To put a gumball machine together, begin with the basic components: the glass or plastic bowl, the base, the coin slot, the turn crank and the chute where the gumball appears. Most gumball machines can be put together by hand or with a standard household toolkit though useful supplies for refurbishing a gumball machine include glass cleaning solution, soft rags and fresh paint for the base.
The mechanically simple gumball vending machine was invented more than a century ago and does not require electricity to operate. When you put a coin into the coin slot, a mechanism similar to a pin and tumbler lock is activated. Only coins of the correct size press against the pin, allowing the handle to turn one revolution and rotating the disk inside the base. This horizontal disk has holes which depend on gravity to collect the gumballs that fall into place, eventually dropping the gumballs into the chute as the crank is turned.
The moving parts of a gumball machine may have to be adjusted for the process to work properly. The first machines made for actual gumballs, not stick gum, were invented in 1907 and patented in 1923. Today, most gumball machines accept quarters, but in the past they took pennies or nickels.