Rock Island Signal
Friday, September 25
On September 14 a message
appeared on the email list of the Rock Island Technical Society
(RITSlist@yahoo.com), referring to a Rock Island block signal for sale
on Craig's List. I saw the message the next day and took a look
at the ad. The signal was of a unique style
used by Rock Island on the "Short Line", and taken out of service by
the Union Pacific. There is a preserved one in Melcher that I photographed last winter. There was also a somewhat over-sized HO model of this "type G" tri-light signal produced by Olympia in Japan some years ago.
I emailed the seller and said I was interested and would pay the asking
price. I got a reply saying that there was a deal in progress
with someone out of state. I raised my offer a bit, but didn't
hear anything back for about a week. Then, an email arrived
asking if I were still interested. I said I was, and we arranged
for me to come to an acreage near Cambridge on Friday afternoon to pick
The seller had the signal loaded into the bucket of a tractor-scoop
outfit and was able to raise it to the level of the Jeep's floor.
This was a good thing, because in "real life" the signal head was
much larger and heavier than one might think. I backed up and we
were able to wrestle the signal into the car for a trip to its new home.
On Saturday, my son Aaron and nephew Alex Dyer came out to the ranch and helped unload the signal onto the garage floor. Over the remainder of the weekend I've been disassembling
it. Things inside seem to be in pretty good condition, and the
inner, colored lenses are in great shape. The outer, clear lenses
have some cracks, so I may look for replacements for them.
The bulbs used in the signal are interesting.
They use a "bayonet-style" base, but the bulb base is in two
parts, a smooth side base attached to the bulb and a ring with lugs,
soldered to the bulb base. I assume this arrangement allowed
precise positioning of the bulb's filament at the focal point of the
lens, perhaps followed by the soldered connection. I found a
source of the bulbs on the Internet, but I need to buy them in
quantities of 120 bulbs. My son suggested I get 39 more signals,
but I tested the bulbs on a power pack, and all three seem to be in
working condition. They are rated 10 volts, 18 watts.
Oh, and I did see a train in Pleasantville on Saturday. A DMOWQM
was switching and I caught them in the rain at the State Street
crossing around 8:30. There were four units, BNSF 8270, BNSF 5324, NS 9703, and BNSF 527.
My picture-taking prompted radio conversation about "candid
camera" and who was going to be, "famous", or perhaps, "infamous".
527 is leading in the other direction this morning (Monday), I
heard them roll up their warrant at MP 56 a few minutes ago, and the
Creston desk dispatcher is currently giving the track over to