My first HW-8 was carried home from a Foothill College(N.CA) Ham-swap in the early 1980s. I used it for many portable QRP excursions (Leaving my TenTec 505 home in the vault) and had many enjoyable QSOs amazing some that one could actually communicate with low power CW.
A personal building-boom of homebrew QRP radios made the HW-8 surplus, and it went back to the swap-meet a few years later. As usual, I was sorry I sold it, and went looking for another. I did find a great looking HW-8 at a later swap. Like most great looking radios at swaps it did not work well at all. Luckily, I had kept the original HW-8 manual, and was able to repair it. I was able to get some new-old-stock parts from Heathkit, just before they closed the doors forever.
This HW-8 was loaned to many skeptical hams that needed to try QRP themselves. Eventually, in the late '80s a strong desire for a 1947 Collins 310-B3 80-10 15w CW Exciter and no cash resulted in the immediate sale of the rig, and the addition of the Collins that is in use today. I get a kick out of firing-up the rack-mounted 310-B3, with its roughly 80 watts of AC power required to run the 2E26 tube circuitry. A drive control added (with the apppriate skirted knob) allows levels down to QRPp power. This also satisfies my "Glow in the Dark" interests.
Now in the '90s I wanted again a compact multi-band CW Xcvr. This was just the excuse that I needed to get another HW-8 radio. However, nobody wanted to sell theirs...An impassioned plea on the 40mtr SSB Ham-Swap Net, turned-up a working unit. A few minor repairs, and the now "usual" modifications, and it was on the air at the main station and ready for travel. (Single band CW Xcvrs are good, but more than one band is better!)
I recently wanted to find a second HW-8 for /KH6 station use. I was lucky, and was able to find one in the Northbay of San Francisco. It was aligned, and a few modifications made. This HW-8 is regulary connected to one of my Verticals at the edge of Kaneohe Bay, or rolled up in bubble-wrap for travel. Thanks Heathkit! for all my years of HW-8 fun!!!10-21-97