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Re: Hawtins Rolling Road

Posted: Sun Jul 29, 2018 6:53 pm
by JC
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.

Re: Hawtins Rolling Road

Posted: Sun Jul 29, 2018 7:34 pm
by coin-op
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.
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?

Re: Hawtins Rolling Road

Posted: Sun Jul 29, 2018 8:02 pm
by pennymachines
I've updated that Museum entry in light of this.
Indeed the example illustrated in Hawtin's catalogue resembles this Steer-a-Ball more than any other, with its arched, oak-framed top flash. Again there are notable differences, like the Essex coin acceptor and lack of light-up castings on the top. As Coin-op says, such variations are par for the course.

Neither of the illustrated games have the extra oak cross-beams and panelling of his example. Also, they both stand on legs, which makes me wonder if the surviving Rolling Road has been cut down to accommodate younger players. It was previously operated in the Lakeland Motor Museum, which may account for the modifications.

Re: Hawtins Rolling Road

Posted: Sun Jul 29, 2018 8:52 pm
by coin-op
they both stand on legs, which makes me wonder if the surviving Rolling Road has been cut down
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!
Edit (for clarification). Above measurements are at the front of the machines. The rear of the steeraball up to the top of the back box is 47 inches and the Rolling Road to the top of the rear sign is 58 inches.

Re: Hawtins Rolling Road

Posted: Mon Jul 30, 2018 8:57 pm
by coin-op
JC
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.
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.

Re: Hawtins Rolling Road

Posted: Mon Jul 30, 2018 10:35 pm
by JC
Yes, it does appear to be an artist's impression.
It occurred to me today that I wrote a piece for the magazine about Steer-a-Balls many moons ago - I'm pretty sure it was Issue 3, which would have been June 2006. I raised the point about how strange it is that Hawtins chose completely different methods of ball delivery for the two machines. If anyone can be bothered, dig it out and let's see what I said (mine are all packed away in boxes - I'll have a rummage when I get time).

Re: Hawtins Rolling Road

Posted: Tue Jul 31, 2018 10:55 am
by pennymachines
Like you JC, I'd always assumed from the catalogue picture that Hawtin's Rolling Road had a bendy raised track quite different from the other games.
JC wrote:
Mon Jul 30, 2018 10:35 pm
mine are all packed away in boxes...
Mine are next to computer for instant reference. !SAINT!
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!

Re: Hawtins Rolling Road

Posted: Tue Jul 31, 2018 4:16 pm
by dickywink
I noticed during my research on the Ditchburn Jukebox that Hawtins were still making the Steer-a-ball machines in 1946 and in one of the Hawtins adverts you can see them in production line at the same time as the Jack Hylton Jukeboxes, which were only made during the year of 1946, in 1947 Hawtins sold the Jukebox manufacturing tooling to Ditchburn and auctioned off the rest of the Amusement Machine business ... but it maybe that some machine manufacturing rights were sold to others... hence the Pee Jay steer a balls
all the best ... Dicky

Re: Hawtins Rolling Road

Posted: Tue Jul 31, 2018 5:12 pm
by coin-op
It's interesting to note that there doesn't appear to be a Rolling road amongst the Steer-a-Ball production line. Although, admittedly, they appear to have done production in batches and it may be that the basic Steer-a-Ball cabinets in the picture were destined to be Rolling Roads.
Edit - It is interesting to note that the steeraballs in the Hawtins picture feature an Essex coin slide (and also sport a metal bar between the coin slide and the steering wheel and the more angular backbox). However, non of the four examples of the Hawtins steeraball (as featured in the museum section) that I know of have any of these features; the coin entry being a simple 'drop coin' entry.

Re: Hawtins Rolling Road

Posted: Wed Aug 15, 2018 2:27 pm
by arrgee
I love these old factory photos, I see one of their circular 'Juvenile Train Ride' tracks and rounded kiosk is in the top right of the photo.