Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Swedish Morse Key - Torsion Bar Straight Key - Refurb

Continuing my scouring of the Morse key market on Ebay... I had the good  fortune to win a Swedish Key, from an Ebay seller in France.

  Generally referred to as "Swedish Pump Key".. I feel that this is an insult to the designer, and to the manufacturers of these very fine keys.

  The workmanship is superb, and the key I have is a delight to use, now it has been refurbished.

 It is not a "conventional" design... the spring plate on the pivot point on the rocker arm, constitutes a "torsion" type spring, and this can be adjusted with the adjuster knob on the centre of the rocker arm...

 at the far end, there is a spring steel "tongue" which tends to "soften" the action, and this is also where the gap is adjusted.  The lower knurled nut, is so that the operator can set the "stop" or "rest" level of the rocker, when there is no tension in the torsion bar,.. and the upper adjuster then controls the gap.

As with almost all my keys, I have added in my special "spark guard" underneath the knob, as that is where I use the key for sending.  ( see movie at the end of the  blog )..

When I saw it on Ebay, it looked dirty and unloved, and was secured to an odd piece of packing case with a rubber stamp mark on it, saying  "Fabrique en Gabon"....  ( which, was in what was known as French West Africa ).. I am assuming it was part of a tea chest, and the owner of the key just cut up a piece to fit the morse key on to it, to give it a longer  "footprint".

Swedish Key - As received...
  As can bee seen, the key was in a pretty dirty state, when it arrived.  and so I started to take it to pieces, and proceeded to wash it in hot soapy water... , this proved very effective, and was not detrimental to the "finish" of the morse key.

Showing the rocker arm removed from the Torsion Bar pivot point.

Showing the parts of the "torsion bar" before cleaning.

I was intrigued by the label, and the letters ABA,

Registration numbers stamped into the bakelite base

.. strangely the label numbers do not coincide with the numbers stamped on the bottom right corner of the bakelite base.

  However, I passed on a few pics to my friend Guy, in Germany, who had done some marvellous detective work on a previous key.. ( the German Klopfertaste M99 ). within a few hours he had sent me an email, informing me that the key came from the Swedish Airlines, dating about 1945. the company initials were ABA... the colour of their logo changed from time to time, and the colour green seems to have been used for a very short period, around 1945. As the key was bought from a French seller, it is assumed that it was originally used in one of the French offices of the Swedish Airline, to communicate information between France and Sweden, regarding aircraft details/flight information/passenger and baggage information, etc.

Once all the parts had been removed,

 and washed,. It was a reasonably easy task to put them back together again,.. The contact point on the far end of the rocker needed some slight attention from a fine file, to make the surface clean and flat again,... and then the bottom of the gap adjuster screw, also had some attention, using a strip of wet and dry paper, being pulled through several times, to ensure the surface was clean and also parallel to the contact point on the rocker arm.

To finish off, I returned to Ebay, and sourced a nice Mahogany plinth to mount the key on, and then fitted a thin sponge (washing up sponge sheet cut to size ! )  underneath so that the key would not move across the desk top when in use.

Summing up, this key is superior in quality and feel when in use, compared to the "similar design" of the N.A.T.O. key with the chrome cover, that I already have. The N.A.T.O. key would have been made "to a price" whereas, I think, this key was made to provide a quality piece of equipment for the Swedish Airline Operators. Unfortunately, I cannot find any information about the maker`s name on the Torsion Bar piece...   Erik Torngren      Stockholm.   If anyone reading this, has any knowledge, they can add, then I would appreciate an email, or mention in the comments box.

Here is a short Video of me sending a test message.   Turn on your speakers, and click  the [ ] bottom right to full screen.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

A Morse Key Connection

Today..... 11.8.2016 .....  11th August 2016..... is 102 years anniversary of the Klopfertaste M99 key on the previous blog. dated on the side   11.8.14

As a tribute to the family that were the previous owners, I present a story about the history of that key, it`s connection to the family, and now connecting me with the family, and all the history, too.

At the end of the story, there is a short video of me using the key, to send the message that is mentioned in the translation of Georges Julien `s life, (By kind permission of Christiane Lesven ). The message would have been broadcast, in French, by an announcer before the 9 pm news broadcast  on Radio Londres, and not  sent by morse code.

