What’s It Worth??

What is my signal worth??

I get asked that many times. At least once a week actually. Answering that question is very hard to be honest.

Figuring out the worth from a description of the signal is pretty much impossible. If there are pictures that helps. But, pictures of the outside front and back, the indides, wiring, lenses, that all helps to figure out “how much is it worth.”

The other variable in determining it’s worth is a signal may be worth $150 to one person, but $250 to another. What i’ve paid for them vs. what someone else has paid for them can vary. A rough estimate is really the best you can do. I’ve paid too little and too much for some of my collection, but it’s probably all evened out by now.

The other big question is how old is my signal?

Determining the age of a signal is pretty much impossible. They don’t have any kind of date code on them and best that can really be done is a general “they were manufactured from this year to that year.” You can narrow it down somewhat by certain style or models of a signal and the years they were produced, but that can be a span of 5-20 years for some types of signals.

Some are pretty easy, like the Harrington Seaberg signal. They were around making signals for only a few years. Even so, it’s a narrow range but pinning it down to the exact date is impossible.

If you’d like a rough price of your light as to what it’s worth, that would more than likely what me as a collector would pay for it. You could get more or less selling it on an auction site or some place like that. The age, I can give you a rough timeline of what the signal was produced.

Backyard Span Version 3.0

Backyard Span

Took me a bit, but the backyard span version 3 is all set finally.

The old span served me well. 12 foot 6×6 posts. They were 2′ into the ground. 1 of them continually sagged. I had guy wire on it, but I think it was a soft spot in the yard that made it always bow. The other post was rock steady the entire time it was up.

span setup post

This time I upgraded. Using 6x6x16 foot tall posts. They are HEAVY. Got these last year. I planned on doing this upgrade so when I got my wood pellets delivered for the season, I got 2 of these. No other way for me to get these here on my own.

My trusty post hole digger helped me once again. I’ve had this forever. It’s dug a lot of holes. I got the 2 holes for the new posts down 3 feet this time. Only hit a few rocks. The ground here is mostly topsoil for about the first 12-18″ then there is nothing but clay. Fun stuff to dig through.

You can see the difference in the posts. The old ones were about 3 feet shorter sticking out of the ground than the new ones.

Both new posts up. I had to get them around the same distance apart so the existing wire would reach each post.

I pre-drilled the holes for the span about 12″ from the top of the post. Unfortunately, the hole were higher than I could reach with my ladder. Plus, there would be no way for me to lift the signal up to the span, hook it up and wire it with the ladder I have. So I had to drill new holes. They’re 11 feet up the pole.

And so it begins, once again. A ladder, some rope, a lot of sweat, no tears, and I was able to pull the lights up to the span and get them attached.

After a few hours in the sun, a quick nap since it was 90 degrees out, and waiting until the shade started coming to the back yard, I got the all up and wired.

My goal is the (with some help) get the original signal that was with the 2 on the ends back in the middle of this span. It was a setup from my childhood near my house. That 4 way signal is hanging in the basement. I cant get that down by myself and up onto the span without some help. So version 3.0 of the backyard will be a work in progress.

Crouse Hinds Porthole Signal

Picked up another new signal. Been a few months. This one joined the gang in May 2019. This one was on my bucket list for a long time. It’s a Crouse Hinds Type T or Porthole Signal. It was being sold by someone less than 30 minutes away so that was a great plus.

A little bit of a description of the signal:
Crouse-Hinds’ first known signal design, the Type T used porthole doors, where instead of the hinges seen today, each door was actually a round lens frame with a visor screwed on and tabs for thumb screws. The thumb screws could be loosened, and the frame would come away from the signal body to allow access to the bulb, reflector, and lens tabs. The earlier signal bodies were solid housings instead of sections used in later models. This meant the amount of indications couldn’t be changed after production. Later Type T models used sectioned sides.

The signal it’s self is in pretty amazing shape. Produced probably in the mid to late 1920’s to early 1930’s. I always ask the seller if there was any history of it they can tell me about.

The seller got it from someone in Forestport, NY. Thats not too far from Utica/Rome where I am. The original owner had it for 30+ years in storage and was going to hang it up at some point and never did.

