Questions About Mills Dice

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Questions About Mills Dice

Postby marsonion » Sat Mar 18, 2017 12:47 pm

My Mills Dice arrived yesterday via freight truck. The machine works beautifully-- or at least it does now, after I dealt with several mechanical issues which no doubt arose from the freight company interpreting the words "THIS END UP" and "HANDLE WITH CARE" to mean "PUSH OVER SIDEWAYS AND SHAKE VIGOROUSLY." Despite a sideways impact which bent the handle about 1/4" inward and quarters lodged everywhere they don't belong-- plus a rod to the point#4 pocket having come off and the dice carousel having become misaligned to the playfield, causing dice to jam during the cycle-- all were easy fixes to problems which clearly resulted from a machine that had merely been severely jostled rather than smashed to pieces a la UPS&FedEx. I was very relieved. Now I have some questions for people who know about these things:

1) The color scheme isn't what I'm used to seeing. Instead of dark brown on the alligator-texture, there is a sort of metallic copper color. The coin entries and lettering are in a slightly greenish yellow color ("Harvest Gold"?). Close examination reveals fine craquelure on all of these painted surfaces, indicating their advanced age. Were any original Dice finished in this scheme, or is this a 50+ year old repaint job?

2) The dice themselves also appear very old, worn and discolored. They are ivory-colored dice, and they work fine in play (at least since I lined-up the playfield); didn't I read somewhere that all of the original dice were red, and/or that those are the only kind that work, or something like that--?

3) There is no anti-tilt device and I can find no attachment point where one could have ever been located. Is it possible there never was one on this machine, or did it just get pitched?

4) The story goes that the Dice was a big flop when introduced, because they malfunctioned all over the place, but later Gordon Mills bought up the rejected machines on the cheap and worked some kind of magic on them to make them reliable. What did GM fix, exactly? I called and pestered a famous Dice restoration expert about this, and he told me that it was the bottom payout wheel/plate that was replaced with something that worked better; I don't understand how that relatively simple part could be such a bugbear amid this maze of rods and levers. Can anyone tell me more about what Gordon Mills fixed, exactly? The expert also informed me that the "new and improved" Mills Dice machines could be recognized by having a square denom tag (such as mine) whereas the factory first-issue machines have/had round tags.

5) Where would I expect to find a serial number on this beast?

Any information on these Mills Dice machines and their history is most welcome.
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Re: Questions About Mills Dice

Postby SLOT DYNASTY » Sat Mar 18, 2017 4:30 pm

Well, I hate to be the one to pop your bubble, but your machine is a repaint, in incorrect colors. Also, not one Mills "Dice", that I have
ever seen or worked on had ivory dice. They were all the clear red dice. Being as your dice were changed, hopefully they are the correct
size, otherwise you could have jam problems, as these dice shoot straight out between glass panels, and do not tumble. These machines
are nightmares to work on as it is, so you don't need simple things like that, to complicate matters further.
Shown below, are two original Dice machines. One with the early round button, and the later, with the square button. Both are the
correct dark brown colors, with the polished highlights, and red & yellow paint details. There were also machines that left the factory
without the metal instruction breast-plate. For collectors that wanted to ad the metal plate to the ones that didn't come with it, Jack
Brink, of Metal Form Products, made exact reproductions of them, as well as the back door, and coin box. Not sure if he is doing them
any longer.
Mills 25c 'DICE' (early round button) (orig)2.jpg

Mills 25c 'DICE' (later square button) (orig)1.jpg
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Re: Questions About Mills Dice

Postby SLOT DYNASTY » Sat Mar 18, 2017 4:38 pm

Also forgot to ask you, if your machine still has the simulated 'Dice Shaker' mechanism in it?
Could have been removed during the re-do. I have seen a couple of others with it missing.
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Re: Questions About Mills Dice

Postby Dave » Sat Mar 18, 2017 4:47 pm

The Mills Dice is my favorite machine from a mechanical point of view. No other machine is like it.

I have worked on a couple of them and they are not easy. The weigh a ton and the tolerances on the control wires are very small.

I don't think they ever had a tilt mechanism on them. No real reason to have one.

As I understand it, the original Mills Dice did have a round denomination button and white dice. When Frank Mills "fixed" them he put on a square badge and red dice.

Your white dice should be fine as long as they are large enough so they don't rotate under the glass.

Bill is correct that your machine is not painted the correct color.

I posted a YouTube video about one back on 2008. It is still up the quality sucks (compared to today's standards). Kevin K. also has a YT video on the Mills Dice and it is much better than mine. Just go to YT and search for Mills Dice.
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Re: Questions About Mills Dice

Postby marsonion » Sat Mar 18, 2017 5:03 pm

SLOT DYNASTY wrote:Well, I hate to be the one to pop your bubble, but your machine is a repaint, in incorrect colors. Also, not one Mills "Dice", that I have
ever seen or worked on had ivory dice. They were all the clear red dice. Being as your dice were changed, hopefully they are the correct
size, otherwise you could have jam problems, as these dice shoot straight out between glass panels, and do not tumble. These machines
are nightmares to work on as it is, so you don't need simple things like that, to complicate matters further.
Shown below, are two original Dice machines. One with the early round button, and the later, with the square button. Both are the
correct dark brown colors, with the polished highlights, and red & yellow paint details. There were also machines that left the factory
without the metal instruction breast-plate. For collectors that wanted to ad the metal plate to the ones that didn't come with it, Jack
Brink, of Metal Form Products, made exact reproductions of them, as well as the back door, and coin box. Not sure if he is doing them
any longer.


