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This post doubles as an operating manual / service guide for triple column PVM machines we have sold! Also only our second use of video, hence the inclusion of Adam Buxton (as ‘Ken Korda‘) above!

Some time ago, years not months, we came across a quantity of triple column machines that we believe were originally manufactured by Precision Vending Machines Ltd. (PVM) in Bristol, a company which ceased trading in 2009. They are probably amongst the last machines made by the company, about 15-20 years old, and they use a quite interesting mechanism. This tries to combine all-mechanical £1 coin discrimination, able to take amounts from £1 to £9 with very simple user adjustments, with a reduction in the amount of moving parts by having an electro-mechanical drawer mechanism. All of this is achieved without needing a source of power other than basic batteries.

The PVM Horizon24

Did they achieve this goal? Not in the same way as the late 90s Self Serve (now Unicorn) Multi Vend did (and still does) to be honest. That design combines true electronic coin handling with low power battery use, and fits a lot more choice into an even smaller (and definitely lighter!) space. In fact, the PVM machines turned out to be so large and heavy, we have waited until now to do anything with them.

The front lock is a typical screw mechanism, the contents windows are fiddly to change with many nuts *but* this does save on having to have decals etc… made and simple laser or inkjet printed inserts are great for these machines. Once lifted off, you can see the plywood frame that makes up the actual working parts. In many ways, this could all just as easily be a product of the 50’s rather than the 00’s.

Triple Column Interior – Front
Here we can see the coin entry from the front, the coin discrimination equipment, and the columns where the coins are counted.
The machine is powered by 8 C-size batteries – in this case, Zinc Carbon are actually better as the machine has a no-load standby and these won’t leak.
This is one column; the coins stack up in the black plastic chute (all coins must be the same denomination) but can be anything from £1 to £9 vend.

This all adds up to a basic battery circuit where the coins themselves provide a conduction path that lifts the solenoid and allows the drawer to be opened – once only. If this all seems a bit confusing, how about a video or two, in order of coin flow?

There shouldn’t be any need to worry too much about this bit – anything larger than a £1 coin won’t fit through the front, anything small should fall out the back, and there are the usual magnets and anti-strim bits to save a coin from being pulled back out. Just make sure the sprung lever moves so the black plastic part can ‘bounce’ the coin.

Next, the coin falls down the chute;

Notice how when the second coin drops, the height of the adjustable flapper is just right so that the peg on the flapper touches the top coin – the circuit is made and the solenoid opens.
Note the brush making contact with the metal pad on the drawer too.

Finally, the drawer can be opened, let’s see it all again from the start;

The coins fall into the drawer, also breaking the circuit so that the buyer can only obtain one product!

And in case you were wondering, if you wanted to cancel the purchase and reject the coins, just push the drawer inwards to cancel and reject the coins (when in the machine body, they will go into a chute back to the user – here they just fall out onto the table!). The solenoid goes off as soon as the drawer is pushed.

So there we have it – your guide to the triple column machines from Rose Cottage Vintage. Here are a list of common issues and resolutions:

  • Nothing happens when coins are inserted in ANY column!
    1. Check battery voltage – should be around 12V.
    2. Check connections to battery, this is a 9V ‘snap’ type.
    3. Check for any damage to battery wiring possibly from removing the mech from the metal wall housing.
    4. Check for 12V remote to the wiring, e.g close to the solenoids.
    5. If all the above are OK, proceed to ‘Solenoid Chatters’ (even if it doesn’t!).
  • Solenoid ‘Chatters’
    This is likely a symptom of dirt and/or poor contact from coins.
    1. Remove the drawer completely and clean the metal ‘pad’ at the end with sandpaper or a wire brush.
    2. Make sure the ‘brush’ is making good contact with the pad
    3. Make sure the peg on the flapper is making good contact with the coin. The flapper can only conduct through its hinge – make sure there is some tension in the curly wire coil, this will help.
    4. Check the solenoid moves freely when not powered and hasn’t got jammed.
  • Drawer falls out!
    This won’t happen with the front on! If the drawer comes out, which is useful for cleaning, just gently put it back in the wooden runners and slowly push home until it locks.
  • ‘Cake box’ packages get stuck
    Make sure they are loaded with the opening part at the top, with the tab pointing backwards. Always fit the wooden weight.
  • I need to adjust pricing, e.g. from £2 to £3.
    1. Disconnect the battery.
    2. Insert the number of £1 coins you wish to make the vend, e.g. 3 x £1.
    3. Loosen the two screws, one through the large hole in the flapper, the other above.
    4. Slide the flapper up so that the peg sits approx. 3-4mm down from the top coin.
    5. Re-secure the 2 screws.
    6. Reconnect the battery.
    7. The solenoid should immediately jump up – if not, you need to re-adjust.
    8. Now reject the coins, then re-insert them – the vend should go as normal at the new price.

    Any other problems with a machine you’ve bought from us? Just drop us a line!