is a great product but I’m not convinced it’ll be hard wearing enough for a heavily loaded part of a One Arm Bandit, it may begin to rub away, but for general parts that are impossible to find, it may save your day.
Good Luck!







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