Vintage Parking Meter

I was talking to a friend at a local car show about the late 40's/early 50's Park O Meter parking meter I bought at the swap meet a couple weeks earlier. He said he knew a guy who had a bunch of parking meters in a warehouse the next town over and suggested that we should go check them out. I ended up buying two of these art deco style parking meters. One is a Miller meter and the other is a Duncan-Miller 50. Other than the name behind the crank handle they looked the same. After closer investigating I notice the time card window was larger on the Duncan. After cleaning off the rat poop I dropped a penny in one of the meters and cranked the handle. To my surprise the 'Time Expired' flag reset and the timer went to 12 minutes and the meter started ticking. 12 minutes later the flag popped back up indicating the time has expired. I put a penny in the other meter and everything was looking good except I didn't hear the timer ticking. I could slap the meter with my hand and get it to tick a few seconds then it would stop ticking.

I needed to get inside the meters to clean the backside of the dial window lens. I tried picking the lock with no luck. I called the local locksmith for help but was told that he wasn't going to try because it took him over two hours the last time he picked a parking meter. As much as I didn't want to I went ahead and got the drill bits out and started drilling. After I got the door open there was another lock to get to the money box. Being an old meter I thought that they could be some old coins inside. After removing the screws that hold the case together I could see the nut holding the vault lock. I struck it rich with 38 nickel dated 1964...two dimes and thirteen pennies dating 1967-1974. The other meter only had 2 nickels and 15 pennies, oldest coin was a 1967 penny and the other coins were 1972-1984. I got on eBay to find the replacement locks and dial lens to replace the cracked lens. A part of me wanted to bead blast and power coat the meter and replaces the metal labels and another part of me said to keep it looking original as possible. I decided to take the non working meter to the local clock repair shop to get cleaned and oiled. The shop kept the meter for 2 weeks before they called to tell me they can't get parts to fix the timer. I brought it home took most of it apart and sprayed brake cleaner on the clock's gears then sprayed WD40. The meter is now working.

I happen to have an old cast iron umbrella base lying around to use for the pedestal base and a 2-1/2" thick wall galvanized electrical conduit that I could use for the post. The conduit fits inside the base of the meter perfect, but didn't fit the base. I slipped a 2" conduit inside the larger conduit leaving enough of the smaller conduit sticking out to fit in the base. I jammed flat washers between the two pipes to center them and take up the slack. A long 3/8" threaded rod with lock nuts on both ends keeps tension on the post between the base and meter.

The Park O Meter made by Magee-Hale is a different breed altogether. The Meter Maid would have to wind the meters when needed with a square shank key. Once the spring is wound it will hold tension until money is inserted then it will spin and release tension to start the timer. A different key is needed to open the vault. Instead of turning a crank to wind the timer, just insert the coin and it will wind itself. The coin can be viewed through a small window. The date is ink-stamped on the clock on this meter indicates that it was rebuilt April 11, 1960. For some reason or another, a penny will give 2 hours on the meter instead of 12 minutes.

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