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The refurbishing of used bulk machines.

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Spiral Roadrunners

I got a Roadrunner spiral in a deal a couple years ago for free, and have had it sitting in my garage taking up space. Then last summer, a deal on 3 of them landed in my lap one day. I bought all 3 for $75.

The first one is just the body parts and the globe. The last 3 are complete except 2 burned globes, no locks, and 2 coin doors missing. 2 had rope lighting down the spiral which did not work. The time came to get them ready for the route or sell them for profit. So I disassembled all 4 of them and started the tedious task of removing petrified gumballs and cleaning them.

This is what I have learned so far.

1) Spiral gumball machines are a pain in the ass.
2) Locks are expensive for spiral machines.
3) Take pictures of things before you take them apart.
4) 2 special screwdrivers are needed for the spirals. Square bit and spanner screws. Cost $40 (Good HD quality tools)
5) Spiral locks are expensive. 8 locks cost $102
6) Spiral gumball machines will make you cuss.
7) All Roadrunner spiral gumball machines are not the same. 4 different machines with 3 different globes and plastic pieces that goes over the hopper. You can't simply take a globe from one and put on another.
8) Spiral gumball machines suck.
9) Spiral gumball machines have a lot of parts.

So here I am a few weeks later and I have 1 machine ready to go. I still need 2 more globes, but will be taking a crapshoot chance that they will fit even if I order them. I made 2 money doors but still need to paint them. 1 of the bases has a chunk broken out of it that I will have to fix with a fiberglas repair kit.

I still need to find 2 globes, mech and hopper Beaver style, chute and door. Got $217 in 4 machines so it still might work out..............




Third Times A Charm

Well, just a year ago, I was in the middle of a divorce wondering where I was going with my life. Seemed I was having a hard time getting a date. I never told anyone but I was getting a little lonely after 2 or 3 month's of living alone. I had my pet chihuahua's, Ellie and Rocky, and my son's cat Jester, But they were feeling like more of a burden than companionship.

The bar scene and nightclubs were not, nor ever have been my style, so meeting single women was a problem. Maybe I was a little naive thinking the good ones would all want dates. Funny thing when you are looking, it seems, no one else is.

And then I found internet dating.

Now most times I'm a skeptic when it comes to things like that. You know, saying women just want to do it for the sex. (Yeah Right) or they are gold diggers, or the worse thing ever, plumb freaking loco! But I decided to try it. I used 2 different websites. Loaded up the best picture of me I could find and went on the prowl. OMG, you should have seen the numbers soar. The problem was none of them were the least bit attractive and some had something in their profiles that was an immediate turn off. I searched and searched until I found 4 women I thought were interesting as well as pretty. I sent a PM to each of them and then waited.......and waited.....and waited....and waited. Maybe I was doing something wrong. Maybe they were not interested in an educated church attending male with a decent job and kids all grown up. They all had children and said only to reply if that was Ok. It was Ok by me. What was the problem?

I was feeling pretty low and then while searching one night, I spotted a lady that was so pretty and her status said she was online. I decide to try a different approach. I asked if she wanted to chat and OMG she answered me back. Panic set in very quickly. What the hell was I going to say? I wasn't ready to chat. But chat I did.

That first chat turned into a phone call that night that lasted for 4 hours and a first meeting the very next day. We started dating each other shortly after that day and have been seeing each other ever since.

Now I know that internet dating doesn't work like this. All the televison ads that show the couples married and all. Thats Hogwash right? No way Jose could it work out like that. Boy did I get lucky! The one and only lady I talked to online. Was she the one? Could it really happen to me?

My divorce was final in February and soon after that I proposed to her. We have gotten along great and I know I have to spend the rest of my life with her. We are getting married on Saturday evening.

I always say "Good things happen to good people"




How I'm doing

I have posted very little about my business on this forum. Numbers and things. I've certainly talked a great deal about working it though. With the help of Andy and this forum, I am finally getting close to being cash flow positive. While I have made money all along, you just can never seem to get ahead. There is always something you need to purchase.

