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Setting Up the Key-8 Paddle


These instructions are designed to help you find the adjustment that suits you best. What you are looking for ultimately is a particular feel, and that will vary from person to person.

First of all, it is important to note that all Key-8 keyer/paddles were manufactured in the late 1980's and have been sitting in their factory packaging ever since. Fresh out of the box they can be very stiff, and often will require adjustment and lubrication of the bearings. You will probably want to repeat the adjustment process after you have used the key for a while and it gets "run in."

The following adjustments are available (refer to the drawing at the end of this document for parts location):

Arm tension. The two screws on the sides of the bearing block control the tension on coil springs which press against the arms to provide keying tension.

Contact Spacing. The two screws (with lock nuts) going through the contact posts at the rear of the paddle control the contact spacing. DO NOT attempt to bend the contact leaves, which are brittle and will break if bent.

Bearing Tension. The arms rotate on upper and lower needle bearings, and the bearing surface is machined into the steel arm.

Upper Bearings. The upper bearings (usually the only ones that will need to be adjusted) are adjusted by means of the two bearing-screws on the top of the bearing block, or at the very top of the paddle. They are longish screws with the needle bearing surface machined into the end. The upper bearing screws are locked in place by smaller set-screws on the back of the bearing block. Remember to loosen the lock screws first!

Lower Bearings. The lower bearing screws go through the base of the bearing block and can only be seen by removing the brass base plate (use a thin-wall 7mm socket to remove the nut in the center of the base plate). The bearing screw holes have been filled with paint, which holds them in place. There is no lock screw for these bearings, so if you do adjust them you will need to reapply paint or glue to lock them in place. They should be adjusted only if the height of the arm is incorrect (contacts can't be lined up properly or the top or bottom surface of the arm rubs against the bearing).

Initial Lubrication and Setup

Here are the steps we recommend for initial setup and lubrication of a new Key-8:

1. Contact spacing screws. Loosen the large lock nut and back the screw out until all of the threaded area has disappeared into the post from the inner or contact side. Place a tiny drop of oil on the threaded area of the screw on the outer side of the post. Be very careful not to get oil on the contacts.

2. Spring tension screws. Back the screw out until all of the threaded area has disappeared into the bearing block from the inner side. Be careful not to back it out so far that the spring sleeve drops out. Place a tiny drop of oil on the threaded area of the screw on the outer side of the bearing block.

3. Upper bearing screws. Loosen the upper bearing lock screws which are recessed into the back of the bearing block. They should move freely, or if you wish you can remove them and put a drop of oil into the hole. Loosen the bearing screws (on the top of the bearing block) to the point where you can see a quarter of an inch or so of thread above the bearing block. Place a drop of oil on the threads, at the point where the threads go into the bearing block.

4. Upper and lower bearing surfaces. With the upper bearing screws loosened as in (3) above, you should be able to see at least part of the tapered upper and lower needle bearings. Place a drop of oil on each of the four bearings (it will transfer to the bearing surfaces when the bearings are tightened).

The Key-8 is now "un-adjusted," lubricated, and ready to set up. Here are the steps for final setup of the paddle (again, repeat the three steps for each of the two arms):

Adjust the bearing tension. Tighten the upper bearing screw until you can just barely feel a bit of friction as you move the arm back and forth. Now back the screw off until just the point at which the arms move freely again- usually it's just a fraction of a degree of screw rotation, or about as fine an adjustment as you can make. When the bearing is adjusted properly the arm should move from side to side freely, with no apparent friction and no vertical play or "slop." Tighten the lock screw (in the back of the bearing block) to hold the bearing screw in place.

Adjust the contact spacing. The contact spacing determines the amount of horizontal movement when you swing the arm. It's entirely a matter of taste, but if you haven't used a paddle before and haven't developed your own preferences, start with about the thickness of a dime or a bit less. Adjust the screw until you have the desired spacing between the contacts on each side. The spacing does not have to be identical, and in fact many "bug" operators prefer a greater gap on the dash paddle. Tighten the knurled lock nut.

Adjust the arm tension. Tighten the arm tension adjustment screw to a comfortable level of tension on the arm. Again, this is a matter of preference, but the general rule is to set it for the minimum amount of tension that will allow you to feel that you are in control of the paddle. There is no reason the tension should be the same if you don't want it that way. For example, if you have never used a paddle before you may find it easier to learn if tension is set slightly greater on one side or the other.

Center Post Shock Absorber

The center post is covered with a thin plastic or rubber (or rubbery plastic) sleeve which acts as a shock-absorber when the paddle arm comes back to the post after keying.  The arm seems to stick very slightly to the sleeve, which accounts for the "pseudo-magnetic" tug you feel when you first start using the paddle.  The tug seems to becaused by micro-pore vacuum effects, and will go away with use.  If you use the paddle infrequently, and the tugging bothers you, there are two things you can do--  remove the sleeve and leave it off (some operators actually like the "clanking"), or replace it with a piece of shrink tubing or even a small rubber band.
 Removing the Paddle Arms
If it is necessary to remove either of the arms entirely, it is usually possible to do so without loosening the lower bearing screws. Back out the spring tension screw until you can remove the spring and its collar. Loosen the upper bearing screw lock nut and back out the bearing screw until you can no longer see the needle bearing through the opening in the bearing block. Twist the arm slightly to see if it will clear the lower bearing needle. Do not apply any significant force, or you will damage the bearing.  You can sometimes give it a little extra room by removing the plastic sleeve around the center post.  The arm should rotate off the bearing fairly easily, but if it doesn't you will have to open the base and loosen the lower bearing screws.




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