Willis Lamm's
Traffic Signal Collection

Eaglelux 2-Color
Fixed 4-Way Traffic Signal
Type 42E

The first electric two-color traffic signal was designed and installed in 1912 by Salt Lake City police officer Lester Wire to assist traffic officers at intersections. (The first three-color signal was designed by Detroit Traffic Police Superintendent William Potts in 1920.) These early signals were manually controlled. Eventually both the two color and three color signals became "automatic" or electrically controlled.

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When this signal was taken out of service in Youngstown, OH, it was used as a "bouncing" (over / under) beacon. However bouncing beacons were not a common design when these early Eagleluxes were made. This signal's vintage and other signal artifacts found in Youngstown suggest that the signal was originally a 2-color signal. Eagle Signal produced both 2-color and 3-color signals in its product line.

Eagleluxes consisted of flat side panels that were riveted together to form four-sided sections. The sections were stacked as needed to create one, two, three and four section signals. The stacks were sandwiched between top and bottom plates that were held tight by metal tie rods.

Eagle's distinctive top plates were somewhat pagoda shaped, so the signals attracted the nickname, "Eagle Pagoda."

The lens doors in this vintage were unique in that they could be easily lifted off the signal once an E-clip was removed. They were each held closed by a brass eye bolt and wing nut.

The signal came with Bakelite sockets and cloth wiring. The cloth wiring in this signal was worn out so replacement sockets and reproduction cloth wiring has been installed.

Indication displays

The first 2-color signals were simple. They required only two circuits where the red lights facing one street were wired to the green lights facing the cross street, and vice versa. However it became evident that with automatic signals the sudden change from green to red could be hazardous. Many signals were then programmed to go dark for three seconds to warn motorists that they were changing. Later on, four circuit signals became standard and red would come on over the green light for three seconds to warn motorists before the signal changed.

Green indication.
Dark interval during change.
Red indication.
Eagle Signal soon factory configured their standard two color signal controllers with the four circuit "red overlapping green" change sequence. In reality this two color overlap display was safer than having the signal going dark, particularly in early days when signals were often painted black or dark green. Although the law required drivers to stop at any unlit traffic signals, motorists unfamiliar with an area and not knowing which intersections had signals might not notice a dark colored unlit signal. While a few two-color signals displaying the red-green overlap were in service as late as 2003, the "dark out" displays were generally eliminated by the 1970s.
A two-color signal in Daytona Beach, FL.

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