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Tech Tip: Coin Mechanisms
by Dan Kwate

The Vendo 39, 81A, 81B, and Vendorlator 27, 33, and 72, as well as a few other machines share the same basic coin mech design. After passing through the coin acceptor/slug rejector, the coin rests in one of two slots (depending on its denomination) on the main shaft (See Figure 1). As the handle, mounted to the shaft, is rotated, the lock lever which normally prevents the shaft from turning, rides up on the coin, thus allowing the shaft to turn. In other words, the coin lifts the lock lever out of the way. To see this occur, drop a coin in one of the machines listed above, remove the slug rejector, and watch as you turn the handle.

This type of coin mech was produced in two pricing versions, depending upon the configuration of shaft and lock lever types. The shaft has two coin slots - one holds one dime; the other holds either one or two nickels. Additionally, these coin mechansims are equipped with either two short lock levers (each lifted out of the way by the presence of coin(s) in the corresponding slot on the shaft) or one long lock lever which, because it extends the width of both coin slots on the shaft, is lifted out of the way by coins in either slot. Therefore, a two nickel/one dime shaft combined with one lock lever yields a mechanism which is actuated by either two nickels (10) or one dime (but still 10). No pricing adjustments are possible. However, a coin mechansim with a one nickel/one dime shaft and two lock levers can be adjusted to work on one nickel (5) or one dime (10) or one nickel and one dime (15). Because of the interchangeability of coin mech parts, other configurations are possible - two nickels and one dime (20), for instance.

To work correctly, the coin mechanism must be used in conjunction with the appropriate slug rejector. Slug rejectors were produced in nickel-only, dime-only, and nickel/dime versions. A coin mech which takes nickels and dimes mated to a nickel-only coin will still work fine, but only on nickels.

Pricing adjustments on these mechanisms are extremely easy. Just install a #6-32 X 1/2" machine screw in the hole on the right side of the front mounting plate (accessed through an oval-shaped hole in the crank handle backing plate on the V-39 and V-81A/B (See Figure 2), and easily seen on the VMC-27/33 coin mech) which corresponds to the lock lever which needs to be moved out of the way. As the screw is turned, it pushes the bottom of the lock lever down and forward and, because the lock lever pivots on a shaft, the top moves up and rearward, and out of the way.

Whether or not your mech is of the price-adjustable type, it has the holes to move the lock levers. Setting your coin mech on freeplay is therefore as easy as installing one or two screws, depending on the number of lock levers on your mech. So much for making a profit!


An All-I-Know Spiel on VMC-33

I recently talked with a gentleman who was looking for a Coke machine. He had seen a few at a coin-op show -- mostly V-81s and V-44s -- but wanted a machine which was small and collectible, and "isn't so expensive."

"And," he added, "I'd like one that works with cans."

It got me thinking.

Most restorers concentrate on Coke 39s, 44s, 56s, and 81s. Collectors focus their energies on finding the rare stuff: Royal Crown and 7-Up 81s, Pepsi Jacobs 56s, and Quikold Jr. chest coolers embossed with names of sodas of which most people aren't even aware. While these are certainly great machines, the result is that we often don't pay enough attention to machines which are very collectible and are much more affordable.

So I gave John the five-minute, here's-all-I-know spiel about Vendorlator Manufacturing Company's Model 33:

Development of the 33 can be traced to the introduction of the single-flavor Model 27 in the early 1950s. VMC soon replaced the 27 with the 27A. In advertising directed to Coke bottlers, VMC boasted of the increase in pre-cool capacity (from 10 to 27) of the floor-standing 27A over the countertop-sitting 27, even going so far as to nickname the new model the Dual 27 to remind bottlers that the machine both vended and pre-cooled 27 bottles. It actually is quite remarkable that a machine so small (52" high, 25 1/2" wide, 17 1/2" deep) had space to pre-cool that many bottles. Except for the obvious differences in size and shape, the two are remarkably similar. They function the same way and, in fact, share the same two-piece coin door, coin mechanism, vending drum, and associated parts.

With a minor design change to the inner hub (at the center of the vending drum), the vending capacity was increased by six and thus the VMC-33 was born. Cosmetically, VMC removed the "Vendorlator" embossing from the top of the bottle chute bezel and added a two-inch embossed square centered on the lower portion of the cabinet door for the VMC logo foil-cal. Additionally, VMC added leg levelers and changed the size and shape of the evaporator. Except for these differences, the 33 fuctions in exactly the same manner as its predecessors, the 27 and 27A.

A few years later, VMC introduced the 3-D 33. While sharing the same basic function and parts interchangeability with the others, it is obviously cosmetically different. The biggest difference between a 3-D 33 and what most people now refer to as a "split-door" 33 is the change from the hammer-tone, two-piece, aluminum coin door to the red, one-piece, steel one. While the coin mechanism and bottle drum are the same, the empty flag and its linkage are different. Additionally, the flag decal reads "Have a Coke/EMPTY" in silver on a yellow background instead of in white on a red background.

Vendorlator actually produced three different versions of the Coke 3-D. One retains the same bottle chute bezel as the 27A and split-door 33 (slightly larger at the top than the other three sides) as well as the stainless trim strips which extend from either side of the bottle chute bezel and wrap around the sides of the cabinet door. The cabinet door is actually two pieces riveted together which sandwich the stainless T-molding. The other two versions consist of one-piece cabinet doors (obviously without stainless trim strips) with either the tall bottle chute bezel or the short one (which is the same size on all four sides). The 3-D 33 did not replace the split door 33 ... at least not at first. Vendorlator sold both for a time and then discontinued the split door version while continuing to sell the 3-D. Coke 27As and both split-door and 3-D 33s are readily available and currently sell for around $800 to $1000 in unrestored condition.

