The Telegraph Office

The Wilson Model SA-100 Right Hand and Left Hand Bug

Wilson Manufacturing Co., Toronto, Ontario

by Neal McEwen, K5RW

k5rw@telegraph-office.com

Copyright © 1998, Neal McEwen

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Wilson SA-100 bug top viewThe Model SA-100 bug was made for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) during W.W.II. The base of the bug and the frame are finished in RCAF blue wrinkle paint. The label on the bug reads "Model SA100 / Made in Canada by / Wilson Mfg. Co., Toronto, Ontario".

There are three rubber 'tabs' on the top side of the bug, two on the frame and one on the damper which is as tall as the frame. Why? Flip the bug over and it instantly becomes a Left Hand bug. It will also sit on its side to make a straight key. Between the binding posts is a post for an extra weight. This is a good way to store extra weights without the risk of them becoming lost. The base is about the same size as a Vibroplex Zephyr.

Notice the close resemblance to the Logan and Johnson SPEED-X line. The knurling is the same. The sliding weight clip is the same. The damper design is the same. The dead give-away is the concentric rings on the thumb piece. There is either a connection to SPEED-X or plagiarism. Logan made the SPEED-X line of keys and bugs from the late 1930s to 1947 when they sold the line to E.F. Johnson. Murray Willer, Wilson SA-100 bug bottom viewVE3FRX, a well known Canadian telegraph key collector, once told me that he suspected that Logan made the parts and shipped them to Wilson for final assembly to circumvent import/duty restrictions. No basis,... just a guess.

The SA-100 bugs were available on the Canadian surplus market for $5.00 in the years following W.W.II. There should be plenty of them around in Canada. However, they are fairly scare in the U.S. This particular Wilson bug belonged to Harry Yurex, now deceased, who was a long time Canadian railroad telegrapher.

Wilson also made a blue hand key that is a knock-off of the McElroy teardrop hand key although about 30% larger than the McElroy. The hand key was also made in gray.

Does anyone have any concrete information on Wilson? 


Bibliography

Munn, Robert J. AA5CG, ex VE3BQB. Wilson Semi-Automatic Morse Key, Royal Canadian Air Force. Letter to Neal McEwen, K5RW, 6/25/1996


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Neal McEwen, k5rw@telegraph-office.com