Yes I did try and the SWR was well over 1.5 and I don't want to push it over that limit if I can help it.
1.5 : 1 shouldn't be any problem for a transmitter. While there may be some transmitters that start
to throttle back the output at this level because they don't have enough margin, but a reasonable
design should handle at least 2 : 1 without problems. (Most tube radios will handle a much wider
range than this.) I can't remember ever having a problem with the operating SWR bandwidth of
a 40m dipole, even one with thin wire: I just string it up and use it across the band.
But, yes, you can use an antenna tuner to extend the SWR bandwidth of an antenna. This is
more commonly done on 80m, where the 500kHz represents a much wider percentage bandwidth.
Or, one approach I've used for 80m dipoles is to tie the insulator in a few feet from the end of the
wire and tie it off to the end support with rope in the normal manner. I put an alligator clip on a
short piece of string (so it is INSULATED from the wire) and I can vary the resonant frequency by
clipping it out the support rope (lowest frequency), back up the antenna wire (highest frequency),
or somewhere in between to tune the dipole exactly where you want it without having to cut the