The Siren Board

Discussion of Outdoor Warning Systems
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 3:00 am 
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From old cut sheets I still have, circa 1970. This sheet was probably originally printed in 1950.

[from page 2]
"You never know when your next fire will be. You know that property and lives will be in danger then. That moment will call for immediate action. You will have to get your firemen together and then get them and their appiratus to that fire without one lost moment. You will have a vital need for an efficient fire alarm that will not fail you. Can you afford to rely on inadequit equipment, something new onthe market, or of cheap quality-- when you know that for more than 40 years Sterling Siren equipment has been rendering continuous unfailing service all over the world?"

Description of the Pull lever control box (hook switch)
"This is a self-winding pull lever type fire alarm box with 4 holes by which it may blow the siren 3, 6, 9, or 12 timed blasts up and down the scale. Just pull the lever down to the stop and let go. No further action is required."


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 6:33 am 
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Real Name: Ron
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
The two local fire stations that had M-10 sirens, used pull-lever boxes manufactured by Sterling in the late 1940s. Apparently, they were set up in such a way, that if you pulled down the lever to the bottom pin location, it would cycle for 12, eight second on/off cycles. However, if you pulled the lever down all the way, and kept it from moving back up, by placing the pin the last slot, the sirens would run for a four minute steady "Alert" cycle. Then the dispatcher would carefully remove the pin and let the lever move back up to it's regular position.

How was this accomplished? I always thought that pull-lever boxes would only perform a single "fire" function, not a second signal.

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Sincerely yours,

Ron W.

"When your siren's a failin', chances are it's a Whelen."


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 5:17 pm 
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I sent Adam a few pics from my old cut sheets and one of the products is the hookbox you mention. Perhaps he can insert that pic here.

I really hate to say this, BUT, you weren't supposed to pin the hook down like that.

It was a simple clockwork mechanism, spring driven motor drove a cam and a leafswitch riding the cam blew the siren 3, 6, 9 or 12 blasts.

The concept was to allow a department to employ up to 4 boxes on a system where the boxes themselves were each in a different geographic location. If the siren blew 3 times, the responding firemen all headed for that quadrant and looked for smoke. 6 blasts, 9 blasts and 12 blasts were different quadrants.

When that was designed it also replaced the original M series siren controller, and was far cheaper to install on a system. I'll have to dig up a pic of the old M series controller and send it to Adam. The original M controller, which was replaced by the TimeOMatic controller in the 50s was a MONSTER, weighing over 100 pounds, that generally wound up being placed near the machine and subjected to conditions it was never designed for.

The patterned hook box with the spring motor was a tremendous advantage if you were the man who had to install it. Once the TimeOMatic device came into play, no more mechanicle boxes were made, since they didn't sell well. The 1950s began to bring a lot of concerns into play that didn't exist before, like community safety, and not having 240 volts running around town on iron wires hanging from glass insulators.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 4:16 am 
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Real Name: Adam Pollak
YouTube Username: CrazySirenBoy
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These are the pics you sent me that I'm posting here for you:
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2008 7:35 pm 
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Ahh the sterling M.Thats the siren that traumatized me especially at 3:00 to 4:00 am for fire calls when I was young.It was about a1/2 block away from the house I lived in @ the time and man was it loud!!!! Thats the very siren that got me looking up every pole and water tower looking for sirens ,along with a 2t22 about 10 miles away,I could hear its sound carry faintly during noon testing.Tinton Falls New Jersey circa 1976.These two sirens are responsible for starting I guess a lifelong interest.......


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2008 8:48 pm 
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There are many Sterling M's still in active service in North Carolina. The M in Stoneville, NC (a fire siren) wailed away during the 1998 tornado warning many people. I have had the pleasure of being right underneath this siren one day during a fire call (it survived the tornado).


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2008 9:39 pm 
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Location: Mount Hope, KS
There is a Sterling M single-tone to the northwest of here in Haven that's been there since the 1930s. It's still very functional and is part of the town's weather warning system, which consists almost entirely of Sterling 7V8s. There is a 3T22 at the fire station but it is not part of the main system.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 3:21 am 
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OK, ONE MORE Time,
The true Sterling M was a low speed siren, with a mechanicle govenor that shut power off when the machine got to the set speed.

The only reason the H model in the pics in this thread is listed as an M is because the company was too damn cheap to reprint literature. The original cut sheet the copy I have is from was printed around 1958, and even with the printed doing his best on the pages he printed, you could see the pasteup where they just put a new pricelist over the original sheet.

Believe me, I would love to find an original M, but since I never got to even work on one in my years with Sterling, I don't think it's going to happen.

I have an H, minus tin, sitting on a wagon here, and it dates to 1934 based on the motor.
The differences in production runs of the H model are very minor, consisting only of different methods of sheetmetal manufacture and different motor suppliers. The rotors and clippers on the H are very likely identical to the original M. The controls on the original M were revised, and if I can find my pic of a belt driven controler and impose on Adam, I'll put that up here.

I've also found some pics of a handcranked, and all I can think is how lucky we were to not have all the wonderful people around who mandate safety stickers back then. World War II might have been lost by safety stickers. Just imagine, every hand cranked siren would have had a sticker saying When letting go of crank handle, make sure the siren has come to a complete stop or the handle will slap your hand hard


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 4:36 am 
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Franz? wrote:

Believe me, I would love to find an original M, but since I never got to even work on one in my years with Sterling, I don't think it's going to happen.

Some one could probably hook you up with one. Heck I would! You deserve it!

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 1:15 pm 
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Franz? wrote:
OK, ONE MORE Time,
The true Sterling M was a low speed siren, with a mechanicle govenor that shut power off when the machine got to the set speed.
Thanks for the correction. We all went by what was on manuals and literature, which basically references everything to a model M. Is there a visual way to distinguish the two? I know we have found a couple sterlings with mechanical brakes (and I believe another with solenoids). One of those was referred to as a model Y.


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