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Pete Theer, 191 FM 2313, Kempner, Texas 76539-8672  USA

Current CW Equipment - Semi-Auto Keys (Bugs)
CW Key

Click HERE to learn more about semi-automatic keys or bugs  (including parts terminology) in general. 
 
Hi Mound BK-100 "Casket Key" Bugs (No SN)
Approximate year of manufacture: 1953 to 1968
This photo was taken as soon as they arrived and before cleaning.  A new clear plastic cover has been received to replace the broken one (left). The plastic replacement covers are available from Morse Express (Part# BK-100C):  http://www.morsex.com . These were imported from the Japanese manufacturers  Swallow/ Dentsuseiki, Jelectro or Hi Mound, and resold under various names (Monarch, Skillman, etc.) from several sources including Lafayette Radio Shack and Allied Radio in the 1960's. There is no manufacturer's identification on them anywhere.  They're just marked "JAPAN" on the bottom. The bottom  is painted orange and the speed scale is cream.
More Info: http://www.radioblvd.com/telegraph_keys.htm
HiMound BK-100 Casket Key Bugs
Hi Mound BK-100 "Casket Key" Bug (No SN)
Approximate year of manufacture: 1953 to 1968
Purchased on eBay in August 2009.  (eBay photo)
These were imported from the Japanese manufacturers  Swallow/ Dentsuseiki, Jelectro or Hi Mound, and resold under various names (Monarch, Skillman, etc.) from several sources including Lafayette Radio Shack and Allied Radio in the 1960's. There is no manufacturer's identification on them anywhere.  They're just marked "JAPAN" on the bottom.  This key differs from those above in that the speed scale is black and the bottom is painted gray.  The plastic cover on this key was severely broken in 4 pieces during shipping, but a new one has been received from Morsex to replace it. 
More Info: http://www.radioblvd.com/telegraph_keys.htm
Hi Mound BK100 "Casket Key"
Les Logan Speed-X Bug Model 500 (1) - (No SN)
Approximate year of manufacture: 1937 to 1947.
Purchased on eBay in March, 2009. Manufacture date unknown since these keys were not serial numbered, but the company manufactured Speed-X bugs from 1937 to 1947 when the company along with the Speed-X name  was sold to E.F. Johnson. This particular key is finished in a black crackle including the "T" frame.  It has several "paint splash spots" that will have to be cleaned.
More Info:
http://www.zianet.com/sparks/timeline.html
and: http://www.radioblvd.com/telegraph_keys.htm
Les Logan Model 500 - Black 'T' Frame
Les Logan Speed-X Bug Model 500 (2) - (No SN)
Approximate year of manufacture: 1937 to 1947.
Purchased on eBay inNovember 2010. Manufacture date unknown since these keys were not serial numbered, but the company manufactured Speed-X bugs from 1937 to 1947 when the company along with the Speed-X name  was sold to E.F. Johnson. This particular key is finished in a black crackle including the "T" frame.  The circuit closer knob is missing but I have a spare.
More Info:
http://www.zianet.com/sparks/timeline.html
and: http://www.radioblvd.com/telegraph_keys.htm
Les Logan Speed-X Model 500
Les Logan Speed-X Bug Model 500 (3) - (No SN)
Approximate year of manufacture: 1937 to 1947.
Purchased on eBay in March, 2009 from Kelsey, KK6AW. Manufacture date unknown since these keys were not serial numbered, but the Les Logan Co. manufactured bugs from 1937 to 1947 when the company along with the Speed-X name  was sold to E.F. Johnson.
This particular key is finished in a black crackle But the "T" frame is nickel plated. Notice the difference in the style of weights between the Les Logan and E.F. Johnson Speed-X bugs below.
More Info:
http://www.zianet.com/sparks/timeline.html
and.: http://www.radioblvd.com/telegraph_keys.htm
Les Logan Model 500 - Polished  'T' Frame
Les Logan Speed-X Bug Model 501 - (No SN)
Approximate Year of Manufacture: 1937 to 1947.
Purchased  on eBay, November 2010 (eBay Photo)
The Model 501 incorporated a "T" shaped frame for convenience in carrying the key. The bug could also be turned on its side and used as a straight key.  This is a "Professional" model with nickel plated base. The "pot metal" T-Bar was broken in shipping...
The Speed-X line of bugs was built by  the Les Logan Co. of San Francisco, Ca. from 1937 to 1947.  It was sold to the E.F. Johnson Co. of Waseca, MN in 1947.
More Info:  http://www.zianet.com/sparks/timeline.html
and.: http://www.radioblvd.com/telegraph_keys.htm
Les Logan Model 501 bug
Les Logan Speed-X Bug Model 515  - (No SN)
Approximate year of manufacture: 1937 to 1947.
Purchased on eBay in November, 2010
This bug is brand new, still mounted on the shipping board and never used.  Manufacture date unknown since these keys were not serial numbered, but the Les Logan Co. manufactured bugs from 1937 to 1947 when the company along with the Speed-X name  was sold to E.F. Johnson.
More Info:  http://www.zianet.com/sparks/timeline.html
and.: http://www.radioblvd.com/telegraph_keys.htm
NEW Les Logan Model 515
Les Logan "Reverse Frame" Bug - (No SN)
Approximate year of manufacture: 1930's
Purchased on eBay in July 2009. (eBay photo)
It took some research to discover what this bug was. These were made by the Les Logan company in the 1930's and sold without a label to various retail outlets in America according to the Morsemad.com website.  This one is in excellent condition with a black crackle base.
The frame is chrome or nickel plated.  There is a photo of a nickel plated one on the below website. The dit paddle is mounted off center in such a way that it can be reversed to be higher than the dash knob.
More Info:  http://www.morsemad.com/bugs.htm
Les Logan Reverse Frame Bug
Les Logan "Reverse Frame" Bug - (No SN)
Approximate year of manufacture: 1930's
Purchased on eBay in September 2009. (eBay photo)
It took some research to discover what this bug was. These were made by the Les Logan company in the 1930's and sold without a label to various retail outlets in America according to the Morsemad.com website.  This one is in excellent condition with a black crackle base.
Unlike the key above, this one has the frame painted in black crackle also.  The dit  paddle is mounted as above.
More Info:  http://www.morsemad.com/bugs.htm
Les Logan Reverse Frame bug
Les Logan "Reverse Frame" Chrome Bug - (No SN)
Approximate year of manufacture: 1930's
Purchased on eBay in August 2009. (eBay photo)
It took some research to discover what this bug was. These were made by the Les Logan company in the 1930's and sold without a label to various retail outlets in America according to the Morsemad.com website.  This one is in excellent condition with a Chrome or Nickel  plated  base. There is a photo of a nickel plated one on the below website. Unlike the 2 keys above, the dit paddle is center mounted.

