How to Clean Copper (oxides?) Telephone Network Interface Box

Hi,
Would somebody here possibly know how to get residue off copper washers other than filing or sandpaper and pass on the knowledge to me please.
(I'm rewiring a single phone line into the house from the Network Interface box outside the house. The original line goes back probably to at least 1920, the wires' jacket are similar to old TV aerial antenna wire. Also the old line consists of two porcelin fixtures one is fused, the other looks like it was at one time an amplifier, but currently it is just wired to bypass the fixtures (but still on the porcelin terminals), a type of button tack(s) secures the three wires thru the run, 3 solid insulated wires, one HOT (red) at 48 volts, one GROUND, the other I suspect leads to GREEN (no voltage) and I suspect also ground, also all three wires are not color coded.)
I found the short, within the customer side of the Network Interface. I think probably the result of a lightning ZAP! The item in question is a terminal screw (ZINC I think) and three copper washer to a broken terminal lug. I added a crimped on terminal lug to the internal GREEN wire (I suspect it is the GROUND) and I have 48 volts DC (I'm assuming DC) across the RED and GREEN terminals, so I think I'm good to go with running the new line. Oh, yeh, I will disconnect the telephone modular plug input while rewiring.
I don't know why the corrosion, but it looks to me like the process of disimilar metals touching one another. I'm just looking for a soulution to clean the residue off, maybe it is oxides, maybe it is zinc. Presently I got the scew and washers soaking in apple cider vinegar chancing that it may work, but it may not. I remember HCL acid cleaned ZINC residue off steel pins in a mold repair shop I once worked. I have no idea where to get HCL acid. Muriatic acid maybe (HCL?), but I don't know the chemical composition and I know for concrete work it quickly etches, so kind of potent I think, but as to copper, I don't know. If vineger doesn't work I guess I'll try muriatic acid next, then sulphuric

=====Anybody know where I can get wire strippers for 4 wire telephone cable, below 22 gage solid coper---wire measures .037" diameter???? =====Telephone company suggests THEY repair, but at about $100 an hour service charge, so I will attempt this 1st, myself!
Thanks in advance for any help. Yes, I am a neophyte at this---critique away, I can take it!
Alan
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You can do a quick repair job on you old stuff by cleaning up the terminals but I would get on the phone company's case and make them install a new Interface box. The old terminal block is THEIR responsibility, not yours. Then run a clean new wire into your system.
the phone company will object but if you keep claiming it is THEIR problem, eventually they take the path of least resistance and install the new Interface. I have a fairly messy system with 2 incoming lines and DSL. It's very nice to be able to go to the Interface box, disconnect the entire house, plug in a phone, and check the line. If it works, I go back inside and do my thing. If not, the phone company gets to do theirs. Cut and dried.
As for the wires, you have the color code correct. The red and green are the signal lines, the ground is only for noise control and safety. There is 48 volts on the green to power the phone. BTW: make sure you keep your fingers away from the green line while working on things. If you get an incoming call, the ringer voltage will give you a nasty surprise. :<) Not serious, just VERY surprising!
Music Man wrote:

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says...

There's a good chance the older shunt and series protection inside the house is no longer needed. If you have the gray plastic box outside, where the overhead line stops off before entering the house, you can probably just bypass all the old protection stuff.
In general I would tend to replace any older connectors or hardware that show signs of chemical or electroylytic corrossion.
Jim
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    A fairly mild choice would be Copper-Glo (if it is still made/sold). However, I suspect that these are not copper, but rather are (or were) brass, but the corrosion has leached the zinc out of them, so the surface looks like copper, as that is all that remains on the outside.

    An amplifier is highly unlikely in a residential setup. However, lightning suppression hardware may be there. These typically had a porcelain socket, into which a pair of graphite blocks separated by a thin piece of mica with a hole in it to form a spark gap were slid. They should be between each signal wire (Green and Red) and the ground.

