[2010-05-04] Mix-and-match Model 500 rotary telephones
This is an idea I'd been meaning to try for a long time: Find some ubiquitous manufactured product having a standardized design, with interchangeable parts, available in a wide variety of colors, then buy two or more of them and mix-and-match the bits to create "custom" case options. The Model 500 telephone (Wikipedia), manufactured in basically the same form for over 30 years, fit the bill to a "T." I picked up these two old rotary Models 500 on eBay for about $35 altogether. It occurs to me this could be an interesting business model, as I'm sure I could sell the resulting mixed-and-matched "Bumblebee" set for a heckuva lot more than I paid. Anyway, you can see what they looked like when I received them below.
The work I did consisted mostly of swapping the bits around. As you can see, the handsets have been swapped, ditto the mouth- and ear-piece covers, the handset cords, and the base-cases. I replaced the black handset cord, which was missing the little plastic "ear" on one plug, with a modern one, and bought new all-black wall cords for each phone. They both still work, perfectly. (And yes, I still have rotary-dial service available on my land-line.) An unexpected advantage of the black/yellow combination was that age-related yellowing of the originally white numbers and letters on the black phone ended up matching the "new" yellow case that dial ended up with pretty well.
Aging of the older black phone's clear dial cover plate was more problematic. I'd read about people cleaning up old yellowed computer hardware and Lego elements using peroxide, so I tried an overnight soak of the old dial cover plate in saturated sodium percarbonate (aka OxyClean). The results, pictured immediately above, speak for themselves.
last modified 2010-05-04