Last year I bought a 1961 Bally Magic Screen Can Can Bingo Machine in Nebraska from a fellow collector and brought it back to Texas. It was complete and semi working. The Can Can was the first ‘pinball’ that I bought and since have further acquired a few electro mechanical (EM) pinball’s and a bat game.
Restored Front of Cabinet
I grew up in the UK, a teen in the 70's and saw bingo’s locally in cafes and played them enjoying the challenge of winning some cash which unfortunately happened so rarely. I also played pinball’s in arcades from time to time mostly were Gottliebs from the 60’s and early 70’s. As I grew older I had the idea of finding a bingo game for my game room and it was a pleasant surprise to find this site and games on eBay for sale. I had recently converted my garage into a games room complete with A/C for me and my son with space for me to do overhauls.
Starting on a restoration of a bingo is a big undertaking. Until I got my machine home I had never looked inside the back of one not even when I bought it. Dumb, yeh...maybe.
When I reassembled the game and started it up it blew a fuse immediately, I needed help. I found this site on the web www.bingo.cdyn.com. The web site provides a place to get acquainted with these games and even schematics to start trouble shooting. I asked a few questions of Phil Hooper the site guru and I was able to locate the short eventually under a clamp, fix it and fire up the game. However, it still occasionally blew a fuse when the magic screen was operated and was erratic on other plays. I originally had no spare parts for the game not a fuse, leaf blade, or the experience of how, what or where to buy. This site and the Richard Gerlitz videos provided everything a newbie needs to fix one of these machines.
If all I had was the bingo machine to look at then I was way over my head in planning to restore it. But with this site I had the keys to succeed along with my blind confidence. What I needed was a hands-on bingo machine repair course. That wasn't going to happen but I had the next best thing; a straight forward EM pinball machine that needed some restoration and the Gerlitz videos.
I had bought a 1951 Williams Jalopy Pinball from the same collector with the bingo game. It worked and needed mostly a cabinet repaint as it was now white not as originally painted. It had no coin door parts or replay credit wheel. I placed wanted ads for the credit wheel and for the heath coin chute in the 'Pinball Classifieds' site and a pinball supplier in New Jersey 'Neil Nagy' answered the call. Neil seems to be able to find odd older parts and he has been a great help for other parts.
As I worked on restoring the Jalopy I was also researching and learning about the bingo and I started to find it easier to understand and tinker with the bingo. The Jalopy restore was a huge success both mechanically and cabinet wise. On reflection, if I had bought machines with more issues and many missing parts this article may not have been written for a long time if at all.
I found out mostly via the pinside site where to buy parts and to get the tools to fix EM games. You soon understand that you need when trouble shooting a long jumper wire with alligator clips a, multi-meter to test circuit’s continuity and more importantly voltage drops. The multi-meter tool needs practice and must be mastered. I got bingo parts from Joe Shope in Salt Lake City, Utah firstname.lastname@example.org and The Pinball Resource (PBR) email@example.com in New York mostly. I also have found parts on EBay especially a box of bingo odds and ends for $1 from a person clearing out his basement.
So with the Jalopy complete and the Gerlitz videos at hand it was time for the passion project of getting my Can Can bingo machine fully functioning. The game was filthy inside and it smelled. On review of the electro-mechanics I found issues with the bingo that I did not cause. Broken leaf blades in a stepper, ground wire jumper broken, missing springs and worn out switch contacts. Also fuses were blowing infrequently. The cabinet paint was flaking badly and there was mold inside the cabinet along with splits at the front cabinet wood. The playfield was good along with the back glass. This was a typical bingo game that had been routed.
The game needed a major overhaul that included a strip down and switch by switch examination along with a serious cleaning. The practice with the pinball was valuable as I had caused as many problems as I had fixed. I also needed to paint the cabinet and head; the Can Can dancing girls deserved it. I know some people balk at repainting a cabinet but there is a line where this has to be considered. Again the Can Can dancing girls deserved it. And the game is for me.
I started the overhaul with the lower cabinet because frankly the head or stinker as it was getting known as was intimidating. I took pictures continuously during the strip down because I was unsure how long this would take to put back together. I started in December 2013 and finished 4 months later. The pictures were invaluable and a digital camera has become my number 1 tool ahead of my multi-meter and jumper wire for this type of work.
I found that most of the bingo metal was probably black oxide finished not zinc electro plated that when I cleaned the rust from all but disappeared. I experimented with metal polish and or a zinc electroplating kit as a final finish with good results. By the time I came to overhaul the head I was using the electro plating kit exclusively followed by a polish of all stepper metal frames, and any other bracket that I found. It is easy and fast to dip. It takes some work to shine up but all worth it.
By this method I learned so much about my machine. I found broken leaf blades, bad solder joints, worn out electrical contacts missing springs and burned out bulbs. I discovered eventually an error in the wiring under screen left and right buttons. A dirty blue wire and black wire were crossed and was the root cause of the screen operating problems. This could only have been found with a multi-meter when the machine was working during a voltage drop switch by switch hunt.
After reassembling the lower cabinet I put the game together again and fired it up. This is when I found the issues with trough switches and how finicky they can be. Again the help was on the site and eventually with a jumper wire I isolated the #4 trough switch and although the switch appeared to make good contact it wasn't. So all was made fine and the first part of the restore was complete. Now for head or ‘stinker’ overhaul.
I again stripped down the head in parts taking many pictures before dis-assembly and during. This was quite the project. I again stripped cleaned, tumbled, plated and shined everything I could. The reflex unit on examination had seized and needed a careful re install to get right. The pictures were invaluable. The relay bank also was a serious endeavor but all came out well. I found two broken leaf blades that were not clearly noticeable without the strip down.
I disassembled the magic screen and it all seemed OK mechanically so after some repainting it was reassembled. The positions of the screen and it’s the magic screen Unit rivets are critical, so the alignment of each part when re installing the chain drive has to be correct. There are red markings on the rivet moving part and the housing to help so it is quite straightforward in the end.
I used auto paints mixed to the original paint found under the trim or the front buttons. I made the stencils from a Mylar film material. When all was complete it did not smell anymore. However, I as part of my overhaul had one final touch I had to get some Neatsfoot oil to lubricate all the leather clutches. A few days later the smell was somewhat back. Neatsfoot oil is made from the cow’s shin and foot bones. It is great for leather but frankly, phew!
I am very happy to have this machine in my new collection and owe a debt to Phil Hooper and his site for all the information to get it working. www.bingo.cdyn.com. I also thank Dennis Dodel and Tim for helping me trouble shoot the remaining operating issues a few weeks ago. Cool hobby this so much help available on the pinside site and around the globe,
Regards Steve J.
I have put together a little video for people that asked me to post when the restore was complete so here it is;
Post edited by SteveinTexas: Placed photos