The mysterious dark doorway down at the end of this row is the entrance to the Woodson’s vault:
What’s in there is top secret, of course, so secret that sometimes even we don’t know what’s what. Here’s a current head scratcher, an artifact discovered just the other day in an unlabeled box:
A closer look:
I know one of you knows what this is. Tell, please.
Bonus: Death watch is on. The rest of them, I must say look remarkably good, as healthy as I’ve ever seen them. Fine work by the Rice arborist!
Maybe a photo of a relative will cheer it up? https://effegee.files.wordpress.com/2020/11/img_0069.jpg?w=2048
I have long been intrigued by the existence of two healthily groves of Italian cypress in two small Texas towns, both in cemeteries. One is on the north bank of the Rio Grande in Del Rio; the other is in San Saba.
I bet they don’t water them.
That’s it. You’ve posted some old photos of the Academic Quad from the 30s or 40s and the cypresses are gorgeous. No automatic irrigation and I doubt watering two acres with a hose was something that happened often…
The label in the dial doesn’t map to my (perhaps faulty) memory of it in action.
Pretty sure only Chris Reed used hot glue in such an elegant way.
It doesn’t look like Bob Puckette’s writing.
How do we get Chris’ attention to ask?
I believe that is not hot glue, but insulating foam. The circuit board is normally enclosed inside the phone, but on this construction the board is exposed and could be a shock hazard. The foam prevents contact with bare leads on components.
Foam implies bubbles, and there was never anything bubbly about that stuff. It’s the consistency of Nylon 66.
Perhaps you would prefer the term sealant. It is often called insulating foam sealant. see https://www.3m.com/3M/en_US/company-us/all-3m-products/~/3M-Electrical-Insulating-Sealer-1602-R-12-oz-Can-Red-12-Case/?N=5002385+3294247243&rt=rud
Unlabeled? Surely not…
To fill in folks who might not recognize the pieces, this just looks like the guts of a standard-ish 500-series dial telephone, albeit with the receiver hook of a princess ™ phone. The label on the dial says “RMC Desk” and Grungy identified the hot glue as in the style of Chris Reed. That dates it to perhaps the early 1970s. The handwriting certainly did not come from Bob.
FYI: Several engineers who passed through ktru had their preferences in adhesives. Evidently Chris Reed was Mr. Hot Glue. Someone else was Mr. Silicon Seal, and I think Bob may have been Mr. Dual-tube epoxy. I didn’t have an adhesive of choice.
A regular wall phone switch-hook, not Princess.
I thought all of the Princess phones were desk units, an elliptical base.
Did anyone like the Dow Corning rtv ( the electronics grade version using alcohol rather than acetic acid as the vulcanizing agent)? I am partial to that (geek time here)
The first-gen Shuttle SEMU’s (translate: space suit) blue glove finger caps and boot soles were made of RTV-630. It’s two-part, cures a lot better above room temperature, may not cure at all if it is contaminated with anything, and off-gasses basically nothing during cure and in a hard vacuum.
NASA moved on from it, because we were always having to repair little nicks and cuts.
Treichler would know
Frustrating that you can’t read the full phone number… it’d be fun to dial it and see who picks up!
Someone else will have to say whether the change was global, but Rice changed from 527 to 348 prefix a long time ago.
Looks like the transition to 348 occurred right around the same time as the infamous Y2K transition. https://news.rice.edu/1999/12/09/new-phone-numbers-coming/
The current number for the Student Center is 713-348-4097, so they just incremented the extension by one! https://studentcenter.rice.edu/
Oh, I missed that the “Info Desk” is still at 4097.
It looks like the remnants of an old wall phone. We had one like that behind the circulation desk at Fondren in the early 1970s. I think it was on the wall next to the door of the room where the book shelvers picked up their daily book trucks. That room was just across the ‘hall’ from the keypunch machine. Reminds me of Mr. McCool who worked in the book bindery on the fifth floor. Great memories.
Isn’t the real question why this patched together phone was considered worth preserving in the vault?
It displays the ingenuity of students to craft a communications tool in an era when we were not the owners of communications tools. Back then, telephones remained the property of the Western Electric and the Bell System, and we were only allowed to rent them. This was built from the remnants of a phone that the Bell System discarded.
That, and the Woodson staff found it amusing.
There is also the simple fact that archivists are hoarders who know how to catalog stuff.
Ramsay Elder saw this thread and forwarded it to me.
