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and very rarely ever needs repairs, once you fix them." - Dan/Panther

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What Made You Start Collecting Telephones?

Started by Doug Rose, June 06, 2010, 01:51:59 PM

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Quote from: DavePEI on October 25, 2012, 02:53:01 PM
After school was done, I worked with a contractor installing a Strowger switch donated by Automatic Electric to the phone I had graduated from some years before.

Dave unwittingly revealed why he has such an interest in phones in this thread. He graduated from a PHONE!

Sorry Dave, was going to PM you but couldn't resist revealing the truth right here.



I could not help myself.

I have tried 12-step programs and wearing a patch and hypnosis, and to no avail.

It all started when I was 2.  My mother says that instead of a blanket, I carried an extension cord around the house.  It's been downhill since then.
-Bill G

Doug Rose

Quote from: Phonesrfun on November 08, 2012, 01:54:55 AM
I could not help myself.

I have tried 12-step programs and wearing a patch and hypnosis, and to no avail.

It all started when I was 2.  My mother says that instead of a blanket, I carried an extension cord around the house.  It's been downhill since then.
an electric blanket   ;D


The part about the extension cord is sadly true. :)

-Bill G


When I was a kid, my grandmother had a black 500 in her dining room. That was always a very interesting phone to me because we always had push-button phones in the "big city". Several years later, I came across a 500 at a flea market for $4. It was in good shape, but it needed an adaptor or special jack to hook up to our home line. But I never bought any other telephones until several more years after that. I came across a Northern Telecom "Dawn" phone. I recognized the design from a TV show I liked, and so I bought it. I started reading some articles about rotary telephones and happened to find a 5302 at a flea market in Omaha in near-perfect shape. I recognized what it was right away, and for $10, I couldn't leave it behind.

I couldn't help getting deeper into my research of telephones, particularly Western Electric models from the '20s through the '50s (a time period I have a fascination with anyway), and so I became a collector at that moment and soon added a 302, an early 500, a 354, a prewar ivory 302, and a 202 (D1/E1) to my collection, along with a few other minor pieces. I haven't added any new pieces to my collection in quite a while, but a few of my telephones remain in active daily service.


There was an episode of COPS on TV. During a 'domestic disturbance' call, a woman had clobbered her significant other with a phone. I thought back to the heavy telephones of my youth and bought a 1955 WE500 that week. I mentioned this thought to my daughter and she bought me a nice metal 1939 WE302. Now that's some weight! If you hit someone with one of those there would be crime scene tape involved.

A little scary but that's what started this adventure...
"Things are never so bad they can't be made worse." - Humphrey Bogart

Tim Mc

June 2012:  It seemed that we never could tell if the cordless phones were ringing, and by the time we knew for sure and found a phone it was too late and the call would roll to voice mail.  Our only hard-wired phone for emergencies was a Trimline in the basement that barely survived a lightning strike and was made in China.  Not cool.  The final straw was walking into our bathroom and seeing all five cordless handsets sitting there, like a little rebellious army staring at me, most of them with little or no battery charge.  @%$#&!!

It was on.  The plan was to strike back with dependable U.S.-made phones that were both loud and hard-wired so that they could be easily heard and located when called.  A black '67 W.E. 500 like my grandparents had for the basement workshop, a black '60 554 for the garage wall started it all.  Then I got my first 302 for the office desk, then another.  There was no longer any doubt when someone called, but it was too late - I was hooked.  More 302s.  Then a few 202s, 'cause they're cool too, especially with E1s.  More 302s, fixed then sold for even more 302s.  That led to an aqua 554 for the kitchen, a pair of Snoopy phones (rotary and DTMF).  Then a weird 302 - oh, it's a 304You mean there are variations?  Then I thought that it would be cool to have a timeline of every W.E. desk set in black - 302, 5302, 500 with metal fingerwheel, 2500.  Still looking for a 1500 10-button and a B1/101, but will probably pass on an A1 since I like marriage too much.

My last purchase was a manual 51-AL to go with a lonely 2AB dial I had on hand.  I've since learned to deal with my condition and have set some limits, such as that it must have a dial and be made by Western Electric. 

