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Reviews Categories | Keys & Paddles | Skillman Deluxe H.S.K. Help

Reviews Summary for Skillman Deluxe H.S.K.
Skillman Deluxe H.S.K. Reviews: 2 Average rating: 4.0/5 MSRP: $(missing—add MSRP)
Description: Japanese all metal J-38 with shorting bar and ball bearing pivots. Identical to the Ameco K-4.
Product is in production.
More info: http://
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W3JTM Rating: 4/5 Nov 2, 2009 21:31 Send this review to a friend
A Good Key  Time owned: more than 12 months
While researching my old keys, I was amazed to find a review of my trusty old Skillman Deluxe H.S.K straight key here. I believe this was my first key and was purchased new in 1960. It’s a good key and has many FB QSOs run through its contacts.

This key was made in Japan while they were learning to be the world class manufacturer they are today. But back in 1960 they hadn’t achieved that prominence. At the time, “Made in Japan” meant inexpensive and possibly not the best quality, somewhat like “Made in China” means today. As a result, while the key is solidly made, the fit and finish are a little rough in spots. Two of the flaws mentioned by the previous reviewer are also present in my key. The first was that the key arm had to be adjusted slightly left of center so the contacts would align. The second was that only the front arc of the contacts touched.

Despite these small flaws, the key performed very well. I used it for at least a year before wanting to try something different. Perhaps keys are to hams as shoes are to women. My next key was my trusty old Speed-X model 320. I liked the Navy style knob and it seemed lighter and more responsive in my hand. As a result my Skillman lies forlornly in a desk drawer next to a J-38 that was never used. It deserves better. 73, Jack W3JTM
KE4MOB Rating: 4/5 Nov 7, 2003 12:53 Send this review to a friend
Good usable key, but not a Speed-X!!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Ok, I paid a full $10 for this key off eBay, so I figure I didn't have that much to lose. I was looking for a decent back up key to use when I go portable, but didn't want anything too fancy or expensive. While it may not be perfect for my use (more about that later), it's still a great key for the price.

The feel of this key is very, very good. Right up there with my Speed-X J-38. The knob is a little bit thicker with a more rounded edge and a little bit larger in diameter than what's on the Speed-X, and acutally is more comfortable on the fingers than the Speed-X knob, which I find to have too finer of an edge. The shorting bar is a tad too straight...when it's pulled to close the key, the knob on the shorting bar is almost in contact with the lever.

The finish is brass, although not as high a quality as one finds on the Speed-X. There are heavy grind marks present around the area where the pivot supports meet the base. There is also a sprue burr on the shorting lever that should have been removed at the time of manufacture, as I can easily see the day I'll rip my hand open on it. The base itself is a tiny bit larger than a Speed-X meaning that a base made for a Speed-X won't fit this key, and vice versa.

Adjustment screws are smaller than a Speed-X, and the binding posts are of the through hole type. The tensioning spring seems a bit stiffer than is what on my Speed-X. The contacts don't completely line up..laterally the lineup is good, but if the key is closed and you look at the contacts from the side, you can see the front third of the contact is all that is actually making contact. Same thing with the pivot locking can see a sliver of daylight between the left locking nut and the pivot support post when the locking nut is advanced all the way forward, meaning there is some sort of mechanical misalignment. It's not enough to affect performance, but it's just a little detail that should have been paid attention to.

And then there are the bearings. In my opinion, they pretty much are a gimmick that have no real impact on performance. When I first got the key I did a side by side comparison with the Speed-X, and found that there was really no measurable difference in performance. Upon careful inspection, I discovered the grease had solidified, thus rendering any benefit of the bearings moot. Even after cleaning and repacking, no difference was noted. On the other hand, the bearings do pose a handling issue...I wouldn't want to take this key mobile/portable, as one turn of a screw can end up dumping the bearings on the floor!!

All in all, it's a good performer with some cosmetic/quality issues. It's not a Speed-X by any stretch of the imagination, but for $10, hey, I can't complain. I'm keeping it as a spare.


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