by Robert Brand
If you have ever been on a 3 person shift and 2 are busy and it is your lunch break and you are sitting in the lunchroom, you just know the phone will ring and you have to hike it out to the orderwire desk quick-smart and answer the phone. The result has been burnt food, lost calls and plenty of annoyance.
The picture above is the Paddington ITMC Orderwire Desk. It was hard to work out a way to get this into the lunchroom to solve all the problems of the “Lunch to Orderwire Dash” so we had to build a new system. This was another project that I volunteered to build, but where to start?
Firstly I do not have a photograph of the finished product, but it did not look like this:
In fact it was a decadic phone with 10 or 15 buttons on the top – this was a mechanically locking set of switches that released on hangup. All we needed was power, earth and a contact and the speech wires. I remember separating the speech path so that it was 4 wire. There were also lamps in the press button switches. I remember having to use a 10 pair cable for the job and getting a connector that could handle 10 pair from the telephone exchange.
- Microphone (to earth)
- Earpiece (to earth)
- Dial (to earth)
- 15 button contact wires
I mounted the connector to the bottom of the TASI A rack – the closest rack to the lunchroom where the connector would never draw any attention. A bank of relays and hybrids allowed us to answer both 4 wire orderwires and local phones. In fact it became the most powerful little phone in the building. Out of business hours, the phone got rolled out into the kitchen and back in the morning. It was so good that I proposed that a PABX be used for an orderwire system in the future for the new ITMC at Paddington. It was a slightly arrangement with the 2 wire being switched to 4 wire working, but it got me a nice juicy award from the improvements and suggestions board. I was transferred to Broadway at that time and never got to see the fruits of my labours. All I knew was that the Orderwire boards were like the old patch racks, big and growing bigger and thus they had to change.
I do not know what ever happened to my donated phone. It was my personal phone and was ear marked for a roll at home, but I must say that I got good service from the old girl as did most of my workmates at ITMC Paddington
It did have a PA access too and it could dial numbers It was way ahead of the big desk at the top of this page.