777_Before-002.jpgA while back I acquired a Mills High Top antique slot machine from a local seller that I found through Craigslist. The machine was not functioning, but appeared to be reasonably complete. The price was right, so I bought the machine and brought it home.

I’ve worked on several slot machines in the past, but this will be my first complete tear-down and ground-up restoration. I decided that documenting the process would be a good exercise for me and might prove valuable to other collectors contemplating a similar restoration, so I built this blog to serve as my restoration diary.

Hopefully the end result will be an attractive and fully-functional slot machine. Resurrecting an old, neglected coin-0p of any variety can be a very fulfilling experience. I’m not undertaking this restoration with the expectation of selling the machine, nor am I trying to make every part on the machine look brand new. My intention is to do a thorough and fundamentally sound job on the mechanism and an attractive restoration of the exterior.

One caveat, however: I’m in no hurry. I’m going to be tackling this project bit by bit as time permits, and I have no deadlines to meet, so the restoration may take a while.

15 Responses to “In the beginning”

  1. Mark says:

    I have the same machine and am having trouble with the payouts. The slides seem to work but tha payouts are not correct. The most it will pay is for two cherries and it gives out 5 dimes.

    Any ideas?

  2. Slotter says:

    Sounds like you may have some payout slides sticking or possibly other issues. I’d need more details to offer any help.

  3. Steve says:

    Thanks for posting your project. i just purchased a Mills Black Beauty, Well Beauty is really not the correct description. It seem complete, does not work, and I can tell it has a few rusted parts and springs, missing a spring or 2, I would like to clean it up, repaint the cabinet and get it running. I would like to know if a spring kit is available, new clean real strips and a service manual. Thanks in advance.

  4. Slotter says:

    There are definitely spring kits, books and reel strips available (although good strips can be hard to find.) Check with Bernie Berten (mrslot1@aol.com) on the springs and strips, and be sure to check out the “Repair and parts references” section for a list of appropriate books and videos.

  5. Steve says:

    Thanks, i’ve already got my fingers dirty, I’ve started the repair of the wood base, it is 3 pieces of solid oak. I was going to do a biscuit + glue job, but have decided that I will only do the glue. because the wood also has a slight warp, I will sand flat once the glue has set.

    I would like to add that I am taking a photo of every nut and bolt and position they were in. Film is cheep, I would highly recommend that anybody invest in a very inexpensive digitial camera.

    last question, I can’t seem to find the painting, polishing or reassembly section, What type of paint and other materials do you recommend.

    Thanks again.

    I bought my first slot machine in 1970, had about 15 by 1980, sold most of them to open a business in 1982, suffered a theft of the rest in 1985 and I guess you could say I lost interest, happy to be back collecting, My only other casino item is a roulette wheel that I bought in Havana Cuba about 10 years ago, hand carried it back and look forward to the day that I can create a Pre Castro Casino in my home.

  6. scott matczak says:

    i have a mills high top triple 7′s dime machine in working order..is it posible to switch it over to a quarter machine..or convert it to a black beauty

  7. Slotter says:

    Hi, Scott. Yes, it’s totally possible to switch your machine over to quarters, but there are a good many parts involved. You’ll need a new escalator, a new coin tube, and new payout slides. It isn’t a trivial undertaking, but it isn’t terribly difficult once you know your way around the machine.

  8. Jens says:

    Looks like we share the same hobby….. :-)

    Here you can see my projects (sorry, text is in German, but pictures should tell the story too)


    If you get bored by slots, try a pin:

    I place a link on my side to yours if you don’t mind

    Have fun with you hobby!


  9. Terrance says:


    Firstly I would like to thank you for this site… very useful!

    I am about to restore my Mills hi-top 50 cent machine and I am wondering how you intend to restore the outside of teh cabinet? Sandblast then finish coat (to make smooth) then repaint? Any advice? Also, will you be nickel plating the “showy” metal parts?


  10. Slotter says:

    Bead blasting is better than sand blasting in general, just because it is less destructive. I haven’t decided on my exact approach yet, but in general what you describe is a valid approach. I’m not a big fan of nickel plating, though, since most times the showy parts were simply polished metal originally. Again, since the High Top is a common machine you have a good bit of flexibility regarding your approach. I’d say to try polishing them first, then use plating as a sort of final option.

    Thanks for writing!

  11. Slotter says:

    Awesome stuff! Love the site (at least as much as I can read using Google Translate.) Keep up the good work!

  12. Lisa Baker says:

    Where can I get a coin escalator for my 10 cent Mills slot machine that was in Las Vegas Hilton in 1970′s & 1980′s?

  13. paul baumgartner says:

    i have a mills golden nugget machine 25 cents, i brought it about 10 years ago, it was complety restored at that time and working fine, the quarters got stuck in the top slide, i took the back off got the quarters out a nd sprayed the inside of the machine with wd 40. i turned the reels by hand to make sure they turned, put the back on everything works fine now except when i hit a cheery or two or 3 plumbs it won,t pay out any money, did i mess anything by turning the wheels by hand, when i put money in they turn together freeley any suggestions would be great , thaks paul.

  14. Slotter says:

    eBay is a good place to start.

  15. Slotter says:

    Well, it sounds to me like you went a little crazy with the WD-40, and now the payout slides are gummed up. Please note that these slides should NEVER be lubricated. Likewise, the escalator should only be lubricated sparingly, and only in a few specific places. If oil gets on the coins they tend to stick together, and that alone can cause the payout slides to stick in some cases.

    I’d suggest that you clear all the coins out of the mechanism, including those in the payout tube, by cycling the mech and manually setting a jackpot condition over and over again. Once the coins are out of the mech, clean them thoroughly and then start feeding them back in one at a time and playing the machine. You might want to manually move the payout slides back and forth a few times… manually setting a jackpot will allow you to do that as well.

    If you’ve saturated the whole mech in WD-40 this won’t solve your problem, but sometimes it is enough to get things going again. Personally, I’d try this a few times before tearing the machine down.

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