Sunday, April 17, 2011

One Ringy Dingy, Two Ringy Dingies...

A few years ago, I was at a garage sale and saw an old rotary dial phone.  It had been rewired for a modern phone jack and it was only $3.  I bought it and hooked it up.  It had a dial tone, but wouldn't ring when called.  I joined an old phone Yahoo! group and asked for assistance.  Someone sent me a schematic for the phone and I was able to trace the wires to the offending connection.  Someone had wired it to be silent.  Apparently, in the days when AT&T (or Bell) charged you more for having multiple phones, they could detect extra phones by the ringing through the lines.  Anyway, its bells were no longer silenced.


So I found myself at another estate sale yesterday, in yet another basement.  When I had finished looking around, my son asked if we were going down to the next basement.  Sure enough, there was another level below the basement -- the basement's basement.  It was pretty dirty down there and the items were no less dirty.  Tucked under a shelf I found this:


Well, the dial ring was present, that's shot after I removed the dial for cleaning purposes.  After a complete dismantling and a thorough dowsing of soap and water, this emerged.

I like the "Please Answer Promptly" message.  I'm wondering if this was used in a motel.  Inside, I found the date stamp of November, 1951.

It's still wired for the old phone jacks, so I'll need to rewire, but that's not a big deal.  The wire coloring standard in the old phones is the same as current phones.  Simply swap out one at a time, matching colors.  And there wasn't much that could go wrong in these old phones (although there's something that disturbingly looks like a vacuum tube inside.  It's covered by a cardboard sleeve, so it's hard to tell).  Hopefully, with a little luck, it's bells too will be ringing once again.

***UPDATE***

I did get this rewired with a modular jack and it works great, although now that I have VOIP, I can no longer dial out.  There are pulse to tone emulators on the market that can be hooked up to this to convert for VOIP, but I haven't pulled the trigger on one yet.  Also, I discovered this phone was likely used in a funeral parlor, hence the "Please Answer Promptly" message.

1 comment:

  1. wow, great phones! the "Please answer promptly" is worth it ALONE. our old 1930s phone is still going strong, but i unplugged it one day (terrifies the cats, haha) and i haven't plugged it back in yet. never did get the dim volume problem on it worked out. : \

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