More Info:  http://www.morsemad.com/bugs.htm
Les Logan Reverse Frame Chrome Bug
E.F. Johnson Speed-X Bug Early Model 501 - (No SN)
Approximate Year of Manufacture: 1947  to early 1950's
Purchased March 16, 2009 from Milt,  K4OSO. (K4OSO photo)

The Model 501 incorporated a "T" shaped frame for convenience in carrying the key. The bug could also be turned on its side and used as a straight key.  This is a "Professional" model with nickel plated base. It is complete, all original, and sends good clean code.
The Speed-X line of bugs was built by  the Les Logan Co. of San Francisco, Ca. from 1937 to 1947.  It was sold to the E.F. Johnson Co. of Waseca, MN in 1947.
More Info:
http://www.zianet.com/sparks/timeline.html
and.: http://www.radioblvd.com/telegraph_keys.htm

E..F. Johnson Speed-X Model 501
E.F. Johnson Speed-X Bug Late Model 501 - (No SN)
Approximate Year of Manufacture: 1950's - 1960's
Purchased January 2011 on eBay (eBay photo)

The Later Model 501 dropped the "T" shaped frame and replaced it with a triangular plate style frame and new nameplate   This is a "Professional" model with chrome plated base and hardware. It is complete, all original, and sends good clean code.  The Speed-X line of bugs was built by  the Les Logan Co. of San Francisco, Ca. from 1937 to 1947.  It was then sold to the E.F. Johnson Co. of Waseca, MN in 1947 and then to William Nye in 1972..  More Info:  http://www.zianet.com/sparks/timeline.html
and.: http://www.radioblvd.com/telegraph_keys.htm

EF Johnson Speed-X Late Model 501
E.F. Johnson Speed-X Bug Model 510 - (No SN)
Approximate Year of Manufacture: 1947 to early 1950's
(Included with a Vibroplex on eBay 2009). (eBay photo)

 2.5" black crackle base. Someone modified this bug to act as paddles.  The dot contact has been moved from it's original position to the right front where the Circuit Closer switch was and the wiring is redone to provide 3 wires instead of two. I'll probably never locate the parts to restore it to bug status, so for the time being it will stay this way and be used for parts.
More Info: http://www.zianet.com/sparks/timeline.html
and.: http://www.radioblvd.com/telegraph_keys.htm
E.F. Johnson Speed-X Model 510
E.F. Johnson Speed-X Bug Model 520 (1)- (No SN)
Approximate Year of Manufacture: 1947 to early 1950's
Purchased on eBay February 2009. (eBay photo)
This bug is functional, complete and all original except for the missing finger pieces.  I've since installed  the finger pieces from the above cannibalized "bug".  Suitable replacement finger pieces are also available from Tom French of Artifax Books.  http://www.artifaxbooks.com
More Info: http://www.zianet.com/sparks/timeline.html
and.: http://www.radioblvd.com/telegraph_keys.htm
E.F. Johnson Speed-X Model 520
E.F. Johnson Speed-X Bug Model 520 (2)- (No SN)
Approximate Year of Manufacture: 1947 to early 1950's.
Purchased on eBay April 2009. (eBay photo)

This bug is fully functional, complete and all original.  It is equipped with the later plastic finger pieces instead of the earlier bakelite ones. (see above)

More Info:  http://www.zianet.com/sparks/timeline.html
and.: http://www.radioblvd.com/telegraph_keys.htm

