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Author Topic: Vibroplex Deluxe Lightning Bug Assistance  (Read 4313 times)
W3JAR
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Posts: 50




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« on: December 10, 2013, 03:18:58 PM »

Hi Everyone,
Recently I helped a SK's estate sell his gear. The family was kind enough to send me his prized Vibroplex Deluxe Lightning Bug. It is absolutely beautiful. However, I was wondering if you could help me ensure it has all of the parts. Here are the close-up pictures: http://imgur.com/a/LkubQ#2

I know it needs a new thumb paddle, and one of the terminals has a nut on it that I would be getting replaced. My question is that aside from those two items, is there anything else that I might need to replace? One of the springs also seems to be make-shift, but was not sure. I was hoping all of you would be able to assist.

I am still in the kiddie pool of CW on 7.110-7.116, so I don't need this now. However, I would love to eventually learn how to send on this.

I appreciate your help!
John W3JAR
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W9GB
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Posts: 2623




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« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2013, 03:45:54 PM »

Vibroplex, Inc. is now based in Knoxville, TN
http://vibroplex.com/index.html

Vibroplex
2906 Tazewell Pike
Suite A2B
Knoxville, TN 37918
USA
Email: vibroplex@vibroplex.com

PARTS list for Lightning Bug #6
http://vibroplex.com/lightning_bug_parts_list_01_15_07_converted.pdf

Lightning Bug #6 - Drawings
http://vibroplex.com/lightning_bug_machine_drawing.pdf
« Last Edit: December 10, 2013, 03:48:30 PM by W9GB » Logged
W3JAR
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Posts: 50




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« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2013, 04:34:03 PM »

Thanks for the links, and there are a few parts that I know I am going to need. I guess I should just get new springs then? Just want to make sure I am procuring the parts that need to be replaced and not ones that i think should be replaced.
Thank you!
John
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WV1N
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Posts: 19




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« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2013, 05:33:58 PM »

It looks to me that everything is present.  The fingerpieces that are sold today are a brighter red than the one you have.  Therefore I would first try crazyglueing the broken paddle so that the color matches.  Go through a bug adjustment before deciding to change the spings.  The ones you have look pretty good.  You can get bigger weights from vibroplex to slow it down.  There are several videos on Youtube to show you how to set it up. 
Good luck with it.  It's a beautiful bug and deserves the effort you will make to master it.

Bill, WV1N
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W9GB
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« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2013, 05:54:14 PM »

John -

Another option, is to look at Donnie Garrett's paddle offerings.
http://www.2bradioparts.com/page39.html

His Red Opaque may be a good match.  NOTE the thickness of the paddles.
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W3JAR
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Posts: 50




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« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2013, 06:30:43 PM »

It looks to me that everything is present.  The fingerpieces that are sold today are a brighter red than the one you have.  Therefore I would first try crazyglueing the broken paddle so that the color matches.  Go through a bug adjustment before deciding to change the spings.  The ones you have look pretty good.  You can get bigger weights from vibroplex to slow it down.  There are several videos on Youtube to show you how to set it up. 
Good luck with it.  It's a beautiful bug and deserves the effort you will make to master it.

Bill, WV1N
I love the idea of crazy glue! It is crazy enough to work! Will give it a shot! I do need to spend some time aligning it as the springs do not seem to have as much pushback, but that is in all cases my fault. Thank you for the assistance and for making me not jump to conclusions!
John
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W3JAR
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Posts: 50




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« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2013, 06:32:26 PM »

John -

Another option, is to look at Donnie Garrett's paddle offerings.
http://www.2bradioparts.com/page39.html

His Red Opaque may be a good match.  NOTE the thickness of the paddles.
Thanks for the other offering! That might be a fantastic longer term option for me. I appreciate the help and the advice. Have a fantastic night!
John
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K7MH
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Posts: 339




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« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2013, 10:22:56 PM »

