Author Topic: Comparing the British 300 series with the American WE 302 phone.  (Read 5523 times)

Offline Stephen Furley

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Ok, let's compare two more 'phones.  The 300 and the 302 were almost exactly contemporary; I think both were introduced in 1937, but it was certainly within a year or two of that date.  Both remained in production for many years; the 302 I have here was made in 1938.  The 300 series was made in a number of slightly different models, this one is actually a 328F which was intended for use as an extension telephone as it has bell on/off buttons.  The 'F' signifies a dial without letters, only numbers.  This is a much later example, being made in 1955, but the design changed very little over the years.  Bother models were the first from their designers to feature an internal ringer.

I thought these two models were quite similar until I saw them side by side; the 328 is *much* bigger.  The 302 is actually not much bigger than the British 200 series which did not have a ringer.  The 302 is very heavy; I carried this thing just 500-600 metres from work to the bus stop, and my arm was aching.   This is a metal-bodied example, I assume a plastic one would be lighter.    The 328 is made of Bakelite, as was the 200 series, 'standard' telephones here haven't been made of metal since the 150 'Candlestick' in the '20s. Not only does this make the 328 lighter, but because there was no paint to wear or chip it tended to keep its appearance rather better.  Of course, the 302 soon moved to a plastic body, albeit a thermoplastic one, so this advantage was short-lived.  I'm told that WE considered Bakelite to be too brittle a material in the thin section needed for a telephone body.  I'm not really convinced that this concern was justified; of course Bakelite 'phones did get broken, but I don't think it happened very often, and it didn't seem to be a major problem with the 300s.  The plastic used for the ivory, red and green 300s was rather more fragile than the Bakelite used for the black ones.  Not only was the 300 series larger, but so was the dial; this resulted in the strange (to my eyes) position of the fingerstop on the 302 dial.  The dial card on the 302 is also rather small.

The 302 has a more modern look to it than the 300 series.  The 164 handset, used on both the 200 and 300 series, in particular, with its 'spit-cup' mouthpiece must have looked rather dated when the 300 was introduced, and extremely so by the early '70s, when a fair number of these 'phones were still in use.  The 302 also featured a carrying handle under the handset rest, which the 300 didn't.  Come to that, the 706, of 1959 didn't either, though a separate one was later fitted.  It wasn't until the 746 in 1967 that a standard British 'phone had a built-in carrying handle.

Both models had brown cloth cords, though the 302 in my photographs has plastic replacements at present.  The 300 however had braided ones, rather than the straight ones on the 302.

The 300 series body could have holes for up to three buttons.  Versions were made with zero, one or three holes.  If a model, such as this 328, required two buttons then a chromed blank would be fitted in the centre position.  The various different models were made in that form, rather than just fitting extra parts to a standard telephone when required, as was done with the 706.

The dial on the 300 does rather 'stick out' at you, while that on the 302 seems to want to retreat away from you.  Some models of the 300 had the drawer at the bottom; this held a printed card with dialing codes in a plastic holder, under which could be clipped a paper with personal numbers.  I've never seen anything similar on an American telephone.

The transmitter fitted to the 302 seems to be rather better than that originally used in the 300s.  My 328 actually has a modern electronic replacement fitted; I have the original, but it produces very little output.

That's about it for the external differences; I'll look at the internal ones next time.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2009, 05:35:46 PM by Stephen Furley »

Offline HobieSport

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Re: Comparing the British 300 series with the American WE 302 phone.
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2009, 01:22:39 PM »
Thanks Stephen!  I do have an older British 300 type  (A Siemens Brothers, not to be confused with the Siemens company on the continent) and a few 302s.  Yes the thermoplastic 302s are much lighter than the metal bodied ones.

I look forward to your comparisons of the insides.  I'm wondering about the design of the 300.  Was it inspired by the 302 design or vice versa?  Which came first?
-Matt

Offline Stephen Furley

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Re: Comparing the British 300 series with the American WE 302 phone.
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2009, 02:03:09 PM »
I've found a date of 14th June 1937 for the introduction of the 332, which was the 'standard' model of the 300 series. http://www.britishtelephones.com/t332.htm  I can't be certain about the accuracy of that date, but even If it's not exact I think it's pretty close.  I can't find a date for the 302 more specific than '1937'; the two 'phones, or rather the two designs, really are contemporary with each other.