From the was the visors are on this with the long tunnel yellows, I really think it could be from Utica, NY. Utica had a thing for doing this on their signals. Many of them had or still have the different configuration on the yellows. I do remember at least 6 or so Porthole signals installed in Utica up until the late 1990’s. I’d rattle off the intersections they were at, but that would make me look a bit odd I guess lol.

Crouse Hinds Porthole Signal

This Porthole above was at the corner of Genesee Street and Emerson Ave in Utica. Notice the light has the same look with the visors as the light I got.

Overall the signal is in pretty amazing shape. I have a feeling it was stored for more than the 30 years. The wiring inside is original and looks to be in wonderful shape.

The glass reflectors aren’t pitted and really aren’t dirty either. Wherever this thing was stored it must have been a dry cool place for the shape it’s in.

The Command Lenses are in pretty good shape also. They are called “command” lenses since the have either STOP, CAUTION or GO embossed into them. These were on most of the early Crouse Hinds signals. 1 of the GO is missing and 1 is cracked. 1 of the STOP lenses is cracked and half of it is missing. I do have some in another signal that can fill the void.

Just like the other signals, I’ll end up keeping it as is. For it’s age, it is in amazing condition. I’ll have to test the wiring and replace what is needed. Once I figure out how it was wired also. There’s 8 wires coming out of it. Normally for a 12 light signal there is 7. The 6 hot wires and 1 common ground. So I figure i’ll blow a few fuses and maybe get a small shock or 2 while I figure it out.

I’ve got another old Crouse Hinds GS controller from downtown Utica, NY that was from this intersection that I can get running and it would look great with this old beauty of a signal.

After a few weeks of it sitting around, I decided to get to work on it. Took all the lenses and visors off. It wasn’t too much effort

Another traffic light in the kitchen. Good thing I removed the island a few years ago

It really didn’t take much work. I had to cut off about 10″ of the existing wiring that was visible outside the hanger. It was frayed from age. On the indide, you’d never know they light was born around 90 years or so ago. The wiring is in great shape.

Frayed wires in the hanger
Inside wiring

I ended up hooking it up to the PCN Controller from Utica, NY I got last year. Amazingly I didnt get shocked and hooked it up correctly the first time.

All wired up and back functioning once again.

The Utica M Cluster

This monster was actually the very first cluster I got a long time ago. It was actually in 2014. That’s 5 years, but in signal years, it’s really only like 1 year.

I had met up with some guys through a Facebook group. I went on a signal pickup with them and spotted this light. It made it’s way back with a bunch of other stuff far far away from me. But I spotted it when I went to a signal group meetup. Remember, I’ve told you about these. Guys like me get together and talk about signals and trade stories and swap parts and stuff. It’s a real thing!

There it sat all by itself. This place it what I would call heaven. The ultimate signal junky’s special place. Full of a little of everything. So a little talking and next thing you know……………….


This is another signal from Utica, NY’s past. I thought I knew where it was from. Pretty sure I passed under this light 1000’s of times in my lifetime at the corner of Genesee Street and Higby Rd. in Utica NY.

Here is the Street View shot of the intersection in 2008

This signal came down shortly after this photo, I believe in 2010 or so when the intersection was “modernized” and the M and 2 single face Crouse Hinds Art Deco signals were replaced by 1 ultra spiffy yellow plastic 4 was cluster. BLEH. What became of the 2 Deco’s is not known by me. They were probably at that intersection from sometime in the early 1950’s best I can figure.

So back to present day. The M is pretty much as I got it. All 4 yellow lights are glass with aluminum reflectors. All the greens and reds have been replaced by LED’s just like all the other signals in Utica. I didnt replace anything, wired in a controller board and that was that.



Other than that, it’s all as I found it on the street. It sat in the garage for about a year, I got it in and put the controller in it. Got that all working. It sat on the back deck for a while, I made a stand for it and it sat in the yard for a year or so. Got knocked off the stand, the dogs peed on it, so I somehow dragged it inside again. Got it down the cellar with the rest of the crew. Took me a few days of figuring on how to lift this thing high enough to attach it to the mounting hardware I’ve got.

