GE 4 Way Signal

GE Fixed 4 Way signal
Off to its new home

I guess I have a thing for 4 way signals. This one was signal number 20 coming here in September 2019, and number 14 for four ways I have.

Definition: Four·teen/ˌfôrˈtēn,ˈfôrˌtēn/
1. equivalent to the product of seven and two; one more than thirteen, or six less than twenty.
2. signal hoarder meaning having a lot in one’s collection.

General Electric (GE) was a significant early traffic signal manufacturer. In 1923 GE bought Garret Morgan’s traffic signal patent. Morgan didn’t invent the first traffic signal but his design attracted GE’s attention.

GE’s Novalux and grooveback single face heads were quite popular. Their post WW-II one-piece 4-way had a distinctive look and was a practical signal. Their streamline single face model, introduced in 1954, was quite modern for its time. Early GE signals had holophane spiderweb pattern lenses. Later GE lenses had what we generally describe as a brick pattern. GE’s traffic signal product line was taken over by Econolite in 1957

This signal was picked up in Stamford, Connecticut. I took a day off from work and made the trek. It was a long drive but a nice day for it. Plus a day off work too. This one kind of found me. The gentleman who had it found my website. A really nice guy when I met him in person. He sent me a few photos of the signal. I thought it looked in great shape and he figured it would have a good home with the other gang here in Westmoreland, so we made a deal.

The story on this one was his dad had worked for the City of Stamford. There were 3 different broken lights like this one and he took the parts of the 3 and made 1 complete light. Complete it sure is. It’s in great shape.

I kind of like the color on it. It’s a bright green but was done very well when it was painted.


It has all 12 “cereal bowl” reflectors. They are glass with a silver mirror coating on the inside to “reflect” the light from the bulb.

Ge Cereal Bowl Reflectors

The mirror finish on all these looks like the day it came off the factory floor. No dust. No crud. No spiderwebs. Nothing. They’re in like new condition.


11 of the 12 GE brand brick lenses are there. Another plus for this signal. Again, they are all in great shape and a lot of care was taken over the years to keep them all there.


There was a downlight in this also. A white light would be in the bottom and point down into the middle of the intersection. Kind of a street light I guess you could say to illuminate the intersection. Definitely will have to have this hang someplace and get a downlight in it.

The hanger is all there. Guessing (I’m not that great at placing these as to what year they are from) it would be somewhere in the 1940’s because of the hanger, lenses and the reflectors.

On a happiness scale it gets an A+. For someone reaching out to me, figuring our that I would give it a good home, taking a day off to get it, and the overall condition of it I give it that high of a grade. So i’ll be on the hunt for my next one.

Thanks for reading!!

Harrington Seaberg #2

Harrington Seaberg traffic signal
Another traffic light in the kitchen. Complete with magnetic letters on the fridge courtesy of my grandson.

This signal pretty much fell into my lap. Someone contacted me through the website. Showed me a couple pictures of the light. I was figuring I’d have to make the trek to Eastern Massachusetts to get it, but lucky for me, the owner was going fishing on Lake Ontario and would pass right by me, so we met up and I took the light for a ride to it’s new home. It joined the rest of the group in September 2019. It’s signal number 21 for me if you’re keeping score at home plus it’s Harrington number two, too!!

Harrington Seaberg 12 bulb traffic light
Harrington Seaberg Signal #2

A little bit about the company:

The Harrington-Seaberg Corporation was founded in Moline, IL in 1920 by Fred Harrington and Severin Seaberg. The original company was known as the Harrington Machine and Electric Company and they primarily manufactured fire alarm boxes.

In 1923 the company changed its name to the Harrington-Seaberg and produced a line of traffic signals and beacons. Harrington-Seaberg was bought out by the Gamewell Corporation in 1929. Gamewell also owned Eagle Signal, and Eagle distributed Harrington-Seaberg signals until it introduced the Eaglelux in the early 1930s.

Now a little bit about the signal. This signal came from Eastern Massachusetts. The guy who contacted me said he saw it in a friends barn over 20 years ago. He likes and restores old things so he got the light. Not sure how long it was in there but by the looks of it and the condition, probably was in there for quite a long time. It’s in really good shape for its age. Old lights were made to last and it could still serve some intersection well even today, except for maybe some new wiring on the outside. Like many of my lights, the wiring outside of the head is really rough, but still there for being close to 90 years old.

Harrington Seaberg 12 bulb traffic light
Max checking out the light for any cool smells that could be on it

It’s old. It’s a bit dirty on the outside. It’s got the off the street look that I love.

Harrington Seaberg 12 bulb traffic light

The wiring on the outside is a bit sketchy looking. Probably a bit of asbestos in the wiring. Cool huh? Still, for how old it is, not bad and it’s still there!


