Commando by Chicago Coin
Electro-Mechanical Commando Machine Gun
My interest in mechanical games has grown. I decided I wanted a mechanical shooter. These seem plentiful when you are not looking for one but when you want one suddenly they are hard to find. I don't care too much for the Carnival types either but do like the Machine Gun types. I found someone offering a Commando by Chicago Coin. It was actually on the list of games I had made that I would be interested in. The shooting area is difficult to see in the below photo because it is moving and taken in low light but somewhere in there is a helicopter you are supposed to shoot at. It came from a dealer that was known to have a good reputation, PlayPinball.net and he said it was 100% working. I was looking for a fix-up project but could not pass up a game in such good condition. Here is the flyer.
And, here are a bunch of pics before I did any restoration followed by ...... yet another story:
Wheel moves mirror up and down
This 3D ground image is mounted vertically inside the cabinet and is approx 3 or 4 feet long.
See the wavy piece of metal on the upper right of the panel. You will see those on a lot of older games. Some really old games, like from the 40's and 50's also had them added during the 60's and 70's. Can you figure out what it was for. It turns out it is a cigarette holder.
Shooting Area, long exposure streaked the background and green helicopter image.
Cloud Generator with 2 bulbs inside, also 4" spacer blocks to be placed under cabinet to raise it up some.
The seller actually took the time to make pictures of the games as they were being loaded to be shipped.
My hat is off to PlayPinball.net, the machine was as represented, he did a super job with the photos and followup, plus shipping. It was not 100% working, maybe 95% but only someone that really KNEW the game would know that. The helicopter blades did not rotate. I knew from the flyer that they were supposed to. The first thing I did when it arrived was open it up and check out how it worked. I found a motor attached by a sturdy bracket to the gun. It was not attached to anything and would not turn. I found I could twist it and it would start to turn but would never turn on it's own. From what I know about Chicago coin I would say it was supposed to be a feedback device that was not working and someone had removed the counter balance weight. I finally figured out that it was improperly mounted. A piece of paper in the game said "Rebuilt 1993" so I am guessing someone tightened this piece incorrectly which put the rotor in a bind and it could not turn. A remount was easy enough and it turned easily with the trigger. I purchased a cold water pipe ground clamp from Home Depot and mounted it to the shaft.
Cold Water Ground Clamp on motor shaft under gun.
The cold water clamp was perfect because it had 2 mount points. I was afraid it would eventually come loose and fly off but with two mount points it should hold well. The lopsided clamp also makes for a good vibration when it rotates. Now when I shoot the machine gun there is feedback as well as sound.
For the helicopter I found that one of the motors stopped working which cut current off to both motors(2 helicopters). I replaced the 3v DC original motor with a simple 3v projects motor from Radio Shack. It did not work until I rewired the motors to be in parallel but then worked great. The rotors spin and when a helicopter is shot it stops spinning, goes nose down and disappears with a boom. I also replaced one of the light bulbs with a red bulb which flashes on when the gun is fired or there is a crash. I did not think the background was bright enough so I replaced one of the bulbs inside the cloud cylinder(just one not both) with a flourescent 100w equivalent bulb. That was a bit too bright so I swapped it out with a blue 25w bulb and left the other as a white 60w? bulb which makes for a nice effect.
Ther was a nuisance problem with one of the blacklights too. It appears to be an original engineering problem. The cover over the blacklight in the rear is 1/2" too short which means the helicopters always have a purple line about 1/2" thick above them. Very distracting. Hard to believe they released the game with this problem. You can actually see this clearly in the above photo of the shooting area. I added a strip of black cardboard on top of the existing cover and the problem was fixed. It is now an amazing game.
Someone repainted the gun handles black. They were originally olive drab like the gun but I liked the black so I stripped off the old black and repainted with a metallic black car paint. They look a lot better. I am not going to do any more restoration. I will spray the gun with a clear sealer to prevent any rust and give it some protection. The game is in too good of condition to do a lot of restoration to the original work. Remember: Restore dont Destroy.
There is a wavy piece of metal on the control panel, I had to ask a dealer to find out it was a cigarette holder.
I wish I could get a good photo of what the shooting arealooked like. There is a mirror which reflects the terrain that is vertical in the cabinet so it has a lot of depth. The helicopters are rotating in the back but the mirror movies up and down some to make them look like they are changing altitude. The helicopters under blacklight appear to float like ghostly images over the ground. I have not figured out a trick to using the sights yet. You seem to do better just looking down the barrel, pointing and shooting and not trying to sight anything. Not sure if it is actually working at all positions either because sometimes I can rack up scores of 5000 or more and sometimes I cant get over 1000.
It is a beautiful machine You could never get this effect with video.