Category Archives: technical

Circulating

In the past few months I received some phones from all kinds of sources here in The Netherlands. Ericofons that are circulating, so to say. They go from one person to another until they end up in my ‘workshop’. There they will be dismantled, cleaned, repaired and put together again, or re-used in any other way.

Since I have a full time job, I do not have so much time to work on this as much as I would like to. But now and then I have the urge to create. On those moments I sit down and focus on the phones that I have gathered over time, after removing the dust. All tools and spare parts are spread on the table and then the fun begins.

There is no professional workshop and no garage full of shiny equipment. Although I have all the right tools available. Most of the models that I get are not for myself anymore but I’ll make sure they will get a second chance and will not end up in a place they should not be. Only if they are 100% okay they will be resold and find a new onwer. The latter will not be easy on the Crystal Mint green that I received recently.

It will be a hard job to get this one in a good shape. The reason it was painted is because it is heavily yellowed over time.  Since the blue paint was coming off and I do not like painted Ericofons at all. It equals Trappist beer with grenadine… another combination that is ‘not done’ in my humble opinion.

Sewn Open

In need of some earcaps or earpieces I was going through a box with all kinds of spare parts from shells. Things you gather over time and you never throw away. Luckily the volume is not that big so a small box more or less does not matter in my garage. And for some reason you will always end up with usefull destinations… hopefully ;-).

This is what I had in mind when I bought the 2 Gold Plate shells from the previous post. Going trough the box I selected some different caps and I realized there was some ‘inside information’ to be shared on this topic as well.

earcaps

 

Flat – Sandalwood

Wedge – Candle Glow and  Persian Gray

 

 

According to my knowledge there are 2 types of speakers available in the Ericofon that have been used over the years. The wedge cap is available in 2 flavours to fit both of them. For the flat cap, I do not know if it comes with both speakers at all.

According to what I experienced, the bigger speaker tends to break from the cap from time to time since it is only mounted with 2 metal clips on plastic ridges. Therefor some Ericofons produce a rattling sound if you shake them. This can be resolved by stuffing the top of the phone with some soft material. It is not really fixing the problem but keep the speaker in place and you will get rid of the annoying rattle. Sound quality will also improve a bit if you use the phone.

Update 15/10/2016:

This week I received a picture from Peter Schröder who encountered an interesting earpiecebarmodification on this flat earpiece.

We do not have a clue where the metal bar is used for. I can only think about extra possibilities in remounting the cap. But glue will also work without it.

If you do know, pleae tell me.

 

Dark Start

Sometimes phones are yellowed over time. Because of the sunlight or because of a heavy poluted environment in a smokers home. Smoke has the most equal discoloring, sunlight is more capricious. You will be surprised how much a phone can be discolored. White turns to yellow, Sahara becomes Harvest Gold and Wedgwood looks brown/green. Terrible, and it hurts to see this.grayyellow

Normally I will sand those phones, remove the polution by removing the upper layer of the phones’ surface. You can see it in the picture above where the side has been sanded (not polished) and the back is not yet done.

A few weeks ago I read an article on ‘bleaching’ phones with Hydrogen Peroxide. Some collectors seems to have some good experiences with this. Time for an experiment so I bought myself a litre of this stuff…

bleach0

It is Hydrogen Peroxide, 12%. This bottle I got from an online hairshop for about 12 USD and is to be used by professionals. It is also called ‘developer’. After shocking my family that it was to be used on my own hair, I told them the actual purpose.

Normally the cosmetic grades are from 3% to 12% maximum. When you have over 50% you have bought rocket fuel 🙂 The relation between % and Vol seems to be linear: 3% = 10 Vol, 6% = 20 Vol, etc. 10 Vol means that 10 times its original volume in oxygen will be released.

And… it is a gel/cream, not a liquid. Otherwise it will drop of your phone right away.

Picking a candidate phone was quite easy. I wanted to start with just a little risk for the first time. So a ‘not too strong equally discolored PTT White phone’ was the subject. Here’s a picture of the victim: the second from the right. The one on the left is pretty close to Taj Mahal, the one on the right is closer to Candle Glow.