About August of last year I decided to try a different approach to my purchasing habits. I wasn't buying enough product to get any discounts. I started putting all my charges on a credit card (instead of my debit card) so I could order more and get the cheaper price. This is a zero % card until August of this year. Equipment and parts I still use my debit card. The discounts are about $1.50-2.00 per bag

I took a hard look at my gumball usage as well. I dropped my Sams membership and started ordering 1080 and 1430ct gumballs with my toy orders. Keep in mind I was driving 90 miles to the nearest Sams Club. The small amount I pay for shipping and the higher count gumballs more than offsets the fuel and membership fee's I used to pay.

Every time I'm out now I look for empty capsules around other machines. I also visualize if some things will fit inside capsules to go in my mixes. Just yesterday I purchased over 1000 toys for $4.75

If you watch your pennies, your dollars will take care of themselves. By doing these 3 things, I am getting really close to being in the black overall in my business. Hopefully by mid summer I will be there.

Thanks everyone for all your help!!





Bok Choy Boy

I was watching a cooking show the other night (well, mainly for some background noise) and they mentioned bok choy. I went to the web and looked it up. Sure enough it is something you eat. A type of cabbage that is from Chinese decent. With a name like that it couldn't possibly taste good. I tried to put 2 and 2 together to figure out why they are a toy and I am still clueless. Are they a superhero? Maybe a mutant form of a little boy who swallowed some cabbage and turned into a half boy and half cabbage character. Is it a cartoon series in China? What are the toy makers going to try next? Carrot sticks? Or maybe some celery with some peanut butter?

I understood the Cabbage Patch dolls when that craze came about because they were a doll. They had an appearance of a head of cabbage. Even though I think the mothers wanted them worse than the kids did. Or at least I never saw kids fighting over them, it was always the mothers.

I wonder if the mothers fought over Bok Choy would they throw cabbage at each other? Maybe they could hide behind the vending machines that are vending them. They would be full of course because they don't sell very well. It would make a good hiding spot if you were being attacked by an incoming barrage of cabbage heads.

Bok Choy Boy Yuck, I don't care for any.




Life without a Wife

Well, It's been a month now since my wife and I separated. I have to say that it's not been that bad. I was worried about things that she always did like paying the bills, most of the cleaning, laundry, etc. I mean, I'm not a slob or anything but she did most of those things. My help was pretty much delegated to the manly tasks like fixing plumbing problems, cutting the grass, cleaning the siding, washing the vehicles, etc.

Here are some things that I have learned in the last month.

1) I like myself. I like who I am and what I have done with my life. I served my country. I am patriotic. I started my own business and it will be successful. I learned how to play the piano when I was 38 years old. I've helped in the rearing of some great children.

2) I don't need much. I really don't need all the "stuff" in my life that I once thought I did. After all it is just "stuff" I can do without all the gadgets and conveniences I've come to think of as a necessity.

3) The more you make the more you spend. Since my income is just my own now, I thought I would have a hard time making ends meet. Not true. I am actually putting more in the bank than I ever was.

4) Dogs are indeed man's best friend.

5) I actually like the cat.

6) Doing laundry is easy. Folding laundry and putting it away is tough.

7) Cooking for 1 is harder to do than I thought. This one area is where a lot of my waste comes from.

My gumball inventory is lasting a lot longer than it used to.

9) Church is not a good place to meet single women, the grocery store is.[img]http://vendiscuss.net/public/style_emoticons/default/cheesy.gif[/img] So are ice cream shops.

10) I can stay on VENDiscuss as long as I want.

11) I do have friends.




My Trip to Andy's

As some of you know, I spent a week at Andy’s. We planned this trip over the winter. We spent 6 days servicing parts of his routes. We serviced approximately 70locations and drove over 2000 miles. I also drove 600 miles each way. He made sure I was well rested by giving me 7 hours of sleep between work days. We started about 7AM each morning and finished about 7PM. He is a great cook and we ate very well.

