Author Topic: Goodwill Find -or- My First Post  (Read 3643 times)

Offline BlankXIII

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Goodwill Find -or- My First Post
« on: November 30, 2011, 01:33:19 AM »
Hi,
     So, as stated this is my first post on the forums, though I have spent a good amount of the weekend gleaning a good deal of information from the site, so let me first thank everyone for the amount of help on this subject that they have made available.
     For a few months now I've been picking up a few random rotary phones that I've run into, and this weekend I finally got around to start messing with them.  I started off with 3 frankenphones in the 500 line.

-  A 1955 591 with a frequency ringer in a black NE case attached to an SC G3 handset.
-  A blacked out date with a sticker next to the blacked out section marked 500DM 7 79 in a tan WE case and a (slightly different) tan AT&T handset.
-  And a SC 554 with internals dated from 68 - 72 in a black WE case with a black ITT handset.

All 3 of these had been rewired to a modular phone line and each had numerous additional issues:  The ITT handset was so loaded with nicotine that it stuck to your hand, and 2 hours of scrubbing with every cleaning product/de-greaser in my house it has stopped being sticky, but you can still see the coagulated light brown nicotine on it.  The tan case was cracked in two spots.  The 591 frequency ringer failed to move enough to make sound even after trying the hacksaw method I found in the forums.  So, several hours later what I'd come up with was:

-  A 500DM (no longer M) in a black NE case with a black/mottled light brown ITT handset.
-  A SC 554 in a black WE case and a SC G3 handset.
-  And a pile of junk.

I'm actually quite pleased with the compromises made as I'm left with 2 fully functional, relatively nice looking phones in different styles.

But there is still that pile of junk...  So, on Sunday I go to the local Salvation Army, dig around a bit and find a Moss Green WE 500 C with an extra long receiver cord split down to bare wire 1/4 of the way down from the matching handset, still with the original 4 prong line cord... for a dollar.  I get it home and open it up to find a full run of 3-69 matched date components.  I chopped the receiver cord cleanly at the break, squeezed the handset retention sleeve (I have no idea what else to call it) off the cut end and slowly forced the sleeve far enough down the coils to allow me to rewire the handset (albeit without the benefit of spade connectors.  Sadly, my house doesn't have a 4 prong phone outlet, so I removed the line cord for storage and wired back in... a modular phone cord I pulled from the basement.  The phone works brilliantly.

But I didn't get to use any parts from the pile of junk...

...So on Monday, I go to Goodwill and on a metal cart waiting to be shelved I find a black metal cased 304 for $20.  The paint is a bit chipped at the cradle, the porcelain ( i think its porcelain) is all but illegible, and the line cord is the same kind of cheap modular fix I just did the day before, but 20 bucks!  Back at home I start to work on it, if by work on it includes several hours reading the forums trying to work out wiring diagrams that don't quite seem to be for the 304.  When I'd first plugged it in it functioned but would not ring.  The line cord was wired red to L1, green to RR, and yellow to GD.  After reading the forums, I switched the green to L2, and got the phone to ring, but now that is all it would do.  After reading the forums and going half blind staring at wiring diagrams, I just start trying the green anywhere... nothing.  But now I have a plan.  I go to a box of random wire in the basement, pull a thin green/blue wire from a box, and with the line green on L2, use the green/blue to jump directly from L2 to RR.  I seal it back up, plug it in and call the house from my cell, half expecting to see a little cloud of smoke puff out of the phone.  It worked!  Completely!  I can even tap dial from the plungers.  Beyond that, while the phone was open, I noticed that all the date stamps I could read (in truth I'm a bit to nervous about removing the dial, with all the problems I've had with the wiring diagram) are marked 9-38 or 10-38, so probably all original.

I tried venting my excitement to my wife, but her eyes immediately started to glaze over.  My 4 year old just stared at me as if I was some sort of alien pig.  So I decided to register to the board and share this overly long, rambling tale with you.

I will post photos of the 304 at the end of this, but I have a handful of questions first...

- How do you remove HEAVY nicotine from plastic?
- How can I tell one sort of plastic from another?
- Are there 4 prong to modular converters?
- How big of a sin would it be to repaint the frankenphones?
- Considering that the 304 is likely original, should I repaint the metal case because of the chipping or leave it as original as possible?
- Is my fear of sanding plastic irrational?
- And lastly, I now have 4 functioning rotary phones in a small bungalow that only has 2 phone jacks, one of which is taken up by a cordless phone with an answering machine...  What do you all do with your collections?  At the moment I'm thinking of installing an extra jack for the 554, putting the 304 on my desk, and making dial cards for the other 2 that say "On Loan from the BlankXIII Collection", and forcibly installing them in the houses of what few of my friends still have land lines (I'm a luddite among technophiles).

