South Bend Signal Co. automatic semaphore signal

1:26-scale semaphore
South Bend Signal Co. semaphore
Kevin Strong
1:26 scale, automatic semaphore signal
South Bend Signal Co.
2303 Creek Rd.
Niles MI 49120
Price $60

Large-scale semaphore; actuated by infra-red light; no wiring necessary. Dimensions: Height, 10"; width, 1"; length, 2½"

Pros: No wiring necessary; easy installation on any railroad

Cons: Cabinet may not be waterproof for permanent outdoor installations
South Bend Signal Co. semaphore
Kevin Strong
I recently reviewed South Bend Signal's LED searchlight signals. They company has now added a semaphore signal to their line, which is identical in operation to their earlier signals. It's powered by a 9V battery that is housed in the "cabinet" portion of the signal. There's an on-off switch and an infra-red light and receiver that faces the track. A passing train reflects the IR light to the receiver, which triggers the signal. When that happens, the semaphore rotates down to the horizontal position and the light shines red. A few seconds later, the semaphore raises to the 45°/yellow-light position, then, a few seconds after that, raises to the vertical/green position, where it stays until the train approaches again. This system requires no extra wiring; it's simple animation for the railroad. Alas, there's no way to tie the signal into a block wiring system.

The signal itself is well made. It stands around 10" tall and is painted silver. At the top is a micro servo that controls the position of the semaphore arm, which is cast resin with red, yellow, and green lenses glued into it. A small LED shines through these lenses to provide the light.

My biggest concern with this signal is how weatherproof it might be. It may be weather resistant, but water has a way of finding its way into any little opening. If I were going to leave these signals out all the time, I'd be tempted to put some silicone sealer in any openings to keep the water out. This is something to consider, depending on how you intend to use them.

The scale of this signal is listed at 1:26, but it should fit in well with any of the common scales we run in the garden. It's a bit short for 1:20.3 but most narrow-gauge railroads didn't use semaphore signals, so that's not really a concern.

This signal is a nice addition to South Bend's product line. I like the animation as the train passes-it kind of makes me wish my railroad actually used signals.


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