While the 706 has some significant differences from any of the 'modern' American 'phones, WE 500, AE 80, SC 1543 etc. there are aspects of it's design which were clearly influenced by each of these models, and possibly others.  It had to be this way round because the 706 was introduced several years later than the others.  I really don't think this applied with the 300 series and the 302; I don't think either was directly influenced by the other, though both were clearly influenced by the same design requirement, i.e. to produce an 'all-in-one' desk set with all components, including the ringer, internal.  WE seem to have come up with a rather more modern design than Ericsson in most respects, while it was Ericsson who selected the more modern material, while WE kept to the more traditional metal.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2009, 05:39:46 PM by Stephen Furley »

Offline McHeath

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Re: Comparing the British 300 series with the American WE 302 phone.
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2009, 05:32:53 PM »
Good essay on the externals of these two classic phones.  The 300 series is huge next to the 302, and yet for the 500 series Western Electric went with a larger phone as well.  The 302 in a metal body is amazingly heavy, I recently picked one up at an antique store and was shocked at how heavy it was.  We see British 300 style phones in a fair number of Brit shows we watch, stuff like Fawlty Towers, Midsomer Murders, Foyle's War, The Avengers, etc.  My 706 certainly attracts attention, people will ignore the fabulous, to me, 1951 500 in black on my desk and go right over to the 706 on my wife's desk and ask, "What is this?" 

Offline Dan/Panther

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Re: Comparing the British 300 series with the American WE 302 phone.
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2009, 06:02:27 PM »
  I'm wondering about the design of the 300.  Was it inspired by the 302 design or vice versa?   Which came first?
Matt;
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Offline Stephen Furley

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Re: Comparing the British 300 series with the American WE 302 phone.
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2009, 06:06:23 PM »
Good essay on the externals of these two classic phones.  The 300 series is huge next to the 302, and yet for the 500 series Western Electric went with a larger phone as well.  The 302 in a metal body is amazingly heavy, I recently picked one up at an antique store and was shocked at how heavy it was.  We see British 300 style phones in a fair number of Brit shows we watch, stuff like Fawlty Towers, Midsomer Murders, Foyle's War, The Avengers, etc.  My 706 certainly attracts attention, people will ignore the fabulous, to me, 1951 500 in black on my desk and go right over to the 706 on my wife's desk and ask, "What is this?" 

To anybody who was not familiar with either model I think the size of the 300 would be as surprising as the weight of the 302.  I thought my 328 was quite big, but it looked huge when put alongside the 302.  If WE could build a complete telephone into a case so much smaller it's far from clear why Ericsson couldn't have done the same. The 300 really does seem to be bigger than it needs to be.

When the 300 was introduced it was considered to be more suitable for business use, and it was expected that the pyramid-shaped 232 with separate bellset would remain the usual choice for domestic use.  Both models remained available for many years.  In fact, both models were widely installed in both situations.  The 300 did largely replace the previous cumbersome option of mounting a type 26 bellset underneath a 232 telephone with an untidy external bellset cord linking the two.  The 232 was really our equivalent of what I'm still going to call your 202.  I've learned here that I shouldn't call the oval-base 'phone a 202, but I can't remember what I should call it, D something was it?.  The 202/232 would make another interesting comparison, but I don't have an example of either.  The shape was very different, but they really were pretty much equivalent models.

Offline Stephen Furley

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Re: Comparing the British 300 series with the American WE 302 phone.
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2009, 11:08:35 AM »
Now for a look inside.

First photo: the difference in size doesn't look so great from this angle.  On the 302 the handset cord enters at the side, on the 300 series at the rear, as is more typical in British 'phones.  302 has suede covered feet, the 300 series has rubber ones.  Base is secured by two screws on the 302, as on the 500.  The 300 series has four.

Second photo: a major difference; nothing, except the drawer where fitted, is attached to the base plate of the 300 series.  The 302 has most components, except the hook switch and the dial, attached to the base plate.  In the 300 series everything except the dial is attached to a metal chassis secured inside the body by another three screws.

Third photo: a close-up of the 302.

Fourth photo: a close up of the 328; the thin coloured plastic wires reveal the braided cloth line cord to be a modern reproduction.  I suppose those gongs at least partly explain why the thing has to be so big.

Fifth photo: the chassis removed.  It's quite a neat layout, with 13 terminals for the main connections.  This one has had the connections modified for use on a BT three-wire system, but could easily be restored to it's original condition.  The dial is more like an AE than a WE one.

Sixth photo: the top side of the chassis.  the small terminal strip, one end of which can be seen above the gongs, connects to the dial.  The 'strings' which look rather like brown shoe laces are attached to the cords, and are tied off to a pillar inside the 'phone to serve the same purpose as the metal restraints on American cords.

The hook switch is above the induction coil, with the thin orange wires going to it.  The lever is operated by chrome plungers mounted in the body of the 'phone.  There is a lever on each side, but all the contacts are on this side.  The assembly on top, marked '304A', and the additional set of 12 terminals which is attached to it, would not be present in the standard 300 series telephone, the 332.  This contains three switches; note that all three are present, even though the centre one is not used on the 328.  The left and right switches are connected to a latch plate at the back of this assembly, to provide the bell on/off function; pressing one button releases the other.  The centre switch, is non-latching, and would be used in certain other models for 'Call Exchange' on shared service, or earth recall on PABX models.

