Author Topic: Another Diamond in the Rough: Soft Plastic White 554  (Read 2540 times)

Offline WEBellSystemChristian

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Another Diamond in the Rough: Soft Plastic White 554
« on: November 06, 2015, 09:42:55 AM »
I just spotted this on eBay, what appears to be a soft 554 in the pretty hard-to-find color of white.

As some of you know, I already have a white '58 554, one that I believe has never been in active service due to no normal wear on the chrome switchhook or any other part of the phone. This phone seems to be pretty far from perfect... ;D

The listing picture looked like it was yellow, but some pictures inside the housing/handset/caps showed that it was actually a very faded white. The cord is also stretched a bit, and there are stickers all over the housing.

Worst of all, some idiot decided to try removing the housing by prying it off in the corner! Result: one huge crack! I think some epoxy should take care of that.

The good news is that all dates seem to point to November/December 1958, which makes it 57 years old this month! After a little refurbishing, it should look great!

Overall, pretty happy, especially for getting it for $29 BiN! I'm proud to own it! :)

www.ebay.com/itm/141820251273
« Last Edit: November 06, 2015, 09:51:07 AM by WEBellSystemChristian »
Christian Petterson

"Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right" -Henry Ford

Offline jsowers

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Re: Another Diamond in the Rough: Soft Plastic White 554
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2015, 12:27:04 PM »
Ouch! That crack is painful to see! That happens so often on these phones. The release mechanism is so deceptively simple that some people just don't find it until it's too late.
 
This phone is suffering from smoke fade. A day or two in a bleach and water bath should bring it back to normal. Or you may have to use something stronger like Peroxide, but I don't think you'll have to sand it. Look inside those handset caps. You can see where the smoke came in the holes, but it didn't get past that point. It also gets inside the housing. Anywhere air can get, smoke can get too.
 
If it had been UV damage, which white Tenite really doesn't suffer from much if at all, it would be just on the outside and there would be a lighter place near the logo where the handset touched. The hard plastic versions are the ones that suffer UV damage more in white, or at least that's been my observation.
 
So Christian, work your magic and show us the finished product. Good luck!
Jonathan

Offline WEBellSystemChristian

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Re: Another Diamond in the Rough: Soft Plastic White 554
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2015, 12:58:35 PM »
Thanks, Jon!

This is actually my first early 554 with a crack. I'm really surprised that the cracked ones aren't more common than they are.

I was planning on using 40% peroxide combined with my UV box to bring it back to white. The problem with more concentrated peroxide on colored plastic is that you have to keep the I have never used peroxide on tenite before, and never have on a 554 either, so this will be new for me in two ways!

Does anyone know if Super Glue or Epoxy are affected by extreme UV exposure or peroxide?
Christian Petterson

"Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right" -Henry Ford

Offline Dan/Panther

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Re: Another Diamond in the Rough: Soft Plastic White 554
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2015, 01:43:18 PM »
I have had great success repairing cracks on soft plastic, by using lacquer thinner.
I spread the crack, clean it so no dark color is left. While holding the crack slightly apart I apply a few drops of Lacquer thinner to the open crack. Immediately close the crack and hold it for a few seconds. Once the crack is stable, I drop a few drops of thinner on the crack and use the small paint brush, (like for models) and blend the area until smooth. After it sets you can sand and polish it, the crack will be almost impossible to detect.

D/P

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Offline WEBellSystemChristian

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Re: Another Diamond in the Rough: Soft Plastic White 554
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2015, 02:04:26 PM »
I have had great success repairing cracks on soft plastic, by using lacquer thinner.
I spread the crack, clean it so no dark color is left. While holding the crack slightly apart I apply a few drops of Lacquer thinner to the open crack. Immediately close the crack and hold it for a few seconds. Once the crack is stable, I drop a few drops of thinner on the crack and use the small paint brush, (like for models) and blend the area until smooth. After it sets you can sand and polish it, the crack will be almost impossible to detect.

D/P
I think I might try that method!

How do you remove the lacquer thinner after the crack sets, just wipe it off?
Christian Petterson

"Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right" -Henry Ford

Offline Dan/Panther

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Re: Another Diamond in the Rough: Soft Plastic White 554
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2015, 11:15:44 PM »
Christian;
The lacquer thinner actually melts the plastic, so once you get the crack stable, you can drop a few drops of thinner on the surface, work it around to smooth out the area then sand and polish.

Dan

The More People I meet, The More I Love, and MISS My Dog.  Dan Robinson

Offline WEBellSystemChristian

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Re: Another Diamond in the Rough: Soft Plastic White 554
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2015, 09:02:20 AM »
I got this phone a couple days ago, but neglected to post any updates.

All dates are late 1958! I believe this one was in use in someone's damp basement; I envisioned it sitting near someone's workbench. I doubt it got much use, but was exposed to a lot of nicotine smoke and humidity. The switchhook isn't worn too much, but is covered in corrosion. The housing doesn't have wear marks from the handset swinging against it, and the handset isn't worn too much either.

I fixed the crack via Dan's method, and it worked great! Hopefully pictures of the progress so far will come tonight!
« Last Edit: November 12, 2015, 11:20:18 AM by WEBellSystemChristian »
Christian Petterson

"Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right" -Henry Ford

Offline jsowers

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Re: Another Diamond in the Rough: Soft Plastic White 554
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2015, 01:55:16 PM »
The housing doesn't have wear marks from the handset swinging against it, and the handset isn't worn too much either.

I've seen that wear called "swivelage" and I love that word. It's the arc the handset makes on the logo area of a 554. Sort of sounds like something you'd get if you did the "Twist" too much in the 1960s.  ;)  It seems to happen more to hard plastic than to the soft variety.
 
I look forward to the pictures.
Jonathan

Offline WEBellSystemChristian

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Re: Another Diamond in the Rough: Soft Plastic White 554
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2015, 03:10:31 PM »
The housing doesn't have wear marks from the handset swinging against it, and the handset isn't worn too much either.

I've seen that wear called "swivelage" and I love that word. It's the arc the handset makes on the logo area of a 554. Sort of sounds like something you'd get if you did the "Twist" too much in the 1960s.  ;)  It seems to happen more to hard plastic than to the soft variety.
 
I look forward to the pictures.
Maybe that explains why so many people in their 70s are getting hip replacements now: Too much '60s Swivelage!!! ;D

I figured out a long time ago why Western Electric changed the switchhook design in the late '50s; first of all, to save materials/money; 2nd, because the Swivelage (I like that word now, too!) was distorting the housing logo. The 2nd switchhook design lowered the handset a fraction of an inch, so the transmitter cap would swing under the logo.
Christian Petterson

"Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right" -Henry Ford

Offline WEBellSystemChristian

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Re: Another Diamond in the Rough: Soft Plastic White 554
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2015, 10:16:31 PM »
Here is how the crack looks after fixing, and after wetsanding/polishing. This will look a lot better after the Peroxide bath.
Christian Petterson

"Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right" -Henry Ford