Very rare left hand version of the Les Logan Speed-X model 515. The model number of this key is 515-L. As far as I know this is the only known example of the Les Logan Speed-X Model 515-L in existence. This particular Speed-X 515-L also appears to be the very first left hand Model 515 that the Les Logan company produced as the serial number is A1. Is there an A2 or an A3? If you have one, know of one, or can provide any additional information please me.
The Les Logan Speed-X model 515 has a Vibroplex original style frame. The base measures 3" by 6 1/4" and has a black wrinkle finish on it and the frame. The 515 does not have a circuit closer. The dot spring and stop are on seperate screws, Vibroplex style while other Speed-X models will have these functions on one screw. The damper is a wheel and post Electro-Bug style.
The key is shown here in the exact condition that I received it. I have made no attempt to clean it nor will I. A right hand Les Logan Speed-X model 515 is located on this site HERE .
Provenance of this 515-L
We are loosing to much history in today’s world so I dug my heels in to uncover the history of this key, not an easy task. We did not know the name or the call sign of the prior owner. N5RRC got in touch with the family who was happy to help and supplied us a name. From there we found the obituary and Greg Drezdzon WD9FTZ found us the call sign.
Below is the story:
This key once belonged to W5CGA William “Bill” Staffell of Louisiana until he became an SK at the age of 64 on February 1st 1991. From there the family parted with it and the key came into the possession of N5RRC Joe Frazier of Louisiana sometime in the early 1990’s. Mr. Frazier said the key just sat on a shelf in his ham shack for 30 years. Mr. Frazier went on to say that “W5CGA had it a long time and thought a lot of it. Then in 2020 Mr. Frazier and I did some trading and now the key sits on a shelf in my ham shack in Florida.
So depending on W5CGA’s birthdate which is around 1927 and considering Logan keys went into production in 1937, while possible I do doubt that W5CGA bought this key new when he was 10 years old. So was there a prior owner before him? I guess that is a question that will never be answered...
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.