Lionel Morse Code J-38 base WWII Signal Corps US Army Telegraph Key
The J-38 type of CW/Morse keys were used by all branches of the US military. Were manufactured as part of the the war effort by a few specialized US companies. They manufactured them almost identical and sometimes it is hard to recognize the factory that produced that particular model.
Some of the companies were:
American Radio Hardware (ARH), Lionel Corporation, Telegraph Apparatus Corporation (TAC) and there were two more of unknown manufacture: One made entirely of brass including its frame and, the last one, made entirely of white metal including the frame.
They look all the same and parts are interchangeable between different manufacturers.
Very small differences that could give away the possible manufacturer are known.
-Lionel had round corners in the Bakelite base of their keys. All others were sharp square.
had a different angled knurling pattern on their lock nuts. All others
had a normal straight vertical knurling pattern on their lock nuts.
had the company name "Lionel Corporation" cast in between the trunnion
supports. All others didn't have a company name written anywhere.
-Lionel painted their frames black. All others didn't paint them.
-Lionel had the Lionel logo cast in the bottom of the Bakelite base. All others didn't have any marks.
installed position pins on all wire posts (rear and inner posts), to
stop this posts from turning or getting loose during usage. All others
had them only on the rear posts, the ones that are used for training.
Lionel located their inner posts position pins in order to form a 45
All this extra features makes Lionel keys easy to spot and to be recognized.
all J-38s, Lionel seems to be the more common ones.They are recognized
as being the ones with the best quality and attention to detail of all
Corporation no longer produces this keys but the Company is well known
and are still in operation. They manufacture Electric Toy Scale Train
sets. Their toy products had set the standard in the USA for decades.
my Lionel J-38 CW key at a Ontario hamfest 2009