I enjoy browsing estate sales every now and then. A few weeks ago the sale of a local artist’s estate caught my attention. I picked through the rubble during the last hours of the last day seeking bargains. I filled a shopping bag with some hand tools, brass cabinet hardware and a disheveled tin bartender for under fifteen bucks. The major winter storm this past weekend provided a perfect time to stay inside and play with my new toy!
Not surprisingly, activating the power switch on the base did nothing. Examining the bottom of the toy for a battery compartment I found a printed disclaimer cautioning, “If the bartender ceases to emit smoke, it means that the batteries are weak.” Wait, the toy is incorrectly functioning if it isn’t emitting smoke? Awesome! It was evident the batteries were bad when the compartment was opened. I put on a dust mask, pulled out the old corroded batteries with needle-nose pliers and carefully vacuumed up the remains. Then the clothes, torso and head parts were removed systematically.
I snipped the power chord near the battery compartment and connected it to 3 volts supplied from my variable voltage ac to dc transformer. Before turning the power on I set the video recorder on a tripod. I wasn’t expecting much to happen, but to my surprise the robot bartender came to life!
Everything worked as it should! Without his jacket, however, there was nothing restricting the motion of his drink shaking arm. When he the shaking action initiated the arm would flip completely backwards, my fingers are preventing the flip in the video. Excited and inspired I loosely wrapped a wire tie around his arm to restrict the motion. Doing this was a mistake, however I’m not sure why. The bartenders sequence of actions became sporadic and stuck.
Curiosity got the best of me and I disassembled the gearbox beyond repair. I come across these bartenders at flea markets and estate sales every once in a while. I never knew how delighted I’d be watching the display in person. I regret busting this one and when I find another for under ten bucks I’ll try again.