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Semaphore Indicators

T'other day I saw that Jowett Javelin again (as reported in Unusual Sightings). Noted that it still had the semaphore signal fully functioning.

I was wondering when these finally died out and what the last car was that sported them. Suggest it may have been the Morry Minor?

Comments

THe Growler    on 28 September 2005

That'd be about right. My Dad had an A40 Cambridge vintage 1957 which still had semaphores, after which came the Farina models which boasted flashers, or winkers as they were also known. No tittering at the back please.

Tomo    on 28 September 2005

Another question. When were the first semaphores? My father's 1930 Humber did not have them, his 1938 Rover did which gives a bracket on the target, perhaps.

Tomo    on 29 September 2005

A trawl through published Lagonda photographs shows a first appearance for them in 1936.

Altea Ego    on 28 September 2005

Indeed the 195x Mg Magnette ZA had them but i think the ZB did not

My old man had both, a Magnette ZA that certainly had them becuase i remember them being sticky (a bang on the pillar to get them working or they kinda hung half out) but i dont remember having to bang anything on the ZB varitone he later had.

codefarm    on 28 September 2005


Why did cars ever have semaphore indicators? Surely a fixed flashing bulb is simpler and cheaper to make & maintain than a motorised arm.

Stuartli    on 28 September 2005

>>Surely a fixed flashing bulb is simpler and cheaper to make & maintain than a motorised arm.>>

No doubt it is, but we are talking about 40 years or more ago....:-)

Technology in all areas has moved on a little since then.

Used to have a 1960 Morris Minor in Dove Grey - delightful car but the missus did occasionally forget about the semaphore indicators when turning into our gate....:-)
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What\'s for you won\'t pass you by

PhilW    on 28 September 2005

"a bang on the pillar to get them working "
Now that brings back memories of my old Sunbeam Talbot!!
As for why semaphores not winkers - I wonder if they were seen as a mechanical arm as a replacement for hand signals and nobody had yet thought of a flashing light to do the same? Increase in car speed must be an influence - would anyone notice a semaphore these days?
First winker?? (don't go there!) - I suspect the Yanks - anyone know??
Phil

codefarm    on 28 September 2005

>>Surely a fixed flashing bulb is simpler and cheaper to make & maintain than a motorised arm.>>

>No doubt it is, but we are talking about 40 years or more ago....:-)

So the semaphores were there for aesthetic reasons then? To wean people off arm signals?

PhilW    on 28 September 2005

"aesthetic reasons then? To wean people off arm signals?"
No, just logical "instead of sticking your arm out into the rain, let's have a mechanical arm", technological progress and a simpler train of thought than "instead of winding down the window and sticking your arm out, let's have a flashing light stuck on each corner of the car"
Phil

Stuartli    on 28 September 2005

>>So the semaphores were there for aesthetic reasons then?>>

No, part of the gradual advances in technology that I mentioned. The semaphore indicators did display an orange light, an obvious safety feature during the hours of darkness when hand signals would be unlikely to be seen.

Using your logic, for instance, we would never have had tyre fitted with tubes, only tubeless tyres from the start, or TV sets would never have had black and white displays, only colour.
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What\'s for you won\'t pass you by

Pete M    on 29 September 2005

I remember in the 1960s seeing Bedford lorries (1940s vintage) with mechanical semaphores mounted on the driver's door. I think it was because the body of the lorry was much wider than the (pointy bonnet type) cab. There was a long pole with a sheet metal hand on the end. The driver tilted the pole up and could turn the hand from horizontal to vertical to show the difference between a right turn and a stopping signal. I'm not sure what they did for left turns. I bet those drivers were pleased to finally receive electric indicators.

THe Growler    on 29 September 2005

>>>>>First winker?? (don't go there!) - I suspect the Yanks - anyone know??

I would think so. My mate's 1949 Ford sedan had winkers, as did my own 1951 Chevy Fleetline. Whereas my 1955 Hold FJ in Australia had no indicators at all! But then there was only a car every 1000 km or so so it didn't matter....