Vendorlator also produced 33s for Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, and 7-Up. All non-Coke 33s are 3-Ds, meaning they all have one-piece, steel coin doors. They also all have a short bottle chute bezel and the empty flag reads "INSERT COIN/EMPTY" in black on a white background. Also, the two cabinet door hinges are steel, thin, and flat, instead of aluminum, thick, and rounded as on Coke 27s, 27As, and 33s.

The Pepsi 33 is embossed with the single-dot logo above the bottle chute bezel (same place as the "Drink Coca-Cola" decal on Coke 27As and 33s). Pepsi 33s have surfaced in all parts of the country, with perhaps a slightly higher concentration of them in the Mid-West (Ohio, Indiana, Illinois). While certainly much less common than Coke 33s and Dual 27s, Pepsi 33s can usually be located without too much trouble: there are usually one or two for sale in classified ads, and you'll probably see one at the next large coin-op show you attend. But they don't stay "for sale" for long. Unrestored Pepsi 33s have recently sold quickly in the $1000 to $1500 range.

The Dr. Pepper 33 uses a porcelain sign in place of a decal or embossed logo. Interestingly, the few Dr. Pepper 33s I've seen have the embossed square for the "VMC" foil-cal on the cabinet door. They do, however, have the word "Vendorlator" embossed in the bottom right corner of the cabinet door. The lack of an embossed logo definitely hurts the Dr. Pepper's value. But its rarity and the fact that its distinguishing features make it impossible to fake one (by attaching a Dr. Pepper sign to a Coke 3D-33) more than overcome the lack of an embossed logo. I've observed just one Dr. Pepper 33 sell, but I believe their value to be in the same range as that of the Pepsi 33.

Seven-Up 33s are embossed below the coin door and they top the list for both value and rarity. With unrestored examples selling recently in the $2500 to $3000 range, it is obvious that collectors find them much more desirable than the Coke, Pepsi, and Dr. Pepper versions. Finding one isn't easy, although focusing on Southern California would be a great first step. Of the 25 to 30 I know about, all have either been found near Los Angeles or have a "Seven-Up Bottling Company of Los Angeles" decal on the back side of the coin door.

For someone looking for a relatively affordable machine which is small, collectible, and can be modified to vend cans, he need look no further than the Vendorlator 33.

The inner hub at the center of the vending drum is the most significant distinction between Vendorlator's 33 (left) and Dual 27 (right). Unlike that of the 27 and 27A, the inner hub of the 33 holds six bottles (three on each side of the ramp at the top of the hub) which feed out into the drum as bottles are dispensed.


The Vendorlator 3D-33 (left) and its predecessor, the Vendorlator 27A , also known as the Dual 27 because it both vends and pre-cools 27 bottles.



Tech Tip: Slug Rejectors

The slug rejector is perhaps the least understood part on a soda machine. To many, its operation is a total mystery: we put a coin in and it either comes out the correct slot or we swear at the rejector and put another coin in.

But like the rest of a soda machine, the operation of a slug rejector is actually rather simple. Each coin, as it passes through the slug rejector mechanism, is first checked by a cradle for proper diameter and thickness. Coins are rejected if badly nicked, warped, or perforated. Magnets provide a means of rejecting coins which do not contain the proper metal alloy. The coins roll down inclined rails past these magnets. The resultant magnetic fields generate electrical currents in the coins which tend to slow their rate of travel. The type of metal or alloy in a coin determines the speed with which the coin leaves the inclined rail. If the coin travels too fast or too slow, it will not follow the prescribed path leading to the "accept" outlet in the rejector. Instead, the false coin will strike certain deflectors or barriers in such a manner as to be deflected to the "reject" outlet.

The weight of the coin, its hardness, and its elasticity may also affect whether it will follow the specific path necessary to be accepted, or fall short of, or beyond this path, and be rejected.

Most rejected coins and slugs are immediately channeled to the "reject" outlets. However, a slug which is perforated or of improper size will be trapped in the rejector, as will slugs held by the magnets. To remove such slugs from the rejector, wiper blades are provided. Operated through a push bar either by depressing the crank handle or the coin release lever on soda machines so equipped, the wiper blades sweep the coin paths as the scavengers spring open, thus releasing the trapped slugs, which then drop through the "reject" outlet.

With a general description of a slug rejector's operation in mind, the intricacies of its operation can be observed. Doing so is just a matter of dropping coins in the rejector and noting the different paths of nickel, dimes, and, in the case of large-style rejectors, quarters. Nickels and quarters follow paths on the front of the rejector, while dimes are channeled to a path on the rear of the rejector.

Since proper operation depends upon the coin traveling at the correct speed, anything slowing the coin's speed will cause it to be rejected. The rejector must be clean! While restoring the rejector (disassembling the unit, replating the pieces, and reassembling the unit) is the surest way to restore the rejector to trouble-free operation, simply cleaning it with hot water and a cleanser can greatly improve its operation. National Rejectors recommends the following cleaning procedure:

(1) Place the rejector in boiling water and allow to soak approximately ten minutes.

(2) Remove foreign matter with a brush and kitchen cleanser.

(3) Rinse in boiling water. Hot water is recommended as it evaporates readily and speeds the drying process.

(4) Dry thoroughly by using filtered compressed air.

(5) Use powdered graphite only on the moving parts of the rejector. Use care to keep the powdered graphite away from the coin paths.

IMPORTANT: Never use oil to lubricate the rejector as oil will cause gumminess which will result in malfunctions.