Modifying RJ12 Telco Jacks

In this blog, we're going to take a bit of a detour from our module construction to modify some RJ12 6-wire telephone jacks.  We're going to need some measurements off of these modified jacks so that we can install our DCC system.  

I use the Digitrax DCC system so I want to be able to plug in my throttles on each side of the modules.  I can do this through the Digitrax UP3/5 Panel, or, I can use RJ12 6-wire telephone house jacks.  However, the package, "as is", is quite thick so I'm going to modify the faceplate to make it a lot thinner.  We're going to show you how to modify two types of telco jacks - the regular style and the "Contempra" style. 

To use the RJ12 telco jacks, I trim the sides so as to reduce the thickness of the installed package from 1/4"/ 3/8" down to about 1/8".  I do this by cutting the raised edges of the jack. 

Twist and snap the jacks out of the face plate (a good twist with the wrist will do the trick).
1) Cover the front of the faceplate with masking tape to reduce any scratching.

2) Using a sharp utility knife, lightly score the inside edge of the faceplate at the bottom of the 'fillet" (the bottom of the curve).  Repeat this process - lightly score the inside edge of the faceplate.  After about 5-6 times, the utility knife will have cut through the plastic faceplate.  If necessary, stand the faceplate on edge and cut the plastic so that the edge is completely cut out.

3) Discard the cut edge. 

4) Using cutters or rail nippers, cut off the two plastic lugs that are usually used to screw the telco jack into an electrical box.

5) File the two plastic lugs so that they are flush with the surface of the faceplate.  File the edges to get rid of any plastic flash.  Make sure that any remains of the plastic fillet are filed flush with the surface of the faceplate on all 4 edges. 

6) Reinstall the two jacks into the faceplate. 

We've now modified the RJ12 telco jack so that it will fit nicely into holes we'll cut into the two side pieces.

The "Contempra" style of RJ12 telco jack is readily available at many building supply stores such as Home Depot.  In addition to the faceplate and two jacks, this telco jack includes a steel frame that provides a very sturdy fit into a regular electrical box.  However, if we install it "as is", we'll have to recess the jack at least 3/8" into the side pieces.   It's very easy to modify the "Contempra" telco jack so that it will be nice and slim for our purposes.

1) Unscrew and discard the two screws that hold the faceplate to the steel frame.  This will free up the inner face plate and the two jacks. 

2) Mask the front of the outer faceplate.

3) Insert a slotted screwdriver under the angled corner of the jack and twist so that the jack snaps out of the inner faceplate.  Pressure may be required as the jacks are tightly held in place. Repeat the process for the second jack. 

4) There are two small plastic lugs protruding through small holes on each side of the steel frame.  Cut these two plastic lugs off with a utility knife.

5) Pull the steel frame away from the faceplate.  Discard the steel frame.

We're now ready to cut the outer edge of the faceplate so that we trim the thickness of the package from 3/8" down to a more reasonable 1/8".

6) Using a sharp utility knife, lightly score the inside edge of the faceplate at the bottom of the 'fillet" (the bottom of the curve).  Repeat this process - lightly score the inside edge of the faceplate.  The faceplate is very thick.  After about 8-9 times, the utility knife will cut through the plastic faceplate.  If necessary, stand the faceplate on edge and cut the plastic so that the edge is completely cut out.

7) Discard the cut edge. 

8) File the two plastic lugs that screw the telco jack into an electrical box so that the lugs are flush with the surface of the faceplate.  File the two edges to get rid of any plastic flash.  Make sure that any remains of the plastic fillet are filed flush with the surface of the faceplate on all 4 edges.

9) Epoxy the inner part of the faceplate into the modified outer part of the faceplate.  Let the epoxy set overnight.

10) Install the two jacks into the faceplate.

Our telco jacks ("Contempra" and regular) should look like the ones below. 

We've taken a bit of a detour in our module construction by modifying our telco jacks.  However, without modifiying the jacks, we wouldn't be ready to locate and cut out the holes for these jacks.  Our next step is to determine the size (length and width) of the holes we have to cut in the side pieces. 

Of course, if we had used the Digitrax UP3/5 panel, we wouldn't have had to take this detour.  Whether you detour or not will depend on how much you want to spend on your LocoNet cabling. 

Next, we locate and cut out holes for our telco jacks and UP3/5 panels

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