It is Sunday morning and I am so tired. We worked hard every day. It was also around 100 degrees everyday. His old van really pumped out the A/C. I sweat a good bit and think I may have actually lost some weight.

We compared how I serviced my route compared to his. We swapped growing up stories and had a really great time. Being a 2[sup]nd[/sup]generation bulkie has allowed Andy to witness the changes in the bulk vending industry over the years. He is also one of the lucky ones who has a family member that does it as well. His dad still has a small route that heworks.

I wanted to point out some things that I felt would help me in servicing my route. I also wanted to share it here so that others would maybe benefit from it.

1) [u]Locations[/u]-Andy has built his business around a select few types of accounts. This has allowed him to know what works as far as choice of machines, location within the business, which products to vend, and commission %.

2) [u]Bags- [/u]He uses big bags to put his product in. This one single factor speeds up servicing a lot. Have you ever tried pouring 2” capsules into a machine from the box? It’s kind of slow and it always spills on to the floor. Using the big bags allows you to just pour in what you need and stop the flow when it is full. These are filled and tied off with wire ties before we left his shop. The 1” capsules remain in the bags they come in with the display slid down in the bag and re-tied. This assures that you will have the display needed and not have to look for it.

3) [u]Vehicle[/u]-Everything in his van has a place. By using boxes to set the 1” capsules in and 4 filled and ready heads, swapping and filling is quick. After the first day, I knew where everything was at. It was thought out and almost all of what you would need was in there.

4) [u]Machines[/u]-Andy uses mainly panel head PO89 machines for 1” and 2001 30” machines for 2”. The versatility of being able to service quickly and add extra capacity panels in both these machines makes them very user friendly. I will definitely use more of them in the future. A few specialty vendors strategically placed did excellent.

Anyone who thinks it is easy is mistaken. It is a lot of hard work. 6 days on the routes and we didn’t even have the time to fix broken mech’s or work on any machines. I made a few mistakes along the way but thankfully everything turned out OK. We had a great week and I look forward to doing it again. I would also encourage the new vendor’s to ask for a mentor in building their business.




I Wanna be a Pirate

I have been daydreaming about this for quite some time. It came to me the other day while I was counting quarters. I had just had my largest pull yet. The quantity of quarters made me think of pirate treasure. A couple of days later I drove past a location of an early Civil War battle and reminisced about my metal detecting days. I always used to get excited any time I found coins. The thought of the pirate loot and treasure re-entered my mind and here we are......

This has been about 2 weeks and I've been tossing the reason's to be a pirate around in my head.
[list][*][b]Get to wear cool pirate clothes- bandanna,eye patch[/b][*][b]Drink beer or whiskey all the time[/b][*][b]Live on a sailboat[/b][*][b]Don't have a job per say-except being a pirate[/b][*][b]Get to fire a cannon-with real cannon balls[/b][*][b]Cool lingo such as "Shiver me Timbers"[/b][*][b]Get to carry and use a sword [/b][*][b]Girls think pirates are cool[/b][*][b]Silver & gold coins[/b][*][b]Get to use the monocular[/b][*][b]Skull and Crossbones flag[/b][*][b]Make people walk the plank[/b][*][b]Pillage and Plunder-getting the loot[/b][*][b]Hide the treasure for later[/b][*][b]Make a map for the treasure[/b][/list]
Wouldn't it be cool to be a pirate? It's no wonder that pirate toys are still popular among young boys. Anyhow, As I said I was just day dreaming..............




Of Mice and Men

I'm terrified of mice and their bigger cousins, rats. They are right up there with snakes and spiders. I've had run ins with them my whole life. Had one rat that even tried to attack me. Of course he was high on Eagle 7 at the time.

I had some acorn capsules siting on my work bench due to capping some product. Had them all together in a neat little pile. Had a 1/2 full box of capped stuff sitting next to them. I kept noticing one capsule would be out of place when I would come in and turn the lights on. This went on for about a week.

