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Bell System Phone Covers Are Fragile! Careful Removal

So you have been to yard sales, garage sales, an antique shop or in Grandma’s attic and brought yourself home a vintage rotary phone. In this case I’m talking about the Western Electric model 554 the wall phone version of the classic model 500. You’ve decided that you want to clean it up and put it to use. Well one of the first steps is to remove the cover so one can put the cover in a warm sudsy bath or just to take a look “under the hood”. Just like the plastic finger wheels (see my posting on removing the finger wheels just below this article) a cover or case can be damaged by improper removal. Luckily for all of us that The Bell System Memorial again gives a step-by-step procedure, including photos for removing the covers. Although it is so simple, these covers are often forced off improperly causing permanent damage. Believe me it leaves a sick feeling in the pit of one’s stomach when the plastic is broken or cracked at one’s own hands. I recall the first model 554 that I purchased off eBay. I paid way too much for it but decided I would clean it up for my own use. I had applied several coats of polish and had it shining like new! While walking across the room with the cover in my hand I dropped it onto the floor. A rather large piece of the corner broke off. I was able to super-glue it back together but it just wasn’t the same. So be careful with these old phones, but don’t be afraid of them. It is very exciting to bring one back to life and use it every day! As always, if you have any questions about your old rotary telephone do not hesitate to use the “Contact Me” tab. If I can’t answer your question, I can find someone that can.

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