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Western Electric 6A Dial – Model 354 Wall Phone

As part two in this series of refurbishing a Western Electric model 354 wall phone I thought I would begin with the phone’s dial. After completely disassembling the phone I like to place the parts in plastic containers according to groups. For example all the dial related parts go in one container, the ringer assembly in another, the handset components in yet another, etc. This helps me to keep from mixing screws or losing pieces. Especially on a phone such as this model 354 which I have never completely disassembled. On model 500′s I could throw all the pieces into a big pile and know exactly what each screw does and where it goes. That is because I’ve done it so many times.

With this #6A dial, made in September of 1952, it was working fine before I decided to “fix” it. I know what they say, “…….if it ain’t broke—don’t fix it….” That saying holds true sometimes but in most cases I like to clean the dial parts to free them of old grease, dried or hardened oils, lint, mold or whatever may be inside. Keeping in mind they were used for decades. Wall phones in general may have hung in an automotive shop, in someone’s garage, in the kitchen where hands are often dirty from cooking. There are all kinds of things that can seep through to the dial. Users may have used wet hands to dial the phone or spilled beverages inside. So even though a dial may return OK, I like to give it the once-over—-so that it will work fine for another fifty years.

In the opening photograph you see the dial as completed. This is how it will look assembled in the telephone. The porcelain dial plate is in excellent condition with all numbers clean and bright. This dial plate is known as a “Metropolitan” type dial plate as it has numbers and letters, including the letter “Z” over the Operator. Secondly I have shown what the dial looked like on the back side prior to cleaning. It was actually in nice shape but again, I like to dress it up a bit. Although no one will probably ever see my work, I have satisfaction in knowing it has been cleaned for optimal performance. I have learned some tricks to remove years of sticky “gunk” as well as some self-taught methods of cleaning each tooth of each gear. Some of the cleaned pieces are shown here as well. The final photograph show a view similar to the second. It is as similar view but after work was finished. I plan to assemble a Picasa Web Album showing additional photos and more cleaning tip and information in the near future. But for now I have to get to work on the next section—the ringer bell assembly. The work on this dial from start to finish probably took six to eight hours. Time flies when we’re having fun!

Come back next time for a view of the ringer assembly.

3 responses to “Western Electric 6A Dial – Model 354 Wall Phone”

Can you give more detail as far as cleaning and lubricating the dial. such as which cleaning agents to use, and what lubrication (if any) you use after cleaning?

Hi Bob,

To clean old lubricant from the gears and axles of a dial I use a non-lubricating electric contact cleaner. I buy it from Radio Shack. It’s rather expensive, about $10 for a small can. A little goes a long way. On my Rotary Phone Forum I posted some photos of a #7 series dial showing points where I place a tiny drop of oil. Once the coil has seeped around the axle I use a Q-tip to absorb excess oil. NEVER use WD-40 to lubricate your dial and never put lubricant inside the governor. Take a look at the forum for those pictures. They are worth a thousand words.

By the way I use a very fine machine oil–non detergent oil, like sewing machine oil.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and for posting your question.

[...] them to return slowly.  This is usually caused by the old lubricant becoming “gummy”.  Each time I work on a phone I like to disassemble the dial and give it a good cleaning. Please take a moment to see the transformation of a #6 [...]

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