I finished a couple of Oak machines last week and Saturday morning was getting them ready to take with me locating. I was going to put Treasure mix in one of them, so grabbed the box that was sitting on my bench.

When I poured the capsules in the machine something looked funny. I reached my hand in to the globe to grab whatever it was and then I saw him (or her). I just about crapped right there. I let out a girlie scream and jumped back.

After regaining my composure(and looking out at the street to make sure nobody saw me),I took the hopper and globe off and took it out in the yard and dumped it all out. After scooting the mouse a good distance away, I picked all the capsules up.

I set those capsules and globe to the side and used some others. I'm setting some mouse traps today.




Used Machines

What are the benefits of buying new machines? I pondered this question as I purchased my latest machines. The warranty is pretty much mute. Who is going to pay shipping to return a machine? Its probably much cheaper to just fix the problem yourself.

I guess a special color is a benefit. What I have found though, is that having all your machines one color works to your advantage. If you have a problem or a damaged piece, you can just swap out with another if they are the same.

A coin tray or a chrome top is nice too. But not really needed. Mine work fine with neither. They produce quarters just like any other machine. My mechanism's can be upgraded too.

My average cost per machine is $30.13. Add in all the racks, stands, and brackets, and that figure rises to $36.14. This includes all of my 2" vendors and a Super Bounce A Roo machine too. That figure is still about 1/2 of what a 1" vendor will cost. Put in the right location, and I'm in the black within the first month or two.

I basically use Ebay, Craiglist, Classifieds on here, and word of mouth to find machines. Sometimes I buy a Trading Post or Ad Bulletin.

There are, however, some who wish to purchase new machines. Could be they are not as mechanically inclined as I am. Simply like the new clean look. Or just don't want the hassle of buying, bidding, shipping problems,etc.

Like I said, I was just pondering..........




The "Junkie" (Part 2)

The Junkie needs another fix. He goes to all his usual places but can't find anything. Sweat pops out on his brow. He shakes uncontrollably. He must have it.
After days of looking he spots it. An old model 60 thats been sitting in a barn covered with dirt and rust. Heck, there's even some old stale gumballs still left in it. He bids on it. And again,again,and again. What would anybody want with such a dirty neglected machine he wonders.
He watches the countdown clock on the auction site slowly tick down to zero. His fingers positioned over the keys lest someone else bids on it. 6......5......4......3......2.....1.....0. He breathes a sigh of relief as he double checks to make sure it is his. He has won again.
He turns his computer off and goes to bed. He dreams of bright red ,yellow, and blue gumball machines. He hears the ratcheting sound of a coin mechanism being turned. Tick,tick,tick,tick, and then kerplunk. The sound of a quarter dropping into the bottom of the machine.
I've found another machine to restore. I've found my fix. Until tomorrow.




Does Size Really Matter?

Does size really matter? We've all participated in those conversations. But what about gumballs?

I've often wondered if people buy the gumball because it is big? What if they had say, 2 smaller gumballs at a lower price? Which one would they choose?

I decided to find out for myself. I bought 6 chicklet wheels from Ebay that only vend 2 at a time. I bought some 1/2" gumballs and tried them in the wheel. Works perfectly. Every time.

I can get the 8500ct gumballs for $26.90 and I'm guessing the shipping would be about $14. So 40.90 for the box of 8500 pieces or 4250 vends. Cost per vend is almost exactly 1 cent. If I vend them for a dime that gives $425 gross per box. Net is 384.10 per box.

That's a hefty increase over what a box of 850ct will bring.

Now all I need are some .10 mech's and I'm ready to roll. Wait I already have them out in the garage in a box. I took them out of machines to put in a .25 mech's. So, I have everything I need.

So, does size really matter? We'll all find out in a month or two. Just hang on to those ten cent mech's. Somebody just may need them.

2/26/2011 Update

I have 1 machine out and should have another located within the week.




