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  • Geez, I didn't win...

    I had one of these back in 1979 but wound up selling it along with the rest of my collection when I moved out of NYC a few years later, now I find one just like it on Ebay located out on Long Island near Islip, but it looks like even with my $4800 bid it didn't meet the guy's reserve, he must have some ridiculously high reserve on it. Funny thing is his photos show he has two of them just sitting in his back yard essentially rusting away, and the high bid that beat the other 29 bids- was $3150- mine.
    Last edited by Sculptor; 02-08-2015, 11:27 PM.

  • #2
    I did wind up being the winner of this box though, it arrived the other day and I got it for a very reasonable bid, what I really like is how it's in an as-found antique ca 1896 condition and has never been "messed with" by idiots or amateurs who felt the need to "restore" it by sandblasting, painting with super high gloss bright red automotive paint and then highlighting the letters and edges with white and gold paint like a circus wagon.
    Last edited by Sculptor; 02-08-2015, 11:26 PM.

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    • #3
      I had to replace the main spring on this other movement, the original spring amazingly, literally shattered into dozens of pieces while I was finishing up cleaning the movement, it must have had a metal fatigue crack and when it let go it broke into many pieces.
      I have the rest of it at work where I'm cleaning it up, there is a pair of electromagnet coils that go back on this, and also the small geared geneva stop which installs in that hole where the spring is looped over prevents overwinding by that pin on the large gear contacting it after a certain number of revolutions. It always amazes me me the clever little mechanical devices they had to invent to do things like that!

      This one is from about 1920, almost all solid brass except for a few steel shafts, and that's not white plastic it's white porcellain, I really like the quality materials and workmaship on everything they did back in those days! The ones that were made in more recent times, the 60s and 70s, look very cheaply made out of aluminum and plastics.
      Last edited by Sculptor; 02-08-2015, 11:26 PM.

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      • #4
        ^^^ Wow, that cleaned up nicely.

        In the third image in your second post, is that a telegraph key on the right side of the white block in the bottom left corner? I think the little "doorbell" on the lower right of that image was the sounder for messages sent from the alarm office in pre-radio days.

        After seeing the first photo this morning, I used Google Street View to look at the central square of my old home town, trying to see if any of the police call boxes are still extant. I think they're all gone, and the handset and other equipment at the station probably didn't survive a major rebuild of the dispatch area that took place before I came to work there in '93.

        On one street corner not far from where I recall a police box being located, I did see a fire alarm box on a pedestal much like the one in your first pic, but with a red globe light on top. They've gone to a radio alarm system, which may explain why the box looked to be about twice the depth of what I'm used to seeing.
        --
        Capital Punishment means never having to say "you again?"

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        • #5
          Originally posted by RR_Security View Post
          ^^^ Wow, that cleaned up nicely.

          In the third image in your second post, is that a telegraph key on the right side of the white block in the bottom left corner?
          I think the little "doorbell" on the lower right of that image was the sounder for messages sent from the alarm office in pre-radio days.
          Yeah it did
          You are correct, that is a telegraph key, the small bell was the best audio sound maker at the time, I know if you press the telegraph key it sounds the bell giving you an auditory feedback to what you are sending, I believe it also worked the other way to produce signals from the central office.
          The door being closed re-routes the electric circuit in such a way as to cut that bell out in normal use.


          After seeing the first photo this morning, I used Google Street View to look at the central square of my old home town, trying to see if any of the police call boxes are still extant. I think they're all gone, and the handset and other equipment at the station probably didn't survive a major rebuild of the dispatch area that took place before I came to work there in '93.
          There's a lot of them gone, but there's still quite a few towns who still use them, Boston still has their system in fully functional and working order and they intend to keep it that way, NYC plans and has been trying in court to totally decommission, and I assume eventually remove all the boxes off the streets.Many of them no longer work and they claim only 2% of fires are even reported by them any more, and 90% of the alarms turn out to be false.

          On one street corner not far from where I recall a police box being located, I did see a fire alarm box on a pedestal much like the one in your first pic, but with a red globe light on top. They've gone to a radio alarm system, which may explain why the box looked to be about twice the depth of what I'm used to seeing.
          The type in my first photo was made exclusively for NYC around 1921, it is in my opinion the most attractive design of all of these freestanding post style boxes, a real work of art. A certain number of them had a tall extension in place of the torch and a glass globe on top of that. Almost if not all of those globes are long gone and no longer function, I've never seen one intact on the street.
          Some of these also had a police phone I think- on the reverse side with another locked door, those have in raised letters "HP" on that door, I don't know what HP stood for and can only guess at "Help Phone" but I doubt it.

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          • #6
            Where's the USB port?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Sculptor View Post
              You do know this is a Police forum?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Sculptor View Post
                Some of these also had a police phone I think- on the reverse side with another locked door, those have in raised letters "HP" on that door, I don't know what HP stood for and can only guess at "Help Phone" but I doubt it.
                Originally posted by JasperST View Post
                Where's the USB port?
                Jasper might be on to something there. Maybe "HP" is Hewlett Packard.

                Actually, that's got my curiosity now. I know some (or all) police boxes had an additional keyhole marked "WAGON" that was so an officer who had a drunk by the arm could just insert and turn his key, without the need to talk on the phone while controlling an unruly subject. I think it triggered a code wheel like the one in a fire alarm box.
                In the Seventies or earlier, Gamewell produced boxes with phones in a separate enclosure under a conventional fire alarm box. I recall seeing Tarrytown NY advertised as one of the first places to have those. The phones were a direct line to the dispatch center, and could be used by the public for reporting emergencies other than fires.

