Author Topic: AE 40 Monophone Dial is sticky/slow, is this something I can fix?  (Read 2162 times)

Offline Crabitha

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Last year I came to this forum for help getting my AE40 Monophone to ring.  It works perfectly since I got the help I needed here.  Shortly after I got the wiring correct, the dial started giving me trouble.  I wasn't able to do anything with it because I had knee replacement surgery and so it got put to the side.  But now I'm ready to delve into it again.

The dial has been identified here by a helpful member as a 24A36 type.

I have uploaded a few pictures that I took when I first got the phone and if they aren't helpful I can try to get a better shot.

The dial seems to struggle and I'd really like to get it correct so I can use the phone to dial out as well as receive calls on.   

Thanks for any suggestions or advice.

Offline G-Man

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Re: AE 40 Monophone Dial is sticky/slow, is this something I can fix?
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2015, 02:01:58 AM »
If you are not comfortable cleaning and lubricating the dial yourself, then for a very low fee, Steve Hilsz will not only service it, but calibrate it as well. He is extremely helpful and offers considerable insight regarding their care, as is shown in this excerpt from his website:


 Beware! Many people are under the impression that working on a sluggish rotary dial is nothing more than a matter of spraying it with a lubricating compound or penetrating oil. This is an invitation to make your dial a "dust magnet" due to the sticky nature of some penetrating oils. Also, the lubricant tends to dry and will eventually gum the dial, especially if it has been sprayed into the governor (speed-regulating) mechanism of the dial.
 The dial must be cleaned with a solvent that dissolves old oil and gum, and it then must be dried totally.
 The bearing surfaces of the dial operating parts must be lubricated with a pin oiler that deposits proper lubricant in small amounts. This is similar to lubricating a clockwork mechanism.
 The contact points of the dial must be burnished and mechanically adjusted.
 The speed of the dial must be tested and adjusted if necessary.
 The gap of the pulse contacts must be set properly.
 All of our dial repairs are done on a special test unit that measures speed and "per cent break" to insure that your dial is operating properly when it leaves our shop. Dial service is flat-rate six dollars per dial (sent separately from the associated telephone). Repairs are guaranteed for one full year.
 An Excerpt From The Rotary Dial, 1924 to Present
 by Bruce Crawford
 January, 1995 TCI Singing Wires Newsletter

 Rotary dials are a "loop disconnect' device; as they unwind, they open the loop for each digit dialed; that is, if 4 is dialed, the loop is opened 4 times: circuit arrangements in the exchange prevent a disconnect during this brief "open" period. If the normal "break" period is about 62% of the "pulse" interval.
 Interdigital pause; with older exchange equipment, a pause was necessary between digits, to allow the central office equipment to advance itself. This pause is equal to the time it takes the dial to return to normal after completing the pulsing operation, and is equal to two blanks (see the space between the #1 and the fingerstop). British dials have three blanks in this area: this is because older British equipment required somewhat longer time to function.

 Off-normal springs: The additional springs on a dial "short" the receiver circuit (except, that in earlier WECo dials terminals W" and "BB" opened the receiver circuit). The off-normals operate when the dial is rotated, to prevent the clicks from being heard by the calling party.

 Speed: Except for certain dials intended for use in PBX boards the usual speed for a dial is "10 pulses per second" (or about the time it takes to say 1002)... that is, the dial, when fully rotated, should take about I second to return to normal, when released. So called "high speed" dials (20 pps) can only be used with panel, electronic, crossbar or digital systems; and 10 pps dials MUST be used with (now rare) Step-by-step central office technology.

 Dials, Repair, Maintenance
 Generally, relatively sophisticated equipment is required for dial repair. GTE practices suggest dismantling the entire dial; this is hardly feasible today.

 WD-40 can be used to free a seized dial, but its use is NOT recommended. WD-40 is not a permanent lubricant (it eventually evaporates), The manufacturers provide a number of practices on dial lubrication. but it was interesting to note that in Northern Electric's Repair and overhaul shops their own practices were ignored, The dial repair person simply used a toothpick, dipped about 1 /4" into a small container of sewing machine oil (3 in 1 for example). Each bearing point is lubricated, with care being taken to see that absolutely NO oil gets into the governor. DO NOT APPLY EXCESS OIL. (At this point, if the dial didn't turn at an approximately close speed, Northern simply junked it!

