Author Topic: FDNY "VF" (Valentine Fendrich) freestanding fire alarm post  (Read 3654 times)

Offline \\-olff

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The fire alarm post that I purchased recently  arrived today a day early which is pretty cool, and it did come via Panama Transit for the last leg of the UPS Freight's trip.
 Here's some photos, and the top half IS cast-iron as I thought, despite thinking the top half might be aluminum due to the shipping weight being 200#  lower than expected, but it's all cast iron, I'm betting the scale weight is off, but then again the specific thickness of the castings could vary it possibly about that much.
 It looks at first glance as though the guarded spade handle door I have that I like best might not fit the hinge pattern, but that's just going by the fact it has 2 holes per hinge and the door the seller included as an extra has a 3 hole pattern. I have to remove the Norelco electronic faceplate and frame which the seller wants to buy back, and I'll know then if the box cast itself has a 2 hole or a 3 hole machine screw pattern for the original door. It arrived in perfect condition and was well packed by Bill at the UPSstore.
Sculptures are drawings you fall over in the dark

Offline \\-olff

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Re: FDNY "VF" (Valentine Fendrich) freestanding fire alarm post
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2015, 09:06:22 PM »
More photos
« Last Edit: June 06, 2015, 02:19:21 PM by \\-olff »
Sculptures are drawings you fall over in the dark

Offline \\-olff

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Re: FDNY "VF" (Valentine Fendrich) freestanding fire alarm post
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2015, 09:20:48 PM »
The guarded spade handle door I hoped to use for this after removing the ca 1975 Norelco electronic FIRE/POLICE faceplate and it's associated electronic box has a different hinge hole pattern- 2 machine screws per hinge while the older door the seller included and the box itself both use a 3 machine screw pattern on the door hinges. The holes are different enough they don't line up at all.
So it looks like I'll be using the unguarded spade handle door once I obtain a pair of the hinges, that may take some time.
I might be able to swop the rear door's hinges temporarily so the spade handle door is operable, and then just lock the rear door so it stays closed.

This post is pretty caked with paint that is failing, and it was coated with flat black paint too, since the top which doesn't have the black paint would look different even if the black paint was carefully removed to leave the red underneath, the door would not match anyway since it comes from a completely different post.

That means this post will be stripped to bare metal, but I don't like sandblasting metals, using a pecan or walnut shell in a sandblasting unit would be ok- soft enough it doesn't etch into the metal, but for me to haul this somewhere to have that done and leave it, and then make a second trip, pay their fee, I think I'll just strip it myself.
I could buy a small, cheap sandblaster and use pecan or walnut shells for this since I already have the air supply.
Sculptures are drawings you fall over in the dark

Offline \\-olff

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Re: FDNY "VF" (Valentine Fendrich) freestanding fire alarm post
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2015, 03:12:15 AM »
I did a little bit of work on the fire alarm post, lifting the top off so the base could be unbolted from the shipping pallet, and I added another layer of 3/4 plywood under it to spread the weight better on this plastic pallet. I also did a little "test" stripping of the paint with several methods while I wait for the tool I ordered to get here that will do the job to get most of the paint off quickly.
 While I had it apart I weighed it since I just knew the 508# shipping weight the BOL and all showed had to be way off since the first post like this I had in 1980 was as I remembered it 901#, and a couple of other people who have these have posted theirs weighed close to 800# and then this one I have now came on two pallets and one of them had packing and heavy cardboard, I figured 35# for the pallets and there was no way a number like 475# worked at all.
 I started to doubt my memory of 901# and even wondering while waiting for arrival if the top half might be aluminum, but even that doesn't work to account for that big a weight difference. As it turned out I was completely right and so was my memory from 35 years ago  of 901#, the bottom half of the post- the base weighs 468# with the doors not included, with the two aluminum access doors which weigh 14# added, the base is  482#. The one I had in 1980 had cast-iron access doors.
 The top half without the doors or guts weighs  310#, with the two aluminum doors that weigh 17# it becomes 327#,  the one I had in 1980 had cast-iron doors, that one also had a cast-iron mechanism case and right now the post I have deosn't have a mechanism yet.
 All tallied up it's 809# plus the weight of whatever mechanism and box I find for it
 The extra weight of the doors being cast-iron plus the mechanism and door bell mechanism easily accounts for the difference in weight that I remember of 901# v/s the 809#, so I'm pretty happy about remembering so mundane a detail that turned out important 35 years later.
 How they got the weight so far off is a mystery, but I'm guessing either the UPSstore just guessed, or they drove their trailer over a truck scale used for weighing 50,000# tractor trailers, being 300# off in accuracy I guess wouldn't surprise me.
 Here's a couple of photos, the fine details on one quadrant look real nice once the caked-on paint is removed, and the "property of" raised letters can be read too, they are very low relief and not especially well defined but once the post is painted the letters will be easier to see.
Sculptures are drawings you fall over in the dark

