Author Topic: FrankenPhones AKA the Kludge of the Month Award  (Read 23588 times)

Offline Wallphone

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Re: FrankenPhones AKA the Kludge of the Month Award
« Reply #45 on: December 05, 2010, 03:09:38 PM »
That same story happened to me a few years ago. I won a real nice wooden wall phone for under $50 when all of a sudden and without warning it jumped out of the sellers arms and tumbled down the steps shattering into many pieces. When I asked the seller to provide some pictures of this "accident" because I might still take it, for some reason they got irate like I was calling them a liar or something. I reported it to eBay but they did nothing. I didn't leave negative feedback because I would have received the same in return. The rules on feedback have changed since then. Have you asked the seller for pictures yet stating that you might still have a need for it?

Offline Dave F

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Re: FrankenPhones AKA the Kludge of the Month Award
« Reply #46 on: December 05, 2010, 07:29:07 PM »
That same story happened to me a few years ago. I won a real nice wooden wall phone for under $50 when all of a sudden and without warning it jumped out of the sellers arms and tumbled down the steps shattering into many pieces. When I asked the seller to provide some pictures of this "accident" because I might still take it, for some reason they got irate like I was calling them a liar or something. I reported it to eBay but they did nothing. I didn't leave negative feedback because I would have received the same in return. The rules on feedback have changed since then. Have you asked the seller for pictures yet stating that you might still have a need for it?

No, it's only a phone, and there's more to life than dwelling on this one unfortunate incident.  I'm just gonna chalk it up to experience and think about the next eBay item I would like to win (and there is one coming up in a few days!!)

Dave

Offline LM Ericsson

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Re: FrankenPhones AKA the Kludge of the Month Award
« Reply #47 on: February 03, 2011, 12:37:21 AM »
I saw a frankenphone at antique store once. It was a Trimline with a stromberg carlson base and a ITT handset
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Offline GG

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Re: FrankenPhones AKA the Kludge of the Month Award
« Reply #48 on: February 18, 2011, 08:21:49 AM »

The following pertains to 1950 and later.  The 302 era is a whole 'nother story...

The Bell System would never willingly have used non-WE parts.  If you find a phone with Bell markings and other manufacturers' parts in it, that was done by an indie refurb house at some later time. 

GT&E stuck almost exclusively with AE in the same manner. 

Indie telcos other than GT&E would of course mix & match freely, as they could have just about anything in their inventories. 

For anything from the 1950s or later where the dials had extended number rings: 

Dials: 

AE 80/90 and SC 1543/1553 were one cluster, all the 500 sets were another.  You may find AE dials on these SC phones.  You won't find SC dials on these AE phones.  You will never find WE-style dials on these AE or SC phones unless a collector did it to confuse his like-minded pals:-) 

Among the 500 sets, dials from any manufacturer could end up on any other manufacturer's phone.  ITT and SC swaps could be fairly common. 

There was a rare adaptor made that enabled putting AE or SC dials on a 500 set.  Not often seen.  I have one example of the adaptor. 

SC made a 500-like housing to "update" the looks of the 1543.  This is lower and wider at the very front than a "real" 500 housing.  If you see what looks like a 500 set with an SC 1543's dial in it, look carefully at the front of the housing.  Think of this as SC's version of a 5302:-)

You may find the late 70s AE dial fingerwheels on earlier AE dials.  These are the fingerwheels that are one-piece plastic but mounted to the dial spindle with one screw right in the center of the plastic disc (without the 4-lug "spider" that AE used in the 60s / 70s).  The number labels for those were self-adhesive.  The way to tell if looking at a picture, is to look very closely for the 4 lugs of the spider behind the ribbed circle inside the fingerholes: if you don't see the spider, it's the late 70s fingerwheel. 

Handsets:

Handsets could more readily be swapped across all manufacturers because they were pretty well compatible all'round.  However, once again, AE tends to stick with AE, and anything 500 (G1 and G3 handsets) may be found on anything 500.

Ringers:  Very rarely if ever.  Transmission networks:  Almost never.  Hookswitches: never, ever. 

Cords:  There were aftermarket manufacturers so you may find cords that differ slightly.  For handset cords, AE handsets will always have AE style cords, 1543 handsets will almost always have 1543 style cords, and G1/G3 handsets on 500s will always have the appropriate cords for those.  Rarely you'll find a G1/G3 cord on an SC 1543 handset, but never on an AE handset unless done by an end-user (the give-away is that the grommet does not fit the hole in the handset shell). 