By the way, when did hand signals die in the H'way Code? Remember those daft "I'm slowing down" flapping motions, not to mention the ludicrous one of "I'm turning right" with the arm crooked overhead.


pmh    on 29 September 2005

A Bang on the pillar...

Not very sticky then. I remember the best way to make it work on a 1949 MM minor was to open and slam the drivers door whilst the indicator was actuated, (while you were driving of course).
IIRC the early 2 door one had a low level indicator, the later 4 door had an arm above shoulder height, which was at least partially visible.

If you had a passenger you could even signal left turns letting him slam the lh door.


The same trick use to work with an intermittent fuel pump, slamming the pasenger door was much more effective than kicking the bulk head.
--

pmh (was peter)


L'escargot    on 29 September 2005

When I took my driving test in 1956 you were required to use hand signals even if the car was fitted with functional semaphore indicators. When did this requirement finish?
--
L\'escargot.

Cliff Pope    on 29 September 2005

When I took my driving test in 1956 you were required
to use hand signals even if the car was fitted with
functional semaphore indicators. When did this requirement finish?



Still required in 1967.

The semaphore arms on my 1947 Triumph Roadster were set low down in the door pillar, because of having no roof. When the right hand one stuck I put my arm out of the window and raised the arm manually. It wouldn't have been a good idea to open the suicide door while moving.

nick    on 29 September 2005

When I took my driving test in 1956 you were required
to use hand signals even if the car was fitted with
functional semaphore indicators. When did this requirement finish?
--
L\'escargot.

I took my test in January 1974 and IIRC the requirement for hand signals was dropped not long before.

Altea Ego    on 29 September 2005

Wasnt required in 1973

Stargazer {P}    on 29 September 2005

Hand signals not required to be used in 1983, but still in the highway code book and you were expected to be able to answer a question on them in the question session after the driving test. (This was well before a separate theory test).

StarGazer

CGNorwich    on 1 September 2009

According to this site arm signals were phased out in May 1975. They were certainly required when I took my test in 1972

www.drive2.co.uk/History_of_the_Driving_Test.htm

pmh    on 29 September 2005

www.philseed.com/austin-prefarina.html

According to the Longbridge literature the A40 (A50 & A55 - spot the inconsistencies in the marketing blurb Picture of an A55 but with no reference in the press text), had the option of semaphores or flashers from the outset in Sept 1954.

A 57 model with semaphores must have been a cheapo runout version. Or did it have flashers one side, semaphore the other? Typical Longbridge Friday car?






--

pmh (was peter)


tunacat    on 29 September 2005

My grandad's A35 van had semaphores (lit but not flashing). That was either a '57 or '59.

I too remember having to thump the pillar for him on occasions. I also remember, when sitting in the front, having to sit near the front edge of the seat in order to see over the scuttle. This meant every time he braked hardish, the seat tipped forward (no locking knob like the Marina) and I ended up in the footwell.

Little risk of going through the windscreen, then -safety for kids even in those days, see !

artful dodger {P}    on 29 September 2005

IIRC the Ford Popular from the late 50's still had semaphore indicators.


--
Roger
I read frequently, but only post when I have something useful to say.
You should learn

Stuartli    on 29 September 2005

According to the History of the Morris Minor, semaphore indicators were phased out during 1961 - mine was a 1960 1000.
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What\'s for you won\'t pass you by

madf    on 29 September 2005

In the 1930s , car electrics were very crude. Early 1930 cars had magnetos to produce sparks and control ignition with hand throttles and hand advance and retard of ignition timing. (My 1929 Riley 9 had:-) But no semaphores at all.
And 1930s dynamos were crude and early ones had no voltage regulators - to control charging currents.. so you had to switch them off at high speeds or burn out the wiring.
Driving at night was an experience.

So the idea of using a relay or any such item to control a flashing indicator was -in voluem production cars - at least the ones I knew of- not really an option becasue the basic electrical circuits were not up to snuff.
My 1937 MG TA had semaphores: high tech then.