I wouldn't go too crazy buying new parts unless you really need them. A lot of the replacement parts are a bit pricey. I restored a Vibroplex Iambic Deluxe and needed all new screws. After seeing the price for a set of them from Vibroplex that were as I recall a dull finish, I locally bought all new stainless screws for a fraction of the cost from Vibroplex. They look far better with all the chrome around them.
They want $1.50 each for 1/16" roll pins for the finger pieces on the Brass Racer. I bought 100 of them for $3 on ebay. They were hard to find in the right size and I did have to wait a couple months before I found them.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2013, 10:29:03 PM by K7MH » Logged
K3STX
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Posts: 983




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« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2013, 03:01:31 AM »

It is hard to tell for sure, but it is not clear that the dad contact spring is not original. But I think the thumbnut for this spring is NOT original. It is easy to make springs more "springey"; pull them out! Gently. Also, remember bugs get slapped around a bit more than modern paddles, so you DO want some tension.

When you Crazy Glue the paddle, PLEASE remove the finger piece from the paddle!!! And try not to get glue INSIDE the hole for the screw; that hole is threaded and gluee will screw it up (no pun intended). But that is one beautiful bug!!!! If you have never used one, let me recommend some sort of "bug tamer" that will slow it down to below 15 wpm. I bet with that one weight your minimum speed is 27 wpm.

Paul
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N3HEE
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Posts: 117




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« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2013, 05:49:00 AM »

Donnie also sells great bug weights.  I am using them (1.9OZ) on my bugs.  I get a speed range of about 15WPM to 30+WPM.  They are very high quality and quite affordable.  http://www.2bradioparts.com/page33.html  
« Last Edit: December 11, 2013, 05:51:31 AM by KB3KJS » Logged
K7MEM
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« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2013, 04:43:08 AM »

I wouldn't go replacing parts needlessly. I would find it odd that the springs are worn out. The soft touch on the key may have been intentional by the original user. The Vibroplex web site should also have a document on how to adjust a key properly. Once you get the basic adjustments on it, you can then customize the touch and feel to your own tastes. I like their instructions because the picture looks exactly like my key.

Most Vibroplex keys will last a life time. Maybe even longer. Here is a view of my Vibroplex Blue Racer, circa 1916. I'm missing the shorting shoe, and there is a crack in the shaft, but it still works fine. I will have to check W9GB's links for possible replacements. Only a couple of more years and it will be 100 years old. I wonder if there is a key century club?

http://www.k7mem.com/manuals/keys/Bug_View_2.jpg

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Martin - K7MEM

http://www.k7mem.com
W9GB
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Posts: 2623




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« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2013, 05:16:19 AM »

One of the Best Books that I bought in 2005 was from Bill Smith, W4PAL.
Now in his 90s, He provides great tips, suggestions, and methods for restorers.
http://www.wrsmithtelegraphkeys.com

The restoration work of a Basket Case Vibroplex Double Lever (rare) was amazing.

TELEGRAPH KEY RESTORATION BY W.R. SMITH - W4PAL
http://w1tp.com/mwr.htm
« Last Edit: December 12, 2013, 05:22:50 AM by W9GB » Logged
W3JAR
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Posts: 50




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« Reply #12 on: December 12, 2013, 05:26:41 AM »

Thanks everyone for your assistance! This weekend I will go ahead and glue the finger piece together (while off of the vibroplex and away from the screw hole) and adjust. If I cant seem to get the adjustments to work, I will look into seeing if any of the aftermarket mushy springs are the culprit!

I appreciate the help, links and advice from everyone! All the best!
John
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K3STX
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Posts: 983




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« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2013, 06:35:05 AM »

John

Here is a link to a YouTube video that shows you how to adjust the bug  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qekmyx31Uxw

You can go to my website at k3stx.com   and click the MORSE CODE KEYS tab at the top and look at a picture of a Deluxe Lightning bug. This is what it is supposed to look like. If you notice the thumbnut holding the dah spring, i think yours looks a bit different. Not sure if Vibroplex did that or not. But since the on thumbnut on the binding posts is also not original, I suspect not. If nothing else, I would turn that thumbnut BACKWARDS, so the thumbnut part is facing OUT (not the "flat" washer like part facing out).

Have fun with the bug, they are great.

paul
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