This is a 1917 "pre-bug label"
Vibroplex that I restored in 1995. This
photo is by Joe Veras, N4QB of CQ
magazine who photographed it for the
cover of the CQ 1996 "Radio Classics"
calendar in cooperation with Dave
Ingram, K4TWJ who also wrote the two
key collecting books: "Keys, Keys,
Keys" and "Keys II: The Emporium."
This key was a total disaster when
originally found. All the pendulum parts
were missing, the iron base was solid
rust, none of the original laquer finish
was evident, all the brass was badly
corroded, and the bakelite finger
pieces were missing.
The restoration of this piece was a real
challenge. A new pendulum, weight
and spring had to be fabricated. (I
made the spring for this key to operate
in the 13 to 25 WPM range so that it
would be more operator-friendly for
me.) The base was stripped and
refinished in the tradition of the original
with several coats of organic black
lacquer which was heat-leveled after
each coat. The pin striping was done
by hand with gold leaf lacquer. It was a
real thrill to put this bug back on the air
(on 80 meters, naturally) and see the
old fellow come back to life after more
than 75 years!