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Old 17th Nov 2017, 1:23 pm   #1
Nickthedentist
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Default Just bought another 300-series 'phone...

Hello everyone,

I recently bought this rather nice phone in a local charity shop for a very reasonable £30. Itís complete with both cords and in good condition though has obviously seen some damp conditions over the years. You donít have to be a phone expert to spot that the dial would be more at home on a 706 thoughÖ

Iím interested in its history, i.e. whether you all think itís a mongrel put together with junk box bits, or if itís evolved into its current form as a result of modernisation and repairs.

Here are the salient points:

The base is stamped L11568A1 which Bob Freshwaterís site identifies as an ATM 300-style CB telephone. Itís also dated 2nd November 1956 but this has been obscured with a rectangular patch of matte, off-white paint.

The ďpasterĒ on the inside of the base identifies it as a Telephone No. 332 (Mark 2), which I understood to be a GPO designation.

The plungers are the older style with the tapered housing, designed to work with the chassis fitted with a flat gravity hook switch plate (rather than the later ones with rollers).
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Old 17th Nov 2017, 1:23 pm   #2
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Default Re: Just bought another 300-series 'phone...

There is no model number stamped on the chassis between the gongs, but the capacitor is stamped ATE, which was ATMís new name.
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Old 17th Nov 2017, 1:26 pm   #3
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Default Re: Just bought another 300-series 'phone...

The dial is type 21LA fitted with a No. 389 label and a PVC-insulated wiring loom. Presumably the marking APB indicates that it was made by A.P Besson. Bobís site says: Dials, Automatic, No. 21LA, Black may be issued in lieu of Dials, Automatic, No. 12LA for use on pre 700-type telephones. The letter 'L,' in the title indicates that it includes a number ring bearing figures and letters. The dialís plastic body sits about 1/8Ē proud of the phoneís case which leaves a rather unsightly gap which tends to gather debris. Should some kind of spacer have also been used?
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Old 17th Nov 2017, 1:29 pm   #4
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Default Re: Just bought another 300-series 'phone...

The handset it the usual type 164 dated 1948, fitted with the later Receiver Inset No. 2P (maybe the Mk.3 introduced c. 1949), Earpiece No. 23 and Diaphragm No. 25 along with a transmitter Inset No. 10 with Mouthpiece No. 15.
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Old 17th Nov 2017, 1:32 pm   #5
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Default Re: Just bought another 300-series 'phone...

So whatís your opinion? A 1950s, non-GPO instrument thatís been converted from CB to auto in the 1960s?

Either way, Iím sure it will restore well.

Thanks,

Nick.
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Old 17th Nov 2017, 1:50 pm   #6
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Default Re: Just bought another 300-series 'phone...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nickthedentist View Post
So what’s your opinion? A 1950s, non-GPO instrument that’s been converted from CB to auto in the 1960s?
Pretty much. Nice find though, Nick! Not being GPO issue, there wouldn't be the record keeping, administration and evidence associated with modernising telephones. It's not like it's a 'wiped-up' GPO instrument where it's been sent to Wales or wherever for upgrade. But a nice telephone nonetheless.

That said, I have a 710 Telephone (ex-GPO) with 'CB' stamped on the base, yet it was very much in service as an automatic when I acquired it. I understand that some telephones were converted 'on the spot' without being refurbed and re-labelled.

I think the designed-in economies of scale and interchangeability of parts means that it's perfectly acceptable (and more common, for whatever reason, than you might suppose) to have a 'bitsa' as opposed to an instrument that is as it was manufactured. Especially given the ubiquity of the 332. I'd be inclined to fit a No:10 or No:12 chrome dial if I could, though.
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Old 17th Nov 2017, 2:11 pm   #7
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Default Re: Just bought another 300-series 'phone...

Being non-GPO it could have had bits changed during it's service life by the owner's technicians using what they had available.

I've got a GEC 332 and the label inside uses that designation too. It didn't have a base when I got it so have no idea how that was marked.

As Russell says, it looks good. Personally I don't find the black dial objectionable either.
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Old 17th Nov 2017, 5:13 pm   #8
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Default Re: Just bought another 300-series 'phone...

Thanks chaps.

I like the black dial too, except for the messy-looking gap between its back and the front of the phone.

I have actually fitted a No. 12 dial with "chrome" fingerplate which I found lying around in the top of the kids' wardrobe yesterday (as you do!). The 21LA will look more at home in a black 706 which I have but which has been "updated" with a 746-style one.

Nick.
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Old 17th Nov 2017, 6:42 pm   #9
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Default Re: Just bought another 300-series 'phone...

