Author Topic: WE 302 on CL  (Read 3814 times)

Offline Brinybay

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WE 302 on CL
« on: May 24, 2009, 04:34:55 AM »
I'm not so sure about this one.  Tell me what you think.  Here's what I know about it:  Seller says no cracks, but the dial is frozen, and it looks like it was in a damp environment (in Seattle? Naw, couldn't be!), the center of the dial and the finger stop are rusted.  I asked the seller to unscrew the caps and tell me the dates on the transmitter and receiver, she said it shows "s345", but didn't say which part had that on it or if it's the same mark on both parts.  No markings on the bottom.  Here's the ad:

http://seattle.craigslist.org/kit/clt/1182892422.html

As it is, I think I'll pass.  They're a ferry ride away and I don't think it's worth having shipped, even if I talked the price down.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2009, 04:38:51 AM by Brinybay »
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Offline bingster

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Re: WE 302 on CL
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2009, 04:56:26 AM »
I'm no expert on when Western Electric resumed production of telephones for civilian use, but 3-45 seems a bit early--the war hadn't even ended in Europe by then, let alone Japan.  As for the rusty spider washer, lots of 'em are like that on otherwise nice phones.  I'm kinda on the fence about it personally.  I guess it would depend on how much the ferry costs and how long it takes to get to their location.
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Offline Dan

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Re: WE 302 on CL
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2009, 08:43:36 AM »
Offer her $15-20, letting her know the condition is key . Who knows, it may have a 4-H dial lurking in there.....
"Imagine how weird telephones would look if our ears weren't so close to our mouths." - Steven Wright

Offline Brinybay

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Re: WE 302 on CL
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2009, 03:10:05 PM »
I'm no expert on when Western Electric resumed production of telephones for civilian use, but 3-45 seems a bit early--the war hadn't even ended in Europe by then, let alone Japan.  As for the rusty spider washer, lots of 'em are like that on otherwise nice phones.  I'm kinda on the fence about it personally.  I guess it would depend on how much the ferry costs and how long it takes to get to their location.


About 45 minutes drive time one way, not including the ferry crossing, and $30 round trip for the ferry.  Not really worth the trip unless I wanted to take in some scenery along the way, maybe find a second hand store or two.  Here's a blurb about wartime 302s I found online:

Quote
PRODUCTION THROUGH 1945

The war effort hampered the production of most commercial consumer goods. 202's were recycled with F-1 handsets and aluminum finger wheels replaced the heavy brass wheels originally used with the Western Electric line. A great deal of production went to the military and the government. Steel subscriber sets (ringer boxes) were replaced with bakelite and plastic covered boxes. During this period though, there were some WE302's produced for civilian, commercial use. And those phones contained the new thermoplastic shells. Unlike bakelite, thermoplastic was lighter, softer and more durable. It was selected as a suitable substitute for the old, heavy clunky zinc alloy bases Western Electric had relied on for the 202 and then early 302's. And it was less brittle than bakelite. This choice of materials would later emerge as colored telephones after the war.

« Last Edit: May 24, 2009, 03:19:46 PM by Brinybay »
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Offline bingster

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Re: WE 302 on CL
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2009, 03:33:30 PM »
I can't comment on the writer's assertion that some 302 production may have occurred during the war--I just don't know enough about that to say one way or the other.  However, his comments about subsets and thermoplastic 302s are dead wrong.  Bakelite subset covers came in in the very early 1930s, and several of us have plastic 302s, the shells of which are stamped with pre-war dates.

But I think I'd pass on this one, too.  Twenty dollars is a fair price, but when you add in the crossing, you're up to fifty, not counting your time.  You can, with patience, find a 302 in the same or better condition for less than $50 including shipping.
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Offline Brinybay

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Re: WE 302 on CL
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2009, 02:51:03 AM »
I can't comment on the writer's assertion that some 302 production may have occurred during the war--I just don't know enough about that to say one way or the other.  However, his comments about subsets and thermoplastic 302s are dead wrong.  Bakelite subset covers came in in the very early 1930s, and several of us have plastic 302s, the shells of which are stamped with pre-war dates. 

But I think I'd pass on this one, too.  Twenty dollars is a fair price, but when you add in the crossing, you're up to fifty, not counting your time.  You can, with patience, find a 302 in the same or better condition for less than $50 including shipping.