    Both red and green should be above ground level, though how much is a function of whether a phone is drawing current or not. IIRC, with an old standard phone connected and off the hook, you will see something like perhaps 6V between the Red and Geeen wires, and both will be above ground (though not the full 48V which you see with an open circuit on one of the two signal wires.) The ground wire, aside from being used to shunt mild lightning strikes to ground, also can serve as a connection for one side of the bell -- if you have a party line connection. Normally, the bell is also connected between red and green. Connecting from one side to ground gives the possibility of ringing the bell on one phone or a different one, depending on who is being called. (Varying ring frequencies also can be used to selectively ring different bells, as can coded rings (e.g. "short long sort" or something similar.)

    No -- for phone wiring, green is *not* ground. (At least in the US). It is one of the two signal lines for conventional phone service. I don't know what kind of color coding is used with things like ISDN, but I do know that frame-relay circuits produce a much higher voltage on some of the wires (and they use two pair -- one for incoming and one for outgoing.)

    Measure what happens when you connect the phone across the line. The 48V line should drop about the same amount that the one which looks like ground rises. If the one near ground *stays* near ground, then you have another short, which will introduce a lot of noise into the phone lines, even if it does allow it to work.

    And maybe it is the zinc having leached out of the brass of the washers, leaving the surfaces copper colored.
    If the wire comes into the building at an angle sloping down, then water can run down it when it is raining outside, Ideally, the wire should drop down, and then loop up to drip the water outside, or at least before it reaches the terminal blocks.

    Frankly, I would suggest that you eliminate the antique wiring, and replace it with a more normal telephone terminal block. (And another has already suggested eliminating the interior terminal block, just trusting the protection in the gray plastic box outside.

    At one time, this was done with a set of needle nose pliers which had been ground on one jaw a half-inch back from the tip (and the tip had been ground narrower back through this area). The grinding left a gap just about the same as the wire diameter, and perhaps 3/4 of an inch long. The wires to be stripped were put in this region, the pliers closed to crush the plastic insulation, and the pliers were pulled to the end of the wire, stripping off the insulation (and leaving a bit of it curling back where it was first crushed.)

    Well ... good luck.

    You have what I know about it, at least.
    Good luck,         DoN.
--
Email: < snipped-for-privacy@d-and-d.com> | Voice (all times): (703) 938-4564
(too) near Washington D.C. | http://www.d-and-d.com/dnichols/DoN.html
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If the phone strippers won't - look at Radio Shack for wire wrap stripper. It looks like a double ended small nut driver. In the center is the stripper. The package should be marked as to gauge.
Martin
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Martin Eastburn, Barbara Eastburn
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I'd tend to replace it all with new wire and maybe CAT-5 if you can. Even if CAT-5 isn't fully or half used, the quality is there and the number of pairs and such are. It is more expensive, but a single run or two might be ok.
Martin
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*Any* new twisted pair will most likely be better than the older cloth/rubber insulated teclo stuff. You can wire an entire house with zip cord and it will work fine, even if not twisted.
My personal favorite is the two pair western electric stuff with the beige jacket, much nicer than the spool telephone wire that radio shack sells. It can mostly be found for free when it's ripped out of buildings being re-wired.
But again, even the inexpensive R/S stuff will work fine, and better than older deteriorated wiring.
Jim
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On Wed, 20 Aug 2003 07:30:14 -0400 (EDT), snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (Music Man) wrote:

