Installing Pay Phones at Home for Fun and Profit

I recently obtained a decommissioned pay phone, thinking it'd be a neat addition to our home. Having a phone that doesn't need an electric hookup or battery power could come in handy during storms or other emergencies - with the added benefit of being able to charging visitors and guests for their outbound calls in the mean-time...

This is an Automatic Electric (GTE) 120B, which is not as common as the Western Electric TD1 Payphone of the same era but was found widely in areas served by what is now Verizon as well as areas with independent telephone companies (ILEC), which is where I got mine. This happens to be a second generation 120B, identifiable by its rectangular buttons and diagonal letters. Its classified as a "fortress phone", because it weighs almost 50 pounds and is built like a bank vault. This particular phone spent most of its life installed at the Country Station in Goodhue, Minnesota.

If you happen to get one of these beauties, be sure to also get the keys because without them it'll take an angle grinder to get it open. The 120B has two keys and a T-Key tool, one key is used with the tool to open the coin drawer and the other key (and T-Key tool) is used to open the case.

Here's the inside, notice that the dip switches have been set to 50 cents - the cost to start a call. Surprisingly all I had to do to make it work in my home was to hook up an analog phone line. The coin processing hardware is not active, coins inserted fall to the holding area (behind the "Do Not Push" sign), where they'll wait forever for a signal to drop into the coin drawer. Incidentally pushing the bar labeled "do not push" releases the coins into the coin drawer.

Here it is in its final location, at 50 pounds it needed to be mounted securely!

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Last Updated 8/27/2017 - anthony -