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Extremely rare left hand version of the Les Logan Speed-X Professional model 501. The model number of this key is 501-L. As far as I know this is the only known example of the Les Logan Speed-X Professional Model 501-L in existence. If you have one, know of one, or can provide any additional information please  me.

The Les Logan Speed-X Professional model 501 came with either a chrome or battleship gray base. During WWII chrome was a restricted metal which brought about the battleship gray base. After WWII the Logan company continued to use the gray base. There is not a standard(gray base) version and a deluxe(chrome) base version. All 501 models are considered the Professional model. The Model 500 is the standard model which has 1/8” contacts and a black wrinkle finish base. The Professional model 501 comes equipped with 1/4" contacts which are replaceable. Although finding contacts today, 70+ years later might be an issue.

The Les Logan models 500 and 501 are very similar to the Electro Bug from the late 1920's. Many collectors feel that the Electro Mfg was the predecessor to the Speed-X bugs. The reason being is not only a similarity in style but also that of manufacturing locations. Electro Mfg first appeared in Fresno CA in mid 1927. Shortly thereafter they were located in San Francisco CA. which is where Les Logan produced his bugs.

The Les Logan Speed-X model 501 base measures 3 1/2" by 6 1/4". The 501 incorporates a circuit closer in its design which is located under the paddles. The damper is a wheel and post Electro-Bug style. The replaceable contacts are 1/4" in size. The base will have 2 pre-drilled holes for attaching the key to a desktop.

The key is shown here in the exact condition that I received it save for blowing off some dust. I have made no attempt to clean or polish it.

  

The only known example of a left hand Les Logan Speed-X model 515-L is located on this site HERE .

  

Leslie(Les) Logan’s Speed-X keys were made from 1937 to 1947.

The Les Logan company began in California in 1937 when Mr. Logan purchased a part of the Speed-X Radio Manufacturing Company from Stewart Johnson. The two became partners with Mr. Logan being the salesman. Before long Mr. Logan bought out Mr. Johnson interests in the company and changed the name from Speed-X Radio Manufacturing Company to Speed-X Manufacturing Company. Mr. Logan removed the word “Radio” from the company name. Logan then got to work and made some changes to the keys. Among those was the addition of an identification tag which contained his name along with the model & serial number of the key, pot/cast metal base, different bearing support frames, 2 paddles vs a knob and paddle. Early examples of Les Logan keys will be found with a serial number such as "T 9". Mr. Logan produced several different keys to include the model 500, 501(nickel-plated version of the Model 500), 510(nicknamed "pocket key" due to its light weight), and the 515(Logan's big seller and very popular). Mr. Logan did not stop there. He added or more correctly stated reintroduced a "T" handle to the model 500 and 501 which allowed the operator to turn the key on its side so that it behaved more like a traditional straight key. It should be noted that this T handle was absent from the keys that the Speed-X Radio Manufacturing Company built while under Stewart Johnson’s control and prior to Mr. Logan buying him out in 1937. Logan also employed many of his family members while he owned the company. Les Logan ended up selling the company in 1947 to the E.F. Johnson company.

According to “The Vail Correspondent” No.5 October 1993 the first Les Logan Company ad for Speed-X instruments appeared in the September 1937 issue of QST and by October 1947 the new owner E.F. Johnson was touting its keys to hams in QST magazines.

The Morsum Magnificent Number 44 from February 1996 has an excellent article by Lynn Burlingame(N7CFO) about the history of Les Logan and his company. This information was provided by Betty who was Les Logan's last surviving child in 1996.

  

  

  

The picture on the left is of the front of the Tee bar frame which has “SPEED-X” stamped into it at the top. The tee bar design is unique and useful. The Tee bar can be used to pick up the key by placing a finger under each side. Another great use for the tee bar is that it allows the operator to turn the key on its side so that it can be used as a straight key after the pendulum(Arm) has been secured with a rubber band.

The picture on the right is a view of the front of the Les Logan model 501-L. Also of interest here we can see the damper is a wheel and post Electro-Bug style. Notice the arm is on the opposite side of the damper post as compared to a right hand bug which can be seen HERE .

  

The picture on the left is of the front of the model 501-L. The circuit closer knob and part of the lever can be seen underneath the paddles. Also of interest here is the dash contact which is located on the right side of the base for a left hand model. Right hand bugs will have the dash contact located on the left. Please note that the dash contact on the base adjustment post is screwed on. The Les Logan model 501 keys are considered the "Professional" model and have replaceable contacts.

The picture on the right is of the bottom of the key. Please take notice of the four(4) rubber feet on the bottom of the base. While at first this may seem like a good idea but in actual use it is not. Many Vibroplex keys are found with three(3) feet on the bottom. The reason why three feet are better than four is because if one of the feet is at a different height from the rest the key will wobble on a desk. With three feet the key will always sit stable when in use.

  

  

  

The picture on the left shows the identification tag found on this Les Logan 501-L. Early Les Logan bugs can often be found with a serial number stamped on the nameplate. The 501-L seen here has no such serial number.

In the picture on the right we can see the two circles found on the paddles of Les Logan keys. The JAF watch is radioactive and from the same era as the key. I was testing the watch and simply slid it over for the photograph.

 

Provenance of this 515L

This Les Logan model 501-L was built in San Francisco, CA. sometime between 1937 and 1947. It was probably not made between 1942 and 1945 due to chrome being a restricted metal during WWII. Early Logan bugs are found with a serial number stamped on the nameplate. The bug shown here has no such serial number which indicates it could be a later model although it is not clear as to when Logan stopped the serial number practice. Did he serialized items only in 1937? Was serial number added only by a specific employee(often friends and family members)? We simply do not know at this time. If I was to guess I'd say this bug was built shortly before WWII or sometime afterwards up until 1947.

When I purchased this item the sales ad stated the following:

"THIS KEY WAS PURCHASED AROUND 1940 ON CORTLAND ST, RADIO ROW, IN MANHATTAN.  TAKEN HOME TO QUEENS AND PUT ON A DESK AND USED UP UNTIL RECENTLY BY DESCENDANTS OF THE ORIGINAL HAM THAT BOUGHT IT IN 40. IT SAT IN THE SAME SPOT ALL THESE YEARS.  IT STILL PROBABLY HAS DUST FROM 1940.  IT APPEARS TO BE PERFECT AND INTACT AND WORKING FINE."

After the purchase I questioned the seller further concerning the previous owners name, call sign, etc. as I would like to keep the history of the item with the item and I was told: "It’s been sitting with us for about 10 years. That’s best we can do.". I thanked Joe for the reply and did not push any further.

  

  

  

  

References:

Tom Perera's(W1TP) Telegraph Collectors Guidebook

Tom Perera's(W1TP) Telegraph Collectors CD-ROM

Morsum Magnificant Number 44 February 1996

The Vail Correspondent No.5 October 1993 

  

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