E.F. Johnson Speed-X Model 520, #2
E.F. Johnson Speed-X Bug Model 520 (3)- (No SN)
Approximate Year of Manufacture: 1950's to 1967.
Purchased on eBay November 2010. (eBay photo)
This bug is fully functional, complete and all original.  It is equipped with the later plastic finger pieces instead of the earlier bakelite ones. (see above). This one is equipped with the new style nameplate. After 30 minutes of cleaning, it now looks like new. Bugs were dropped from the E.F. Johnson Speed-X Line in 1967. The Speed-X .Company was then sold to William Nye in 1972.
More Info:  http://www.zianet.com/sparks/timeline.html
and.: http://www.radioblvd.com/telegraph_keys.htm
E.F. Johnson Speed-X Model 520
"Hole in the Wall" Bug - TAC Model 510 (1) - (No SN)
Approximate year of manufacture: 1944 to 1946
Purchased on eBay, April 2009. (eBay photo)
 Manufactured by the Telegraph Apparatus Co., formed in Chicago by T.R. McElroy with his associates Joe Goode and Frank Bascomb. They manufactured bugs during World War II from 1944 to 1946 for civilian use while McElroy's Company in Boston was busy making "MacKeys" for the Military. This is a LARGE  key built on a 4" wide gray crackle base.  The nickname "Hole in the Wall" comes from the square frame with a round hole in the middle for the lever to pass through.
More Info: http://artifaxbooks.com/fsmcelroy.htm
TAC 'Hole in the Wall' bug Model 510
"Hole in the Wall" Bug - TAC Model 510 (2) - (No SN)
Approximate year of manufacture: 1944 to 1946
Purchased from Tom, K4VIZ (of VIZ-Key fame), in July 2009.
 The thumb paddle was broken in shipping, but Tom  made me a new one along with an extra brass weight.  Manufactured by the Telegraph Apparatus Co., formed in Chicago by T.R. McElroy with his associates Joe Goode and Frank Bascomb. They manufactured bugs during World War II from 1944 to 1946 for civilian use while McElroy's Company in Boston was busy making "MacKeys" for the Military. This is a LARGE  key built on a 4" wide gray crackle base.  The nickname "Hole in the Wall" comes from the square frame with a round hole in the middle for the lever to pass through.
More Info: http://artifaxbooks.com/fsmcelroy.htm
TAC 501 Hole in the Wall Bug
"Hole in the Wall" Bug - TAC Model 810 (1) - (No SN)
Approximate year of manufacture: 1944 to 1946
Purchased on eBay, April 2009 (eBay photo)
"Professional Model" with 4" chromed base. Manufactured by the Telegraph Apparatus Co., formed in Chicago by T.R. McElroy with his associates Joe Goode and Frank Bascomb. They manufactured bugs during World War II from 1944 to 1946 for civilian use while McElroy's Company in Boston was busy making "MacKeys" for the Military. The nickname "Hole in the Wall" comes from the square frame with a round hole in the middle for the lever to pass through.
More Info: http://artifaxbooks.com/fsmcelroy.htm
'Hole in the Wall' Bug -TAC Model 810
"Hole in the Wall" Bug - TAC Model 810 (2) - (No SN)
Approximate year of manufacture: 1944 to 1946
Purchased on eBay, November 2010 (eBay photo)
"Professional Model" with 4" chromed base. Manufactured by the Telegraph Apparatus Co., formed in Chicago by T.R. McElroy with his associates Joe Goode and Frank Bascomb. They manufactured bugs during World War II from 1944 to 1946 for civilian use while McElroy's Company in Boston was busy making "MacKeys" for the Military. The nickname "Hole in the Wall" comes from the square frame with a round hole in the middle for the lever to pass through.
More Info: http://artifaxbooks.com/fsmcelroy.htm
'Hole in the Wall' Bug -TAC Model 810
"Go-Devil" S-1 Bug by A.H. Emery - (No SN)
Approximate year of manufacture 1933 thru 1940's
Purchased on eBay in April , 2009. (eBay photo)
 Very scarse.  About 400 were made. This one is in very good condition (best I have seen).  Bottom of the 3.25" base is marked "S-1". Black crinkle base with brass hardware.  A later model Go-Devil (Model "U") was sold briefly in the late-1950's with a lockable lever so it could be used as a sideswiper (also called a cootie key).
More Info: from: http://www.artifaxbooks.com/forsale.htm
E.H. Emery Go-Devil Model S-1 bug
"Cedar Rapids Bug" - (1) (No SN)
Approximate year of manufacture: 1939 to about 1955
Purchased on eBay in April, 2009. 3" Gray crackle base. These keys were manufactured from 1939 into the mid 50's. They were the only bug available either fully assembled or in kit form. The manufacturer's name is molded into the bottom: "Electric Specialty Mfg.Co., Cedar Rapids, Iowa". It appears to be a loose copy of the latter Speed-X bugs.  This key is complete and in excellent condition.
More Info: http://www.zianet.com/sparks/timeline.html
and: http://www.radioblvd.com/telegraph_keys.htm
and: http://www.artifaxbooks.com/forsale.htm
Electric Specialty Mfg. Co. Cedar Rapids Bug
"Cedar Rapids Bug" - (2) (for parts) (No SN)
Approximate year of manufacture: 1939 to about 1955
Purchased on eBay in November 2010. 3" Black crackle base. These keys were manufactured from 1939 into the mid 50's. They were the only bug available either fully assembled or in kit form. The manufacturer's name is molded into the bottom: "Electric Specialty Mfg.Co., Cedar Rapids, Iowa".  This key is missing several parts (dit contact assembly, weight, dah paddle, rubber damper washer and one foot.
More Info: http://www.zianet.com/sparks/timeline.html
and: http://www.radioblvd.com/telegraph_keys.htm
and: http://www.artifaxbooks.com/forsale.htm
Cedar Rapids Bug for parts
Hess Semi-Automatic Bug (circa 1955)
Year of manufacture, approx 1955.
Purchased on eBay, August 2009 from  Tom French W1IMQ (eBay photo)
After Electric Specialty Co. ceased production,  W.C. Hess aquired their left over inventory and produced a "few" keys using his own "gold chromocoat" bases and NOS Cedar Rapids  bug parts. This scarce Hess bug  has the first ES model cast damper support, and the second model right-angle circuit closer. The never used "Electric Specialty" decal was included.