Unless I could talk her into shipping it, but even then, not sure it's worth it.    Her hubby said there were no cracks, but I would have to see it myself to determine the condition.  The only time I travel to examine or buy a phone is if it's in the Portland/Vancouver area because Mom and a couple of siblings live down there, and then only if it's items worth the trip, like my NEC and the WE D-Type.

Here's the entire article FWIW:

Quote
Buying an Antique Western Electric 302 Telephone


EBay offers a wonderful array of collectible telephones. The Western Electric 302 (WE302), is one of the most enduring items in collectible phones.

HISTORY OF THE WE302
In the mid-1930's, Automatic Electric and Stromberg Carlson, Western Electric's competitors, began producing telephones that contained all of the components in one unit. Automatic Electric called their phones Monophones and Stromberg Carlson didn't use any terminology, but simply began numbering them 1212 and up.

Northern Electric, a sister company within the Bell System, had in 1935, begun producing the No. 1 and eventually No. 2 Uniphones, and the success of those designs prompted Western Electric to try and come up with a neat, simple design. In order to come up with something that was aesthetically pleasing and durable, they turned to industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss. Dreyfuss undoubtedly looked to designs going back a decade before settling on what he believed to be a pleasing and practical design for a modern desk phone. Likely the WE302 was born after Dreyfuss comparing the European and German designed phones of the late 1920's, the Automatic Electric Mod. 34, and several other models circulating at the time, and arrived at the rectangular base with the slightly angled dial and unique short, 4 pronged cradle.

Western Electric eventually fitted the inside of the phone with one of the most durable networks it had developed so far for its compact subscriber ringer boxes, the 101A induction coil and the B1A 2 gong ringer. Western Electric also placed its latest condenser inside this compact package, adding a #4 dial, previously used on the Western Electric 202's with enduring success. The result was a package so well built, it lasted two continuous decades, and many of these phones were later reborn under the 5302 transition design.

THE FIRST WE 302

The first WE 302's were made of zinc alloy metal and painted with black enamel paint. This was essentially the same formula applied to the 202 models during the previous 9 years. The design called for 4 short prong ears to form the cradle, and 2 1/4th inch plungers. Underneath the carry handle, and far in the back, several ventilation holes were tapped to allow circulation of air and sound from the ringer to travel through. Many of the new WE302's had the Western Electric E-1 handset; a hold-over from the 202's.

Within a year, Western Electric made a couple of changes. The first was they redesigned the metal base of the phone by getting rid of the tiny plungers and replacing them with larger, 3/8th inch plungers, getting rid of the tiny vent holes under the carry handle, and moved them to larger vent holes in the base. They also made the 4 prongs holding up the cradle bigger and thicker. The other advance was the design of the F-1 handset. The F-1 took advantage of the transmitter element inside the redesigned E-1 handset, and the new HA1 receiver capsule, but moved them inside a more compact and simpler handset package.

PRODUCTION THROUGH 1941

The WE 302 continued in production as a metal zinc alloy based phone until December 7, 1941. Pearl Harbor Day. With the entry of the United States into World War II, metal would become an important commodity, and so Western Electric had to turn to another durable material for a telephone base.

Thermoplastic. World War II also plunged production numbers of the 302 altogether. You still needed metals to make wire, bases, dials, and handsets. You also needed petroleum products to manufacture plastics and bakelite.

PRODUCTION THROUGH 1945

The war effort hampered the production of most commercial consumer goods. 202's were recycled with F-1 handsets and aluminum finger wheels replaced the heavy brass wheels originally used with the Western Electric line. A great deal of production went to the military and the government. Steel subscriber sets (ringer boxes) were replaced with bakelite and plastic covered boxes. During this period though, there were some WE302's produced for civilian, commercial use. And those phones contained the new thermoplastic shells. Unlike bakelite, thermoplastic was lighter, softer and more durable. It was selected as a suitable substitute for the old, heavy clunky zinc alloy bases Western Electric had relied on for the 202 and then early 302's. And it was less brittle than bakelite. This choice of materials would later emerge as colored telephones after the war.

POST-WAR PRODUCTION

By September of 1945, the Japanese had surrendered and World War II was officially over. Throughout the 1930's and 1940's, the Bell System had quietly upgraded its systems and circuits, expanding its reach across the nation. By the end of the 1940's the Bell System was filling orders for new subscribers and delivering a great deal of new, shiny WE302's. This trend continued into the mid-1950's when, as stealthily as Western Electric had edged everyone into the 302, they had begun slipping in the Western Electric 500 and transition design, 5302 telephones (using recycled 302 base assemblies). Though the first 5302's began leaking out in late 1948, it was not until the first part of the mid-50's that Western Electric had developed the G-1 handset for commercial use and attached it first to the 5302's and eventually to the new thermoplastic 500 model which was also designed by Dreyfuss.

