17 vs 14

No doubt the Federal Model 17 was the most used beacon, likely ever. But the difficulty of changing the bulbs was a little frustrating, leading to the development of the model 14 design. But I was thinking about it tonight and I don't think I have ever seen a picture of a vehicle with a model 14 on it. Why did the 14 not over popularize the model 17 with it's ease of replacing the bulbs? The Visibar with Twin 11's was super popular. So this made me think:: why is the model 14 so predominant in the market if they were not used that often.

Too mulch time to think.......


Site Minion
Platinum Supporter
That is a good point... I can't think of a time where I have seen a photo with a 14 actually in service in history. Someone has to have photos!
We used a lot of them in amber. Public works. Tractors and dump trucks on the swivel bracket. Was the 14 before or after the visibar? Tons of Model 100s were used in singles. I would love to know how many of those were sold. A lot on the back of fire engines/trucks


Site Veteran
Aesthetics I presume.
You may be right. Looking at my 14 next to my 17's, it just doesn't have the same look. I think they made mistake with the short base. It looks to low profile, although it puts out the same effective light. But still, there are tons of 14's out there to buy, so somebody was using them.
Chicago Police Department used the model 14 sometime in the late 60s.
They used the model 17 and Tripp-Lite RF-6 also.
I think the model 14 was between these two or maybe after the RF-6.

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Some CPD information that might be of interest.

The CPD was using red model 17s until 1960 but because of a heavy misuse of the red lights in the metropolitan Chicago area the CPD changed to blue model 17s.

People in the metropolitan area did not care of red lights regardless if it was a police car, ambulance or a fire vehicle.

CPD also started to use the Federal Pulsator siren, P280, so their cars sounded different to other emergency vehicles.

They also started to use their blue/white checkered caps to distinct themself as police officers rather than security guards.

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Premium Member
Platinum Supporter
KY State Police used the 17 mid 50s into the 60s, then for a short period, some cars were equipped with 14s as they came into service. KSP was notoriously frugal (read: they could squeeze the buffalo off a nickel) and reused a lot of equipment (unless it was damaged beyond repair). In the 70s, a rich uncle died and they went from grey cars to white with dark blue hoods and trunk lids and all equipped with TwinSonics (and back to a PITA bulb change). That didn't last long and in the 80s, they went back to all white, then grey cars. Oh yeah, that's when they went with the Darth Vader Whelen strobe, too.

Like Chicago, KSP wanted to distinguish their cars from other emergency vehicles, so they switched to blue lights in the 60s. When other PDs and sheriffs started switching to blue, they tried to prevent them but the state legislature said no to KSP--all police will use blue lights, and blue only. It wasn't until the 90s that police could use red/blue lights.

What's interesting about the 17 and 14 is that they have the same distance between bulbs which is designed to give the flash a "flicker" effect--as the bulb passes the eye and rotates out of sight, the other bulb comes into view allowing the eye to adjust from the previous flash for a better flash effect. At least that's what the Federal rep told me in the late 60s.


Senior Member
Its a Military Spec (MS) light made by Federal Signal. Its legitimate. As far as I can tell its the same as the 17 series base, with the F2 dome. They were made in 12 and 24 volts for military and the general public. The badge is correct, unique in shape for this model light. The last number that is stamped behind the serial # indicated the color of dome. This light has a #2 which stood for red dome. The badge on your engine trucks light looks more like this shape then the usual other FS light badge, atleast thats how it looks to me. These also had 50 watt bulbs.