Thanks again for all of your posts.  They have been invaluable to me.  And thanks for reading this overly long mess.

- BlankXIII

Hmmm.... I still have a pile of junk next to me...  Maybe I should go to the Unique Thrift Store tomorrow...

Offline Phonesrfun

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Re: Goodwill Find -or- My First Post
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2011, 01:52:33 AM »
Looks like you have had better luck at the thrift stores tha I ever do!

The 304 is pretty nice.  You can get a reasonable dial faceplate on e-bay; they come up every once in a while.  Or you can get a plastic overlay from oldphoneworks.com that will look brand new.

Painting the metal body is a personal call.  Yours does not seem to have much wear, so personally, I would leave it, but I am a lousy painter, which sometimes influences my desire to paint.

-Bill G

Offline Owain

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Re: Goodwill Find -or- My First Post
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2011, 05:56:10 AM »

- And lastly, I now have 4 functioning rotary phones in a small bungalow that only has 2 phone jacks, one of which is taken up by a cordless phone with an answering machine...  What do you all do with your collections? 

You install a PBX, then you can phone the wife on the internal when you want her to bring you a cuppa!

Online HarrySmith

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Re: Goodwill Find -or- My First Post
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2011, 07:51:17 AM »
Hi and welcome to the forum! I see it is too late to warn about "phoneitis" as you are already in the grips! These old phones multiply quickly!
As for cleaning plastic phones I soak all my plastics in hot water and oxiclean, sometime overnight. Most debris will come right off after that. Polishing with Novus will help and sanding is a last resort, it is a lot of work!
The ways to determine WE plastics, "soft or hard" is as follows; tapping on the housing will produce a duller noise on the soft plastics from the 50's. Scraping inside the phone with a fingernail will produce a foul odor, akin to dog droppings.
To test for Bakelite, heat up a pin and touch it to a place inside the phone. Bakelite will not be affected, plastic will melt.
Do not be afraid to take a phone apart, they are pretty simple and straightforward. Take pictures, make notes and your own wiring diagram is what I have done. Also there are many helpful folks here to get it back together again.
Harry Smith
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there is only
do or do not"

Offline LarryInMichigan

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Re: Goodwill Find -or- My First Post
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2011, 08:27:41 AM »
Before soaking anything, cover up any vermillion stamps with petroleum jelly.  Otherwise, the soaking will dissolve the ink.

Larry

Offline Doug Rose

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Re: Goodwill Find -or- My First Post
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2011, 08:52:35 AM »
Looks like you have had better luck at the thrift stores tha I ever do!

The 304 is pretty nice.  You can get a reasonable dial faceplate on e-bay; they come up every once in a while.  Or you can get a plastic overlay from oldphoneworks.com that will look brand new.

Painting the metal body is a personal call.  Yours does not seem to have much wear, so personally, I would leave it, but I am a lousy painter, which sometimes influences my desire to paint.


Welcome to the Forum...I agree with Bill, the paint looks great. Remove the sticky residue with goo be gone. If you want to touch up the corners, Sharpie pen paint works really well...Doug
Kidphone

Offline Sargeguy

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Re: Goodwill Find -or- My First Post
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2011, 12:26:15 PM »
Nice phone, worth a bout $50-75 on eBAy I would think.  304s can be a little tricky.  There is a diagram for a 304/354 at the TCI Library that I use when I get one
Greg Sargeant
Providence, RI
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Offline LarryInMichigan

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Re: Goodwill Find -or- My First Post
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2011, 12:29:40 PM »
I use a Testors brand paint marker for touch-ups.  It matches better than the Sharpie ,and the paint is more durable.  I have found that plastic polish gives a good shine to enamel finishes such as this.  My vote would be against repainting.

Larry

Offline BlankXIII

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Re: Goodwill Find -or- My First Post
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2011, 12:42:36 PM »
 There is a diagram for a 304/354 at the TCI Library that I use when I get one

That's the diagram I was using...  I had helped me to get the phone to ring, but at the cost of being able to talk on the phone.  The differences between what the diagram seemed to be saying and what I was looking at was making my eyes bleed, so that's when I decided to add a wire jumping from L2 to RR and it seems to work fine.  I've been answering calls on it for the better part of a day so far and no problems yet.

Online jsowers

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Re: Goodwill Find -or- My First Post
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2011, 03:15:37 PM »
I tried venting my excitement to my wife, but her eyes immediately started to glaze over.  My 4 year old just stared at me as if I was some sort of alien pig.  So I decided to register to the board and share this overly long, rambling tale with you.

That glazing over thing is quite prevalent. You put it really well. Alien pig--I love that one.  :)

What I use on really dirty hard plastic phones is denatured alcohol. It's a pretty good solvent and will get down into the logos, etc, and get it all out. You can even use a toothbrush. Just don't use it on soft plastic. I'm not sure about Bakelite. I think it should work OK on that, since Bakelite is very durable. If the handset says G1, that usually means it's Bakelite. G3 means plastic.

