Vintage Drink Machine Repair and Restoration

Setting a Vintage Coke Machine to Free Vend

This week have been finishing up this later model Cavalier Coke CSS-8-64 machine. This customer is getting a new cooling system, interior restoration, fix a few things like the lock and clean up. It is not a complete restoration, just more of a “get it working again” job.

His coin mech was not working and since he was going to use this in his home, he wanted us to set the machine to “free vend” so he would not have to mess with coins.

Free vend is a way to set a machine so that no coins are needed for the machine vending mechanism to work or be activated.

On older mechanical coin mechanisms, setting to free vend is usually done by tying up a lever or switch in the mechanism. I will write about that another time.

On electric coin mechs like this, there are a few ways to set it to free vend. One way would be to do it mechanically. Sometimes it easier to remove the locking mechanism in the bottle stack, or tie back the pin. Doing this will bypass the electronics completely. I prefer not to do this, as parts get lost it would be tricky for the customer to revert it back.

Another way, which I will show here, is to use a switch to activate the release in the bottle rack.

There are a few places you can put a switch. Some put it in the bottle door, so when you open the bottle door it activates the switch. That’s a cool idea. Some use a push-button switch and drill a hole in the small door. But for this one, we are going to use a switch that is activated by the coin release lever and is mounted right to the old coin mech.

Setting free Vend from the coin return switch

Step One, mount the switch on the coin mech.
You have to mount it in such a way that the coin return lever will activate it when pressed. Some people will remove the old coin return lever from the coin mech. But we did not have to on this one.

Step two, wire it up.
We ran wires from the switch to holes 1 and 3 in the jones plug. The numbers for the holes are on the plug itself, usually on the bottom side, not the top side. NOTE: if you use a metal bracket as I did here, be sure to wrap the terminals so no thing has a chance at touching!

Step three – remove the old plug.
This is optional. It keeps it from hitting the wires and looks better. It gets in the way when it is not plugged in. You can open up the mech and unwire it, or simply cut it off as we did here. There is no power going to it, so the mech is only there for looks or in our case to hold the switch.

You may be thinking if you cut the plug wire off, you are destroying the mechanism! And you are right! But this mech was really shot, and getting a replacement refurbished one costs less than trying to fix it. So in this case, there is no loss. If they want to revert to coin, we would get them a replacement mech.

Later our customer sent a video of getting their first Coke in their home from the new free vend system