Need some help identifying a two light dwarf signal spectacle

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1:41 PM - Jul 20, 2018 #1

I hope this isn't out of bounds for this forum,  but does anyone here know of a railroad forum or group that might be able to identify the manufacturer of this dwarf signal spectacle? I doubt that it is from the New Haven. It seems odd that there are absolutely no markings on it.  I don't belong to Facebook or belong to any Yahoo groups, so that may work against me. Federal Signal Co. and Standard Railroad Signal (apparently) made some that were very similar, but they had cast numerals or letters.

Thanks for any leads.
spectacle a.JPG
spectacle c.JPG
spectacle b.JPG
spectacle a.JPG spectacle c.JPG spectacle b.JPG
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9:01 PM - Jul 21, 2018 #2

new-haven-union-station-dwarf-signals-t697-s10.html

Doesn't this spectacle look like the photo posted on 01 Sept. 2007, now in Archive #9, by Mr. Statkowski?  Even the style of retaining rings for the lenses match.

Perhaps it is from the New Haven Railroad after all, even though it came up from Georgia last week.
spectacle 4.JPG
spectacle 5.JPG
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Statkowski
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9:36 PM - Jul 21, 2018 #3

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Goffprof
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10:22 PM - Jul 24, 2018 #4

I believe the signal pictured is a GRS Model 2A "dwarf" or Low Home Signal capable of displaying STOP (red) or RESTRICTING (yellow). The technical description is a "2A dward semaphore signal, Non-Automatic, with Electric Lamp." These were used on the New Haven Line and also on the Hartford Line at HART (SS-214) and SPRING (SS-274) Towers.  We (Signal Department) also called these "jack" signals.  The post I wrote earlier on the Hartford Line signaling mentioned making new wooden dwarf signal semaphore blades on rainy days in the Hartford Signal shop called the "Happy Hour."   

Attached is a copy of the GRS 2A Semaphore Manual (December 1918, reprinted by GRS 1950) which shows the 2A mechanisms equipped with full size semaphore blades, and on page 57, shows the 2A dwarf similar to the picture Statkowski posted.  Note that the full size semaphore blades required 4-bolts to mount on the casting, but the 2A dwarf signals only required 2-bolts to mount the small semaphore blade, again exactly as in Stankowski's photo.  There were several casting types over the years as GRS improved the design from 1918 through the 1950's.

If you look at the photo of the signal Statkowski provided and the sketch below, note the 6-bolts on the front of the 2A (behind the semaphore casting) are placed exactly as the 6-bolts in the drawing provided below from the GRS 2A Semaphore Manual (page 57) showing a 2A, 3-position and beneath it another drawing of a 2A, 2-position. They could be modified for 2 or 3 position use by moving a pin in the mechanism as long as the contact assembly and other internal hardware matched the intended use. They could also be ordered with either oil or electric lamps.  The New Haven's 2A's were equipped with electric lamps. Brings back a lot of good memories cleaning the contacts with crocus cloth and oiling the semaphore mechanisms with "Pale Semaphore Oil", which was a very light oil similar to hydraulic oil that had excellent low temperature properties.

So.... the picture of the GRS 2A 2-position signal Statkowski provided is essentially similar to the bottom right photo (below), except it is equipped with an electric lamp as shown in the top left photo rather than an oil  lamp, and the semaphore action is left-hand, rather than right-hand as depicted in the drawing. As I recall, we installed both types in New Haven and other locations depending on what we had in stock at the time.  

Hope this helps identify the signal in the picture....

Al Goff
GRS 2A Semaphore manual.pdf (3.48 MiB)


GRS 2A Semaphore drawing.bmp (4.96 MiB)
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9:17 PM - Jul 25, 2018 #5

Al, the information that you posted helps immensely.  I hope to add a blade and make it worthy of display.  I presume black paint would be correct for the spectacle?  You mentioned making wooden blades in the Hartford shop during arts and crafts - approximately what would the blade dimensions have been?   I was pretty sure some of the the blades were wooden and not metal, it's nice to have it confirmed. 

Where did the term "jack" come from?  When I hired out it seems everyone but officials call them jacks.  I remember having a RR manager of some sort with us in the cab one day, when the first dwarf signal came into view the words uttered in the cab were "yellow jack", "yellow jack", "restricting on the low home signal".  Guess who said what. lol.

Thanks again,

Ron
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Statkowski
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10:53 PM - Jul 25, 2018 #6

Looks to me the short blades, rectangular in shape, were as wide as the spectacle, with about a 1:3 ratio.