If you're in doubt, try it on the inside of the housing or handset. If none of the plastic gets sticky or comes off on the towel, you're OK. I think black soft plastic lasted up into the mid-1960s, while colored soft plastic pretty much ended mid-1959 at Western Electric, but places like Kellogg hung on a lot longer to soft plastic. It doesn't always have a noticeable smell. Tapping it is a good test too. Dull=soft and sharp=hard.

Instead of using a 4-prong to modular converter, it's easier to remove the 4-prong plug and just buy a surface-mount modular jack and connect it to the spades on the mounting cord. Then use a regular modular phone cord to connect it to your phone line. The adapters do come up every now and then, but they're cumbersome and not always a good fit.

I agree with the others who have said your 304 looks great without a repaint. It would be great to try and get the goo off it and then polish it. I'm a big believer in keeping things original that have lasted this long in original condition, other than cleaning the dirt and goo off. But if you have something that's just miscellaneous parts, the proverbial Frankenphone, then you really don't have a lot of originality to lose. I wouldn't call a phone that's all original except one part a Frakenphone. Parts from different manufacturers--yes. But one replaced part means it's almost original and you could find that part and make it like new again, like replacing a dial or a cord.

The "pile of junk" one will serve as parts for something else. Get a tote or a box and label it PARTS and you'll be surprised how much you use it.

Also, welcome to the Forum! It looks like you have some good research and writing skills. Don't ever give up on the thrifts, unless you run out of storage space like I did. You can find some bargains out there. That phone for $1 was a steal! I don't think I ever found a $1 phone at a thrift in the five years I scoured all the thrifts in three nearby cities.
Jonathan

Offline LarryInMichigan

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Re: Goodwill Find -or- My First Post
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2011, 04:10:38 PM »
DON'T touch soft plastic with denatured alcohol!  It will dissolve it.

Larry

Offline Wallphone

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Re: Goodwill Find -or- My First Post
« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2011, 04:46:04 PM »
If you have to add a jumper between L2 & RR, according to the 354 diagram, that means that your switch hook contacts GN-R and SL-R are not closing. You might want to check that out.
Doug Pav

Offline kleenax

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Re: Goodwill Find -or- My First Post
« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2011, 08:57:37 PM »

- And lastly, I now have 4 functioning rotary phones in a small bungalow that only has 2 phone jacks, one of which is taken up by a cordless phone with an answering machine...  What do you all do with your collections? 

You install a PBX, then you can phone the wife on the internal when you want her to bring you a cuppa!
Great idea, except I'd be afraid that she would tell me to "Get it yourself"!!  ;-)
Ray Kotke
Recumbent Casting, LLC

Offline GG

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Re: Goodwill Find -or- My First Post
« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2011, 04:54:04 AM »


Hi -

Those yellowish stains are NOT "nicotine."  In that quantity it would make you sick on contact.  Nicotine is used as an insecticide, and it's only one of many compounds found in tobacco smoke.  If a phone is sticky it's not even residue from tobacco smoke but probably from cooking fumes.   And while we're on the subject, if you encounter fine gritty black soot it's probably diesel smoke. 

If you want to try painting metal housings, the color to use is satin black, not flat black (which is basically a primer, and may rub off on your hands even when fully dry), and not gloss black (which will show up every minor imperfection).  If you paint them, let them dry in a warm low-humidity environment: an un-insulated attic in summer is a good example. 

The ringer in your third photo has a problem that will be easy for you to fix.  At the rear (as seen in the photo) you see a little metal finger that's pointing up and at a slight angle.  That metal finger is actually a kind of spring that is supposed to contact the raised portion of the solid piece at the back of the bell coil on the right, when the clapper moves toward the gong on the left.  If you hold the clapper to the gong at the left and use a needle-nose pliers to bend the "finger" such that it touches the raised portion of the piece at the back of the coil on the right, this will reduce the free travel of the clapper.  Having done that, loosen the screw in the center of the left bell gong and rotate the gong until it is just clear of the clapper when the clapper is pointing toward it.  The point of this exercise is to give the bell a clearer ringing sound even though it will not be as loud this way as it presently is.


Offline Wallphone

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Re: Goodwill Find -or- My First Post
« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2011, 12:38:20 PM »
BlankXIII, One more thing, for a 4 prong to modular converter, get something like this.
< http://phonecoinc.com/category.asp?map=1&hhrl=home&group=misc&gorl=group&category=Acc >
Item # 318A or 318B - LH side, 8th & 9th pic down. Unless someone here on the Forum has one that is cheaper for you, $10 is about what they go for on eBay too.
Doug Pav