QT Firebird cycle

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QT Firebird cycle

Postby rtmccurdy » Thu Aug 02, 2018 1:47 pm

Hi. Working on an early Firebird QT (no bent coin release, round denomination button, etc) and I think the area in the first photo illustrates that it has not completed its cycle. The reel stop levers were all frozen (now cleaned and working) so it could never really cycle completely. I can't figure out how to release the mech. tension to attain the position of the levers and star wheel in picture #2. Would like to keep all my fingers intact! All right side levers on mech. have been cleaned and move as they should. Any help would be appreciated!
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Re: QT Firebird cycle

Postby JPCass » Sun Sep 02, 2018 7:51 pm

rtmccurdy wrote:Hi. Working on an early Firebird QT (no bent coin release, round denomination button, etc) and I think the area in the first photo illustrates that it has not completed its cycle. The reel stop levers were all frozen (now cleaned and working) so it could never really cycle completely. I can't figure out how to release the mech. tension to attain the position of the levers and star wheel in picture #2. Would like to keep all my fingers intact! All right side levers on mech. have been cleaned and move as they should. Any help would be appreciated!

Did you ever solve the problem?

"The Complete Guide to the Mills QT" by Saul and Geddes is really helpful for working on these machines.

I have one of those early Firebirds with the large coin window, etc., but fortunately haven't had to work on it much. The one oddity is mine is one of the first couple of hundred made, and has an undersized clock fan blade which I assume (and looks like) is original, that cycled incredibly fast until I made a clip-on extension for the blade it to slow it down a bit.
Restored Mills 5c Extraordinary "barn find", long gone - now restoring 1934 5c Extraordinary Gold Award with original World's Fair reel strips
Restoring early Mills 5c Firebird (large coin view window)
About to take on a Mills 5c Vest Pocket
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Re: QT Firebird cycle

Postby rtmccurdy » Mon Sep 03, 2018 4:47 am

I have the guide---and an extra for sale if anyone needs one. I cycled the Firebird and it will need almost a complete tear down due to hardened grease, etc. It got put on the back burner as I had a Chevron come in and a cabinet and castings re-do on a Little Duke. Will check out the clock speed after cleaning. Thanks!
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Re: QT Firebird cycle

Postby JPCass » Mon Sep 03, 2018 9:12 pm

My Firebird arrived a couple of years ago with reels that didn't spin right due to coagulated grease, and also needs to be taken down and lubed some day, but this discussion inspired me to get in with some WD-40 and at least temporary resolve the one nagging operational problem, that the higher payouts didn't work - the rear shaft that the levers sit on has the same lubricant issue.

The fan blade on mine is about 5/8" by 2", with small weights about halfway out, but definitely appears factory original, and of course runs very fast. Looking around I see pictures of quite a few different configurations of blades, some of them apparent modifications or replacements, so the way they came from the factory must have turned out to be a real issue - and it's surprising mine was left as-is. Generally the fans seem to be larger, have weights that are bigger and further out, or combinations of those differences. Checking the QT book and the QT issue of Loose Change, those both show an apparent factory H-shaped fan blade that is about 2" high, more than twice the size of mine, but I see no indication that mine has been cut down. I'll have to do some experiments some day and see just what the cycle time is with different fan blade configurations.
Restored Mills 5c Extraordinary "barn find", long gone - now restoring 1934 5c Extraordinary Gold Award with original World's Fair reel strips
Restoring early Mills 5c Firebird (large coin view window)
About to take on a Mills 5c Vest Pocket
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Re: QT Firebird cycle

Postby marsonion » Thu Sep 06, 2018 2:24 pm

rtmccurdy wrote:Hi. Working on an early Firebird QT (no bent coin release, round denomination button, etc) and I think the area in the first photo illustrates that it has not completed its cycle. The reel stop levers were all frozen (now cleaned and working) so it could never really cycle completely. I can't figure out how to release the mech. tension to attain the position of the levers and star wheel in picture #2. Would like to keep all my fingers intact! All right side levers on mech. have been cleaned and move as they should. Any help would be appreciated!


