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Author Topic: Rehab for my grandfather's key  (Read 4611 times)

Posts: 15

« on: July 06, 2006, 10:23:58 AM »

I now have my grandfather's (w3LMB/sk) telegraph key and dearly cherish it. I'm not sure what model or year it is, however it was manufactured by the Signal Electric Manufacturing company of Menomine, Michigan.

I am an active CW enthusiast on 20m. I've been using his key, but it is becoming harder and harder to use because several of the parts are worn out and the key falls easily out of adjustment. Particularly,
there are some screws that have dimples in the end which tighten down on two pins stuck through the key's arm, which they pivot around. Over many decades those dimples have worn and in fact, the walls are bulged
through, and in some places have entirely failed. In a worn out cup like that, the pivot needles also are wearing fast.

The key is becoming increasingly hard to adjust and use, but I cherish it very much and don't want to just lock it in a dusty cabinet and move onto something modern. I want to keep using it, but the more I use it in its current condition, the faster it deteriorates.

Singapore is a very small country and I have very little space here. Thus I don't have a good workshop or access to many tools. It's quite infeasible for me to
do a serious restoration of this key.

Are there any real craftsmen who do "telegraph key restoration" ??  I'd like to get it fully renovated, but only someone highly experienced and trustworthy.

Posts: 3746

« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2006, 06:49:25 PM »

hi michael,

you may want to try a jeweler or watch repair shop,
they should be able to repair or replace the worn parts
and get the key to as new condition.

73 james

Posts: 40

« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2006, 01:09:20 PM »

Why don't you check with the radio clubs down in the country you're in.  There might be someone around that has the skills to fix such a wonderful and intricate item.

You may want to check E-Bay periodically and see if there is the same key on auction that you may be able to steal parts from.

I hope you find what you need!

Posts: 191

« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2006, 10:09:23 AM »

I think, repeat think, your bug was one of the few that came as a kit and was assembled by the owner. The company has been out of business for years. Frequently any bug sold for parts has some parts that can be adapted to any other bug. I had an old post-war Nye-Viking bug that was shot. I used both dit and dah contacts as replacements for my old 1920s Vibroplex Blue Racer. I have kept the rest of that parts-bug for further needs, if necessary.

Many bugs followed similar machining specs. See if you can pick up a parts bug, cheap. You may get lucky. Vibroplex new parts are rather expensive.

Good luck.

Posts: 15

« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2006, 04:04:15 AM »

Actually it is just a straight, brass key.

Posts: 6252

« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2006, 09:44:37 AM »

Your key was made by The Signal Electric Manufacturing Company of Minominee, Michigan, manufacturers of various radio, electrical and medical devices.  They also made devices for the government and armed forces as well as being the owner of radio station KFLB in the mid 1900s.  Signal Electric was either bought out or went out of business many years ago.

The devices manufactured by them seem to use parts commonly available at that time.  From what I've been able to gather, the key may have been made for the US armed forces, it may be constructed to a more robust standard than other more common keys.  

I agree with an earlier poster, a watch or clock shop may be the best way to go for you, they may be able to restore the key or provide the parts for you to do it yourself.

Good Luck and 73!  
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