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.

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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. 

Crouse Hinds PCN-100 Controller

More Utica, NY stuff I picked up in November 2018. I got parts and pieces from a local intersection. The controller was up on Lincoln Ave Utica, NY in front of Holy Trinity Church since some time in the 60’s I think and there was also a Crouse Hinds Art Deco single signal I got. That’s from probably the 1940’s. Was green and painted yellow along the way.

Freshly picked up. The PCN-100 controller, Art Deco signal and part of a 4 way type M cluster. That was all that was left. There was more but it got scrapped ((sad eyes))


Here was the gang in the wild. The M in the center and the Deco off to the right.
The controller isn’t in this shot.

I’m always happy when I can get some of Utica’s old stuff. I passed this intersection 100’s of times and it all came down in late 2016 or early 2017 when the reconstruction of the North South Arterial was completed. 

It was also another one of Utica’s weird intersections. Notice the Deco with the red on the bottom. It flashed red for most of the time the other sides had the green light. Another one of Utica, 5 way type intersections.

The Deco was pretty beat up. Does have the original glass in the yellow with remnants of some of it’s original cloth covered wiring still there. It’s pretty beat up. But, it’s older than me, seen a lot in it’s lifetime, and I’m happy to give it a new home.

Part of the Crouse Hinds Type M
The Deco. It’s in rough shape.

And the prize of the bunch. Another one of Utica’s Mechanical Controllers. There were 100’s in Utica. Happily functioning up until most came done in 2016 and 2017. They have pretty much all been replaced by the new fancy electronic controllers.

I love these things. Still works just fine. The same way it did in the 1960’s when it was put up. So now this is number 4. 

Here’s a quick video of it cycling in both signal mode and flash mode. Still works just fine. Didn’t have to do anything to it. It could probably cycle for another 30 years of so.

I’m hopefully to be adding more old signals soon. Have something in the works that i’m pretty excited about. Fingers are crossed to rescue some more old signals from there area.

Crouse Hinds GS Controller

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Got this beauty from Utica’s past. A Crouse Hinds GS Controller. There were 2 intersections left in downtown that still had these. Both were green. This was from Lafayette & Washington Streets. This intersection has been inoperable since the early 1990’s.  A building was built in the area and there was no need for the south side of this intersection anymore. This came down in 2017 after resting on the pole for close to 20 years unused.

Controller Location

controller

This controller is from the 1940’s and graciously ran for close to 50 years. I haven’t fired it up just yet. It was left outdoors for a while and there was some water that had gotten inside. It really is in pretty great shape. There was a twin to this one removed from service in 2017 also. I’m going to acquire that one also to either have as parts to make 1 controller or use them both.

I did get the twin to this one. I have no electrical skills at all. So it took some fiddling around, but after a bit I got it functioning again. Hard to imagine this controller cycled along without a care in the world for over 60 years in Downtown Utica. It was meant to last and it did last!!

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Here is a video of it running once again.

Rome August 2018

Visited Rome with some signal enthusiasts in August. There are some nice lights still up in Rome. Plus, they take very good care of them and they have all been repainted over the years.

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West Thomas Street and North George Street. A Crouse Hinds Art Deco signal with a wagon wheel on the bottom. This Marbelite controller looks to be in good shape. We;re not sure what is inside because there was no noise coming from it.


 

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North Doxtator Street and West Liberty Street. Another Marbelite Controller. Still a mechanical one since you can hear the cams moving inside. A nicely taken care of Crouse Hinds D/DT Fixed 4 way signal is at this intersection also.