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Electromechanical cash register

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  • Electromechanical cash register

    This was a christmas present I didn't know someone was giving me. I was at the coast to pick up a newer and totally different cash register (an all-electronic unit from around 1978) and this was a but of an unwanted surprise. I really didn't have space for one register and now I got two.

    This is the Class 52 from the National Cash Register Company (We know them now as NCR) As found in the drawers this unit was manufactured in June of 1963 and is configured with a receipt and journal printer, price inputs up to $99.99 and had a factory deleted set of counters. Evidence has found this spent its life at the Blue Horizon Hotel in Vancouver which at the time was one of the tallest buildings in the city.

    If you saw me on wednesday I spent the evening rebuilding the double drawers. These are made almost entirely out of wood and required a heavy cleaning and regreasing of the rails. The bell did not work either and the rear latch had come apart and required some messing about to remove it from the backside of the drawers. It however cleaned up pretty good though and I installed a new power cable through it because the old one was falling apart. It also yielded treasure. Including the above matchbook there was a quarter and a $1 bill indicating that the till was used as late as 1974.

    I received it absolutely filthy and as-is and currently have it at the space while I clean and attempt to unjam it. It is entirely mechanical with a basic geared motor and switch circuit but has a slot for a hand crank. I do not have the crank and it is unwise to try and turn it over by the motor in an unknown state and risk blowing the torque clutch. I'm hoping I can find a piece of pipe that I can mill down to work.
    I also don't have keys for anything. All the locks are stamped with key codes but I don't know who to go to these days to request new NCR keys from a code.

    Documentation is almost nonexistant. The closest thing you will get to a service manual is thus flickr album ( ) and it's incomplete and in an awful format (could of you at least done a PDF?) I'm working on this almost completely blind with the exception of a video or two of someone working on a Class 51 which is nearly the exact same machine. With this in mind if anyone has a bottle of automatic transmission fluid handy (apparently Dextrol III is recommended) I'd love to hear from you before the weekend.

    Right now there are pieces stacked in the hack room on the table. I will try to get those moved by Saturday. Likewise the mechanics and other pieces are soaking in various penetrating oils and solvents in the fab shop. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO MOVE THE MACHINE AS IT IS VERY OILY RIGHT NOW AND VERY VERY HEAVY. Even with the drawers removed it weighs almost 150lbs and WILL crush feet/fingers.

  • #2
    I was hoping to get the machine buttoned up and out of here today, buuuut....

    After fabricating a hand crank adapter I found the machine was far more jammed than I thought. There's a lot of old grease that has frozen with age and needs to be flushed out completely. We have bottles of rellay old paint thinner and similar chemistry at the abck of the fab shop that can be used for this but painted surfaces need to be removed first.

    Garret was with me in the fab shop when I got the top digit counters off and can attest for how much colorful language I flooded the room with when I immediately dropped it and dented some of the digits. (Ack! Mein digits!) After dinner I came up with a plan to repair them using soft wood and pliers and reshaped them back while also dismantling it entirely and reoiling it because it too had seized up.

    After that was done and sorted I was able to start washing out the grease. It's still in the fab shop right now but I've moved it off to the side for now and I'll be in every once and a while to brush on more solvent and try again to crank it over. I also spent a bit of time and dismantled, cleaned and rebuilt the ribbon cartridge.


    • #3
      It took three days but the mechanics finally unfroze this afternoon. I can now trip the motor pawl and cycle it with relatively no issues.

      I ran out of sewing machine oil so I'll give it a few days to soak while I track down another bottle but now I'm getting excited!


      • #4
        Yesterday was unproductive.

        On Friday night I finished some adjustments and on Saturday moved the mechanics back into the hack room for final oiling and greasing, then started reassembling the top counters.

        In the process I found the top print stamp was still stuck and had to be freed up, then after that was done the machine jammed again and hard enough that my hand crank broke.

        We still have more stock to make another from but we don't have any more cutting fluid in the band saw so I can't cut it out. So now was a better time than never to reattach the motor and after a few hard torques it freed and reset.

        With that taken care of I fought with the buttons for a bit and then tried to set the digit gears to known values and reinstall it.
        Those 13 arm shaped thingies at the top of the machine in the previous post has to come out to install the digits. To save time I left two linkages attached to it disconnected and that immediately became a problem when the digits were tested because the loose linkage jammed the machine TWICE. In both case several pawls were bent. I spent the next three hours undoing almost everything I did Saturday and called it quits at 1AM once I had it cycling properly again. I'm seriously hoping nothing else was damaged in this misadventure.
        I want to get back in to the space today and try again but there's a mix of the weather is awful and dammit, I just spent ten hours working on this but I gotta get it out of the space.
        Last edited by MIPS; 01-12-2020, 11:22 AM.


        • #5
          After taking some time off I was able to get everything reassembled over the weekend.
          The jamming was the result of the digit latch being left "floating" and the cams on the driveshaft didn't like that. Once the numbers were reinstalled and everything was screwed back in it stopped complaining.

          The other problem was the broken handcrank.
          I had to fabricate a new one which took a significant amount of time with neither the lathe or the CNC operating. It does however work.

          The digits were a pain to reinstall. I figured out that because the receipt and journal printers both share the same mechanics I could read off the positions of the printer dials and set the top dials to the same as I meshed them back in with their drive gears.

          To keep the digits straight there's a set of pawls on the top that release during an operating cycle and then drop back into place when complete. The is the same mechanism I mentioned earlier that couldn't be left floating and was haphazardly supported using a piece of wire. Because some of the tooling on each digit was bent when pulling apart the digits for cleaning each pawl had to be adjusted to align each one with the gears, then it would properly lock and align the numbers.I am also cluing in that this machine has been "reprogrammed". given the cost of one of these registers new it makes sense that it was a candidate to be resold however each register is spec built from the factory and the configuration will vary from user to user. I guess when this till went to work at the hotel, along with several areas being painted over the counters were removed, the motor button went from being labeled from GROCERY to processing the draft total and the draft total button was mechanically locked out and wedged into place with a piece of metal and a bolt.

          And yes, I got the stupid Row 1 and 2 assembly installed. Is it properly installed? No idea. The steams for each button had to be filed down slightly due to the plastic buttons having shrunk. Removing hem initially was hard. the motor button is still stuck and I've given up trying to get it off. Screwdrivers, prybars, hammers and's not moving.

          I have opted to keep the till lock removed for now. It won't be fun to reinstall it later but the machine is otherwise stuck in REGISTER until I can have a new key made. the indicator label is in the process of being glued down again.

          And yeah, so here I am now cleaning up the chrome enclosure while the glue sets. It's almost done but it's still being weird.
          I can verify the counter registers for departments and total sales is working. I can confirm they also incriment and I can clear the departments. I cannot however seem to clear the total sales, nor can I generate totals. I can for example select clerk A, ring in a pack of cigarettes for $5.55 and press TOTAL and it just comes back with $0.00 even though $5.55 was added to the registers.
          The service documentation specifies a key sequence not possible with my configuration, so I cannot tell if I'm simply ringing in wrong.


          • #6
            Due to the ongoing uh, situation....I've come in today and hauled the register out.
            It's basically done at this point and it's been hanging around the space for nearly four months.