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Rotary Phones Affected by Environment

I have often acquired telephones that were really put to use over the course of their lifetimes. There are clues that give an idea as to how roughly it was handled and in what environment. Some have deep grooves in the plastic below the finger wheel where a sharp object was used to dial the phone, some have bent “ears” where the handset was banged down hard. With a particular Western Electric model 500 that I’m currently working on, the clues point to a moist environment. There clues here were obvious—corrosion.The dial returned very slowly, or wouldn’t return without a little assistance. Once I opened it up the reason was obvious. The dial gears were not only gummed up from an attempt to oil or grease the gears but there was also some rust and oxidation of the brass. With a little patience and detailed work I was able to bring it back to near original condition. It takes some time though to do this type refurbishing. I probably spent the better part of 2 to 3 hours working on just the dial alone.

The dial you see here is a series 7D manufactured in December of 1955. It has a color code of -3 which is the Western Electric color code for black. In fact this dial is on a black model 500 that is dated January of 1956. So the dial itself came from a batch of parts still used for assembly in January of the next year. The dial is now working smoothly and quietly just as it would have over fifty-two years ago. Now it is time to work on that ringer…………….

Join me next time when I will talk about the ringer bell assembly with an important tip on how NOT to damage the ringer of your Vintage Rotary Phone.

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