Through the years I have restored almost seventy Paces Races/ Baker's Pacers machines. I've restored Paces Races, Baker's Pacers and Evan's Races. These are all reliable gambling machines you and visitors to your collection will enjoy playing.
Restoration work can consist of pneumatic components only, or a full mechanical restoration, or a top to bottom restoration including refinishing of the cabinet and repainting the field and horses. Choose the level of restoration that is best for you.
View of the roll frame on the right side of the photo. A player piano roll made of paper is used to control the machine. The roll has nine different holes punched in it. Seven of the holes advance the seven horses, the other two holes make the roll change direction. Unlike a player piano roll, these rolls control the machine both in forward and reverse.
The hole count on the roll is equal for all seven horses and so each horse has an equal chance of winning. Just as there are card counters today, the manufacturers of these machines were concerned about someone's ability to memorize the pattern in the roll. When two or four coins were paid to a winner, there was a fifty percent chance the roll would change direction making it harder for someone to keep track of the hole pattern. If an operator was concerned his machine was paying off too much, he could change the roll to one with a different hole pattern. Old original rolls have numbers stamped on them to indicate different series of holes.
There must have been gamblers who were talented in memorizing the patterns in the rolls. In addition to what I have already explained, very late models had elaborate shifters that scramble the tubing signals from the roll frame.
On the left side of the photo are seven pouches activated by plungers. These pouches are exposed to the air and were originally made of medium grade two ply pneumatic cloth. Here you see my replacement pouches restored using wine colored rubberized cloth. Pouches restored using leather are easier to install but will quickly deteriorate.
A winning horse hits a plungers and lifts the pouch off a brass tube. This sends a signal to the valve box to tell which horse has won.
The horses are made of composition of, roughly speaking, sawdust and glue. This photo shows the front legs have broken off. When the legs or tail falls off I insert a fine wire into the body for strength, then the body is placed in a mold where the missing part is recast from epoxy and painted.
This is a late horse with a special feature. Notice the rivet two thirds of the way up on the post. This extra assembly gives the horse an ability to rock as it moves. This action adds more fun to the look of the race.
The plywood bottom board has been refinished and these castings and assemblies have been dismantled, sandblasted under low pressure and repainted.
On the left, rear of the photo is the payout mechanism. The payout tube is sticking straight up on the very top left. Just underneath this tube are the payout slides, just the same as in a slot machine. The "S" shaped lever to the right of the payout tube resets the slides at the beginning of the race.
Payout tube and slides in the near left hand side of the photo.
These aluminum castings have plenty of strength under normal conditions but... they are fastened to the cabinet with large wood screws. As you will see in the next three photos, the glue holding the cabinet joints together fails over time. When the glue joints fail, the entire weight of the mechanism is transferred to the old castings causing them to break. The casting in this photo has broken into three pieces. I have seen many so called "restored" machines with cabinets that are falling apart. Aluminum is easy to weld these days but forty-five years ago it was a challenge to find a craftsman for this job. I make jigs to hold the castings in position while being welded.
Top of the cabinet being re glued.
The base is lying in the floor just to the right of the main cabinet. These old joints were not forced apart, they fell apart after removing the mechanism.
It is difficult to glue the cabinet up properly. All four posts must be in perfect alignment if you expect the end and side panels to fit again. The cabinet has to be glued together with the top in place or the posts will not be in the proper position.
The cut out on this side is for the payout panel. These machines sometimes have cards stating they were for amusement purposes only, when in fact, they are full payout slot machines. The panel for the payout drawer is not visible at first glance, to give the appearance of an arcade game.
Every woodworker knows, you can never have too many clamps. You can just make out the outline of one of the posts through this forest of clamps. Old glue from a poor repair had to be removed to glue this up correctly. After being repaired the split was undetectable.
In the left front of the photo is the long payout pneumatic covered in wine colored rubberized cloth. This pneumatic has seven fingers that check for the presence of a coin in the coin head. If a coin is present it indicates that a certain number horse has been bet on. A pouch attached to the finger sends a signal along a tube as part of the pneumatic logic circuit.
The copper plated ladder chain moves the carriage to the front of the machine to start the race. The metal bar in the front of the photo pulls the horses back to the start line at the end of the race.
The center of the photo shows the valve box. These vacuum operated valves control all the pneumatic bellows throughout the machine. Seven valves control the horses, six control the payout pneumatics. There are twenty valves in all.
Six payout pneumatics are located in the center of the photo on the floor of the interior. Each pneumatic connects to a different payout slide to determine the number of winning coins.
If you look carefully on the left side of the photo you will be able to make out the crankshaft that operates the main pump. The pump has not been installed at this point but will be located just to the left of the payout pneumatics. The main pump has four bellows which produce the vacuum to power the pneumatic system.
