W.E. 302 RingerYesterday I was in a discussion about all the information that can be drawn from the various types of website statistics programs. Most “webmasters” (I hate that term) are familiar with one or more of these statistical generators, Webalizer being one of the more popular. These programs, typically run/updated daily, show the number of visitors and “hits”, as well as where the visitors came from. The volume of data they compile is staggering. Much of it isn’t of interest to the average guy that operates a modest personal site, but one part that I personally attach great importance to is the “search strings”… the words and phrases that people typed into their search engine of choice (usually Google) that ultimately sent them to my site. I’ve studied these search phrases for years on my other websites, and it has helped me to groom the content of the sites to more accurately address the things that my visitors seek. ClassicRotaryPhones.com is new, but has been quickly indexed by Google. What do you suppose people are looking for when Google sends them to this site? It’s invariably something along the lines of “my phone won’t ring”. As you may have read in a previous post, I’ve recently dealt with that issue myself. Perhaps this is a good time to address the subject in greater detail…Malfunctioning ringers are a common ailment of old telephones, which is somewhat curious given that they’re practically indestructible. Nevertheless, electro-mechanical devices can suffer various indignities in the decades following their manufacture, many succumbing to the careless tampering of a previous owner/repairman. I will take a moment now to remind everyone that I’m not an expert. I could enter a lively discourse on the validity of information on the internet, but I’m going to just say that, as with all “webmasters”, I’m just someone sharing their opinion. Some are experts, some are not. I’m not trying to pass for an expert, but I still might be able to help. That’s it for the disclaimer! So what’s keeping all these phones from ringing? If the phone is making a sound, but not the authoritative ring one would expect, the odds are strong that the problem is mechanical in nature. The quality of sound that emanates from the ringer is dependent upon the spatial relationship between the clapper (the striker) and the gongs (bells). Ideally, the clapper will not quite contact the gongs when moved (by hand) to the extremes of its travel. Something like a 1/16th” clearance is about right. This spacing can be adjusted on the Western Electric Model 302 by loosening and rotating the gongs. (Clever, those W.E. folks, drilling the mounting hole in the gongs off-center.) The model 500 was the first W.E. telephone to have adjustable volume… you did try adjusting the dial on the bottom, didn’t you?
But what if your phone isn’t making even the slightest sound? Remove the housing (the body of the phone) and, using your cell phone (newfangled things…) call the number your old phone is connected to. Note: Look at the ringer, but don’t touch, as the current passing through the ringing phone can deliver a nasty shock. Watch for any visible activity. Is the clapper moving, even a little? If it isn’t, then your phone is probably suffering from the most common malady to inflict non-functioning ringers… it is wired incorrectly. Wiring diagrams for the various vintage telephones are plentiful on the internet, and I hope to compile them here one day, but in the case of the W.E. 302 we need be concerned only with two wires…black and red. Black goes to “K” and the red wire goes to “L1″. In the case of my phone, the red wire went to “GND” (ground). I can’t say why so many ringers seem to be disabled in this fashion, but I suspect that many were purposely disabled by, or on request of, the subscriber. I hope this got you going!