Beefchicken Industries

Telephones

My telephone obsession has always gone hand-in-hand with my switching obsession. My first switch came with about 30 or so Automatic Electric model 80s pickled in filth:

When I wasn't out in my shed messing about with the PBX, I was inside giving my phones baths in the kitchen sink. Oh to be 16 again. Over the years, I have added a few phones to my collection, mostly model 80s, many thanks to my wife's late grandparents' excellent garage sale skills. I have only a few bakelite phones in my collection; when I do find them, they tend to be priced far above what I am willing to pay. My general feeling on this hobby is that it's dominated by a bunch of rich folks who are more than willing to drop 6 grand on a phone.

I also have one payphone in my colection, a Northern Electric Centurion, with a rotary dial. The centurion is a notoriously ugly pay phone, with a plastic cover hiding a bright orange chassis. The argument was that with the chassis hidden away from view, they could go to town with their spot welds and make the phone darn near impossible to break in to. The logic behind the bright orange was that if the cover were to be torn off, the need for a repair could be easily be spotted by a passing repair man. I bought my phone at a used telephone supply place in Calgary. Only after arriving, home 3 hours away, did I discover that the keys that the phone came with didn't open the top half of the phone -- those were commonly keyed, and only the telephone company had a key. I managed to hunt down a very helpful representative from the telephone company, who set me up with an appointment with their payphone techs to get the lock removed.

In hindsight, my parents were astonishingly patient with this hobby. We drove all over the place trying to find these out of the way businesses, so that I could buy another whatsit for one of my telephone things.

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