After some struggles, and 3 or 4 times trying, I got it hung. I actually dig hug it when I was trying to lift it up onto the stand so I could hang it. Maybe just really was a bear hug since it weighs probably around 75 lbs or so, and maybe even more when I grabbed it to hang.

So this was the first cluster I got but it is the 10th 4 way signal I’ve got. Do you think I like 4 ways? Yeah I guess so.

Crouse Hinds Type M Twins

Crouse Hinds Model M 4 Way Signals
Happily released from the basement they were locked away in

Yeah, I know. Not more signals again. The 1st of 2019. February 2019 will be their new birthday month, just like mine. A pair of rodded Crouse Hinds Type M Fixed 4 way signals. Thats a mouthful. I call them The M Twins instead. Probably made in the 1960’s I’d assume.

My traffigraphic memory remembers some of these in Utica too. South Street had a couple along with a few on Eagle Street also. Pretty sure they are all gone now from the streets of Utica. If there is any left, they’d be painted Utica Yellow too instead of being green like these.

How could I resist. I got tagged in a Facebook Marketplace post by my cousin. She’s seen the things i’ve posted about lights more than once obviously.

So I contact the guy. They were at a ridiculously low price. Asked him if his price was for them both. He said yep. Asked if he had all the visors for them. He said yep. He asked if I wanted them. I said Yep!

They were not too far north of me, so I took a leisurely drive to go get them. It is a nice drive north of me. Along the remnants of an old canal. Many of the old locks are there and they are beautiful. I like old things other than just traffic lights by the way.

A little history on the lights. This guy’s dad had them. He worked for National Grid (Niagara Mohawk back then) Not sure how he got them, but he did. Put them in his basement, and there they sat for the next 30 or so years. Thats all I really know about them. Not sure of where they actually came from.

I took a quick look at them. The visors are all there. A couple are a little bent which can be fixed. All the glass from all 24 lights is there along with all aluminum reflectors. Thats an oddity in itself. They are pretty dirty and have some corrosion but other than that, they were a great find.

The Marbelite Twins

The Twins awaiting a hug

The Marbelite Twins. I call them the twins because they are identical. A little bit about Marbelite Traffic Signals from Highway Divides:

The Marbelite Co. began making traffic control equipment in 1923. Marbelite was one of several traffic control manufacturing companies located in the greater New York City area during the first half of the 20th Century. As Marbelite grew, it absorbed the signal product lines (or the entirety) of such companies as Signal Service Corp. In the early years, Marbelite operated in conjunction with a sister company called Ruleta, which also made traffic signals. Ruleta may have been a separate company that was bought out by Marbelite. By the 1950’s, Marbelite had become one of the biggest producers of traffic control equipment in the country. The core of their business was in the NY Tri-State area, and for several decades, New York City was almost exclusively Marbelite-equipped.

I acquired the twins in August 2018. Yet again, these actually were picked up by my fellow collector friend Brian from a contact he has. He has a knack for finding stuff and usually lets me know when he does. He told me about them and I tortured my car one more time seeing how much stuff I can get into it.




Marbelite traffic signals stuffed into a Ford Escape
2 four way clusters stuffed into the back of my car
Marbelite traffic signal
My grandson approved. I started him early in his love for signals.

I really don’t know anything about these. They came from downstate New York. The glass lenses were all loose. They are all missing their gaskets for the lenses. But, a bunch of lens clips later, they’re in there now.

I also got the twins down into the basement. There’s a lot of stairs to navigate. Wish I was about 20 ears younger since that would make it easier.

Also, hanging this thing was a lot of fun too. It’s heavy. I did do it though. A little ingenuity and with the help of some straps and rope and a come along, It’s up.

Twin #1 in it’s new spot with the rest of the signals.
Marbelite Twin #1 along side the Lincoln Ave Utica Art Deco Signal

I hooked it up to the GS Controller and put the Lincoln Ave Crouse Hinds Art Deco next to it. They look good together.

Group Video

Got everyone to stand still for a few minutes to take a group video.

This is everything thats currently hooked up in the basement. Added one of the Marbelite twins this week. It was quite fun trying to hang it like the others. Accomplished it myself with the help of a come along and some ingenuity. Was fun trying to get it down the cellar stairs. The controller running it is the Crouse Hinds GS that was from Downtown Utica, NY I got this past summer. There’s a mix of electronic boards and the other mechanical controller running the rest of them.