More Info: http://www.morsemad.com/bugs.htm
Hess Semi-Automatic Bug (c. 1950's)
Unknown Bug #1 SN:None
Year of manufacture: Unknown
Purchased on eBay, December, 2010 (eBay photo)
This appears to be a “homebrew” mystery key made by a person who was very good and particular about making the key and its parts.
It appears to resemble a Vibroplex Lightning Bug or Champion, especially when you look at the frame and damper. It does have a good feel and it looks very nice with the brass parts and the red painted metal base.  There is no serial number or label.
Unknown Bug
Bunnell-Martin Flash Key Model 5-46 - SN: None
Approx. Manufacture: early 1940's. 3.5" black crackle base 
Purchased on eBay December 2010 (eBay photo)
Horace Martin sold the Vibroplex Company to John LaHiff in 1933 but retained the rights to make semi-automatic keys.  Martin Flash Keys are scarce (5,000 to 6,000 serial number range) because the J.H. Bunnell company acquired the rights to the keys in December 1939 shortly after they appeared and changed the name to “Bunnell-Martin Flash Key”.  The Bunnell-Martin Flash Keys were made in at least three models. Along with this 5-46, there were the 5-45 which looked like a Vibroplex Lightning Bug and the 5-48 which looked like the Vibroplex Original.
Bunnell-Martin Flash key Model 5-46
Bunnell-Martin Flash Key Model 5-48 - SN: None (No nameplate)
Approx. Manufacture: early 1940's. 3.5" gloss black base 
Purchased on eBay August 2009 (eBay photo)
After some research, this was found to be a Bunnell Flash Key Model 5-48 bug.  Someone has put a Vibroplex Presentation Lever on it with the LaHiff adjustable mainspring.  I first purchased it on eBay thinking it was a Vibroplex clone (illegal copy). It was listed as a Vibroplex in the eBay ad!!
For a photo of a REAL Bunnell 5-48 Flash key click HERE.
(use your browser's BACK button to return here.)
Bunnell Flash Key with Vibroplex lever
Vibroplex #4, (Blue Racer) SN: 59596
Year of manufacture: 1917.
Purchased from NJ3Z on eBay in December 2010.  (eBay photo)
2.5 inch wide cobalt blue  base, "cloverleaf" style  frame and "U" damper.  Someone has done an excellent job restoring this key.  The base has been repainted and all the parts replated.  It is in "like new" condition.

More Info: http://vibroplex.com/blue_racer.html
or: http://www.la.ca.us/frandy/early.html
Vibroplex 1917 Blue Racer #59596
Vibroplex #4, (Blue Racer) (old, circa 1920's)  (SN: Unknown)
Approximate year of manufacture 1920's.
Purchased on eBay in July 2009.  (eBay photo)
2.5 inch wide black base, "cloverleaf" style  frame.
The red bakelite paddle (probably not original anyway) was broken in shipping, but I have black finger pieces to replace it.  The Vibroplex nameplate is missing, so the serial number and exact year of manufacture is unknown.  Otherwise the bug is complete and in very good shape for it's age with no tarnish on the plating.
More Info: http://vibroplex.com/blue_racer.html
or: http://www.la.ca.us/frandy/early.html
Vibroplex Blue Racer (circa 1920's)
Vibroplex Standard Original Bug - SN: 92857
Year of Manufacture: 1924
Purchased in December 2010 from eBay.  (eBay photo)
Black Japaned Base with most of the original 24k Gold  pinstriping still visible.  Cleaned and refurbished by the seller.




More Info: http://www.la.ca.us/frandy/early.html
or: http://vibroplex.com/out_of_production_keys.html
Vibroplex Original 92857.jpg
Vibroplex #6, Lightning Bug - SN: 108594
Year of Manufacture: 1935.
Purchased on eBay  in  August 2009 (eBay photo)
3.5" nickel plated base. It was equipped with a dot tamer device of unknown manufacture attached to the weight.
The first Lightning Bugs were available with black Japanned (standard) and nickel-plated (optional) bases.

More Info: http://www.la.ca.us/frandy/early.html
Vibroplex Lightning Bug 1935 (nickel plated)
Vibroplex Standard Original Bug - SN: 114139
Year of Manufacture: 1940
Purchased in August 2009 from eBay.  (eBay photo)
3.5" black crackle base.  Squared style frame and damper.
This bug looks brand new!. It looks like it has been in the case since originally purchased and has never been used.   It has the original cloth covered cord with wedge marked Vibroplex Co. Inc., 796 Fulton Street Brooklyn, NY. The case it came in, however, is in pretty bad shape.
More Info: http://www.la.ca.us/frandy/early.html
or: http://vibroplex.com/out_of_production_keys.html
Vibroplex Standard Original Bug SN: 114139
Vibroplex Standard Champion  - SN: 117642
Year of Manufacture: 1941.
Purchased from Mike, NJ3Z in August 2009.
3.5" black crackle base.
This key is fully functional and in excellent condition for it's age. It appears that one of the terminal nuts is a replacement. The Champion model was never equipped with a circuit closer switch (to reduce cost).

More Info: http://vibroplex.com/out_of_production_keys.html
or: http://www.la.ca.us/frandy/early.html
Vibroplex Standard Champion SN: 117642
Vibroplex J-36 Signal Corps Bug - SN: 2310
Year of Manufacture: 1942.
Purchased from George, N2JNZ, in July, 2009.
J-36s were manufactured by several companies under contract with the US Army.  They are basically a copy of the civilian Vibroplex Lightning Bug (see below) .  This one was made by Vibroplex, but these were also made by J.H. Bunnell and the Lionel Corporation.