Red and green (house side) are the first signal pair (the phone system uses balanced pairs, ground is not involved). If there is a second pair (second phone line), it will be yellow and black. The ground lead should come from a ground rod driven near the NIB, and is attached to the grounding terminal in the NIB only. It should not carry through to the internal wiring, which should consist of signal pairs only.
The ground is for lightning protection of the network wiring, and connects to the fat green block in the NIB which is the surge protector (this may not be visible in a newer style NIB unless you open up the network side of the NIB). In old NIBs (just ceramic blocks with screw terminals), the surge protector was a pair of carbon blocks, but in the newer styles it is a gas tube and a varistor encapsulated in green epoxy with 3 leads. One goes to ground, the other two go across the signal pair being protected. This wiring is all internal to the NIB, and is the phone company's responsibility to maintain.
Note, if you have the old style ceramic block NIB, bitch to the phone company and make them come out and install the new style (a larger gray plastic box). The new style has *much* better surge protection, and also has a modular plug so you can disconnect your house wiring and plug a phone in there to test whether a problem is the phone company's problem or your problem.
Note that green should be somewhere between -7 and -48 volts with respect to red (depending on your distance from the CO or SLIC, and on whether the phone is on or off hook), and at some indeterminate voltage with respect to ground. (Remember, ground is not part of the phone signal circuit.)
The phone system uses negative voltage conventions, so the green wire is considered the "hot" wire of the red/green pair. Neither red nor green should be shorted to ground (a short would likely indicate a failed surge protector in the NIB). Remember, ground is not part of the phone signal circuit. It's there for lightning protection only.

I'd strongly suggest replacing any corroded hardware (it is almost certainly brass, not copper, and may have originally been nickel plated for corrosion resistance). Note that hardware *inside* the NIB is the phone company's responsibility. Don't tamper with that, make them replace it. Any hardware inside the house is your responsibility.

Radio Shack. They have several different kinds. I like the adjustable ones for ordinary 4 wire phone cable, but they also have the sort used by electricians which has a number of holes for different gauge wires. They also have strippers and connector crimpers for "silver cord" and CAT5 cable. These are modern alternatives to the older 4 wire phone cable. The stripper strips all the wires at once, preparing them to be crimped into the appropriate modular connector with the crimping tool. This is quick, easy, and secure once you get the hang of it.

If there is corrosion or damage in the NIB, that's the phone company's responsibility, and they should repair it no charge. Your responsibility begins with the wires leading into the house from the NIB. From your description, *all* of that should be replaced with modern wiring. That could be gray two pair phone wire, silver cord, or CAT5 cabling. (CAT5 has 4 pairs, you'll only be using 1 pair, so that may be a waste for your purposes. But if the house will later be equipped with DSL, or a home network, you'll be glad you ran the CAT5.)
One final note. While you're just running one line to hook up one phone now, the slick way to wire a house for phone and network cabling is to have a central wiring closet and use star topology, home runs from each phone outlet to punch down blocks in the wiring closet, instead of just daisy chaining the wire from outlet to outlet. It will be much easier to troubleshoot, modify, or expand at a later date.
Gary
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I seem to have two newer types of protection, both the large gray plastic box outside the house, where the drop wire comes in, and also a smaller, open gray plastic square terminal board, about 1.5 inch square, that has brass posts for wiring, and also some kind of replaceable, threaded in studs that seem to be either shunt or series protecion. Seem to be designed to be replaceable.

The telephone company does a really good job of informing the customer if there is any fault on their wiring inside the house. They check for shunt leakages at the microamps level, and it it goes above several, they put the line into a fault condtion where the dial tone goes away.
I found this out when running some vintage phones, and the dc blocking capacitor (western electric original from the 30s) was a bit leaky. So there was a tiny amount of dc going thru the ringer. But that was enough to fault out the line.

As mentioned, some older systems used a third wire for ring to ground, to obtain party line systems. With that, and polarized ringing, they could run four customers off a single pair.

