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Bakelite Repair Advice

Started by AE_Collector, October 24, 2010, 10:04:37 PM

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Seeing where this thread was going (bakelite repair) I forwarded it to Barry Collins and asked if he had time to show us some of his work. Hopefully he will get the time to show us some pictures of his work and techniques "between phone restorations".

Several years ago Barry sent me a quick pictorial of a bakelite repair he had done and I was amazed. This would be a worthy phone to restore as while there do seem to be a surprising number of AE34's around, this is only the second one I have seen with the hand hold lift area in the case.

Barry is phone-sweep on ebaY

Thanks Barry,


EDIT: Since this thread was split away from a previous thread I've copied two pictures of Dave F's broken AE 34 into here as a reference. There is a link to the previous thread at the top of this post.



Doug, Terry:  thanks. :)

Terry:  I still have a copy of that post and I'll repost it here:


An "Ebay special" with a chipped and cracked corner conveniently left out of the listing photos (is everyone on Ebay a crook?).  This time it's a 684 Ringerbox:

Did you see the crack?  Right here?:

The crack must be removed.  To do a repair, the crack must be turned into a chip.




Need a "form".  Cut up milk jug plastic and electrical tape will do:

Eye of newt:

Wing of bat:

Mix it all together.  Add hardener.

The 1st "pass":

The 1st pass filed/sanded:

The 2nd pass:

The 2nd pass filed/sanded:

Just a few more passes to try to remove the remaining imperfections and air bubbles.

File, file, file.

Sand, sand, sand.

Buff, buff, buff.


On the wall block:

"Oh, yeah?  What's the inside look like":

A Kellogg spitcup that's seen better days (before):


A big thanks to Chuck Richards for the technique....


I might add, I used to add powdered bakelite into the resin but I don't anymore.  I came to the conclusion that I really don't need it.  The resin alone leaves a shinier-than-the-bakelite finish but the tradeoff is that is adheres better.  Also, frequently there would be air bubbles that would surface on the resin while it hardened and would detract from the finish.  I now use a small Dremel fitting to drill into these tiny spots and then refill with more resin.  Don't know the name/number of th Dremel fitting but it looks like this:

You can control the drilling a lot better with this than a regular small drill bit.

More later.



Also, another thought is that I would have handled the running crack on the bakelite ringerbox differently (that post was 5 years ago and I was still learning).  Today, I would grind into the crack with a Dremel reinforced cutoff wheel and then fill with resin....

Man, why does the text start bouncing around when typing into a full reply box?  Is there a fix for this?

Doug Rose

AMAZING!!! Its Magic. I have never seen anything like it. Dave's AE 34 is not dead yet, simply amazing....Doug

Dennis Markham

Barry, Welcome to the Forum.  Thank you for your posting about the Bakelite repair.  Makes me want to run out and get everything and start learning.  It's amazing the transformation that you made on the ringer box and the spit cup.  I look forward to learning more about it.

As far as the cursor jumping, we had complaints of that a while ago.  I think it turned that it only happened with certain versions of Windows or browsers.  I will research the problem again with Simple-Machines (the software for the Forum) and see if there is a cure for that.  Sorry for the inconvenience it causes.

Kenny C

My text is half off of the screen
In memory of
  Marie B.


As for the cursor jumping, and if you are running Windows Internet Explorer, you need to set this website for "Compatibility mode".  Once set, it will stay set on whatever computer you are on.  It works great for me.  The compatibility mode icon is the little broken page icon right next to the refresh arrows up in the top toolbar.  You can also go to IE help and find it there.  I have found that using compatibility mode on some other websites makes them a little tamer too.

-Bill G


Here we were learning about bakelite repair thanks to Barry and I've now (hopefully) solved my jumpy cursor problem! I thought it was just me or my computer and never really knew how to begin to describe what was happening so I never bothered to ask.

I'm the type that posts something and then goes back  about 8 times fixing typo's and expanding upon (or deleting) what I've said. That is where it would become like typing in the dark! Drove me nuts! Thanks to Barry for asking and Dennis / Bill for "splainin".


Dennis Markham

Thanks Bill, I thought we discussed that in the past and that we concluded some browsers caused the problem individually.


I just did a quick "test" modification to my last post after clicking the compatibility mode button that Bill mentioned. I only ever had the problem when modifying an existing post. Early reports are that it has solved my problem. I'm using what ever version of "Internet Exploder" (IE-8 I think) that comes with Office 2007 on this computer.

Dave F

Quote from: Kidphone on October 25, 2010, 03:24:35 PM
AMAZING!!! Its Magic. I have never seen anything like it. Dave's AE 34 is not dead yet, simply amazing....Doug

I'll second that -- AMAZING!!

Is the dye a Bondo product as well?  Are these standard items available at places like Pep Boys?  If not, where do I look for it?


Thanks a bunch for the tech support on the "inverse typewriter effect".  I'm using IE8/Windows 7 - I'll try the  compatibility mode ... It was driving me nuts..

Dave: The black dye is made by Alumilite Corporation of Kalamazoo, MI.  You should be able to get some here:

You probably only need 1 oz. of the black.  I've been using the same 1 oz for the last 5 years...

