Tuning and final assembly (at last)

 
And below some pictures of the key approaching completion, as you can see directly below the contact block has not yet been fitted, as the position of the contact point along the length of the spring is critical to the performance and to the "feel" of the key, a tension spring must first be fitted onto the tension adjuster, as in this key the tension adjuster is close to the pivot point the spring must be "hard" by that I mean it must be quite difficult to stretch the reason being that the key is quite heavily levered, in other words the knob will move much further downwards when the key is operated than the spring will stretch upwards  the same goes for the contact distance although slightly less, all this balance of spring tension against leverage and contact closure distance defines the quality of action in a Morse key, getting back to the "tuning", the contact block is slid along the contact spring whilst the key is operated, the block being held tight against the base, you can see from the pictures the contact on the left  is way out on the end of the spring, this gives a very bouncy soft feel to the action where as on the right the contact is close into the nose of the key, this gives a hard mechanical feel to the action, and somewhere in between is that magic "feel" once felt never forgotten, hard to describe, a mixture of a hard contact but with the faintest of bounce the key almost "rings" and gives an effortless feeling when sending code, tension of the spring and the amount of gap also play their parts so take you time with this part adjusting and readjusting but do remember to hold the contact block firmly down when testing or use a small clamp, as it will affect the performance, when you are entirely happy mark the spot along the contact spring then drill two fixing holes into the contact block and fix it so that the contacts close at the optimum point, sounds a real waffle but this is the art of making an excellent key.
Below you can see more pictures of the key in it's mechanically finished state, no polish or terminals fitted or fancy adjusters just the basic animal so far the rest will come later, and I might add the sleeve bearings are performing extremely well far better than I hoped for, I shall be very interested when the time comes to fit the ball races as one of the enhancements, just to see and feel the difference they actually make.
Also as you can see I've used a knob from an old military key, but you could turn a wooden one or modify a small draw or door knob the possibilities are endless, anyway the next page will consist of modifications to further enhance the performance, fitting some "twiddly" bits and a final finish..