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These gyralights were manufactured by Pyle National Company.  They are now manufactured and supported by Trans-Lite, Inc. located in Milford, Connecticut.  Gyralights are becoming rare because of their high maintenance costs as compared to simple flashing warning lights which contain no moving parts.

The outer casings are made from light weight element resistant cast aluminum.  Internal parts are generally steel.  The knob securing the hinged front is made from brass.

The top gyralight is a model 17550.  The bottom gyralight is a model 20585.  These particular units are designed for back mounting as shown on the GP9 below.  More common units have flanges which enable the gyralights to be recess mounted into the front of the engine.  When mounted over a cab, these lights usually have visors installed underneath the lights to prevent light from reflecting off of the hood into the engineer’s eyes.

Both gyralights sweep in an oval pattern.  Lights generating figure eight patterns where manufactured by Mars Signal Light Company.  These lights require two moving arm connections to the platform holding the bulbs versus the single moving connection required for the gyralights.

The white lights were used in normal operation to warn pedestrians and others that a train was coming.  These lights were also useful at night as it enabled the engineer to better see the track surroundings due to the sweeping nature of the lights.  The red light was for emergency use. 

Each of these gyralights take standard PAR56 railroad bulbs with screw terminals.  I learned from a light distributor that PAR stands for parabolic reflector and 56 indicates the diameter of the bulb in 1/8 inch increments.  These 7 inch bulbs are standard in the railroad industry and still readily available due to their continued use in headlights.  The bulbs are rated at 200 watts at 30 volts drawing a rather hefty 6-7 amps each.

Inside the 17550

Inside the 20585

Restoration and life

Locomotive Gyrating Warning Lights - the
definitive source on gyralights