Here is the story .....

                                                A Morse Key connection –

            a potted history of the life of a German Morse key known as the Klopfertaste type M99

This story has several starting points ! But only one ending.…

          It was on  Ebay France that I saw this dirty old uncared for part missing morse key.. I had no idea, at that time, of the journey it would take me on,.. But it was a “buy it now”.. So I contacted the seller, and they gave me a price to post it to England… but before I received that, I decided I had better “buy it now” … before someone else did !..

Original Condition as received from France

Refurbished, rewired, and a new longer base

          And so starts a remarkable story, of how the information came about, through the curiosity about the markings on the side… It took me quite a lot of searching on Google images, before I finally tracked down the  name and type of key… Until then, I assumed that, because it was coming from France.. That it would have been a French maker… the “crown” looked to me, as though it was a copy of a French Priests hat.. ! !.. What the French Religious Authorities were doing with a morse key , I am not sure ! ! !.

       First is the Historical start point, or the Date of Manufacture. The key has a date impressed  on one side which is quite clear 11.8.14…. I am assured by a German friend, who has done a lot of the research work behind this key, that date would be 11th August 1914. .. Which means it was made 2 weeks after the start of the First World War. … From the other markings on the other side, my German Friend, has found that the F over S insignia, refers to the company of…  Ferdinand Schuchhardt, Telegraphenbauanstalt, Berlin SO.16, Germany. Established in 1886.

         The second starting point, would be that of who it was made for, and where it was used.  There is a “crown” like “logo” on the side, and this was really tricky to track down, as it is not  easy to track a picture on google internet search for “images”… however,  Once again, my German friend used his “local knowledge”, and a lot of intuition and guesswork, I would think.. Eventually he found a picture of the “crest” on a flag of the Post Office !.. … an almost identical match to the one on the key !.. And by this means, we have now associated it to being an “ownership mark” to indicate that it was “post office property”..

Which brings us around to a third starting point… How it ended up in the loft of a French Family…... but more of this one later ! ! ..see the translation of the life of Georges Julien, Croix de Guerre with palms, Renaudin of the Resistance.
( Original French version here…  )
 by kind permission of Chris Lesven.  (Merci Chris)

          All of the above information, was gleaned as a result of my interest in “old morse keys” and a daily search of morse keys for sale on Ebay… not satisfied with just the U.K. market, I also delve into the USA ebay, the SouthAfrican equivalent “bid or buy”.. And Ebay Germany and Ebay France.  

         However, it turns out to be of German Origin, as already mentioned,… properly identified as a KLOPFER TASTE.. Or “knocker key”, after the sound it made in use. And the model was a newer version of the original M99. The basic difference being the older version had a solid brass rocker arm, and the newer one, ( from 1906) was made with a “pressed steel” flat bar rocker arm. Interestingly, the design incorporates a “sprung steel” leaf under the contacts at both ends, this design “improvement” was to lessen the knocking sound, when the  key was being used… Imagine (say) 20 operators in the same room, bashing away at their morse key, sending those urgent telegrams, and messages across the Original Internet… … ..  What a noise it must have made…

Having received the morse key.. I decided to “give it a go” , in its present state of neglect, surprisingly, it had a very nice easy movement, and made good morse !.. I was expecting it to be a bit stiff with rusty pivot points making an uneven contact… So, off to the workshop, and the story about it`s refurbishment is on my blogsite

Meanwhile, I had again been in contact with the seller  ( Dominique Julien ) to see if he had any  more information  about where it was used, and by whom.. Etc. I was most surprised to find out that the key actually belonged to his Grandmother, who, together with her husband, the Grandfather, both worked in the French PTT, or Postes, Telegraphes et Telephones… ( about 1921 to 1930 ) . Which was formed in 1921,… some 7 years after the key was made, and 3 years after the end of World War 1…   
      Dominique Julien  also informed me that the Grandfather, was a member of the Resistance, in World War 2.

(see the translation of the life of Georges Julien, Croix de Guerre with palms, Renaudin of the Resistance. ) ( Original French version here…  ) by kind permission of Chris Lesven.  (Merci Chris)

  Dominque Julien does not know exactly the history of this key, but has said…..

“  1) my grandfather and my grandmother both worked at the PTT, the French position, (edit… French Poste, Telegraphe & Telephone )  and it is likely that it was a telegraphist in the 1920 or 1930 (I could be confirmed through letters I have ).

    2) my grandfather was a great resistance during WW2 (see website: and may be there is  many messages passed using this morse key.”

     3)  my grandfather was arrested at work on 15/12/1943, but due to the negligence of German, he managed to escape into the street and disappear in the Paris metro, and of course, German then went to the home of my grandparents where they waited in vain, in the presence of my grandmother who knew nothing, and finally departed leaving with his cat       ! ! ! .

Chris Lesven   ( cousin of the seller Dominique Julien )  says  “  The only thing we know for sure is that it was probably recovered from a job in France (probably in Paris rue des Archives)”     
……….  who knows  ? ? ?  It survived the war and remained with Grandmother Julien afterwards until it came up for sale

The following is a translation  of the page …. Supplied by Chris Lesven…..

Georges JULIEN

Grand Resistant
Officer of the Legion of Honour
Croix de guerre with palms

Georges Julien was born in Tours on March 18, 1902. His father was a watchmaker, his mother a teacher. They live in the center of town, rue Jules Moinaux. George is the fourth child of a family that will have six, two boys and four girls.
In 1921, George met in Rouen his future wife, Marie Gabrielle Lesven he married the following year. Both start at Rouen a career in PTT.
In 1927, Julien torque is transferred to Paris, to the harmonic station on Rue des Archives (4th).
In 1937, Georges Julien controller is in Paris Central, seconded to LSGD, underground lines at great distances, always rue des Archives.
In 1939, it provides a course in Brest telephone exchange.

Entry into Resistance

In the first months of 1941, through the French Red Cross, Georges Julien, Robert Keller and Robert Guillet contact with Vic Smith, co-founder of Vengeance network. The three men, apart from their activity in the intelligence network, recruit comrades among the two center staff, that of rue des Archives (telegraph), and that of the Rue de Grenelle (phone).

      Georges Julien had the joy of learning the announcement of the Normandy landings, hearing the night of June 5 to 6 personal message he had been waiting for months the broadcast, he has not been given to know the liberation of his country, for which he fought in 1941.

   The day before his death, aware of the dangers he ran in Bordeaux, despite his official mandate of representative of the National Committee of Resistance, he said to a friend: 'I do not fear death under German bullets, but I'm afraid of falling victim to those I defend'

     At the end of June 1944, Bordeaux is both a `magazine` (explosive place politically)  and a basket of crabs. Since the wave of arrests that have taken place since the summer of 1943, and who literally dismembered Bordeaux Resistance, a climate of suspicion reigns between the various resistance movements.

   What is later called Grandclément case there is obviously a lot. But this is not the only cause: after landing, this is the question of the future organization of France that is asked. Power issues, put into the background during the dark years, now taking place in the foreground.

     The power struggle being waged by General de Gaulle and his powerful allies, are not confined to the traditional  circles of politics and diplomacy, it also manifests itself in the field.

        And in the Bordeaux region, where the British Secret Service (SOE) have a determining position from the beginning of the Resistance, it is clear that London intends to pull its weight, even at the cost of a confrontation between networks.

    It is in this context that  Georges Julien, alias Renaudin, arrived in Bordeaux in late May 1944, with a mission to recognize the authority of the National Council of Resistance. He will face the suspicion and intolerance of uncontrolled groups.

   June 29, 1944, a group of four men, members of the Bordeaux region of resistance networks, Georges Julien was seen on the corner of Mouneyra Street and Heron Street. Without a word, they empty on him their weapons at close range and fled swiftly from the surrounding streets.

They just killed Renaudin, the National Resistance Council was commissioned to bring order in the dramatic situation of the Resistance in Bordeaux, where a fratricidal war in 1944 took over the arrests, executions and deportations that struck this region since the summer of 1943.

End of translation……..

Note… The message that Georges Julien heard on the radio, was probably broadcast by Radio Londres – a French radios station from the BBC to support the French Resistance by passing “innocuous”  seemingly meaningless “personal messages”.

The following is taken from Wikipedia
        Shortly before the D-Day landings of 6 June 1944, Radio Londres broadcast the first stanza of Paul Verlaine's poem "Chanson d'automne" to let the resistance know that the invasion would begin within 24 hours.[2]

    Les sanglots longs
    Des violons
    De l’automne
    Blessent mon cœur
    D’une langueur

Blessent mon cœur d'une langueur monotone ("wound my heart with a monotonous languor") was the specific call to action.

        It is, therefore, a Great Honour for me to be able to resurrect this key, with all its history, and use it in memory of Georges Julien (Renaudin), who was tragically murdered by his own people, after serving his country in the most difficult of ways during the second world war. ..

     I am humbled by his bravery, and will always be in awe of him, as I use the key to connect with my friends over the NEW Internet…. Just as he may have done,  ( just maybe, as there is no confirmation that he did use this key)  with the OLD internet during his lifetime.

    From now on, for me….  this key will be renamed, the Georges Julien Key, in his memory, as I feel that I am somehow connected by this Morse Key, with your family, and Georges in particular..

A very sincere “Thank you“ , to Dominique Julien, and Chris Lesven, for supplying the information and history, and  for allowing me to re-tell this story,  I shall treasure this Morse Key, as a memento of a Hero of the French Resistance. 

Saturday, 6 August 2016

German Klopfertaste ( knocker key) M99 1914- Refurbishment

A few weeks ago, I was trawling the French Ebay site, and saw a very dirty, rusty, looking object, that sort of resembled a morse key... It had no knob on it, but it did have some interesting impressions on the side edges of the triple "sandwich" wooden base  .. I couldn`t resist the "buy it now" offer, and contacted the seller for postal costs. Before he had answered, I decided that I had better press the "buy it now" button, before anyone else did.
Here are some pics that were shown on the Ebay Sales page.

As you can see, it was in a "sorry state"... and certainly was going to be a bit of a challenge to bring it back to a working key again...

Eventually, the key arrived at my house, and I just could not wait to see how it worked.. as I usually have CWCOM running when my laptop is on, I used a couple of croc clips and flying leads to attach it to another key, piggyback style, and did a quick test transmission.... It worked  !.. probably the first time it has done that for a good 50 years ! .. So.. next step... down to the workshop, and start to dismantle it.

I started by removing the very tiny screws holding the electrical contact spring between the rocker arm and the main "yoke" support columns.

It was a very tiny screw, and a bit tricky, with my big fingers and thumbs... !..

Once that spring and the two tiny screws had been safely put to one side, it was reasonably easy to remove the rocker arm   and the pivot yoke, to put in the vice to be "buffed up" with the electric drill and rotary wire brush.

I tried to keep all the bits and pieces in some sort of "exploded" order, so that I could easily rebuild the key, when all the parts, had been cleaned and buffed up with the rotary wire brush.   Having my camera handy, and taking pictures at each stage, will also help, if some of the parts have been moved !..
Once the rocker arm and yoke had been cleaned up, I was "on a roll"... and the next job was to remove the "eyes"  where the original screws would have passed through to secure it to the desk/work bench  went through... these were and extremely tight "push-fit".. so I had to use a "drift" ( a conveniently sized piece of round brass rod). to knock them through from the underside.. After them came the front and rear contact bars...

On this particular type of key, the German engineering used a sprung steel contact plate,... this was said to reduce the "knock" noise, when in use.. and that also gives the key it`s name. " Knopfer Taste"  (Knock Key). Being steel, with steel machine screws, and given the amount of time they have been together, it was not surprising that they had rusted a bit, and just would not move with a small screwdriver... and so I had to resort to "brute force"... well.. a gentle tap with a strong screwdriver against the side of the spring steel plate, soon shifted it enough to continue using the smaller screwdriver to remove the machine screw completely...

Once all the bits had been cleaned, including the heads of the wood screws, and all the screw thread fixings.

 it was time to consider putting it all back together, and  what to use for a Knob on the key, because, as you can see from the original, it had gone missing some time ago..

Looking on Google images for a similar key.. ( at this stage, I had no idea what kind of key it was, where it was made, or anything, except it came from France).. but eventually, I did find a pic that looked very much like my key, and that Identified it as the M99 Klopfertaste... and it had a "flat knob" on it... At first, I decided I would try to make one from an existing wooden knob, but that did not seem to come out right in the finish... so, once again, I used Ebay, to source the knob... I found a supplier of Black Plastic Cooking Pot Lid Knobs... and they were just the right size, complete with machine screw to fit !.. Not a "true" replica, but for me.. near enough..

Before I put it all back together, I gave all the bits, including the wooden base, as coat of spray lacquer, to try and preserve the nice clean brass, and also to preserve the logos on the sides.  Then left them to dry overnight, before the final re-construction began... 

So , here are some pictures of  the finished refurbished key...

So there it was... all clean and shiny as a new pin... and, to me,.. a joy to look at.... however.. I just HAD to wire it up again, piggyback fashion, and have some fun with sending some morse with it....

 It has a very smooth and very light "feel" to it, and it will definitely be used on a day to day basis... as all my keys do,

Satisfied that it was working properly, I decided that it needed a longer base, because, as you can see, the knob "hangs over the front end" of the base, which doesn`t matter if it is screwed down to the bench... but working "free" it is just not possible, unless held firmly with the left hand.. Using a longer base, and a foam rubber sponge material ( thin washing up sponge) the key is quite stable on the desk and is a delight to use.

I also utilised the "eye" holes, to feed a couple of stiff insulated wires to the necessary contact points, and under the key to the base, where a proper long lead and jack plug can be soldered on to the eyes on the underside of the long base.  ( I fixed the Key base to the new base by a couple of wood screws up into the underside of the key)..

I am very pleased with the way it has turned out,... and it is a joy to use.  I am sure that the original operators thought so too...

The SF logo, and the Date Mark, explained....

Well, since I started using this delightful little key, I was eager to find out some history about it, and first stop was the seller on ebay.... he informed me, that it had been in his loft for many years, but he did not know what it was, except that it belonged to his Grandmother.    I wonder if she used it   ? ? ?   he did not say...

EDIT ......... 10 August 2016.     This key has a very interesting history, and is associated with a Hero of the French Resistance during World War 2..    a story about it`s history, and that of the hero will be published on this blogsite , on the 102nd anniversary of this key date, entitled, A morse key connection.  See the entry.... "Morse Key Connection" ....

    intrigued, I wanted to know more about the logos and the date mark on the sides. and, as luck would have it, a German contact on CWCOM came to the rescue.  Guy, did a lot of research into the M99 and advised me that the date on the side, would refer to 11 AUGUST 1914...(Just a two weeks into World War 1, but at that time France and Germany, were not actually fighting !)..   and that the key was probably made for the early ham radio market, ( but not in Germany at that time.) (see below  ***** for Guy`s explanation).... .

 Here is the information that he found out... for which I am eternally grateful, to my good friend Guy in Germany,... as it really "brings to life " this old key....

Date of Manufacture. The key has a date impressed  on one side which is quite clear 11.8.14…. I am assured by a German friend, who has done a lot of the research work behind this key, that date would be 11th August 1914. .. Which means it was made 2 weeks after the start of the First World War. … From the other markings on the other side, my German Friend, has found that the F over S insignia, refers to the company of…  Ferdinand Schuchhardt, Telegraphenbauanstalt, Berlin SO.16, Germany. Established in 1886.

Who was it made for, and where it was used.?
      There is a “crown” like “logo” on the side, and this was really tricky to track down, as it is not  easy to track a picture on google internet search for “images”… however,  Once again, my German friend used his “local knowledge”, and a lot of intuition and guesswork, I would think.. Eventually he found a picture of the “crest” on a flag of the Post Office !.. … an almost identical match to the one on the key !.. And by this means, we have now associated it to being an “ownership mark” to indicate that it was “post office property”..

At that time there were different systems and different Keys using Closed Current - or Open Current-Apparatus.
   The difference between the old and new M99 may illustrate that.

*****  The first Ham-activities of private nature were done in Germany around 1920, 6 years after your "new" key was made, and that not licensed by the Reichstelegraphyadministration. The Railway stations that used the old M99 were connected by wire and did not use the new M99, that was used for Sf or sans fils or wireless technic.
Older version of M99   note full brass rocker

 And Finally..... ! ... here is a short video of me using the key.... you can click on the square to make it full screen.. and you need your phones on, or your speakers active. !