Author Topic: Western Electric versus Automatic Electric dials  (Read 2310 times)

Offline zuperdee

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Western Electric versus Automatic Electric dials
« on: April 26, 2010, 08:16:34 PM »
Personal opinion: I think that mechanically, the design of almost all A.E. dials is simpler, more compact, more elegant, and has fewer parts to go wrong than any W.E. (or copycat ITT and S-C model) dials do. A.E.'s ratcheting mechanism is a beautifully elegant and simple mechanism for the wind up compared to W.E.'s moving pulse pawl and governor clutch mechanism, which is noisier than the A.E. mechanism, and has considerably more room for error! (I have encountered at least a couple of cases where the pulsing pawl on the W.E. dials were sticking and failing turn out of the way properly on wind up, causing intermittent pulses on wind-up, and thus incorrect numbers getting dialed. There's no way that could happen with an A.E. dial!)

That said, it also seems like I've found a lot more sticky A.E. dials than sticky W.E. dials, and I'm guessing this may be mostly due to the fact that the front of the A.E. dial is not totally sealed like W.E. dials are. If only A.E. thought to seal the front of the dials, they would have been PERFECT! Did A.E. ever do this, or is there a way to do this? Anyone?

Offline Doug Rose

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Re: Western Electric versus Automatic Electric dials
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2010, 08:47:59 PM »
Zuperdee....welcome to the Forum. In my humble opinion nothing sounds more sexy than the Clickty clack of a WE #2 dial compared to the purr of an AE dial. .....Doug
Kidphone

Offline savageje

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Re: Western Electric versus Automatic Electric dials
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2010, 10:30:02 PM »
I'm with Kidphone on the general sexiness of the WE#2, but would agree that the AE design seems more simple and elegant.  The WE dials seem "over-engineered" by comparison, but you can't argue with reliability.  I've come across some absolutely filthy WE dials that still work reliably, but about half of the AE dials that I come across are sticky and slow until I've given them at least a light cleaning and maintenance.  Hardly a scientific comparison, but worth noting.

Offline Phonesrfun

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Re: Western Electric versus Automatic Electric dials
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2010, 10:44:44 PM »
I have always thought that AE dials were better as far as being quieter and smoother.  The governor is easier to adjust (and screw up, I might add).

I have heard the part about the AE dials being much more susceptible to grinding to a halt with dirt and moisture than the Western dials.

One thing that Western did incorporate into their later dials is the cam that opens and closes the pulse springs, although in a different form than the one on the AE dials.  The AE dial has a butterfly cam that opens and closes the pulse springs.  It has two sides, so conceivabley there could be some unevenness between one side or the other.  From reading the Bell System Technical Journal articles on Dan's trial phone, the Bell System wanted to get away from the ratchet and pawl arrangement that was in place on the #2 through #5 dials.  This meant 10 different lobes to pulse the dial springs and apparently there was much unevenness involved.

Dialing on longer loops was more reliable with very evenly spaced and regimented pulses.

That is why, according to the BSTJ, the new dial with the 500 phones, as well as the #6 dials went to a single sided nylon pulsing lobe which was driven off the gear train.  This single lobe eccentric has only one characteristic curve to it that was applied on all pulses.

So there.  Ma Bell did adapt something from the independants.

-Bill G

Offline JorgeAmely

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Re: Western Electric versus Automatic Electric dials
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2010, 12:14:25 AM »
I agree with Daniel. The AE design seems more refined than any WE dial, but it has some tiny parts and washers that were probably expensive to produce. At the end WE produced a relatively cheap design  (yet durable and reliable) that allowed them to produce them by the millions to satisfy nationwide demand.

 
Jorge

Offline Dan/Panther

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Re: Western Electric versus Automatic Electric dials
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2010, 01:12:40 AM »
I don't like the snap, at the initial return after you release an AE dial. You can hardly stop it if you try.
D/P

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Offline foots

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Re: Western Electric versus Automatic Electric dials
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2010, 04:20:39 AM »
  I like both dials. Matter of fact, I haven't met a dial I didn't like.  The AE dials do seem to get sticky rather easily. Kind of on topic, I think the dials used on the Starlites are really nice.
"Ain't Worryin' 'Bout Nothin"

Offline rdelius

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Re: Western Electric versus Automatic Electric dials
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2010, 10:05:24 PM »
I think Western Electric dials are unnecessary complicated and I think parts were redesigned that did not need to be. Parts were made similar between #4 and #5 dials and #6 and #7 but would not interchange in many cases. Automatic Electric kept the same basic design from the type 24 onward. I could interchange parts from type 24 dials and the dials found on type 80e telephones. Automatic daild and cloned were much easier to modify the pile-ups on and set the timing on
robby

Offline McHeath

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Re: Western Electric versus Automatic Electric dials
« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2010, 01:05:14 PM »
I don't own any AE phones at present, so my only frame of comparing them is the ones I've seen in the shops.  They are quiet, which is cool, but then again the clickity clack of the old WE dials is cool now.  I'm guessing that in the past the quieter dial would have been preferred by most people. 

It is interesting to note that the later WE dials stopped being fully shielded on the back and instead went to a plastic cover that only serves to keep the dial guarded and not sealed.  I have a lot of those dials and they often need some cleaning as they get sticky.

Offline Tonyrotary

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Re: Western Electric versus Automatic Electric dials
« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2010, 01:37:42 AM »
I have one Starlite wallphone and the dial is pretty darn quiet on it.