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Notes on Payphone Locks

Started by shortrackskater, May 21, 2016, 07:15:59 PM

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A lengthy discussion of this phone as purchased can be found at this link on the forum:  ---  This topic contains a discussion of all restoration work done to this phone.


This is my AE I recently bought on ebay (with the Gray lower housing).
I was able to perfectly drill out one screw and right "on schedule" it screwed its way and dropped into the inside.
However, the other screw wasn't so nice. It's hardened. I was able to grab it with some vice grips and start it turning inward. I then had the brilliant (pun intended) idea of carving a slot into it and turn it into a screw. I used the center punch and punched a line, then filed a crude slot in it. The problem is now it binds up inside and won't drop in. I think my mistake was the vice grips probably mushroomed it out a bit. I've tried filing and beating it with the center punch but it just stops.
Ugh... what have I done? Any ideas? I can deepen the grove a little more but really can't get enough torque with my screwdriver.
Mark J.


Can you turn the screw back out so you clean up the "mushrooming"?  It might be easiest to use a Dremel to quickly buzz down the metal.  With a thin cut-off wheel in the Dremel, you could also clean up the slot for your screwdriver.....


It will turn back and I tried filing it down but my files are cheap and don't work too well. I wasn't sure what I would need with a hardened screw. It's unbelievable how EASY the first one was... soft as butter, then it just screwed out like nothing.
I think I finally need to break down and buy a dremel. I also have a decent DeWalt cordless drill but I'm not sure if they make a cutoff wheel that will work well in it.
Mark J.


Quote from: shortrackskater on May 21, 2016, 08:26:50 PM
I think I finally need to break down and buy a dremel. I also have a decent DeWalt cordless drill but I'm not sure if they make a cutoff wheel that will work well in it.

You need the small size and high speed of the dremel with their cut off wheels.

And, a variable speed dremel is better that an on/off type in that slower speeds come in handy for certain things. I had to buy an inline speed control to slow mine down at that was the best money I've spent in some time on a tool.

Stan S

That technique requires a drill press with a large amount of torque. A hand drill won't cut it if the screws have really been tightened even if they aren't hardened. You were lucky that the screws were not really tightened because the phone wasn't assembled by AE at their factory.

Short of buying a drill press, a Dremel tool with a carbide cutting disk is the only way to do it. You cut a slot in the end and use a screw driver to back out the screw.

Your drill will probably be fast enough to use with a Dremel carbide wheel or a narrow grinding stone that comes to a point (also made by Dremel). Grind around THE EDGE of the screw where it mushroomed. You'll probably be able to get it out.

I just received a Dremel motor tool today that I won on Ebay a few days ago Ebay 152093995701. Actually I was looking for an extra drill stand. The Dremel was icing on the cake. I try to have a few of them on hand at all times. I burn out A LOT of them. I routinely check Ebay and buy them if they're cheap enough. Older single speed models can be bought for as little as $10.
Stan S.


Thanks everyone.
I think I'm headed to Harbor Freight or Home Depot tomorrow. I'm too impatient for Ebay right now although I know there's some good deals there.
It's actually loose enough for the housing to move considerable enough to see there's no lid on the cash can. But it's not quite loose enough to get one of my elbow screwdrivers in there.
Mark J.


were the heads stripped, or they just wouldn't turn? next time hit them with some penetrating oil and hit them for a couple seconds with a propane torch. a lot of times that's enough to get them to budge, if they aren't a rusted mess.


This was the back of the screw, that I was attempting to screw to the inside. I had notched the butt end but I "mushroomed" the end when I was pounding out a slot in it. Obviously I've never done this before.
I just bought at attachment and cutting wheel for my drill motor and will try grinding off the mushroomed part , then see if it will screw through and drop in.
Mark J.


I cant say from experience about automatic electrics, but on Western Electric three slots if you take off the back and he cash box is still in it, you have to destroy the cash box to be able to reach the lock screws and get the lock off. is it worth it?


I read on a thread here that it was better to sacrifice the can on on AE, rather than the lock, although I'd still need to have a key made for mine. From what I see so far, my can has no lid on it. I don't know if that makes it easier or not. But from what I read, the "surgical" can removal was the best approach. Later today I'm going to try grinding off the one stinkin' screw that's resisting me and hopefully get it to drop in. Then at least I can remove the back.  :)
Mark J.

Stan S

Assuming you can get the last screw out, the coin can without the locking top will slide out from the back.
You will have to buy a new lock for the vault. Each of those locks had two matching keys. Each lock was keyed differently.


If the can has a lid ,it could be moved to a cheeper lidless one.You might be able to get the lock rekeyed or modified but do not know who does this since Paul Vaverchack died.Note that newer cans for single slot paystations are taller but the lids will interchange


Well, not having a lid will help. You probably can push ot down gar enough to clear the coin box rail and slide ot out the back.


You guys are FAST responders ! Thanks.
There is no lid on the can. From what I read, I did remember that a lidless can would come out, which is good to hear.
I thought there was someone, living, who re-keyed  these? If it's not worth it (I'm not restoring this to original, just working) I'll just get another vault lock like I did for my newer AE. I wonder if the lock is original Gray? Does it matter in value?
I do want to get a coin controller eventually and am in the process of getting the parts I need to make the phone an AE other than the Gray vault and housing.
Mark J.


Automatic Electric 10-L locks (with matching keys)  for the door are getting difficult to find, and will probably cost $35 or  more. So it's probably worth paying to have a key made.

Western 30-C and Northern 22-B (?) locks are much cheaper, usually $15 or less. But they won't fit your AE door.

Stan is correct on this.
Don't know if Dick Pitzer is reworking the locks to work with orphaned keys, but he has suspended operations pending a move. There are Automatic Electric keys available sometimes, if you can find someone to rebuild your lock (the correct way)  to match one of these orphan keys.  I believe Sonny has a few keys (but no matching locks).

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

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