The Frankenstein Project

I began changing my Oak flat panel machines to 300 and 450 globes right after I started in the business. The look of the globes were more appealing to me than the flat panels. The flat panels were cheaper on Ebay than the globe machines so I bought them originally.

In doing this I amassed a great deal of parts that I had no need for. I started trading for stuff I needed and began to sell some on Ebay and on Vendiscuss. I used that money to buy parts that I needed to make complete machines.

Somebody on here used the term Frankenstein to describe these machines. Over the last couple of month's, I have managed to buy enough parts to make 9 Frankenstein machines. Oak Vista 450's and NW Super 60's.

That equates to almost a 10% increase in my number of machines with almost no extra money spent. I will need to buy a few globes though.

So come on. List those spare parts you have. The classified section is free. You never know who may need what you have.




A Tip Of The Hat

What continues to amaze me is that I learn something new about bulk vending all the time. I've been doing this for over a year now and my practices just keep getting refined and polished a little more each time this happens. At some point in time, I'll be able to call myself an experienced vendor.

I had an issue with an Oak coin mech yesterday and was talking about it to a buddy on here late last night (late for me any way) not him (he sleeps till noon). He suggested I check something on the mech and I was shocked. Not once have I read about what he suggested.

Now this mech in question already has 2 modifications that I have done to it to help prevent a piling problem. These modifications were the result of past conversations with him.

I am a skeptic all the way down to my bones and want to check it out before I post about it. (He has been known to yank a chain or two). But the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. It also gave me the inspiration to write about the coin mech's. My experience is limited to Oak & Northwestern's, but nevertheless, it would be helpful.

So since he gave me this tip and a bunch of other's, I would like to tip my hat to [color="#FF0000"]will.vend.[/color] Continuing to pay it forward. Thanks Buddy.

Well, I checked it out and it's true so I am gonna post about it. If you look closely at the gear on the back of an Oak mech you will see a line on one of the teeth. If you turn the gear over you will notice a square hole. The tooth with the line on it is aligned at a 90 degree to the side of the square. This tooth should be pointing up when the mech is in the machine. None of the other teeth line up straight. It is that way so that the mech is in time with the wheel in the hopper. If not it will become out of time and mis vend or skip a vend every now and then. Since there are 9 teeth on the gear, this is probably why sometimes a machine mis vends every 4 time when using a capsule wheel. It goes through the motions 3 times and then re aligns itself on the 4th vend.




Tool Time

In this section, I want to list the tools that I use during the refurbishing process. This will be a work in progress as I am always coming up with new ways to accomplish tasks.

While most repairs can be handled with common hand tools there are a few specialty items listed because they make the task so much easier.

[u]Screwdrivers[/u]-One of the most used tools is a screwdriver. You will need a good selection of Flat and Phillip tips. Long ones come in handy to remove the screws that hold globes on. Magnetic screwdrivers are nice when you are trying to reach down into the globe.

[u]Files[/u]- A good selection of small flat and round files are good to remove small burrs and imperfections in the metal. Especially useful where the gear rubs against the hopper and where the hopper sets on the body. They come in real handy when cleaning up coin wheels inside the coin mechanism too.

[u]Mallet[/u]-I use a rubber mallet instead of a hammer. You can give a machine a real good hit without damaging it whereas a hammer will leave an indentation or scar.

[u]Wrenches[/u]-Combination wrenches in various sizes will handle just about anything bulk related. A few adjustable wrenches are handy too.

[u]Socket Set[/u]-A small 1/4" set is all you need. 6" extension is especially useful when attaching a base to a stand.

[u]Tin Snips[/u]-These are available in LH, RH, and straight cut versions. I use the straight cut. Nice for trimming chute covers and cutting brush housings. A lot of triples have brush housings that are straight on the sides. Take a round one and cut it to fit.

[u]Mini Air Grinder[/u]-The only way to cut center rods and take loose, flaky paint off machines. Great for removing the chalky patina that is on most used machines.

