Blast From the Past: A slot machine made from bike parts

Originally posted on February 19, 2015 at 6:36 am


Editor’s Note: This story first appeared in Dirt Rag Issue #131, published in October 2007.

By Steinar Smith, with photos courtesy of the author.

There was a New Mexico Off Road Series (NMORS) race down in Silver City called the Signal Peak Challenge on Aug. 19. When Barin Beard of Mimbres Man (a Silver City native) came up to visit from Venezuela and told me about this year’s theme—James Bond 007 Casino Royale—my mind was racing with ideas. He and I sat and talked about possibilities.

Once I began construction, I feared the task too big. Barin gave me a pep talk in an email and I cranked on. Five full eight-hour days later of working on the games, I had finished. I thought I was sunk when I had trouble finding a 10x1mm all-thread rod in this land of American standards to be used for the through-axle for the slot machine, but it just made me work a bit harder on my measurements by squeezing three bike axles tied together end to end and fitting it into a box with conventional hub cones.


I did a bit of creative wheel dishing to make the wheels relatively centered. The hub bearings on each were adjusted with proper resistance (packed with oil on one, to thick grease with seals left in on the other) to allow the wheels to slow in order: three, two, one. (You really don’t want to mess with your bike mechanic buddies, for we have ways of retribution.) There are 36 images fixed around the strip of aluminum attached to the rim. They were created to fit by using Adobe InDesign—with it, I was able to set the image height to exactly 1.97916667 inches, which was what I needed to fit the rim and aluminum strip diameter.

On the roulette wheel, I almost opted out by using a stock 32-hole rim: two spaces to be used for the 0 and 00 leaving 30 spaces to be divided evenly for red and black spaces. But, when acting like Romans, make it right or don’t make it at all, I told myself. So I took a BMX rim and re-drilled 38 holes at 9.473684211 degrees each to the best of my abilities.

For the hub I used a 36-hole ATB hub that had a bigger flange so I could drill out an extra hole between each existing one on the top flange and made custom radial spokes (the two extra spokes had to be epoxied into place). The two games were made from mostly recycled bike parts with the exception of the new aero Rolf road rims used on the roulette—but honestly, what is one to do with a 20-hole/goofy drill pattern rim?

Some parts came from Two Wheel Drive bike shop in Albuquerque, some from the local shop High Mesa Bikes and Gear in Gallup. Since the games were played in Silver City, it makes this project truly a state-wide effort.


The good guys at Gila Hike and Bike, Jack Brennan and Michael Sauber, have been running some really fun races over the years. I’ll never forget the year when it was “The Pirates of the Gila” theme and everyone was running around under the fabricated pirate ship with eye patches and toy daggers stating: “Aye, mate!” This year was no exception.

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