More Info: http://artifaxbooks.com/fsusmilkeys.htm

1942 Vibroplex J-36 Signal Corps Bug
Lionel Corp. J-36 Signal Corps Bug - SN: 7356
Year of Manufacture: 1942.
Purchased on eBay in  July 2009. (non-operational) (eBay photo)
This key is in "fair" condition but the dash contact is missing and the dot contact is broken. Unlike the vast majority of Lionel J-36 bugs, it does, however, still have the original Lionel label (although shrunk) with serial number attached by one of the original 5 pins.  The labels were made of celuloid and most have shrunk up and fallen off completely. The plastic wire terminals are probably not original.
More Info: http://artifaxbooks.com/fsusmilkeys.htm
or: http://www.la.ca.us/frandy/clones.html
Lionel J-36 Signal Corps bug SN 7356
Lionel Corp. J-36 Signal Corps Bug - SN: Unknown
Year of Manufacture: ca.1942.
Purchased on eBay in  August 2009.  (eBay photo)
This key is operational and in "good" condition but the right side of the label is missing (including the SN).  The labels were made of celuloid and most have shrunk up and fallen off completely. The weight is also missing, but I have a spare one.
More Info: http://artifaxbooks.com/fsusmilkeys.htm
or: http://www.la.ca.us/frandy/clones.html
Lionel J-36 Signal Corps bug SN Unknown
Lionel Corp. J-36 Signal Corps Bug - SN: Unknown
Year of Manufacture: ca.1942. Purchased from NJ3Z on eHam.net in August 2009. (NJ3Z Photo)
This key is operational and in "very good" condition with  no tarnish on the metal but the label is a reproduction so the original SN is unknown.  The labels were made of  celuloid and most have shrunk up and fallen off completely.

More Info: http://artifaxbooks.com/fsusmilkeys.htm
or: http://www.la.ca.us/frandy/clones.html
Lionel J-36 Signal Corps bug
Lionel Corp. J-36 Signal Corps Bug - SN: Unknown
Year of Manufacture: ca.1942. Purchased on eBay in April 2011.
(eBay Photo)
This J-36 bug is unusual due to the gray wrinkle finish base with beveled top and bottom edges and the clear plastic finger pieces. The dah knob appears to be broken. It is aparently a Lionel J-36 since the 5 pin holes are apparent in the base where the Lionel nameplate was attached.
More Info: http://artifaxbooks.com/fsusmilkeys.htm
or: http://www.la.ca.us/frandy/clones.html
U.S. Army Signal Corps J-36 Bug (Lionel)
Vibroplex Standard Lightning Bug - SN: 119655
Year of Manufacture: 1942
Purchased in March 2009 from eBay.
3.5" black crackle base. 
This key was not originally functional but the individual parts are in excellent condition. The dot contact was missing.  I have since installed the missing part from the Vibroplex Champion #288488 bought for parts below, making it fully functional.

More Info: http://vibroplex.com/out_of_production_keys.html

Vibroplex  Lightning Bug SN# 119655
Vibroplex Standard Lightning Bug - SN: 127470
Year of Manufacture: 1944
Purchased on eBay  in  March 2009 with original case. (eBay photo)

3.5" black crackle base. This key was in service in Alaska for an airline during WW2.
Finger pieces have been replaced with what appears to be Ivory.  I wish people would quit doing that.  I've since replaced the finger piece with the original black finger pieces which were included in the case.

More Info: http://vibroplex.com/out_of_production_keys.html

Vibroplex Lightning Bug, SN: 127470
Vibroplex WW2 Deluxe Original - SN: 132565
Year of Manufacture: 1944
Purchased on eBay, April 2009  (eBay photo)

"Battleship" gray 3.5" base. Red finger pieces and circuit closer knob appear original.  Squared off  frame. Painted tin (not brass) nameplate with patent numbers. Chrome and brass were NOT used during World War II. Squared off "L" style damper. Equipped with copper braid strap from lever to drilled & tapped hole in frame.
 

More Info:
http://www.la.ca.us/frandy/late.html

Vibroplex WWII Original Deluxe SN:132565
Vibroplex WW2 Deluxe Original - SN: 135623
Year of Manufacture: 1944 (Received 03/07/09)
Purchased from a local ham March 2009
Original red finger pieces have been replaced with clear Plexiglas ovals.  Red circuit closer knob is original.  Squared off  frame and damper. Painted tin (not brass) nameplate with patent numbers. Bottom of 3.5" base is painted "battleship" gray while the top and sides are black crackle finish. Chrome and brass were NOT used during World War II. Squared off "L" style damper. Equipped with copper braid strap from lever to drilled & tapped hole in frame.
More Info:
http://www.la.ca.us/frandy/late.html
Vibroplex WW2 Deluxe Original SN 135623
Vibroplex Zephyr - SN: 136234
Year of Manufacture: 1944
Purchased in November 2010 on eBay. (eBay photo)
3" black crackle base.   The Zephyr was first introduced in 1939 and last year of production was 1958.  It appears to be a replacement for the Martin Junior which was discontinued just before the Zephyr was introduced. The first (very few) Zephyrs were produced with a black Japanned finish.  Later the Zephyr was available only with a black or gray wrinkle finish.  This one is (WAS) in excellent condition. The Zephyr was never offered in a Deluxe (Chrome base) version.  It is basically a champion model on a 3" base with a circuit closer. This key was severely damaged in shipping.  The IDIOT seller mailed it in a Piority Mail ENVELOPE!!
More Info: http://vibroplex.com/out_of_production_keys.html
Vibroplex Zephyr - SN 136234
Vibroplex Standard Champion Bug - SN: 137467
Year of Manufacture: 1945
Purchased on eBay, January 2011 (eBay photo)
3.5" black crackle base.
This key is fully functional and in excellent condition for it's age. There is an oversized weight installed and the nameplate is painted tin as this was manufactured durind WW2 and brass was not used.  The Champion model was never equipped with a circuit closer switch (to reduce cost).
More Info: http://vibroplex.com/out_of_production_keys.html
or: http://www.la.ca.us/frandy/early.html
Vibroplex 1945 Champion SN 137467
Vibroplex WW2 Deluxe Original - SN: 139976
Year of Manufacture: 1945
Purchased on eBay, December 2010 (eBay photo)
"Battleship" gray crackle 3.5" base. Red finger pieces (reversed) and circuit closer knob appear original.  Newer rounded cast  frame. Painted tin (not brass) nameplate with patent numbers. Chrome and brass were NOT used during World War II. Cast newer rounded "L" style damper. Equipped with copper braid strap from lever to drilled & tapped hole in frame.
More Info: http://www.la.ca.us/frandy/late.html
WWII Deluxe Original  139976
Vibroplex WW2 Deluxe Original - SN: 141268
Year of Manufacture: 1945
Purchased on eBay, April 2009 (eBay photo)

"Battleship" gray crackle 3.5" base. Red finger pieces and circuit closer knob appear original.  Newer rounded cast  frame. Painted tin (not brass) nameplate with patent numbers. Chrome and brass were NOT used during World War II. Cast newer rounded "L" style damper. Equipped with copper braid strap from lever to drilled & tapped hole in frame.

