Author Topic: Gamewell/FDNY inner box  (Read 1139 times)

Offline \\-olff

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Gamewell/FDNY inner box
« on: November 29, 2015, 10:31:23 PM »
I managed to acquire this box, it's very rare in that it was made by Gamewell  and in the aluminum case that Stewart Steel Products used for their version. I've never seen one but have heard they existed. The city used several suppliers over the decades for their fire alarm boxes but they were all custom made for the city from city owned patterns and specs which makes them unique and rare. This one also has the heavy glass cover which is impossible to replace or find for sale by itself for obvious reasons. I need two inner box mechanism  like this to complete two boxes I have that have no inner mechanism.

A comparison of the Gamewell version with the Stewart Steel Products version, the latter was the only style like this I  was aware of and in fact as soon as I saw the photo of the outer door I initially pegged it for a Stewart Steel box. There's a major difference in the design of the  brass windup mechanisms though the winding stem is in about the same location.
The aluminum shell is the same, right down to having the  door and shell parts stamped FDNY and a number, since it was cast by an aluminum foundry using the same pattern. The DC + and - lugs and door contact, grounding bar are essentially the same, the electromatic tapper is slightly different but otherwise the same. The black  mounting board is identical.
The glass bowl covers are held in differently and one has a slot for the activator handle while the other has a hole. I believe the  flower shaped wheel left of the black winding knob is the winding stop mechanism designed to prevent overwinding of the main spring. The Stewart mechanism and other Gamewell models use a different mechanical method to do the same thing.
Sculptures are drawings you fall over in the dark

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Re: Gamewell/FDNY inner box
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2015, 10:33:27 PM »
I took the mechanism out of the case, basically it's in such good, mint condition there's nothing to do to it other than lubricating the pivots with clock oil. I removed the back of the back black base to see if like my other two have- a FDNY repairman had made a notation and date in there about replacing the spring, but there was none.  I took some pics before I reassembled it back into the case, I also cleaned the glass bowl and moved the counterweights out on the  escapement arms so it will run slower, it seemed to run awfully fast!
 This is a very high quality mechanism, made back in the day when Gamewell used heavy brass plates and brass on almost every part, that's one of the nice things about these older models the newer 1940 era models totally  lack with their aluminum and plastic replacing brass, porcellain and glass.
 Now that I have this "extra" mechanism to install in one my exterior shells that had none, I decided to install it in my VF pedestal and take out the newer Hornic Signal mechanism and install that in one of the two O'Brien shells I have that had no mechanisms in them. So now I have a much more appropriate original style mechanism for the VF pedestal where it fits perfectly as shown in one of the photos here. This or the almost identical Stewart Steel Products is the exact type of mechanism the VF had in it when it was made in 1929, the newer Horni Signal model was an updated replacement for these in the mid 30s. Amazingly some of these older models survived into the mid 1970s in use, and there may be a handful left in Brooklyn that had never been replaced. But when you figure most of these 1920s models were replaced in the 1930s and 1940s, it's amazing any survived at all.
 I did find a patent that matches the date Feb 11, 1919 for this, funny enough it's for the contact IN the mechanism, but they stamped the mechanism itself with the patent basically trying to fool competitors by making it look like they had  claimed a new patent on the entire mechanism! What a scam, just add some little nonsense part new to an already old patented mechanism and make it look like it's a brand new patent.
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Re: Gamewell/FDNY inner box
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2015, 10:44:42 PM »
Now I needed to look in more detail about replacing missing code wheels with custom made ones, I found a possible solution. I generated a CAD drawing for the wheel I need for this mechanism now that it's in my VF pedestal which has the number 4788 on the door plate, it took some time to do the drawing from measurements, but now I'll know in maybe one week or so if this idea works.

I'll see how the code wheel looks when it gets here, it will be brass like the originals, same thickness etc, it will need a littl work at my end on it to finish it, but if this looks good and works properly I should be able to make them for other collectors who lack one or can't find one to match a number plate.

That's been the biggest headache- you almost can't find matching sets of code wheels AND door plates, and the odds of finding one to match an existing one of the other that you have is nil. Since both the door number plates and the code wheels were one offs there is no quantity discount out there for making replicas.

I was looking into buying a new cast aluminum door plate with the number I needed and in the FDNy style, but the guy said he made so few of that style and no he didn't have ANY photos of the ones he made, so I gave up on that one!

So far it seems no one has taken the bull by the horns on this problem so I guess I'll be the one.
Sculptures are drawings you fall over in the dark