Obtaining retired signal equipment

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  • Member since
    February, 2008
  • From: Osage City, Kansas
  • 93 posts
Obtaining retired signal equipment
Posted by MOPACnut on Monday, July 02, 2018 10:15 AM

I keep hearing railroads won't turn old/retired signals loose to the public (and forbid scrappers from reselling them) due to some security law enacted after 9/11. I've searched high and low and have found no evidence of such a law. If there is I'd like to know where so something can be done about it (AKA petition to have it changed or eliminated).

If this is true we know what will happen to the semaphores that still exist in New Mexico. And what does it mean for individuals and museums who have some? Are we all criminals?

I preferr "Rail" over "trail".
  • Member since
    December, 2008
  • From: Toronto, Canada
  • 1,205 posts
Posted by 54light15 on Monday, July 02, 2018 12:02 PM

I don't know about signals but I did acquire a relay cabinet from a crossing on an old New Haven (later Conrail of course) line outside of Poughkeepsie, New York that was abandoned and later torn out. I contacted someone in the county office, he asked that I send him a letter requesting the cabinet and why I wanted it. To use as a garden shed, I wrote. He gave his OK so me and a couple of friends removed it and took it to my place where it may still be after almost 30 years. Damn thing was heavy! 

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  • 272 posts
Posted by Thomas 9011 on Monday, July 02, 2018 7:47 PM

I have never heard that and I have worked in two scrap yards. Railroads typically have a dedicated scrap yard where they have contracts with them. Tie plates, spikes, wheels, etc, typically go right to the steel mill in gondolas since they do not need to be processed. From what I have heard and seen old signals do not seem to be very hard to acquire. In large cities such as Chicago, Detroit, Dallas, etc I doubt if you could get any signals just because it is harder to reach people who make those descisions. But in the much smaller towns it is easier. It is not illegal to purchase or sell railroad signals as there is a constant flow of them on Ebay. You could also try to purchase them right from the scrap yard. Some will sell you anything. Some will give you the cold shoulder. If they wont sell it to you then pay a worker to get it for you. It's worked for me several times. 

As for the semaphores in New Mexico. I make regular trips to New Mexico and have talked to the signal maintaniers many times. In the past they have sold semaphores complete with the towers. They told me you had to talk to someone in Topeka, Kansas and they would sell you the semaphores for scrap value which was around 125.00 for the tower. The last time they were pulling semaphores (which was a few years ago) I tried to get one but they signal crew said "we have a old man who works for us and he has claimed them". There is still over 40 left that are still active.

Slipping somone a hundred or two is always the best way to get this stuff. I remember when Union Pacific had a old D&RGW SD45 sitting in the back of their shop. I met with the manager and asked him what they were going to do with it. He said "sell it" and "you want to buy it"? I said no but how would he feel if the marker lights dissappeared off it? He said they were not for sale but if they dissapeared he wouldn't lose any sleep over it. And away we go!

  • Member since
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  • From: Henrico, VA
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Posted by Firelock76 on Monday, July 02, 2018 7:57 PM

A few years back we were at an outdoors antiques festival and market, I believe it was Renninger's in Kutztown PA, and there was a gent selling salvaged railroad signals.  Crossbucks with lights, semaphores, old PRR position light signals, you name it.  I didn't ask where he got them from, considering the size of most of the things I wan't interested in puchasing any.  "Where the hell would I PUT that thing?"   They weren't cheap either.

  • Member since
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  • From: Central Iowa
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Posted by jeffhergert on Monday, July 02, 2018 10:22 PM

You want signals?  Take a look here.

 https://auctions.discoverlivesteam.com/signals-and-signs/?sort=02

They also have other railroad related hardware available.

I have, but don't have standing yet, an old RI TP-5 Block signal.  I bought mine from a coworker who had two. his and his late father's.  They bought them from the CNW years ago when they were upgrading some signals.  (He doesn't have his up either.)

I've heard the UP won't sell signal equipment, but not any prohibition required about those who salvage old signals.

Here's a page of what's been sold on the above site.  

https://www.discoverlivesteam.com/discoverforsale/forsale/fullscale/full-scale-sold.htm 

Jeff

  • Member since
    September, 2014
  • From: Chiloquin, Or
  • 5 posts
Posted by LOWRANZO STEVE PANZIK on Monday, July 09, 2018 6:02 PM

Had former Espee Signals lined up for donation to Train Mountain in Chiloquin, Or.

Signal Department supervisior who was handling them had to back out. Seems UP had concerns about asbestos.

Had to acquire them from a scrapper to get around UP's new policy.

Steve

  • Member since
    May, 2011
  • 4 posts
Posted by Dreamin of the CZ on Tuesday, July 10, 2018 9:43 AM
There are several semaphore signal heads sitting in the maintainers yard in Las Vegas, NM, just south of the depot... behind fence with barbed wire top.
  • Member since
    February, 2008
  • From: Osage City, Kansas
  • 93 posts
Posted by MOPACnut on Wednesday, July 11, 2018 9:26 AM

Thomas 9011

I have never heard that and I have worked in two scrap yards. Railroads typically have a dedicated scrap yard where they have contracts with them. Tie plates, spikes, wheels, etc, typically go right to the steel mill in gondolas since they do not need to be processed. From what I have heard and seen old signals do not seem to be very hard to acquire. In large cities such as Chicago, Detroit, Dallas, etc I doubt if you could get any signals just because it is harder to reach people who make those descisions. But in the much smaller towns it is easier. It is not illegal to purchase or sell railroad signals as there is a constant flow of them on Ebay. You could also try to purchase them right from the scrap yard. Some will sell you anything. Some will give you the cold shoulder. If they wont sell it to you then pay a worker to get it for you. It's worked for me several times. 

 

Slipping somone a hundred or two is always the best way to get this stuff. I remember when Union Pacific had a old D&RGW SD45 sitting in the back of their shop. I met with the manager and asked him what they were going to do with it. He said "sell it" and "you want to buy it"? I said no but how would he feel if the marker lights dissappeared off it? He said they were not for sale but if they dissapeared he wouldn't lose any sleep over it. And away we go!

 

I've heard that line about a law from civillians a couple times too. And of course Ebay rips down nearly anything railroad that doesn't have "vintage" in the title supposedly because of this law. And on a Facebook group one person who tried to contact a scrapper about some got told they couldn't sell them and it was illegal for the public to own them, so there must be something out there.

 According to a few, BNSF won't sell stuff to the public, just a scrapper (I don't know who their scrapper is for this area, but they probably won't sell. I know of one BNSF uses that won't) . Another guy in that same group said he went to their headquarters in Ft. Worth inquiring about getting some searchlights that were coming down in Texas, and all the desk guard did was get a scan of his driver's license and said the info would be forwarded. And of course he never heard back.

 

Dreamin of the CZ
There are several semaphore signal heads sitting in the maintainers yard in Las Vegas, NM, just south of the depot... behind fence with barbed wire top.
 

I remember seeing somewhere that's their parts supply for the remaining ones in service (needless to say they couldn't get parts for them from Ansaldo Stick out tongue ).

I preferr "Rail" over "trail".

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