This does look vaguely familiar. I am pretty sure it is my handwriting. In 1975 +/- 1 Rice changed from MaBell equipment to the recently deregulated Fisk telephone company. It upgraded the switch as well as the desk sets, so it replaced the interrupter dial with true touch-tone dialing. MaBell abandoned the old equipment and a few enterprising students grabbed some of it (it saved Rice/Fisk the trouble of uninstalling and disposing it).
I worked at the information desk at the RMC and maintained the soft drink machines in the basement on the way to Willy’s Pub/KTRU. If I recall, the plan was to install an extension phone from the desk inside the drink machine so that if the phone rang while filling the machine it could be answered. A standard wall phone did not fit, so it was ‘re-packaged’. Just for fun it also had to be made from junk parts. I don’t remember if I ever got around to installing it. I don’t recall who else was involved in the project, possibly Phil Walters, Bob “Momo” Mosely, and/or Robert Barnwell Elliot Puckette. I am pretty certain it was fully functional.
I also don’t remember being excessive with hot glue. It is a nice material; but I only ever used it in a non-glutinous manner and very responsibly. In this case it was so if you were brushing up against it while filling the machine and a call came in one wouldn’t get blasted by the ring signal (not fatal, but it did get your attention). Maybe I am remembering installing it…
FYI, I also built another minimal phone. It had both rotary dial and a touch tone pad. The bell was a flashing neon light (attached with hot glue) and a rocker hook switch. I still have this today and it still works. I mostly used it at Rice in the steam tunnels or doing other things that I am sure I was not supposed to be doing.
I have pictures of it but I can’t seem to post them in a comment. I sent them to the last known address I had for Grungy. If he gets them and can do it he can post the pictures.
Chris’ belt phone…
Sorry, I don’t have time to figure out the HTML to have them display here, inline.
This is what the commercial “butt-pack” looks like.
Function is what matters…
Let’s try that again.
Not sure why WordPress is making them tiny and square.
For those of us who never grew up with a landline – is a belt phone basically a cell phone? Plug it in anywhere where there was a phone connection?
If you’re working on actual phone lines, a belt phone was a useful tool. It hooked onto your belt, and for a connection usually has alligator clips on the ends of wires. If you had a normal single-line home or office phone, back in the day, it was hard-wired to the wall, either mounted to the wall or connected with about 6 feet of wire. You could open up the phone or wall plate and connect there, or more easily just connect to the wires where they came into the house.
Initially, The Phone Company actually owned every telephone, so was happy to have them wired into place. Only later did phones have cables that could be unplugged, and moved from one room to another.
A tech working outside the house could connect to the block where the big cables had the connections broken out, or where huge cables got split into smaller ones. On campus, a big cable would run from a central location (Allen Center at Rice) to each building, and get split into connections for each location within the building. Often there’d be a panel for breaking out connection on each floor.
Here’s an example of a cable split out into connections:
The search turned up that the connector blocks are “66 blocks” and the tool to connect the wires to the terminals and cut them off is a “66 tool” or “punch block tool.
Here’s more than you’ll likely ever want to know:
Let’s try that again, with the URL that makes them the right size and shape.
It would be so nice to have the ability to edit these comments.
The eternal misplaced apostrophe’s (sic) and such are so embarrassing.
Hi Chris, good to see you! I figured this was either yours or Barry’s work. I might have provided parts, as I used to work for Southwestern Bell during the summers back then, but I don’t remember being involved with the build. The ringer and hookswitch are definitely from a Western Electric 554, but at the upper right corner of the contraption is a pushbutton that is not part of a 554. I am betting it was a “flash” button, which was a signal for some functions like transferring a call on the Fisk system that came into play in the late 1970’s. On the old WE step-by-step relay based PBX all a “flash” would have gotten you is possibly the switchboard operator picking up. So, I to am thinking this was in the Fisk (Stromberg Carlson PBX) timeframe.
Melissa, you need to meet Chris. He can explain many mysteries of Rice in the 1970’s. Reference ceiling fans and bell towers.
I find myself wondering if the pushbutton addition was actually an interlock with the door of the coke machine to keep the ringer from ringing if the vending machine was shut?
Pretty sure it was for flashing in the Fisk system. Watching late night inebriated pub patrons stagger by a Coke machine that had a telephone ringing inside was part of the appeal.
The push button would be used to replace the hang up buttons on the old rotary phones. Those were the little plastic bits that stuck up where the handset rested. When you picked it up the phone connected to the line and when you put it back the phone disconnected.
The improvised belt phone is genius.