Originally Posted by garyd9
snip I guess it's kind of like saying you are "dialing a phone number." (There aren't any dials on our phones anymore. I haven't even seen a working rotary dial phone in years...)
OT, but I can't resist. At 17 yrs. 9 months old, post high-school graduation, I began working for Central Telephone Company in Las Vegas, Nevada as a "Telephone Repairman" in the Warehouse shop where "disconnects" were returned each day by the "Installers" (like my Dad who was one at the time) in 4' square x 2' deep bins that road in their truck all days as they went about town installing "new" phones and removing the devices left behind by former tenants of the apartments/homes of the new tenant.
The majority of these units were in pretty bad condition. What makes this interesting (I hope) is that mine and 11 other mens' job was to refurbish them, and then have them tested by "quality control" and pass the standards of operation expected of a BRAND NEW UNIT.
Now, that doesn't sound all that bad until you take into account that all the transmitters, receivers and networks and dials had date stamps for the month and year that they were made. I was 17 (seventeen) years old.
So were most of these same components. Nearly 80 percent were made in 1953, and they still worked like brand new. The transmitters and receivers were easy to get rid of if they didn't perform well, just hit the diaphragm with a blast of air, which would ruin it, and you could turn it in for a new one. But, dials? Nah, that aint happening.
If you are old enough to remember the plain old, standard residential desk phone, model # 591 with a rotary dial, then imagine what they looked like after 6 months to several years after the "telephone man" installed it.
If it wasn't black, any ball point pens, marking pens, or house paint used anywhere near it, was probably stained into the "coil cord" (from handset to phone base) or "line cord" (from phone base to wall outlet) unless it was a "wall mount" model. To reduce costs of replacing every cord, we had to, by using many creative techniques (including surgical excising with a razor blade) remove the ink, paint or stain and reuse the existing cords. Doesn't sound challenging? Ok, after you cosmetically renewed it, now, recoil the handset cord and remove all the knots, and make it look like new!! Right!
Handset and phone base housing surface appearance. Well, you can only imagine the abuse a phone used to get, and amazing, survive. Beating the wife with it, throwing it at the wall or floor, you get the idea. The plastic is actually really strong, if it is new enough to be made of plastic. Many were made of a substance called "bakelite" and very hard and very strong some kind of material that probably has a half-life longer than plutonium 235. But very difficult to recondition, so in most cases is painted, even if black it's painted black to cover scars you can't buff out. Oh?I forgot to mention "buffing"? Silly me.
Plastic buffing is done on a machine in, you guessed it, "The Buffing Room".
Take a box of disconnects to your desk. Fish out 5 phones and untangle all cords and place the units upside down on your bench. Grab the air-powered screwdriver hanging in mid-air on a spring and coil-cord affair, and remove the TWO screws that hold the "housing" to the "base. Now, flip them all over and toss the housings to one side, grab the driver again and disconnect all handsets, then all line cords. Toss each into a plie of their own, then remove all "dials" from the "bases" and place them in a pile on the shelf between you and the guy next door, and move the "bases" to the floor. Examine each handset and coil cord for condition and determine what each needs and sort them into piles accordingly, and do the same for the line cords. Grab 5 more from the bin and repeat. Do this for 40 phones because Jesse Jones, the Plant Manager and his assistant have determined that is the current quota is what each man has to produce each night, regardless of the condition of the units in the bin he got from the warehouse. Hey! It's 1971, you're 17, married, it's a good job and you are being paid $5.10 an hour PLUS a $.25 per hour shift differential for working second shift, you have membership in I.B.E.W, Int'l Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (oddly NOT CWA, Communications Workers of America), so, Suck it UP, buttercup!
The "Buffing Room! Thank God for accidents!! There is a 7000 RPM Electric driven, 14" Buffing wheel of cloth, upon which you thrust a brick of, Red for ROUGH or White for FINISH, Jewelers Rouge, 2"x2"x14" upon this wheel, which sprays that crap everywhere, then buff the scratches, gouges and wear marks OUT of the surface of the handsets and housings. For those who know what the base housing looks like, imagine this;
Hold the housing in your right hand by the area that the handset rests in, called the handset rest, where you place the handset when you "hangup" the phone. Ok. the area that gets a lot of scratches, and is most visible to the customer, is that part right below where the dials sits. there is a very small area there with a very large hole above and a difficult angle of approach to this 7000rpm flesh-eating monster. Yep, 9 days into the job, the monster got the to of my right hand, the entire area of the "web" between the forefinger and thumb up to where the thumb connects near the wrist. I a heartbeat, a layer of flesh removed and replace with dirt and white Jewelers Rouge. Oh, yeah the housing suffer several nasty gashes, scratches and deformation that rendered it useless.