Offline \\-olff

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Re: FDNY "VF" (Valentine Fendrich) freestanding fire alarm post
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2015, 07:34:35 PM »
This VF post  has two doors and each originally had two brass hinges, but the front door doesn't have them,  the back door does but one is a little bent but can be fixed. These were sand cast and machined hinges which no one makes today.
 I looked into a bunch of hinge supply sites, including one that offers custom made hinges, none of the stock hinges even come close and the custom guy said it would take 6-8 weeks production and cost several hundred dollars each to make them.
 .
 These are extremely thick 13/64" and 1-1/2" square, I've been toying with the idea of just making replacements myself from brass bar stock, not the easiest to do but since I have used a Bridgeport mill at work I can use that with end mills and whatever else is needed to do this.
 The barrel is an issue I can buy a corner rounding over end mill to do it.
 
 I ordered a bar of brass  1/2" x 1" x 15" , and plan take down the area where the three holes are- to 13/64" and then round over the intact strip left with three passes to become the barrel, then cut that bar into 1-1/2 pieces and use the endmill to cut the center cutout on half the pieces and the two cutouts on the rest then I'll have the pieces needed. Then I'll need to drill the hinge pin hole down the centers of the barrels, and the countersunk screw holes and I have the hinges which would be the same as the  2 missing originals, and 1 damaged one, except for being milled from bar stock instead of sand cast.
 
 I need two hinges for sure, but best to make all four since one is bent anyway, that way they will match too.
 They will be painted over red like the rest of the case.
Sculptures are drawings you fall over in the dark

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Re: FDNY "VF" (Valentine Fendrich) freestanding fire alarm post
« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2015, 12:28:20 AM »
I won the complete guarded spade handle door I was looking at and it was good that I was the only bidder since I really didn't want to pay more than the guy had it up there for $575. Two other collectors had contacted him asking if he would sell parts off it and he refused. It's difficult to find just parts, so when something comes up that has the part you want or need you usually have to buy the whole assembly.
 I know exactly where this door came from- Hughes Ave and E 180th st in the Bronx, about  a block away from a public school and not far from the Bronx Zoo. It's also not very far from where my post came from under the Willis Ave bridge about 1/2 mile  South. The door is what I call a 3rd generation retrofit, it replaced most of the 2nd generations doors with the guarded style to cut down false alarms. The guard which is solid brass has an elongated oval cutout to show the "PULL" on the spade handle through it. Somehow the powers that be actually thought putting this on the doors would prevent false alarms by adding one more step.
 The same bright bulbs actually had many thousands of self adhesive signs printed up that they plastered to the sides of all the boxes back in the 60s and 70s, the last two photos show the two variations I know of. One warns of prosecution and the other uses a cartoon fox head named "Foxy the firefighter" informing the miscreants and thugs that false alarms KILL! (as if they had to be told that, and by a sticker featuring a cartoon fox head no less- how scary!)
 of course the guarded doors and the silly stickers did absolutely nothing to stem the tide of false alarms.
 The worst year was 1977, with 262,998 false alarms, each and every one of which required firemen and fire engines to go to the box.
 In 1973, hoping to reduce false alarms, the city retrofitted boxes with the police/fire intercom style doors around the city. To report a fire to dispatchers, you needed only to lift a flap and press a button. Unfortunately, pranksters liked them, too; their mischief was rewarded with a human voice at the other end. In 2003 there were about 10,159 of those and about 4,918 of the mechanical pull boxes that hadn't been retrofitted still on the city streets.
 Martin Scott was the fire commissioner named on the "Foxy" sticker, it is interesting he was only on the job for 16 months, from Aug 1964- Dec 1965, have to wonder if his brilliant foxy sticker idea was partly to blame  ::)
 Edward Cavanaugh, the commissioner named on the  very scary and intimidating  we will FIND YOU!!!  and NAIL YOUR ASS "prosecution" sticker was commissioner from January 1, 1954 December 31, 1961.

 Guess his sticker didn't work any better and Scott repeated the same mistake with his own sticker.
 Anyway, I have the door, and when it arrives it will need a complete R&R on it to clean up the windup mechanism and lubricate it, and remove the layers of paint. Now I'll only need to mill one pair of brass hinges- for the back door.


