Automatic D30

Automatic D30
Automatic D30
D30 side
D30 side

It is one of these models that is almost unavoidable if you collect telephones, as they are everywhere. And like RTT 56 I get many questions about it and more important, there are a lot of misunderstandings about this telephone. By now I have accumulated a box of several of these, in different states of decomposition. High time to do something with it and of course put the record somewhat straight. I even went as far as to acquire an example in its original black colour.

Made by the Telefon Fabrik Automatic København (Copenhagen), the D30 was introduced in 1931. The number 30 refers to the year 1930. What the D stands for, I have not been able to establish, but it seems to be D for Denmark. Possibly to distinguish the Danish models from others, that have the same year number, like the ZBSA 08 with regards to the Danish D08 (not in my collection).

The D30 was used by KTAS, Københavns Telefon AktieSelskab and JYDSK Telefon Aktieselskab, the last ones being in service in the 1980s.

 

D30 and ZBSA 19
D30 and ZBSA 19

It is an all metal design, with a sloping front, reminiscent of the German ZBSA 19 and 24, with a metal cradle. A somewhat conservative design, it is somewhat bigger than most of its contemporaries like the W28 and the Atea 1928. The bell for the ringer is the nickel plated dome, just under the cradle, making it an integral part of the housing. The housing is made of pressed steel, divided in an upper and lower compartment, again like the German telephones. The cradle is made of a Zinc alloy, probably Zamac. It is not made of aluminium, as some site claim.

The bakelite handset and dial were standard types introduced on this model but later also used on other Danish models, like the M36. It also has these typical thick green cloth cords, like most Danish telephone from this era.

D30 wall box
D30 wall box

If you are lucky the original Danish bakelite wall box is still attached to the line cord.

Danish dial
Danish dial

The dial is based on the British type 10 dial, with a few adaptations. The finger stop is in a different position and a porcelain number with letters is fixed to the finger wheel, closing the the holes. The ring is held in place by means of a spring, so the ring depresses when a finger is pushed in one of the holes, to dial a digit. That lettering on the ring easily identifies this as a Danish dial, the Æ and Ø near the number 9 being typically Danish. On top of the housing are two small metal frames, the left one for a dial number card and the right one often left blank. On some versions there is a counter showing in the latter frame, used to calculate costs.

Versions

D30 counter
D30 counter

There are not many versions of this telephone. Basically there are those with and those without the small counter on the right side. It came in the colour black, sometimes with ornate JYDSK decals, there are rare original white versions, although these are hard to discern from the later newly painted white versions, and a few very special nickel plated ones were made, again very hard to discern from later pimped up versions.

Quality

D30 neat inside
D30 neat inside

When I first opened one up I was really astounded by the quality and engineering. All the parts are finely finished, the wiring is neat. Everything is nicely fastened with screws, the terminals for the wires have an extra bracket, which guides the spades on the wires and prevents them from turning out of alignment when a screw is fastened. Especially nice are the small windows near the screw terminals behind which is a colour code paper label with a letter, indicating beyond any shadow of doubt which wire goes where.

And of course it works. It always does. It is very robust, heavy and reliable. Even after terrible things have been done to it, as can be read about in the paragraph about faux antiques and the page about the Expoga version of this telephone. There are nevertheless 2 things that I find are not so good about its design: the top cover cannot be removed without also removing the cradle and it is, as was to be expected, quite heavy. Otherwise it is a charm to work on.

Second life

After their life with the various Danish telephone companies, many of these were sold off and given a new life elsewhere. They were exported all over the world, making it a very wide spread design. You can still often find them on 2nd hand markets, antique shops, car boot sales, etc. But a great many of them were pimped, altered, made over and otherwise altered to make them more sellable, which brings us to the next paragraph.

Faux antiques

Expoga D30
Expoga D30

The Danish firm Expoga in Arhus bought up a great many D30s and gave them various make overs. Basically the were altered to make them look more like an antique. They not only did this to the D30, but also to the D08 and several magneto models. This was done in the late 60s and 70s. Some were simply copper plated, others got painted white. This did not exactly improve the state of the apparatus as a telephone. More about this on the page on the Expoga D30.