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Fixing a Distorted coiled Handset Cord.

Started by Dan/Panther, October 17, 2008, 12:20:15 AM

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I tried this tonight for the first time tonight, and I got some interesting results, good and bad.  First though, a good tip.  I bought the dowel and cut it to fit precisely within the width of the oven.  That allowed the dowel to rest on the ridges on the sides of the oven.  That way there's no worries about how to suspend it.  Obviously, if you have a really long handset or coiled mounting cord, this method might not work, because you'd need a dowel longer than the oven's width.  But for standard handset cords, it's perfect.

I set the oven to approximately 265 after reading the article about the Western Electric cords being baked at 268.  Either I had an odd cord or the temp on my oven is off, because even though the cord reset itself in a nice tight coil, the conductor jackets did get a bit melty.  They're still covered, but they got stuck together and got a few bubbles.  I'm glad I experimented on this particular cord first, because it was a junk cord anyway (pink that had both faded AND browned).  So even though the process resulted in a nice coil, I still need a new one because of the discoloration.



Presumably when WECo baked them originally they hadn't yet been stripped down to the individual insulated conductors at each end of the cord?

If they did that after the baking process that might make the difference. Some types of insulation just might not be able to take the direct heat from the stove element when it is on.

(just thinking out loud here)


Dennis Markham

It may be a good idea to get a good oven thermometer to test your oven.  I have found that my oven tends to be a little "cool" after testing it with thermometer.  That MAY make a difference


I strongly agree with Dennis.  Even with today's so-called "digital" appliances, the inexpensive sensors they use can be inaccurate due to simple manufacturing variances.  When you set your oven thermostat to 265, the actual temperature could well have been 270 or even 280.


That's totally possible. It's an older oven, and there's no gradation between "250" and ""275" on the knob, so I just set it between those two marks.  Next time I try this, I'll definitely go with a much lower temperature.  


I have had plenty of success with setting cords on top of the portable electric oil-filled heater or putting them into the over at below 200F.  I do not think that the temperature needs to be very high at all.



I have an electric heat gun used for heat shrinkable tubing.  No idea how hot it works out to be, but I've had good results heating up a cord with that, only takes a minute or two, just have to make sure to keep the gun moving and heat it evenly.


I just did another at 200 degrees and it worked perfectly with no damage to the conductors.  The coil of the cord was fine, but it was very stiff.  The cord came out much more flexible, but I did have to reverse the coil again to get it to retract completely.  I'm very happy with it.


I agree with Darrin, I would keep the Temperature under 220. I put mine on the window of my car in summer and it works fine.
Also in another topic we cover the recoloring of pink handset cords.

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


Did a cord for an AE80 a couple of weeks ago, in the oven at 240F for 2 hours wrapped around a narrow bamboo cane as I had run out of dowel, then outside in about -13F (-25C)!!
Cord came up brilliantly - springy tight coils, and a great shine to it too.

Word to the wise though - don't secure your cord at either end with metal bulldog clips! They're very strong with sharp edges, and when the plastic softens, they cut through! Didn't completely trash the cord thankfully, but exposed the inner conductor coatings. Thankfully at the ends of the cord that are inside the handset and phone.
Mark Furze - TCI, ATCA

To miss-quote "Bones" McCoy . . .
                     "darn it Jim - I'm a doctor, not a telephone engineer!"


This is an old thread, but I thought I would add my results to the stew.

1. Handset cord from a 354 dated 5-55. Cord was grubby, coils kind of loose, a couple twists.
2. Ran it through the dishwasher, which cleaned it up nicely.
3. 5/16 inch dowel - it's what I had.
4. Cord secured to the dowel with cable ties at the strain reliefs. No duct tape.
5. Set the dowel into the sides of the oven as pictured by Bingster on 10-24-10.
6. Electric oven set to 250 on the knob (no thermometer available).
7. In an electric oven, the heating element puts out a lot of direct radiant heat, which could heat the cord well beyond the thermostat setting. (Just want to heat the cord evenly, not barbeque it.) So I did three things:
a) Preheat the oven before putting the cord in.
b) Put a cookie sheet on the lowest rack to shield the cord from the element's radiant heat.
c) Turn on the Convection function - the circulation should ideally eliminate hot spots.
8. Bake time 2 hours.
9. Into the freezer immediately.
10. Freeze time 3 hours.
11. Warm to room temp time 1 hour before unwrapping.

Results: Looks like a new cord! No need for photos beyond what have already been posted, I think. I did not go back and rewrap in the reverse direction.

Question: the WE article called "Anatomy of a Spring Cord", linked by KeithB, describes only 8 minutes of baking, and makes no mention of freezing at all. In this thread, most of us are descrbing at least two hours of baking and more hours of freezing. Why? Has anyone tried the shorter cycle?


It's always good to hear the results that others get, Bill.  Personally, I dispense with the freeze cycle altogether, and using just the baking, get great results.

Dennis Markham

Bill, on some of my attempts I used to do the longer baking times, higher temps and the freezer method.  (Actually set it on the back porch in the dead of winter...colder than freezing).

I switched to the method in the article Keith B posted and got favorable results.  I don't recall the temperature now but I think it was 150 degrees (I'd have to refer to the article).  The baking time was much shorter and then just a short time in the refrigerator.  Afterward I let it warm to room temperature before removing from the dowel.   

Results may vary as they say.  Sounds like your results were good.


This looks like the right thread to place this PLEA for Help!

Everyone has done wonders with their repairs on those stretched out coiled cords, but what about Cloth Covered Handset Cords? 

I have a Rose 302 with a slightly (??) distorted handset cord.  Anybody know how to make it look new again?

I saw a thread back in March of 2010 where ETS1979 showed the before and after pictures of a Red 302 he worked on.  Everybody drooled over his beautiful work but nobody asked if he restored the handset cord or if he replaced it (at least not that I could find).

My cord is in fine condition (no breaks or frays), I just want to tighten it up to match my others.

Any Ideas?


I wouldn't want to put a cloth cord into an oven, but I would try wrapping it around a dowel, putting it into moderately hot water for several minutes, and then setting in a cool dry area, like a refrigerator, to dry.