And of course housings were interchangeable among all 500 sets so anything goes.

---

To my mind the only unacceptable thing is what I call "contrary repaints," where one color of plastic is overpainted with a different color paint.  When the paint wears off with use, you see the contrasting color of plastic underneath, which looks nasty to me. 

Proper factory repaints in the same color as the plastic are acceptable but less desirable than unpainted plastic, because the painted surface is more difficult to keep clean without scratching. 

Mixed dates are OK because these things were designed to be repaired and recycled indefinitely, so the mixed dates are almost like a statement against modern consumer obsolescence.  Ma Bell was the global high point of eco-industrial design, with maximum efficiency of embodied energy & materials, so a phone with a 1950s chassis and 1970s dial and 1980s handset components was an example of how to build something the right way to absolutely minimize waste. 

The term "Frankenphone" was new to me when I signed up for this forum. 

I'd suggest the term "mongrel" for phones with more than one manufacturer's parts, e.g. an ITT base with an SC handset.  This by way of resemblance to the fact that most Americans are "mongrels," with two or more (often four, sometimes more) nationalities/ ethnicities/ races in our ancestry.  That mongrelization helped make us stronger and more vibrant as a nationality and a culture, so you can think of it analogously for phones: the ability to mongrelize was one of the great strengths of the 500 set, and contributed to its longevity.

Online rdelius

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Re: FrankenPhones AKA the Kludge of the Month Award
« Reply #49 on: February 18, 2011, 12:45:54 PM »
here is a real frankinphone
AE dial
WE trans
Federal handset
Oktivia rec
B1mount
Soviet cords and wired in series with no subset
Robby



Offline Brinybay

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Re: FrankenPhones AKA the Kludge of the Month Award
« Reply #50 on: February 19, 2011, 04:22:50 AM »
here is a real frankinphone
AE dial
WE trans
Federal handset
Oktivia rec
B1mount
Soviet cords and wired in series with no subset
Robby

Yeah, what Robby said.  Different dates does not a Frankenphone make, but one with different parts from different manufacturers does.
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e

Offline Sargeguy

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Re: FrankenPhones AKA the Kludge of the Month Award
« Reply #51 on: February 19, 2011, 01:49:23 PM »
I use the term to describe phones that were re-constructed from parts from other phones after its "life" had ended and sold on eBay with the disclaimer "Estate Sale Find".  Western Electric candlesticks are especially prone to this life-after death phenomenon, with the likelihood diminishing with later and later sets.
Greg Sargeant
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Offline rp2813

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Re: FrankenPhones AKA the Kludge of the Month Award
« Reply #52 on: February 19, 2011, 08:58:40 PM »
I'll throw in my $.02 on the subject of issue dates. 

Let's say you have a phone with an issue date on the bottom of 9/53, and that the phone's chassis and related components lack any additional dates anywhere that would indicate it had ever been back to WE for a refurb.   

Open up the phone and inside there is a network block dated 9/53, a dial dated 9/53, but the ringer is dated 8/53.

I have that phone.  It's an example of how a brand new phone set could roll off the line at WECo and not have matching dates.  I also have a similar phone with issue date of 2/53 and network dated 1/53.  Parts inventories were not always in perfect sync and refurbed phones are much more common than untouched ones, so a matching dates phone is a relatively rare find.

I am on the lookout for a particular matching dates phone but also intend to accumulate parts to piece one together in case an entire matching dates phone never surfaces.  I know that if I see that date on the bottom, even if the phone has never been back for refurbishing, it still may not have matching dates inside.

Handsets are another story.  I wouldn't expect handset and/or components to have dates that perfectly match chassis components, particularly transmitters.
Ralph

Offline uuprof

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Re: FrankenPhones AKA the Kludge of the Month Award
« Reply #53 on: March 04, 2011, 01:20:44 PM »
As a very new phone collector, the "Frankenphone" discussion made a big impression on me.  As a collector of vintage bolt action rifles I understand "matching numbers" and "original equipment, " bolt to receiver to barrel.    But I also enjoy rescuing junk from the scrapheap and putting it back together with other "junk" and making something really nice out of it. 

I have a variety of old phones that are just about on life support and will require heroic measures to return them to life. Some transplants will certainly be necessary.  I thought independent phone companies did a fair bit of this, historically,  and that the nature of the components was fairly compatable. Is this considered bad form by some collectors?  I think I would enjoy this a lot more than searching for the perfect original, and since I know almost nothing about them, I have been  counting on the forum members for help.