 Assuming the dial rotates, the speed can be adjusted. The governor on the AECO style of dial is easiest to work on; if the dial is running slow simply bend the governor springs in slightly (a little at a time!) ... likewise, if running fast, vice versa. Nmbrs. 2, 4 and 5 type dials have a small screw in the governor case; loosen the screw and adjust the little dial to the left or right to adjust the speed; then retighten the screw. Late model WECo design dials are not as readily adjusted. It is necessary to remove the spring that holds the weights (on the governor) and open or close the arc, slightly; this may prove near impossible in some cases.

 The shunt springs on a dial are best checked with a buzzer. An ohmmeter does not draw adequate current, and marginal off-normal contacts may test OK. With a buzzer and battery connected to (for example) the white leads of a #7D dial, the buzzer should buzz with the dial turned less than 50% of the diameter of the finger holes.

 If a dial dials wrong numbers, it generally means that too many pulses are being sent. It is important on 6, 7 and similar dials that the pulsing cam is on the correct angle; compare with a known good unit. On AECO dials, the location of the cam that operates the "blanking" spring is all important; an AECO dial actually pulses one additional pulse, but this last pulse is supposed to be shunted by the blanking spring. With an electronic switching center, the slightest interruption is counted as a pulse; thus the blanking spring must be accurately adjusted.

 P. O. Box 429
 Salome, AZ 85348-0429
 (928) 859-3595
 Steve Hilsz, Technician

Offline Babybearjs

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Re: AE 40 Monophone Dial is sticky/slow, is this something I can fix?
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2015, 04:52:36 PM »
you know, this is funny.... ever since I started refurbishing phones I have only had to send in some dials for repair.... the rest I have been able to get working on my own... I have always used WD-40 and to this date, have never had any problems with any of the phones I've used it on.... and on a lot of the phones I have, they are in storage.... and from time to time I'll spin the dial on some of these phones and they work perfectly.... what do you think of that???

Offline G-Man

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Re: AE 40 Monophone Dial is sticky/slow, is this something I can fix?
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2015, 06:04:06 PM »
WD40 is not a very good long term lubricant.

While it may be sufficient for hobbyist that use their dials lightly or for display on a shelf, a telephone company would have never used it for dials placed in regular service since they did not want dials used on a daily basis to be consistently returned to the shop for re-lubricating and adjustment.
While I have used WD40 myself when working on a heavily seized and encrusted dial, once I had it moving freely, I flushed it away and applied normal lubricating procedures for long-term preservation and use.
Almost any professional who knows lubricating oils thinks WD40 is terrible.

Here are a few random comments from others:

 "This is a common misunderstanding. It does have an oily texture, but it does dry out and it won't keep things lubed up forever. Now, cleaning a surface that had oil or grease on it with WD-40, and then using some Tri-flow is probably your best bet.
 WD-40 is a great substance, for a lot of stuff. If anything is stuck, rusty, dirty, sticky, hardened, etc... WD-40 is probably the answer."

 It's a great hand cleaner too when you are working in the garage. I like to prewash my hands with just some WD40 and a towel before going inside to finish washing with soap.

 I second this. I would also add that when you put up a Christmas tree and get sap all over your hands, WD-40 is fantastic at getting it all off easily. Source: used it twice this year (setup, take down).

 Popular Mechanics-

 The "wd" in WD-40 stands for "water dispersal."

 One of the more dispiriting facts of consumer life is that panaceas don't routinely live up to their promises.
Sure, sometimes you get penicillin, a product that needs no introduction, but other times you get Dr. Ebeneezer Sibley's Reanimating Solar Tincture, an elixir alleged to restore life in the event of sudden death.

 And then there's WD-40, a putative fix-all that boasts uses ranging from driving moisture from a flooded motor to killing roaches to breaking in baseball gloves to reviving drowned cellphones. Such is its pop-cultural ubiquity that it even co-stars in a well-known handyman apothegm: "If it moves and it shouldn't, you need duct tape. If it doesn't move and it should, you need WD-40."

