Friday, February 3, 2012

Sometime You Just Have to Give Up - But at Least I Tried

      We live in a world where we throw things away instead of having them fixed. Repairing something can and often does cost more than buying a replacement. However, there are some things that the new one is of less quality than the old. In this case, for me, it’s the phone. I have one new, non-cordless phone. All the other ones are the old AT&T Western Electric desk-type telephones.

They aren’t very heavy, but you can’t walk around the room carrying it. I have a 25 foot cord on one that allows me go all over my downstairs. I can get to the kitchen to turn off a burner or check on something in the oven. With a young child in the house, I could take her to the bathroom or answer the front door without having to interrupt a call.

       The corded phone I use most often started to cut in and out while I was talking. This is probably due to me stretching the cord beyond that 25 foot limit. First I changed the cord, but it didn’t help. So I deduced (Sherlock Holmes firmly in my head) that the problem was inside the phone. Unwilling to open, and possibly destroy a semi-working instrument, I got another phone from the back of my closet and discovered it would not dial out.

      Two non-functioning phones meant I needed a new one. But before I go and buy something that needs to be plugged into an electrical socket and will not function during a power failure, I decided to try and fix one of the phones.

Inside of the phone

      Opening the housing meant removing two screws from the bottom. The housing came away and I saw the dial mechanism, covered by a clear plastic rim. I think this is a dust cover. It was made of two parts that were taped together. I removed that and pushed all the numbers. I could see small metal pieces moving exactly as they were intended to do. Plugging the cords into the open housing, I tried the phone again. I got a dial tone, but the number buttons still refused to give me the expected tones.

Underside of keypad

      I removed the two screws holding the buttons in place and removed the plastic dust cover. And here’s where I got lost. I can’t visible see anything that looks out of place. Of course, this is like looking under the hood of you car and trying to figure out which screw, belt, or plug is causing it to make that churning noise that’s keeping it from running smoothly. I had no idea what I was looking at.

Bell Ringers

      So, DIYer that I am, I went to the Internet and put in the phone’s model number. Most of what I read didn’t work. This phone used to work, so thinking that the polarity was reversed didn’t make sense. None of the small wires were broken, laying on another, exposed, or disconnected.
      What I discovered is the phone was manufactured in the 1980's so it’s life cycle may just have wound down. I finally gave up. It’s time to buy a new phone.


  1. I admire you for trying!! Are you going to bake this weekend? I bought berries for berry bread, and I may make your Cinnabons, too.

  2. I bought the berries, whip cream, and the pound cake to make your recipe. So far we've eaten one pound cake and the kids are reaching for the whip cream.

  3. I kept looking at the bells thinking that they could be incorporated into some neat project.....but I have no idea what that project could be! (LOL)

  4. Robotics, Pop Art, Caps on a military-style nutcracker. I'm sure there are more, but I put it in the recycle bin.

  5. I am so sad to hear you couldn't fix this phone. I picked up this EXACT phone at a thrift store for $6 and could not have been more excited to bag such a cool find. When I got it home and plugged it in, I experienced the same problem as you; mine would not dial out. I also tried to take it apart but again I didn't have a clue as to where to start. I have tried unsuccessfully to look for help on the internet. Your blog gave me a glimmer of hope as I was reading my exact problem. I don't want to give up on this phone :(