Author Topic: Phone Dyeing  (Read 1077 times)

Offline compubit

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Phone Dyeing
« on: February 04, 2017, 02:35:32 PM »
Taking a cue from Christian's truck posting referencing Rit DyeMore, I decided it'a worth a shot.  I have 4 goals from this project and am working in pieces along the way.

1) Restore some pink phone cords to pink color (vs. pinkish white that they've faded to)
2) Create a Mocha modular coiled cord (and possibly second handset) for 1-1/2 AT&T/WE 2554s I have (2 bases and one handset)
3) Create a solid dark blue 2500 set (not teal or country blue) - for work (company color)
4) Create a purple Princess phone (and Trimline) - just for fun

More as each step progresses...

Jim
A phone phanatic since I was less than 2 (thanks to Fisher Price); collector since a teenager; now able to afford to play!
Favorite Phone: Western Electric Trimline - it just feels right holding it up to my face!

Offline compubit

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Re: Phone Dyeing
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2017, 02:38:07 PM »
Here are the tools so far (I'll update as I go through the process):
1) RIT DyeMore (brown, purple, pink and blue). $5.99 each at some Joann Fabrics (check online for coupons - one bottle was 50% off and a second was 40%)
2) "Dyeing" pot - tried to find something at Goodwill with no luck. Ended up at Target finding a 65 quart aluminum pot for cooking seafood. This one has a removable bottom, so you don't end up with plastic touching the bottom and potentially melting (part of the process with these dyes is that the water stays near boiling). I also kept a separate pot since I don't want to mix dye residue and food (and the stock pot I had wasn't quite big enough for a 2500 case)
3) Rubber gloves (I don't want Pink or purple hands until the color wears off)
4) Tongs/Stirring utensils (again separate from ones used for food).
5) Stainless steel sink for emptying dye water and rinsing. Apparently there is a high potential for the dye to stain porcelain or plastic sinks. Also, be careful with your counter top... (mine is light grey Formica - prime for staining...)
6) Newspaper - to protect counter tops
7) Towels - for quick clean ups...

Jim
A phone phanatic since I was less than 2 (thanks to Fisher Price); collector since a teenager; now able to afford to play!
Favorite Phone: Western Electric Trimline - it just feels right holding it up to my face!

Offline compubit

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Re: Phone Dyeing
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2017, 03:09:21 PM »
Items for dyeing (in this test, all of the items are extra and have little to no worth if the project fails - considered "throwaway" - testing to see how various items take the dye)
1. White AE 80 Handset and coiled cord - picked up about 5-6 on eBay for next to nothing; just needed cleaning (no sun fade)
2. WE early 80s 2500 case damaged in shipping (big crack in it)
3. ITT/Cortelco white 2500 picked up on eBay for $10. If the case ends up crappy, I'll part out the phone (mechanical bell, network and TT pad...)
4. White Modular handset cord - just to see how it handles full submersion...
A phone phanatic since I was less than 2 (thanks to Fisher Price); collector since a teenager; now able to afford to play!
Favorite Phone: Western Electric Trimline - it just feels right holding it up to my face!

Offline compubit

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Re: Phone Dyeing
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2017, 03:10:56 PM »
Step 1 - Clean the phones.
Went over all of the phone parts with soap and warm water followed by a dishwasher cycle. Using gloves after dishwasher cycle to prevent introduction of body oils to plastics (no idea if these make an impact in dyeing, but know they do in the hydrogen peroxide process)
A phone phanatic since I was less than 2 (thanks to Fisher Price); collector since a teenager; now able to afford to play!
Favorite Phone: Western Electric Trimline - it just feels right holding it up to my face!

Offline compubit

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Re: Phone Dyeing
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2017, 03:13:30 PM »
Step 2 - Create the dye brew.
Fill the pot with enough water to cover what you are dyeing and bring to a boil turn down the temp slightly. Add the dye to the water and stir to mix it in.
A phone phanatic since I was less than 2 (thanks to Fisher Price); collector since a teenager; now able to afford to play!
Favorite Phone: Western Electric Trimline - it just feels right holding it up to my face!

Offline compubit

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Re: Phone Dyeing
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2017, 03:16:14 PM »
Step 3 - Dye something.
Basically submerge what you want to dye.  Since this is a fairly new process (for me), I'll be watching the pot until I get the desired color. I suspect each piece will take a different amount of time...
A phone phanatic since I was less than 2 (thanks to Fisher Price); collector since a teenager; now able to afford to play!
Favorite Phone: Western Electric Trimline - it just feels right holding it up to my face!

Offline compubit

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Re: Phone Dyeing
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2017, 03:56:55 PM »
Results (Round 1):
Dye: Purple
Items: AE80 Handset, AE80 Handset cord, WE 2500 case, WE Modular cord
Results: mixed
1. AE80 vinyl cord came out perfectly purple. The key is to stretch it so that dye gets between the coils. Dye does affect coloring on wires - need to identify a way to protect the coloring...
2. AE80 handset (mail body) - came out near perfectly, except for 2 small blemishes where the dye didn't quite hit the color (darkness along the bottom is where water hasn't dried yet)
3. AE80 earpiece and mouthpiece covers - earpiece appears to be slightly different plastic than mouthpiece/handset. Also, these melted slightly (mouthpiece no longer bulged out to center; earpiece center hole got larger)
4. WE 2500 - plastics melted (shrank) across the board. Color came through evenly (barely noticeable spot where I think I used my finger to get it out of the dishwasher...). The faceplate (light gray) warped but overall came out a nice shade (slightly different than the main plastics, as one would expect from a WE 2500 phone...).
5. WE modular cord - just like the AE cord, color was even and solid. The only indication that the cord was another color is where the RJ-9 jack is crimped onto the cord, you can still see white.   This one did take about 35-40 minutes vs. 15-20 for the AE.

