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Peroxide Treatment Detailed Instructions

Started by Dan, June 07, 2009, 05:46:08 PM

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Jim Stettler

Poor man swirlees, you could sell them for big bucks on ebay.
You live, You learn,
You die, you forget it all.


Final report on the 554.  It took 4 peroxide treatments but it finally removed most of the yellow.  I'd say that 97% of the yellow is gone, but it sure was stubborn.  The yellowing was probably mostly smoke damage as it was inside the shell and the caps on the handset.

The microphone cap was the worst and simply would not respond.  So I put it in a glass of straight 40% peroxide and sat it in the sun for 4 hours.  That did the trick and it removed most of the yellow and brought it to the same whiteness level as the rest of the plastics.

Also, the last full peroxide treatment I used the compact fluro lamps and got better results.  Plus, the microphone cap in full sun really whitened up.  From my experience it seems that UV light works better than not.

All the plastics on this phone are ABS, by the way, replaced in 82'.

Now for the long term test, how will the plastics hold their new clean color and will they become brittle?  I polished them with my usual car finish polish, TR-3, they shined up well.  The handset cord is new old stock, it was still sealed in the bag. 

And naturally the phone works well, I'm very pleased with the results.  For a yellowed white phone this is the way to go rather than sanding.  I've sanded several phones now and while it gives good results you lose some of the sharpness and contours of the plastics if you do the whole phone.  I think thats unfortunate, and it nice to have this phone with all its original lines intact. 

Kenny C

It looks Fabulous Do you care if I save the last picture and put it on my facebook
In memory of
  Marie B.


They do not get more brittle. My thin shelled princess is as strong as ever. Nice job and good result!
"Imagine how weird telephones would look if our ears weren't so close to our mouths." - Steven Wright

Dennis Markham

Heath, it looks very good. The photos have kind of a yellow tint to them, maybe from the lighting.  It would be nice to see the phone taken outdoors in even daylight to see the actual color.  But your improvements looks really nice.


Looks good! I am glad you got positive results with the peroxide. It is a much easier method of getting color back and as you stated you do not lose details. The first phone I refinished, my Pink 500, which I sanded, came out nice looking color but I lost the WE markings on the body & handset also the reinforcement ribbing around the cord holes so I do not want to do that again. White and light beige seem to be the best candidates for peroxide.
Harry Smith
ATCA 4434

"There is no try,
there is only
do or do not"


Sure Kenny go ahead.

I agree Dennis that the pics have a yellowish tint, that seems to the the problem with taking pictures in my kitchen which is all paneled with maple and then only has fluorescent lights.  (plus I'm not a great photographer)  The phone is actually very white, I'll try to take a shot outdoors today with it.

When I sanded the heck out of a phone last year to try to remove the yellow it actually lost the sharpness of the edges on the cradle ears, among other things.  I've since sanded phones and done better than that, but they still, to my eye, have lost a bit of their original crispness.  But from all Ive read this process is not really going to work on dark colored phones, nor is it going to remove scratches, so some sanding will be needed it seems in some cases.

Dennis Markham

Heath, I've yet to try this process but your method combined with the experience of others once again makes me want to try it here.  I have a couple white phones that I'd like to brighten.  One is soft plastic and I'll have to try it on some soft plastic that won't matter if I damage it.  Thanks for showing your experiment process here.  I'd say it was a huge success.  Any time one can improve the looks without using the dreaded sandpaper it's a good thing.


Thanks Dennis.  I was lucky in that there were no major scratches or nicks on the phone.  It had a lot of use, the receiver cap is worn down flat were it goes into the hook, but that was about it.  That actually served to give me a benchmark of how white it ought to be as the wear spots scraped through the yellow. 

I would also note that soaking the microphone cap in straight 40% peroxide in direct sun whitened the underside of the cap as well as the top.   I had tinfoil under the glass, that may have helped, and the cap kept wanting to float in the liquid which would have allowed the light underneath. 

Kenny C

A word of advise:
DO NOT USE SILVER TO STIR IT WITH!!!!!! I messed up my moms silver serving spoon with it. It was laying on the counter top and I just used it. I didnt know it was silver. ;D ;D ;D
In memory of
  Marie B.

