Author Topic: AECo Bakelite Era Phones - Manufacture Date Discussions  (Read 16273 times)

HobieSport

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AECo Bakelite Era Phones - Manufacture Date Discussions
« on: October 27, 2008, 04:02:11 PM »
Howdy All,

I just received my first AE 40 into my hot little hands today.  I'd never seen one up close and personal before. Must say she's impressive.  All in working order, VERY clean inside, dial is very smooth, and this is not a refurbished piece. 

As far as I can tell, the only thing done to this phone is the line cord was replaced with a cheap modern cord just to go modular.  Only parts missing are the dial card ring and rubber foot gasket, and she'll get a new cloth line cord just for looks, and of course a good cleaning/polishing. Not bad for $20. :)  Naturally I'm very pleased and a bit in awe, and will post before/after pics when I get the parts and spiff her up.

So just one question:  Where does one find the date(s) on an AE40? (One place I haven't been able to look is in the earpiece on the headset, as I can't get it open.  Any tips on unscrewing a stuck headset?)

-Matt :P
« Last Edit: October 27, 2008, 05:34:18 PM by HobieSport »

Offline benhutcherson

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Re: AECo Bakelite Era Phones - Manufacture Date Discussions
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2008, 05:48:14 PM »
I've had my AE40 apart inside and out, and have not found a date on it anywhere. So, sorry, I don't have any answers for you there.

As I recall, the transmitter cover on mine was nigh on impossible to remove. I was able to get it to come off using a strap wrench, but not without some effort.

In the time since, I've had several other phones where I couldn't get the caps off, especially G1 handsets refurbished with thermoplastic caps(not all that uncommon). In all of the cases since then, I've had good luck first sticking the handset in the freezer, and then using the strap wrench.

Offline McHeath

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Re: AECo Bakelite Era Phones - Manufacture Date Discussions
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2008, 07:11:47 PM »
Never seen an AE 40 in person but they are pretty in pictures.  Looking forward to seeing yours, and that is odd that there are no date codes on it. 

HobieSport

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Re: AECo Bakelite Era Phones - Manufacture Date Discussions
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2008, 07:50:32 PM »
Yes McHeath, The AE 40s are one of my favorites, just for looks.  They seem very well built also.  Mine looks just about like the rest of them in basic black.  No chrome on this baby except the cradle buttons.

Ben,  Just curious, what did your AE40 interior look like when you first opened it up?  I'm really surprised how clean mine is and I don't see any evidence of a refurbishing job.  Really too bad AE didn't date the components like WE and the others.

I suspect mine is a later model, just because of the great condition, but darnit I'd really like to know her birth year!  -Matt

Offline benhutcherson

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Re: AECo Bakelite Era Phones - Manufacture Date Discussions
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2008, 08:48:04 PM »
Matt,
Mine was an absolute filthy wreck when I first got it. Mine belonged to a great aunt, who had, apparently, used it illegally in an upstairs bedroom for several years(the ringer was disconnected)-all in all somewhat surprising since she has several nephews who worked for the phone company.

In any case, I found it on a shelf in her basement after she died, where I would guess it had been for years. The dial was completely stuck, which would be my guess as to why it was taken out of service in the first place.

This same aunt used a single 554 mounted in the center of her house, with a really long handset cord, right up until her death in 2004.

HobieSport

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Re: AECo Bakelite Era Phones - Manufacture Date Discussions
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2008, 08:57:51 PM »
Ben, I got the handset cap unstuck with the freezer method.  But no dates.  Lot's of numbers all over the phone tho.  I wonder if some can be translated into dates.  I'll keep looking and asking around.

Ah, the venerable 544.  That was our family phone.  Black. Black metal dial.  In the kitchen/dining room. 1959-1971. Never serviced.  It might still be there now for all I know.  I'll ask, as I know who lives there.  I still remember our phone number.  Ah...Memories... ;)  -Matt

Offline McHeath

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Re: AECo Bakelite Era Phones - Manufacture Date Discussions
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2008, 09:38:05 PM »
My mom used a 554 in the kitchen as the main phone from 1955 until 84' when Pacific Telesis took it away from her and gave her a 2554 in it's place.  She is of course still using it, still in the kitchen, with a 25 foot cord, as her main phone. 

Speaking of still using rotary phones, I came across a student last week who could dial my rotary phone in class with no problems, first time ever that a student has known what to do with the dial.  When questioned as to how he knew that he replied that they have two of them at home, "with that turn thing on them", one is a desk phone in the bedroom and the other on the wall in the kitchen.  Further questioning found that they have no other phones, no cell phones, no touch tone, just what I assume is a 554 and 500. 

