There is no doubt that the Payramid is one of the greatest slot machines ever invented. The game is a true classic, and a tribute to the inventive genius of William Bryan. The Payramid was introduced in 1934 and was still being made 40 years later. It is Bryans most popular ball-catching game, and no penny arcade in Britain would have been complete without at least one of these frustrating games!
|The Payramid is packed full of interesting features and simple solutions
to complex mechanical problems. The method by which the balls are instantly
raised up to a height of 18" by a mere half a turn of the handle must rank
as one of mankind's greatest achievements! Not content with just making
a mechanism that worked, Bryan made life difficult for himself by operating
all the separate parts of the machine from the same crank handle, and by
incorporating many of the game's interesting features on the symmetrical
playfield. These include the winning and losing stacks of balls, the
jackpot stack and the fully automatic self-filling jackpot.
Other ingenious features are the small toggles that prevent balls from jumping up from the stacks and operating the payout mechanisms prematurely; the mechanical coin reject; the coin operated ball release; and the plunger and cylinder connection between the operating handle and the payout mechanism. It is interesting to note that if a player abandons the game at any point, the simple insertion of another coin will always reset the machine back to the start again, irrespective of how many balls have been played or where the mechanism is in its cycle. This is a considerable achievement for a mechanical game of this complexity, and one that is not obvious to the casual observer. (photo courtesy J.Darvill)
|Close-up details showing the four stacks of balls on the playfield
All missed balls fall to the bottom of the playfield and end up in the left
or right stack of balls seen in the photo.
Before the insertion of a coin the operating handle is completely free to turn, but the various parts of the mechanism just operate idly because there are no balls in play. Therefore the coin does not need to operate any complicated clutches or lock-out devices, but only has to release the balls to start the game. It does this by withdrawing pins from beneath the four stacks of balls. As soon as the balls drop into the mechanism, the game starts automatically. As can be seen from the photo above, the balls from the winning stack are diverted through the left-hand lose column rather than falling through the jackpot column directly underneath. This is to prevent the possibility of a ball getting stuck in the jackpot column at the beginning of the game if the player turns the handle very fast after inserting the coin.
If play is abandoned, inserting a new coin will release the balls already played. These drop down to join the unplayed balls from the abandoned game. As the total number of waiting balls will always add up to eight, irrespective of how many have been played, the game automatically starts from the beginning again.
There is a small part of the machine cycle, just before a ball is ejected from the top of the playfield, when the insertion of a coin would only return seven balls instead of eight. However, the mechanism is so arranged that the coin reject gate is opened during that part of the cycle, so any coins inserted at that time are automatically returned to the player instead of starting a new game.
Compare the original 1934 mechanism with Bryans patent specification above. The patent shows the playfield on the left, and the internal mechanism on the right. Almost identical to the real thing!
The mechanism of the 1960 Payramid was quite a bit different from the original mechanism, reflecting 26 years of manufacturing experience. Almost every part of it has been simplified and unnecessary refinements removed.
Note the complete absence of the coin runways of the original, made possible by moving the coin entry to the side, and removing the reject feature. This has also allowed a standard Allwin-type payout assembly to be used.
The anti-jamming springs have also been removed from the operating crank. See below
The horizontal ball runway seen at the top is actually a holder for spare balls.
(mechanism photo courtesy J.Darvill)
|The use of the standard Allwin payout mechanism enabled the payout slides to be easily changed, and 1960 machines contained instructions and award cards for no less than 9 different payout schemes. 5 of these schemes can be used with the 1934 Payramid. Read the 1960 Payramid Instruction Sheet|
|Close-up details of mechanism|
|The payout slide can be seen to the left of the brass-coloured casting in the centre of the photo. Winning balls drop into this casting and are pushed to the left by the mechanism, taking the payout slide with it. After the ball falls through, the slide is returned by means of the pull-rod underneath.||This photo shows the back of the crank handle which is turned by the
player to operate the machine. The mechanism is coupled to the crank
by the pair of hefty tension springs shown. In the event of a ball
or coin jam, these springs decouple the mechanism from the crank, until the
jam clears. The simple mechanism fixed to the brass-coloured casting
operates the jackpot door.
|A typical 'Bryans' touch is this ingenious device to prevent balls from
accidentally tripping the payout in the event of a 'lucky bounce' from the
stack. Allwins by other manufacturers that used a ball-stacking technique
did not incorporate such a refinement, as it was not considered to be a problem
worth solving. On the rare occasions that a ball accidentally bounced
into the 'Win' hole prematurely, the player would simply regard it as a lucky
fluke. But Bryan wasn't having any of that! On the face of it,
it would seem to be extremely difficult to prevent balls from falling into
the hole when they are not supposed to, but Bryan came up with the absurdly
simple solution shown here.
A small 'L' shaped toggle (which can be seen above the balls) is freely pivoted just underneath the winning hole in the playfield. This protrudes slightly into the hole, and prevents balls from entering. The toggle simply pivots out of the way to allow balls to pass down onto the stack. However, when the stack is full, the top ball comes to rest against the toggle, and holds it in the depressed position. In this position, the toggle no longer obstructs the hole, and all subsequent balls will land on the top ball in the stack, and roll into the hole. Brilliant!!