Instructions for mounting a Western Electric Payphone using my install kit

Published: 10/27/2017

Instructions for mounting a Western Electric single slot payphone.

Contents of kit:

1-178A aluminum backboard

4-security studs

2-locking bolts



Remove the upper housing from the phone. Place the T key in the slot on the left side of the phone and then place the upper housing key in the lock on the right side of the phone and turn the key clockwise (this will release the locking rails inside the upper housing). Turn the T key about 1/3 turn counterclockwise, you will hear the rails drop. Slide the upper housing using a wiggling motion towards you. The upper housing runs through 2 channels on the main housing. Take a look at the lower edges of the upper housing as you pull it part way open. Before the housing is all the way off, reach into the opening on the right side, you will see a wire that comes from the back of the upper housing and plugs into the chassis inside the phone, there is a finger loop on the plug to enable you to grasp it. Support the upper housing with one hand (so it doesn’t get pushed and fall, it is heavy) and reach in with the other hand and unplug the plug. Then carefully pull the upper housing the rest of the way off and set it down.

Observe how the line cord enters through the rear of the main housing and the 2 terminals it connects to inside the phone. Loosen the screws on both terminals to release the wires and pull the cord out through the back of the phone.

Install the 178A mounting plate with the word TOP facing you and at the top of the board. Secure it to the wall using at least four 2 inch long #10 wood screws utilizing any of the indented holes on the plate, all screws must go securely into studs or other solid wood structure. For other materials (concrete, steel, sheetrock etc) use appropriate fasteners. As you install the mounting plate channel the line cord that was removed earlier (or another cord or house wire if desired) up behind the mounting plate and through the oval shaped hole that lines up with the similar shaped hole on the back of the phone. Be careful when installing the board that the wire doesn’t get pinched between the plate and the wall. Leave the wire with the terminals that connect inside the phone coming about 6 inches out of the hole in the plate.

Install the 4 security studs on the back of the phone. There are several holes on the back of the main housing but only 4 that are threaded which will accept the security studs. Tighten them with a screwdriver. Now, install the main housing onto the mounting plate. Use caution, the phone is heavy. While lifting and lining up the main housing with the mounting plate push the wire through the hole in the back of the phone, as you continue installing the main hosing onto the mounting plate make sure the wire has no slack in it, you want the wire to come straight out of the mounting plate and enter into the phone, and not to get pinched in between. Line up the 4 security studs with the key hole shaped openings in the mounting plate and set them in, then slide the lower housing down in the holes to lock them in. Be sure that all 4 security studs are locked into the mounting plate. Reconnect the 2 wires previously removed to the same terminals they were removed from inside the phone. Install the upper housing.

With the key still in the right side of the upper housing and the T key still in the open position, carefully lift the upper housing and plug the round plug at the back of the upper housing back into the socket inside the phone. The plug is round and will only go in one way. Line the upper housing up so that it’s bottom edges (left and right) will line it up with the channels of the main housing and begin to slide it back while wiggling as necessary. Before it gets all the way back, make sure the wire to the plug doesn’t get caught between the housings. (Be careful to keep your fingers clear as not to catch them as the gap closes). Latch the housing rails by turning the T key clockwise. If the upper housing isn’t completely seated the T key won’t turn all the way. Make sure, all 4 corners of the upper housing are pushed back all the way. Once the T key is turned to the locked position, turn the key on the right side counter clockwise and remove it.

Using the T key remove the vault door, insert the T key into the slot in the center of the door and rotate it 1/3 turn to the left, carefully remove the door, some wiggling may be necessary. At the back of the vault area there are 4 holes where bolts can be screwed into the back plate, install the 2 locking bolts supplied in this kit into any (2) of the holes and tighten with a screwdriver. While the security studs will support the phone on the mounting plate, these screws will lock it on so that if the phone was lifted it couldn’t come loose. With the T key still inserted in the vault door in the unlocked position reinstall the door. Some pressure will have to be put on the door pressing it towards the back of the phone, turn the T key to the right and remove it and the door is locked.


• Some older touch tone phones are polarity sensitive. While I test all phones for operation I have no way of knowing if you line is correct or reversed. If your phone gets dial tone but won’t produce tones when the buttons are pressed the polarity is wrong. By using the directions found in the installation portion remove the upper housing and disconnect the 2 (red and green) wires from the line cord and reverse them. This should take care of the problem. If you have access to the phone jack you can reverse the wires there instead which may be easier. This is not an issue with rotary phones or my payphones that actually require coins to work.

• Once installed you may see a slightly uneven gap between the back of the phone and the mounting plate, this is normal.