Vibroplex J-36 Ser#159 - N8UX The J-36 Bug Census Project

Update: Dec 10, 2014 - Best wishes for a Happy New Year in 2015! I continue to receive your pictures and J-36 info. Thanks to all who have contributed, and continue to contribute to this project. I hope to add more historical information on the J-36, and I've written to ask permission from authors to reprint it here. I would also like to include a photo gallery of all your great J-36 pictures, and hope to get that done here in the coming months. Yes, this web page is SO 1998... and I'm behind on the census table. But rest assured that the data is saved, and as time permits, I'll re-code the page to look more like something out of the 21st centruy -HI. Thanks again, 73 es zut, pass the word, and stay tuned... Rich, N8UX

This page has been created to gather information on existing Signal Corp J-36 bug type telegraph keys, in order to calculate estimated production numbers of the various manufacturers and orders.

If you have a J-36, be it manufactured by Vibroplex, Bunnell, Lionel, or Brooklyn Metal Stamping Co. (scarce), or know of anyone in your radio club or community that may have one, I want to hear from you!

What Information Do I Need?

The information required is located on most of the nameplates. This consists of:

  • Manufacturer - Vibroplex, Bunnell, Lionel, or Brooklyn Metal Stamping (BMS).
  • Order No. - Will look something like this - 21984-Phila-42.
  • Date - Something like 6-27-42.
  • Serial No.
  • And any other distinguishing or unusual markings.
  • Optional, but highly desired - A .JPG photo of the nameplate and/or entire bug.
  • It is assumed that Lionel J-36 bugs have an order number of 7861-Phila-43 and a date of 1942, but please double check to make sure your Lionel has this order number.
    It is also assumed that Bunnells have the order number of 6001-Phila-43 and a date of 8-4-42, but again, please verify this on your Bunnells.

    Your particular bug may not have all of this information on it. Most Lionels no longer have their original nameplates, or reproductions have been applied in their place. If so, please state that it is indeed a repro plate. There are some Vibroplex transitional variants that have no stamped numbers - please let me know if that is the case. The author is aware of the various order numbers, and dates that correspond to them. But please include all the information so as to maintain the accuracy of this census. Basically, the more descriptive you are, the better.
    Put all of this information in an email, along with .JPG photos, if possible, and send to this email address:

    I will then place all data in a master database. I'll periodically post the breakdown of manufacturers, order numbers, and highest serial numbers found here at this web site.

    My thanks go out to Paul Bock, K4MSG, for his excellent research and article in the July 1998 issue of the Vail Correspondent, as well as Yann, F5LAW, Mitch, W4OA, Lynn, N7CFO, Tony, WA4JQS, the Morsecode and CW mailing lists, and all of those who have so far contributed data to this project.

    J-36 Census Numbers - June 6, 2012
    Manufacturer Contract Number & Plate Date Highest reported serial # Total
    Brooklyn Metal Stamping 3773-NY-30 (6-10-30) 4 4
    Buzza (Work in Progress) 1 1
    The Vibroplex Co, Inc. 11210-NY-36 (?) 14  
      13291-NY-37 (10-29-36) 90  
      13374-NY-37 (?) 65  
      15492-NY-38 (12-15-37) 28  
      1025-NY-40 (11-17-39) 159  
      2844-NY-40 (5-4-40) 378  
      1456-NY-41 (10-28-40) 567  
      5702-NY-41 (6-6-41) 2196  
      4968-SF-42 (6-9-42) 77  
      9054-PHILA-42 (3-17-42) 530  
      9910-PHILA-42 (?) 724  
      21984-PHILA-42 (6-27-42) 2379  
      2665-PDP-43 (11-1-42) 83  
      8634-WF-43 (12-31-42) 285  
      10647-WF-43 (1-29-43) 208 7513
    J.H. Bunnell & Co. 6001-PHILA-43 (8-4-42) 5515 5515
    The Lionel Corp. 7861-PHILA-43 (1942) 28548 28548

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