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bleach2

 

As Hydrogen Peroxide works best when you increase the environmental temperature I decided to put the phone in a box. In front of the box I put a 200W lamp which got pretty hot.

The cream was applied on the phone in a thick layer with a brush. So thick that it just not starts to drip off.

After 4 hours I was so curious and decided to get the phone out and to see the result of the work done sofar.

 

The result was not too bad, but I noticed that the phone was discolored in certain areas. The result can be seen below. As the lamp was 20 to 25 cm from the box, there was a strong heat source from one side of the phone. What I noticed was that the phone was getting whiter on the side of the lamp, and not on the ‘dark side’. Also the cream did its work better where it was applied thicker. So some stains were the result which can be seen here.

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In the second setup, to have a less focussed/bundled heat source, I decided to have the phone on top of a radiator. The heat, being warm air, in this case is going up, equally spread on all sides of the phone. But the phone not being in a box desiccated the cream. The result after another 4 hours was pretty good. The back of the phone was lighter than before, most of the stains had disappeared. So equally applied heat is better than a strong source. Maybe an oven would work best…

The last and final experiment was inside a box, on the radiator. Again I applied a thick layer of cream on the phone, closed the box and left it there for another 6 hours. The temperature in the box had raised to 43 Celcius (109  Fahrenheit) when I came back.

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The result is actually quite good. The cream was not fully dry, on the inside of the box some moist could be seen. The final result can be seen in the pictures below. Not bad at all!!

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As already said in previous posts, it is hard to make pictures of colors exact as they are in reality. But this row of phones is the same as the ‘before’ picture. So there is quite a difference as you can see on the second from the right. It is close the Taj Mahal now, 2 tones lighter than before. The surface of the phone is shiny and smooth, no damage done at all.

The next candidates are already in the oven, ready to be cooked. A Taj Mahal and a Persian Gray. Both heavily discolored because of the sunlight.

Update 17/03/2016:

The Taj Mahal just came out of the ‘Ericoven’ and the result is shown below. In both pictures the Taj Mahal is on the right. The phone on the left is a Candle Glow in both cases. Actually I first thought that the Taj Mahal was a Candle Glow, until it came out of the oven…

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The advantage of oxygen based cleaning is that it is non-toxic and eco friendly. Chlorine products, which can also be used, are extremely toxic and harmful to the environment. On top of that, they tend to be detrimental to fabrics over time.

Seen the success of this method I bought some more of this stuff. Coincidently I ran into this truck this evening. Howmany phones could one clean with 30,000 litres? 🙂

h2o2

Please note that white and gray Ericofons are a success until now. Pink is a more difficult color and bleeches out to a lighter shade, I recently messed up one. So be carefull what you do and do not use this on your most precious phone before knowing exactly what the effect is.

Update 09/05/2016:

Last weekend I cleaned a Sandalwood shell. After the bad experience with the pink one, I decided to do sessions of 1 to 2 hours, depending on the heat (sunlight this time, it was 25 degrees Celsius 🙂 ). After a session I washed the phone and checked the effect. Four sessions were needed for this one and the result is great. It is good to intermediate check the status and wash off the old cream. This time I applied the cream in a thin film on the shell, not too much. The result: just great!!

Chaostrophy

Chaos in Ericofon-land. Clones, derivatives and neatly stolen designs.

Last week I deliberately bought a so called ‘General Dare Ericofon’. It was cheap and I was really interested in the way this Ericofon was tweaked. Besides that I was still looking for a tone-phone… pulses do not work on my broadband modem. Since I do not want to use the Ericofon TouchTones because they are way to vulnerable I had to go for something else. Well, the pictures below show the facts.

GeneralDare1GeneralDare2

From the outside the General Dare is similar to the original Ericofon. Except for the base and the rubber ring one cannot see a difference. Opening up the phone reveals the secret. It is an original Ericofon shell from Sweden, produced in 1973. The chassis is totally different and so is the microphone(s)… Do we have stereo sound here!? 😉 No, actually one of them is the ringer (blue-white = microphone, green-yellow = ringer).

GeneralDare4GeneralDare3

The chassis and dial face are replaced with a nice 1997 technology based variant. Enabling DTMF tone dialing. So far I have not seen any General Dare with silver buttons, normally they tend to be red. Maybe this is because of the 1.0 version?

