Advice and guidance on repair and restoration techniques.
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gameswat
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Making a tin reel replacement - 1910 L'Aeroplan

Postby gameswat » Tue Jan 29, 2019 2:29 pm

This long winded description might be of interest if you ever have to re-make a similiar tin reel that is basically impossible to find as a spare part. Or just go straight to the photos for the short version. Recently been restoring a 1910 "L'Aeroplan" trade stimulator by Mills specifically for the French market. Belongs to a friend who I'd already restored a fairly complete machine for years ago. He also had an empty wood case with nice original painted front casting I'd previously restored. Last year he purchased another machine that was a complete repro cabinet with an original rough mechanism. The mechanics were actually decent and not overly complex to restore as most machines this old tend to be. But the tin reel was an utter disaster (#2).
aeroplan 2 .jpg
The circumference had been cut down considerably, one rim more than the other making it hugely lopsided as well. It's a 25 stop mechanism but now showed only about 23 symbols (#3).
aeroplan 3.jpg
The reel is a very tight fit inside the cabinet and up against the mechanism leaving only millimetres to spare in places. The reel was so badly warped it was impossible for the mech to ever cycle again no matter how I tried to bend it straight. Someone had pieced it back together purely for display purposes only (#4,5,6).
aeroplan 4.jpg
aeroplan 5.jpg
aeroplan 6.jpg
I have more than enough interesting work of my own lined up for years to come so tried my best not to have anything to do with the reel. I made him try some major US and French collector/dealers but not surprisingly, no luck. These reels are very fragile so any serious collector would covet them as valuable spare parts. One of my US friends thought he may have had a spare damaged reel but again no luck. So as usually happens I then stepped in to finish the machine. I did try to save as much of the reel as possible but most was too far gone. The two rims had been cut down and buckled so many times that no matter what I did they were far too stretched and cracked to ever be reusable (#7).
aeroplan 7.jpg
The only pieces I could save were the five horizontal struts, and they'd all been cut short on one end. These have little raised humps either end to sit over a flange on the inside of the two rims, this helps locate the rims at an even distance. I made replacement strut ends and soldered and then rivetted them in place, soldering alone was no good since these need to later be soldered to the rims.

The 5 x original vertical spokes were all cut short and one snapped, so these needed replacing. I went to my cake tin storage area, I collect these usually for use as cashboxes, and found the correct gauge tin in decent patinated condition. In my scrap bins I found a rectangular brass tube section that was exactly the right inner width I needed. Then found some alloy U channel that was slightly larger inner width than the brass, just enough space to allow me to use the two pieces as a simple forming stamp when I place a flat piece of tin between both then clamped in a vice (#8).
aeroplan 8.jpg
I glued the flat tin piece centrally to the brass at either end with a dab of glue so it wouldn't move. This same brass forming tool also came in handy for soldering the original horizontal struts to the new vertical spokes. With a 90 degree angle this made sure everything was perfectly true. I cut a small 45 degree chamfer on the brass corner so that my solder joints would not attach to the brass jig (#9).
aeroplan 9.jpg
Then came the tough job of making the rims. The factory had steel molds and presses to mass produce these while I had nothing.........I found some curved black alloy sheet in my scrap, was a much smaller diameter than I needed but the correct gauge for forming the rolled lip that holds the reel strip in place. I gently stretched the alloy out until I had the correct diameter to match the original reel size. I first tried taping a piece of flat tin to the inside edge of the alloy former and then gently rolling the tin over to form the lip. While this did work it left a partially buckled edge, as the inner edge contracts while the outer edge stretches. So then tried a different method. I clamped pre-cut flat sheet tin pieces to a steel ruler that was the correct inner gauge I needed for the rolled lip. Using a wood scrap I slowly slid back and forth forming the tin over the ruler edge which created the rolled lip channel needed (#10).
aeroplan 10.jpg
I then lubed the curved alloy former and slowly slide the tin over it , this stretched the flat into a curved rim section with no wrinkles at all! (#11)
aeroplan 11.jpg
Did take about five goes on and off the former to fully take the circumference needed. Originally the rims were made of two curved pieces of tin soldered to make each rim. But I found that this was impossible with my method as the tin was just so thin that once you'd gotten just over half way on there was too much friction and the tin would crush before going any further onto the former. So instead I decided to halve the lengths, now each of my rims is made of four tin pieces soldered together (#12).
aeroplan 12.jpg

