Experts chime in - Restoring a Little Duke

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Experts chime in - Restoring a Little Duke

Postby RameGoom » Thu May 29, 2014 8:32 pm

I am restoring a Jennings "Little Duke" machine and have some questions for anyone who has been up this road already. I'm starting out with a very nice original that was in its family for decades.

The machine I have is all original and complete, down to the un-damaged back door and original cash box. Even the mechanisms inside are clean with almost no rust or corrosion, so it's a prime machine. On the castings, they're all dull gray, no shine at all on the bare aluminum. So I figured I can bead-blast the panels to get them down to the shine, then polish the flat surfaces. I managed to pick the lock, and once I got into it, I removed a few of the tumbler plates and made a non-jennings key open it. I hope to find a Jennings key and put it back to original.

On the paint, I plan on stripping it all off with strip-eeze, water blasting it, bead-blasting it, then repainting with the closest matching color of Testor's model enamel. But my question is, do I spray it on, or brush it on? Some of the larger areas would seem to make sense to spray on the colors. Once it's complete, would you recommend that I spray all metal with clear coat?

On the coin chute: It's made of steel, soldered, and seems originally was tin plated...most of the tin plate has disappeared, leaving blackened metal. Is it prudent to bead-blast and flash-paint it with rattle-can aluminum, or should I just leave it with its patina? Same question for the coin box, although I'm pretty sure I should leave it as is.

With regard to the wood housing, it's in OK shape but could use another coat of lacquer or clear urethane, the latter being easier to do and would seem to give me nice results. Or, should I leave it alone, and just clean it up, hit it with a furniture polish? There are some pretty deep scratches in it, and I could probably find a stain to match the original stain.

Finally on the chrome plated handle: Pitted and looks its age, is this something I should send out for re-plating, or leave it with its patina? The coin entry is nickel plated and should clean up nicely.

Too many questions, too little answers, but thanks for any input you can add. I am replacing the symbol strips and award card, along with the inside instruction sheet. The original parts are in rough shape.
Slowly building a knowledge base on E2000 series Bally machines and J400 Jennings. Started with the antique Mills and Jennings. Getting there...
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Re: Experts chime in - Restoring a Little Duke

Postby Dave » Thu May 29, 2014 9:08 pm

Can you post some photos?

It might be better just to leave it alone.
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Re: Experts chime in - Restoring a Little Duke

Postby TheFatman » Fri May 30, 2014 4:31 am

I agree with Dave ... if its a "very nice original" why would you take its originality away from it? Let it be what it is and enjoy it in its REAL original state. Also ... any metal or steel that is not rusted, I would leave alone. If it aint broke ... dont fix it ... or break it.
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Re: Experts chime in - Restoring a Little Duke

Postby TheFatman » Fri May 30, 2014 4:32 am

:D
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Re: Experts chime in - Restoring a Little Duke

Postby RameGoom » Fri May 30, 2014 4:53 am

The machine was not working when I got it. I took the mechanism apart, removed the clock assembly, removed and disassembled the reels. The stop wheels - 10 stops - had worn out a bit, where some of the metal was kind of squished, so I dressed them up with a grinding wheel on a dremel tool. Then the grease was all dried out, or non-existent. I found a couple of springs sprung and one on the jackpot in the wrong place, which would cause it not to empty properly. The reel strips were kind of butchered and taped up over the years, so I figured I'd replace them. But, to get the reels out, I needed to pretty much disassemble half of the machine to do it.

On the castings, they're all gray, not shiny. I think the appeal of that machine is when the castings are shiny and bright, but to do that, it'd need an overhaul. A piece of the jackpot glass has a big scratch in it, so replacing the glass is probably in order.

