TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Western Electric: What is This Device?

Re: Western Electric: What is This Device?

John McHarry (
Sun, 02 Jan 2005 17:20:11 GMT

On Fri, 31 Dec 2004 21:23:17 -0500, David B. Horvath, CCP wrote:

> My brother moved into a new house and I was helping him with some
> wiring and plumbing. Attached to one wall was a Western Electric
> device that was really weird. It consisted of a square box with an
> old style house fuse (round, with the box marked 0.3 AMP) that had a
> regular AC plug on one side and an electric motor on the other.

> The motor is marked:
> Made for Western Electric
> Holtzer - Cabot
> Division of First Industrial Corporation
> TYPE RWC SIZE 3712 HP <blank>
> VOLTS 105/125 AMPS .23
> CYCLES 60 PHASE 1 RPM 3530
> KS 5472O1 L 13 NO. 1673967

> The motor drives a box marked:
> <italic>Western Electric Co.</italic>
> BY
> TYPE- H.F. 1
> VOLTS - 13.8-18.6
> M.A. 23-31
> CYCLES 1000

> The output of the generator is connected to a series of resisters
and some connector block of sorts.

> The backer is plain grey metal marked:
> J94002A-6

> The power plug was not in nor were any other wires connected to the
> unit. So I have no way of knowing how this unit was used. I did not
> see any obvious dates.

> Can anyone help?

> - David

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I think it is a power supply/ringing
> generator unit. Its purpose is to make the little bulbs flash in
> one of the older style 6-button, 5-line with hold button phones. When
> ringing voltage comes on the line, a relay is tripped which sets that
> box off doing its thing with a reduced voltage, among other
> things. PAT]

Sorry to copy the whole article, but most of it is relevant. I don't
know what it is, but I doubt it is a ringing generator. Ringy-dingy is
nominally 86v 20Hz. Also, 1kHz is a particularly nasty thing to run
around a telephone system to power lamps -- it is right in the middle
of the audio passband. It has to have been intended to be heard,
either by a person or by a receiver somewhere on the line. It might
have been an alerting tone for some sort of intercom. I seem to recall
some old ones that would beep rather than ring, probably to
distinguish it from an incoming phone call.

It is pretty low power, less than .5w. Using a motor-generator to
supply that would make it pretty old, as would the units of cycles
rather than Hz. I would guess it is at least 50 years old, probably

One would also be led to guess that the house was not always a
residence, or not exclusively a residence.

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Many of the older 6 button/5 line
phones had a small 'buzzer' inside them also and the incoming ringing
voltage rang *one* of the phones; the other phones in the group
would 'buzz'. Also sometimes one of the line appearances was a dial
intercom to call the other phones in the group; the phones, on an
intercom call would 'buzz' with a certain cadence rather than 'ring'
(with a certain cadence) as they did for outside calls. PAT]

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