Author Topic: FrankenPhones AKA the Kludge of the Month Award  (Read 21100 times)

Offline Come in Nighthawk

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FrankenPhones AKA the Kludge of the Month Award
« on: June 05, 2010, 06:04:15 PM »
Another noob' question?  If I may?

I suspect just from my own proclivities that the "ideal" antique phone, the "jewel" in a collection, would have nearly if not completely identical parts.  A W.E. D-1/E-1 combo with constituent parts all made in 1934 for example. 

But almost any surviving phone will not come from the W.E. museum, or have been found hiding on a shelf in the W.E./Bell/ATT warehouse, IYGMD?  The phones we now collect "lived" out here, "in the wild..." with us.  Our grandparents, 'rents, and we, dropped them, sneezed and coughed on them, used them (especially the handsets) as hammers, and even threw them at our recalcitrant spouses (well, before domestic violence litigation became so de rigueur).

"How much" of all the disparity in phone components' dates is "no doubt" the result of haggard repairmen replacing defective/malfunctioning/defunct parts; do we know?  I.E., isn't it "most likely" that an original D-1 dated IV/34 had had a defective 557B replaced by one dated IV/37, and then later have a poor F-1 replaced by one dated 5/40?  Later still, however, a noobie collector may have acquired that D-1 and, to improve it for his/her collection, replaced the dial with a 6A dated 9/54.  But isn't it just as possible that ALL that work was done by Bell-system repairmen, during the "life" of the phone?  After all D-1s were still in service, so I read, as late as the early 1960s?

I'd like to know what others think about that scenario.  But I'd also like to ask, does anyone know how much non-W.E. part-swapping happened in "real life?"  Would a Leich handset ever replace an W.E. E-1 or F-1 handset on a W.E. D-1 mount?  How about an Automatic Electric handset?  Or, an A.E. dial?

Just asking!!!  ;D
 

   

Offline HarrySmith

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Re: FrankenPhones AKA the Kludge of the Month Award
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2010, 06:38:40 PM »
Of course the phones were used and abused by us and our kinfolk. Then they were repaired , refurbished and reused by the phone company. That is why us OCD types (read collectors) place so much emphasis on dates and think a phone with matching dates is so special. From waht I have seen during my short time in this hobby you will find anything is possible. As soon as someone says it did not exist or was never done it will show up! Take for example the 1948 500 just discovered and restored in another thread here, many belived one would never be found! Since you are new I will offer some advice that was given to me when I started: "don't do it" It is addicting and only gets worse with time! But it also a lot of fun and you will meet some really great people!

Welcome to the Asylum!

Harry
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Offline Dan/Panther

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Re: FrankenPhones AKA the Kludge of the Month Award
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2010, 09:20:49 PM »
CIN;
It took me awhile to translate your post, but I get the jest of it.
We've discussed several times before about the dates on phones. From what I've gleaned from discussions, collecting matching dates is a recent phenomenon. Like we've talked about, even a phone with all matching numbers, unless you happen to get it in a sealed box, may in all likelihood not be all matching numbers, as WE etc. did much refurbing over the years, as did collectors.
D/P
« Last Edit: June 06, 2010, 01:21:39 PM by Dan/Panther »

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Offline Come in Nighthawk

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Re: FrankenPhones AKA the Kludge of the Month Award
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2010, 09:49:10 PM »
CIN;
It took me awhile to translate your post, but I get the jest of it.

<snip>

...unless you happen to get it fin a sealed box, may in all likelihood not be all matching numbers as WE etc. did much refurbing over the years, as did collectors.
D/P

Only HALF in jest, honest-injun!!!  ;D 

Well, its what I figured.  Don't get too wrapped around the axle with the matching numbers "thing," and enjoy the little beauties for their own intrinsic worth.  There's a related tread or three here'bouts about watching old films and paying a LOT more attention to the phones if you've been collecting 'em.  I savvy.  I was just watching the five available films of "Michael Shayne" done by Lloyd Nolan ca. 1940-41.  It was hilarious when in one Shayne (Nolan) fakes talking to this dame on the blower when in fact he had already secured the cord from the mount to the subset in his free hand and stepped on the wire, effectively pulling it out of the subset and breaking the connection --- and the keystone kops in the room paying no notice!!!

Umm, howz 'bout the second half of my question.  Would parts from different manufacturers be used to make repairs "back in the old days," like Leich or A.E. parts be used on a W.E. phone, or was that "against company policy?"  Anybody have any skinny on that?

Thanks guys!  :)

Offline paul-f

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Re: FrankenPhones AKA the Kludge of the Month Award
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2010, 11:15:05 PM »
[<snip>
Umm, howz 'bout the second half of my question.  Would parts from different manufacturers be used to make repairs "back in the old days," like Leich or A.E. parts be used on a W.E. phone, or was that "against company policy?"  Anybody have any skinny on that?
I can't think of many cases where the Bell System voluntarily used any set parts made by anyone other than Western Electric, unless they went through a qualification process and were assigned a WE model number or KS number.  With the shortages following WWII, they did permit connection of selected Stromberg, Federal and North sets.  BSPs for them are found in the C32 series (available on-line in the TCI Library or Telephone Document Repository).

