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107 year old fire siren.

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AC WD45 View Drop Down
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Joined: 28 Sep 2009
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    Posted: 02 Apr 2024 at 8:30pm
At the turn of the 20th century, steam was king in the world of allerting communications. That would all change in January 1915, when the Dillon-Box Iron Works company would introduce the electric motor driven "Denver Siren" to the world. Invented by company co founder William A Box, the siren came in 4 sizes, one small and one large 2 horsepower siren, and the larger 3 and 5 HP Duplex and Quadruplex models respectively.

Unknown to William at the time, his new invention would pave the way for over 100 years of allerting communications. The siren was an instant success, and by 1920 was in use in over 300 communities across the country, aswell as Europe, Australia and South America.

To efficiently mass produce and market these sirens, contracts were written with Hendrie and Bolthoff MFG and Supply Co of Denver, Northwestern Fire Apparatus of Spokane WA, American La France Co of NY, and Woodhouse Manufacturing Co, also of New York.

Today, there are about 50 of these sirens remaining, with numbers rapidly declining with each passing year.

This particular "Quadruplex " model siren was saved from forgotten neglect in Albertson, North Carolina after serving for several decades as the village fire siren.

I had this massive 6' long 2' wide siren shipped to Michigan LTL last year, and began the restoration process. I have sourced a 5hp, 3 phase 1750rpm electric motor, as was standard for this model. The rearward fan has suffered some pretty bad hub damage, and will be sent off to a machine shop to have the broken area repaired.















Edited by AC WD45 - 02 Apr 2024 at 8:38pm
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1957 Allis Chalmers WD45
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1951 Allis Chalmers WD
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ACinSC View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ACinSC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Apr 2024 at 5:16am
Interesting, Thanks for sharing
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ac hunter View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ac hunter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Apr 2024 at 10:59am
That seems to be a really unusual and rare piece of machinery to restore. Glad you were able to save it. Hope you will give us updates on your work, with pictures of course. Thank you for sharing your project with us.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DaveKamp Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Apr 2024 at 9:12pm
Way cool!

The operation of the siren is deceptively simple.  There's a squirrel-cage blower fan... centrifugal blower, spinning inside a drum with holes cut in it.  As airflow is thrown outward, it compresses against the drum, but pressure is released suddenly when the vane passes a hole.  Make all the vanes line up with holes at the same time, and you have a siren.

Same technology is still used today... dead simple, incredibly effective and efficient.

If you stumble across more that need rescue and adoption, send me a note... I need another oddity like I need a hole in my head, but I'm always a sucker for rescuing history.
Ten Amendments, Ten Commandments, and one Golden Rule solve most every problem. Citrus hand-cleaner with Pumice does the rest.
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AC WD45 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AC WD45 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Apr 2024 at 3:55pm
Originally posted by DaveKamp DaveKamp wrote:

Way cool!

The operation of the siren is deceptively simple.  There's a squirrel-cage blower fan... centrifugal blower, spinning inside a drum with holes cut in it.  As airflow is thrown outward, it compresses against the drum, but pressure is released suddenly when the vane passes a hole.  Make all the vanes line up with holes at the same time, and you have a siren.

Same technology is still used today... dead simple, incredibly effective and efficient.

If you stumble across more that need rescue and adoption, send me a note... I need another oddity like I need a hole in my head, but I'm always a sucker for rescuing history.


Dave, I am currently working to secure units in Canova, South Dakota, Lebanon, Kansas, McGrew, Nebraska and Round Up, Montana.
German Shepherd dad
1957 Allis Chalmers WD45
#WD234847
1951 Allis Chalmers WD
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Walker View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Walker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Apr 2024 at 6:41pm
For $20.00 and a trip to ebay you can get a Chinese small version sort of equal to a car horn. I mounted one on my side x side that brings people out in their yards to see what''s coming down the road before I get there. One the size you are talking would need to have a built in lawyer.


Edited by Walker - 05 Apr 2024 at 7:00pm
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AC WD45 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AC WD45 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Apr 2024 at 8:59pm
Typically so long as you abide by county testing policy, or don't have neighbors, and notify central dispatch in the event someone does call, nobody minds much.

I'd think a golf cart would be a bit small for this big boy. The pics are deceiving, it is 6 feet long, 2 feet wide and weighs every bit of 2000# with a motor. Interestingly, about 50% of that weight is in the cast iron base!
German Shepherd dad
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1951 Allis Chalmers WD
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Walker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Apr 2024 at 9:48pm
Crank it up at the  same time for a few days and tell everybody it's a public service maybe. And it's time to ? Fill in the blank.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jaybmiller Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Apr 2024 at 6:28am
NEAT !!
Sure hope is really,really well balanced ! Even a 1000# base might not keep it all together if it gets up to speed and 'wobbles' too much.
Kinda wonder how loud it is , in decibels ?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote WF owner Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Apr 2024 at 7:02am
I know it's a terrible picture, but this is our local fire siren. It is attached to a warehouse that I bought several years ago. It is 3 phase (I believe 10 hp.). The building was built in the early 1960's. I have no idea if the siren was new then or moved from a previous location (which I suspect).

