Phone Restoration – More detail

I thought I would give a bit more detail on the restoration process works for these phones.

I do believe quite strongly that these phones are more than just smart and stylish objet d’ art – which of course they are! They were designed to be used and I think thats the way they should continue to be used. It is with that thinking that I restore them to full working order. I then test them in my home and ensure that, not only do they work, but they are a pleasure to use.

On saying that though, its fair to say that if you spend a lot of time dialing international numbers then using a mechanical dial may be a bit of chore – well it is – but if you want to dial a quick 6 digit local number then its fine.

The tactile response from the dial – the noise of the return, the gentle clicking and the feeling that each number actually means something, holds you in anticipation of hearing the ringing tone – You got it right!

The other thing is purism – you can keep it. Some people hav a view that only the original phone will do – or its not worth having. I don’t subscribe (sorry radio 2 pun there) to that. Most of these phones have been through a number of iterations. Different handsets, cables, dialers – well thats what makes them interesting. The components that they are made from are robust. Certainly the phone in this article would have been made in the 1930’s but it would still have been used in the 70s. So even though the phones that I buy initially may be hybrids of time – thats the whole point. ts not just about collecting and putting the darn thing in a box – its about having it on your desk or in your home – a live, functionary thing with a history to match. You probably wont know what – but just think of the calls that would have been made – and by whom. Love it!

Works for me anyway.

Initial Analysis.

The 200 and 300 are quite simple to fix up – it all depends on the amount of damage of course. If the bakelite is chipped or cracked, then normaly I would simply dispose of that part- mainly because its very hard to repair Bakelite of any kind. I’m looking into various ways but so far its a case of finding a replacement part. Most commonly I find that that electrical compoenets are fine – they need a clean and perhaps a little WD40.

The most common damage is the base. The base component tends to get chipped – the part beside the drawer. I assume this a small design weakness since the bakelite is curved at that point. The drawer part is used of course and that may explain why they get broken. The cases themselves can get cracked – just between the base and dialer. Again this seems to be a bit of design flaw – where the bakelite is thinest. Best to just get rid of it – it may look alright but if you want it to look good, then the bakelite should be intact.

The plunger mechanism is the next thing to look at. Thats the part that the handset will rest on. Its made from bakelite and metal and is usually intact with little damage. I normally remove this and clean all the components springs and ensure that it actually works.

Then we can check the electrics. Since this is hidden away, not much damage is common and I just make sure the inductor works and that the wiring loom looks ok. The whole thing can be taken out and replaced anyway.

The dial always needs attention and depending on the state of the damage, you can send it away for repair or replacement. This fellow will sort you out for that – http://www.theoldtelephone.co.uk – thats the best supplier I’ve come across for everything else.

OK, so now we look at the handset. Usually the most worn and if its chipped or cracked – get some replacement parts. eBay is usually fine and you can get what you want. There is an option to replace the carbon-granule microphone. Sometimes I do this – but if the carbon mic works – then why bother. Its a pretty sold bit of technology. I might replace it with a newer one. Electronic microphones are available – but its a bit of a lash up with bits of foam and the like. They do work well though.

Then the time comes to rebuilding everything and putting the line cord in. I make these from black phone wire. Sometimes I will do an rj45 connection – this means it will work in Ireland or the US without a BT converter. If its for the UK market then either its an RJ45 with a BT conversion plug or just a straight BT plug. Its all fairly simple to arrange.

I then make sure the cables are rock solid on the handset and the main case. The time is then to test its all working.

Assuming all is well, the phone is polished using GPO bakelite polish. You can get this on eBay. The phone is plugged in and the first number I normally use is the speaking clock. I then call my mobile and leave a message – that lets me know how good the quality of the mic is. I may choose to replace or put in an electronic one if the carbon-granule one has lost its quality.

So there we have it – a pretty nice item – I usually put it in the house and then use it from day to day. Any issue will come up and these can be resolved before it gets a final clean and then ready for sale.

I normally need to replace the cord on the handset and for 200 series, I think the original GPO cloth cord is perfect and looks much better.

Now the obligatory pictures. This is how a phone thats been sitting in an attic or shed looks like when they arrive:

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The next stage is to dismantle and check all the components – this is a view from underneath – with the base removed. Note we can see the inductor, the dial and internal wiring. Its all quite accessible.

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This is the base – you can see the wiring diagram for the phone. I always liked that fact!

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The dial – I think the heart of the phone and the thing that makes it a functional device. These things were pretty well made but you need to make sure its in 100% condition – to last for the net 100 years at least. I do have pulse to DTMF converters so that when BT eventually do away with pulse dialing, these babies will still work.

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The case on its own – check for cracks and chips and make sure the cradle and plunger mechanism is cleaned and oiled.

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Reassemble and connect all wires. This is how is should look now!

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