Copied from the original undated article, which is too worn to risk posting, the following was sent to me in the 1980's. I regret that I don?t have the diagram which shows the housing mentioned in this article.
As with many other inventions, the revolving warning light so widely used on emergency vehicles began as something else.
In 1945, sirens, some with a forward-shining light, were considered the ultimate in emergency vehicle warning systems. One of their major flaws, especially in northern climes, was that the rotor could not overcome accumulations of ice and snow, and the rotor could not overcome accumulations of ice and snow, and would freeze. Mr. Earl Gosswiller, an engineer at the then-Federal Electric Co., believed the problem could be solved with a bell-shaped housing placed over the siren in an inverted position within a metal housing with an opening at the bottom, which allowed the sound to be transmitted.
The next problem was to incorporate a flashing light into the water-resistant siren. Mr. Gosswiller developed a rotating bell-shaped housing which had two automotive spotlights inside. The rotating lamps gave a flashing signal in all directions, like a lighthouse, rather than just a single flashing light pointed in one direction, but the idea was not well-received and the whole concept sat dormant.
Mr. Gosswiller knew the idea was good, and he set out to prove it. About a year later, a prototype of the revolving emergency signal, called the Model 17 Beacon Ray, was finished. It was readily accepted when introduced in 1948. With minor modifications, it is still being sold today. Its success is due to eighty explosive flashes per minute, an electrifying high-intensity, short-duration flash not approached by common flashing signals.
In 1961 Mr. Gosswiller conceived the idea of mounting an electronic siren speaker in the center of a bar and a rotating light at each end of the bar. This arrangement permitted 360-degree coverage by the lights with no blockage by the speaker, allowed unobstructed sound from the speaker, and the entire assembly could be clamped to a vehicle?s drip rail without drilling holes. The Federal Model 11 Twin Beacon Ray was developed from this concept, and introduced in 1962.
Mr. Gosswiller noticed that some of the light at the end of the bar was randomly reflected from the chrome-plated center-mounted speaker. In 1967 he devised a set of mirrors, arranged along a parabolic curve, to reflect the wasted light toward the front or rear of the vehicle. A plastic housing was designed to protect the mirrors from weather and dirt. This light bar, the Model 12 TwinSonic, was introduced in 1968 as the first enclosed light/sound system.
In the mid-70?s, fuel shortages and rapidly rising fuel costs resulted in aerodynamic tests being conducted on lightbar-equipped vehicles. These bars caused considerable drag and increased fuel consumption. In 1977, Federal introduced the Model 24 AeroDynic light/sound system. It was the first streamlined lightbar with a substantial reduction in drag over the previous square, box-like shapes.
In closing, it all started in a Chicago snowstorm with a better way to keep the old mechanical siren from freezing. Today, the vehicular revolving light is used on every continent.
As for Mr. Gosswiller, he received a BSME degree from Armour Institute of Technology (predecessor to Illinois Institute of Technology) in 1934. He joined Federal Electric Company in 1943, and was a project engineer, chief engineer, vice president of engineering, and vice president of advanced engineering. He holds numerous patents in the visual and audible signaling field.?
I just look, stand still and gawk. He looked, grabbed a pencil & made history.
Last edited by fyrboy on Sun Mar 23, 2014 7:21 pm, edited 4 times in total.