Thermoplastic Repairs on Colored 302’s
By Mark Scola
Edited by Chuck Eby
How often have you seen a Western Electric 302 with a crack in one or more of the corners? Cracks are quite common due to shrinkage of the thermoplastic over time. As the case shrinks and the metal base doesn’t, a crack is inevitable. It is even more heartbreaking to see damage to the less common and collectable colored thermoplastic telephones.
Collector Mark Scola has developed a system for successfully repairing cracks and this article explains his process. In Mark’s words:
“It’s heartbreaking to see serious damage done to the items we covet so greatly. A collector friend had an early 302 that was damaged. His set had to be the earliest Thermoplastic set I’ve ever seen with dates on everything pointing to mid 1940. It had the whole right hand front corner missing. To repair the damage, I had to build a corner from scratch. I used pre colored Nail Acrylic Powder; the same stuff women use to make exotic longer nails or for repair of broken nails. I found that the solvent used to activate this powder is also good for doing crack repair on W E Soft Plastic housings as well as the thermoplastic 302’s.
I mixed up several colors of Nail Acrylic powder using an old dinner plate as my palette. I mixed, using a single edged razor blade, Red, Yellow and some Light Orange till I got a color close to the color of the 302 that I was working on. The powders tend to dry darker than the color you see on the plate. After roughing up the edges of the opening, I blocked it off from the inside with a piece of masking tape. I mixed in the Ethyl Methacrylate solvent and made a paste the consistency of “Bondo” and then filled the hole and let it set for 3 hours or so. I then took a rough file and started to shape the corner, I also used a “Dremel” tool to aid in removal of excess plastic.
When I had it close to the shape desired , I started with the wet sanding, using 3M Wet-O-Dry sandpaper I used 320,400,600 and 800 grit papers to get it smooth. I then used “Dico” blue plastic’s compound and a slow hand held wheel and buffed to a shine.
The collector friend was very happy with the repair, even though the color was not a perfect match. But the hole was gone and the phone displays really well. This process will work on most telephone housings. All of the Acrylic powders are available from Eschem http://www.esschem.com/ They have a full selection of solvents and Acrylic powders and the can do exact color matches for a fee.”