                Very early fire alarm boxes were locked, with only beat cops or maybe nearby merchants being entrusted with a key. Then came the "break glass, turn key" type. I think having to break the glass was supposed to discourage false alarms. (Yeah, maybe for about a New York Minute it did.)

                I might know somebody who'd know about the "HP" thing.
                --
                Capital Punishment means never having to say "you again?"

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                • #9


                  Sculptor, confirm a vintage Black Forest fire clock?

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                  • #10
                    ^^^ I try not to laugh, because it only encourages him, but . . . too late. crackup.gif

                    So I was taking a Wild-***ed Guess that "HP" could be "Hourly Patrol." I saw an old (it mentioned proper operation of the clutch on a patrol car) LAPD manual, that said officers would have in their shift instructions whether to "ring on one," or two, or three. "Ring on one" meant hourly, two was on the hour and half-hour, and three was fifteen-minute intervals.
                    --
                    Capital Punishment means never having to say "you again?"

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by sanitizer View Post
                      You do know this is a Police forum?
                      I love this police forum
                      Sometimes even the police need to see some firemen at work stuff too!

                      There's a firehouse connection to this site but it doesn't seem to have a fire memorabilia type forum like this. Besides, I'm real, real unpopular now on a fire forum and facebook group

                      I blatantly ruffled some feathers over my "do no harm" stance on restorations of these antiques and how they should be preserved as antiques, not turned into a crazy "circus wagon" by inappropriate repainting with gold pinstripes, highlighted lettering, and adding on modern decorative accessories such as a flagpole eagle someone sells on Ebay.

                      I posted the truth, and facts, and some didn't want to hear it, so the owner of the facebook group threatened me with being banished and deleted if I didn't comply with his demands not to say anything disparaging about other members' so called "restorations." That was when I told him "adios," and started my own restorations Facebook group the other day, he won't silence me! I will continue to be the vocal voice of opposition to the ruining of historic antiques for a fad.

                      Here's a quick video I did of one of my boxes from NYC that is now restored to it's original function by replacing the gong mechanism and gong on the inside of the door, most all of these were long ago removed because the public being dumb would pull the handle down part way, hear the bell go off inside and think it's sending the alarm when it turned out they didn't pull the handle down far enough.
                      I still need a couple of small parts that are missing to complete the restoration yet.

                      I bought a second box that had no mechanism inside but had the door gong intact, and put it on this unit to complete it, this was how these were all originally outfitted in NYC, but these door gongs are rare and hard to find now since most were trashed decades ago.
                      Last edited by Sculptor; 02-08-2015, 11:25 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by RR_Security View Post
                        ^^^ I try not to laugh, because it only encourages him, but . . . too late. [ATTACH=CONFIG]12514[/ATTACH]

                        So I was taking a Wild-***ed Guess that "HP" could be "Hourly Patrol." I saw an old (it mentioned proper operation of the clutch on a patrol car) LAPD manual, that said officers would have in their shift instructions whether to "ring on one," or two, or three. "Ring on one" meant hourly, two was on the hour and half-hour, and three was fifteen-minute intervals.
                        LOL!

                        Just wait until our friend with the funny horse wearing sunglasses photo he posts a lot- pops in here!

                        I think you might be onto something there with Hourly Patrol, since back in the 20s when that style post was made the police did have beats on the street. From what you say it seems they also had to "check in" with the station periodically much like watchmen used those Detex watchclock stations with the keys in the portable clock they had to wear.

                        I had to do that when I was doing building security in NYC back in the 80s, twice a night I had to make the rounds and punch the 2 keys on every floor into the clock to show I had walked through the area.

                        I never saw what might have been behind the "HP" door on these, whatever equipment was originally there I think it was all removed many decades ago, it was probably originally just a telegraph key, but maybe by then in 1921 there was a telephone handset too. It would seem very inefficient to have bothered an operator to call the station to check in every hour than just tapping a telegraph key.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by sanitizer View Post

                          Sculptor, confirm a vintage Black Forest fire clock?

                          LOL!!! I missed the bird the first time I saw it believe it or not- too funny!
                          Last edited by Sculptor; 02-08-2015, 11:25 PM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by RR_Security View Post
                            So I was taking a Wild-***ed Guess that "HP" could be "Hourly Patrol." I saw an old (it mentioned proper operation of the clutch on a patrol car) LAPD manual, that said officers would have in their shift instructions whether to "ring on one," or two, or three. "Ring on one" meant hourly, two was on the hour and half-hour, and three was fifteen-minute intervals.
                            During olden times long before handpack radios, I was assigned a midnight to 0800 solo walking beat in a lower low class bar district overrun with street prostitutes. Several times a night I would escort a group to the nearest call box and request a wagon for transportation. I thought “HP” meant “Ho Patrol”.

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                            • #15
                              I found the answer after about a half hour of searching:

                              When the fire hydrant system was first laid down, there was limited high pressure water lines, and those being in short supply were usually reserved for high rises, factories, and high density tenement blocks.

                              A fire chief carried a key that would access one of these "H.P. TEL" fire boxes I assume through the door on the back which does have a hinge and keyway like the front does, the chief could signal via telegraph to open the water valves for the high pressure lines in that area. The regular fire mechanism was accessed from the front.

                              What exact device was behind the door I don't know yet, probably just a telegraph key on a porcellain block, where the signal went to I would guess the water department in the area, though it could have been the fire station but I don't think the fire station would have had control of the water mains.

                              There doesn't seem to be very many of those, which makes sense- they were for the high ppressure lines that were available only in strategic areas and by the 30s or 40s radio and telephone made the telegraph method obsolete anyway and more high pressure lines were installed too.

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