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.

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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.

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.

Solar Powered Signals

Just a quick update. We installed solar panels from Tesla a month ago and yesterday the power company installed the new power meter. So now the signals (and everything else) is solar powered.

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Solar Panels on the garage and house roofs

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Inverter converts the power from the cells and feeds it into the panel box.

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Got them from Tesla. It’s not the solar roof I envisioned which was wildly popular and sold very fast but it was very expensive. Tesla was a great company to deal with and the entire process from 1st meeting with the salesman until the system was up and running was a little over 2 months. If you want info, feel free to click this link

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Span Wire Setup

This was my goal last year. Get a span  wire setup in my back yard. Probably not something most people think about, but for me, that was my goal.

Started off with a couple 12′ 6×6″ pressure treated posts. They are VERY heavy. That is an understatement. I was dragging them around by myself, and I realized, I’m not as young as I used to be.

Figured out where I wanted them and dug some holes. I went around 24″ deep. That was a bit of fun by itself. I’ve got a 50 year old post hole digger which made it a little easier

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Just digging a hole. The first few inches is easy, then come nothing but clay.

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Looks deep enough to me.

Next step was getting the posts into the holes. Well, 1st thing was getting them over the 5 foot fence in the back yard. Not a pleasant thought.

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My buddy Max watching over what I was doing but refused to help.

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8″ forged metal bolts for the span and the guy wires

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Luckily I have a friend who’s in the business of selling re purposed traffic light parts and pieces. This is an actual span wire he got on one of his trips. Again, this stuff is heavy too.

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Got some strand tensioners also. Once the wire goes in, it’s not a lot of fun getting it back out.

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Got the span up and have to tighten everything up. That was the most time consuming process of them all. Wasn’t one bit of fun at all. My friend Cooper was watching over me. He helped a bit until he passed away in July.

IMG_20170910_110943_263.jpgIMG_20170909_165001.jpgIMG_20170910_105035.jpgIMG_20170910_110454.jpgIMG_20170910_110911.jpgOnce I got it as tight as I could, hung up a couple of my other lights. A 1950’s GE Streamline from Baltimore I got in 2015 and my very first light. A Crouse Hinds Type M that was actually 3 separate lights when I got it and  made it into one.

IMG_20170915_184909_808.jpgSince summer I took this whole thing down. Moved one of the posts and now once spring finally gets here, Put the whole thing up once again. I’m going to try and put up a 4 way signal along with these 2. Should be fun.