I find both of these models rather difficult to work on.  With the 302 the two parts are held together by a cloth 'hinge', and the body tends to get in the way when working inside.  It would also be quite easy to scratch the paint on the side of the body if note careful.  The 300 series is even worse; you have to turn the thing over to work on it, it won't lay flat on its side, nor on its back, because the cords are in the way  If you turn it right over you can bend the finger wheel.  Getting the chassis out, and back in again can be fiddly.  In this respect the 500 and the 706 were a major improvement on these models.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2009, 12:14:46 PM by Stephen Furley »

Offline Stephen Furley

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Re: Comparing the British 300 series with the American WE 302 phone.
« Reply #7 on: June 23, 2009, 09:17:10 AM »
Tomorrow is pay day (thank goodness).  I've got a day off work tomorrow and I'm going to Cheltenham again.  I've decided that if Telephone Lines still have the AE 40 in their shop I'm going to buy it.  I could get one cheaper, but by the time I've paid the postage it would cost me as much, if not more, and this one's in nice condition.  If I do manage to get it then I can do a comparison between that and my 328.

Offline HobieSport

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Re: Comparing the British 300 series with the American WE 302 phone.
« Reply #8 on: June 23, 2009, 09:59:32 AM »
Quote from: Dan/Panther
Quote from: HobieSport
I'm wondering about the design of the 300.  Was it inspired by the 302 design or vice versa?   Which came first?
Matt;
Blasphemy !, Blasphemy !, Henry is turning in his grave, Blasphemy !!!!
D/P ::) ;D

That's why I was asking. :) It sounds like the 302 and the British 300 series came out about the same time, so I'm wondering how they influenced each other in design.  From Stephen's descriptions and pictures of the two, (Thanks Stephen!) the 302s do seem simpler, smaller, and a little easier to work on than the 300s, by doing away with the base drawer and making the gongs smaller, etc..  So if the 300s came first, did Henry maybe use them as a starter point and improve the design some?  I don't know if we can ever really answer this, since Dreyfuss didn't write about the design process of the 302 in his book the way he did about the 500.
-Matt

Offline Stephen Furley

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Re: Comparing the British 300 series with the American WE 302 phone.
« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2009, 05:58:56 PM »
I really don't think so.  While the 332 was introduced by the GPO in 1937 I believe it was based on an existing Ericsson design, with some fairly minor modifications made for the GPO, so the design is probably a couple of years or so older.  If the 302 was a totally new design, which I think it was, then the Ericsson design was slightly older than the WE one, but I don't think the 302 was in any way based on the Ericsson design.  This was the first Ericsson model, and the first GPO deskset to have an internal ringer, as was the 302 for WE, but creating an all-in-one deskset was an obvious step to take, and I have no reason to think that either company copied it from the other

If you go back to the time when both Countries last had metal 'standard' 'phones, which would be in Candlestick days, British and American ones were very similar in design.  For the next generation, you stayed with metal for the 102 and 202 types, while we went to Bakelite for the 162 and 232 'Pyramid' designs, where increasingly more of the circuitry was internal.  These designs were very different.  With the 500 and 706, the designs seem to have come together again.  The 302 actually looks to me that it was designed to be injection moulded in plastic, rather than diecast in metal; I wonder if WE originally intended it to be made in Bakelite, but changed their minds, and waited until a suitable thermoplastic was available.  The shape of the 302, and in particular the cradle ears, might have been somewhat more fragile than the shape of the 300 series if it had been made in Bakelite.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2009, 06:00:45 PM by Stephen Furley »

Offline BDM

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Re: Comparing the British 300 series with the American WE 302 phone.
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2009, 10:49:17 AM »
Great comparison Stephen. Thank you ;)

Well lets keep in mind. Many if the independents (I hate that analogy. They weren't "independent" so to say) used bakelite in their handset telephone designs. Even in cradle design. W.E. stuck with a tried & true main body material, metal. W.E. was a very conservative corp, change & acceptance came slow!

Prototype combined phones exist from the early 30s. So this design idea was on the table many years prior to the 300 series introduction. With few exceptions, design ideas from around the world resemble each other. Why wouldn't they? The Europeans, Asians, etc. etc. all have two hands and two feet the same as any American ;D  Idea's from both continents have been swapped time and again. Personally, I believe the European's influenced the American engineers. There are plenty of articles showing this just after WWI. The returning American's spoke of cradle/handset telephones they experienced in Europe.

Stephen, did you ever get the ringer working again?

