Traffic Control and Traffic Signal Collector “Signalfan” Enjoys Unique Pursuit

July 27, 2010  |  Blog

Tower Sign and Signal, Inc caught up with John AKA – SignalFan. John is a collector of traffic signals and traffic control equipment. John resides in Iowa and has been collecting traffic equipment for almost 30 years. His website is www.signalfan.com. This Q and A session is one of many more to come. Interested in being interviewed or have questions about TSS –Contact Us.

TSS John, the obvious question to someone who has such an extensive collection of traffic signals and traffic signs is….What one is your favorite? Why?

JohnI actually have two favorites, my first is my Wiley signal from San Francisco. I love how the messages rotate with the “clunk” of the mechanical bell. My second is my Crouse-Hinds “Type D” 4-way signal with worded “command-style” lenses. I really enjoy thinking back to that earlier time when written messages, as well as color were used to convey the aspect of the signal.

TSS – What does your family think about your hobby/collection?

JohnBoth my parents and my wife are very supportive of my hobby. My parents witnessed the evolution of my hobby from a single signal to about 5 dozen in the garage and backyard. My wife has seen it grow to it’s present size of 101. She even has been so supportive, that I have been able to take over the entire 1,700 square foot basement to showcase the entire collection, “museum-style”.

TSS – Do you have any experiences with portable traffic signals? Do you happen to have any in your collection?

JohnNo, as a matter of fact I don’t at the present time. Are you interested in donating one? (laughing)

TSS – What do you think about the way traffic signal technology has evolved over since the beginning?

JohnIt amazes me how ingenious many of those first traffic signals were; with many lights, bells, and whistles to alert the motorist to the dangerous intersections. In the early years, there were several dozen manufacturers of these signals and you could tell competition was fierce through the early ads in old American City magazines. The clunky sounding electro-mechanical controllers were the workhorse for over 40 years until the invention of the microprocessor. Today, with the event of the modern computer, LED’s, and solar technology, signals have come a long way in an efficient means for moving traffic more safely and economically than ever before. Yet the signal’s message is still very basic so that the average motorist and pedestrian can understand the meaning of each aspect.

TSS – What is your most expensive signal or sign?

JohnMy Wiley signal from San Francisco, although I really got a good deal on it since there are only about 20 or so left!

TSS – How many other people do you know that collect traffic control equipment?

JohnWe have a forum online with over 200 members, most of whom collect signals. I’m sure there are more that haven’t seen the Forum or been able to connect with others yet. I know this because I constantly receive e-mails from folks that didn’t know there was anyone else that shared their interest or hobby.

TSS – Do you have any idea what your traffic control collection is valued at?

JohnI have a pretty good idea to it’s value (let’s just say a lot), but don’t want to specify an amount here.

TSS – Do you have any temporary traffic control devices in your collection, such as barricades, channelizers or cones?

JohnI do have half a dozen barricades with yellow flashers and about a dozen cones (12 & 18″). I used to have 3 channelizers, but gave them to a friend when we moved from California to Iowa.

TSS – What traffic signal are you searching for now, that you don’t currently have?

JohnI don’t have a specific in mind, but just keep my eye out for something that will spark my interest.

Thanks for stopping by John! We appreciate your information wish you best of luck with your traffic collecting hobby.


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