As you can tell, 4 way signals are my favorite. There were literally 100’s of them in Utica, NY when I was growing up.

My First Light

Finally!

My sister is the keeper of old family photos. She’s scanned a bunch and I told her I wanted to find a photo of the first light I got. She finally found it and I owe her lunch for it too as I had promised.

My first traffic signal. Circa 1967??
Thats me. Guess I was excited to get a shirt lol. Wonder what it said on the front??
My light in the background.

I’ve always remembered this thing but finally can prove I’ve had a liking of traffic lights since I was a kid. I’m thinking I was maybe 6 or so in this photo. So believe it or not, that’s 50 years ago. I assume this was Christmas 1967. Note the stylish black and white maybe 19″ console tv. Times were sure good then I guess haha.

I always thought the light was taller. But I was small so it probably wasn’t that tall. It was a wood box my Uncle in Syracuse made. He was electrically inclined. It had 3 holes on the front for each of the lenses. They were plastic I think and each were the correct color or red, yellow and green. They were also Command Lenses. Early traffic signals lenses had STOP, CAUTION or GO cast into the glass and usually painted black for better viability. The real commands now a days are Rarer than Rare. They’ll got for upwards of $125+ a pop if you are lucky enough to find someone willing to sell one.

I do remember there were 3 pull chains on the back. One for each light. And there was a flasher disc in the yellow signal so it could flash too. Wonder how many 1000’s of times I turned them off and on? I did get knocked on my butt getting shocked when I was fooling around with it once. Just like I did with mine at home recently. My arm hurt for 2 weeks after getting a nice zap.

Assume I had made some noise about liking signals back then to get this for Christmas. Would have been cool to have it all these years to give to one of my grandkids, but I guess they get the real thing from me now instead providing their parents cave in at some point and let me give them one. In the mean time, they can come to papa’s and play with them.

The Canajoharie Darley

The Canajoharie New York Darley traffic light is finally back in New York. This signal came down in 2013 I believe. A fellow collector got it and moved if to Ohio. In late November 2018, it came back home to New York again.

It was another one of those “I’VE GOT TO HAVE THAT” signals. I didn’t realize someone I knew who is a member of some of the same signal groups (yes, thats a thing) had this light. So my impulsive self made the deal and then figured out how to get it here. UShip once again came though with a couple of bumps along the way, but it’s here. 

It’s quite the different signal. It was right down the street from Canajoharie New York’s “dummy” light. That light sits in the middle of an intersection. This one by my best guess was probably installed sometime in the 1930’s I would assume. It is a W.S. Darley traffic signal and they were produced in that era. I have another Darley signal. Plus another thats just for parts and pieces.

Downtown Canajoharie New York
The signal when it was installed in “downtown” Canajoharie, NY

This signal was attached to 2 different building and was hung that way. I believe also, that this and the signal down the street were both controlled by the same controller too. I’d have to do a bit of investigating (ask some fellow collectors) if that was actually the case.

It was an odd looking signal. 10 of the 12 Darley visors had long tunnel type visors bolted onto them. Not sure if there was some kind of viability issues so I dont know why they would have added all the tunnels to this light. And why 2 of the yellows didnt have them is a mystery.

I wired this up to my Utica, NY GS controller from the 1940’s, had to add a few light bulbs that were missing and BINGO! All the bulbs worked and it was cycling just like it did for 50+ years at least.

A bunch of the visors dont come off at the moment. The bolts are really rusted on the latches. Thankfully all the bulbs worked except for the missing ones which took me a while to get those off to add the bulbs.

A few of the visors are broken and missing a latch. Hey, it’s old, and that happens I guess.

What i’ll do with this, probably leave it like this. I like them in off the street condition. I’ll replace the 69 watt clear bulbs with some LEDs providing I can get to all the bulbs. And i will probably let the Utica GS controller do it’s thing and run this light. 

Here’s a video of this light and the controller playing nice with each other. I just love the sloppiness of the controller and the occasional dark periods when it is changing phases. Classic old mechanical controller.