More Info:  http://www.la.ca.us/frandy/late.html

Vibroplex WWII Original Deluxe SN: 141268
Vibroplex WW2 Deluxe Lightning Bug - SN: 142267
Year of Manufacture: 1945
Purchased on eBay, May 2009 (eBay photo)

"Battleship" gray 3.5" base. Red finger pieces and circuit closer knob appear original. Tin (paint wore off)(not brass) nameplate with patent numbers. Chrome and brass were NOT used during World War II. Typical Lightning Bug "M" style damper. Equipped with copper braid strap from lever to drilled & tapped hole in vertical post. I was outbid by $2 on the beige Lightning Bug just visible on the right side of the pic.

More Info: http://vibroplex.com/out_of_production_keys.html
or: http://www.la.ca.us/frandy/late.html

Vibroplex WW2 Deluxe Lightning Bug SN: 142267
Vibroplex Standard Original - SN: 161259
Year of Manufacture: 1948
Purchased on eBay February 2009 (eBay photo)
3.5" black crackle base 
This key is fully functional and in excellent condition for it's age.

More Info:
 http://vibroplex.com/original_bug.html
Vibroplex Original Standard  SN# 161259
Vibroplex Presentation  Original - SN: 181175
Year of Manufacture: 1953  (eHam.net ad photo)
3.5" chromed base, Gold plated brass top plate.
Equipped with the LaHiff adjustable mainspring. 
Purchased 04/14/09  from Rafael, KA3OYW via an eHam.net ad.  The condition is not nearly as bad as it looks in the photo. The adjustable mainspring was discontinued in 1979.

More Info:
http://vibroplex.com/original_bug.html

Vibroplex Presentation Original SN# 181175
Vibroplex #4, (Blue Racer)  (SN: 181568)
Approximate year of manufacture 1953.
Purchased on eBay in December 2010.  (eBay photo)
2.5 inch wide black base,   Thumb paddle has been replaced with red one which will be replaced with an original style black one. This bug is complete and in very good shape for it's age with no tarnish on the plating.
More Info: http://vibroplex.com/blue_racer.html
or: http://www.la.ca.us/frandy/early.html
Vibroplex Blue Racer SN: 181568
Vibroplex #4, (Blue Racer) SN: 187162
Year of manufacture: 1954.
Purchased from Milt, K4OSOon eBay in December 2010.  (eBay photo)
2.5 inch wide Maroon  base, Restored by Milt, K4OSO. He has done an excellent job restoring this key.  The base has been repainted, gold pinstriping and "bird's feet" added and all the parts polished.  It is in "like new" condition.
More Info: http://vibroplex.com/blue_racer.html
or: http://www.la.ca.us/frandy/early.html
Vibroplex Restored Blue Racer SN: 187162
Vibroplex #4, (Blue Racer) SN: 187189
Year of manufacture: 1954.
Purchased from Mike, NJ3Z Febnruasry 2011(NJ3Z photo)
2.5 inch wide blue base.  It is in "like new" condition.
More Info: http://vibroplex.com/blue_racer.html
or: http://www.la.ca.us/frandy/early.html
Vibroplex Blue Racer #187189
Vibroplex Standard Champion  - SN: 197164
Year of Manufacture: 1957
Purchased opnm eBay, November 2010.
3.5 inch gray crackle base.   This key is fully functional and in excellent condition for it's age.  The Champion model was never equipped with a circuit closer switch (to reduce cost). It has a broken dit paddle and missing feet which will be replaced.  The screw in the weight is odd, but must be original as the Zephyr below has the same screw and  another collector reports two like this on an all original 1953 blue racer.
More Info: http://vibroplex.com/out_of_production_keys.html
or: http://www.la.ca.us/frandy/late.html
Vibroplex Standard Champion  - SN: 197164
Vibroplex #4, (Blue Racer) SN: 198371
Year of manufacture: 1957.
Purchased on eBay in December 2010.  (eBay photo)
2.5" Gray base, in excellent condition with just a few paint chips on the edges of the base that have been touched up.