Do those 'punch down' terminals *really* work? I know the phone company uses them all the time, but I wonder if the consumer grade ones are as good as the good stuff. I've been wiring using old open style electronics terminal blocks (the ones with screws, and the raised dividers between contacts) and crimp-on lugs.
Jim
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Yes, they really work. If you go into any large building, you'll find thousands of connections made with punchdown blocks for telephone and network connections.
As you may know, broadcast plants have traditionally used "christmas trees" with solder down connections for audio wire terminations connecting to major distribution points like patch panels, routing switchers, and audio boards.
We faced a major hurry up renovation project in preparation for the 96 Olympics and didn't have time to do all that tedious soldering (thousands of connections). So we decided to try punchdown blocks for low level audio wiring.
We weren't sure that it would hold up over time. We suspected that oxidation would take its toll and cause noisy connections. But it only had to work for a few weeks, then we could re-do it properly at leisure.
Well here it is 8 years later, and we've yet to have a noisy connection due to those punchdowns. They've also made doing changes much quicker and easier. So at this point I'd say they're as good as solder connections. Maybe better, since cold solder joints have been a problem in the past with the christmas tree method.
The manufacturers say that they work in the same way as wirewrap. In other words, the terminals mechanically cut into the wire and form a gas tight seal. So corrosion can't start in the contact areas. Our experience using them in a more critical area than phone wiring seems to confirm this.
Note that you can only punch down *solid* wire. If you need to terminate stranded wire to a punchdown block, you need to use Scotchlock connectors. These are plastic connectors which crimp onto the wire, then are punched down onto the punchdown block's terminals. They work fine too.
I don't know anything about "consumer grade" punchdowns. We use the same type the phone company uses. Since we buy from industrial electronics suppliers, I wasn't even aware of any "consumer grade" punchdown blocks. Where do you find those?
Gary
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I would start at radio shack, I guess.
Seems like anything sold there is at about 65% of the quality of commercial grade stuff, at least in the telephone catagory.
Except for the phones themselves. Those are about 25% of a western electric phone.
Jim
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wrote:

I got mine for my home network from an industrial supplier. By the way, the newer 110 blocks are usually rated for CAT5. The older 66 blocks mostly weren't. It's too hard to maintain the untwist specs with the 66.
Pete Keillor
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Home Depot has all this stuff now.
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wrote:
<snip>