--Brian--

St Clair Shores, MI

Offline Stephen Furley

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Re: Comparing the British 300 series with the American WE 302 phone.
« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2009, 08:26:49 PM »
Stephen, did you ever get the ringer working again?

No, it's not urgent; I'm going to wait until the new cords arrive, and look a it when I fit them.

Offline BDM

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Re: Comparing the British 300 series with the American WE 302 phone.
« Reply #12 on: June 28, 2009, 11:43:04 AM »
Stephen, did you ever get the ringer working again?

No, it's not urgent; I'm going to wait until the new cords arrive, and look a it when I fit them.

If you think the ringer is bad. I may have one for you. Simply cover whatever postage is if interested.

--Brian--

St Clair Shores, MI

Offline Stephen Furley

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Re: Comparing the British 300 series with the American WE 302 phone.
« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2009, 04:25:20 PM »
If you think the ringer is bad. I may have one for you. Simply cover whatever postage is if interested.

Thanks for the offer BDM, but I doubt there's anything wrong with the ringer; it worked once, and I haven't done anything with it since then that could damage it.  I suspect that it's just a bad connection somewhere.  Once I've removed the old cords I'll trace where the wires go, and test it properly.

Stephen.

When I've got time I'll have to add the AE 40 to the comparison.  It's a nice 'phone, but I've already found something about it that I don't like.  I decided to fit a new dial card and acetate disc, but couldn't see how to remove, and re-fit, the metal retaining ring.  I downloaded the instructions here:

http://www.telephonecollectors.org/library/aeco/metaldials.pdf

but found it very awkward compared to other systems.  It looks neat once the ring is in place, but whenever I rotate the 'escutcheon lock' to hold it in place it drags the dial card round slightly, so the end result isn't quite straight.  Other than that, I like it.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2009, 04:35:35 PM by Stephen Furley »

Offline GG

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Re: Comparing the British 300 series with the American WE 302 phone.
« Reply #14 on: September 25, 2011, 02:30:46 AM »


Picking up an old topic here:

There's some material from the Dreyfuss organization, either in a book or in a pamphlet issued by a museum in New York, to the effect that both the WE 302 and the GPO 332 were inspired by the original Swedish design that was introduced in 1931. 

This is recapped briefly here:
http://www.pch-consulting.com/VTM/tels/uk/uk/300-series.html

That is, first came Ericsson in collaboration with Elektrisk Bureau (Norwegian Ericsson subsidiary), to produce the first bakelite combined phone, introduced in 1931.  Then roughly in parallel, the Prince of Wales saw that design and suggested it to GPO as a new standard, and the Dreyfuss org used it as the starting point for the new WE telephone for Bell.  In the US, the Ericsson model was referred to as "the Swedish telephone."

From various Ericsson docs including on Britishtelephones.com, the use of the internal chassis on the 332 was considered an advantage for ease of working on the equipment, compared to mounting various parts internally in the bakelite housing as on the 232.  (Yet, Automatic Electric mounted all the parts except the ringer and condenser inside the housing of its type 40/43 Monophone.)  Replacing the dial could be accomplished by removing the mounting screw with a long screwdriver, and then taking the dial out of the front of the housing (without having to remove the chassis first).

Re. the awkwardness of working on 302s and 332s on a flat surface:  Ahh, but there's a secret to this: hold the phone upside-down between your knees!  The shape fits perfectly.   For the 302, the baseplate sits on your leg, and for the 332, the bottom cover can be removed and put on the table while you're fiddling with the line or handset connections.

Re. metal housings: Stromberg Carlson 1243, looking very much like a 302 but using a more modern potted transmission network, was always made with a die-cast metal housing.  Even though the equivalent wall set was made of bakelite.  I have never seen or heard of a bakelite 1243 desk set.

Re. the 302's dial being somewhat recessed: I vaguely recall reading something to the effect that the point of this was that you could drop the 302 upside-down and the dial would be protected when the phone hit the floor: the front edge of the housing, and the ears of the cradle, would take the impact.  This reduced the risk of damaging one of the more expensive components of the set, and reduced the incidence of service visits by repair techs accordingly.   

Re. hand-grips:  Many European phones did not have them.  All the Dutch PTT 1950s sets did not.  The German W48 and the various ITT sets of roughly similar design can be picked up by the cradle, but not very conveniently.  Presumably the idea was, the phone sat on the table, and you sat in a chair, and didn't drag it around the room whilst having a conversation.  (Though, on my example of the Elektrisk Bureau 1931 set, there's an odd metal fitting at the rear, that looks like it might be an attempt at a hand-hold.  One of these days I'll post pictures.)  Perhaps the American convention of handgrips was a response to the idea that we Americans are naturally antsy, and like to pace around during conversations!:-)