A ringer test was called for, but the 302 first needed new wiring, so I changed out both the line cord and handset cord with reproduction items acquired from oldphones.com. The originals were pretty rough, and the new line cord features a modular jack… high-tech! A look inside the W/E 302 As I expected, the ringer did not ring, nor was there even the slightest quiver from the striker. (”clapper”, I believe, is the proper term) So why wasn’t it working? One often hears about incorrectly wired phones, but given that there appeared to be decades of undisturbed grime inside, I really thought that to be unlikely. Just to make sure, I did some ‘net surfing to find a wiring diagram. Well, one of the first things I discovered is that several variations of the basic Western Electric 302 were produced, resulting in an alarming number of “similar but different” wiring diagrams. I wouldn’t have found this to be a source of great concern if not for the fact that the diagrams didn’t clearly indicate (at least not to my rookie eyes) how to identify the variations. I found nothing that could tell me, with any confidence, which diagram I should place my trust in. Then I had a brainstorm… consult an expert!

As with many hobbies, there’s a lot of nice people within the ranks of vintage telephone enthusiasts. I found one of these folk through a website, Dennis Markham’s VintageRotaryPhones.com. Dennis proved to be not only knowledgeable, but also extremely tolerant of mind-numbingly feeble questions. As it turned out, Dennis suggested that I relocate the red ringer wire to L1, just as one of the wiring diagrams indicated. (just for the record, another diagram showed the ringer wired exactly as mine was!) This change resulted in a functioning ringer and, after adjusting the distance between the bells and striker, a loud one. Thanks Dennis!

All this makes me wonder… why had someone rewired it? All I can think is that someone, probably several decades ago, had the ringer intentionally disabled. Imagine, a time when not only was there no way to control ringer volume, but no “off” switch! As someone who worked nights and slept days for many years, I find that unthinkable. But the simplicity of design is undoubtedly appealing, and today’s phones are, in comparison… crap.

So, as it now sits, “black beauty” has a nice ring, a handset that sends and receives clearly, and flawless dialing. Now it’s time to concentrate on cleaning and polishing… time to turn it from scruffy to spiffy!