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Pyle Gyralight

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Pyle Gyralight
Posted by Alex V. on Wednesday, January 7, 2009 3:12 PM

What was the purpose of the Pyle Gyralight on the nose of some Frisco diesels?

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Posted by Deggesty on Wednesday, January 7, 2009 4:50 PM

A light moving as the Gyralight did would get the attention of a motorist approaching a public crossing better than one that simply shone straight ahead.

Johnny

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Posted by eolafan on Wednesday, January 7, 2009 5:27 PM

Deggesty

A light moving as the Gyralight did would get the attention of a motorist approaching a public crossing better than one that simply shone straight ahead.

Johnny

Well and simply stated Deggesty...in a word SAFETY!
Eolafan (a.k.a. Jim)
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Posted by Alex V. on Wednesday, January 7, 2009 6:14 PM

What exactly does a gyralight do? Confused

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Posted by KCSfan on Wednesday, January 7, 2009 6:30 PM

Alex V.

What exactly does a gyralight do? Confused

It oscillates in a figure 8 pattern and in the process shines a light ahead and to both sides of the track. It was a much more effective attention getter than blinking ditch lights IMHO.

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Posted by henry6 on Wednesday, January 7, 2009 6:32 PM

Gyralight or Mars Light rotated its beam in a figure 8.  While it supposedly was an effective warning light for motorists and others the train approached, I would imagine that it had to have some kind of effect on the engine crew, too; lke hypnotic!  But I never heard anything  negative like that.  While most popular on E units, I believe the NKP Berks were also equiped with them.

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Posted by Modelcar on Wednesday, January 7, 2009 6:58 PM

KCSfan
It was a much more effective attention getter than blinking ditch lights IMHO.

 

Mars lights were very effective in my eyes....Used to watch the passenger trains approaching the Kingman, Az. depot {Sante Fe}, in the evening and they used Mars lights and they were very  noticable.

Ditch lights, {when blinking}, in my opinion are very noticable too, and I'd think require a lot less maintenance.  Afterall, the Mars units did have moving parts and the ditch lights just solid state electronics...Mars lights probably did attract more attention.  They would shine on buildings and trees making an unusual effect as the train approached the depot during the darkness hours.

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Posted by tree68 on Wednesday, January 7, 2009 7:04 PM

Here's a red Mars light on the rear end of a train (Amtrak, with a private car carrying the markers):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fHDKtBck6A

Here's an F3 with a Gyralight in the nose:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tm32K3zWowM&feature=related

Here's kind of a long one with SP4449, which also carried an oscillating light.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOjEjRzsniU&feature=related

But this one, using a Mars light from an emergency vehicle, probably shows it best (and also illustrates one reason why the railroads really don't miss them all that much):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huVf28Tn_pg

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Posted by Dakguy201 on Thursday, January 8, 2009 5:05 AM

Another example of a rear end light:

 

 

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Posted by jrbernier on Thursday, January 8, 2009 8:15 AM

Alex,

  Gyralites/MARS lights provide a wide 'sweeping' light pattern(either circular or 'figure 8', depending on model).  They were commonly used a a warning device on passienger trains.  Many early freight engines used them as well.  One of the problems with them was the mechanical geared movement that provided the 'sweeping' action - they ground up the gears.

  I always thought they were much better a a warning device than the roof mounted amber 'flashers'.  The current 'ditch lights' with the flashing option when the horns are sounded may be the best warning device yet.  They are low enough so that they are at motorist 'eye level'.and are really noticed.  Back in 1997, I was rail fanning with some friends and we were waiting at a grade crossing early in the morning for a WC train.  There was still some ground fog and as the SD45 approached the crossing, those flashing ditch lights really stood out!  I really like them.

Jim

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Posted by zardoz on Thursday, January 8, 2009 8:40 AM

henry6

Gyralight or Mars Light rotated its beam in a figure 8........I would imagine that it had to have some kind of effect on the engine crew, too; lke hypnotic!  But I never heard anything  negative like that.

Yes, they were hypnotic, and extremely so when there was fog, rain, or snow happening.

The oval pattern used by the Metra suburban trains has the same hypnotic effect. 

At least the systems had a switch whereby you could stop the rotation; and if you were good, you could stop the rotation at just the right time to have the (now stationary) rotating light illuminate an "object of interest".

I always thought the BCR had the best system: regular headlight above the windshield, a set of ditch lights that stayed on, and also a set of flashing (when whistling) ditch lights, for a total of 5 beams--talk about sufficient illumination!

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Posted by THE.RR on Thursday, January 8, 2009 1:31 PM

So what was the general practice -- Mars / Gyra on whenever moving, or only with the bell or whistle (an additional safety / warning)? Or did that vary by railroad?

 

Phil

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Posted by henry6 on Thursday, January 8, 2009 4:09 PM

Use probably varied from railroad to railroad.  I do know the DL&W's E8's used them while in motion unless otherwise restricted (like approaching an oncoming train).

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Posted by jrbernier on Thursday, January 8, 2009 4:12 PM

  Varies by individual rule book.  I remember we had to turn off the MARS light when in St Paul Union Depot.  Normally we turned on the unit as soon as we got our 'highball'.  I never noticed any hypnotic feeling while riding in the cab of an engine.  They would just sweep across the track.  If we had a headlight failure(rare with dual sealed beams), it was possible to stop the light with it pointing 'sorta' down at the track in a fixed position.  I remember seeing a U28B arrive with the upper headlights dead and using the white signal lamp on the nose for a headlight.

  They were not 'keyed' to the horn or bell.  Working in train service, you always 'looked up' when heard a bell start ringing.

Jim

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Posted by Alex V. on Thursday, January 8, 2009 4:27 PM

Lots of cool info here about the operation/application of these little gadgets - interesting!

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Posted by tatans on Thursday, January 8, 2009 5:55 PM

Watching one of the videos of the internals of the light and it's pattern on a wall 25' away, I would say the light did not rotate in a figure 8 pattern, but rather in a back and forth horizontal direction and a up and down motion rather like a W. I would think the mechanics to form a figure 8 motion would be far more complicated than those shown.  Try it with a flashlight.

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Posted by rstaller on Thursday, January 8, 2009 6:56 PM

coon huntin, on them long night hauls. R. Staller

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Posted by tree68 on Thursday, January 8, 2009 7:57 PM

tatans

Watching one of the videos of the internals of the light and it's pattern on a wall 25' away, I would say the light did not rotate in a figure 8 pattern, but rather in a back and forth horizontal direction and a up and down motion rather like a W. I would think the mechanics to form a figure 8 motion would be far more complicated than those shown.  Try it with a flashlight.

It's all in the gear ratios.   I think you'll find that the pattern of the emergency light looks something like this:

Where the red shows the light trace moving left to right, and the blue shows the return, right to left.  I may be off by a couple of vertical oscillations - I didn't really count the ratio well when I looked at the video.

Doing a figure eight would actually be very easy, and you'd get a perfect one every time.

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Posted by tdmidget on Friday, January 9, 2009 12:01 AM

 Under low visibility conditions such as fog or mist  the mars or gyralight was visible for at least a mile above trees or other obstructions. No way you could say you didn't see it. Of course there is no way not to see any train with regulation lighting anyway.

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