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Private collections: Chuck Wilson
Chuck Wilson...Somerset, Ca

Chuck Wilson's upper quadrant wigwag (Mag Sig Co) was recently resurrected from the dead. A record windstorm struck Northern California during September, 2000, knocking Chucks wigwag on the ground. As most of us know, this usually means certain death for these cast iron signals.  Chuck had the cast iron repaired, lenses replaced and set up a new pole to display it on. It now operates just as it did before, using a battery charger for power. From the looks of these photos, it appears that his wigwag faired quite well.

Chuck purchased this from a Southern California swap meet in 1986. He was told that it came from Pacific Electric. He has included the serial number (type KCC #10430) and would like to get more info on where exactly it came from.


Rear view.

Close up of front reveals chip missing from 
armature dust cover above flag holder casting.
Chuck adds more about his wigwag:

"Here are some operating shots.   I purchased this wigwag from a fellow I met at Orange Empire Railroad Museum in the early 80's.  He lived in the south bay area of Southern California and had a stack of wig wags he had gotten from the Torrance shops of the Pacific Electric when the shop was closed. It was in operating condition when I purchased it. I was living in Southern California at the time and we were planning a move to Northern California
to a rural area in the Sierra foothills.  We never displayed it in Southern California.  When we were settled in Somerset, California (near Placerville and an hour from Sacramento toward Lake Tahoe)  a friend and I welded up a base to mount on a wooden pole and we set it up in 1985 powered by a battery charger on a fairly long wire which created a desirable voltage drop. 

Several months ago a heavy wind plus a partially rotted pole resulted in the signal falling some 15 feet to the pavement.  A friend in a local welding shop created a new shaft for the target, I repainted the whole thing and mounted one new lens.   Another friend gave me a seven foot piece of  heavy 3 1/2 inch steel galvanized pipe.  The same welder attached the old base to the new pipe and I was in business.  The pipe slides into a sleeve mounted
in concrete so that it can be easily removed yet have a sturdy foundation. It is again very operational!  Thanks for your direction to General Signals. 

A friend, Michael Patris, an avid Mt. Lowe Railroad authority, is in the process of developing a museum  in the mountains above Pasadena and Altadena in Southern California dedicated to the wealthy visionary Thaddeus Lowe, the Mount Lowe Railroad, operated in it's later years by the Pacific Electric Railway.   Thaddeus Lowe at the turn of the century  constructed this wonderful tourist incline and trolley system complete with three hotels above Altadena in the mountains of Southern California.  Major flooding and the automobile caused the line to be abandoned in 1938.  The mountain peak close by was renamed Mt. Lowe.  The wig wag will go to his museum when we tire of country living."

Photos by Chuck Wilson  (12/00)


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