I get it, I should probably leave it alone, but couldn't resist the urge to tear into it and make it shine...so I'm committed on the inside mechanism, but haven't touched the outside yet. I'll post some very detailed pictures later today. This machine is a challenge; when I took the reels apart, I can see there are no indexes to align the reels. So I need to be super-careful to get them lined up properly. I haven't found any printed matter regarding the repair of this particular machine, so I'm pretty much on my own. So, I'll post whatever details I have found, hopefully someone else out there will go thru the same thing, and want some information.
Slowly building a knowledge base on E2000 series Bally machines and J400 Jennings. Started with the antique Mills and Jennings. Getting there...
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Re: Experts chime in - Restoring a Little Duke

Postby RameGoom » Fri May 30, 2014 6:00 am

Pictures. As I received the machine:
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Tried to get lots of detail. The paint is chipped and discolored, the jackpot is full of rust and coins are not visible thru the glass, and I figured out how the mechanism works, so I have that nailed down. Otherwise, the rest of the machine just needs a good cleanup and castings need to be polished. What do you think?
Slowly building a knowledge base on E2000 series Bally machines and J400 Jennings. Started with the antique Mills and Jennings. Getting there...
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Re: Experts chime in - Restoring a Little Duke

Postby TheFatman » Fri May 30, 2014 12:15 pm

As I said before, I wouldnt do much at all to the paint. It all goods good enough. I work on rusted areas, replace glass if needed and leave the rest alone. It is my feeling, keep this as original as you can. If you want to tinker with and repaint one ... buy one that needs all that. Your machine is one of the better ones I have seen if the paint is all original.
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Re: Experts chime in - Restoring a Little Duke

Postby SLOT DYNASTY » Fri May 30, 2014 12:21 pm

RameGoom:
About your "Little Duke"............DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT repaint or highly polish your castings.
Most of these machines in original condition, don't survive as well as yours has. I really need to talk to you
about the avenues to take, to keep this machine as original as possible. Please send your phone number,
and the best time to call, to (slotdynasty@sbcglobal.net). I may already have you in my files, but without
a full name, I can't look it up. Please Do Not touch the outside, (meaning castings & wood), til we chat. [-o<
Bill
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Re: Experts chime in - Restoring a Little Duke

Postby Midcoast Vintage » Fri May 30, 2014 1:32 pm

THIS MACHINE IS W-A-Y TOO CLEAN TO RUIN BY RESTORING IT.

DON'T RUIN A GREAT SURVIVOR.

YOU ARE VERY FORTUNATE TO HAVE FOUND ONE THIS NICE.
it is fine to replate the handle, and, replace the glass, BUT other than that, and, an original key, I would do nothing.

you can buy restored machines all day long, but, it would take you many years of looking to find another one this nice.

remeber... YOU CAN RESTORE A MACHINE A THOUSAND TIMES... BUT... IT IS ONLY ORIGINAL ONCE.
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Re: Experts chime in - Restoring a Little Duke

Postby RameGoom » Fri May 30, 2014 1:38 pm

OK, you guys got me convinced...I'll leave the outside pretty much alone, maybe just clean it up. I still want to dismantle the metal parts from the wood, maybe just buff out the carriage bolts that can be seen from the outside of the cabinet. The paint in some spots look like a 3rd. grade art project, so I believe it *may* have been touched up over the years. But still, looks pretty much all original.

There's a strange horizontal line on the right side, looks to me like a water line, but no real damage inside the machine (except rust inside the bottom of the coin box). Then, there's the plug on the left side, where the vender mechanism should be, but no vender with the machine. It did have an odd lever inside the coin box, with a shoulder screw (that was rusty), and it appears to be the trip lever for a vender, so even THAT part is with the machine. Aside from that, it's in terrific shape given its age.

So, if I follow the expert advice here, is it OK if I just restore and lube the mechanism, replace the reel strips and award card, and maybe the instruction sheet inside the door? Clean the rest up as best as I can?
Slowly building a knowledge base on E2000 series Bally machines and J400 Jennings. Started with the antique Mills and Jennings. Getting there...
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