I put together a Firebird (or is it called a Thunderbird-? Who knows?) from a box of loose parts sent to me by my buddy Bruce M. in Indiana. He's dragging his feet on coming over to fetch it, so for now, it's mine. 8) Anyway, yesterday the thing spontaneously stopped cycling all the way, hanging up just short of releasing the coin slides. It took me some time flicking moving parts around to finally discover what was wrong: a stack of three nickels jammed-up tightly in the tiny space indicated in the pictures. One of the few weaknesses in the design of the QT's is this Columbia-like "Swinging Ramp" contraption to feed the twin jackpots; it's a shallow incline so lazy coins can easily back-up and overflow, dropping into tight places like this and seizing solid against moving parts. These three nickels were pinched in there so tight I had to half-cycle the machine to pluck them out. The cycle returned 100% immediately after clearing those nickels seized by the Swinging Ramp.

I'm not saying that this is necessarily your specific problem, but you might want to get out a flashlight and check very carefully for jammed coins such as this... they can get caught in the most obscure and unlikely places, and can be very difficult to recognize even when they're right in front of my nose.
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Re: QT Firebird cycle

Postby JPCass » Thu Sep 06, 2018 5:53 pm

marsonion wrote:I put together a Firebird (or is it called a Thunderbird-? Who knows?) from a box of loose parts sent to me by my buddy Bruce M. in Indiana. He's dragging his feet on coming over to fetch it, so for now, it's mine. 8) Anyway, yesterday the thing spontaneously stopped cycling all the way, hanging up just short of releasing the coin slides. It took me some time flicking moving parts around to finally discover what was wrong: a stack of three nickels jammed-up tightly in the tiny space indicated in the pictures. One of the few weaknesses in the design of the QT's is this Columbia-like "Swinging Ramp" contraption to feed the twin jackpots; it's a shallow incline so lazy coins can easily back-up and overflow, dropping into tight places like this and seizing solid against moving parts. These three nickels were pinched in there so tight I had to half-cycle the machine to pluck them out. The cycle returned 100% immediately after clearing those nickels seized by the Swinging Ramp.

I'm not saying that this is necessarily your specific problem, but you might want to get out a flashlight and check very carefully for jammed coins such as this... they can get caught in the most obscure and unlikely places, and can be very difficult to recognize even when they're right in front of my nose.


Nice job putting a QT together from just parts!

All of the books and articles I can recall seeing refer to the machine as the Firebird, though I've also seen Thunderbird used somewhere. I've never seen any Mills literature or advertising for this model, though I think that I have for the model that preceded, it, the short lived Silent Junior ("Indian Head"). The operator instructions printed for it refer to it as the Q.T., and I've seen period references to it as the QT, though I'm not sure if Mills used different specific names when they introduced the later variations that we now know as the Chevron or V-Front, Sweetheart, etc.

I had a similar coin jam after a mishap just the other day. Nickels back up and overflowed the tube, finally jamming the handle after falling into various places.

EDIT/ADD: The Mills of The 30s book, which has a lot of original Mills promotional materials and dates the pieces, has an ad shown as being from 1935 for what we could call the Chevron or V-Front - referring to it as the "Q.T." and "Q.T. Silent," ignoring any distinction between versions. If that date is correct, the Firebird version may only have been in production for around a year.
Last edited by JPCass on Fri Sep 07, 2018 7:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Restored Mills 5c Extraordinary "barn find", long gone - now restoring 1934 5c Extraordinary Gold Award with original World's Fair reel strips
Restoring early Mills 5c Firebird (large coin view window)
About to take on a Mills 5c Vest Pocket
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Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2015 5:36 pm
Location: Rutland, VT (formerly Denver, CO)

Re: QT Firebird cycle

Postby marsonion » Thu Sep 06, 2018 6:12 pm

JPCass wrote:Nice job putting a QT together from just parts!


Well... thanks, but... I sure can't take much credit for that! I was totally out to sea until one of our French forum members, Mills, directed me to his website:

https://retro-jackpot.fr/mills/qt-chevron/remontage

Isn't this forum GREAT?!? =D>
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Re: QT Firebird cycle

Postby rtmccurdy » Thu Sep 06, 2018 6:25 pm

Back to the original question...I got the machine to complete a cycle to make everything easier to diagnose. It was severely gummed up with hardened grease. I freed up the reel stop levers, cleaned clock, coin head, jackpot, and all right side and top levers. Will get it back together tomorrow and add the reels and see how it goes. Another issue I've noticed in QT's is a lazy third reel spin and stop. Is this a timing or clock issue? Or something else...
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