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Western Electric Model 354 Wall Phone – Part 2 -The Ringer

My current “project” of refurbishing a Western Electric model 354 has brought me to the ringer assembly. Since I have removed all of the components of the phone from the base plate, or chassis the ringer assembly does not escape from being cleaned. From my experience however, I have learned that less is more. As I have mentioned in an earlier posting, I have learned not to disassemble the ringer much beyond removing the gongs in order to avoid causing the ringer assembly to lose magnetism, thus effecting the performance.

Therefore, I clean the ringer very carefully. In this case the ringer is a B2AL ringer. One of the difference I noted immediately is that this ringer has four wire leads. All Western Electric model 302’s that I’ve worked on in the past had only two-wire ringers. The two-wire leads were red and black. The four leads on this ringer resemble the wires on a C4A ringer typically found in a model 500. The second difference are the gongs. Instead of the identifiable brass ringer gongs, these are made of steel. They are numbered 41A and 41B just as the brass versions are marked. When I struck the gongs the frequency (sounds) also sounds similar. I don’t know why the gongs were made of steel rather than brass. *I am researching that fact now and will update the posting when the information is available.

I began by removing the gongs and cleaning them, first in warm soapy water and then with Simichrome polish. The screws visible in the center of the gongs were also cleaned as well as the washers that are below the screws. Since the frame of the ringer is a more porous material, I found that using .0000 steel wool worked very nice in cleaning away years of yellowing. The clapper, or striker was cleaned using the Dremmel wire wheel and Simichrome polish. Each of the electrical wire spade tips were cleaned of corrosion, right down to the original brass finish. The clean spade tips will ensure good clean electrical conductivity.

Finally the gongs are reattached and roughly adjusted to a position that I think will give the ringer the best sound. Final adjustment will be made after the phone is reassembled and ready for testing.

The chassis, ringer assembly, dial, switch hook assembly and switch hook have all been cleaned and are standing by, awaiting reassembly. But first the F1 handset, caps and elements as well as the plastic housing must be cleaned and polished before reassembly can occur. In my next posting I will show what work was done to the handset and the thermoplastic cover. Ultimately I will display the finished product.

I am very excited about how this phone is going to look when completed. All parts of the phone have dates from September of 1952 making it an original. Just wait until you see the F1 handset—it looks like it was made yesterday, not nearly fifty-six years ago!

(Note: I have been informed that gongs were made of steel during the Korean War due to a shortage of brass.)

7 responses to “Western Electric Model 354 Wall Phone – Part 2 -The Ringer”

That’s an interesting bit of history about the shortage of steel during the Korean war.

It reminds me that one of our coins was made of different metal during the World War II years, although at the moment I cannot remember which coin that was…

The shortage during the Korean war was a shortage of brass, however you are correct about nickels made during WWII. Nickels made during WWII (1942-1945) were made of different metals. As a kid I used to collect these nickels. They could often be found in circulation. They had a “P” mint-mark over the dome as they were made in Philadelphia. Here is an excerpt from a web site called Mintproducts.com:

During World War II, nickel alloys became in short supply. To help make up for the shortage, from 1942-45 our standard “Nickel” was struck in a 35% silver alloy! A total of 11 different “War Nickels” were issued. These coins also have the distinction of being the first to use the “P” (Philadelphia) mint mark. They were also the only Jefferson nickels to use a large mint mark above the dome on the reverse instead of the normal spot to the right of Monticello. Each of the complete sets offered here are in choice uncirculated condition and come housed in a custom holder.

This information may or may not be telephone related, but it is interesting. Keep an eye out for those “P” nickels from 1942-1945. They sound differently than a regular nickel when dropped on a hard surface.

I have been eating up these blogs with relish and just wanted to say the thing I am looking forward to most, once my vintage 1930’s Art Deco North Electric phone is modernized……is hearing it ring. I am more excited about that than anything else……smile…….I can hardly wait….

Steel bells were also fitted to these ringers for the few phones made during WWII. The bells on the ringer I have are not bare steel finish however, they are coated in black lacquer.

Thank you for your comment Dennis, I thought that may be the case as I have also run into the bells coated in black lacquer. It surprises me at how much alike the gongs manufactured with different materials sounds so similar.

I recently bought a 1938 WE 302 telephone at an estate sale. It also had black bells. The first one I’ve seen.

I also have a 302 WE with a mechanical adjustment on the bottom plate for ring volume. Does anyone know anything about this? Most 302’s don’t have a ringer volume adjustment.

Thank you Hank for your comment and question. I don’t recall seeing a 302 with the volume control lever but there may be some out there. The 500 look-alike, the model 5302 did use a 302 base and often had a volume control lever on the bottom. Are you certain your phone is a 302 and not the 5302?

Telephone collector Paul Fassbender has a great site devoted to telephones. He has a section on the 300 series sets.

Here is a link that talks about the 300 series telephones.


If you scroll down to the 5300 series you will find information about the volume control lever. If your phone is a 302 it would not surprise me to find one with a volume control lever. Often parts were changed during a factory refurbish or repair.

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