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Bringing Phones Back from the Dead - Notable Refurbs

Started by Doug Rose, May 05, 2014, 06:30:36 PM

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Doug Rose



I have been seeing many great refurbs by our members. Phones that were left for dead. To me there is no greater pleasure in telephone collecting than finding a neglected treasure and bringing it back to life.

I was asked the other day by a collector, "what was the best refurb you think youever did?" Immediately one phone jumped to mind, my Maroon North Galion. I know you all have seen it, but I'll show it off again.

What I would like is to see is what you think is your best refurb. If your like me, you think of the before pictures, after you are done. If by chase you have a before, send it along with your treasure. This will be fun. Everyone post a phone that jumps to mind of your Greatest Refurb!!....Doug

My original post on this in 2010



That one looks real nice!

I have a 293A that turned out real nice, and I am not the world's most skilled wood worker.  I will find pictures and post them tonight when I get home from work.
-Bill G


Dennis Markham

I remember that phone from when you posted it originally, Doug.  What a beauty!

This is a good idea for a thread.  I have a couple that come to mind that I have brought back.  But this one was probably the worst phone I'd ever run across.  It was rusty, musty and needed a lot of work.  I had to replace some parts but overall it's the same housing, dial bezel and handset.  Not nearly as valuable as Doug's North, but it is still sitting proudly on my shelf.  I picked up the phone at the Mason, MI phone show back in 2005 (I think).  It was in a box of junk that Ray Kotke was selling.  I actually bought the box for something else that was in the box.  But this phone challenged me.



Really Glad that people take the time to see the potential in a finished project.
Here are two of mine that I think I like best.


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

Doug Rose

Here is another, not really a refurb...but a transformation. I'll include the original link, but I thought this phone was bad brass when I saw it. I actually held it in my hands. I bought all the other phones he had, but passed on this. as he wanted $250 for it. I ended up getting it for a lot less. Cleaned up amazingly well...Doug


I wouldn't say this one was dead, but it sure was ugly. It was a 2-58 light gray 500 and someone replaced the entire dial with a newer black one and smoke had taken its toll on all the remaining parts, turning it a brownish color. The mouthpiece had a gouge in it and the mounting cord had been replaced. I don't think it cost more than $20 in an auction back in 2006.

I started by bleaching the handset, housing and cord in a solution of one part bleach to three parts water, in the bright summer sun for a day. You have to make sure to put Vaseline on the date stamps to prevent them from lifting. Also be sure to rinse off the bleach solution afterwards. It took out the tobacco stain very nicely.

I had a dial face I had gotten in an earlier auction, so I used that and a donor dial and fingerwheel. I also had gotten a light gray mounting cord in an auction and it went on. I pushed out the gouge in the mouthpiece and put some cement on the back to stabilize it. The housing and handset plastics were refinished with Novus 2 after the bleaching.

There are things we always see later that, on second thought, should have been done better. I used a repro number card that was too red looking. I should have used a light gray one, since that was the color these cards were originally. Also the right front foot could have used a little bit of shoe polish to even out the color.

Bleaching doesn't always work on every color or every type of fading. This is one time it worked fairly well.

Doug Rose

I'll end this thread the way I started it, with a phone that exceeded all my expectations of bringing a phone back from the dead....Doug


Well, I would strongly suggest that this topic not end, that it continue indefinitely as one of the best ideas for a collection topic that has come to be in quite some time. We have hideous phones, lamp phone atrocities and bad packing topics, all on the negative side of everything phone but this is possibly the first positive topic, or at least one of the few that exist, showing the good that can happen in everything phone. In other words, I vote to keep this topic going, forever.


My biggest "transformation" would have to be my spray painted AE34:


Those are great looking transformations!  I recently bought a WE 10 button 1500 off ebay for what I thought was the bargain price of $16 plus shipping.  It's dated 1-64, and the seller told me the plastics are dated "63".  I know they started with touch-tone service in November of 1963, so this is one of the first.  It was missing the original plate that goes around the buttons, but i had one of the original gray ones.  It is the kind that the number card goes in behind it with a metal clip.  I did the "salon 40" bleaching on it, and I think it turned out pretty nice.  I had a '64 white handset cord that came from a parts phone.
Jim H.



St Clair Shores, MI


JIMH, Wonderful transformation on the 1500!  Good job!
Adam Forrest
Los Angeles Telephone - A proud part of the global C*Net System
C*Net 1-383-4820


Wow, these look great, once I'm done with my Call Director that will be my "phone back from the dead." Or possibly my 1958 Red 500, it sure was a basket case.


Matilo Telephones

Nice thread this.

Here is one of mine. I have done worse, but did not document that I have good before and after pics.

This is a black T65. It is very rare and every serious collector wants one, here.

This one was in a sorry state. Dirty, scratchy, wrong insides, wrong baseplate.

So for years I collected several parts (NOS). T65's in other colors have many of the same parts.

I cleaned it thoroughly. Gave it new NOS cords. NOS number ring, fingerwheel and lense. Collected screws that had not toolmarks at all, cleaned them and gave them a wash in a mild acid to make them really shine.

Cleaned the insides to a new factory finish, but not beyond that.

Made new stickers for the bottom, as original ones are unobtainable.

Polished and polished and polished and polished the outside with displex.

Looks almost new, now. :-)


Check out my telephone website:

And I am on facebook too: