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Author Topic: J-38/37 type keys?  (Read 441 times)
K7IHC
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Posts: 269




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« on: December 21, 2003, 04:41:05 AM »

I'm looking at getting my first key, and I see the J-38 and some J-37 type keys out there in good condition and for a decent price.  Are these good straight keys and what's the difference between the 38 and 37?  What is *overpriced* for this type of key?
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K5CEY
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Posts: 217




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« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2003, 04:14:41 PM »

Either the J38 or the J37 are good basic straight keys.

The 38 would be favored in my opinion. It is totally conventional in design and is usually of solid brass construction (except for the lever). It also has a circuit closer lever.

The 37 has a main frame made of phenolic instead of metal and uses a strip of spring steel for the return spring instead of a traditional coil spring. And does not have the circuit closer lever. It looks to me as if it were designed for practice or light weight portable use.

I have both models and enjoy using either.

Fair price? Maybe someone else will respond to that.
Either will last a life time if they are purchased in good condition.
                   John  K5CEY
                   
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VA7CPC
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Posts: 2386




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« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2003, 12:24:59 PM »

FWIW --

Ham Radio Outlet (and other places) sell an Amelco K-4 key.   It's basically a J38, upgraded with ball bearings.

Costs under $20 (which is comparable to the cost of a 50-year-old J-38) and gets decent reviews on eHam.net.
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20595




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« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2003, 01:22:33 PM »

I'm still getting over trying to believe that WW2 J-38s are selling for more than $2 each, which is all any of us paid for them 35-40 years ago.  My first few keys were all J-38s and I think the most expensive one was $2, purchased "new surplus" from an Army-Navy store in Manhattan.

Used ones used to sell for $1.

Wow...
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KE4MOB
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Posts: 721


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« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2003, 01:36:48 PM »

Used J-38's run about $10 for the ball-bearing Japanese versions off eBay. They are OK keys, but the ball bearings are a gimmick IMHO, and make teardown and cleaning a pain.

Non-ball bearing keys (EF Johnson and Nye Viking Speed-X's) go for more. These are good quality keys and darn near indestructable...the design is about perfect.

Of course then there are the "designer" straight keys selling for $$$.

For a beginner, spending somewhere between $10 and $25 will get you a very good used basic key off eBay--ball bearings or not.
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KG9HV
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Posts: 38




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« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2003, 03:44:20 PM »

I have one of the Ameco straight keys that is like
a JJ-38, a japanese version of the J-38. You can
get them from AES for about $17 if you like a flimsy
cheap key. I also have a Nye Viking #310-003 which is
a nice key. I got the optional black aluminum base
which is a bit light for my liking, but functional.
I also have a Lionel J-38. This is a very well built
key with a nice feel. Laying it side by side next to
the Nye Viking, the Lionel larger and heavier built.
I don't think your going to find a Lionel or Nye Viking Speed-x for no $15. But you can get a Lionel
for $40-$50 range in good shape. The J-37 was a good
key also and can be had for a good price. These were
used up through Viet Nam. I have seen these new in
the package on Ebay and make a good straight key for
the shack. The Lionel J-38, the J-37, or Nye Viking
would be a good key for you...I cannot recommend the
Ameco as I don't think you will like the springy feel.
You can get a nice Schurr or GHD straight key for
$300 if you really want to splurg..
Happy Holidays
John KG9HV
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