Long term use of Model 14 beacons

handcar

Newbie
Original poster
Jan 14, 2022
4
Santa Clarita, CA
Hello folks,

I figured this would be a good place to invite some advice. We operate railroad handcar tours in California and last year we rebuilt a 1970s era motorized rail car known as a speeder for service. In the process we put a Model 14 beacon as these were occasionally used on these cars and it matched the era well. Most of the time a xeon style strobe beacon was used for these pieces of equipment.

We recently acquired another motorcar and we are contemplating putting another Model 14 beacon on it as well. The pros is the light is quite helpful for tours as it allows the car to be seen from distances. It also does a great job of advertising our enterprise as the tracks border a freeway and the beacon is noticed by passing drivers that often end up booking a tour. We operate near the ocean so it is really neat looking when the fog rolls in. The downside is the beacon is on all day long and being mechanical I worry about how long it will last before it is worn out. What was the designed duty cycle of this light? I am contemplating installing a strobe on our recent acquisition instead of the rotating beacon just so I don't need to worry about finding replacements every year on ebay.

Also, I may be looking to buy another Model 14 or a strobe depending upon what we go with for the new car.

Todd Clark
Handcar Tours
 

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NIACO

Registered Member
Nov 19, 2020
19
Illinois
Keep using the old revolving beacons. Yes you may have to replace the bulbs or maybe the motor from time to time but it's really no big deal. The thing is you have a vintage beacon which is very well made by a well known company. A strobe just does not cut it as far as a true vintage look. The model 14's are getting hard to find and the prices are going up but I really think it's worth the cost. There is nothing better than the look of the old school revolving lights in my opinion.
 
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dmathieu

Premium Member
May 20, 2010
8,594
S.W. New Hampshire, USA
When you buy a 14, make sure it is an older model with the larger motor. These will last longer, and the motors can be rebuilt, should the need present itself. Stick with the 14.
Just as an FYI, strobe technology dates back to 1965 and after, by Whelen Engineering.
The Model 14 came out in 1963.
 

JohnMarcson

Site Founder
Administrator
May 7, 2010
10,370
Northwest Ohio
I see no reason to stop using these. The older style is more robust, try to get the metal bases and metal bulb holders (like pictured) if you can. They should last just fine and like it was noted bulbs are easy to buy.
 
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kadetklapp

Veteran Member
May 21, 2010
1,559
Indiana
As a major railroad enthusiast and lover of light, I agree with all advice given here. Keep the 14s. However, if the parts availability proves to be too much, I suggest getting a few Grote four-bulb or two bulb beacons to keep on hand. They are cheap and plentiful. Not as well made as the 14 but they take a beating.
 

bpollard

Member
Jun 13, 2010
368
USA, SC
Dang, I want to ride on that thing!!

These guys are right, hard to go wrong with a Federal beacon. It will last a long time, and it really is effective plus it fits that application. Federal makes rock-solid stuff
 

handcar

Newbie
Original poster
Jan 14, 2022
4
Santa Clarita, CA
Dang, I want to ride on that thing!!

These guys are right, hard to go wrong with a Federal beacon. It will last a long time, and it really is effective plus it fits that application. Federal makes rock-solid stuff
I took the advice and I purchased a NOS Model 14 on ebay. It is one of the modern ones, but if it goes out at some point I will replace it as long as I can get them. I got some extra domes now and the lamps are readily available at the auto parts store.
 

bpollard

Member
Jun 13, 2010
368
USA, SC
I took the advice and I purchased a NOS Model 14 on ebay. It is one of the modern ones, but if it goes out at some point I will replace it as long as I can get them. I got some extra domes now and the lamps are readily available at the auto parts store.

Perhaps you may consider using some form of isolator to help absorb vibration between the base of the beacon and the roof. Bulb filaments hate vibration, I imagine that might be an issue on any rail equipment. That's why stuff built for the railroad industry looks like its built to withstand a nuclear bomb
 

billforbush

Member
Jun 10, 2010
299
Northern Michigan
Perhaps you may consider using some form of isolator to help absorb vibration between the base of the beacon and the roof. Bulb filaments hate vibration, I imagine that might be an issue on any rail equipment. That's why stuff built for the railroad industry looks like its built to withstand a nuclear bomb

The Model 14 used tp come with thick rubber washers to add between the beacon and the roof. There was also a copper band that was used to keep ground consistent above and below the rubber washer. They also included a whitish push-pull switch. Awesome light.
 

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