This Joe Veras, N4QB photo is also
from CQ's 2003 calendar for the
month of September. I have always
had a love of the big, heavy spark or
mariners keys. Whether aboard a
ship or secured at a costal maritime
land station, these heavy-duty
klunkers performed 24 hours a day
for years and years without failure,
despite the heavy abuse of high
amperage primary keying circuits,
constant heavy fist-pounding, and
corrosive, salty air.
I designed and made this one in the
early 1990s when I acquired a 2
pound slab of yellow brass. There is
nothing special about this key
except for its heavy duty
construction. It is not patterened
after any particular model - more like
a key I would have manufactured if I
was in the maritime telegraph
business.The return spring is made
of diamond-drawn music wire and
fitted into a well where it would be
fairly safe from loss during
adjustment by an inexperienced
radioman on the high and rolling
seas. The brass trunions hold the
1/4 inch stainless steel adjustable
pivot. The contacts are 1/2 inch
diameter phosphor bronze and all
four pieces of furniture are real
bakelite. The insulation has been
hi-pot tested to 2,500 volts and the
current capability should be good for
more than 100 amps, but we haven't
proved that ... yet!