You're not popping any "bubbles" of mine, Bill... it ought to be clear that I was asking whether this odd-and-very-old scheme was indeed a repaint. You say it is. That's fine by me, because I want to restore it to the more familiar colors, but I wouldn't do that if it was actually an original finish. That's why I'm asking.

The dice also look really, really old and worn from use in the machine; they have metal burnished into their bottom sides from all that sliding on the steel surfaces. No, they don't turn over, and they shoot just fine, and only jammed before I properly aligned the playfield. Ivory dice also appear on this machine, which came up in the first hit on a Google search for "Mills Dice Slot Machine":

https://new.liveauctioneers.com/item/86 ... ice-slot-m

Not so sure I want to replace them with the transparent red ones (which aren't what I think of when I picture "dice") so long as these ivories work as well as they do. And they do. Looks like I have the instruction plate too.

Now, where do I find the serial number--?
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Re: Questions About Mills Dice

Postby marsonion » Sat Mar 18, 2017 5:05 pm

SLOT DYNASTY wrote:Also forgot to ask you, if your machine still has the simulated 'Dice Shaker' mechanism in it?
Could have been removed during the re-do. I have seen a couple of others with it missing.


The shaker is there and works great! Amazing machine.
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Re: Questions About Mills Dice

Postby marsonion » Sat Mar 18, 2017 5:19 pm

Dave wrote:The Mills Dice is my favorite machine from a mechanical point of view. No other machine is like it.

I have worked on a couple of them and they are not easy. The weigh a ton and the tolerances on the control wires are very small.

I don't think they ever had a tilt mechanism on them. No real reason to have one.

As I understand it, the original Mills Dice did have a round denomination button and white dice. When Frank Mills "fixed" them he put on a square badge and red dice.

Your white dice should be fine as long as they are large enough so they don't rotate under the glass.

Bill is correct that your machine is not painted the correct color.

I posted a YouTube video about one back on 2008. It is still up the quality sucks (compared to today's standards). Kevin K. also has a YT video on the Mills Dice and it is much better than mine. Just go to YT and search for Mills Dice.



Thanks-- I was actually hoping the paint was bogus so I could strip and restore it to the chocolate-and-chrome scheme, which I wouldn't do if I was messing with an original finish. I still find it odd that the bogus paint is so very old, and was done with such professional-level precision.

I read that it was Frank's (Fred's?) cousin Gordon Mills who reclaimed and "fixed" the machines; that he would've replaced the ivories with the more modern-looking transparent red dice makes perfect sense.

Kevin is the expert I allude to in my post. I believe the anti-tilt gizmo appears in his YouTube excerpts which you mention here... take a look. Maybe the tilt lockout was a later production add-on?

And yeah, they're heavy. Lifting just the back door alone is a workout!
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Re: Questions About Mills Dice

Postby marsonion » Sat Mar 18, 2017 5:42 pm

marsonion wrote:
Dave wrote:The Mills Dice is my favorite machine from a mechanical point of view. No other machine is like it.

I have worked on a couple of them and they are not easy. The weigh a ton and the tolerances on the control wires are very small.

I don't think they ever had a tilt mechanism on them. No real reason to have one.


Kevin is the expert I allude to in my post. I believe the anti-tilt gizmo appears in his YouTube excerpts which you mention here... take a look. Maybe the tilt lockout was a later production add-on?


Dave, the tilt lockout gizmo is one of the first things Keinert discusses in this video excerpt:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8tAKNZFvtQ

(I have the full-length DVD, which is excellent if not indispensable.)
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Re: Questions About Mills Dice

Postby Dave » Sat Mar 18, 2017 8:39 pm

Yes, that piece halts the machine if the machine is not level but play resumes once it is level again. It is actually kind of strange because if the machine is "tilted" that would prevent the clock from running and a cheater might come up with a way to get the dice wheel into a winning position and then level the machine and let the machine pay. I don't recall if my machine has that piece, if I feel energetic I will pull out the mechanism and take a look.

Most tilt mechanisms prevent the machine from paying when tripped. Since this machine has a memory (if playing the Come) I don't think a device like that would be feasible on the Mills Dice.

The serial number should be on a piece of paper on the inside pasted on the right side (as looking from the back).

I don't think the serial is stamped anywhere on the machine but not positive.
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Re: Questions About Mills Dice

Postby marsonion » Sat Mar 18, 2017 9:04 pm

Dave wrote:Yes, that piece halts the machine if the machine is not level but play resumes once it is level again. It is actually kind of strange because if the machine is "tilted" that would prevent the clock from running and a cheater might come up with a way to get the dice wheel into a winning position and then level the machine and let the machine pay. I don't recall if my machine has that piece, if I feel energetic I will pull out the mechanism and take a look.

Most tilt mechanisms prevent the machine from paying when tripped. Since this machine has a memory (if playing the Come) I don't think a device like that would be feasible on the Mills Dice.

The serial number should be on a piece of paper on the inside pasted on the right side (as looking from the back).

I don't think the serial is stamped anywhere on the machine but not positive.


You're right-- it doesn't look like that tilt lockout makes much sense given that it would only interrupt the cycle, which would then resume once it was back "on the level" and proceed to pay-out to the presumptive cheater. They must've had some existing or prospective cheating strategy in mind, to bother engineering and deploying this anti-tilt gizmo... but what could that be?

Took a look for the serial# tag, and I can kinda-sorta see where it probably used to be. :evil:

Disgusted, I closed the thing up, put a quarter in each slot, pulled the handle, and rolled an ELEVEN! :D
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