[u]Jigsaw[/u]-Used for cutting center rods and modifying coin mechanism backs on Oaks so that the quarters do not pile up.

[u]Rotary Tool[/u]- A multi purpose rotary tool is a good piece to have. Good for filing and cutting just about anything. I use to cut out drop thru holes on mechanism's. Also use to turn candy wheel brushed into capsule brushes.

Here is a picture of an Oak mech that has been modified. The drop thru hole has been cut out and the bottom of the back plate removed to prevent a piling up of quarters when they do not exit the mech properly.

[u]Scotchbrite Pads- [/u]These things are 10 times better than sandpaper. Save it for the really bad spots.




The Gumball Junkie

You've seen them.

Maybe not noticing as they briskly walk past you. There eyes fixated on an object on the other side of the room. A glaze in their eyes, not blinking,not even once. They walk across the room and stop with their back facing you. They reach into their pocket and grab loose change by the handful.

Quarters, looking for quarters.

Slowly they put a quarter in the machine, turning the handle in hopes of scoring not just 1 but 2 gumballs. They only receive 1. In goes another quarter. Then the gumballs get stuffed into their mouth and they start chewing like a cow chewing their cud. Ahhhh!!!!!

You've just witnessed the Gumball Junkie.

Helping them break the habit is out of the question. The sugar fix is needed and you are an enabler. You are the "Pusher".




Picking A Machine

Picking a machine to refurbish can be challenging. You don't want one in too bad of shape but don't want one already repaired either.[attachment=897:NW Super 60 # 43,44,45.jpg]

Sometimes I'll buy a machine even though it is not complete because I know in the future I'll have a need for it. I'll also buy parts lots to use in the refurbishing process. Buying parts lots gives you the spare parts inventory that makes refurbishing more cost effective.

I try to make sure the machine has no holes or dents in the body, base, hopper, and lid. Other small parts such as chute doors,chutes,wheels,brushes,rods,and locks can be replaced relatively cheap if they are not reusable. Some of the parts I buy are coin wheels, coin pawls, washer pawls, and return pawls,(commonly called dogs because they are the shape of a dog leg) sometimes a new globe here and there,wheels and brushes,stickers,lids, springs, screws and nuts and bolts.
[attachment=898:NW Super 60 43 and 44 004.jpg]
[attachment=899:White Super 60 Refurb 002.jpg]

Some of the dirtiest roughest machines can be turned into usable ones again with a little work and tender loving care.




Turning Trash Into Treasure

I started my bulk vending business by buying 10 new Northwestern machines and located them.

It didn't take me very long to figure out that the growth would be slow unless I could come up with an idea to get machines faster. I thought if I could get 2 machines for the price of 1 it would grow twice as fast.

I've got some mechanical ability so I looked on Ebay and started buying old used up machines and repairing them.

Since I started with Northwestern's, I looked at those and Oak Vista machines. I just liked the look of those. There is something about the triangular shaped mechanism that catches the eye.

I knew nothing about the working knowledge or how to take machines apart when I started this, I just learned as I went. I asked a lot of questions on here and became comfortable with my understanding of how the things work.

In keeping with my 2 for 1 plan, I decided to give no more than $30 for an Oak and $35 for a Northwestern machine. Of course the amount also determined how much needed done to the machines. I currently have 99 heads right now and my average cost per machine is $29.83. That includes 11 2" capsule machines, 6 NW triples, and 1 Super Bounce a Roo Ball machine.

I always thought it would be nice to have a source to turn to for information so that is the idea behind this blog.


Ever notice that when you are trying to deal with somebody, their machines are worth a lot more than yours? At least in their eyes, that's the way they see it. Where does this extra value come from? I found a guy who wanted to sell some equipment he had and talked to him on the telephone. He kept saying come and look at the machines. So I went and looked at them. I had told him what I would pay over the telephone and thought we had agreed to that. When I got their, he wanted more. I think he thought that once I got there I would pay his price for them.
This sucker walked away. Maybe he'll call me back and accept my offer. We'll see.