Animated Antiques

Harrington fire alarm box, closed

As a restoration example, the pictures above and below show a Harrington Signal Company telegraphing fire alarm call box from the early part of the last century. These were typically mounted on poles and allowed the local population to report fires and summon fire fighting services. This was done by lifting the white cover door and pulling the handle down, which triggered the internal telegraph mechanism to send the box location code to the central office. Also inside is a telegraph key and sounder bell to allow fire fighting personnel communication with central dispatch (this was the age before two-way radio, remember).

Harrington Fire alarm box, inside view

Now, when the handle is pulled, the device flashes a red lamp mounted above the call box with the telegraph code for the box.

When the box is opened, you may operate the telegraph key and hear the bell sound.

Harrington Fire alarm box, inside close-up

The picture below shows the custom mounting tray fabricated to hold the control circuitry, under construction. This tray hides inside the upper head of the call box, out of sight and away from contact with the user.

Circuitry tray

Because the original circuitry of the call box was exposed, the new control wiring is done using low voltage methods so that contact with it is safe, allowing the user to enjoy operating the box without fear of electrical shock. As the new indicator lamp is a standard 120 volt AC bulb, custom optically isolated circuitry was created to interface with it, maintaining the safety of the low voltage circuitry.

The picture below shows the hidden custom circuitry tray mounted in the device head.

Circuitry tray mounted in top of box

The reanimated call box is connected to wall power via a standard three prong power cord. All metal areas of the box are bonded to ground as required by the National Electrical Code.