If you're using solid copper of the right gauge and the right punch down tool, the post on the terminal block parts the insulation, takes a nice bite on the wire (removing any oxidation in the process) and holds it in a firm grip.
The type 66 punch down tool can just seat the wire or both seat the wire and trim the end off (it depends on which end of the reversible tip is selected).
If you work around those "telco blocks" much it will not take you long to find it the best way to do it. You'll want to give up snipping, stripping, forming loops, and running screws forever.
The newer modular/snap-in networking outlets (RJ-45 stuff) use a type 110 punch down tool. There is also a type 88 but I forget what that one is for.
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Hi guys,
Thanks for the response.
My initial idea was to run a new line, which I have mostly got roughed in of Radio Shack's "Telephone Station Wire" #278-0385 at $15 for 100 feet of their indoor/outdoor 24 gage wire, sheathed and internal 4 color coded solid copper wires.
SEARS had the wire strippers at $20 for item #34-73574 that will go down to 30 gage AWG for solid wire, their 26 gage works nicely, without nicking the wire. To strip thru the jacket, SEARS sells for $10 a wire stripper from KLEIN TOOLS and 8 gage works nicely (My old general purpose strippers for 14, 12, and 10 gage needed replacing anyway, now I can get 8 AWG! ).
I just need to finish the run thru the 2nd floor, floor, then hook it up, then permanently secure my run. I figure the 4 color coded wires to each of 4 matching wires in the 42A block, that block has a female modular jack input built in.
I left the old line temporary in place in case I need to trouble-shoot the 3 wire old line for continuity as to the original hook up in case the color code sequence isn't correct. Will see how it goes.
Before I started and before I found out I could have checked the phone company's input myself, I did call Frontier to troubleshoot their end. They said their end was fine! Well, the short was on the customer's side, but in the box, and if they knew it, they didn't tell me! I realize the termina screwl is their problem, but I attempted the fix. So I crimped on a new terminal where the old had sheared (TIGHT FIT). I tested it with a meter and had juice of 48 volts RED and GREEN, as I also have 48 volts RED and GROUND. I unplugged the phone company's modular live input until I get it all hooked up. So after completing my new line in to my #2 phone upstairs (mother-in-laws!), if problems, then a call to the telephone company to replace their box, but I think I will be fine. At least they won't need to run a new line.
Awhile back I did call the telephone company about a separate LIGHTNING ARRESTER or protective device. They said the SYLVANIA #CP-800 Network Interface Box was sufficient and their separate ground to the incoming water pipe. Well, I unplug my phones in the house if I suspect a bad storm comimg in. I got it setup with just a one modular plug to undo the system if it is necessary. That is what prompted this whole mess. I suspected a lightning hit and a fried modem to Mom's WEBTV unit. Looks like it was just a bad Interface box terminal. Well, I got a spare WEBTV box now if problems later down the line.
When I get her hooked up and working I will report back.
THANKS!
Take care,
Alan in NY State
(sorry if typos) ===== re:
How to Clean Copper (oxides?) Telephone Network Interface Box Group: rec.crafts.metalworking Date: Wed, Aug 20, 2003, 7:30am From: snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (MusicMan) Hi, Would somebody here possibly know how to get residue off copper washers other than filing or sandpaper and pass on the knowledge to me please. (I'm rewiring a single phone line into the house from the Network Interface box outside the house. The original line goes back probably to at least 1920, the wires' jacket are similar to old TV aerial antenna wire. Also the old line consists of two porcelin fixtures one is fused, the other looks like it was at one time an amplifier, but currently it is just wired to bypass the fixtures (but still on the porcelin terminals), a type of button tack(s) secures the three wires thru the run, 3 solid insulated wires, one HOT (red) at 48 volts, one GROUND, the other I suspect leads to GREEN (no voltage) and I suspect also ground, also all three wires are not color coded.) I found the short, within the customer side of the Network Interface. I think probably the result of a lightning ZAP! The item in question is a terminal screw (ZINC I think) and three copper washer to a broken terminal lug. I added a crimped on terminal lug to the internal GREEN wire (I suspect it is the GROUND) and I have 48 volts DC (I'm assuming DC) across the RED and GREEN terminals, so I think I'm good to go with running the new line. Oh, yeh, I will disconnect the telephone modular plug input while rewiring. I don't know why the corrosion, but it looks to me like the process of disimilar metals touching one another. I'm just looking for a soulution to clean the residue off, maybe it is oxides, maybe it is zinc. Presently I got the scew and washers soaking in apple cider vinegar chancing that it may work, but it may not. I remember HCL acid cleaned ZINC residue off steel pins in a mold repair shop I once worked. I have no idea where to get HCL acid. Muriatic acid maybe (HCL?), but I don't know the chemical composition and I know for concrete work it quickly etches, so kind of potent I think, but as to copper, I don't know. If vineger doesn't work I guess I'll try muriatic acid next, then sulphuric but 'm just guessing, water rinses in between. ====== Anybody know where I can get wire strippers for 4 wire telephone cable, below 22 gage solid coper---wire measures .037" diameter???? ====== Telephone company suggests THEY repair, but at about $100 an hour service charge, so I will attempt this 1st, myself! Thanks in advance for any help. Yes, I am a neophyte at this---critique away, I can take it! Alan
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The protector in the interface is there to protect people and your house. It is will not protect electronics such as modems, faxes, alarm systems, or most newer phones.
snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (Music Man) wrote:

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Hi again,
Yep, phone now works on the new installed line and modular fittings I did and the terminal screw I fixed inside the network box works good, too. That screw sitting in vinegar for 4 days also sufficed, clean as a brand new shiny whistle.
Thanks to all that replied as to the good info. Now I know a little bit about the phone's inner workings.
If I'd called the local phone company to fix it, I'd still be waiting!
Alan
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