Small March 2020 Video Update

With all the pandemonium going on with the Coronavirus making it’s way around the country & world, I did a small update. The 4 signals that were upstairs are now down with the rest of the crew. Moving them down a set of stairs is always challenging doing it alone, and luckily, I haven’t dropped any or hurt myself. YET!

I’ve got pretty much everything hooked up to a controller now. Have 2 more 4 ways to work on. Here’s a shot video I made of everything thats functionable turned on and running.


Tokheim Signaphore Signal Controller

Tokheim Signaphore Signal Controller

The Tokheim Controller. Of course, a bit of a story how I was able to get this.
I got an email from someone who had seen my website.

The subject line was “cleaning the attic” along with a list:

  • Have a neon walk signal with bulbs.
  • 2 Corning green glass
  • 3 Tokheim green glass
  • 5 Corning caution glass
  • 4 Tokheim caution glass
  • 3 tokheim red glass
  • 1 Corning glass
  • 1 GE DH Controller with backpanel and parts
  • 1 Tokheim controller

“I am in Ohio and would like to clear out the attic. Do you know of anybody that would be interested?”

I know a guy I thought. ME!

Just a couple back and forth emails and we had a deal. Really nice guy. We talked a few times on the phone. Reminded me of myself. Plus he had a Pixel Phone too like me.

Anyway………………I wondered how i’d get the stuff. He suggested Amtrak. He had shipped items cross country with it. I never heard of that before. I was thinking Uship again but decided to go with Amtrak instead. The price was very reasonable and I really didn’t want to drive to Cleveland and back.

He dropped the stuff off (4 big boxes) in Cleveland during the overnight. Their station is open from around midnight to 6am most days. It left that morning and was at Utica’s Union Station before 1pm the same day.

Union Station in Utica New York
Freight Pickup Area at Union Station in Utica, NY

Took my car along with a hand truck but forgot to take out the grandson’s car seat and was able to stuff it all in my Ecosport. Went home and unpacked my presents.


Unpacked everything. Once again, all over the kitchen floor. A Crouse Hinds Neon pedestrian signal. The WALK is broken and I was aware of that going in. A GE Controller with a backplate to go with it and a bunch of extra dials. 18 assorted Command Lenses, and a Tokheim Signal Controller.

I honestly thought when I saw the original photo of the controller was that is was just a flasher. For an intersection that the light just flashes. Thats what was on the tag that it was a flasher.

Tokheim Signal Controller

I was honestly surprised when I unpacked it and saw that it was actually a controller for a full intersection. All the wires were labeled and I saw ones for N-S and E-W for all 3 colors. I thought to myself, that this was more than I originally figured. Indeed, it was.

Tokheim Signal Sontroller
Introduced in 1925, the model 1500 was a local timer for controlling traffic signals.
(From Highway Divides Forum)

About the Tokheim Signal Company from Highway Divides:
Following the February 1898 design of a gas pump by John J. Tokheim the Tokheim Manufacturing Company was incorporated in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 1901. In 1918 employees of the Wayne company set out on their own, purchasing Tokheim and reincorporating it as the Tokheim Oil Tank and Pump Company, moving to Fort Wayne, Indiana in the old Wayne Spoke and Bending Company factory. In April 1926 they acquired the Signaphore company, also located in Fort Wayne, and formed the Tokheim Traffic Signal Division – although such branding has not been seen on their products, instead retaining the TOT&PCo. nomenclature. This acquisition brought along J. N. Paul of Automatic Signal Co. and Ruben E. Bechtold, from Signaphore. They would greatly develop and expand the Signaphore line into the modern traffic signal as well as introduce new controllers. By 1937 their interest in the product line waned and on January 8th, 1938 the transition of their signal interests both in design and manufacturing to Automatic Signal of East Norwalk, Connecticut, took place.

Tokheim Signal Controller

This thing is in amazing shape. The guy I got it from got it by trading a gumball machine for it. He’s had it packed away in his attic for many years. All the stuff he was going to restore at some point, but never did and now downsizing, it was time for it to go.

