Monday, 12 January 2015

Signalling Equipment Type F-17 morse key refurbishment

Signalling Equipment F-17 Morse Key waiting for refurbishment

Signalling Equipment F-17 Morse Key waiting for refurbishment

                        NOTE : -  CLICK ON THE PICS TO ENLARGE  !

Yet another refurb job !... I must be addicted to them.... saw this one on ebay, looking pretty sorry for itself, and decided to rescue it, and try and bring it back to life... At the time, I did not know the make or model/type of it...

I got my small kit of screwdrivers etc, out on the bench, and proceeded to dismantle the key... not too difficult, but I did want to make sure I kept all the parts in one place !...

Signalling Equipment F-17 Morse Key in parts for cleaning

 Once I had all the parts off, I started to clean the main body and the rocker.

It was quite dirty, and the rocker arm was very stiff, almost siezed with dried dirt, so I got my old toothbrush out, some washing up liquid and a drop of water,.... ten minutes later, it was drying on the radiator, but not before I noticed a label on the back end...

Signalling Equipment F-17 Morse Key rear end showing label

At first, I though it said something like,.. S Smalling Equipment... then a light came on.. and I thought it might be Signalling Equipment.. so I did what I always do... Google Images and put in Signalling Equipment Morse Key.... sure enough there was a pic of one the same as my new acquisition !.. so I now have a name and type... Signalling Equipment F-17...

. not sure of the date, so if anyone knows... please get in touch .... I reckon it is about 1940 to 1950`s due to the black crackle paint finish on it...

UPDATE... (17 November 2015 )

The following information was provided by Tony/G4FAI.... who had seen my collection of Morse Keys on my Flickr page...

On that picture, I have "guessed" the key was made about 1950... but it could well have been made much earlier, during World War II... 1939 - 1945. My key has the label Signalling Equipment on one end... and according to the information below, that was before 1946...


I was interested in your Signalling Equipment F-17 as I wrote an article about the Morse products of that company for Morsum Magnificat some 23 years ago. I thought you might be interested in some of the details relating to your key.

It started with the photo of an “unknown” key in one issue followed by two letters in the next issue.
The first said it was a GPO single current key type F17 and that the cast base was copper-plated. 
The second writer said that he had used one of these keys in an Admiralty Wireless station in South West Tower, Admiralty. The key was  embossed with an Admiralty Pattern No.
My article, based on info from someone who had written a history of the company’s products describes it as a Commercial Key, open type frame, Diecast construction, Black and nickel finish, Silver contacts. Export code 279/DC/163/16. 
The same key was noted by another reader on a wooden base with a send/receive switch. It clearly had several lives. 
Signalling Equipment Ltd was bombed out of its premises in Old Street London in 1940 and moved to Potters Bar Middx where they produced Morse equipment for the war effort in various small vacant properties. They made keys, practice sets, buzzers and headphones. 
Some time before 1946 they became S.E.L.
 They later changed their name to J. Randall (Toys and Games) and later Merit.
 Among their toy products they continued making Morse practice sets, mainly for children.
End of Update.

Anwyay, after it was dried, I went to the shed and squirted the rocker arm ends with copious quantities of WD40... and worked the rocker until it fell freely, as is should to...( another 15 minutes )! !... dried off the excess and proceeded to put it back together again...

Checking the pic on Google Images, I noticed that the tension spring was held directly vertical under the adjuster by a bar across the base of the key.... on my version the spring had been screwed on to the rear contact connection, underneath... When I came to re-fixing it... I used a matchstick to replace the bar..( will do the bar later, when I find suitable strong wire )..  there were no difficulties in putting the parts back on the base, however, it is possible to mis-align the contact points, and they can be slightly adjusted by just slackening off the locking nuts on the base, underneath, and locating them correctly... also note that the contacts have fibre washers to insulate them from the main body.....

Signalling Equipment F-17 Morse Key after cleaning 

Signalling Equipment F-17 Morse Key with added Spark Guard

As you can see from the original pics, and the re-furb pics, the original key does not have a "spark guard" under the knob....  I use the spark guard when I am keying, and find that using the knob is not very good for me,. so I have fitted a spark guard to my re-furb... I think it looks quite good !... certainly works well,....

Signalling Equipment F-17 Morse Key with added Spark Guard

On testing the key, it will probably need a smaller tension spring, as the one fitted is a little on the long side... not sure if it is the original, but..... it`ll do for now...

I went on ebay to find a nice mahogany base, which is now fitted.... I had to drill a hole in the rear end and down the centre, to accept the wiring.......  Looks pretty smart!!  and will go back there for some more to fit to some of  my other 6 keys along my bench, to be used in QSO`s on CWCOM  ( Morse over the internet ) program.. ( MRX software - FREE )

Signalling Equipment F-17 Key mounted on Mahogany Base
 For those interested, the base was purchased from AFM WOODWORK located in Birmingham, England... on ebay
He has a wide range of placques/plinths in various shapes and types of wood finish. He will also accomodate your sizes if you contact him..... Recommended if you want to smarten up your old key(s).....

Update ....  (17 November 2015) unfortunately AFM Woodwork are no longer supplying base/plinths to order... they are discontiuing this, and are selling only their remaining stock.... If anyone knows of a U.K. supplier..... please contact me. 

If you are a "sparker" or "Tel"  or " Teleg" from anywhere in the world, then you can use CWCOM you don`t need a licence, and you don`t need a ham radio call,... just the enthusiasm, and passion for Morse Code or CW communication.  Look forward to QSO soon...... de GEMS QRV K 

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