The above picture is what the
3-slot payphone looked like before restoration began.
David Massey's project.
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I acquired a Western Electric 233G payphone that was fairly complete
from Bob Bartlett (Bob's Antique Payphones). It is my first
experience with a payphone and my first major telephone refurbishing project so I thought I'd share my restoration experiences on
site. Among those that helped me acquire parts, schematics, and other assistance
with this restoration project are Stan Schreier, Bobby Koch, Vern Potter,
and others. This list of names will surely grow as I get deeper into this
This page contains a lot of
graphics and may take a while to download. NOTE:
images are hyperlinked to the full-size scans These full-size scans can be viewed by clicking on the images
on this page.
mechanism before placing back in payphone by turning slotted
shaft of mechanism clockwise just over 1/4 turn until it "clicks" in
start off this "documentary" on my payphone restoration
project by first looking at some photos of various sections and parts of the
phone as I received it in the middle of August, 2000.
had no handset, coin box, or vault door. A bakelite terminal strip was
broken inside at the top along with the coin return lever. The
white plastic "hat" that covers and protects the coin relay
was missing. The chrome
parts had a film of dirt and probably nicotine from cigarette smoke that probably dated back to the days when the
Beatles were introducing Rock and Roll to America. Yes, this phone
represents an era when transistors were taking the place of vacuum tubes
in consumer electronics, Touch-Tone® dialing was getting ready to be
released to the public by Bell Labs through Western Electric and the
Bell System, Arpanet was just around the corner (the predecessor to
today's Internet) and I wasn't quite a teenager yet.
Photo #1: The broken
pull bucket and the missing coin box and vault door. I have
obtained a coin box as of the end of August 2000 but still need to find
a vault door. The coin-return pull-bucket is still in disrepair -
not sure what I'm going to do to fix it - I may just find a replacement
#2: The broken pull bucket viewed from another angle.
Photo #3: The dirt and
corrosion on top where the coins are deposited. I was able to
clean all the non-painted metal pieces pretty clean after taking these
Photo #4: Back view of
where coins are deposited and rear side of the top of phone.
Photo #5: The back of the
Photo #6: The broken
terminal strip. A replacement was sent to me soon after this picture was
Photo #7: The coin relay -
view 1. Normally there is a plastic "hat" over the top
of this assembly to keep stray coins from shorting things out in the
contacts of the relay or mechanically jamming it. A replacement
hat was donated to me soon after this picture was taken.
Photo #8: The coin relay -
(left side as you face front of phone).
#9: The coin relay -
(right side as you face front of phone).
#10: The coin relay -
(looking down from above relay, front of phone would be toward top of
#11: The back plate which contains the
switch-hook assembly. Also shown is the coin relay assembly, the
pull bucket, and opening for
the coin box and vault door.
#12: Close-up showing broken terminal strip at top, the switch-hook
assembly, old handset cord entrance (about 2/3 down the picture) and top
part of coin relay.
#13: Close-up showing inside view of "top" housing. Note
electromagnet in upper left corner. Also seen here is the solid gong on
the extreme right side about half way down (edge of bell showing).
More details on this later on.
#14: Same section of phone as in photo #13 above but viewed from an
angle to show underneath view of bell (half-way down on the right side
of housing) and other mechanical parts from a different viewing angle.
#15: Same section of phone as in photo #13 above but viewed from an
angle to show spiral metal "spring" called the cathedral
gong (half-way down on the left
side of housing) which makes a "bong" sound when quarters are
deposited in the phone. Also in this view you can see the "nickel"
electromagnet and the
interconnecting contacts (lower left part of picture) which makes all
electrical connections between the upper and lower housing assemblies
when phone is assembled.
#16: Same section of phone as in photo #13 above but viewed from an
angle to show lock (bottom center of housing) and a metal can capacitor underneath the
sub-chassis and mounted at an angle
(just below the middle of picture and above the 10G lock).
#17: This is the front view of the upper housing.
#18: Bottom of lower housing showing paint condition.
I didn't have any luck
locating an exact replacement for the missing handset. I did the next
best thing and modified the cord on an old hard-wired handset from a
Western Electric 500 set. The original cord on the payphone was
cut right where it exited the side of the phone. This gave
me the information I needed to know how to modify the 500 handset cord
to work with the payphone. Below is a picture comparing what was
left of the original cord and the soon-to-be modified 500 cord:
Notice that three out of the
four wires in the original cord extend about 19cm from where the outer
jacket was stripped. The fourth wire (one of the white ones) only
extended about 5cm. The outer jacket on the standard 500 set cord
extended about 2cm beyond the original payphone cord (the length between
the 17cm mark and 19cm mark). This had to be stripped back as part
of my modification. All four wires on the standard 500 set cord
were the same length which meant than the excess length of one of the
white wires just had to be looped and tucked out of the way in the
payphone. The metal strain reliefs (far right in the picture
above) were in about the same position in both cords. I used cellophane
adhesive tape (Scotch tape) to hold the wires against the yellow paper
for the photo thinking they wouldn't show - but, as you can see, they
Missing Vault Door and Coin Collection Box
I now have a coin box and
a chrome vault door thanks to a couple of members of the ATCA club.
Here is a photo of my phone with the addition of the handset and vault
door. Click on image for full-size view.
Here is a photo of the
phone with the coin relay controller box (as before, click on this image
to view full-size):
Here is a photo of the
inside of the controller box:
Click on image above to view
This controller box was
the last one available from a club member. I do not have
schematics of this unit but there is another club member that has a
website with a schematic of his design with parts list and description.
finally finished my
display in my basement and got the payphone its own spot on the
wall. You can view the above image in two larger sizes than what
you see above. Click
for a medium size image or HERE
for large size. The vault door is really a bright and
shiny chrome finish but the photo makes it look almost black.
it for now on my payphone restoration. I hope to repair that
broken coin-return pull-bucket someday.
If you are considering painting your 233G, here is a
tip from one of the club members (June 16, 2003):
"I repainted my 233 this weekend and just taped over
the [coin return] sticker. The sticker looks fine and the paint job
turned out great. I'm really happy with the Rustoleum Satin Black. It's
a perfect match for the WE black. I taped over the "233G" [ink
lettering] on the back-plate and when I removed the tape, I couldn't see
a difference in color or gloss." - Jim Burnham