Note:  My uncle retired from Southwestern Bell.  I took apart phones when I was a kid, was a radioman in the 82nd Airborne Signal Battalion, got my degree in telecom and have been working in business for 20 years, so I just HAD to acquire these phones.  Right?  Right.


About a month or so ago, my dad and I were in my grandma's basement. My dad had to sand the edges of her basement door down, so I had some time to look around at the cool old stuff she has held on to for decades. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed, on an old metal file cabinet that had seen better days, was a 1955 Western Electric 500 (Of course, I knew next to nothing about rotary phones then). I picked it up, walked straight over to the basement stairs, sat down and just stared at it until we left. A few days later, the phone was looking better than I ever thought possible. After cleaning, compounding, polishing, waxing, and powder coating, it looked beautiful. :D Since then, I have acquired 11 more phones, and far more to come :P
Christian Petterson

"Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right" -Henry Ford

Kenton K

I've been collecting telephones since I was 14. I got my first one after exchanging some bricks with someone, it was a snoopy phone. I was fascinated on how the rotary dial worked and how mechanical and simple everything was. I love that no matter how tattered they are, there is always a way to get them working again.

Ever since, I've loved telephones and have gotten many more. Then again, I've only been collecting for 2 years.  :D All my classmates think I'm crazy!


Tim Mc

Quote from: Tim Mc on August 22, 2013, 05:21:21 PM
June 2012:  Still looking for a 1500 10-button

I found a 10-button 1500.  It's a 1554, but it counts.  At first I had dial tone and no DTMF out, so I reversed tip & ring (polarity) and the tone pad works just fine now, although the receive may be a little on the soft side.  The handset cord will probably need to be replaced.  The cord is soaking in a mad mixture of cleansers now.  I think this one will wind up in the workroom after I wire up another extension.  My local telco is going to love another ringer on the line.  One more model to check off the list, but then maybe I still need a 1500 desk set? 


You may have a dirty dial contact (y-z) that is muting the receiver, or a defective receiver.

25A3 dial (7-conductor): temporarily move white receiver lead from 10 to R

25W3 dial (8-conductor): temporarily move white receiver lead from 10 to GN.

Mets-en, c'est pas de l'onguent!

"C'est pas une restauration, c'est une rénovation."--François Martin.

Tim Mc

Thanks...I'll definitely use that advice.  I probably won't dive into it until after I track down a replacement handset cord and run some wire from the 66-block over to the wall where I plan to mount it.

Tim Mc

Just to follow up on the 1554 low receive problem, tonight I temporarily moved the receiver lead from 10 to R and the sidetone and receive volume jumped up to normal, so I ruled out a possible defective receiver element.  I took the 25A3 dial pad off and cleaned the all of the visible contacts on the dial, but there was no change in receive level.  The switch hook contacts looked dirty ('Line Switch Assembly' per the BSP in the link above), so I removed the left support bracket to access them and gave them a good cleaning.  All better now.  It also has a new aqua blue handset cord and is in service in the workroom.  Thanks for the pointers!


Tim, I forgot all about the hookswitch contacts! In both rotary and Touch-Tone 500-series WE phones, the red and black contact springs mute the receiver when hanging up, and are the last to open when going off-hook. That way you don't hear the loud click resulting from the DC voltage spike.

So if you run into a low-volume receiver, perhaps the *easiest* first step would be to remove either the red or black hookswitch wire from the network. If you get loud dial tone, then you know to clean the hookswitch contacts. If you don't, then the problem is probably the dial contacts (rotary and Touch-Tone) or the receiver itself.
Mets-en, c'est pas de l'onguent!

"C'est pas une restauration, c'est une rénovation."--François Martin.

Tim Mc

No worries!  Your tips got me motivated to fix it, otherwise I would have left it as-is.  Hopefully someone with a similar '1554 low receive' problem will stumble on these notes in the future.  While our last few posts are more suited for the Troubleshooting Section, fixing phones is one reason I continue to collect.  It wouldn't be as much fun if they all worked out of the box.