Once the eight rim sections were formed I needed to solder them together in an exact way and to the correct diameter, and then they needed to mount perfectly with all the spokes and struts, so I would need a jig of some kind? I found some plywood that was just the right thickness. The plywood thickness was important because with the finished rims in place it left a slight overrun and that allowed me to bend the inner 90 degree flange needed. The flange gives added stiffness and a place for the horizontal spokes to attach to. After basically cutting it to the right size on a bandsaw I found a scrap brass boss with mounting holes and an inner shaft hole with grub screw in place. By centrally attaching this to my plywood I could then install an inner adjustable steel shaft that would locate the five armed cast iron attaching bracket that mounts the tin reel to the mechanism shaft. From that I could base all my locations before soldering to make sure everything was true. Once I'd mounted the brass boss I ran it in my lathe so I could cut the plywood down slightly until it was dead true to the boss and the correct diameter. I then measured out the five spoke positions around the plywood surface and drew them in place (#13).
aeroplan 13.jpg
To begin with I placed two of the eight rim sections on my black alloy former so I could solder them together, repeating with the other six sections (#14).
aeroplan 14.jpg
I now had 4 x half rim sections. Then I used the plywood circular jig to measure these pieces and cut them to equal sizes with small butting joints. To join these halves into a whole, again I used the black alloy former to solder the joints but also clamped them between two wooden boards to keep everything as flat as possible (#15).
aeroplan 15.jpg
Once I had completed the two rims I could then position them onto the plywood jig and solder everything into place (#16,17,18).
aeroplan 16.jpg
aeroplan 17.jpg
aeroplan 18.jpg
The finished reel is very close to true, not perfect but since this was being paid for by a customer I had to try and keep the process as basic as possible but good enough to work well. It's superior to the restored original reel I copied measurements from. That one was a little twisted and bent to begin with and once the tin stretches it's impossible to unstretch, so you get some slight warping (#19,20,21).
aeroplan 19.jpg
aeroplan 20.jpg
aeroplan 21.jpg

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special when lit
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Re: Making a tin reel replacement - 1910 L'Aeroplan

Postby special when lit » Tue Jan 29, 2019 3:18 pm

!THUMBS!

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pennymachines
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Re: Making a tin reel replacement - 1910 L'Aeroplan

Postby pennymachines » Tue Jan 29, 2019 3:41 pm

Fabulous work handled with expertise and sensitivity as always, Gameswat. I'm sure I'll never have to do one of these - it looks extremely tricky - but thanks for taking time to post a blow by blow account. It's fascinating to hear how you improvised a solution with quite basic tools. How did you get the beautiful, but battered, card to lie so smooth over the reel, given that it's only supported at its edges?

Lot 39: 10¢ Mills L'Aeroplan Trade Stimulator:
Mills-Aeroplan.jpg
Mills-Aeroplan2.jpg

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gameswat
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Re: Making a tin reel replacement - 1910 L'Aeroplan

Postby gameswat » Tue Jan 29, 2019 4:48 pm

PM, well since this reel is similiar to those used in most slots and trade stims it might be useful. Sometimes it's nice to get some inspiration from other peoples methods.
The paper that came with this reel was useless, the rim width had been cut down so it was too thin anyway. A third was hand drawn and oversize, another part photocopied, plus parts from at least two other machines. I soaked it in water to remove the glue but the salvageable parts were pointless. I had to do the same with the good machine already but that was all useable, after being re-glued onto thin stiff card. I scanned it while it was out years ago and after digital retouching it's now ready to print. The original reel paper I had to re-touch by hand with suitable paint. This way both machines will have completely unique artwork. Nothing worse than seeing multiple machines around the world with identical patina paper! Like the Domino machines.

The nickeled machine is not correct finish, this was done in the USA in the last 10 years to make the machine more saleable in that market. The painted casting is correct and mostly original, shown here restored for display purposes with paper behind the glasses to hide the missing mechanism.
aeroplan 1.jpg

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pennymachines
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Re: Making a tin reel replacement - 1910 L'Aeroplan

Postby pennymachines » Tue Jan 29, 2019 5:25 pm

Yep, that paint really sings! !!ARTIST!!

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john t peterson
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Re: Making a tin reel replacement - 1910 L'Aeroplan

Postby john t peterson » Tue Jan 29, 2019 5:44 pm

Gameswat,

I bow at the knee of the master. !WORSHIPFULL!

J Peterson
Aviation Appreciator, USA. !!PLANE!!

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gameswat
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Re: Making a tin reel replacement - 1910 L'Aeroplan

Postby gameswat » Tue Jan 29, 2019 6:35 pm

PM, that lot #39 auction machine you posted photos of is the same one I've shown next to the painted version in my workshop several years ago. You can see I've swapped cabinets around as the auction machine had a brand new repro case. For some reason my friend prefered the nickel casting, though I did manage to age it for him.

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yaksplat
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Re: Making a tin reel replacement - 1910 L'Aeroplan

Postby yaksplat » Tue Jan 29, 2019 6:58 pm

That looks great. I used to bend steel rings at an old job. We used a hand crank ring roller to do the job, but it looks like you don't even need one. Those look perfect!

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moonriver
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Re: Making a tin reel replacement - 1910 L'Aeroplan

Postby moonriver » Tue Jan 29, 2019 9:09 pm

Excellent job.

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bryans fan
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Re: Making a tin reel replacement - 1910 L'Aeroplan

Postby bryans fan » Wed Jan 30, 2019 8:40 am

A "reel" masterclass in restoration. Superb stuff, thanks for sharing. !WORSHIPFULL! !!THUMBSX2!! CoNgRaTs CoNgRaTs


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