Author Topic: Northern Electric Payphone/ID & Lock Advice  (Read 332 times)

Offline EveryMann

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Northern Electric Payphone/ID & Lock Advice
« on: December 02, 2017, 05:00:52 PM »
Hello:

First-time poster; greetings! I have owned this Northern Electric payphone for @30 years. Other than the fact that the modern FIOS™ wiring precludes the phone from dialing out these days, it works just as perfectly as it did the day I bought it at a junk shop out west in the late 1980s. Two questions...

1) Is there any way to determine the general age of this phone? Curiously, I find precious little info on the web regarding manufacturing dates.

2) I have misplaced the vault door key. There is a possibility--I'm embarrassed to admit--that it was placed into the coin return box for "safe keeping" when I moved cross-country from California years ago. There are some family trinkets stored inside there, and there is no cash box. I cannot recall for sure if in fact I put the vault key (lock number is NE 22, I believe) inside of the coin return box before I moved, but if I did, is there anyplace else other that the coin return chute where the key could have fallen into? It seems that conventional wisdom is to drill the screws out from the back of the phone, but somehow I'm apprehensive about messing it up. Has anyone seen or heard of a proficient locksmith successfully picking one of these locks? I did send photos to a few of the locksmiths in the area, but thus far I have gotten no response. The most relevant info I could find via google was a blog entry by a college professor extolling the virtues of Western Electric's simple-yet-durable 30C lock. I sent him an email asking if the WE 30C is similar to my Northern Electric #22 lock and if he had any guess as to the pick-ability; he replied that while he isn't overly-familiar with the NE-22 he highly doubts that it can be picked.

Wondering if anyone has first-hand experience with the NE-22 lock being picked, and if not, any alternative suggestions for opening the vault door would be great.

Thank you in advance.

Offline Stan S

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Re: Northern Electric Payphone/ID & Lock Advice
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2017, 05:17:18 PM »
Hello
Your payphone appears to be an NE233.
Once you get the payphone open there will be dates stamped on some of the parts.
That phone is easy to open without having a key.
1- Lay the payphone face down
2- There are a total of 7 screws that hold the back of the phone to the bottom. Four have large heads 3 have smaller heads. Take out all the screws
3- A this point the payphone should separate into 3 parts, The top, bottom and back. The bottom and back will have wires connecting them together so be careful.
See attached photo.
Stan S.

Offline rdelius

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Re: Northern Electric Payphone/ID & Lock Advice
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2017, 05:21:20 PM »
A 21 b key will unlock the upper housing. you can remove the upper housing if you pry up with a large screwdriver where the upper housing mates with the lower housing below the lock.You can also remmove the coin vault by removing the screws around the vault and drilling the backwards one.you can use a long thin screwdriver and remove the vault door lock through the holes in the back.All the sets like yours have dated parts inside and yours is mist likely 60s to early 70s

Offline EveryMann

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Re: Northern Electric Payphone/ID & Lock Advice
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2017, 06:39:36 PM »
Hi Rdelius:

The "easy" key--the #21b key that is simple to replace--I did manage to successfully keep track of. I can get the upper housing open with no problem. As soon as my drill is recharged, I will pull the phone off the wall and see if the screw heads are in fact accessible from the back.

Offline EveryMann

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Re: Northern Electric Payphone/ID & Lock Advice
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2017, 10:00:34 PM »
I was hoping to get to it tonight, but at this point I will be pulling the phone in the morning and seeing if the screws are all accessible from the back. Looking on the popular auction site, it does appear that the Northern Electric payphones in fact have the screws for the lower box accessible from the back/outside and not from the inside. Keeping my fingers crossed.

All these years, and I never paid attention to the minutiae. How come every single 3-slot payphone I see online--regardless of color--has a chrome vault door, yet mine is the same beige as the rest of the phone? I also note that most have a second lock on the bottom right side of the upper housing (when facing it). What is that extra lock for? Does the fact that mine has a black handset mean that someone must have swapped out the original beige handset at some point in time?

It looks like these ceased to be produced in 1973, though as a little kid in the 1970s, I can't remember ever seeing one of these antique-looking 3-slotters in service.

Thanks again.

Offline Stan S

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Re: Northern Electric Payphone/ID & Lock Advice
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2017, 12:04:00 AM »
Looking on the popular auction site, it does appear that the Northern Electric payphones in fact have the screws for the lower box accessible from the back/outside and not from the inside. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Better keep your fingers crossed that you didn't mount the payphone to the wall using any of the mounting holes in the vault compartment. I once had to use a Sawsall in my office to unmount a payphone. Didn't hurt the payphone but did nothing good to the wall.

Stan S.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2017, 05:29:17 AM by TelePlay »

Offline EveryMann

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Re: Northern Electric Payphone/ID & Lock Advice
« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2017, 03:52:18 PM »
Hello to everyone who has been kind enough to chime in.

I did pull the payphone off the wall, and though they weren’t easy to pop loose, the slot heads were in fact facing rearward and thus I was able to remove the lower front section and take out the vault lock. Curiously, the lock is not an NE 22 as the internet indicated it would be, but it is a 30C, Made in USA. Are the two locks interchangeable? Was the lock likely changed at some point? Could the vault door be a Western Electric? Hoping that the replacement  NE 22 that is in the mail to me will fit; any guesses?

