Mars lights

Long before 4449 became functional again. The Espee installed Mars lights on what seemed like every engine on their roster. I grew up with our house shaking and the long shadows cast through our windows by the Mars lights.                                 

Respectfully,

"Pappy"

My Two-Cents                 

 

Originally Posted by Happy Pappy:

Long before 4449 became functional again. The Espee installed Mars lights on what seemed like every engine on their roster. I grew up with our house shaking and the long shadows cast through our windows by the Mars lights.                                 

To be clear, the SP GS-4 class northerns were delivered from Lima Locomotive works with Mars Lights (no red feature). No other steam locomotives on SP had Mars lights except those GS-4/GS-5 steam locomotives, until diesels were delivered. The diesels all pretty much came from the factory with Mars or Pyle National Gyra-Lights. 

A great looking fire truck - a bank of Mars lights, a nice bell, and a Federal Q - all out front to be seen and heard!

 

In the 1960s while traveling at night on US31 north of Bowling Green Ky and roughly parallel to the L&N, the Mars lights could be seen in the sky for miles before encountering the trains. Weird 'till you figured out what was going on!

Owen Collins

Originally Posted by Balshis:

I used to think that Mars lights looked great on Baldwin sharks.  They used to come snarling through my home town on the PRR main line, hauling enormous coal drags, Mars lights gyrating and horns blaring as they approached the crossing.

 

I thought only the first two Pennsy BP-20's had mars lights.

BLW BP20 PRR 5770

BLW BP-20 PRR 5771

 

I'm not aware any RF-16's, Pennsy or otherwise, that had Mars lights installed.

BLW RF16 PRR 9581

 

Rusty

 

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To answer the question posed by this thread:  I personally like the appearance of NKP steam with the Mars light, because they all had them when I was growing up, and I seldom saw a photo of one without a Mars light.  It looks normal to me.  However, they are also good looking without.

 

Now, here's a question of my own:  Since Pennsy only had a couple of Sharks and a couple of E8's equipped with Mars lights, does anyone remember ever having seen one of those engines with the Mars light in use?

Tom

 

Superintendent, High Plains Division (O Gauge) 

The Panhandle & Santa Fe Railway Co.

Lone Star Hi-Railers

Santa Fe, All the Way

Here is my prized collection: Working Mars light model, 250R, saved it from scrapper's torch at Alter's at Council Bluffs, Iowa. C&NW sold old wrecking crane to Alter's. That 250R once used on C&NW steam locomotives and early Geep before put it on wrecking crane. My friend was able to build special transformer that work from 120V AC to 64V DC and it worked!

 

 

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C&NW wrecking crane #6353 before heading to Alter's for scrap. 250R light can be seen at left top of crane.

 

 

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After cutting up at Alter's. 250R light can be seen at lower left by the ground just below of C&NW gondola car.

 

 

 

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Now I am going to make an assumption here: the red oscillating warning lights employed on Union Pacific and Milwaukee Road 4-8-4's and Milw 4-6-4's were Mars Lights. On the Milwaukee, they counter-balanced the somewhat jarring appearance of the Milwaukee's off-set bells - and were esthetically succesful. All of these applications enhanced the appearance of the locomotives - adding some additional color and an air seriousness. Of course, just opinion!! One man, one vote!

From Wikipedia:

 

Mars Light

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mars Lights are signal-safety lights used in the United States and built by Mars Signal Light Company for railroad locomotives and fire apparatus. Mars Lights used a variety of means to cause the light to oscillate vertically, horizontally, or both, to catch the attention of motorists and pedestrians.

Mars lights were developed by Jerry Kennelly, a Chicago firefighter who realized that oscillating lamps would benefit fire departments and railroads. He performed an operational test with the C&NW railroad in 1936, and Mars Lights began appearing on locomotives in the 1940s.

Tri Lite, Inc. announced their acquisition of the Mars Signal Light Company effective January 23, 1991. Tri Lite still manufactures many of the traditional Mars Lights under the Tri Lite Mars brand. The company has recently updated the Mars "888" Traffic Breaker with energy efficient LED bulbs.

Contents

Design variations

There were many models of Mars Lights, which used several methods to oscillate the beam. Sometimes the bulb and assembly were moved, other times a reflector behind the light was rotated. The beam was usually rotated in a triple eight pattern, providing a source for the company slogan, "The Light from Mars". The beams came in a variety of shapes and colors, some locomotives having red and white lights.

Railroad use

 
A Mars light is mounted a few feet below the headlight on this EMD F7 diesel locomotive. More detail can be seen at high resolution.

Many railroads used Mars lights on a variety of locomotives, both steam and diesel. Mars lights are no longer used by railways, having been replaced by ditch lights, with the exception of some passenger carriers, such as Chicago's Metra. They are still used on fire fighting apparatus, and are available from Tri Lite / Mars, located in Chicago, Illinois.

LAFD requirement

The Los Angeles Fire Department required Mars lights as a standard LACoFD warning device until the Federal BeaconRay was adopted as a replacement.[1]

Gyralite

Gyralite is a similar type of gyrating warning light formerly made by The Pyle-National Company and now by Trans-Lite, Inc.[2]

See also

References

 
  • Grant V.W. Roth (November 1990) Mainline Modeler "Mars Lights; Their Development"

External links

Originally Posted by CGWforever:

Here is my prized collection: Working Mars light model, 250R, saved it from scrapper's torch at Alter's at Council Bluffs, Iowa. ...

