Railroad lights, what do I have?

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Help please.

Hope these photo's show up(?)
Can you tell me what this is. A woman sold them to me saying her husband worked for railroad and had this. I've got $10 in it and I'm curious?



Not sure of the manufacturer, but they are the lens units for a block signal. The yellow lens in called an outer doublet because the fresnal edges are on the outside of the curve. the clear lens is an inner doublet, I think. The lenses are worth about $20 apiece or more depending on who wants them. They would make a great lamp.
Thank you for responding.
Having no background in railroading I'm confused as to what a 'block signal' is.
Incidentally, I have three of these light units, two have amber inner lenses and one has red. The outside lens of all three is white or better: clear.
Is the block signal the multi lens tower unit that had a small arm on the side that moved? More information please.
Thank you, Bob


This a picture of block signals on an old railroad in Kansas. A block signal is similar to a traffic light for trains.

Signals in Place.jpg
Thank you for the good information. It's becoming more clear to me.

Is there any way this set of three lights was used as a unit? Amber, Amber, and Red are the choices I have. They can not be changed except for on and off. I'm thinking about making new surrounding targets and mounting them on a pole for my shop. Naturally having them light up. Would this make sense to a railroader?

Thank you, Bob


Possibly. If one the ambers was hooked to a flashing circuit. More than likely the third one was green. Green lenses are available on the internet, you just have to get the correct diameter. As far as having them light up in your shop that would a good thing to do. If you mount them vertically remember the red light is on the bottom unlike traffic lights. Have fun with them. With all the new government regulations that type of signal is pretty much obsolete. It was a good purchase.
Sorry for the delay, but I've been working on the block lights. I'm almost to the stage where I need to know how to arrange the lights on a pole. I found a green lens so I plan to put that light unit on top. Amber light next down, and a red at the bottom. Is this correct: Green light on steady (not flashing) at top, Amber in the middle flashing, and the Red light on the bottom on steady? That would be all three lights illuminated, but the center Amber light flashing. Correct??? Please reply. Thank you for past guidance and I'll send more photo's as I get close. Bob, Council Bluffs, Iowa


Yes. Green on top (steady), Yellow in the middle either flashing or steady and red on the bottom steady. If you are electronically savvy, you could have them sequence thru G, Y flash, Y, R with 1 on at a time just for fun. Targets and lens hoods should be flat black. Back can either be silver or black. Tom


Normally a 3 light signal with 3 separate light units would have a single large target. You did such a great job with the round targets, that they will look just great on a pole.
I took the liberty of the 3 separate targets from the Canadian Railway Face Book posting above. I won't be able to space them out as much as is pictured. I want to mount them on a pole similar to the railroad crossing lights I'm working on. Bob, Council Bluffs, IA


Locomotive Engineer!!!
Also, you won't see them all the lights lit up at once. Plus the red can also be flashing which signifies Restricted Speed. The definition of that speed is a speed that would allow you to stop in half the distance from train, engine, railroad cars, men and equipment or improperly lined switch watching out for broken rails or obstructions (triggered slide fences will give us that signal). For my railroad, not to exceed 20 MPH.
Please tell me more. As of now, the plan was to use what Tom suggested (from above):

"Yes. Green on top (steady), Yellow in the middle either flashing or steady and red on the bottom steady. If you are electronically savvy, you could have them sequence thru G, Y flash, Y, R with 1 on at a time just for fun. Targets and lens hoods should be flat black. Back can either be silver or black." Tom

I think this is possible with a standard traffic light circuit adding a 4th circuit with flasher for the flashing amber. This would give a lot of light show drama.

How would the flashing Red sequence proceed? Is it Green steady on/off. Then, flashing amber on/off; Then steady amber on/off; Then red Flashing on/off; Then repeat??? I could use some more information. If it is just a steady flashing red light, I would probably need to go with the use of three lights just for the effect.

Thank you for the information provided. With out the expertise offered I would be lost. Bob, Council Bluffs, IA


Locomotive Engineer!!!
Flashing red then solid red since solid red of an absolute signal means STOP which would be the exact opposite of green GO. If you watched the tutorial, it probably told you on a single signal mast: High Green which is called "CLEAR" = proceed at maximum authorized speed. Flashing Yellow on our railroad is "Approach Medium" = proceed prepared to pass next signal at 30 MPH if proceeding on diverging route prepare to not exceed maximum speed through turnout. Yellow is "Approach" = proceed prepared to stop at next signal if exceeding 30 MPH immediately reduce to that speed. Already talked about flashing red as "Restricted Speed" and the requirements of that. Solid Red is simply STOP for an absolute signal such as at a control point or movable bridge block signal, BUT for an intermediate signal that has a number plate on the signal post then it becomes proceed at "Restricted Speed" again and you don't have to stop.

Now concerning that Canadian Railway signal mast you want to somewhat copy, it is much more complicated than you think. Each of those 3 signals can be any color! They have a steady white light shining through a movable wheel with Green, Yellow and Red lenses on each of the three targets. Those signals are called "Search Light" signals and the ones I see every day are "Tri Light". I am qualified Canadian rules and it would take quite a bit of typing to go over every different signal combinations and the different speeds for each which is not the same as in most of the US or most importantly for my railroad, BNSF, which I operate on. We do go up to Vancouver, Canada and operate on Canadian railways tracks so we have to know the signal differences. Most Tri Lights are mounted right on top of each other and don't have a round shield for each, they are square but have a rectangular hood rounded on the top which covers all three signals aspects at once to minimize sun glare. The hood is tapered to be longer on the top than on the bottom and opened on the bottom. Take a look at the signal tutorial you should see an example.
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Just a quick look at my railroad crossing light recently finished. (Block Lights later... Thank you for the good advise)[video]MVI_2144[/video]
Bob, Council Bluffs, IA

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