Returning to the WE302, beginning in 1949, people started asking for colored phones. Automatic Electric had been making colored phones, and so did Stromberg Carlson. Western Electric turned to 2 options. One was to paint metal 302's and black bakelite handsets in custom factory colors, and the other second option was to manufacture 302's in colored thermoplastic. Western Electric had released a very limited run of white colored and see-through phones for the 1939 World's Fair, and so it was not inconceivable to them to produce the 302's in color. A pallet of colors was conceived, and later applied in some variation to the new 500 sets coming into vogue.

COMMON WE 302 VARIANTS

Western Electric designed a variant of its 302 called the 352 which was a wall phone. Also, some 302s are really 304's and some 352's are 354's. The 4 designates it as a party line phone using a special ringer and double ganged hook switch.

METAL 302's

Be wary! Many metal 302's have been cheaply repainted. Look at the phone for orange peel or other signs of cheap paint jobs. If it has an original finish with little wear, its a highly prized collectible.

PLASTIC 302's

Be wary! Some people foolishly painted the black plastic in hopes of making it look shiny, rather than simply shine it up. Look for cracks, chips, hairlines, deep scratches and mars. Look all around the base. They usually crack right where the feet are.

BOTH METAL AND PLASTIC 302's

A.  MATCHING DATES ON THE PARTS
Do the dates on the parts match? Western Electric has always been a notorious parts swapper. They didn't make phones for collectors. They date stamped parts to determine how long they would last over time. They assembled phones from parts made within a date range. However, because phones were rented to subscribers, the old sets would get picked up, disassembled, the parts refurbished and then reassembled into a new phone. A phone with dates within roughly the same range or year stamped on its parts means it has been kept in one piece and in continuous service. These phones are highly prized by collectors! A phone with matching dates is a serious collectible. If the parts don't match, don't toss it out! Its still worth money, just not as much.

B.  DIALS
The date ranges for dials are roughly #4 dials 1928 through 1939. #5 dials 1939 through 1948. #6 dials from 1950 or so on. Some are different series, some are converted from a #2 to a #4 and then to a #5. The #4 dial is worth more than a #5, but both make the familiar clickity clack sound collectors love to hear. The #4 is more desirable for a 302, particularly when the date matches the range of parts in the rest of the phone. The #6 is one of the more recent dials, but by no means the last. This dial has a dust cover on, and has more flywheels in it. Its well made.

C. HANDSETS
The first 302's made in 1937 had the E-1 handset placed on them. The F-1 came in later, but if you get a 1937 302 that doesn't mean someone took the E-1 handset and swapped it out with an F-1. It could've been replaced or put on the phone in a later year by the phone company.

D. CORDS
The earliest 302's had brown cloth cords. The texture is diamond like and rough to the touch, not silky like modern replicas. They are also a little thicker and rigid than modern copies. The brown cloth cords gave way to rubber and later vinyl cords during World War II.

E. COLORED PHONES
Most WE302's that came in color fall within a date range of 1939 only or 1949 through 1957. The later produced color 302's were made of pure thermoplastic, base and handset both. Check for cracks everywhere! Thermoplastic was not as durable in the colored models as in the black thermoplastic. Catalin is what they call it sometimes. Also, when the colored phones were exposed to sunlight or UV light, they tended to discolor, fade, darken or shrink or all of the above. The later colored phones came with dyed cloth covered cords, usually curly cords with straight line cords. Gray matched blue, almond or ivory matched white. Red to red, etc. WE302's in color are also apt to develop spider or hairline cracks on the ear caps and transmitter caps on the handset, and cracks around the receiver cup area or transmitter cup area. They were hollow inside and these are weak spots on the phone. The other issue is shrinkage. The thermoplastic would shrink which invited cracking. Colored WE302's also generally only came with the #6 dial, except for the 1939 World's Fair models which had a chromed #4 or #5 dial. The #6 should have a clear open hollow centered finger wheel but not necessarily. Some had a closed hollow centered clear finger wheel. But the later colored phones all had clear finger wheels. The earliest factory painted phones had painted finger wheels.