« Last Edit: June 22, 2015, 12:35:32 AM by \\-olff »
Sculptures are drawings you fall over in the dark

Offline \\-olff

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Re: FDNY "VF" (Valentine Fendrich) freestanding fire alarm post
« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2015, 12:34:08 AM »


Friday

I bought one of these tools you use in a regular drill to see how it might work removing the paint from the alarm box post, the first little test with a drill that only had about 900 or 1,000 RPM to it was very poor, but once inserted in a drill that has the recommended speed of 1600-2500 RPM it worked quite well. Hopefully with a few techniques on it  Saturday I'll get most of the paint off. It will take a combination of heat gun maybe to soften an area first to see how this tool works with that- better or worse, and stripper as well as scraping will also be needed where the tool can't get into very well. Once I get the paint off and cleaned up I can prime it, but plan to do the finish paint at home since moving it around  and getting it into my vehicle etc would likely damage a finish coat of oil paint.
 I also need to make a low profile, round dollie with 5 casters for this to be bolted onto permanently so it can be moved as needed in the room, 800+ pounds is a lot of dead weight to try and do anything with, especially on a tile floor.
 Fortunately, I planned ahead years ago when I decided to install a half ton chain hoist in my modeling studio room when I added the room on.  It is bolted into the heavy rafters with a large piece of angle iron, it's come in use lifting heavy clay models, including the large sitting winged lion which was about 600-700#, so the top of the fire alarm box 310# will be no problem for the weight or the height, the hoist is up about 11 feet, so there is plenty of room to work.
I spent about 1-1/2 hours today test removing some paint and getting ready.
Saturday

I spent 4 hours yesterday removing the paint completely off the base of the pedestal clean enough that I primed it. I also got most of the paint off the collar, there's more to pick out in the crevases and the flutes which are hard to get a tool angled well to scrap it out. The collar can be seen was cast in a mold that had at least two halves, the joint seam can clearly be seen running down the center of one of the petals.
 The collar is attached to the bottom of the box itself which was cast separately.
 The two access doors are being stripped with just stripper since the mechanical tool or wire wheel would damage the soft aluminum.
 "Property City of New York 1929" can be more easily seen on the base now, the letters are very low relief. Overall the casting itself is very good, with very few flaws and virtually no corrosion of the metal whatsoever. A small amount of surface rust was up near the collar where the upper section fits into the pedestal, but not what could be called corrosion. The post was kept painted over the years and probably more than anything else the red lead primer was what really protected the metal.
 To-morrow I hope to finish cleaning up the top and torch and priming that, I did not take the paint off the front door, at least not today- as it looks like I possibly might get that other door which is complete, if so that will be the one that gets installed after cleaning, lubricating, stripping and repainting it, I'll know on that to-morrow evening.
Sunday

After 3-1/4 hours today I have the post stripped and primed except for the front and rear doors, but the front door may be swopped with another one as I mentioned, when I know about that tonight then I'll know which one gets stripped along with the back door next weekend. So far it took 8-3/4 hours to  get this far, cleaning up the two doors will probably take that to 10 hours total.
After I get it home is when I'll apply the top coats of oil based paint.
So far it took 8-3/4 hours to get the paint all off and the post primed.
Sculptures are drawings you fall over in the dark

Offline \\-olff

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Re: FDNY "VF" (Valentine Fendrich) freestanding fire alarm post
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2015, 12:40:34 AM »
0.500" x 1.000" x 3.25" (4 pieces, 1 shown)

 leaded brass bar stock to make 2 custom-made hinges from.
 Long blue area will be milled down leaving 13/64" thickness, while the smaller blue areas will be milled completely through. The piece will then  have a corner rounding over end mill making 3 passes to round over the green corners down the length, this is the hinge pin barrel.
 Next, the bar will be cut in half making the left and right half of one hinge, then the hinge pin hole will be drilled, and the countersunk machine screw holes.
 I will be working on this over a weekend soon, I still need to order a corner rounding over end mill yet to round over the hinge pin barrel, but I want to get the bars milled to thickness to start with, that's one setup, the other operations will each require their own setups.



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Offline \\-olff

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Re: FDNY "VF" (Valentine Fendrich) freestanding fire alarm post
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2015, 03:58:52 PM »
After getting the post home and set up on a rolling platform made for it, I applied the finish coats of red paint to it.

I like this shade of red and the level of gloss is good, what I did was mixed Sherwin Williams satin Cherry Tomato SW 6864  with their gloss Real Red, SW 6868 about 50/50 and it cut that excess glossiness down the Real Red had, and since the Cherry Tomato is a little darker with no hint of purple or magenta the color is better too.

The satin was too flat and the gloss was objectionably shiny, there was also something about the Real Red I wasn't happy with, it had a very slight purple-ish or magenta hint to it, while I thought the Cherry Tomato used on another box was just a little dark even if the red was good and i wanted to go slightly lighter, so the Real Red looked like it would do it but after using it I didn't care for it. You look at the two chips side by side and they look virtually identical, the difference is so minute but once painted on it changes a bit from the color chips.

The front door for it is supposed to be here tomorrow

Sculptures are drawings you fall over in the dark