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Automatic Electric Type A to Type F US Navy Phones

Started by ntophones, January 06, 2010, 02:27:56 PM

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Time for a compilation of Automatic Electric's US Navy Phones. I merged a bunch of discussions about different types of AE US Navy Phones together into this topic.



John ,
        Here's a wiring diagram for your phone (Type F ) if you didn't have one.  stub
Kenneth Stubblefield


What would be an appropriate dial center card for this phone?  I do want it to look perfect next to my other navy phones.

The amount of moving parts in this phone is amazing, the restorer said it took 40 hours and its the hardes phone to do...guess I will need a lot more knowledge!!!

Thanks everyone.  And....

Thanks for the schematic Stub...


Types of Telephones
Revised 1976

The types differ mainly in the form in which the components are assembled. The components perform the same function, but the enclosure and method of mounting for each type is of special design.

The TYPE A desk set telephone is installed in staterooms, cabins, offices, and similar stations. The desk set consists of a phenolic case (containing the ringer, dial and other working parts), a handset, and connecting cord with a terminal block for making the line connections.

The TYPE F bulkhead telephone can be installed in any station except those on weather decks. The type F telephone is a non-watertight unit designed for mounting on a bulkhead or on the side of a desk. It consists essentially of a metal housing on which are mounted the handset, dial, and ringer. The line connections are made at a terminal block inside the housing.

The TYPE C splash-proof telephone is installed at stations on weather decks and at any other stations exposed to moisture.
The type C telephone is designed for bulkhead mounting and consists essentially of a metal housing on which are mounted the handset and dial which are enclosed in a splash-proof box.

The TYPE G telephone is used in all new dial telephone system installations and is used to replace the type A, C, and F telephone of older installations as they wear out. The basic type G telephone is available with three different enclosures which adapt it to use in place of the A, C or F telephones.


Discovered an "F" phone is heavy and difficult to work on. 

Also, couldn't find much info about them.  A search lead back to CRPF.

Stubs, thanks for schematic!   :)

1.) Anyone have a technical manual for this phone?  Assume varistor = dim or brighten lamp?   

Problem is lamp doesn't work & don't want to go digging into phone half-cocked.  Hoping it's a wiring mistake.
Telco green----> L-1
Telco red-------> L-2 + move red-blue (ringer) from "G"
Telco Yellow---> "B"  + blue to lamp.  suggestions here?
Telco black (not in use)

2.) Anyone know where I can get the "lock" mechanism for HS? 

If Mr. Hilsz doesn't have one, am guessing these parts will be difficult to find or fabricate.

On bright side, fact that it's missing this mechanism probably only reason seller accepted offer. ; ) 




I increased the lighting in the dark areas of the picture to what the "varistor" pointer points to, and I see a screw.


PS: I see now where you got the idea from.   I think this is a potentiometer for adjusting the light...

Kenton K


There was a diagram posted in the history of this thread.  Here it is again a little cleaned up and enlarged. 

You see that the lamp is in series with a resistor (250 Ω) and a 100 Ω potentiometer, which is likely the recessed screw head accessible from the outside to calibrate the lamp intensity. The lamp is enabled by  the hookswitch and powered from leads coming into the phone from ship's wiring. It is powered from the same control leads as the ringing voltage, so it appears this is for signaling during a call. So, when not on a call, ringing signal is sent, when on call, lamp is used for signaling.  So you have to examine the lamp for the voltage needed. Does the ringer work in standard voltages?  It seems, you have to build a little switchboard replacement for this phone in order to use the features.

Does anyone have information what the loop and signaling voltages were for ship switchboards?  Don't connect the lamp to anything until you have determined its specs.
I would also not just blindly move the ringer wire from G to L2, as you are suggesting.  Do you know the ringer in fact works on 90V ringing?  Perhaps this is a low-voltage signaling system that would be destroyed by standard ringing voltages!

G: common for ringing and lamp
B: lamp signal
L1: switched by cradle switch between talk circuit (off-hook) and ringing (on-hook)
L2: talk circuit

Someone who has actually and successfully worked on one of these should chime in.


The switching system used for the Automatic Electric type ship telephones was initially a Strowger switch, but I haven't found the electrical specs for station loops.  The SXS system was later replaced by the Marine Dialmaster MDM/100 system, which is an XY-Universal switch, and the same type of telephones could be used, so there is compatibility.

Here is some material I found in my library:
US Navy 1976, NAVEDTRA 10864-D Shipboard Electrical Systems


all the lamp was was lighting the dial .If the overhead lighting was off , it would have been hard to see the dial.There was a seperate voltage 28v?to run the lamp.Lamp is an instrumention lamp like airplane cockpit instruments .I rewired many of these sets when I was with COT.Think of this like a brass princess set!


Ah, thanks for the first-hand knowledge.
Did the power come from the switch room or from a transformer nearby?


Thanks for replies.

Update after talking to Mr. Hiltz.  (Back from vacation so he didn't have materials in front of him.)

If understood him correctly, lamp mainly comes into play if power failure or unlikely event the ship is boarded.  (Don't think this has happened since the USS Pueblo but assume they still train for it.)

Anyway, if boarded they'd lock things down and cut the lights out. Phone's lamp very faint & only enough to reveal location in near total darkness, dial, etc.  It would not be bright enough to give away a crewman's position & have someone shoot at him!  Bottom line: lamp not intended to brightly illuminate dial like on a princess phone for example.  Dim & probably not even visible with lights on.

