This page features some of the traffic signals I either currently or have previously owned over the years.
- New York City 3-Way Red-Green Signal
- Marbelite Early Generation Flat-Top
- Crouse-Hinds Type DT
- Marbelite LPS-20 Pedestrian Signal
- GE Novalux
- Econolite Neon Pedestrian Signal
- Marbelite 2-Way Blinker
New York City 3-Way Red–Green Signal
Do you remember the old-fashioned two-color (red and green) traffic lights of New York City? Whenever I visited New York in the 1970s, besides the other “colorful sights” I might see, I was fascinated by the considerable number of amber-less traffic lights scattered throughout the city. These quaint fixtures were the vanishing remnants of the original GE and Horni/Ruleta signals installed from the 1920s into the ’40s. Although the city had standardized on 3-color signals way back in the early 1950s, it took over 40 years to replace all of the 2-color units.
In 2012, I spotted a Craigslist ad for a 3-way red-green NYC signal and I drove to New Hampshire to purchase it from a retired New Yorker. According to him, the light was taken down from Merrick Blvd in Laurelton, Queens in the mid-1970s and given to him on the spot by the contractor. This is evidently a later (1940s) variation of this type of signal. It has the Horni/Ruleta design, but has no manufacturer name stamped or embossed that I can find. The original wiring was plastic-coated, rather than the older cloth style.
There is a 2″ steel elbow at the top, indicating that it was mounted on an overhead mast. It was configured as a 3-way signal, with one of the four sides covered by aluminum “blanks”. To my surprise, there were lenses, reflectors, and light bulbs on all four sides (click photo on right).
New York City originally painted their signals either black or olive green. All of them were re-painted yellow in the 1960s during the reign of Traffic Commissioner Henry Barnes. I prefer the old fashioned look of the darker signals, so I stripped the yellow and black layers off and then brush painted it with glossy Rustoleum black.
Special thanks with this restoration goes out to:
- Gordon Loeffler, for rewiring the sockets
- Sean Breen, for making the customized controller
- Dave McPhail, for several rare-as-hen’s-teeth brass wing nuts to replace the missing ones
- and, last but not least, Ed Tapanes, for his assistance with getting this light dismantled, and for keeping his tongue off it, at least when I wasn’t looking
Marbelite Early Generation “Flat-Top”
In 2018, I almost passed up this gutted signal on eBay without noticing that it was a bit of a rarity – a late 1940s Marbelite, made soon after they took over the traffic signal division of Horni Signal Mfg Corp.
Despite the housing being gutted and drilled through by the previous owner, it seemed like a rare opportunity to get a Marbelite of this era, so I decided to buy it and try my best to locate replacement parts. Having seen so few of these signals myself, I expected the hunt for parts to take years.
The main concern was finding the correct reflectors and frames. It turns out, I totally lucked out with finding the frames. I acquired a full set of them as soon as I posted my need on the Highway Divides forum, where Larry Currie and Bailey Stumbaugh responded with the frames they had recently salvaged from the bottom section of a damaged 4-way signal that had been hit by a truck. Making matters even better, it was only after receiving the frames that I realized that the correct reflectors for them were the standard (and common!) Marbelite reflectors, and NOT the rare Horni style reflectors, as I had assumed. These were easily obtained.
Before assembly, I spray-painted the light with Rustoleum Hunter Green in satin finish. I stripped the black paint off the brass wing nuts and left them unpainted. Although the holes drilled in the back are annoying, I didn’t bother repairing them. I added a set of lovely repro cutaway visors supplied by Steve Tutty. Once assembled, I put it back “in service” by running signal cable to it from my Crouse-Hinds DT, which was running on a Sean Breen sequencer. I think it looks spiffy…and very “New Jersey”.
Crouse-Hinds “Type DT” Adjustable Signal
One of the first lights I ever bought was this ca. 1950 Crouse-Hinds Type DT. This very handsome art deco style signal, originally denoted as the “Type D”, was manufactured by Crouse-Hinds over a relatively long period from the 1930s into the ’50s. These D/DT lights were very common across the country, so they aren’t hard for collectors to find. With their classic beauty and their ample supply keeping prices reasonable, many collectors like myself consider them to be a “must have”.
This particular light has the visors that are each cast as a single piece with its door. There was also the option with the D/DT model to have removable sheet metal visors. The original lenses were the typical Crouse-Hinds lenses with the “small-bead smiley” pattern.
I replaced the smileys with a set of Crouse-Hinds STOP, CAUTION and GO command lenses. I also added a reproduction finial made of a plastic/resin material. While I’m not generally a fan of signals painted yellow, this always looked really good as-is, so I left the paint alone.
Marbelite LPS-20 Pedestrian Signal
The LPS-20 is the bi-modal incandescent pedestrian signal that Marbelite manufactured in the 1960s and ’70s, and originally patented as the “Lawdescent Lite“. The earlier version of this light (seen here) came with frosted glass lenses. Later versions came with “shatterproof” fiberglass lenses, supposedly with protection from vandals’ rocks in mind, but more likely as a cost-cutting measure.
The LPS-20 was the mainstay of New York City for a good 15 years, though it had a serious flaw. The original reflectors were made of plastic, and often became brittle and broke, and could melt or even ignite from contact with the light bulbs. Most collectors who find an LPS-20 need to find replacement reflectors, and thankfully, Steve Tutty from Colorado makes sturdy sheet metal reflectors to order – as seen in the photo to the right.
I repainted it olive green to mimic the color often used in NYC when the LPS was introduced in the 60s.
This is a solid cast signal from the 1930s that came to me in beautiful shape, already stripped, except for the visors. I painted it and mounted it to a post with a Highway Signal & Sign Co octagonal base. I ended up selling it to a friend who appreciates it as much as I do.
Econolite Neon Pedestrian Signal
Similar in many functional ways to the LPS-20 above, this form of pedestrian signal is obviously implemented differently in that it is illuminated by exposed neon tubes, as seen in many business signs. These nifty 1950s Econolite peds were very popular on the West Coast. I got mine so cheaply that sometime later I succumbed to the temptation to sell it to raise cash. Oh well, guess I didn’t really want one that badly…*sigh*
Marbelite 2-Way Adjustable Blinker
I pieced together this adjustable 2-way “blinker” (a.k.a. beacon) mainly as a way to display this cool Marbelite hardware, including a slip-fitter and cast aluminum brackets. The 54″ post and the slip fitter were bought from Phil at Twin Green back in 2002 or so, and the brackets were obtained a few years later, after determined searching, from Ken at Scott Signal.