Offline mienaichizu

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Re: AECo Bakelite Era Phones - Manufacture Date Discussions
« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2008, 03:24:08 AM »
someone has offering me an AE40, an ivory colored one, I still did not get it because it is sold part by part, not as a whole

I also want an AE40 for my collection but its hard to find here in the Philippines, mostly AE 80's are available here, and only the black color

Offline Dan/Panther

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Re: AECo Bakelite Era Phones - Manufacture Date Discussions
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2008, 12:12:28 PM »
Matt;
If you are having trouble dating your AE40, maybe she's too old for you, or not your type.
D/P

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

HobieSport

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Re: AECo Bakelite Era Phones - Manufacture Date Discussions
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2008, 12:56:06 PM »
Dan, I thought of giving the AE40 a box of chocolates, flowers, and a pink princess phone.  Dinner and a movie is not out of the question.  I guess I got spoiled with Western Electric where dates were printed. :)






HobieSport

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Re: AECo Bakelite Era Phones - Manufacture Date Discussions
« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2008, 01:52:41 PM »
Well I guess we have the answer:  I emailed Mike at Old Phone Works and here is what he wrote:

"Hi Matt,
You guys are not alone. The AE date code has always been a mystery and it looks like it will remain that way. We have talked to collectors from all over and no one is sure how this worked. We have even talked to former AE employees who did not know. If you ever turn something up, please let us know.
Thank you, Mike"

So that's it, I reckon.  -Matt

Offline pdemming

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Re: AECo Bakelite Era Phones - Manufacture Date Discussions
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2011, 07:41:47 PM »
Hi guys and Gal's (are there any here?), anyway, new to the site.
     I just finished refurbing an AE40 produced ~1953. I know this because the wiring diagram label glued to the inside bottom was printed in that year. But I am curious if anyone has a general idea of when production began and stopped? Also, did this phone ever have the chrome rings on the handset. I think that would really make it look tough. Also, I am having the same problem so many of you have had with the stuck transmitter cup. Theres a cup strap in my future....

Offline jsowers

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Re: AECo Bakelite Era Phones - Manufacture Date Discussions
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2011, 08:18:56 PM »
The Telephonearchive site says 1939-1950s. I would say about 1955 or 56 may be the approximate end date. But they were installed and used far beyond that date. I grew up with one of these as our only phone. It was installed in 1953 when my parents built their house and used up until sometime in the 1970s when we got an AE80, also black.

They had chrome bands on the handset and a chrome fingerwheel sometimes, but in my experience those were the fancier private line models that had straight line ringers (not frequency ringers like ours). Ours was black with no chrome except on the fingerstop and handhold.

They were made of Bakelite and you should beware of cracks in them. They also came in color with gold fingerwheels and handset bands (see link).

http://www.telephonearchive.com/phones/ae/ae40.html

And welcome to the Forum. Yes, there are gals here too. We're all one big happy family.
Jonathan

Offline bushman

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Re: AECo Bakelite Era Phones - Manufacture Date Discussions
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2011, 10:06:07 PM »
Thread Hijack!  Which years did they use the pivoting butlers handles?  I will be looking for one once I finish the shell repair.

Bushman

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Re: AECo Bakelite Era Phones - Manufacture Date Discussions
« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2011, 10:54:22 PM »
I think there was some overlap in production of the AE40 and the AE80. Therefore I think they were still making them until close to the end of the 1950's. So probably a run of almost 20 years.

I guess it was up to each operating company whether they ordered them with or without chrome and where they used each variation. Here in British Columbia I have never seen any indication of a higher rent on the chromed 40's so I have no idea why they ordered some with and some without.

Around here I ssem to find at least 25% of the 40's and 50's with chrome bands and maybe as many as 35%. We had our own shops that refurbished our phones over and over again so mixtures of chrome developed as well. The available chrome options include the two handset bands, the fingerwheel, the carry bar and the plunger buttons.

A guy I work with sticks to the story that he removed some manual 40's from an old hotel in Vancouver in the late 70's that had a chrome piece fitted between the base gasket and the bakelite phone body that rose up each side with slots cut into it at the vents. I suspect he was dreaming it but who knows for sure. There is always the possibility that they were an experimental dress up item from AE (or maybe just AE Canada) that happened to get installed at this hotel and they lasted until an automatic PBX was installed. He "recovered" them (turned them in rather than taking things home like I do) because they didn't have dials. CRAP....

I would speculate that the Buttlers Handles were from the early days. At introduction the 40 didn't have a way to carry them around at all. The two indents in each side by the plungers was molded into the bakelite as a place to put your fingers and squeze to prevent the phone from falling from your grip. There was an early model with completely smooth sides too. Paul might have a picture on his web site?

The earliest 40's had the metal blocks that the plungers protrude through because the hook switch pileup screws into the back of these blocks. Early blocks didn't have the little holes drilled into the side for the buttlers handle but many did have the holes presumably because they originally came with buttlers handles (or they were an option maybe?). The buttlers handles are rarely seen these days because they tended to come out of the holes and get lost.

The final outcome of the quest to build a better handle is the common carry bar that includes the blocks for the plungers. It isn't hard to see that this was an afterthought when you look at it as it awkwardly sweeps backwards from the blocks to allow room to "almost" get your fingers in under it to carry the phone without too much chance of dropping it.

Terry