This view clearly shows the payout pneumatics. The rods from each pneumatic pull on a trip lever for each of the payout slides. A payout wheel indicated the number of coins awarded for each horse. The wheel was activated during the race so you would not know the odds of payout until after the bet was placed.
Most machines payout a jackpot of twenty coins. Some Bakers machines are equipped with a gold award feature for a bonus jackpot.
The horses have been installed but the machine is without the play field at this point. Below each horse is a wooden ratchet bar. The notches in the bar are coated with graphite to cut down on friction. The advance mechanism for each horse is a clever combination of parts.
Take a close look inside the cabinet to see the electric drive motor.
Historical information is based on writings of Richard Bueschel from The Coin Slot magazine. Dick was a great historian of coin operated collectables and a great guy.
A father and son: Homer S. Williams and Bradlee W. Williams of Youngstown Ohio, brought a rough prototype of the race machine to E. W. Pace. The Williams team developed the game from player piano pneumatic technology operated by a paper roll. E. W. Pace put his reputation and all the money he could borrow on the line to reengineering and redesigning the game to make it market ready.
Paces Races was first introduced in 1934 with the black cabinet model at a cost of $500 for 5 cent machines and $600 for quarter machines. The black cabinet model was produced in 1934 and 1935. It is a bit smaller, with only enough room for two gold grooves on the four cabinet posts instead of three, and does not have marque or ashtray castings. Very early versions of this model have a maximum payout of 20 coins instead of 30. Early 20 payout machines exist in small numbers and have the same basic mechanical design as all other models however; some of the mechanical parts are somewhat different. These early machines are just as reliable and of the same value as all other models. Only slight mechanical changes took place in the later models. All Paces Races are extremely well designed will work reliably for many years within a collection after a high quality restoration.
The brown cabinet model was introduced in 1936. Mechanisms were very much standardized from this point.
The “Red Arrow” model was produced in 1940 to 1941. Through the years a number of variations on the basic models were made including cabinets with extra metal trim castings, gold award feature, pinball feature and an extremely rare marathon with human figures instead of horses.
During the mid-1930s a seasoned coin machine veteran, Harold L. Baker was vice president of Pace. During this time Baker was in charge of engineering and marketing. He is credited with much of the original re-engineering and introduction of the machine to the marketplace. In 1938 Baker left Pace to form his own Baker Novelty Company. This new company began by offering replacement parts for Paces Races, and by January 1939 placed the Bakers Pacers horse race machine on the market.
Bakers Pacers were, at first, revamped Paces machines. Baker placed old Paces Races mechanisms in new Bakers cabinets. Pace part numbers remained on these revamped machines. Over time, Baker produced new mechanisms with Baker part numbers on the castings.
The Bakers Pacers are exactly the same mechanism as Paces Races with a few changes. The main casting containing the odds payout wheel was removed and a pinball style glass top was used in its place. Most of the glass is clear with painted portions at the foot and end of the field. A new casting with lights was installed under the painted glass top at the end of the field. A solenoid unit causes lights to flash at the beginning of each race and sometimes lights the Daily Double feature to indicate the Gold Award Jackpot. Gold coins displayed in a casting on one side of the cabinet are for show. Inside, a special jackpot with gold coins is triggered to play out the gold award. A doorbell also rings when the gold award is won.
In 1944 Pace sold the Paces Races line to H. C. Evans Company of Chicago. In 1947 Evans, using chopped down Paces mechanisms, revamped the race and came out with the Evans Races. This was the last use of the pneumatic components in a horse race machine. Later versions were designed using pinball technology. The Evans Races have attractive cabinets and were offered as free-play or payout models.
PAYOUT: Visitors to my shop often ask how the winning horse is determined, and about cheaters being able to memorize the pattern in the roll –similar to card counting.
The six inch wide paper roll has nine perforations. Seven perforations advance the horses and the other two perforations change the transmission, to put the roll in either forward or reverse. If you were to stretch out the roll and count the perforations, you would find an equal number of holes in the paper roll for each horse. So: each horse has the same chance of winning a race. The odds are built into the machine, just like a slot machine, with the profitability being balanced by limiting the number of coins paid out. Unlike a piano roll that reads in one direction only and then rewinding, the Pace’s roll reads in both directions. The two and four coin payouts are “teed” into the two valves operating the transmission. So, if you win two of four coins, there is a fifty percent chance the roll will reverse direction for the next race.
If the operator found fewer coins in the coin bag and believed someone had memorized the pattern in the roll, he would simply change the roll. Every roll has a number stamped on the front indicating a different hole pattern.
Very late models went a step further by adding a scrambling disc. This disc changed the order of the horses commanded by the roll. For example, after scrambling, the hole which usually commanded horse one to advance would cause one of the other horses to move instead.