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John Dorgan - Deceased - 1938 - 2012
08-17-2010, 02:20 PM
I have been asked to outline the differences between the Federal rotating beacons and will endeavor to do so here.
The model 17, which dates to 1948 has two bulbs and rotates on a horizontal plane.
The model 173 has three bulbs and rotates on a horizontal plane.
The model 174 or Super Beacon Ray has four bulbs and oscillates about 95 degrees.
The model 175 has four bulbs, and a clear dome. It rotates on a horizontal plane. The two red bulbs were normally level while the cler bulbs were angled up and down 10 and 35 degrees.
The NYPD version of the 175 was basically the same, but the angled bulbs were angled up and down 10 degrees each. It also used amber as well as red and clear bulbs.
The model 176 has four bulbs on a horizontal plane.

In addition, all of these were available with an "A" base which was an enclosed base made to be mounted on a 1" pipe.
The Califonia special had a PAR 46 fixed red light attached to a higher skirt.
The "H" suffix denotes a high skirt. These were avalable all the way up to
11". in height.
The NYPD model 175 used a 7.5" height skirt to be seen over the Federal P-660, Pulsator siren which was placed in front of it.
Domes came standard in acrylic, lexan and glass on special order. The original patent calls for a poycarbonate dome. Colors available over the years were; red, blue, clear, green, amber, and magenta (Purple).
The rarest was the 175P which can be seen in the lead in to the Hawaii 5-0 TV series. This had a small "cruise" light located in the top which was on at all times that the vehicle was in operation.
There was also a difference in the dome diameter caused by the fact that the four bulb beacons would not fit into the smaller earlier 17 and 173 domes. The top opening of the skirt was also opened from 7 3/4" to 8 1/8" to accomodate these larger domes. I hope that this helps. John Dorgan

Paul Steinberg
08-17-2010, 02:55 PM
John... Is the Model 175 designed to have a multi position switch so you can have either the 2 red or 2 clear bulbs illuminated only, or have all four bulbs illuminated at once, depending on the switch position? I saw one car that was wired this way at the International Meet, and it was wired using a Cole Hersee 2 position push pull switch.

Steve Lichtman
08-17-2010, 04:11 PM
Not to jump in on John, but I've seen the 175s set up both ways, some with a single switch, some with the two-position switch.

Also, don't forget the -D models, which were demountable with the single threaded tube with a wing nut, with the wires running through the tube, so the light could be quickly mounted/demounted on a combination coach.

Richard Vyse
08-17-2010, 04:24 PM
John... Is the Model 175 designed to have a multi position switch so you can have either the 2 red or 2 clear bulbs illuminated only, or have all four bulbs illuminated at once, depending on the switch position? I saw one car that was wired this way at the International Meet, and it was wired using a Cole Hersee 2 position push pull switch.

The 175's on my Lifeliner have a multi position switch and can operate just the reds or all four bulbs.

Steve Loftin
08-17-2010, 05:09 PM
All #175 and #176 models originally came with a three position switch: off, two bulbs, four bulbs.

Todd Merrifield
08-17-2010, 07:36 PM
All #175 and #176 models originally came with a three position switch: off, two bulbs, four bulbs.

Interesting. So that means they have two commutators in them to provide for two independent rotating circuits?

John, wasn't there also a dual color dome available so you could have two different color flashes, but with all clear bulbs?

Paul Steinberg
08-17-2010, 09:01 PM
Interesting. So that means they have two commutators in them to provide for two independent rotating circuits?

John, wasn't there also a dual color dome available so you could have two different color flashes, but with all clear bulbs?

Split color domes were an option in the polycarbonate, but today, are extremely rare to find one. A few years ago, I passed up a half red half blue plastic dome on a model 17 thinking that I would never have a use for it. Little did I even think of the police car collectors that would have wanted this item.

Doug Benson
08-18-2010, 12:11 PM
This guy will produce split domes for certain Federal beacons. Quite pricey, as you would imagine...

http://www.freewebs.com/twinsonic/federalsplitdomes.htm

Terry Cook
08-25-2010, 07:33 PM
The Montana Highway Patrol used a version of the 176 that had 2 red and two amber bulbs with a clear dome. They operated 2 at a time so you could have an amber warning or a red signal. The flash rate was a little slow though.

Bruce Oliphant
11-06-2010, 09:15 PM
All #175 and #176 models originally came with a three position switch: off, two bulbs, four bulbs.

AHA! My little mystery may be solved. I've been trying to figure out what the three position pull switch is on my dash that currently operates nothing. It's not in line with the other toggle switches operating the lights and siren but I'm sure it had to do with some light somewhere. I guess it's possible that C/B or even the buyer installed the switch for a multi-bulb Federal even though when I got the car it had a 17D on it. By the way, it now has a 176D on it with clear dome and red/cl/blu bulbs.

Kenn Evans II
11-10-2010, 11:30 AM
In talking beacons, which style would have come on my 1964 Sovereign Landaulet combination? Would like to locate one to bring one of the components back to this grand o'le lady. I only have a few screw holes in the roof and a couple of cut wires.

Robert Davidson
11-10-2010, 09:48 PM
My IH has a 174 with the two red flat and two angles clear, When I had to pull the switch to change the internal fuse in it, I noticed the switch has the two positions but theres a jumper wire between the positions so all the lights are always lit.

Bruce Oliphant
11-10-2010, 10:06 PM
In talking beacons, which style would have come on my 1964 Sovereign Landaulet combination? Would like to locate one to bring one of the components back to this grand o'le lady. I only have a few screw holes in the roof and a couple of cut wires.

My 64 Combo had a Federal model 17D on it which would be one of the period correct lights for cars of that era.

Steve Loftin
11-11-2010, 07:45 AM
My IH has a 174 with the two red flat and two angles clear, When I had to pull the switch to change the internal fuse in it, I noticed the switch has the two positions but theres a jumper wire between the positions so all the lights are always lit.

That is a #175 Strat-O-Ray.