F. SEEING IS BELIEVING:
See if the insides are being displayed. A reputable seller usually wants you to know the dates are matching or that parts are not missing, or what kind of dial is in there so you are more likely to bid more money, and they in turn will get a higher price. Some sellers tell you they don't know, shrug their shoulders. If that's the case you might get treasure or you might get their trash. Seeing is believing so look carefully. The more you get to see, the better off you are.

G. USE COMMON SENSE
Look at the Seller's feedback rating and whether or not they sell phones. If they don't sell phones ordinarily, ask for more pictures or ask a lot of questions. Good luck and thanks for reading this review.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2009, 03:13:25 AM by Brinybay »
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Offline Bill

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Re: WE 302 on CL
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2009, 09:03:42 AM »
I don't know. I think for $20 I would pounce on it. But then, I'm a sucker for a 102/202/302 - anything older than a 500 set.

Bill

Offline McHeath

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Re: WE 302 on CL
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2009, 12:38:14 PM »
Saw an early 302 the other day at an antique store, it was metal body, a little paint chipping around the cradle, had what looked like the original dial card, dial worked fine, F1 handset with 1946 dates, and a straight black handset cord and line cord.  They wanted 45 bucks.  Good or bad deal? 

Offline Dennis Markham

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Re: WE 302 on CL
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2009, 12:48:29 PM »
If it's in good shape, other than the usual paint loss around the cradle ears.....the leather feet are in good shape, the cords aren't dry-rotted or they're cloth,  then it's a fair price.  Could you tell by the sound which dial may be inside?  I see the 302's in the antique stores from anywhere from $50 to $75.....at flea markets all day for $35.  The antique stores will often come down 10%.  Most of them are on consignment and the seller has authorized store personal to take that much less which doesn't equate to much.  The flea markets I think expect people to offer less and price accordingly.  So $45 isn't cheap but it's not bad.  Considering you're not paying anyone another $15 - $20 to ship it to you and you plan to hang on to it.  If you're planning on turning it for a profit there is still some room to do that.  That's my 2c worth......

Offline benhutcherson

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Re: WE 302 on CL
« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2009, 01:53:08 PM »
I'd grab any metal shell I ran across for $45 locally, but that's just my take on it.

Offline Brinybay

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Re: WE 302 on CL
« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2009, 03:38:50 PM »
I'd grab any metal shell I ran across for $45 locally, but that's just my take on it.


Come to think of it, I was assuming it was bakelite.  Maybe I should find out. 

Dennis - The dial is frozen as stated in the ad, but I haven't examined the phone because of the distance.

You guys aren't making this easy.

Update:  But the person who did make it easy was the seller.  Talked to her on the phone.  She acted very annoyed because I was asking questions about it, reacted very negatively when I asked about shipping it, then I learn she used to have an antique store.  Small wonder she's out of business with an attitude like hers.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2009, 03:56:37 PM by Brinybay »
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Offline Dan/Panther

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Re: WE 302 on CL
« Reply #11 on: May 25, 2009, 03:57:25 PM »
I would agree the metal body is not a great deal, but without shipping I'd grab it.
I think you can beat the CL 302 deal.
D/P

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Offline bingster

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Re: WE 302 on CL
« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2009, 04:07:02 PM »
You guys aren't making this easy.
It's because we're confusing two different phones.  The metal 302 that McHeath found is $45.  The one you found is the plastic one, and is $20 plus $30 to fetch it.  McHeath's is probably worth it, yours is probably not (especially given the lady's new attitude).
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Offline Phonesrfun

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Re: WE 302 on CL
« Reply #13 on: May 25, 2009, 11:03:25 PM »
I'd grab any metal shell I ran across for $45 locally, but that's just my take on it.


Come to think of it, I was assuming it was bakelite.  Maybe I should find out. 



If you are talking about a WE 302 body,  that was never made in bakelite.  Metal were the early ones, pre war, then the switch to soft plastic during the war and after.  Bakelite was VERY susceptible to breaking, so I think WE steered away from it.  Only the handsets were bakelite.

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Offline Sargeguy

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Re: WE 302 on CL
« Reply #14 on: June 02, 2009, 08:28:23 PM »
I have a thermoplastic 302 from 1941 and a metal 304 from 1945.  Perhaps they wanted to get their money out of some old molds, or they were still phasing them in and were interrupted by the War.  Maybe there was a shortage of plastic.  I am not surprised to here of a 3-45 dated handset element.  It is probably 8-45.  If not, remember that they still needed to produce elements for all those 202s that they were recycling and producing for the government. 
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