FP7 - Mars Lights and Fuel Tank Skirting

Discussion in 'FP7' started by yardmaster, Jul 20, 2010.

  1. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    Paul Bender's post on F-units permitted in passenger service triggered a thought that first came about while indexing the FMIG Newsletters: when did the FP-7 units receive the second "Mars" headlight, and when were the fuel tank skirtings removed?

    Some references and dates:

    Ken Wulfert's "Enid" collections shows post-renumbering #41 (ex-5041) and #50 (ex-5050) both with Mars lights (dual headlights) and sans skirting.

    FMIG Newsletter #17 (August 1978) has two photos with information. In that issue, Glenn Young inquired: "Does anyone haev a slide/negative of an FP7 without "Mars lights?" Doug Hughes replied: "My guess is that they were delivered without Mars lights and they were added later."

    Photos in NL #17:
    #5045 at Springfield, 1951 (Arthur Johnson) - single headlight

    #5047 at Springfield, 1951 (H. Vollrath) - single headlight

    FMIG Newsletter #19 (February 1979) shows a photo of #50 (ex-5050) at Springhill, KS, 1969 (H. Vollrath) - Dual headlights and side skirst removed

    Other photos I've seen:

    #5042, Unk Date/Location and photographer: Full skirt and single-headlight

    #5047, Ft. Smith, 1964, M. Condren, Dual headlights with side skirts removed.

  2. TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020)

    TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020) Passed Away July 15, 2020 Frisco.org Supporter

    There doesn't seem to be a hard and fast date for these changes. But judging from photos, the Mars (or Gyra??) lights were added in the mid-fifties and skirts were starting to be removed about 1960. The firecracker antennas were added in the mid to late fifties. And the FP-7's always had a single cluster (Leslie, Nathan??) of horns over the engineers seat. I never saw any documentation of these changes, all my observations are eyewitness or from photos.

  3. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    The Mars light is different from the Gyro light. F (and E) units had Mars Lights (If they had them). The mars light "swirrled" in a figure 8. Most of the Second Generation diesels had Gyro lights (not Mars lights). The Gyro light just goes in a circle.

    If I am wrong on any of this, let me know and I will change it, but this is my understanding of Mar's lights and Gyro Lights.
  4. TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020)

    TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020) Passed Away July 15, 2020 Frisco.org Supporter

    I think Mars and "Gyra" were (are) products from two different manufacturers. They both made add-on lights for E and F units long before the 2nd generation "bubble gum" cab top lights came along. One (Which Ken W??) shone the warning light in a circular pattern, the other in a figure-eight.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 20, 2010
  5. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Frisco.org Supporter

    There were three patterns I saw -

    - Sideways figure 8 - I think this was the Mars light

    - Upper 180 degree circle arc, back and forth - don't know the manufacturer but SLSF used these as well as the Mars

    - complete 360 degree circle aimed off center - not sure I saw these on SLSF but I saw them somewhere here. GM&O? Wab? MoP?

  6. TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020)

    TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020) Passed Away July 15, 2020 Frisco.org Supporter

    Ken--I think Katy was the other road we were chatting about. Whichever one the Frisco used, the M-K-T had the other one. Or at least some of them.

  7. gbmott

    gbmott Member

    I'm out of the country but can provide some more data points when I return. Meantime I know for a fact that 5047 had both Mars light and skirts on 1-31-58 (last day of operation of 709/710 between Foprt Smith and Paris), while she had lost her skirts by 7-4-64.

  8. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    What is traditionally called a Mars light was manufactured by the Mars Signal Light Company and transcribed a figure-eight motion, typically installed to display a mostly horizontal sweep. Searches for a good video of a railroad Mars Light yielded no real good illustrations.

    The Gyralight was manufactured by Pyle National Company and the motion of the light was a circular or eliptical pattern.
    See this operating Gyralight: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4cHFhz_Dd4
  9. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Frisco.org Supporter

    The Frisco also had ones that moved in an upper 180 degree arc as I noted above. I don't know who the manufacturer was, but I remember seeing more of these than Mars figure-8 lights on The Meteor (#9) during my MSM years, 1960-1964.

    When we went down to the depot to take a study break and watch #9, I always went up to the head end to watch (and hear) him start up. It was really neat to see the light flash on the buildings when he lit it again. You could also hear the whine of the light motor - until he advanced the throttle on his four 567's!

  10. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    Gordon, that's as close to a specific date that I've seen, and the first tidbit that indicates that the FP7s would have had both Mars lights AND full skirting simultaneously.

    The photographic evidence I'd seen pointed to no Mars/full skirts OR Mars lights/no skirts.

    Thanks to all for clarifying, too. Interesting stuff on the full array of lights; thank goodness we're not Espee modelers - some of their early diesels look like a spider's eyes.

    As a kid, when we'd return to Chaffee from Friday night trips to Cape, I vividly recall seeing traffic on the Cotton Belt (SSW) line with the 360-degree lights on the lead locomotive on the road between Illmo/Scott City and Rockview. But, I never knew if it was SSW/SP or MoP motive power.
  11. gbmott

    gbmott Member

    OK, a few more data points:

    5049 - Mars light, no skirts, 7-28-62
    5048 - Mars light with skirts, 12-21-58
    5047 - Mars light with skirts, 1-31-58
    5046 - Mars light, no skirts, 3-64
    5045 - Mars light, no skirts, 6-16-61
    5044 - Mars light, no skirts, 7-20-62
    5040 - Mars light, no skirts, 3-24-62

    Sort of looks like around 1960 was when skirts started being removed, which is about when they started coming off the E-units also. My recollection is that the Mars lights appeared around 1956 though it could have been even earlier.

  12. gbmott

    gbmott Member

    OK, some more. I remembered photographing an FP-7 in Oklahoma City when Louis Marre's father took both of us over there for the Oklahoma Semicentennial, but I couldn't remember when that was. Now I see that Louis published that in "Frisco Diesel Power" and the date is summer 1957 and 5047 has both Mars light and skirts. There are other data points in that book:
    5049 - both Mars light and skirts, 11/27/54
    5050 - Mars light but no skirts, 12/31/61

    Also be aware that at least a handful of other F-units got Mars (or some kind of gyrotating light) as well, including:

    5005 (both F-9 rebuilds, see next)

    Incidentally, I'll correct an error on page 82 of that book -- my photo of 5006 and friends taken 7/31/64 was not at Lawton but at Quannah -- this set of F's had just delivered a train to the AT&SF. The confusion arose because I was at Lawton (Ft. Sill) at the time in ROTC summer camp and Lou thought that was where I took the photo.

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