Tech manual & parts: 
No doc's, or parts for HS lock.  He was kind enough to give contact info for a gentleman whose hobby is military & navy phones.  "If anyone has parts and would know more about them, it's 'Joe.'  He's a nice guy.   Been around forever."

Update (if anyone interested) when talk to him.




That conflicts a little with the Navy training manual, according to which the dial system was only supposed to be used for administrative communications in non-combat, non-emergency situations, while during combat or emergencies (loss of power...) the voice-powered systems were used.

It also conflict with the facts of the circuit diagram which only turns the light on when the telephone is off-hook. So when lit, the phone would be an easy target to shoot the user.


What?  I mean no disrespect, but where did you get the idea that the lamp was a kind of night light?  I never said that.  The lamp (if too bright) could be used by an *enemy* to find the phone's position & shoot at it or a crewman.  If that was ambiguous-- my apologies. 

The lamp in the phone is really no different from a light switch in your kitchen.  It's only activated when the handset is removed & the hook switch makes contact.   

As for Navy procedures.  Don't know.  Never been in the service and don't know if Mr. Hiltz has either.  Maybe Steve talked to some crew members or maybe he just likes spinning a yarn!  Your guess is as good as mine. ; )

But back to topic:

How to get the lamp to work if so desired?

Here, a collector is of the opinion that the lamps are so dim-- very few people even know they're in there much less willing to go to the trouble of getting them to work.  He claims it *is* possible, but unless the room is almost pitch dark-- really won't see much.   His advice: not worth the trouble because phone isn't historically accurate.  No lock mechanism, incorrect handset, incorrect cord, and also incorrect number card & ring.

According to 'Joe.'

Phones were all built to military specifactions.  The civilian handset I have on it is *not* what they would've used.  (He'll sell me one the navy would've had on it for 5 bucks.)

Also claims the cords used by the military were 'fatter' than civilian cords-- something to look for when 'spotting' shipboard phones in the internet.

As for locking mechanism, no spares and good luck finding those parts! 

Since he's working on one, said he'd send photos when he gets to that stage so I can try making a replacement. 

Caveat though.  (paraphrase)

"Parts have to be removed to even get at the nuts holding the front of it in place.  F phones are a b*tch!  They have to be disassembled and reassembled in sequence or you'll have a mess on your hands.  Feel free to call if you run into problems.  Be happy to help.  Or if you get tired of it, I'll give you $100 for the parts."

That last bit was reassuring.  Least I was in the ballpark & didn't get taken to the cleaners again!

One last item of interest-- repainting it.  Claims maritime paint on them almost impervious to paint stripper.  He even tried using lye on one!  If really want nice paint job-- said he had one of his sandblasted.  Find surplus military paint if want 100% accurate.

Rather more than I bargained for, but it will fun project to see if I can replicate the handset lock.  Krylon 'Navy Gray' will have to do when paint it. ; )



Nick in Manitou

Well, I don't know if I should start a new thread or just charge ahead on this if it should be moved...please have at it!

I bought an AE Type F from an antique store even though I am trying to decrease the amount of stuff in our house.  When I saw the phone in the shop, I said to myself, "I don't need it, just walk away." I did walk away, and then called the shop a couple days later and had to pay shipping to get the phone to my house!

Anyway, the phone is now in my possession and I have just started looking into it.

I looked up the contract number shown on the data plate, "DLG 16/G-C-23" and per Wikipedia, that is the contract for the ship, USS Leahy (DLG 16) commissioned on 4 August 1962 as a guided missile frigate. Per Wikipedia, "Leahy served longer than any other ship of her class. After more than 31 years of active service all over the globe, the "Sweet 16" was decommissioned on 1 October 1993. After another 11 years in the reserve fleet, she was scrapped in Brownsville, Texas, in 2005."

I connected the phone to the VOIP service we have in the house and was able to get a dial tone and to receive a call. The receiver and the transmitter both work as the phone is currently wired.

The ringer didn't react when a call came in, but I am assuming that some rewiring will be required to test the ringer. (I have a nickel plated gong for the MC-131 ringer ordered from Steve Hilz, but if anyone has a plain brass gong that will fit, please let me know!)

Lots of questions at this point, but one of the first ones is, (a confession as well as a question) would it be a sin to clean this phone up and "brass it out"? These phones are pretty cool in their Battleship Gray livery, but I really like the way they look in polished brass.

Unfortunately, before the recent move from Colorado to Arizona I sold my bench grinder/buffer!

The transmitter and receiver seem to be dated from 1960, and there is what also might be a date visible inside the phone, "12-60-11"??

Earlier in thread,  in reply #148, SLAL said that he was told that the handset he had on his Type F was not the correct handset for the phone. Can anyone here tell me if the handset on this phone is correct? This one is seriously dirty and overall pretty sad looking. If it is incorrect for this phone, what would the correct one be? What are the differences? Are there correct handsets for these phones available?

How about the handset cord? Can anyone say if the one on the phone is correct or not?

It seems that the lamp (bulb) that is intended to illuminate the dial is burned continuity. I am not sure that it is worth the effort to find a correct bulb, but I will include a photo in case someone has a few of these lying around!

The plastic that covers the numbers behind the finger wheel is extremely scratched and oxidized. Perhaps a good restoration effort will bring it back to life.  The dial will have to go to Steve Hilz as it is in need of his assistance.
So I will give the verbiage a break for now and put up a few photos of what I am looking at. (Progress won't be fast, as other responsibilities call, but I hope to move forward steadily.)