I showed a few Morse Keys on my old web site, I am not an avid collector, nor am I a Morse mode addict. However I am so glad that to obtain my Licence I had to learn the code, I would not want to be without the skill.
Recently IZ0GNY contacted me re the Bathtub Key.
Right Click on pictures and select View Image for full size.
This key was used aboard the Lancaster Bomber and had a degree of sealing against the ingress of water. My friend and fellow Ham G3JJW knows of a good reason for this, he was a Rear Gunner on a Lancaster that ditched into the North Sea. The technique for ditching and being able to escape the Aircraft which was now in danger of becoming a Submarine was for the Pilot to hit the sea hard with the rear end, thus snapping the tail end off. His ditching went to plan and he was out of Lancaster and into a Dinghy with the rest of the crew. Orange dye was used to stain the search area for rescue crews, John G3JJW thereby joined the Goldfish Club, the exclusive group of Airmen pulled from the sea looking like a Goldfish.
Whether the waterproofing of the Bathtub Key allowed any last minute position information to be sent on this occasion I don’t know.
I purchased my Bathtub Key when I was 16 Years old from a store which sold ‘Army Surplus’ it was new in a cardboard box and wrapped in many layers of waxed paper, straight from the Quartermasters stores. I still recall the smell as the wrapping was removed, wax and Bakelite. A rubber diaphragm between the Key Knob shaft and the Body soon perished and crumbled I completely removed this and the ring that secured it.
The top section hinges open after unclipping the Phosphor Bronze catch.
In contrast to the Bathtub Key is my Home Built Squeeze Key.
I sourced most of the material for this key which is based on a design in the American 73 magazine many years ago. The details were provided for it to be build of Perspex (Plexiglass). By this time my son was perhaps a little more than 16 years old and an apprentice Pattern Maker. I persuaded him and he persuaded his employer that this engineering task with so many varied disciplines was an ideal project for spare moments at work.
It took him some time but the results are superb. The rectangular Steel base does not rust due to an etching technique used. The Phosphor Bronze parts I purchased as scrap are similarly treated.
In the above picture I see I have knocked the left hand segment out of its pivots whilst moving it for the photograph. Those movable segments pivot on small Ball Bearings which are force fitted into holes in the Phosphor Bronze these locate into cups in the end of short Steel Pillars, four in all, the left and right top pair can be seen in the picture.
The fixed contact adjustable supports stand on a rod of Ebony timber. The contacts are Copper treated as the other metal parts I have never had to clean them.
The Paddles are solid Rosewood. To show his art (if you ever turn the key over) my son produced the base plate cover of Quartered solid Rosewood. The key is a piece of workmanship of which he should be proud.