News:

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

Main Menu

Plastic Repair in "Singing Wires"

Started by Mark Stevens, September 15, 2008, 05:23:19 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

Mark Stevens

Have y'all (that's Texan) checked out the article about plastic housing repair in the September issue of the TCI publication, Singing Wires?  Written by Mark Scola, the article includes before-and-after shots of a red 554 owned by your friend and mine, Dennis Markham!  :)

Dennis Markham

Aw shucks, I'm famous---in my own mind.  That is a very nice phone and Mark's plastic repair worked great.  That model 554 is dated 2-14-57--Valentine's Day.  A red phone on Valentine's Day.  Even the dial (that was on the phone) has the number 214-1957---2/14/1957.....

If anyone is interested in the phone (for show and tell), I'll be glad to post some photos.

Mark Stevens

Quote from: Dennis Markham on September 15, 2008, 05:41:38 PM
If anyone is interested in the phone (for show and tell), I'll be glad to post some photos.

...and we'll be glad to look at them. Send those pics, Dennis!  ;)

Dennis Markham

When I bought this phone (again from eBay) the photos looked very nice.  I asked questions of the seller until I was satisfied that it was a true 1957, soft plastic Western Electric model 554.  If I remember correctly the sale price was just over $80 plus shipping.  I had seen these soft plastic wall phones, especially in red sell right around the area of $100.  I was looking for one to add to my collection.  I have been trying to get an example in each of the colors made in soft plastic.

When the phone arrived I knew there was a problem before I opened the box.  When I shook the box the phone moved around inside.  The seller had only put some loose foam peanuts inside.  The corners were unprotected.  My litmus test is that when you shake the box nothing should be moving.  Anyway as I feared, one corner was cracked.  It was shipped in a vertical position and when the box was slammed down the phone was like a projectile and hit the bottom of the box after pushing aside the loose peanuts, obviously causing the damage.

I was disappointed, especially since I paid a good price for the phone.  The seller accepted some responsibility and we reached a compromise.  He offered a full refund if I would send the phone back to Kentucky, from where it came.  But it is such a nice phone that I split the difference with him and got a partial refund instead.  The phone number reads 502-214-1957.  I would imagine that was fabricated just for this phone--obviously the number 214-1957 would equate to the manufacture date.  The 502 area code is central Kentucky.

Meanwhile a good friend and long-time collector was working on a method of repairing soft plastic.  He lives near me and I showed him the phone.  He took the cover home with him and when I got it back the crack had been repaired.  With some light wet sanding and buffing it has pretty much vanished.  One has to get a magnifying glass or use the macro setting in order to see where it once was.  The phone "presents" very well as they say and I'm glad to have it in my stash.

As the case date indicates, it was made on February 14, 1957 on the 3rd shift.  I bought it in February as it was advertised for sale right around Valentine's Day as a potential gift for one's Valentine.

Some of the features of a 554 of this vintage are the open center finger wheel and the wide chrome switch hook.  Some of the older hooks were made of brushed aluminum.  They have a more dull look to them but are a very collectible item.  Later the hooks were thinner and ultimately made of Lucite.  The handset is also soft plastic and has the 6 hole ear cap with the mouthpiece cap missing the center hole.  The handset cord is original and has a slightly different color to it as the original red cords usually do.

So now you know the rest of the story.  It's a pretty nice phone--and it's 51 years old!




BDM

Very nice Dennis. I just read that article myself. I have plenty of experience with radio collecting. Naturally plenty of experience both in shipping large sets, and receiving them. I've embarked on a program where I actually call the seller, and go through a step by step process for proper packing. Then I email them the steps should I win a bid. I cover any extra cost naturally. If I'm willing to buy an antique, I'm more than willing to pay for shipping my way ;)

Of course that goes for anything on value now. If they refuse, I won't buy regardless.

--Brian--

St Clair Shores, MI

Dennis Markham

Thank you BDM.  I irritates me when I read eBay listings that say something like, "...if you don't purchase insurance then I'm not responsible for damage..."  Usually the seller IS responsible for the damage!

I have received countless phones that were damaged during shipment.  Not once was it the fault of the shipping agency.  I believe that unless a box falls off the truck, or off a conveyor belt and is run over by a truck it will almost always arrive safely IF IT IS PACKAGED PROPERLY!  I ask sellers not to ship a phone to me with the handset on the cradle or on the phone.  It is invariably pushed into the phone and the result is a broken phone body.  Even when I ask and they agree they still ship it the way they want.  Much of it is common sense.

For many of the collectors that ship very rare telephones, they use the double-box method.  The phone is boxed and then that box is put in another box to ensure even more protection.  I have seen where the phone body is shipped in a box with the handset extending from a hole in the box and then put into a separate box or wrapped in heavy bubble wrap.  Generally speaking if the corners are protected and the box isn't bulging it will almost always make the trip OK. 

What good is insurance?  Insurance can't bring back a vintage item that is now broken forever.  Even if insured, I have been told that the broken item is turned over to the Postal Service (or whatever company was used to ship) and eventually an amount is paid--if one decides to file a claim.  Allegedly there is some warehouse in Georgia that holds all the damaged items where eventually they are auctioned.

Improper packing.......that's another topic I guess and I shouldn't be venting here.

Here's another phone, a nice Kellogg 500 in a rare color that arrived damaged because of poor packing.

BDM

#6
Sad, real sad!! Was a nice phone. Plus, these aren't tough to package properly. Try properly packing a Philco 116B. That's a job if done properly. But a 500 series type phone, man that's plain laziness!! >:( If a seller takes every precaution and properly packs, then I have a hard time blaming them. But like you said, it's rare that you have damage with proper packaging. I've had one item damaged with proper packaging. It arrived here(UPS) with a hole about 2" from one side, straight through to the other. Looked like a pole went through it. I figured out what happened. It must have fallen while it was on a conveyor belt ride. I've heard of this happening. Not much you can do then.

--Brian--

St Clair Shores, MI