 But is WD-40 really toolbox penicillin? Or is it the snake oil of lubricants?
 To find out, we culled various products recommended for use in five common DIY jobs and pitted them against WD-40.
 Treating a bicycle chain with WD-40 is about as profitable as trying to extinguish a grease fire with a wet haddock. Because its light lubricating properties aren't sufficient to cope with the torque and speed generated by pedaling, WD-40 won't help much. And because water dispersal can degrade heavier existing lubes, it could actually make things worse.
 The end result after pitting it against five common jobs-
Final Tally
 WD-40: 0

 Despite the final tally, WD-40 is not a complete zero. What it lacks in job-specific excellence it makes up for with across-the-board flexibility. In addition to being serviceable in a wide range of tasks (Bob Cornwell uses it to drive moisture from the electrical connectors between trucks and trailers), it is also good at cleaning (Jacques Gordon confirms that it's aces at removing bumper stickers). But its best ability may be discouraging rust. After all, it was first used in the 1950s to prevent corrosion on the Atlas missile. If it's good enough for an ICBM, it's good enough for those garden shears.

 More Comments...

 YSK WD-40 is a solvent, not a lubricant. Mistaking it as a lubricant will only mask the problem, not solve it.
 It's listed on WD-40 official website as a myth. They say that it's technically a lubricant, it's job is to clean things. For some tasks around the house, WD-40 offers the job of both cleaning and lubricating.
 However, using WD-40 on a job that specifically needs lubrication will not yield the results you desire.
 I only recently learned this and wish I knew it before wasting time spraying door hinges to keep them from squeaking. You should have 3-in-1 oil along side of your WD-40. Just as versatile.

 EDIT: The point of the YSK is that if you're like me, you grew up thinking WD-40 and oil can be interchanged. Most likely, taught to you by an authority figure (my dad taught this to me) so you never second guessed it. You start using it everywhere because, hell, that's what you're taught and that's all you know. You don't read the directions because, heck, you've been using the stuff for years. I didn't know that WD-40 and oil were different until last week and I'm in my 30s. Yes, WD-40 is still great to use on a lot of things. Just don't hang your hat on it for things that are dangerous.

 EDIT 2: And the pun was completely unintentional! Thanks for all of the clarifying comments. I'm not a DIY wiz...just from what my dad taught me. Seems like there is a lot of confusion on my part on the definition of a lubricant and solvent. In either case, I'm glad I know now that WD-40 ≠ grease and are not interchangeable.

Offline HarrySmith

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Re: AE 40 Monophone Dial is sticky/slow, is this something I can fix?
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2015, 06:54:04 PM »
I clean most of my dials with automotive brake cleaner or electrical contact cleaner, then dry it with a can of compressed air, sold at office supply stores for cleaning keyboards, then I use a pin oilier and lubricate the points that the BSP specifies for WE dials. Works out great. For a really bad dial, one that needs adjustment or one going on a special phone, I send to Steve.
Harry Smith
ATCA 4434

"There is no try,
there is only
do or do not"

Offline Crabitha

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Re: AE 40 Monophone Dial is sticky/slow, is this something I can fix?
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2015, 07:12:44 PM »
Thanks for the advice.  Since I'm an absolute novice, not even that, a flat out beginner, I think I'll send it off because I want to make sure it's calibrated correctly too.

If it was a phone that meant less to me, or was in bad repair anyway, I would probably try my hand at fixing the dial and kind of learn as I go but I don't want to learn on this phone because I love it so much. 

I had read the troubleshooting section on dials and saw that guy's name listed there and also read that you aren't supposed to use WD40.  There seemed to be some different opinions on what oil to use. 

Thanks again!

Online Doug Rose

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Re: AE 40 Monophone Dial is sticky/slow, is this something I can fix?
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2015, 07:44:25 PM »
G-Man is correct WD-40 is bad news. Myself....I like Marvel Mystery Oil. With any lubricant a little goes a long way. I found MMO from an old timer when I was just a I am an old timer....good luck and welcome to the Forum...Doug

Offline andre_janew

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Re: AE 40 Monophone Dial is sticky/slow, is this something I can fix?
« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2015, 11:32:22 AM »
I've had good results using WD-40 to clean the dial and 3 in1 oil to lubricate the dial.