Questions About Mills Dice

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This area created on 2/7/17

Re: Questions About Mills Dice

Postby JHSS-1944 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 2:12 am

If anyone is interested , Jerry lowered the price. he told me No one has contacted him on this one. dealt with him in the past on parts ,ect. But , I ALWAYS read the details or lack of.... on every listing He puts up.
neat for sure , price out of my reach & where to put it ???
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Re: Questions About Mills Dice

Postby marsonion » Thu Aug 31, 2017 1:52 pm

Thought it would be a good idea to update this thread, if only to rectify some upside-down and backwards comments and speculations appearing in my previous posts. As the images indicate, I have stripped and repainted the castings on my Mills Dice to something like the original factory color scheme; but before embarking on that chore, I was determined to turn up as much reference material and guidance on the machine as I could. I paid for a download of an operator’s manual for the Mills Dice which is offered at this website:

The manual comprises ten typewritten pages plus five pages of indexed illustrations from the Mills factory, which are prefaced with a twelve-page, illustrated article outlining a comprehensive history of the Mills Dice project. Strangely, there is no byline appearing on this article; however, the brilliantly engaging style in which it is written is distinctly Bueschel’s, and I am 99.9% certain that he authored it. I suspect that this introductory article is actually an excerpt from his Payout Dice Machines book (though I’ve never had a copy of that book, nor ever even seen one). Also, at least two illustrations accompanying the article are credited to one Bill Whelan, who, I’m sure, will kindly ring in on this thread to confirm or deny my suspicions. Here are the paragraphs which I found the most interesting, informative and pertinent:

Gordon B. Mills, cousin to Fred, had moved to California at the end of the 1920s in order to be his own boss and not serve under the theoretical “Head of the family.” He established his own highly successful distributorship in Oakland as the Mills Sales Company, Ltd., with his annuity the fact that he exclusively carried the Mills line for that area, with particular concentration on payout slot machines. Led down the garden path by the unbounded enthusiasm of the Mills plant, Gordon Mills loyally sold the DICE machine in quantity to his local operators starting in early 1936. When the machines started coming back for maintenance and repairs, he faced the problem head on. Gordon Mills was also a mechanical genius, and was well on his way to solving the problems of the machines just as the DICE debacle was becoming nationwide. Bill Gersh was on top of that story, too: “Suddenly all of the automatic DICE machines around the country were being bought up for peanuts by Gordon Mills out in California. Gordon had found out how to make them work, and he was cleaning up. It was a marvelous machine.”

The Mills Sales Company patch job on the delicate Mills DICE wasn’t foolproof, but it went a long way toward making the machine a viable and reliable money maker. But more than anything it was the fact that the Mills Sales Company, Ltd. was willing to back the machine and keep it running that put it over. The changes were simple enough. Mills Sales rounded the corners of the square notches on the payout disk with a file to make it easier for the stops to slip into place. They dropped the top glass that kept the dice from turning over another 1/8 of an inch to restrict the double throws. They also loosened the wire collars, took out a few unnecessary parts and lifts that got in the way of the wires, and completely removed the tilt feature to open up the jammed cabinet. As a final touch they removed the 25c “Round Plug” denominator and replaced it with a square one, making the “Square Plug” model instantly recognizable as the revamped and workable Mills Sales IMPROVED DICE machine. Mills Sales also substituted white dice for the red dice of the production Mills machines to further tell the models apart. With that, and with the family connection strong, the changes and refinements were brought back to the Mills factory in Chicago where future “Square Plug” models were created out of the existing inventory of “Round Plug” examples, to be reintroduced as DICE once again in January 1938 and advertised and promoted as late as the end of 1939, although by that time they were selling for half the cost of the original 1936 model. In spite of the model changes the manuals remained the same. And why not? The revamping was only a matter of minor internal details, with the only visible physical differences on the outside of the machine with the square plug and white dice.

So, with that, I can surmise that my machine is one of those that went through Gordon Mills’ outfit in Oakland, given that mine 1) has the square denomination badge; 2) features (now dirty) white dice; and 3) has had the tilt-lockout gizmo removed. How and why the castings were repainted in such a funky color scheme so many years ago remains a mystery, and I was a little frightened of what I might find being covered-up by those layers of added paint, but it turned out the castings were in very good condition and the aluminum polished up fine in all the areas that the factory color scheme indicates that they should be. All the same, it’s no surprise to me that Bueschel—once again— had already supplied practically all of the answers to nearly all of my questions, decades ago.
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