The phone of my youth is the W.E. 302 and I have some that are begging for a refurb.  This was my first interest in "old" phones.  Actually, they don't seem all that old, to me.

But I also have some gutted old wood wall phones and was thinking about attempting to install rotary dials, etc.. in them.  Is this type of inter-species telephony considered an abomination?  Or would it be considered a way to rescue two old phones, neither of which had any prospect for ever living independently, again. The beautiful wall units produced by Phoneco caught my eye.

I'm just trying to get a handle on the boundaries of appropriate collecting.  Thanks for the forum.  It is a treasure of expertise.

Larry


Offline HarrySmith

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Re: FrankenPhones AKA the Kludge of the Month Award
« Reply #54 on: March 04, 2011, 01:34:33 PM »
Hi Larry :D Welcome ;D
As you probably noticed if you read the entire thread opinions vary about this topic. You are correct, refurbishers both independent and Bell would use whatever parts were on hand. In my opinion whatever it takes to keep a phone from the scrap heap is OK. I myself enjoy taking a non working phone, whatever it may be and getting back to useful however I can. If you have 302's they are fairly simple and I am sure we can
get them all back to healthy working phones.
Harry Smith
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TCI

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there is only
do or do not"

Offline uuprof

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Re: FrankenPhones AKA the Kludge of the Month Award
« Reply #55 on: March 04, 2011, 02:49:10 PM »
Hi Harry,

Thanks for the welcome.  I thought the 302's would probably be a good place to start.  Somewhere (I think on the forum) I read about the "stare and compare" process and that is right where I am.  I did see the great diagrams for 302's, as well.

I am a tinkerer and I don't need to hit a home run every time to enjoy myself.  It is nice, though, when it works. I suppose I will eventually stop yelling, "Honey, I got a dial tone," with each little success.

Larry

Offline GG

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Re: FrankenPhones AKA the Kludge of the Month Award
« Reply #56 on: March 26, 2011, 07:19:47 AM »


Harry & Larry -  I'm with you guys:  do whatever it takes to repair & restore.  Preferably using the same manufacturer's parts, and preferably from the same era, but OK to substitute when necessary.  The main thing to avoid is any modification that can't be undone later e.g. drilling holes to mount add-on components such as mini-networks in WE B1s and D1s.  Also to be avoided, "contrary repaints" where a plastic component is repainted in a different color. 


Online TelePlay

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Re: FrankenPhones AKA the Kludge of the Month Award
« Reply #57 on: April 26, 2011, 10:03:51 PM »
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.





Won a 302 on e-Bay a few days ago and it came today. I had a hunch about this phone and when I opened the case, was pleasantly surprised to discover a complete 1948 302 with all stamped parts dated 9/48. I put pictures up in "the Find of the Month". The e-bay auction is at this link:  http://tinyurl.com/3dtda8u

Nice to have a complete original, and a 302 on top of it.
            John . . .

              

Offline dsk

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Re: FrankenPhones AKA the Kludge of the Month Award
« Reply #58 on: May 14, 2011, 02:42:55 PM »
How "Frankenfone" is too much?
In my opinion a refurb phone is acceptable, it should be OK with normal maintenance, broken parts changed with new ("and better" ??) parts.
This should be OK as far as the telephone not changes style considerably.

Even from some collectors view, the development history and tear and wear should be collectible, it adds some kind of a history to the phone.

What may be too much is what I have done here:



I just have this 554, and have no handset, and cord.  I took what I have, and its working great, and not looking to bad. Now it is a working phone, (it works perfect, and the handsets feels better to hold than the WE handset) Still:
This telephone are not a collectors item, just a working phone.
I see no reason for hiding this.e.g. painting the handset, and using a black cord.
(Its not looking that bad.)

dsk


« Last Edit: May 14, 2011, 02:48:56 PM by d_s_k »

I have even got a regular New York number :-) 646 570 1796

Offline GG

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Re: FrankenPhones AKA the Kludge of the Month Award
« Reply #59 on: May 14, 2011, 11:10:11 PM »


DSK, those photos will probably scare someone around here who has a spare G3 handset to offer as a replacement.

That said, some Ericsson (and Elektrisk Bureau's variant of Ericsson) & WE parts are compatible.  Back in the day, I used spare WE transmitters & receivers as repair parts for Ericsson Dialog PBX phones.  This because the original Ericsson transmitters occasionally went all scratchy, and the original Ericsson receivers (of that type: the ones that went in the Dialog handset) occasionally went dead.  That kind of stuff being standard practice among indie telcos & the interconnect industry at the time.