More Info: http://vibroplex.com/blue_racer.html
or: http://www.la.ca.us/frandy/early.html
Vibroplex Blue Racer SN 198371
Vibroplex Zephyr - SN: 201932
Year of Manufacture: 1958
Purchased in October 2010 on eBay. (eBay photo)
3" gray crackle base.   The Zephyr was first introduced in 1939 and last year of production was 1958.  It appears to be a replacement for the Martin Junior which was discontinued just before the Zephyr was introduced. The first (very few) Zephyrs were produced with a black Japanned finish.  Later the Zephyr was available only with a black or gray wrinkle finish.  This one is in excellent conition. The Zephyr was never offered in a Deluxe (Chrome base) version.  It is basically a champion model on a 3" base with a circuit closer.  According to John Elwood, WW7P's research, the last Zephyr made was SN 201928, but this bug is serial numbered 4 later!
More SN Info:  http://vibroplex.com/date_your_vibroplex.html
More Info: http://vibroplex.com/out_of_production_keys.html
Vibroplex Zephyr SN: 201932
Vibroplex Presentation  Original - SN: 208109
Year of Manufacture: 1959
Purchased in June 2009 on eBay (cheap Buy-It-Now). (eBay photo)
3.5" chromed base, gold plated brass top plate.
Equipped with the LaHiff adjustable mainspring also. 
Notice the new style terminal nuts. That means it's newer than the key above.  It has a circuit closer switch meaning it was made before 1967.  The red finger knob is missing, but I have extras  Looks like it'll take some polishing. The adjustable mainspring was discontinued in 1979. 
More Info: http://vibroplex.com/original_bug.html
Vibroplex Presentation Original SN# unknown
Vibroplex Standard Champion  (parts) - SN: 208488
Year of Manufacture: 1959
Purchased (very cheaply) on eBay March 2009.
3.5 inch gray crackle base
This key is obviously not functional but the individual parts are in excellent condition.  It was purchased for the remaining parts. The weight alone costs more than I paid for this key. It is not economically rebuildable because the triangular plates are no longer available.
More Info: http://vibroplex.com/out_of_production_keys.html
Vibroplex Champion for parts, SN# 208488
Vibroplex Standard Lightning Bug (parts) - SN: Unknown
Year of Manufacture: Unknown
Purchased on eBay December 2010. (eBay photo)
Black Crackle 3.5" base.  This was purchased on eBay for parts.  Lightning Bug parts are for the most part, no longer available from Vibroplex.  The Nameplate is missing , so the Serial Number and  year of manufacture are unknown.  The triangular top plate will likely be used to restore the Champion  bug above.
Vibroplex Lightning Bug for parts
Vibroplex Standard Lightning Bug - SN: 208644
Year of Manufacture: 1959
Purchased on eBay March 2009. (eBay photo)
3.5 inch gray crackle base 
This key is fully functional and in excellent, like new condition for it's age.

More Info: http://vibroplex.com/out_of_production_keys.html
or: http://www.la.ca.us/frandy/late.html 
Vibroplex Standard Lightning Bug SN 208644
Vibroplex Standard Champion  - SN: 233473
Year of Manufacture: 1963

Purchased on eBay, January 2009. (eBay photo)
3.5 inch gray crackle base
This key is fully functional and in excellent condition for it's age.  The Champion model was never equipped with a circuit closer switch (to reduce cost).
More Info: http://vibroplex.com/out_of_production_keys.html
or: http://www.la.ca.us/frandy/late.html
Vibroplex Standard Champion Bug SN# 233473
Vibroplex Deluxe Original - SN: 244521
Year of Manufacture: 1965 (received 02/14/09)
Purchased from an ad on eHam.net, February 2009.
3.5 inch chromed base. The binding post nuts have been replaced with black plastic ones.  The original weight is gone and a make-shift heavier weight has been added.  The small red decorative button atop the frame is missing. It is equipped with a circuit closer switch with red knob. Original weight with set screw, binding post nuts and red button have since been installed. 
More Info:   http://vibroplex.com/original_bug.html
or: http://www.la.ca.us/frandy/late.html
Vibroplex Deluxe Original SN# 244521
Vibroplex Standard Original - SN: 250485
Year of Manufacture: 1967
Purchased on eBay, April  2009. (eBay Photo)
Complete and in excellent, like new condition. 3.5 inch gray crackle base. The screw noticeable at the front of the base is where the circuit closer was intended to be.  I suspect this was made at the time Vibroplex stopped incorporating circuit closers and the screw was used on precast bases to fill the hole. You will notice that later keys (see below) do not have the circuit closer.
More Info:  http://vibroplex.com/original_bug.html
Vibroplex Standard Original SN: 250485
Vibroplex "Deluxe" Champion  - SN: 269930
Year of Manufacture: 1972
Purchased on eBay, January 2009. Someone replaced the original finger pieces with custom paddles (since replaced). An extra (nickel plated) weight has been added as well. This bug was so dusty and dirty when it arrived, it was hard to tell it was chrome!  This picture was taken after 30 minutes of cleaning with Q-tips and window cleaner. Since Vibroplex never offered a "Deluxe" version of the Champion,  apparently someone had the original 3.5 inch base chromed. It must be the original base, because there are no extra holes. They did an excellent job!
More Info: http://vibroplex.com/out_of_production_keys.html
Vibroplex Deluxe Champion SN# 269930
Vibroplex Deluxe Original - SN: 382874
Year of Manufacture: 1977
(Purchased on eBay, February 2009)
3.5" chromed base
Pictured as it arrived with shipping damage (thumb finger piece broken and lever dislodged.)  A new red thumb piece was installed, the lever realigned and the entire key adjusted. If you are going to have one shipped, I strongly recommend the weight(s) and finger pieces be removed before shipping. (Vibroplex recommends the lever be removed, but this is difficult on the deluxe model.)
More Info:
 http://vibroplex.com/original_bug.html
Vibroplex Deluxe Original with Shipping Damage  SN#
Vibroplex Deluxe Original - SN: 384933
Year of Manufacture: 1977
(Purchased on eBay, November 2010)
3.5" chromed base
This bug had just been refurbished by Vibroplex.  It came with the Vari-speed adapter from Vibroplex. 
It is in excellent condition.
More Info:
 http://vibroplex.com/original_bug.html
Vibroplex Original Deluxe 384933
Vibroplex Standard Original (parts) - SN: 387880
Year of Manufacture: 1979
Purchased on eBay in July  2009 for parts. (eBay Photo)
3.5 inch gray crackle base.
The chrome upper parts and 3.5 inch gray base are in excellent condition.  Missing lever.