For the time period it was from (probably mid to late 1920’s) its a great piece of engineering actually. Has 3 separate coils and magnets. 1 for the Amber (yellow) time sequence, one for North-South Green / East-West Red Sequence, and the other for East-West Green / North-South Red. The way I figure how it works:

N-S Green / E-W Red and E-W Green / N-S Red each are controlled by a time setting on the separate dials. By moving the time setting longer or shorter, this moves the magnet to a different position on the dial underneath. The further out on the dial it is, the slower the dial turns and the longer that sequence lasts. It the dial is tuned down to a shorter time, the magnet is closer to the center of the dial and it spins faster so a shorter sequence.

The Amber (yellow) dial controls the length of the yellow sequence for both opposing sides of the signal.

When a certain sequence is active that coil is powered. The other 2 have no power going to them. There are also cams which control each of the different sequences. The cams I believe control which one of the coils has power. As the cam turns it will supply power to one of the 3 coils and thereby making 3 different adjustable sequences. Very simple, and kind of amazing someone engineered this so many years ago.

Tokkheim Signaphore Controller dials.

Here’s a photo of the 3 separate dials on it. Looks like the brass plates on it with the different settings are engraved. Being an engraver also, kinda cool to me.

This is the power part of the controller. There are no springs, but instead there are brass rings I guess you could call them and they spring back and forth to make contact with the appropriate sequence of the signal. Again, way fricking cool if you ask me.

Here’s a short video of it running. Not hooked up to a signal just yet, but got it on my test board.

From what i’ve been told, there is another of these owned by a member of one of the signal collecting groups I belong to. It is inoperable I guess. My friends have never seen one of these that actually works.

The first time I plugged it in and fired it up, I wasn’t too optimistic that it would work. Little did I know it worked. There was a broken wire so it would die on the yellow sequences. I was too afraid to fix it myself so I brought it somewhere. It was an easy and inexpensive fix. I brought it back home and hooked it up to my test board and smiled from ear to ear when it worked like it was designed to so long ago. I’ll have to hook it up to the Tokheim Signal i’ve had for a few years. I’ve never done anything with it. Glad I didn’t because now i’ve got a controller to run it.

There is a ton of other stuff that came with this controller. The Crouse Hinds neon pedestrian signal is also another gem. That i’ll have to bring it to a local neon shop and have him fix it up. Well beyond my skills for sure.

So 2020 has started out on a good note. I was worried nothing would come my way. Stuff has been way overpriced recently on the auction sites. One seller jacks his prices up, and everyone else follows suit. Everything is “vintage” and “rare” lately that has been up for sale. Gotta know where to look, who will give you a fair deal, and luck into stuff like the past couple of things i’ve gotten.

Thanks for reading,

Its 2020 & Lots of Goodies Coming Soon

Is this really my first post of 2020? Guess so. Must be a while since anything founds it’s way to the signal retirement home. So I guess January will be filled with pedestrian signals. Thats ok with me. They aren’t as big, heavy and bulky as the 4 way signals I’m used to getting the past year or so.

I picked this Crouse Hinds WAIT/WALK off of eBay. That should be here in a few days. All the way from Hawaii. Don’t know much of anything about the history of it.

Crouse Hinds Art Deco WAIT WALK Signal

I remember seeing a few of these around the Downtown Utica NY area when I was a kid. There were a few intersections that had these up exclusively for the pedestrian crossings. I’m sure they were made into aluminum cans or something because the City of Utica used to just scrap all these when they too them down.

But of more interest, I had someone contact me after finding this website. He is a former signal worker and had collected a few things over the years. Has a bunch of lenses, some antique signal controllers, and one of these:

Crouse Hinds Neon Pedestrian Signal

A Crouse Hinds Neon Pedestrian Signal. This makes me happy. A bunch of Command Lenses, some old controller parts, and what turns out is a prize, a Tokheim Signaphore Signal Controller.

So, to be continued……………….

Oxford Road Crouse Hinds Signal

Another signal from my childhood has made its way to the retirement home in December 2019 with a few of the other ones I already have from where I grew up.

