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Northern Electric Uniphones

Handset Evolution

2006-20 paulf.  All rights reserved.
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Northern Electric Uniphone No. 1 - brown
Northern Electric Uniphone - No. 1
Desk Set

"Burled Walnut"

F1 handset
AE dial with brown fingerwhee

Northern Electric Uniphone No. 2 - brown

Northern Electric Uniphone - No. 2
Wall Set

"Burled Walnut"

NU handset
BPO dial
Uniphones were Northern Electric's combined set that included the traditional desk set and subset components in one package.  In general, they use the same internal components as the Western and Northern 302.

Uniphones were sold primarily to independent phone companies, while the 302 was used within the Bell System in Canada.  Therefore, they are found with a variety of handsets, ringers and dials that were added based on local need and supply.

The NE T-7 catalog mentions two primary models, the No. 1 desk set and No.2 wall set. 

Deskset replacement models were also made with the same housings and only a switchhook to replace earlier sets such as candlesticks, and B and D mountings. 
    Desk: No. 5 (manual) and No. 7 (dial)
    Wall:  No.6 (manual) and No.8 (dial)

Uniphones are usually found with the NE #5 dials, but the catalog also shows wiring for the AE #24 and BPO (British Post Office) dials.  BPO dials were often made by Siemens and have their name on the fingerstop.  These dials were supplied for comptibility with switches used by independents.  Announcement documents and the T-6 catalog also show early Uniphones supplied with the now scarce Northern N14 dial.

All were available in black or "burled walnut" (brown with black highlights).

A few desk sets in ivory have been found (see below).  They were apparently never marketed due to warping and color stability issues.

Uniphone No.1 with N14 dial
(From Uniphone Announcement brochure.)
No. 1 / No. 2                          No. 1 - Inside  
NE Uniphones Bottom and inside
No. 2 - Inside
Left: No. 1 and No. 2 bottom view.  Note holes through feet for wall mounting of No. 2.

Right: Inside view of No.1, showing B1A ringer, 101A coil and capacitor.  Dated 1951.

Below:   Inside view of No. 2, showing B1A ringer, 101A coil and capacitor.  Dated 1940.

Note the hinge mechanism in the center that firmly holds the housing to the bottom plate.  Very useful for maintenance after wall mounting.
NF             NU               F1
Uniphone handset evolution
NF             NU               F1

Uniphone handset evolution

Shown left to right:
  NF     NU     F1

NF and NU have a taller, more angular handle than the F1, with a flat ridge down the back.  At first glance, they appear identical, but have subtle differences.

The receiver caps on all three are different, but have the same threads so can be interchanged.  NU and NF have a similar cross-section, but the circular hole pattern is tighter on the NU.  The F1 cross section is smoother and not as tall.

Contact springs are different, depending on the receiver capsule used (see 2 styles shown below).
The cavity casting is the same for the NF and NU, but different style springs are used for the two capsules.  Although both NF and NU will take either spring set, so either capsule may be used, I have never seen a NU handset with the earlier capsule. 
The cavity and springs for the F1 were apparently simplified for manufacturing economy.

The NF uses a 2-piece transmitter cap.  The black plate with hole pattern is an insert, similar to the one used on the E handset transmitter.

All models use the same F-style transmitter elements that were used in both Northern and Western late E and most F-model handsets.
D 96337                 HA1
NE Uniphone receiver elements
D 96337 with diaphragm removed
Receiver Capsules

Early NF handsets used a D 96337 capsule (left).
Later NFs and all NUs and most F handsets used the HA1-style capsule (right).

The D part number suggests it was a design model and not intended for volume manufacturing.  The diaphragm is held on by magnetic attraction only.

The HA1 is a sealed unit.  The circular contact symmetry means the capsule does not have to be properly physically aligned when installed.

The lower photo shows the D 96337 with diaphragm removed.

                  Uniphone, ivory
Photos from Glenn Pitre
No1 Uniphone, ivory - back
No. 1 Uniphone with NU handset and BPO dial in ivory, showing the common color stability issues and some warping.

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2006-2020 paulf.  All rights reserved.