There was a minor complication. While I was trying to crack one of the back screws, my hand slipped and partially broke off the large yellow capacitor in the upper left corner (when facing). Taking off the small board and re soldering would decidedly be above my pay scale. I pushed the capacitor wire into the hole and bandaged a piece of electrical tape over it; the phone works. Is this capacitor anything important...?

Thanks from a rank amateur phoneman.

Offline EveryMann

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Re: Northern Electric Payphone/ID & Lock Advice
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2017, 03:55:26 PM »
Oops--here is the photo of the compromised yellow capacitor...

Offline AE_Collector

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Re: Northern Electric Payphone/ID & Lock Advice
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2017, 08:49:11 PM »
I have no idea what the capacitors function is but that is an AE (Styleline) mini network frequently used by phone restorers to make phones work. It would not be original to that phone.

Terry

Offline RotarDad

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Re: Northern Electric Payphone/ID & Lock Advice
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2017, 10:20:41 PM »
EveryMann - The NE-22 and the Western Electric 30-C are interchangeable as vault door locks on these payphones.  The WE and NE doors themselves are essentially identical.  Yours being an NE phone, it would have had an NE-22 lock originally but the 30-C will work fine.   The only way I've been able to tell WE from NE on parts is the dating convention.  WE used a Roman numeral for the quarter: "II 65" would be 2nd quarter of 1965, for example.  NE used a "bar" system so 2nd quarter would look like "= 65".  So if your door has vertical quarter marks, it is WE, but if it has horizontal quarter marks, it's NE.  If it's not marked, then you can't tell since they are otherwise the same.

Your payphone, and nearly all model 2XX 3-slots, did not have an internal network or ringer (the 236G WE is an exception, as both a small net and ringer were internal).  Your phone would have originally been paired with a 685A subset which contained a 425A network and a C4A ringer (both the same units as installed in the model 500 desk phone or 554 wall phone).  The subset is a box about 8" x 6" X 3" that was hidden in the phone booth under the shelf.

As we see with you phone, refurbishment companies and hobbyists commonly added other networks and small ringers to make the 3-slots function as home telephones.  In most cases, coin handling parts (like the coin relay) were junked in the process to make room for the add-ons.   To us here on the forum, removing parts is heresy (well... at least frowned upon... ;) ), and many of us have searched to find the right parts to bring our 3-slots back to WE or NE factory standards.   For your phone, parts are plentiful still, so you can restore it if desired, or enjoy as is. 

Welcome to the forum!

Paul
« Last Edit: December 03, 2017, 10:29:41 PM by RotarDad »
Paul

Offline rdelius

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Re: Northern Electric Payphone/ID & Lock Advice
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2017, 11:30:30 PM »
The yellow disc is a Veristor along with the other colored one .Used for loop length  compensation.

Offline EveryMann

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Re: Northern Electric Payphone/ID & Lock Advice
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2017, 03:55:27 PM »
Hello:

Naturally I realize that this payphone has been modified; there is a small ringer mechanism in the coin vault area. In the pre-internet days of my youth @1991 I moved out of my first apartment--a great old building in West Los Angeles--that was getting demolished for new condo units. As it was going to be trashed anyhow, I pulled the Automatic Electric #32 bakelite ringer box out from the hall closet upon leaving. Shortly after I brought it along with my Northern Electric payphone to someone who worked on phones to see about restoring this payphone and mating it with the #32 ringer box. The guy told me I would be "opening a can of worms" by messing with either. Shortly after, I found that the ringer wasn't compatible with the wiring in a later apartment, and the prognosis was that the guts had to be completely removed and replaced. My vague recollection is that the guy was annoyed/inconvenienced because I insisted upon keeping the bells in there, while he wanted to take the easy route and slap in some flimsy modern mechanism and not have to deal with doing extra work.

At any rate, while I'm usually the type to spend 2x the value of the phone to restore it to 100% originality, the FiOS™ lines in my house are not compatible with rotary phones anyhow: calls can come in, but cannot be dialed out. My preference would be to have it back with original parts, but I am happy to have it as-is in my turquoise room (see photo; lower left corner) where my 5-year-old delights in hearing the "dingggg" whenever coins are dropped in.

Regarding the varistor and loop length compensation, I have checked the internet for info. From what I am able to wrap my head around, it appears that the repair isn't essential and that I should be able to use the phone without it. Is this correct?


Offline poplar1

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Re: Northern Electric Payphone/ID & Lock Advice
« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2017, 04:45:33 PM »
Please provide photo of the ringer inside the #32 bell box. Unless it is a harmonic (frequency selective) ringer for party lines, it should work on today's lines -- whether land lines, FIOS, VOIP, or cable modem.
"C'est pas une restauration, c'est une rénovation."--François Martin.

Offline EveryMann

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Re: Northern Electric Payphone/ID & Lock Advice
« Reply #13 on: December 04, 2017, 07:03:48 PM »
Yes, it was made to work with "modern" wiring. Again, the gentleman wanted to gut it completely but I protested. This is going back many years, but as I look at it now, I believe he ended up adding a modular jack (it used to be hardwired, of course) and left the majority of the internal mechanism intact.

I have this ringer connected to the phone line, with my turquoise Starlite phone hardwired to it.

Offline TelePlay

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Re: Northern Electric Payphone/ID & Lock Advice
« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2017, 07:31:44 PM »
That is an AE straight line ringer.
            John . . .