Crouse Hinds Type D Fixed 4 way traffic light
Oxford Road Signal in the wild around 2013

Another Crouse Hinds 4 way signal. Yeah, I have a few 4 ways, so what is one more? I remember this back as far as 1970 when we moved to the Village of New Hartford. It was at a corner of the school I went to. I get asked all the time “How do you remember it?” I can’t tell you. I just do. “How do you know it’s the same traffic light?” I just know it is, I tell people. I’ve got a trafficgraphic memory, remember?

Crouse Hinds Fixed 4 Way Traffic Light
Way back when. Probably this is from the mid to late 1970’s

Best old photo of the light that I have. It was on the corner of Oxford Rd, Sanger Ave and Daly Place in from of what was then called Oxford Road School. The photo is from the mid to late 1970’s I think. The light was green back then. Was run by a simple Crouse Hinds mechanical controller that cycled continuously 24/7 for at least 40 years until it was first replaced by an electronic controller in the early 2000’s and yet another new one around 2010 which runs the light that is there now..

Each day going to school for the 9 years I went there, I’d pass this light in the morning on the way to school and once again on the way home. Most of those years were walking past it and probably the last year of school way waiting in my car for it to change. There was a crossing guard there also daily who stood in the middle of the road when the light turned to help us cross.

Oxford Road and Sanger Ave in New Hartford, NY

This spiffy new signal replaced the old one in 2014. It’s plastic so I dont care for it.

Loaded up

The original story on this light was that a fellow collector found out the Village of New Hartford kept all their old signals when they were replaced in 2014. Amazingly they didn’t smash them and pitch them into a dumpster or scrap them like other municipalities do. He got this light, told me they had others. I went, saw them and loaded them up in my car of course. The one from Oxford Rd and Sherman Street which was a twin to this one which is hanging under my chair in the basement as I type this, and the Genesee Street signals that now are hanging up in my backyard. There was another on the corner where my house was that i’m unsure of where that is. I think they removed 2 sections and made it into a beacon that is there now. One more hangs down the street from where I lived. An old Sargent Sowell that has seen better days.

Sargent Sowell Beacon Signal

So this signal makes 22 the number of 4 way signals I have (I think). I’ve always liked 4 ways since that was the signal of choice around here. There aren’t too many left and the ones that remain, their days are probably numbered. Latches dont open anymore. 50+ years of Central New York weather has taken their toll on the bodies. However, some places like Rome, NY actually take them down, refurbish the insides, though with LEDs vs original reflectors and glass lenses, paint the outsides and they happily continue to guard over their intersections.

Crouse Hinds Type D Signal

So this will be yet another one that needs to be rewired and hung up somewhere. All the glass and reflectors were saved by the village and are back in this light. Just some wiring needs to be done and it will be back to the way it was that I remember. Another one saved from either being scrapped eventually or just trashed. Nothing beats a old time signal for me.

Thanks for reading!

Crouse Hinds Brass Plate

Guess what. It’s not a traffic light for once. It’s a Crouse Hinds Plate instead.

No idea what this was from. I’ve asked around and heard a few suggestions. It’s an engraved brass plate (engraved huh?) that is 3″ x 6″. I would assume it was mounted to some kind of box, probably a shipping box with either signals or parts in it destined to return to the Crouse Hinds plant in Syracuse. I saw it on eBay and won the auction.

It’s pretty cool. Someday i’ll maybe figure out what this was used for. Crouse Hinds is still my favorite signal. Being made nearby in Syracuse, NY and growing up near Utica, NY there were 100’s of Crouse Hinds traffic signals hung around the area. Maybe one of the nights the dogs wake me up in the middle of the night and I can’t get back to sleep I’ll try and count how many. Some people count sheep to fall asleep, but guess what I count haha.

Living Room Signals

Been a while since I did an update here. Hooked up a bunch of new signals in the living room. Added the GE 4 Way and Crouse Hinds Porthole to the Utica, NY PCN-100 controller I have. The Canajoharie Darley was already hooked up to it. The Seneca Falls Harrington Seaberg has it’s own electronic controller hidden inside the base of it.

Also been working on the 2nd Harrington Seaberg Signal I have. Got it all taken apart, striped out the old frayed wiring that was inside of it. Re wired the insides and now have to figure out how to get some newer 7 conductor wire through the head on it.

It’s still a work in progress.