(I hasten to add these were all student bangers - not old enough to buy new:-)



madf

THe Growler    on 29 September 2005

My 1933 Austin 10 was similar. What was funny was the dipping arrangement for the headlight(s). A solenoid caused the passenger side light to point about 15 degrees downwards, giving the front end of the car an amusing appearance.

It always reminded me of a rather louche uncle of mine winking at his pretty nieces.


Glaikit Wee Scunner {P}    on 30 September 2005

A friends 1957 Sunbeam (Talbot name omitted for that year on)has flashing side lights in lieu of trafficators.
There are still the cut-outs in the doors where the trafficators would have been the previous model year.
This is the system from new and it does pass the MOT.
--
I wasna fu but just had plenty.

Altea Ego    on 30 September 2005

"flashing side lights in lieu of trafficators"

They the ones like teddy bears ears on the "B" pillar?

Chris S    on 30 September 2005

I seem to remember the Triumph 2000 had imitation semaphor arms in its door pillars, and that was in the 1970's.

sierraman    on 1 September 2009

"flashing side lights in lieu of trafficators"
They the ones like teddy bears ears on the "B" pillar?


Are you thinking of these? tinyurl.com/ldjnc3 on the A post just under the door mirror,but they are indicators.IIRC the Anglia had indicators in the rear fins but the front had flashing sidelights,around 1966 they incorporated a seperate indicator next to the sidelight.

blodwyn49    on 1 September 2009

Just A simple question does anyone know where I can get some semaphore indicators for my Austin A30 which is still going great but the indicators are not doing so well.

1400ted    on 1 September 2009

My 52 Javelin still has semaphores and they are in good working order, giving a satisfactory ' clunk ' when operating. I did think about making them flash when they were out...not a difficult job, but never got round to it.
I have fitted Mini headlights with an integral parking light and converted the front side lights to flashers. The rear end is taken care of by 2 discreet motorcycle flashers hung under the bumper. Masking tape arrows were stuck on and the whole thing sprayed black giving a nice amber arrow when they were peeled ! They are controlled by one of those big white Lucas switches with a red flashing light in the middle. Very satisfying to use !

Blodwyn...I may have some in my spares...no promises. I'll have a look during the week and post back for you on this thread.

Ted

Lud    on 1 September 2009

I had three cars with them. Being in the central pillar the offside one at least (or nearside in my Light 15 Citroen, a left-hooker) was susceptible to manual tweaking when it got sticky as they often did. The light in them was quite faint, didn't flash and had a bulb accessible I never found out how.

The last car I had with semaphores was an R type Bentley. Most of the ones still on the road have the obvious modification of aftermarket flashers, but mine didn't

Believe it or not I managed to bend one against something in a close manoeuvre in an airport or multi-storey car park. Once you had pushed one back like that it would never work properly again, or look anything but totally carp in the worst possible way.

I was horrible in my thirties, although a few interesting things happened to me. Bending that signal was among my worse minor acts in that decade.

mike hannon    on 1 September 2009

My pal's daily driver is a 1929 Austin. When he bought it earlier this year it was fitted with flashers, suitably disguised to look more 'period' but he has now fitted semaphore indicators to make it look 'right'.
Wouldn't dare use them on their own in French (or any) traffic though.

Clanger    on 3 September 2009

The light in them was quite faint
didn't flash and had a bulb accessible I never found out how.


Grub screw in the end, lift the metal arm, lower the orange plastic and replace the vertical festoon bulb.

Can remember that tosh but can't remember my niece's "modern" name ...

blodwyn49    on 2 September 2009

Hi Ted would be very grateful if you have any, I'm starting to get a bit desperate.
Many thanks Blodwyn.

1400ted    on 8 September 2009

Just a little message for Blodwyn49.....if that's ok.
I have been unlucky in quest but may be able to get some.
Contact me direct on jowettland@ntlworld.com

Ted

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