There are some issues in getting the phone properly connected and working to my fixed line. It is not just a matter of connecting like already done in the phone. There is bit more to be sorted out.

Over time there were more Ericofon inspired phones on the market. Professionally reworked, designed or just produced in small series. The pictures were not taken by me, but downloaded from the web.

GeneralDare

Here’s the General Dare as I knew it before with the red button and with black numeric buttons.

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A ceramic variant of the Ericofon.

 mercer1mercer2

A Mercer phone from China. Easily recognized because the shell is composed out of several parts. It has an ‘in use’ LED on the front. Which I have also seen at some original 700s. There is also a small button at the place of your thumb.

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This is the relatively popular Scandiphone. Where the earlier version was more like the Mercer, this one looks better with the shell not in separate parts.

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Seen this one in 2 colors; yellow and red; an original Ericsson shell with a tone pad and a rotary dial in the bottom.

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Even the 700 has been cloned.

Various Hands

rebrand

The phone above was originally a Swedish phone, created for the European market in 1962. It is a flat new case.

Sometimes the need for phones in certain markets was so big that other markets had to deliver them. This is the case here. This phone was more or less re-branded from European to North Electric, to be sold on the US market.

rebrandlight

rebranddial

In this picture you can see that the neon light that is normally present on the Ericotone ringer is applied on the chassis directly. This makes sure the phone lights up when it rings.

 

The other picture shows the original dial face sticker that was used to re-brand the dial face from a 1 to 0 dial face to a North Electric like dial face including the letters so typical for the US.

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The missing Ericotone was replaced with the external Ericsson ringer with the buzzer. The big wall moutable box only contains a small buzzer as normally used outside the US. It sounds different, but in the end, various hands transferred an European Ericofon ready to be sold in the US.

Switches

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There are 2 phones in my collection that have a so called PBX button on the shell. The Golden Glow has one on the back, the Persian Gray has it on the side. Sofar I have only seen these two positions. Which is in face a pity because I am left handed. 😉

PBX stands for Private Branch eXchange, in fact a telephone switchboard. Today these PBX’s are fully automated (PABX), but in the Ericofon times these were operated by persons or semi automated. Larger companies had a company PBX, with or without operators.

switchboard-operators

The button was used to signal the operator during a conversation. This was needed if you wanted to be connected to either an internal, external or international number, depending on the allowed actions in your case. This person would talk to you and arrange your request. These days, in an all communicating world, this can hardly be imagined anymore. The operator also handled the incoming calls, but the button does not play a role there. The picture is from Ericsson.

In automatic PBX’s one could push the PBX button during a conversation. The current conversation was put on hold and the person was given the possibility to consult a third person. Pushing the button again would resume the original conversation. If the third person would push the button then the call would be transferred and he would get the original conversation.

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Looking at the inside it is just a small switch, nothing more. Here’s a picture of the inside of the Gray model. The wires are finished on the chassis and make sure the signal is being forwarded to the operator when the phone is picked up and the button is pressed. The signal is nothing more than connecting the L2-wire with an earth wire. So an extra wire is needed to use it.

There are still some questions around the PBX buttons that I am not able to answer.

In which markets were these Ericofons available? It seems that most (or all) of the models with this PBX button are from Germany. Also my 2 phones come from there. So far no other countries of origin were spotted by me and some other collectors.

Who applied the buttons? Was this done as from the Ericsson factory, or done locally by the PBX supplier under strict instructions? The latter I personally doubt.

pbx3

Almost all PBX phones have the later wedge ear-piece. The flat ear-piece is hardly seen with this. And the old case I have never seen with this functionality except in case of the picture on the left which I found on the net. It could be a timing issue meaning that PBX’s became ‘popular’ in the years that the later model was introduced. The type of button on the old case slightly differs from the ones on the wedge shaped models.

If you have other information, or if you can confirm these assumptions, please let me know so we can get the story complete.

 

Update 12/09/15: A new phone I got is also equiped with a switch. It is a Wedgwood used in The Netherlands. See the post on ‘Disco Hospital’ from September 2015. Since I had to sand the shell I had to remove the switch.

switch