And speaking of "crew" terms versus "official" terms, coming off the New Haven onto the New York Central one would normally get a yellow-over-green-over-green signal (Approach Limited), later changed to yellow-over-flashing-green-over-red.  Doing a cab ride I heard one fireman yell out, "Winky Blinky All the Way" when announcing that aspect.  And coming into Grand Central Terminal they'd announce, "Green on one, two, three, four" or however many green jacks were ahead of the train.
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dpeters04
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9:59 AM - Jul 26, 2018 #7

We have one of these dwarf signals here at the Museum it came from Boston from a signal maintainer out of New Haven signal shop. The lamp red-amber has a label Peter Gray Boston with golden glow reflector. The signal is counter weighted and falls to restricting when released .It is wired up and working here at the Museum. My guess is the total unit is Peter Gray.  
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Statkowski
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9:20 PM - Jul 26, 2018 #8

Peter Gray & Sons, Boston, manufactured signal lamps.  Not the machines, just the lamps.  So, it's a GRS machine, but the lamp may or may not have been a Peter Gray lamp.
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Goffprof
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5:15 PM - Jul 28, 2018 #9

Ron -- Here is some more info and responses to your questions.... hope it is helpful.

The front and sides of a GRS 2A dwarf signal casting itself should be painted flat black; rear door painted silver.  We always painted the back and edges of the wooden blades black, and the front of the 2A dwarf signal blades red with a white stripe. I think the blade dimensions are in the GRS 2A manual, however we usually installed 7/16" or 1/2" bolts as the holes in the spectacle casting are 9/16", with 5" bolt centers for attaching the dwarf signal blade. The smaller bolts allowed us a little wiggle room to adjust the blade horizontally if the signal foundation was off-level. The length of the wooden blade in a 2A dwarf is supposed to be approximately equal to the length of the spectacle casting. The NH liked left-hand 2A semaphores, but as you can see in pictures, some were installed with right-hand mechanisms. Nothing was really "standard" despite what some believe. 

The NH also installed GRS 2A's for high signals mounted on signal bridges on the NH Line and other areas so some of the semaphore blades were short with straight ends and a straight white stripe, curved ends and a curved stripe, or pointed ends and a straight stripe.  Some bridge mounted 2A's had yellow blades with black stripes. The shape and paint scheme depended on whether the signal was Absolute or Permissive, a high signal or a dwarf, a Train Order Signal, etc.  I posted a few pics at the bottom to help sort out the signal blade sizes and types and I'm sure there are technical writeups in the NHRHTA archives for those interested in more technical details.  Note there is a later US&S H5 searchlight Signal shown in a below picture between the 2A semaphores mounted on the signal bridge. The rear of the H5 can be seen as it faced the opposite direction from the 2A's. The H5 cases are often silver, but the cases of H5's on bridges was normally repainted black to avoid glare. 

The picture below with the RDC car in Bridgeport shows 2A high signals mounted on a signal bridge, with additional 2A dwarf signals on the ground.  Note that silver backs of the 2A dwarf / jack signals are actually the doors to access the internal semaphore mechanism.  We painted them this way purposely so the flat-black front and silver back of the dwarf signals on the ground could be easily distinguished.  The Signal Department wanted an engineer to see flat black approaching the front of a signal mechanism and spectacle casting when approaching a 2A signal to avoid glare or other issues. This is also why the background and hood on later colorlight and searchlight signals were always painted black and still are, as are grade crossing signal heads.   

For those modeling the Hartford Line, I'm sure the replacement 2A dwarf signal blades we installed in New Haven, Hart and Spring Towers were painted red, had curved blade ends and curved white stripes, with the back and edges flat back. Northbound Signal #5 at Hart Tower was equipped with a pipe-connected "C" Board mechanical semaphore until we installed a GRS 2A replacement mechanism in the late 70's. Some other 2A dwarf signal blades were red with square ends and a straight white line.

When I was a young Penn Central Asst. Signalman in Hartford in '75, our supervisor, a great guy named Joe Holland, was a 25-year NH Signal Department employee and I can't recall him ever using the term dwarf signal, only jack signal. 

Regarding the history of the term "jack" signal, in 1979 I was told by a signal historian for the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen that the term was derived from a true story from the 1880's about a railroader in South Africa who lost his legs but wanted to keep working so he became a tower leverman and trained a baboon named "Jack" to throw the interlocking machine hand levers. I remember thinking the story was fake but, below is an old pic of Signalman Jack the baboon working the mechanical interlocking levers. The tower operator / leverman who lost his legs is shown in the picture wearing early prosthetics. 

The other pictures copied below show different GRS 2A semaphore installations on the New Haven and other details.

One more note for those interested in Semaphore signals...  there are still two upper quadrant 2-headed semaphore signals installed at the CT Trolley Museum (CERA, Warehouse Point) - Signal 0.24 and Signal 0.25. I started with the CERA signal department volunteer group in 1970 lead by Walter Sheffeld and we installed the signals. Both 0.24 and 0.25 are equipped with 2 "Hall" semaphore mechanisms with full length semaphore blades.  We maintained them for more than 45 years, however CERA management policy decisions in 2016 lead to several long time Signal department volunteers leaving the department. I'm not sure if the semaphores are still functioning.

Al Goff
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Signalman Jack.jpg NH GRS 2A Dwarf Signal.jpg NH GRS 2A dwarf semaphore.jpg NH Line H5 Semaphore Signals.jpg NH GRS 2A Signals on Bridge.jpg
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Statkowski
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7:36 PM - Jul 28, 2018 #10

Pointy end - Automatic
Round end - Interlocking
Flat end - Movable bridge
Fishtail end - Approach
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