Here's a photo of my usual setup for bakelite repairs (finishing tools not included):

I'm using the Bondo resin in a can these days (Wal-mart, auto-parts store).  Tube of hardener is next to the can.  (What is not shown is that I usually transfer some of the resin into an empty plastic Coke bottle so it is easier to pour).  Bathroom cups/paper plates/toothpicks (grocery store) and popsicle sticks (ebay, art supply).  I usually add a tiny amount of resin into the cup - just enough to barely cover the bottom of the cup - and then dip a popsicle stick into the bottle of dye.  You don't need much dye at all - a drop at most.  Mix well.  At this point, you've got a tiny batch of blackened resin in a cup that is awaiting the hardener.  Make sure your pieces to be repaired are cleaned, ready to go and nearby.  Now, the hardener can be frustrating as the recommended amounts never have worked for me.  Not sure why but I tend to think the black dye has a neutralizing effect on the hardener.  Therefore, the less dye you use, the less hardener you will need.  About three drops average  of the hardener is what I use.  Too much hardener and the resin will bubble and not enough and well, the resin never solidifies.  At any rate, if your resin and dye amount is what I put forth above, then about 3 drops hardener ought to do it.  Add the hardener and mix well with the popsicle stick.  Now, you've got about 5-10 minutes to apply the resin and it will be runny.  For filling large areas, I apply the resin with the popsicle stick.  For small fill areas (fleabites), I apply the resin with a toothpick.  For something in between, I'll break the point off the toothpick and use that.  Let dry and cure for 24 hrs.  Sometimes a chip will need two or three "fills" before it is ready to be sanded on.  The resin is runny (at first) so some chips need to be "stacked" with resin fills.  You will need to position the piece to maximize the fill and keep the resin from dripping away.  After about 3 hours or so, the resin should be solid.  If not, it probably won't make it so you have to scrape off the fill and clean the piece again and add more hardener the next time.  (Side note:  A paper plate and a popsicle stick are a great way to mix JB Weld if you ever use that product).

Upon further research, the little specialty Dremel bit I referred to in the post above is called Dremel #125 (ebay).  If you noticed in the ringerbox repair above, the resin finish at one point looked like it was "salted" with white specks.  If you take this Dremel bit and drill into each little salt speck, you can remove them and then refill these larger holes with more black resin applied with a toothpick - like one drop per hole.  Then sand and buff.  Repeat until all the specks are gone.  On small fills, quite often this step is not needed. 

I think bakelite repair really works best on chips, small fill-ins, short cracks.  Chipped handsets, mouthpieces, spitcups, ear and transmit caps etc, all work well for these quickie fill-ins.  Just fill, wait 24 hrs for the fill to harden and cure, and then sand and buff.

Dave, your phone is umm, very challenging.  It is by far the toughest repair one can do.  The housing can be reassembled well enough but that detailed area around the vents will probably never be quite the same.  If I were attempt it, step one would be to be to super-glue the big parts back together taking care everything is properly lined up.  Maybe use a clamp like this:

Try a dry run with the clamp and see if it will work.  If not, you'll have to manually hold the parts together for a couple of minutes till the Superglue takes.  The way I Superglue bakelite (and plastic) is to put a liberal amount on both pieces and then stick them together, quickly wipe away the excess (which leaves a smear but needs to be done) and then continue holding.  After a minute or two, you can let go.  Bakelite soaks up the superglue so having too much is better than not enough.  Give it max 24 hrs to cure and then you can sand away the smear marks with some 600 grit sandpaper.  At this point, you could buff the housing with PBC (plastic buffing compound) and call it done.  If you want to address the still visible crack, then you'll need to break out the resin.  (Side note:  Supergluing plastic works really well.  There's almost enough exotherm from the superglue to "weld" the plastic.  Not quite welded but it's close.  If it is done well, it will look more like scratch than a crack after you're done.  Same procedure - sand and buff the finish.  I've repaired many a 302 cracked corner this way).

More later.


Dave F

Thanks for all the great info Barry.  It certainly has got me thinking about the possibilities!


Dave:  To further add to this, TBH, I've only attempted  major bakelite repair a couple of times.  Once on a Type 32 ringerbox base - the bakelite base was cracked in half - and another time on a AE40 that had a huge crack across the backend .

My technique in both cases was to take a Dremel with the reinforced fiber cutoff wheel and grind into the crack about an 1/8" deep essentially making a little gully down the length of the crack.  Fill with resin and then sand and buff.  It removes the crack but you're left with a kind of a strange, shiny seam.  Here's how the AE40 turned out after doing this:

Now, a couple of things about this picture:  It really didn't look that bad in real life.  I purposely showed it in a bad light (and digital cameras are terrific at this) because I sold this phone on eBay.  I mentioned the repair in the listing and I didn't want the customer to have any illusions about the repaired housing, i.e. I didn't want the customer to be shocked about buying a phone with a repaired housing.   In real life, at first glance, you don't notice the repair but if you examine closely, it becomes apparent.  You mentioned you might consider coating/painting your AE34 housing and this would, of course, further hide the repair.

One other thing that needs mentioning:  When filling a gully,  after the resin dries, you can actually pull apart the bakelite pieces on the opposite side.   Imagine a welder welding two perpendicular pieces of plate metal.  If the welder welds just one side, the perpendicular plate will lean mightily in the direction of the weld.  Therefore, good welders know to tack the backside in a couple of spots to prevent this from happening (or alternatively welding one side and then the other).  Same thing goes for bakelite.  If possible, grind out and put a couple of resin "tacks" on the inside to hold it in place.  This is why I suggested supergluing the pieces together as the first step - it should help keep this from happening.



I should mention that this is the extent of my technical knowledge on bakelite repairs at this point in time.  If there are other, better ways of doing things or if science comes up with something new, I would love to hear them.  Today's basket case might be fixable with tomorrow's science....

If you have some success with repairing bakelite, it will change the way you look at auctions....  For example, a 302 phone with a big ol' chip in the handset might turn off a lot of buyers.  I see the chip and think, "no problem"...  ;)