"The phone is a remarkably complex, simple device,
and very rarely ever needs repairs, once you fix them." - Dan/Panther

Main Menu

Western Electric #2 dial face plate reproductions

Started by tom128, May 27, 2014, 08:25:52 PM

Previous topic - Next topic


I've been a Western Electric #2 dial enthusiast for a long time. Over the years I've become frustrated with the price, lack of availability and condition of the porcelain, notchless dial plates. After a lot of searching and a lot of frustration at best I have only located the common face plates. So I decided to do something about it a few years back. I have, along with my wife who is a graphic designer, begged and borrowed dozens of original dial face plates and studied all the variations from early and later #2 dials. With a lot of intensive photography and cataloging my wife would take each dial image and match the correct fonts letter by letter and number by number. From that I started fabricating my own dial face plates. Each one is made by hand, one at a time - a little bit crazy and a little bit laborious. Since this all started, a number of different collectors have asked me to make these for them and encouraged me to go on to produce different dial faces. After a lot of consideration with collectors being insistant that I should offer these to everybody I've come up with 12 known #2 dial plates that I'm selling for $50 a piece with shipping included. Regardless of which face is on the dial they all take me exactly the same amount of time to make. I realize that some are marked 132?, some are marked with a D and a series of numbers, and some are not marked at all. I mark the backs accordingly if the dial warrants it. To avoid tconfusion I have chosen numbers 1 through 12 identify the different face plates. This is to make it easier when buying a dial plate. Tell me which number you want and I will make that dial. Below are the first six images.

1. Rural - Large Operator (common)
2. Rural - Small Operator (early, as seen on 2A and PAT APP FOR marked dials)
3. Rural Varient
4. Metro - Large Font (common)
5. Metro - Small Font (early, as seen on 2A and PAT APP FOR marked dials)
6. Metro - Last produced Metro with Z Operator


These face plates are laminated and done with an epoxy to replicate the porcelain finish. They have mounting pins in the back like the real dial plates and they are dimensionally identical to the real porcelain plates. When you look under the edge of the dial, it appears to be the real dial. This is a hobby gone wild. It takes me about a week to 10 days before I ship a face plate because I work by myself. Below is the second group of six dial plates.

7. Metro - Northern Electric (all characters are black)
8. Rural - Long Distance
9. Metro - Coin Collector (no word Operator)
10. Blank Coin Collector
11. JMRW
12. Multi-station


I use the name WENCO as a play on words, it is an acronym of my wife's name. Below are a few more photos showing some of the dial plates from different angles. If you need more photos let me know.


Tom sent me one of his dial plates for review and I have to say they are excellent reproductions.  They are made of a semi-rigid material that looks just like porcelain, and they flex.  I have the No. 12.  It's a good substitute until the real thing comes along.  I will post pictures as soon as I can find the dial I put it on.
Greg Sargeant
Providence, RI
TCI /ATCA #4409


Looks really good!! I will put these on my list of things to get! I have been unable to locate a good plate for my "B" mount #2 dial at a reasonable cost ;D
Harry Smith
ATCA 4434

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



Well done!  Quality reproduction parts have a valued place in telephone collecting.

How durable is the surface?  Are the characters and numbers vulnerable to wear?

What characteristics differentiate your number plates from the originals?

How can we collectors tell if a phone we are looking at has one of your number plates on it or an original?
Visit:         WE  500  Design_Line



Paul, that is an excellent point to bring up. I think as a courtesy, all reproduction parts should have a hidden variation to differentiate them, from originals. If a reproduction is too good, we could easily ruin the hobby in short time. It would make restoring sets almost pointless if one could buy an undetectable reproduction.
Well not pointless, but it would definitely detract from the novelty of displaying restored phones.

"Oh ! I see you bought one of those Vintage looking Wal-Mart phones." AARRRUUUGGGHHH!!!


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


Hey Paul,
Excellent questions. Regarding how durable is the surface, I do a final coat of epoxy over the characters deliberately to avoid wear. This ensures that the figures can't be worn. It also has a UV protectant to minimize the fading of the red in particular. I can control the red and I have lightened some of them to give them the appearance of an older, slightly faded dial.
You can tell one of my dial plates from an original when you hold it in your hand. Mine are a laminated expoy substrate and the originals are metallic which makes the originals slightly heavier. My dials are more malable than the originals, though they can be cracked if they are twisted or stressed.
I have attached some pictures for you to look at which I hope you will be able to see the difference. The first two photos are two different dial plates done by me and the third is an original. I also added some side by side photos of an original and one of mine, both top and bottom. The last photo is just a face plate by itself.
I originally created these for my own restoration purposes and I compare them to using reproduction cords, mouth pieces, new paint, replacement felt bottoms, etc. After collecting Western Electric 50 and 51ALs for over 30 years I wanted to get a little variety in the restoration portion of my collection. I have often traded my dials for 50AL parts (#2 dial components, transmitters, receivers, bases, etc.).
I would like to think that if anybody who puts one of my dial plates in a phone for resale will have the honesty and integrity to divulge the dial plate is a reproduction.


Thanks for the info and history, Tom.  It's helpful.

Quote from: tom128 on May 29, 2014, 09:46:41 PM
I would like to think that if anybody who puts one of my dial plates in a phone for resale will have the honesty and integrity to divulge the dial plate is a reproduction.

The problem isn't just with the first purchaser.  Your parts will hopefully be in circulation long after most of our collections are recycled to younger collectors.  After a phone changes hands a few times, some of the oral history will undoubtedly be lost -- either accidentally or on purpose.

This has come up with other reproduction parts -- both of recent creation and from decades ago.  In addition to cords, many of us use reproduction "mushroom" caps for the 500 H, P and U sets, as they were often lost. We know how to spot reproduction parts in many of the areas you mentioned (cords, mouthpieces, felt, paint, etc.), but this is a new area, so we need to understand what to look for and it should ideally be simple enough that we can ask a non-phone expert ebay seller what part is on a phone they are offering.

Collectors have put up reference web pages on how to spot some reproduction parts, such as candlestick phones parts.  There are several related topics on this forum as well -- now including this one.  ;) 

While it would be nice to have your WENCO logo stamped on the back of each unit, or some other obvious marking, we've noticed that attempts like that can often be obscured by a seller attempting to maximize profit. 

The best solution seems to be to publicize one or more known construction differences that are difficult to alter.  A good example is the mushroom caps. The original used flat brass stock rolled into a cylinder with a seam, while the popular repro was made from tubing with no seam.
Visit:         WE  500  Design_Line



These look like great painstaking work.  I will mention these to people at the Seattle show on Saturday.  I am even interested in buying one or two myself.  I believe these are a much better solution than an overlay.  The overlays have the benefit of being cheap, but I like the idea of a whole part, and not a stick-on cover.
-Bill G

Doug Rose

Three years ago Jon,  OLD_PHONE_MAN had the same creations. They were superb and I purchased some to clean up some #2 dials I had in need of a plate. I had to mark them as I could not tell the difference in a stare and compare. ....Doug

Tom...yours look great and I especially like #12

Tim Mc

I received a WENCO #4 (Metro Large Font 132B) today for my B1 restoration and love it!  It fits perfectly on the 2AH dial.  The letters and numbers are crisp and are sharper than vinyl overlays.  One happy customer.  Thanks Tom!