Quote:
Originally Posted by russell_w_b View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nickthedentist View Post
So whatís your opinion? A 1950s, non-GPO instrument thatís been converted from CB to auto in the 1960s?
Pretty much. Nice find though, Nick! Not being GPO issue, there wouldn't be the record keeping, administration and evidence associated with modernising telephones. It's not like it's a 'wiped-up' GPO instrument where it's been sent to Wales or wherever for upgrade. But a nice telephone nonetheless.

That said, I have a 710 Telephone (ex-GPO) with 'CB' stamped on the base, yet it was very much in service as an automatic when I acquired it. I understand that some telephones were converted 'on the spot' without being refurbed and re-labelled.

I think the designed-in economies of scale and interchangeability of parts means that it's perfectly acceptable (and more common, for whatever reason, than you might suppose) to have a 'bitsa' as opposed to an instrument that is as it was manufactured. Especially given the ubiquity of the 332. I'd be inclined to fit a No:10 or No:12 chrome dial if I could, though.
The Dial is a Siemens made one dated 1961. I (during my days with God's Poor Orphans in the 1960's) used to look after a telephone system which had several hundred CB phones on it - older ones were 300 type and newer ones were CB 706's. I used to keep a stock of CB phones on site but if we needed an auto phone, we'd just fit a dial rather than go through the hassle of getting an 'advice note' and ordering one from the Stores. Hence you'd find telephones that had started life as CB phones but ended up with dials fitted as it had been added.

Bear in mind that the phone is more than likely been in enthusiasts hands for at least 40 years during which time many pats could have been changed. During my 'Plessey' days from mid 1970's, it was rare to find a Bakelite telephone on a PAX system as most were recovered and changed out for 700 style phones. Can't think where we would have had a CB phone unless it had been just for incoming calls. I looked after Plessey systems in the northern half of Wales plus the border counties can't remember seeing a CB 300 type all the systems in that area.

Far more likely to have been modified in its 'preservation' era.

I've just had a dozen or so 300 types arrive - some still in original boxes which I've got to sort out, check and probably convert. It will be interesting to see just what they are. Some other phones came with them including one made by 'British Insulated Helsby Cables' from whom 'Automatic Telephone Manufacturing Company' was their offshoot that produced automatic equipment. There seem to be few BIHC phones about - only other one I've got is a GPO Tele No 2 made in 1910 - stamped with the GPO's 'H' manufacturer's code which was in existence before ATM came into being.

Ian
ex-GPO Telephones
ex-Plessey Communication Systems (originally 'Communication Systems' - AT&E's PAX sales/rental/maintenance subsidiary)
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Old 17th Nov 2017, 7:45 pm   #10
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Default Re: Just bought another 300-series 'phone...

Thanks too, Ian, that's fascinating.
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Old 17th Nov 2017, 11:00 pm   #11
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Default Re: Just bought another 300-series 'phone...

I've now stripped it, cleaned off all the muck, smartened-up the Bakelite with the usual Greygate polish and gently cleaned the dial's three contacts with a piece of paper moistened with Servisol Super 10.

Then I stuck it, as-is, across the line via the master socket's ADSL filter... Who needs a Rotatone, mic. inset 21A and "modern BT plug conversion"?!

It works perfectly in every respect. It dials out reliably, the bell sounds wonderful, the somewhat rusty receiver is loud and clear, and even the original carbon transmitter works as well as it should! Not bad for 60+ years old.

Assuming it's REN isn't too high, I'm now going to see if I can find room for it in the house somewhere

Nick

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Old 17th Nov 2017, 11:46 pm   #12
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Default Re: Just bought another 300-series 'phone...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nickthedentist View Post

It works perfectly in every respect. It dials out reliably, the bell sounds wonderful, the somewhat rusty receiver is loud and clear, and even the original carbon transmitter works as well as it should! Not bad for 60+ years old.
Excellent. I wonder how many of today's telephones will still be working and serviceable sixty years hence?
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Old 18th Nov 2017, 10:10 am   #13
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Default Re: Just bought another 300-series 'phone...

Yes, I wonder.

Pleased to report that the Panasonic DECT phone system and GPO 711 in the kitchen both still ring perfectly in spite of having this phone connected in parallel, so it can stay.

Nick.
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Old 18th Nov 2017, 4:38 pm   #14
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Default Re: Just bought another 300-series 'phone...

Quote:
Originally Posted by russell_w_b View Post
I wonder how many of today's telephones will still be working and serviceable sixty years hence?
None if I bring them up here.

I'm around 814'ASL, and have in the past 16 years had many modern phones destroyed by lightning. One went just as I was about to use it, nice piece of charcoal now. The DECT ones, the base units just fry. The vintage ones are fine, not even flashover damage.

I went through 9 telephones & 7 modems before finally installing some decent lightning arresters! No problem with the old ones.



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