However, Graybar and others sold WE phones outside the Bell System.  Once in the hands of independents, anything could happen.  It's certainly possible to find phones with non-WE dials, handsets and ringers that were put there by phone companies or refurbishers and in service for many years.
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Offline Dan

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Re: FrankenPhones AKA the Kludge of the Month Award
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2010, 11:44:13 PM »
I'd say no, different companies didn't swap parts. I saw a yellow WE500, in soft plastic, with an AE dial on it a few months ago. I'd say this was a person swap and not a company one.
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Offline McHeath

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Re: FrankenPhones AKA the Kludge of the Month Award
« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2010, 10:37:54 AM »
You bring up good points Nighthawk about how the phones were continually refurbed and repaired in service and how that makes an all matching date phone rather rare.  Being that said, the collectable value of an all matching date phone is much higher than one with parts from different times.  Also a plastic phone that is painted or re-painted will bring less than one in it's original condition, even if the paint job was done by Ma Bell.  Seems that the usual rules of collecting anything apply for high value phones, original condition of the finish, all original parts is going to be the most sought after and valuable.

That being said most of my phones are Frankenphones to some degree, some absurdly so with parts spanning decades.  I like them all.  Even my new in the box, and I know it was new because I bought it new in 86', Western Electric 500 in ivory is a Frankenphone.  The chassis is all dated 1984 while the handset is dated 1986.  It was not listed as a refurb, but new made, and yet it spans two years of production.  I'd get dinged for that in the market if I ever sold it, but that's the way it came from the factory.




Offline Doug Rose

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Re: FrankenPhones AKA the Kludge of the Month Award
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2010, 11:58:27 AM »
I was under the impression that a Frankenphone is a phone that does not have the correct parts on it. A 202 with an F1 and a #6 dial, I do not consider it to be a Frankenphone. It is a phone that was upgraded along the way by the Bell System with current WE stock. A 202 with a SC handset and an AE dial, now that's a parts phone or a Frankenphone. No one recycled their equipment better than the Bell System. Repairman outside the Bell System were using any parts in their parts box to make a phone work, those are the Frankenphones in my opinion.....Doug
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Offline paul-f

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Re: FrankenPhones AKA the Kludge of the Month Award
« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2010, 01:03:39 PM »
My definition and Doug's are quite similar.  If a phone has Bell System markings, I expect to find all WE parts, even if the dates are mismatched.  A "matching dates" phone is a plus.

Phones with no Bell System markings (W codes), should be expected to have WE networks, handsets and cases, but may have non-WE dials and ringers, as these could reasonably be expected to be sourced seperately by the installing independent phone company.  In fact, I specifically look for phones like the 591 with non-WE parts and keep them as found.

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« Last Edit: June 06, 2010, 01:14:10 PM by paul-f »
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Offline tjmack99

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Re: FrankenPhones AKA the Kludge of the Month Award
« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2010, 09:08:29 AM »
Just curious if the term Frankenphone refers to any phone that is not 100% original dates, OR if it's reserved for phoes that have been modified in ways that are not original to the phone, like with a handset from a different model, etc. If an 1950's phone was missing parts and replaced with parts from the same period, or same year even, is it still a Frankenphone?

Offline Russ Kirk

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Re: FrankenPhones AKA the Kludge of the Month Award
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2010, 10:37:39 AM »
IMHO, the definition may be different from person to person. 

But for me, a Frankenphone is one containing parts from different manufacturers.  I see this quite often in wood phones; a Western Electric transmitter with a Kellogg receiver.

Since WE and other manufacturers rehabbed so many phones,  different dates are not a deal killer. It just shows the phone was repaired or rehabbed sometime in the past.

Russ....
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Offline Dennis Markham

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Re: FrankenPhones AKA the Kludge of the Month Award
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2010, 11:10:08 AM »
Here's a good example that I stumbled upon today.  This Red "Western Electric" model 500 has an Automatic Electric chassis and housing, a Western Electric dial bezel and dial along with a G5 W.E. handset.  The ringer box is thrown in for fun.

http://goo.gl/99CrR


Offline HarrySmith

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Re: FrankenPhones AKA the Kludge of the Month Award
« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2010, 11:54:12 AM »
I agree, the definition rests with the beholder. To some purists any phone that is not as it came from the factory with matching or near matching dates it is a parts phone. To some as long as it is all one manufacturer it is fine, no matter when the parts were made. To the majority that I know of, including myself, as long as the parts are from the same manufacturer and from the same time period it is fine.
Again, you will probably get a thousand different answers to this question.
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Offline Adam

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Re: FrankenPhones AKA the Kludge of the Month Award
« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2010, 01:58:53 PM »
For me, the phone has to be obviously "cobbled together" by an outsider, not the originator the phone, the way Dr. Frankenstein did with his monster.  So, for me personally, a set with non-matching dates is not a frankenphone.

The AE80 with the WE dial above MAY be a frakenphone, but didn't AE offer a kit to allow WE dials to be installed in their phones?  I'd have to see the inside of this phone to determine whether it was truly a frankenphone, if it has the legitimate AE adapter parts, it's possible it originated that way by the phone company that installed it, and I would say it's not a frankenphone.

IMO, frankenphones are the result of secondary market refurbishers or other individuals.  You see tons of these on eBay, like phones that have Stromberg-Carlson shells and ITT handsets.  I personally own a few frankenphones, for example, I bought from eBay a red WE 510 that has a Stromberg-Carlson shell.  Dubious heritage aside, it's still one of my fave phones.
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Offline Adam

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Re: FrankenPhones AKA the Kludge of the Month Award
« Reply #14 on: November 27, 2010, 02:09:44 PM »
Here's a pic of a phone from eBay from a while back which I think is much more obviously a frankenphone.

Notice the AE-style dial, probably from one of those Japanese "french" phone rip-offs, forced into a WE or ITT (it's hard to tell from this photo) Princess phone.
Adam Forrest
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