Willis Lamm's
Traffic Signal Collection

  Eagle Signals, Part Six

  Eaglelux "All Yellow" Beacon

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I was informed about an old beacon and some parts at an auction and estate dealer and I wanted to acquire this beacon primarily for two lettered Kopp STOP lenses that were in it. When the beacon was taken out of service it was just a 2-way stop beacon. Upon arrival, however, I found it to be a more interesting piece than I expected.

The beacon turned out to be what many of us think was a second generation Eaglelux. The lenses were sealed against the signal doors using cork gaskets. The lenses themselves were secured by means of a stamped steel retaining ring. The use of this retaining ring allowed for easier adjustment of the lenses in the doors than could be achieved with lens tabs. The four screws in the ring could be slightly loosened and the lens easily rotated for proper orientation.

The blanked off doors had been simply covered with pieces of sheet metal that were fastened to the doors with visor screws, so they were intact and undamaged.

The original lenses were most likely Kopp No. 27s. I restored the beacon with Kopp No. 88A lenses which were used in slightly later versions of this signal.

The hinge pins, latches and other external hardware are all brass. The original acorn nuts consisted of standard steel hex nuts with brass acorn shaped caps pressed onto them. I have replaced them with solid acorn nuts.

The original reflectors are Alzak aluminum, which was not that uncommon as far back as the 1930s.

This beacon was restored to its original factory black color.

The beacon as it arrived.
Doors with remnants of cork gaskets.

Steel lens retaining ring.
"KA-341" ID tag on bottom plate.


The ID tag on this beacon shows a patent number of 2,294,883. Research by the SignalWiki Project showed this patent to have been issued in 1942. While this particular design dates back into the 1930s, if the bottom plate is original to this signal, it was likely produced in the 1940s but not during the years that aluminum was rationed for the war.

  All Yellow Beacons

In the early days of traffic signals beacons were used to indicate dangerous intersections, either with or without traffic policemen to direct traffic. The earliest beacons were powered by acetylene. When electric devices were developed, two basic designs emerged. "Mushroom" lights were installed in the pavement to indicate the centers of intersections. In other instances electric beacons replaced the acetylene beacons and were either mounted on pedestals or hung over the centers of intersections on span wires.

Traffic engineers in the beacon "camp" were divided into two groups, one preferring steady illumination and the other preferring "flickering" (flashing) beacons. Eventually the flickering side won out with most beacons flashing at a rate of 50 to 60 flashes per minute.

Through the mid 1940s beacons were sold with all yellow lenses, two yellow and two red lenses, or all red lenses. Back then a flashing yellow light meant that traffic could only enter an intersection when it was clear of other traffic. Eventually engineers decided that any intersection that was sufficiently busy to warrant a beacon should indicate priority of right-of-way. From that point on beacons had red indications on at least two sides (equivalent to stop signs) or red indications on all four sides (equivalent to a 4-way stop.)

  Electronic Flasher Module

Many of these older beacons flashed at a rate of 50 flashes per minute. Since I didn't have a 50 FPS flasher available, I asked Joe Peppard of Joez Garage to produce a 50 FPM flasher, which he did at a very reasonable cost. I also installed a terminal strip so that if wires snag on each other when swinging out a reflector, they won't pull on the electronic module.

A video of the beacon in operation and a discussion on old beacons can be viewed on YouTube.

Flasher module and terminal strip.
Brass hardware
Bench testing before installing visors.
The beacon on display.
Special thanks to Todd's Auction Service in Memphis for their thoughtfulness in contacting me when this beacon was consigned to them.

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