Overall notes
1. Dye does not affect metal (cables, screws, etc. it just washes right off to the original brass/nickel/etc. finish.
2. Cords won't be a problem.
3. Dye temperature needs to cool before introducing ABS plastic (right after boiling is not good...)
4. Don't touch with your fingers after running through the dishwasher

Round 2 later (dark blue).
A phone phanatic since I was less than 2 (thanks to Fisher Price); collector since a teenager; now able to afford to play!
Favorite Phone: Western Electric Trimline - it just feels right holding it up to my face!

Offline AL_as_needed

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Re: Phone Dyeing
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2017, 05:25:14 PM »
I feel you are really getting onto something with this. Yes it does seem like a bit of work and something less than an exact science, but even just for the sake of restoring or replacing cords it would be well worth it.

How well do you think this treatment will hold up in terms of wear/polishing? I assume the dye does not soak into the ABS too far?

TWinbrook7

Offline WEBellSystemChristian

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Re: Phone Dyeing
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2017, 08:02:25 PM »
Yay, I was an inspiration (or at least a starting point)... ;D

As for durability; I found that the dye goes pretty deep in plastic. When I dyed the locking hubs on my truck, I was able to scratch layers of oxidized plastic off after I had already dyed the piece, without removing layers of color. The boiling part really opens the plastic's pores and allows the dye to really soak in.
Christian Petterson

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

Offline compubit

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Re: Phone Dyeing
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2017, 09:07:35 PM »
The key is getting th right temperature of the ABS to accept the color, but not melt/shrink/deform...

When I get home, I'll see how far in the dye goes with the deformed 2500 shell...

The other thing will be determining how the different plastics react. Does the 1983 shell plastic reaction/perform the same as 1960 plastics?  Maybe a "side business" - custom-colored phones...  ;)

Jim
A phone phanatic since I was less than 2 (thanks to Fisher Price); collector since a teenager; now able to afford to play!
Favorite Phone: Western Electric Trimline - it just feels right holding it up to my face!

Offline compubit

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Re: Phone Dyeing
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2017, 09:18:12 PM »
It appears that 176 is the magic temperature that ABS starts to melt. I think where I failed was that I left the pot on the stove and the burner on - it seems that the key is to get the plastic to open up, then cool it down so it doesn't melt.

When I try blue tomorrow, once I submerge the case, I'll turn off the burner... 

That's why we call it "trial and error" - we'll figure it out!

Jim

A phone phanatic since I was less than 2 (thanks to Fisher Price); collector since a teenager; now able to afford to play!
Favorite Phone: Western Electric Trimline - it just feels right holding it up to my face!

Offline compubit

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Re: Phone Dyeing
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2017, 10:11:22 PM »
Color is not very deep in the ABS plastic. - sharp cuts/scratches reveal the white plastic underneath. I'm guessing it will stand up to normal/light wear (that's part of the testing process...)

Cords, on the other hand, seem to suck up the dye - since they're more vinyl than plastic...  you do want to stretch them out, though. I can see some slight color lightening where the coils touch, especially on fat cords...

On to round 2 tomorrow...

Jim
A phone phanatic since I was less than 2 (thanks to Fisher Price); collector since a teenager; now able to afford to play!
Favorite Phone: Western Electric Trimline - it just feels right holding it up to my face!

Offline AL_as_needed

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Re: Phone Dyeing
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2017, 08:45:43 AM »
I imagine older plastics will react differently, and maybe not as well as some get brittle with age and UV exposure. Some form of a painting over may be better suited for those plastics vs dying.

Another interesting point would be to test a colored set that has been badly sun faded, I wonder if it could be dyed back to (or close to) original color? Sanding and polishing work well but can be an intricate process.
TWinbrook7

Offline Dan/Panther

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Re: Phone Dyeing
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2017, 11:17:48 AM »
I'm impressed with the Coiled handset cord. I posted a dye method a few years back, but your is more user friendly.
I'm not 100% on the shell parts, but I will try it !!!

D/P

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Offline compubit

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Re: Phone Dyeing
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2017, 12:00:09 PM »
Shell dyeing is more just for fun. More for show than daily use, but when I create the blue phone, I'll see how it holds up...

Cords are extremely interesting. Part of it will be getting the timing right so that pink is close to WE pink,  and not fuschia...  I guess I should buy some bulk white coiled cords (unfortunately just modular are what's available...)

Just remember to cover anything that is dye susceptible (e.g., Formica counter tops, painted walls). Being my first try, I did splatter a bit...

Not sure on the sun-faded (except possibly vinyl cords), as most seem to fade darker or "yellow", at least from what I've seen.

Jim

p.s., the modular cord works perfectly (I let the cord dry overnight before trying), even after being fully submerged (including connectors).
A phone phanatic since I was less than 2 (thanks to Fisher Price); collector since a teenager; now able to afford to play!
Favorite Phone: Western Electric Trimline - it just feels right holding it up to my face!