 

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this is the model we're trying to make in 1:8 scale for a Jim Kreider NKP Berkshire design.  the case casting is available and Jim has the mechanism working in SolidWorks, but now the parts have to be cut...

 

NKP753-03

 

NKP753-03.1

the actual NKP 753, unbelievably the cover photo on a recent calender.

 

753 calendar cover-screen

 

as you can see, the NKP used a clear lens MARS light.  talking to local residents who saw this locomotive in operation, even during daylight hours, it improved the visibility of an oncoming engine.

 

i for one would like to see 765 refitted.

i understand it is still in storage.

cheers...gary

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Originally Posted by Rusty Traque:
Originally Posted by Balshis:

I used to think that Mars lights looked great on Baldwin sharks.  They used to come snarling through my home town on the PRR main line, hauling enormous coal drags, Mars lights gyrating and horns blaring as they approached the crossing.

 

I thought only the first two Pennsy BP-20's had mars lights.

 

I'm not aware any RF-16's, Pennsy or otherwise, that had Mars lights installed.

 

 

Rusty

 

After so many years, I can't answer your questions.  I just know that they had the distinctive Baldwin sharknose styling, they were hauling coal and they had Mars lights.  I confess, I don't know what models they were.  At age eleven, I thought I was pretty hot stuff just knowing they were Baldwins.

 

The sight of a passenger train approaching with a mars light evokes the excitement of train travel I felt as a kid. I adore them.

The only reason--only--I want at least one MTH Imperial engine is for a mars light. The Railkings don't have them. I wish I knew what I was doing, I'd install them where appropriate.

A question for all the Union Pacific steam experts.   When the UP #844 was in regular service until approx. 1962(not the 1962-now excursion engine versions),   what color lens was used on the Mars light?   Was the lens always red or was a clear lens also used during that time period?   Thanks for the help

Nick

USAF Security Service 1967-1971,  US Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District 1993-2012,  Pittsburgh Independent Hi-Railers

machinist posted:

A question for all the Union Pacific steam experts.   When the UP #844 was in regular service until approx. 1962(not the 1962-now excursion engine versions),   what color lens was used on the Mars light? 

Red, just as it was originally installed about 1946.

 Was the lens always red or was a clear lens also used during that time period? 

Yes, always red. Just like the Milwaukee S3 Class 4-8-4s (#261 for example).

 Thanks for the help

Nick

 

Hot Water posted:
machinist posted:

A question for all the Union Pacific steam experts.   When the UP #844 was in regular service until approx. 1962(not the 1962-now excursion engine versions),   what color lens was used on the Mars light? 

Red, just as it was originally installed about 1946.

 Was the lens always red or was a clear lens also used during that time period? 

Yes, always red. Just like the Milwaukee S3 Class 4-8-4s (#261 for example).

 Thanks for the help

Nick

 

OK,  thanks for that information.

Nick

USAF Security Service 1967-1971,  US Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District 1993-2012,  Pittsburgh Independent Hi-Railers

In the late 1950's, the C&EI had I believe a Mars light on their first generation EMD diesel locomotives, I can still recall seeing this light figure eight sweep pattern on a pitch black foggy night. I purchased from Dallee Electroninics, Inc., two Mars Light, T1-3/4 superberbright white led and circuit assemblies that are to be installed in two F7 locomotives kitbashed for the C&EI and Monon.

On the Santa Fe Los Angeles Division, we used to get a weekly coal train which originated at Sunnyside, Utah, was interchanged to the UP by the D&RGW, and then, at Barstow, by UP to ATSF for delivery to Kaiser.  The locomotives ran through, and the normal consist was one D&RGW SD45 leading three UP SD45's.  The Rio Grande engines had nose-mounted, twin sealed beam, white, figure-8 Mars lights, and, whenever I caught the UP coal train, I always used the Mars light, as it actually seemed to cause some motorists who might have been thinking of running the flasher signals or wigwags at crossings,  to stop.

I also enjoyed watching a diesel with a Mars light from trackside.  The figure-8 pattern was more impressive than the circular pattern of a Pyle Gyralite.

Tom

 

Superintendent, High Plains Division (O Gauge) 

The Panhandle & Santa Fe Railway Co.

Lone Star Hi-Railers

Santa Fe, All the Way

OVERLANDFLYER:  the 765 got its Mars light reinstalled in August 2016 (in conjunction with the commemorative NKP 767 renumbering) and has carried it since then.  The FWRHS Board intends for the Mars light to remain in place indefinitely. 

Addressing some other details in this thread, the NKP 765 spent the first half of its NKP career WITHOUT a Mars light (1944 to 1951) and the second half of its NKP  regular service career WITH a Mars light (1951 to 1958).  No surprise that BY FAR, most photographs of NKP Berkshires were taken during their last year or two as other railroads dieselized and the NKP was one of the few still running steam.

Note that a "flag box" has been restored to the front of the 765 this winter.  They were standard issue on the Berkshires but the original was rusted out and the lid was mashed out of of shape by crew men using it as a step.  It was cut off during the first overhaul and finally got replaced.  The NKP used "metal flags" on their locomotives and cabooses, in place of cloth flags.

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