Re: Hawtins Rolling Road
Posted: Sun Jul 29, 2018 6:53 pm
Yes, I'd always thought it was Hawtins and just assumed the Ahrens reference was a mistake. As far as I'm aware, Ahrens didn't make Steer-a-Balls.
Vintage coin operated machines discussion
Well, if that is the case, then there are three interesting points. Firstly, the Hawtins steeraball is a different size to the Rolling Road (the latter being taller). Secondly, the steeraball uses the 'standard' single ball mechanism i.e. a circular casting at the rear which conveys the ball into play when the steering wheel is turned. Thirdly, the steeraball has a latch which allows the top panel to be easily released to access the playfield; the Rolling Road has the playfield screwed down from the inside and it seems a real task to remove it (and this does seem original). It seems surprising that the two machines have such variances - and the steeraball design on latter two counts is far simpler and more practical. Begs the question why is the Rolling Road as it is on these counts?Yes, I'd always thought it was Hawtins and just assumed the Ahrens reference was a mistake. As far as I'm aware, Ahrens didn't make Steer-a-Balls.
Interestingly, the Hawtins catalogue gives the height of their steeraball games as 42 inches. My Hawtins steeraball, with legs, is around 36 1/2 inches, whilst the Rolling road, without legs, but with 1/2 inch feet, measures approximately 39 1/4 inches. So make of that what you will!they both stand on legs, which makes me wonder if the surviving Rolling Road has been cut down
I had a good look at the image of the playfield in the Hawtins catalogue. To me, it makes no sense as there does not appear to be a realistic track route. So, I'm assuming it's possibly an 'artists impression' and not an actual photo.I'm a little confused with the track layout in the picture posted by coin-op (in the museum). It appears to be more or less the same as a Steer-a-Ball, but with a squiggly bit that doesn't seem to do anything. One can clearly see the path the ball has taken, and I really can't see what the squiggly bit does.
Compare this with the original picture that can be found in the Hawtins catalogue, which doesn't appear to have a similar Steer-a-Ball path on the playfield.
Mine are next to computer for instant reference.
JC wrote:The Steer-a-Ball I have at the museum is a Pee Jay Manufacturing Co. machine. Nothing seems to be known about this manufacturer, although if surviving numbers are anything to go by, they must have been a fairly large concern. I'm not even sure 'Pee Jay' was their correct name, as the letters JP appear in relief on the castings on the front of their machines. So were they 'Jay Pee', or was their pattern maker dyslexic? The Pee Jay and Stevenson and Lovett Steer-a-Balls are almost identical, and essentially the same as the earlier Hawtins machines. Like many great things, the success and popularity of this game owes much to its simplicity. The following is Hawtin's description of the Rolling Road game, as printed in their 1930s catalogue:
This is an attractive coin return machine giving the player an opportunity of testing his skill and delicacy of touch by controlling a ball which passes through hazards to the winning position through the medium of a steering wheel. The playing field portrays a mountainous district modelled in relief and artistically coloured The ball is automatically brought into the starting position by the simple action of turning the wheel before the game begins. From the starting point of the course, the player, by careful manipulation of the wheel, attempts to steer the ball along it's mountainous course, avoiding hazards en route, into the winning position. Immediately the ball is brought successfully to the home base, the coin is automatically returned. The full sized car steering wheel turns effortlessly and the ball responds immediately to the slightest touch as it travels over the frictionless track. The well designed tubular ball lift is controlled by a simple geared mechanism which is entirely free from stress or strain at any point, and in consequence, will give many years of trouble free service. All working parts are dull nickel plated to prevent corrosion, and interior ball run-ways are heavily zinc or cadmium plated. An attractive cabinet of light oak with decorative alloy panels and a rear fascia portraying joyous speed on the Rolling Road makes the machine an interesting addition to any arcade.
This is an interesting description, particularly their reference to the 'tubular ball lift'. This seems to imply that the system employed was similar to that used by Bryans in machines such as Payramid and Trickier. A ball is forced in at the bottom of a vertical tube, which is permanently full with similar balls. As the ball is forced in, the ball at the top of the tube pops out, onto the playfield. When the game is over, this will be the next ball to enter the bottom of the tube at the start of the next game. This is not the method used in their Steer-a-Ball machines, and it seems odd that they should use a different system in what was essentially a variation of the same machine. The later S&L and Pee Jay Steer-a-Balls use exactly the same ball feed method as Hawtins; and with as much generosity as can be mustered, I can only describe it as crude! Sadly, as an operator I've found this to be the weakest link in the Steer-a-Ball's design, and rather spoils an otherwise brilliant game. On insertion of a coin, a counter-balanced lever releases the ball, in much the same way as an allwin. The ball then rolls down a chute toward the back of the machine, where it encounters a large cast aluminium disc. As the player turns the steering wheel, the disc revolves and the ball drops into one of a number of slots around its circumference. As the dis continues to turn, when the ball arrives at the top of the machine, it plops out onto the playfield. This system of ball delivery is fine if you understand how it works. However, a novice player can get quite infuriated by constantly turning the wheel from left to right, only to hear the sound of the ball clanking around inside!