Antique Phone Junction Box in a 8-Plex

This is incorrect. Telco protectors are the responsibility of the telco.

This is also incorrect and potentially dangerous. Without circuit protection, the phone line and any equipment connected to it are vulnerable to voltage surge damage and/or destruction.

If manipulating the obsolete protector "cleared-up" his trouble temporarily, it has NOT been replaced - it is still being used.
If/when the telco replaces the old protector, they should install a Standard Network Interface Device that usually includes a NEW protector. At that time, the old, abandoned equipment SHOULD (note "should") be removed. Some less-than-enthusiastic technicians simply abandon the old stuff "in place". (They leave it mounted but it is disconnected.)

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