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fingerwheel removal for Western Electric 300 color phone

Started by Jf510, August 24, 2015, 05:22:32 PM

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Hi..I just picked up this orange/red Western Electric phone and am stumped on how to remove the finger wheel so I can put a phone number or something blank in the center. I have never had a problem with removing a finger wheel. I know you rotate it clockwise until it stops then get a finger wheel removal tool or paper clip and push it in the hole and turn it a little more clockwise and off it comes but I can't get this one off doing it that way. I can't figure out what I am doing wrong. I don't want to break the finger wheel because I have no others. Your advice is appreciated.


Download the practice from the following link to the TCI Library. Be sure to view the addendum at the end of the practice....

Quote from: G-Man on August 23, 2015, 11:28:05 PM
Here is a link to the TCI Library for the complete practice and addendum showing the various types and methods:



Seems like we had a discussion a few years ago about the dot on the number plate.  Was the number plate with the dot original to the colred sets with the clear fingerwheel?
-Bill G


The numberplate with the dot is only used on #6 dials.


I think your phone was made during the last year of manufacture of colored plastic 302s.
It should have dates between third quarter 1953 and early 1954.

This phone has a No. 6D dial.  The No. 6 dial (6A and 6D) came with the P-340016 number plate with the dot from ca. January 1952 to early 1954.  However, only after the second quarter 1953 or so did the number plate not have the Z on the 0 digit.

The last colored 302s with 5J dials were made in April or May 1953, and after that they all have 6D dials. I have never seen a 5J dial made after 12-52, and from January to April they appear to have used up stocked 5J dials of 12-52. I have three such sets myself and observed many others.

Your procedure for removal is correct, and sometimes it indeed happens that it seems impossible to push the tab down successfully. In a couple cases, it has taken me hours it seems, but I didn't log time.

Looks like a terrific set.

PS: it is possible to identify the type of clamping spider used on this dial?  Not that it really matters for the pin action, but possibly it could tempt one to try alternate less desirable removal methods.


Quote from: Jf510 on August 24, 2015, 05:22:32 PM
Hi..I just picked up this orange/red Western Electric phone . . .

Yes, very nice phone indeed.

How much did it cost you to "pick it up" and where did you get it?

Doug Rose

Tis a beauty......If there is a celluloid pry it out and use a nut driver to remove the lug and the whole wheel will come off and you can fix the release bar on the spider.  You are not ruining any dial card this way. Really nice....Doug


Thanks for that history of the color phones and the dials used. I tried to turn the finger wheel and push down hard in the hole with a paper clip but it didn't budge. So that's the correct method for this dial?  I am afraid to break the finger wheel and I don't have an extra. I took a close up for unbeldi of the clamp so I hope this helps. I paid $60 at an estate sale. I know that's a great deal since my friend bought one in the same condition on ebay and paid a fortune. I am a collector so this is a keeper. I just read the last response and will have to try and remove the nut if I can get a socket in it carefully.


It doesn't look like there's room for a nutdriver to me, but you can try it. I would look at it sideways from the bottom half of the fingerwheel and see what's going on with the clamp. It's probably what I call the "triangular spider" with the little snake for a release. Reminds me of the song "I Don't Like Spiders and Snakes." You can try a push pin in the hole that's had the tip nipped off to give you some more area to hold onto it and press down. I also have tried pushing the fingerwheel back the opposite direction and then starting over. It will eventually unstick.

Your phone is Pekin Red and looks to be NOS, so you should be proud to get it for $60. Definitely a great deal and a Find of the Month candidate for sure. Originally those color 302s came with a color matching mask to put over the number card. There were three cards in varying height masks, depending on what was underneath. I added a picture of one below.

Good luck getting your fingerwheel off.


Woah,  the set appears NOS, or at least never installed.  The lack of number card in the finger wheel only lends support for that impression.  You could have easily paid 10x that.

It seems there may not even be a cellulose acetate window installed. So try Doug's suggestion and try to pry that nut loose in the center. Personally, I have not found a hex nut to fit in the tight hole, but perhaps the disk can bend just enough for a grip.

My guess is that this still has the "intermediate" spider. I think most if not all 6D dials of this time still have it.


With such a nice and unmodified example at hand, when you have succeeded in taking the finger wheel off, would mind recording all the dates and markings on it that you can find?

(It's easy to make a sport out of it, the potential would be something like 14 date markings.  ;D )

The most interesting to me would be the base plate date, the housing date, the dial date, and the dial number plate date.


I finally got that finger wheel off so thanks to all for your help and info. The picture of the clamp or piece with the finger wheel off really helped so thanks to unbeldi for that. I have taken off a few finger wheels before but this one stumped me and was stubborn in coming off. The few dates I have seen on this set is between 4/53 and 8/53. It does look like it was never used so I guess I was very lucky in finding it anyway again thanks to all.


I am just wondering if anyone knows how many different colors of 300's did Western Electric make? I have seen ivory, red (that I just got), blue, green and of course black. Did they make a lot of each color? Thanks


Quote from: Jf510 on August 30, 2015, 12:04:47 PM
I am just wondering if anyone knows how many different colors of 300's did Western Electric make? I have seen ivory, red (that I just got), blue, green and of course black. Did they make a lot of each color? Thanks

Scroll down about half way at the page on paul-f's site for a listing of color 302s