Lenses. Yes it has them. I couldn’t believe there were 11 Macbeth Evans lenses with it. There’s 4 STOP, 3 CAUTION and 4 GO lenses. Pretty neat to find a signal that still has them. One of the yellow lenses was replaced somewhere along the way. This lights brother, the Harrington Seaberg from Seneca Falls, NY has all 4 of it’s CAUTION lenses but only 1 each of the STOP and GO.


The glass reflectors are all in tip shop shape. A little dusty but thats about it. The original cork gaskets are all there too. They are old and dried out and falling apart, but they’re there. Not bad for an old signal really.


The inside of the light is in very good shape. It was remarkably clean on the inside. Not really any dirt or carbon build up like i’ve seen in my others. No spider webs or mouse nests either. Thats a plus.


Harrington Seaberg Signal Bottom
The bottom

The bottom of the light is there. Doesn’t look like it was ever smacked by a car like a few of my others were. Finding a new bottom is 99.999% impossible. Parts are pretty hard to come by.


It’s fall, the weather is bad, so I finally took this apart. The wiring inside was still ok for being around 90 years old, but I really didn’t want to chance it. Plus the way it was wired had all 4 yellow on together which I don’t have a controller right now that could do that. So I rewired the whole thing.


On a happiness scale it gets an A+. For someone reaching out to me, delivering it for nothing and the overall condition of it I give it that high of a grade. Plus what I paid for it that also made for the high grade. So i’ll be on the hunt for my next one and checking this out to make sure the wiring will be ok and then wire it up to something and sit back and let it do it’s thing.

Thanks for reading!!

Old Time Utica

Utica, NY was once a thriving city of over 100,000 residents. Today is is a shell of it’s former self with most large manufacturers like GE, Chicago Pneumatic and hosts of other large manufacturers gone. With the decrease in population comes less cars and the need for less traffic control devices. Utica still has many, but in the earlier years, many really nice ones existed on the streets of the city.

lafayette 3.jpg
Broadway Street and Columbia Street. Crouse Hinds D or D/T. The same pole is still there today but with a different controller.
clemente
busy corner.jpg
Genesee Street and Bleecker Street also known as the busy corner. Looks to be a Crouse Hinds Art Deco with beautiful tunnel visors. Looks like one that I have. Photo from the 1950’s
Busy Corner.png
These signals went up in the late 1990’s/ At least there’s still a span setup there.
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Genesee Street and Emerson Ave. Beautiful Crouse Hinds Porthole Signal there in the 1950’s
Uptown
New signals installed around 2005. There was another Crouse Hinds Deco 4 way cluster signal here  along with 2 single Deco’s also. I have pictures of them in my head but haven’t found any for the site just yet.
Baggs Square Utica NY 1950's
Baggs Square. Genesee, Broad & Whitesboro Street 1950’s
Baggs Square Utica, NY 2017
Today. It’s almost all gone sadly.
Genesee Street at Hopper Street and Court Street

These lights were up for around 20 years or so. They were gifted to the City of Utica from Montreal I believe. Only intersection anywhere near here that I know of that had these “Canadian” type signals. Long gone as the city let them waste away and were replaced in the mid 1980’s

Northwest Corner of Genesee & Elizabeth Street & Columbia Street
Southwest Corner of Genesee & Elizabeth Street looking south from Columbia Street
Genesee & Elizabeth & Columbia Street looking north along Genesee Street.

Fuzzy photo. Taken by my Grandfather in the late 1960’s Post mounted signal same as the above photo. Long gone sadly. They were so cool looking.

Mystery Signal. Was at Deerfield Corners in North Utica.

Don’t know much about it but sure would like to know more. Looks like it was in the middle of an intersection and it would “talk” so the caption says.

Oswego Street at Sunset Ave Utica, NY

This light has been there since at least the 1960’s. It’s about the only thing left at that intersection that’s still in relatively good condition. Area is pretty much bombed out as shown with the boarded up windows on the buildings. I took this from my car lol.

Utica/Rome Signal Meet 2019

Had some fellow signal collectors up. We went on the hunt for cool signals and any other old stuff we could find. Was a really good time! Just a start. I’ll be adding more soon.

Downtown Utica, NY.
These beautiful old buildings will soon be bulldozed in the name of “progress” (it’s a joke) to build a hospital downtown. 2 blocks of downtown will see the wrecking ball soon. Very sad.

Railroad Street Bridge, Rome, NY.
Beautiful bridge built in 1900. Thankfully the City of Rome will do some rehab on it vs tearing it down.

Higginsville Road Bridge

This bridge has been closes for about 8 years now. The town got a grant to replace it. It was a nice bridge but structurally unsound. Here’s the Bridgehunter page about it.

Lock 20 Barge Canal, Marcy NY

Haven’t been to one of these since I was a kid. We had a great time there and the lock master was a cool guy showing us all kinds of stuff.

Herkimer Road, Utica, NY

Herkimer, New York.

Some real classics here. Command lenses, signals from the 1930’s +/-

Frankfort, NY

Rome, NY

Tipperary Hill & Syracuse, NY

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.