Greg G.

I'm getting ready to try this process on a couple of white phones I have.  So from reading this thread, all I needed was a regular 100w light bulb?  I have a 250 w "Sun Lamp" I found in a Goodwill, but it says "infra-red" on it, should I not use that? 

Ingredients I have are 40% peroxide, Oxiclean, and regular store-bought corn starch.  I don't have time to hunt down specific brands.  I'm also glad somebody warned of the smell, I'm doing this in my small apt.  I planned to put them in a plastic tup in the standard tub/shower I have, drape the lamp over an extra shower curtain rod and let it hang down over the parts. The lamp is a "brooder lamp" I got in a hardware store.
The idea that a four-year degree is the only path to worthwhile knowledge is insane.
- Mike Row


One thing to NEVER EVER EVER mix with peroxide: Anything with acetone in it. 

Reason why:  that mixture is a powerful and highly unstable explosive.  It will blow up if you so much as sneeze on it, and it can KILL you. 

This, by the way, is the real reason the TSA does not allow bringing liquids on airplanes.  It's not classified information but it's not particularly public, and I figure it's safe to post here since it's highly unlikely that any would-be terrorists or suchlike are reading this stuff. 

(For anyone here who may have legitimate need for an explosive to fracture boulders on your property, there is a much safer alternative now: something known as "expanding grout," sometimes by the slang name "Chinese dynamite" (might have been developed in China?).  You drill a hole in the boulder using a percussion drill, then you mix up the expanding grout with water to make a thin slurry like pancake batter, then pour it in and mark the area "Stay Out!" and go away for a couple of days.  When you come back, your boulder will be neatly fractured into easily removable chunks.  Apparently this works by hydrostatic pressure.  When the boulder fractures it may send little pieces flying so you don't want to get too close for a few days until it's done its job.  I don't know if it works for tree stumps; probably yes but larger amounts might be needed since wood is compressible.) 


Brinybay, what you've got there is a heat lamp that puts out a lot of infrared and very little UV.  I think that might be the wrong type of lamp entirely, and the heat may also MELT or WARP plastics, particularly Tenite.  So I'd suggest not using that light.  A plain white floodlight might be better. 

The original Retro-Bright site says that UV is helpful because it imparts energy to the process in a manner that specifically works with the chemical reactions that are occurring.  We seem to have discovered (someone who posted at the beginning) that incandescent lights are almost as good for this, so it may be the mild heat from the light, rather than sunlight as such, or it may be something else in the light spectrum. 

I've got a Swiss dial phone that was advertised as "two-tone white" by TelephoneLines, the phone shop in the UK that had red BT payphones years ago (got one of those from them too).  This was obviously an instance where the handset was original color "warm white" and the housing was yellowed all to h---, so I got it (relatively cheaply too) with the intent of putting it through the Retro-Bright treatment. 

Now that I know where to find strong peroxide (as in, I'm going to get some today), I can have a go at this.  I've also got an AE 87 in beige that's faded to yellowish-beige that's a candidate, and some other stuff that could use the treatment. 

If you have a phone where some of the parts yellowed and others didn't, it's highly likely that the parts that didn't yellow are actually painted (Bell used a special paint for this purpose, very difficult to tell it was used).  I have a 554 where the dial & handset are ferociously yellowed (like, almost to beige) but the main housing is white (and scuffy-looking) so we'll see if that comes out anywhere near decent. 

I'm going to stick my neck out and say that green phones might be treatable IF you dilute the peroxide to somewhere around 10% and watch the process carefully.  It might be best to actually soak the parts so they're fully submerged, to avoid getting a case of the swirlies.   

I read somewhere that chlorine bleach is not useful for these projects because it makes plastics more brittle.  So word to the wise, leave the bleach for the laundry and use peroxide on phones. 

Doug Rose

I think Briny has a sun lamp and not a heat lamp. A Sun lamp mimics the sun and was used by people with skin conditions that needed sun everyday of the year. You can definitely get a tan under these guys. I had a heat lamp in another home in the the bath to warm it up. I think he has the proper lamp....Doug


I would give the sun lamp a try. It may work better than anything.


The More People I meet, The More I Love, and MISS My Dog.  Dan Robinson