Bingo Overhaul - United's Caravan

Michael Sands from the sand's mechanical museum had a couple United Caravan machines that he wasn't finding the time to get to, so he dropped them over my place since I expressed an interest in seeing how the later United games were designed.

We started with two heads, two cabinets, two playfields, one backglass, one set of legs, and missing parts in all the major pieces. It looked like there was enough between all the pieces to make one game, so I dug in.

United vs. Bally

United was first with ABC, but Bally was not far behind with Bright Lights. Early on, however, there was significant differences in the machine designs.

For example, early united games used standard 1-1/16" pinballs and tended to run a lot of 120V circuits. Bally, on the other hand, was mainly 50V circuits and used 1-1/8" balls.

Over time, it appears bally was winning, and the united games looked more and more like a bally. Certainly the playfield layout was bally, with the curly spring bumpers, the light shields, and the placement of the rollover buttons.

cabinet side door
huge side door

Where united held out until the bitter end was the cabinet design. The united cabinet is taller, has significantly more wood inside, and retained the large door on the right side of the cabinet which bally got rid of when they moved almost everything into the head.

Here you can see the ball lifter behind the door. The lifter is not accessible from inside the coin door.