I, on the other hand (no pun) was considered bright enough to be kept on the job, on night shift (Yes! keep that $.25 per hour) and given temporary (it became permanent) assignment to the "Special Order Bench" working on Operators Headsets (the clunky old, heavy, painful to wear crap, as the fancy-schmancy, Plantronics "Starsets" were brand new and damned few) , Keysystems and building "Fight Phones" for sporting events held in Vegas. Basically, a fight phone is a standard desk phone that has had connectors/adaptors/relays wired to its' internal network that allows a Radio or TV Journalist/Reporter to give a live broadcast from the event with a "feed" from the locations live audio, mixed with his audio and sent to his studio somewhere in America or across the oceans, and hear the studio he is broadcasting to and the live feed at the same time, all in his handset, with volume controls for each feed. What's the big deal you ask? This is all analog, switches, relays and potentiometers. Not an IC or digital chip in sight or even on the horizon. At that time, a simple NPN or PNP transistor, was the same size as the visible part of an eraser on a #2 lead Pencil.
Anway, Dials. We had to first clean them with a FREON based aerosol degreaser. Yes! FREON. This **** was not only a great degreaser, but very effective at freezing and killing the infestation of COCKROACHES that very often came swarming out in every direction from within the housing of a phone when you removed it. Grab a can of this and attack the swarm, and your bench would be covered in frozen-dead roaches of all ages in a matter of 30-60 seconds. Today, the EPA would arrest, fine, incarcerate and forget where they put you for allowing even a few seconds of that marvelous stuff to escape into the atmosphere. God, I miss that fantastic cleaner. It would clean anything off of anything and leave a frigidly cold, greaseless, bare surface dully, but dry in a matter of 5-15 seconds. The only thing it would not clean is ink from a coil or line cord. But the trade off was well worth it on the dials and roaches.
So, the dial is clean. Now you take a syringe, yes a plastic syringe, a little bigger than insulin type, with about a 18 or 22ga needle, full of very light machine oil, and sparingly apply some to the gears in the dial assembly. This is of course to reduce wear, but for us, it was mostly to quiet the dial, as that is one criteria to pass quality control. The other criteria is the speed of the dial. It should pulse 10 (ten) times in 1 (one) second. So, You play with the governor so that if you place your finger in the "O" and run it all the way around, then let go, it should return to the end in the space of about 1 second. Or, close to it. Give or take a pulse, plus or minus.
Quality control had a machine every unit was connected to and tested for dial, ringer (I won't go there) handset receiver and transmitter, and then eyeballed appearance (very subjective).
If it didn't pass, you fix what they said it needs. Welcome to working for a living hippie boy.
At the time, I could never have imagined "owning" a phone. Or, that it might be "portable".
My Mom was a Telephone Operator, like Ruth Buzzy on Laugh-In, from 1949-1952, before I was even a gleam in Dads' eye. Dad's mother, Grandma Reed, was also a Telephone Operator before and at the same time as Mom. Dad was a "lineman", in 1949-1952, before his 4 years in the Navy, and after until 1960, in Louisville, Kentucky.
From 1956 until it was finished, he personally re-strung every mile of wire and added ??? strings of line to the existing lines on the run from Louisville to Paducah, Kentucky, which follows the Ohio River between Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois, in whatever weather conditions happend to present themselves each day. He worried my mother sick in the thunderstorms and yes, even tornados the area is famous for.
But, we were living the dream. I was living the "Leave It To Beaver" life. We had a brand new home on a "GI Loan" in a brand new subdivision, and I started the 1st grade in a brand new school, all in Valley Station, Kentucky, a Louisville "bedroom community". We had a 1956 Turquoise and White Chevrolet Bel Air 4-door, in 1956, until Dad traded it in in 1957, to "upgrade" his status in life with a classier ride, a stylish Red & White 1956 Oldsmobile 88 4-door.
I was born in '53 and he says I cut my teeth on the tools in his linemans' tool-belt. I've been a wire-twisting, component level, take it apart and figure out why/how it works, build your own, or customize it, tweaking tech geek ever since.
Ain't technology great?