More Info:
 http://vibroplex.com/original_bug.html
Original Standard SN: 387880 (for parts)
Vibroplex Presentation  Original - SN: 389225
Year of Manufacture: 1979
Purchased in November 2010 on eBay. (eBay photo)
3.5" chromed base, gold plated brass top plate.This key is unusual in two ways: It is equipped with the LaHiff adjustable mainspring but it only has only ONE screw holding the spring instead of the usual two. The screw is also on the opposite side of the spring. It does NOT have a circuit closer switch, BUT it has a screw filling a hole where the curcuit closer used to be. This is odd  since the circuit closer was discontinued 10 years before this key was manufactured.   This key is in excellent "like new" shape.
More Info: http://vibroplex.com/original_bug.html
Vibroplex 1979 Presentation 389225
Vibroplex #6 Standard Lightning Bug - SN: 391248
Year of Manufacture: 1979 or 1980
Purchased on eBay in December 2010 (eBay Photo)
Brown crackle finish base, chrome top parts, black finger pieces.
This Bug is in Like New condition. This bug was probably manufactured in Portland,Maine, but carries a 833 Broadway, NY nameplate. According to John Elwood, WW7P's research (see the first link below), the last known serial number of the series was 391230, but this bug is serial numbered 18 later!  This may be the last Lightning Bug ever manufactured!
More SN Info:  http://vibroplex.com/date_your_vibroplex.html
More Info: : http://vibroplex.com/out_of_production_keys.html
or: http://www.la.ca.us/frandy/late.html
Vibroplex Lightning Bug SN: 391248
Vibroplex Standard  Blue Racer 2000 SN: 111957
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Purchased new through R&L Electronics in Ohio.
Received 25 February 2009.
2.5" blue crackle base
The Blue Racer is the only bug Vibroplex made with a 2.5" wide base. This one utilizes regular Original chromed bug parts.  Older ones used a smaller frame and damper.

More Info:
http://vibroplex.com/blue_racer.html
http://www.randl.com

Vibroplex Blue Racer 2000 Standard SN 111957
Vibroplex 100th Anniversary Original  SN: 100A-588
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Ordered 05 January 2009 from R&L Electronics
Received 23 March, 2009. 
3.5 inch black "Japaned" base with 24K gold pinstriping. "Beautiful" doesn't even come close to doing it justice. A true work of art!  I've since purchased  the matching display case to keep it dust free. More Info:
http://vibroplex.com/100th_anniversary_original.html
http://www.randl.com
Vibroplex 100th Anniversary Patch
Vibroplex 100th Anniversary Original SN# 100A-588
Vibroplex Presentation Original - SN: 112500
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Ordered new from R&L Electronics, 16 April  2009.
Happy Birthday to me [63].  (Received 01 July 2009)
3.5" chrome base, gold plated brass plate.

It is basically a Deluxe Original with a Gold plated brass plate on the 3.5" wide chromed base.  I have since purchased a display case for it as well in March 2010.
More Info:
http://vibroplex.com/original_bug.html
http://www.randl.com
 

Vibroplex Original Presentation Model SN: 112500
VIZKey Vertical Bug - SN# 022
Purchased used from Ci, WU7R, March 2009
Manufactured by Tom, K4VIZ

This key features all brass construction, black plastic finger pieces, silver contacts and stainless steel main springs. Speed is adjustable from about 8 wpm to about 30 wpm by sliding weight. All operation points are fully adjustable. There are actually 9 points that can be adjusted or changed for personal preferences. Two knurled nut wire posts for connection to radio are provided on back side of bug. Surface finish is wire brushed brass matte. The VIZ Vertical weighs in at about 2 pounds, 8 ounces. It is 7 1/4" tall and 3 1/4" wide. From the front end of the finger pieces to the back of the U-shaped base is about 3 1/2". Includes complete adjustment instructions.

More Info:  http://vizkey.com

VIZ Vertical Bug
Extenda-Dot "Bug Tamer" (slow down) Devices
Made by Frank Geisler W7IS (Received 02/06/09)
Left: Flat Lever version for Champion and Lightning Bug.
Middle: Round Brass version: for Original, Blue Racer, etc. (heavier)
Right: Round Aluminum version: for Original, Blue Racer, etc. (lighter)
Notice the 2 sizes of round weights provided.  Original weights can be added as well to slow the dots down even more. Price is $18 each plus $2 shipping.
Frank added ordering and price information (Paypal accepted)  to his website in mid-February 2009, but you should still contact Frank by email before ordering to confirm availability.

 W7IS@aol.com.  (Paypal address)
or: sales@extendadot.com for more info.
website: http://www.extendadot.com
Extenda-Dot Bug Tamer
Vibroplex Vari-Speed Devices (flat and round versions)
(Received from Vibroplex 02/07/09)
Price was $29.95 each plus shipping but Vibroplex ran out of Round Varispeed units for some months in  late 2009.  They reintroduced the round and raised the price of both to $33.95 in May 2010.

More Info:
http://vibroplex.com/accessories.html (bottom of page)

Vibroplex Vari-Speed Device (for flat lever)Vibroplex Vari-Speed Device (for round lever)
Friendly-Bug   (Slow-Down Device)
Purchased on eBay in August 2011

This device is still available on eBay for $20 plus $3 shipping..  It comes with two lengths of brass tubing one slows down the bug a little and a longer one slows iyt down a lot.  Photo is the longer tube.  It is availablew for round shaft levers only. I do not know of a website for the Friendly Bug.

For eBay Item, http://www.ebay.com/itm/120765976895
Friendly Bug (Slow Down Device)

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This page last updated on 02 September 2011 - Copyright © 2008-2011  Pete Theer - All Rights Reserved