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Station cords

Started by verulamtelephone, October 01, 2018, 08:54:58 AM

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Hello there!

I am new to this group, so please forgive me if this topic has already been covered - perhaps I am not using the correct search terms?

In my collection are several 500 sets (Northern Electric) that came to me with modern satin line cords...  I would like to change them out to match the colour of the set... please see the photo attached to see what I mean.  In the picture is a 1966 C/D 500 with a green covered line cord - this is the kind of cord I would like to find for my red, yellow, brown, green, etc sets.

My question is: what is the proper name for this cord and are there any sources for it out there?  Also, is there a technical name/bell part number for the little strain relief clip that goes on the wire to hold it to the side of the set? 

I would like to have a go at making up some proper cords - many of the sets I find these days either have a new modern "Satin" cord or no cord at all.

Many thanks!



Those of us who like the old cords, me included, are glad to see someone else wanting to make their phones look complete and original. So often those cords are missing and they were part of the phone when it was in service originally. The shorter cords are, to me, preferable because of trying to display a phone with a long, thick cord. But if you're using the phone, then a long cord can be good. Just don't trip over it and send the phone crashing to the floor. That's why the Bell System never advised using long cords, but they installed them when requested.

What you call a station cord is sometimes called a mounting cord or a line cord. There isn't any set name for them to help you find all of them on an auction site. You can indeed make them up from long cords, though keep in mind that the oldest (1950s) long cords are very rare. WE cords have dates on the restraint end at the phone, so check there to see how old the cord is.

Cord diameter varied a lot over the years. The 1950s cords are thicker than later ones and there are heavy-duty cords from the 1960s that are even thicker. Later in the early 1970s the cords got a lot thinner. So try and match the thickness to the year of the phone if you can, and often there are dates on the strain relief to tell you when it was made. A skinny cord on a 1950s phone would be about as wrong as a silver satin cord you're trying to replace.

Some of these cords are almost impossible to find. The dark gray mounting cords from the 1950s are very scarce, as is dark beige. Brown was made later for 1970s phones and may not be as hard to find, if you don't mind using a non-WE cord. Replacement "Koiled Kords" from the 1960s are also a good source when it's hard to find an original, and not all of them are coiled--it's just the brand name. You see these sometimes up for bids and they can be found in long lengths so you can divide them up and re-spade them and put on new strain reliefs and wingband restraints. And nothing very valuable has been harmed.

Strain relief is what I would call that piece you asked about that holds the cord to the phone. You can sometimes find lots of un-crimped ones up for bids. You can also take them off damaged mounting cords and handset cords. The thick 1960s heavy-duty cords had a different method using a piece that's supposed to go under the left bell screw to keep the cord restrained.

I'm sure there's lots more I haven't covered about these cords. Pay attention to auctions to see what came with phones originally and you will soon learn what to look for. Good luck finding what you need, and the sooner the better. As time goes on, they just get harder to find.


There are sellers on EBay who offer cords.  The challenge is finding original ones if you want that.  Many of the cords on EBay are aftermarket replacements, which is certainly fine.  I would keep looking - you'll find what you need eventually.  I tend to be a stickler for originality so I hunted a long time to fine original 50s WE line cords for my yellow and red 500s. I've even bought low-quality green mid-50s 500s which had the vintage dark gray cords to swap them to another phone.  For common phones, it may be better to pass on one missing parts and wait for a complete one.


From the outside, a lot of vinyl/rubber line cords I see look the same, aside from those for princess and trimlines having five connectors, when did line cords have four versus three connectors?  I have been looking for four connector line cords and often the ends are not pictured or still attached to their four prong plugs.  The four connector cords seem much harder to come by than three connector ones which I gather used four prong plugs too. When were four connector line cords made and for what purpose? dual line home phones or standard at some point in the evloution of cords? thank you JC
Analog Phones for a Digital World


 :) I've had a lot of people questioning my custom cords... which is easier.... to change out the hard wired cord? or use an adapter?  I have 6 button sets in use in my house and have a custom setup... something like this.... though all modular... yet, If I wanted to, I could go this route...