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[TenTec] Thanks!

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Subject: [TenTec] Thanks!
From: k4ldr@sunco.com (Peter J. F. Shaw)
Date: Thu, 17 Dec 1998 10:13:34 -0500
Tom said:
Thanks for all the advice! I can see I asked that question in the

I'm going to be attending a large hamfest and swap meet in a couple
weeks. I will look for some good deals there. I guess I'm inclined to
start with a straight key. I gather from several comments that a J38
would be a reasonable starting key.

Anybody want to take a shot at giving me some prices for reasonably
good keys and what they should cost?

- Tom

Greetings Tom and other T-Techers:

I chuckle at the reference to the J-38 US Army Signal Corps telegraph
key because, though not entirely extinct, they are hard to come by at
a sensible price.

I use a J-38 straight telegraph key with my T-T OMNI VI during the
ARRL annual straight-key nite on New Years eve.

This is what I mean by sensible price.   I have several classic, some
ancient, telegraph keys and sounders.  Two of the newer keys  are
J-38s.  At the Madison, GA hamfest in 1994, a flea market W4 shopper
observed  that I was a Samuel F. B. Morse fan and asked me if I owned
any "straight" keys.   Following an enjoyable discussion, he
offered/promised me $75 for one of my J-38s sight unseen.  He said he
might adjust the price up if the key was as I described.  He wanted to
follow me the 50 mile drive to my home and get it that day and pay me;
he showed the money and was truly serious.  He was not suspicious and
he was known by several of my ham friends.  I was not willing to sell
because "I am going to take it with me", and told him that.

I found out later that this price is not uncommon for a J-38
comparing  apples to apples.  I saw a J-38 at the Jacksonville (JAX),
FL '97 hamfest for $55; and it was worn from 50+ years of normal,
regular use.   There probably are some J-38 experts viewing this
reflector that can explain and expound upon the values and the year
range of manufacture.  I think the last year of mfgr was 1946.

My main J-38 that I learned the Morse on and used for several years
came from the "Army-Navy Store" on West Bay St, in the "run-down"
waterfront business area of JAX.   Paid 50 cents for it in 1953.  My
other J-38 key is one that my mother learned the Morse on after I did.
I have some other WWII items purchased there, same period, that are
classic artifacts.

Soooo, that is why I chuckled when I saw the reference to the J-38
telegraph key..... as if it were a common item and/or a couple-of-buck

Good luck on your Morse code pursuit.  Don't ever give up on it.  Any
difficulty you have with Morse is temporary and you WILL overcome it.
I will say this advice as I say to anyone lamenting about the Morse
barrier.....be like the woodpecker, just keep pecking away at it.
You'll get there, maybe slowly, but you will get there.  And, you'll
be right pleased with yourself too.

My favorite mode is CW as I find many classy and savvy ops there.  Ops
that don't utter raw jokes, obscenities, or fly-off-the-handle in the
course of speaking on the radio waves.  A side benefit to Morse
operating is that, especially during CW contest segments, it maintains
my motor skills and neuron activity.  It is like practicing walking
and chewing gum at the same time.

73  Pete K4LDR  Citrus County, FL on the Gulf of Mex

Member of the Florida Contest Group (FCG) - visit our website at:

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