When the City of Hoboken upgraded the traffic signals along Washington Street in 2018, I was honored to be a part of the Hoboken Historical Museum Signal project. As a token of appreciation for installing Hoboken’s oldest surviving signal (from Washington & 1st) in the museum, the museum staff gave us several pieces of retired equipment, including Hoboken’s second oldest surviving signal – the ca. 1947 Marbelite 4-way hanging “cluster” from Washington & 5th.
The cluster was suspended from a modern aluminum pole, outliving its original steel pole. And after 70+ years in service, this workhorse of a signal was finally put out to pasture.
Long Islanders Randy Trezak and Mike Natale brought the equipment to the 3-Lite Guy signal workshop and carefully dismantled the two 4-way clusters (the yellow one is an Econolite from the 1960s-70s). Only when we had the 5th Street cluster in hand to inspect it did we realize it was branded Marbelite and not Horni. As common as Marbelite signals were, I haven’t come across many pre-patent Marbelites with Horni specs (e.g., door-mounted reflectors, straight-profile tunnel visors, large brass wing nuts). The heads were in excellent condition, too. The cluster had 11 of the 12 original Kopp #66 lenses, and all of the reflectors were intact.
I kept one of the four Marbelite heads. I love the weathered, off-the-street green patina (barely hiding old coats of red, silver and green), therefore I have no plans to refinish it. The sockets were rather ill-fitting replacements, so I decided to replace two of them with two spare Horni-style sockets that I had on hand. Otherwise, I simply cleaned the signal and adjusted the radial alignment of the lenses before hanging it up in the basement. It’s a wonderful piece from mid-20th Century NJ that may have been the cause of a moving violation for Frank Sinatra…OK perhaps that doesn’t add too much to the resale value!