The warehouse was owned by a local slipper manufacturer (Shield's Slipper, which later became Bombay Slipper, then Wolverine Worldwide). 

As a kid, we lived about 3 miles from the slipper factory. I can remember the siren blowing every morning at 7:30 (start of work), noon (lunch time), 12:30 (end of lunch) and 4 PM (quitting time). Even though we were 3 miles away (by road), we could clearly hear the siren.

The siren is still in use (much to my wife's dismay). It will have a home as long as I am alive.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sho-man1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Apr 2024 at 7:41am
That is interesting alarm device. I am partial to the Victory Bell siren. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Pat the Plumber CIL Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Apr 2024 at 12:11pm
Bring that to Hutch and fire it up at noon
You only need to know 3 things to be a plumber;Crap rolls down hill,Hot is on the left and Don't bite your fingernails

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote plummerscarin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Apr 2024 at 12:14pm
Originally posted by Pat the Plumber CIL Pat the Plumber CIL wrote:

Bring that to Hutch and fire it up at noon

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hubert (Ga)engine7 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Apr 2024 at 6:36pm
Thanks for sharing an interesting piece of history. The tornado siren at our fire station is electric motor driven but is only activated by dispatch. I like the Federal Q's mounted on the front bumper of the fire engines, especially when you can sneak up behind a gaggle of bicyclists taking up the whole lane and wind them up good along with a few good blasts of the air horns.
Just an old country boy saved by the grace of God.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AC WD45 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Apr 2024 at 10:10pm
Originally posted by WF owner WF owner wrote:

I know it's a terrible picture, but this is our local fire siren. It is attached to a warehouse that I bought several years ago. It is 3 phase (I believe 10 hp.). The building was built in the early 1960's. I have no idea if the siren was new then or moved from a previous location (which I suspect).

The warehouse was owned by a local slipper manufacturer (Shield's Slipper, which later became Bombay Slipper, then Wolverine Worldwide). 

As a kid, we lived about 3 miles from the slipper factory. I can remember the siren blowing every morning at 7:30 (start of work), noon (lunch time), 12:30 (end of lunch) and 4 PM (quitting time). Even though we were 3 miles away (by road), we could clearly hear the siren.

The siren is still in use (much to my wife's dismay). It will have a home as long as I am alive.




WF owner, that is a Sterling model M siren built by Stelring Siren Fire Alarm in Rochester, NY. Judging by the vented horns, this unit was built after 1928. They made that model of M from 1919 until the 1960's at least. Sterling Siren Fire Alarm was a direct competitor to Dillon Box Iron Works.
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1957 Allis Chalmers WD45
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1951 Allis Chalmers WD
#WD88193
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AC WD45 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AC WD45 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Apr 2024 at 10:11pm
Originally posted by Pat the Plumber CIL Pat the Plumber CIL wrote:

Bring that to Hutch and fire it up at noon


Would need high amp 3 phase 220 on site to run it. Though, with their approval I would.
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AC WD45 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AC WD45 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Apr 2024 at 10:13pm
Originally posted by jaybmiller jaybmiller wrote:

NEAT !!
Sure hope is really,really well balanced ! Even a 1000# base might not keep it all together if it gets up to speed and 'wobbles' too much.
Kinda wonder how loud it is , in decibels ?


The rotating assembly is machine balanced as a unit. Only spins about 1750 RPM. It will be bolted to a wheeled cart once finished to make loading it on a trailer easier.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ray54 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Apr 2024 at 8:55pm
Originally posted by Hubert (Ga)engine7 Hubert (Ga)engine7 wrote:

Thanks for sharing an interesting piece of history. The tornado siren at our fire station is electric motor driven but is only activated by dispatch. I like the Federal Q's mounted on the front bumper of the fire engines, especially when you can sneak up behind a gaggle of bicyclists taking up the whole lane and wind them up good along with a few good blasts of the air horns.


LOL Your my kind of guy.Clap Love to be a passenger with you. Wink Maybe turn the fire hose on them to cool them as we go by.LOLLOL


Edited by Ray54 - 07 Apr 2024 at 8:57pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote scott Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Apr 2024 at 11:30am
A guy needs to touch off that mega siren Mid-Eclipse for the neighbors enjoyment!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hubert (Ga)engine7 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Apr 2024 at 6:54pm
Originally posted by scott scott wrote:

A guy needs to touch off that mega siren Mid-Eclipse for the neighbors enjoyment!

Clap Thumbs Up Scott, I like the way you think!
Just an old country boy saved by the grace of God.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ted J Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Apr 2024 at 1:17am
Originally posted by Hubert (Ga)engine7 Hubert (Ga)engine7 wrote:

Thanks for sharing an interesting piece of history. The tornado siren at our fire station is electric motor driven but is only activated by dispatch. I like the Federal Q's mounted on the front bumper of the fire engines, especially when you can sneak up behind a gaggle of bicyclists taking up the whole lane and wind them up good along with a few good blasts of the air horns.
  The only problem with them is that they are slow to 'wind up'.  I like the air horn....and now I wonder WHY I'm almost deaf?!?!  Those old federals could put out a LOT of LOUD noise...
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