Whelen ROTA-BEAM Family History

cmb56

Member
I am not so sure about that it should be anything that was used as standard for funerals back in the 50s or even the 30s.

I believe it to be a newer thing.

My guess is that you used a colour that was available in the state for this purpose at the time.

I have a model 17 lens and model 121 lens in purple and no one talked about funeral lights when I bought these from Federal in the 80s.

Michael
 
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dmathieu

dmathieu

Premium Member
Nope, not a newer thing to use purple for the funeral industry.
1. See the above 1930s-1940s light in purple FUNERAL.
2. The funeral flags/banners used for many years in funeral procession, yep, purple.
3. In 1956 when the Fire Ball came out, for a short time purple/magenta domes were offered in a funeral supply magazine. (I wish I could find one.)
4. For many years, purple has been considered a color of mourning.

Although not universal, purple lights have traditionally been used for the funeral industry in the USA and Canada.
Before the 1940s the only color readily available for emergency lights was red. Once other colors became easier to manufacture, they took on particular generally accepted meanings. One of those generally accepted meanings, purple/funeral.
 

cmb56

Member
OK.
Good to know.
It was only a guess of mine because personally I have only seen the purple funeral light in later years.

Michael
 
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dmathieu

dmathieu

Premium Member
BETTER THAN I COULD HAVE HOPED!!!!
NOS 1st Whelen Automotive Light ROTO-BEAM RB10 BLUE
This is the darkest blue that I've ever seen, with a purple look from some angles. The pictures do not do it justice. This is Whelen's first stab at blue domes.View attachment 219985View attachment 219986View attachment 219987View attachment 219988View attachment 219989
Shipped from Joliet, Illinois to Undertaker's Supply Co. Pennsylvania on 7/26/55 or 56.
Included original shipping box, storage can, instructions, brochure, and newspaper packing.
Definitely one of my rarest RotO-Beams
 

stansdds

Veteran Member
The Whelen Roto-Beam Commander was interesting. As good as the Federal Signal 174 Super Beacon Ray was, the RB Commander might have actually been more effective, especially with alternating colored and clear bulbs. I'm guessing by their scarcity that the RB Commander was no where near as popular as the Federal Signal beacons.
 

JohnMarcson

Site Founder
Administrator
The Whelen Roto-Beam Commander was interesting. As good as the Federal Signal 174 Super Beacon Ray was, the RB Commander might have actually been more effective, especially with alternating colored and clear bulbs. I'm guessing by their scarcity that the RB Commander was no where near as popular as the Federal Signal beacons.
It was one of the first lights to allow separate colors (based on degrees of sweep) to the front, side and rear. I just added a NOS clear dome one mine. The larger sweep of the commander made it superior to the 174 imho. You could do red/clear to the front and red/amber to the rear with the clear and amber overlapping the sides. I have convinced myself I have the only one left. Someone prove me wrong. I don't know of any other examples left than mine.
 
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stansdds

Veteran Member
It was one of the first lights to allow separate colors (based on degrees of sweep) to the front, side and rear. I just added a NOS clear dome one mine. The larger sweep of the commander made it superior to the 174 imho. You could do red/clear to the front and red/amber to the rear with the clear and amber overlapping the sides. I have convinced myself I have the only one left. Someone prove me wrong. I don't know of any other examples left than mine.
Never seen one on eBay and you can find all sorts of stuff there. I think Federal Signal had so saturated and dominated the emergency beacon market by the time Whelen joined the party that Whelen simply could not out compete Federal Signal. What Whelen had that Federal Signal did not offer were the compact beacons, Corporal and RB-66, and strobes. Whelen really dominated the strobe market for a long time before Federal Signal tried to get in on that action.
 

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