The pictures above is of a Wm M. Nye Co. Inc. Speed-X model 310-003 key mounted on a J-38 base thus making it a J-38 key. Actually a "real" J-38 never had such a key mounted on the black bakelite base. This Speed-X key was made some time on or after 1972 and incorporates a circuit closer switch. The black oval Zinc base of the key is 2 x 3 inches and has a black crinkle finish.The knob on this key is known as a Navy knob. The Speed-X model 310-003 is a copy of a Bunnell Triumph key with "SPEED-X" stamped on the top center of the lever and chrome plated parts.
The black bakelite square base did not come with the key and is missing a few parts but thankfully it has no extra holes drilled into it. The wood base is not original. I have wood floors in my home along with several boxes full of wood flooring. I pulled out a piece of this flooring and cut it down to size then mounted the Speed-X J-38 on it. It actually looks fairly nice so my next step is to pull out the router and put a decorative edge around the wood.
The Wm. Nye Co. (Nye-Viking) sells a couple different versions of a straight key with an oval base. The example featured on this page is an older version(notice sprung-anvil in picture at the bottom of this page) of their model 310-003. The second model they sell is the Speed-X model 310-001 which does not incorporate a circuit closer switch. Also in the collection is a Wm. M. Nye model SSK-001 paddle located HERE.
Wm. Nye's present line of keys are all manufactured on site. Although the casting and painting along with some machine functions are contracted out. Nye produces a number of smaller parts with their stamping and drilling machines but screws are purchased from suppliers. Their key bases are cast in Zinc due to the metals ease in casting, its low cost, and weight. As of 8/01/17 production of the oval-base Speed-X keys models 310-001 and 310-003 have been suspended.
Wm M. Nye Co. Inc. and the Speed-X name:
The Speed-X name and trademark is first associated with the Electro Manufacturing Co. that was located in Fresno, California in the 1920’s. In 1934, Stewart Johnson bought the Speed-X name and relocated the company to San Francisco, California. Stewart Johnson changed the name to the Speed-X Radio Manufacturing Company and built Speed-X keys from 1934 until he sold the company to Les Logan in 1937. In 1937 Mr. Les 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. Ten years later the company was back in the hands of a Johnson when in 1947 E.F. Johnson acquired the Speed-X Manufacturing Company. By October 1947 E.F. Johnson was advertising their keys to hams in QST magazine. E.F. Johnson continued to produce basically the same type and style of keys. The last QST advertisment for an E.F. Johnson Speed-X bug occured in 1967 according to the October 1993 issue of the Vail Correspondent #5. E.F. Johnson sold the Speed-X company to the Wm. Nye Co. (Nye-Viking) in the fall of 1972. In the agreement the tooling for straight keys, low pass filters, matchboxes, and sounders was included but the tooling to build semi-automatic bugs was not according to Bill Nye Jr(WB7TNN). The Wm. Nye Co. started in 1972 in Bellevue, Washington but later moved to Priest River, Idaho on May 1, 1995. The Speed-X name is still in use today by Nye-Viking.