Horni Signal Mfg. Corp.

This page documents the traffic signals made by Horni Signal Manufacturing Corp. of Newark, NJ and New York, NY. Horni manufactured all sorts of mechanical equipment for civilian traffic control, fire alarms, and for military applications from 1924 to 1947.

The Horni Type 250 (mid 1920s)


The Horni Type 950 (mid 1920s)


The Horni Type 491 (mid 1920s)


Horni “Corner Hinge” Signals (approx. 1928-1938)

Re-branded as RULETA in New York City

In the early years of its signalization, New York City installed thousands of these signals, along with many GE Novaluxes. However, the majority of the corner-hinged traffic lights salvaged from NYC were branded, not as “Horni”, but as “Ruleta”. Apparently, Horni sold the castings to Ruleta (an “associated company” to Marbelite – see ad above on left), presumably when Horni released their next design in 1938 (see next section below).

By the early 1930s, your municipality could run its modern Horni signals with a super-modern “Vehitrol” actuated control system by Horni (see ad above on right).


Horni Modular Signals (1938-1947)

In 1938, having recognized a good idea in General Electric’s “Groove Back“ signals, Horni followed with their own closed sectional design that did away with tie rods and end plates. This was a complete re-design of both the adjustable and fixed-face signals.

Exterior features:

  • Each adjustable housing has gracefully tapered sections that are bolted together through three drill points on the top and bottom.
  • On both the fixed-face and adjustable signals, “lipless” doors are seated into the housing. The door hinges have been moved from the corners to the side, spaced apart 1/3 of the door height.
  • The lens collars are 1″ deep.
  • Visors are sheet metal, not cast. They are typically “tunnel” style, although I think a scalloped cutaway style was probably offered too, with a straight profile (not sloping away).

Interior features:

  • Doors are seated in a groove around the opening with a wick gasket.
  • Reflectors are medium thickness glass with a deep bowl shape.
  • Reflector frames are 3-leg cast baskets, hinged on the back of the doors, and embossed HORNI TC-19145 by the socket sleeve. The frames were trimmed down at some point in time; note the difference in frame thickness between the two photos above.
  • A brass retaining wire bolted to the door keeps the reflector frame secured behind the lens.

Horni Bakelite Signals (WWII aluminum rationing)

While also heavily involved in wartime procurement contracts, Horni Signal continued to produce traffic signals during World War II. While some manufacturers opted for steel in lieu of aluminum, Horni is the only brand that I know of that produced a war-time signal made of Bakelite (with steel visors). These ultra-rare Bakelite Hornis have been seen by a few contemporary collectors, including this light that still serves in East Rutherford, NJ.

Horni most likely resumed production of aluminum signals when the war ended in 1945, but they would be bought out by Marbelite by early 1947.


Epilogue

Horni Signal was on a successful trajectory while traffic signal demand was skyrocketing after World War II, so why did Horni fold and sell out to Marbelite in 1947? Undoubtedly, the nefarious habits of its owners contributed to this bad fortune. Credit to Randy Trezak for sending me this 1946 NY Times article about the shady Horni brothers.