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Federal Electric 1910 to 1914  Rate Topic 
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 Posted: Fri Sep 7th, 2018 05:56 am
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Mike Kearns
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Federal Signal was founded as the Federal Electric Co. in Chicago by brothers John and James Gilchrist and a partner John Goehst. At the turn of the century, Goehst and John Gilchrist worked for the burgeoning Commonwealth Edison Co., Goehst as an electrical engineer and Gilchrist as assistant to the manager of electricity sales. With $10,000 in capital, Goehst's technical skills, and Gilchrist's sales savvy, the team came up with the idea to develop and market store signs lit by incandescent lamps. Incorporated in 1901, the Federal Electric Co. was one of the first electric sign companies in the nation. In 1915, the company started making sirens. After spending a few years under the control of Chicago utilities titan Samuel Insull, the company became independent again in the 1930s, when it became the Federal Sign & Signal Corp. In 1958, Federal moved its main plant from 87th and State Streets on Chicago's South Side to Blue Island, the suburb a few miles to the southwest. By the middle of the 1960s, the company—a leader in the field of electric signs—was doing about $30 million in annual sales and had about 1,500 employees. After changing its name to the Federal Signal Corp. in 1975, the company's general offices were moved to suburban Oak Brook. By the end of the 1990s, when Federal Signal was a leading manufacturer of emergency vehicles and street sweepers as well as signs and sirens, the company approached $1 billion in annual sales and employed about 1,500 people in the Chicago area.

As electricity became common in businesses across the Midwest, Federal Electric's sign sales grew, and, in 1915, the company diversified its product line by purchasing the patents for an electrically operated siren. Federal Electric sold its sirens primarily to police and fire departments as well as coal mines, which needed an efficient way of warning miners of emergencies, while its electric light signs were used primarily at pharmacies, stores, and the kiosks of early nickelodeon movies.

During this time, Federal Electric came under the ownership of Commonwealth Edison, eventually becoming a part of the utilities empire owned by Commonwealth founder Samuel Insull. In the early 1930s, however, Insull's empire crumbled under the weight of the Great Depression, and Federal Electric was spun-off as an independent business under the name Federal Sign and Signal Corp.

The company's sales continued to grow, as new applications were discovered for its signs and signals. During World War II, Federal provided sirens to warn Londoners of incoming air raids, and, after the war, the company's signs were used to illuminate Las Vegas casinos. By 1961, Federal Sign and Signal had gone public, trading on the NASDAQ market. Net income reached $1 million that year, and sales hit a record $15 million.
 In 1958, Federal moved its main plant from 87th and State Streets on Chicago's South Side to Blue Island, the suburb a few miles to the southwest. By the middle of the 1960s, the company—a leader in the field of electric signs—was doing about $30 million in annual sales and had about 1,500 employees. After changing its name to the Federal Signal Corp. in 1975, the company's general offices were moved to suburban Oak Brook. By the end of the 1990s, when Federal Signal was a leading manufacturer of emergency vehicles and street sweepers as well as signs and sirens, the company approached $1 billion in annual sales and employed about 1,500 people in the Chicago area. 



Last edited on Fri Sep 7th, 2018 06:03 am by Mike Kearns

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 Posted: Fri Sep 7th, 2018 05:58 am
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Mike Kearns
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1910: 




Last edited on Fri Sep 7th, 2018 06:04 am by Mike Kearns

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 Posted: Fri Sep 7th, 2018 05:58 am
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Mike Kearns
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1911: 



Last edited on Fri Sep 7th, 2018 06:06 am by Mike Kearns

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 Posted: Fri Sep 7th, 2018 05:58 am
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Mike Kearns
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1912: The pressure of business must have gotten to Goehst:






Also in 1912: Note the first store listed selling Westinghouse fans.



Last edited on Thu Oct 4th, 2018 05:37 am by Mike Kearns

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 Posted: Fri Sep 7th, 2018 05:58 am
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Mike Kearns
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1913: 





Last edited on Fri Sep 7th, 2018 06:11 am by Mike Kearns

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 Posted: Fri Sep 7th, 2018 05:58 am
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Mike Kearns
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1914: Federal Electric markets Westinghouse fans, relabeled FEDERAL on the cage badge -





Last edited on Fri Sep 7th, 2018 06:14 am by Mike Kearns

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 Posted: Fri Sep 7th, 2018 12:20 pm
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Tony Clayton
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Thanks Mike!  Great read.

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 Posted: Fri Sep 7th, 2018 10:58 pm
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Levi Mevis
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Is that the same Federal as the Federal Signal Company that made the Air Raid, Tornado, Fire Truck, and Police Car sirens for years?

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 Posted: Sat Sep 8th, 2018 12:01 am
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Tony Clayton
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It sure is.

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 Posted: Sat Sep 8th, 2018 12:08 am
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Levi Mevis
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Cool, I didn't know they did fans and signs as well. Go Figure.  :D  :shock:

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 Posted: Sat Sep 8th, 2018 01:56 am
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Geoff Dunaway
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 Would that be Jeff Rusnak's  Federal Vane fan ? If so that's the only federal branded fan I've ever seen.

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 Posted: Sat Sep 8th, 2018 02:06 am
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Tony Clayton
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That would be correct Geoff.

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 Posted: Sat Sep 8th, 2018 01:04 pm
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Jeff Rusnak
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Hey Tony and Mike,Great info on the Federal Company.Thanks for posting all the information on the electrical devices Federal made over the years very cool and interesting information,In fact they are still in business these days aren't they ? I had a Federal air raid siren years back but sold it :( wish I still had it...kinda got me in trouble since I would set it off at midnight every New Year's Eve...LOL..So yes the Federal vane pictured is mine.Ive had the fan since 1990.Got it from a picker I knew then along with a nice G.E.round back oscillator.The guy always found some nice stuff.Since I've had the fan I would display it at local regional meets and get questions about if the fan was a Franken Fan with a Federal tag attached to a Westinghouse vane oscillator since the fan has a Westinghouse motor tag.Its always been interesting to get those questions and I thought how cool that a Westinghouse fan had a Westinghouse motor tag,but Federal cage badge !! So I contacted David Easler,I was told he would know since he had quite a lot of info on Westinghouse.Sure enough he said yes Federal put their name on Westinghouse fans,BUT the motor tag had the Westinghouse info not Federal since Federal did not manufacture fans and the motor tag info on the fan denotes that the fan IS a 6 blade vane !! So that being said I needed some vane parts,Paul Graves had what I needed,bushing,springs,collar etc..Hats off to Tony for the vane trip lever !! Much appreciated !! I've always thought should I polish out the blade and cage ? Or just do a light cleaning ? BUT then the patina would be gone and the questions would arise "Hey That's A Franken Fan" !! NAW think I'll leave it as is !! It's a keeper and one of my favorite Westinghouse fans.Interesting enough I have acquired what I think is another Federal re badged Westinghouse fan.A 4 blade 16" stationary in decent shape with the Federal cage badge and Westinghouse motor tag Style no.162631 serial no.438258 micro date of ( 6-15-11) odd thing is the blade hub has a stamping with a 1* not sure what that means.So I left a message with David Easler.Hopefully he will get back to me and we can figure out if my recent Westinghouse/Federal fan is a Franken Fan or not ...:cool:

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 Posted: Sat Sep 8th, 2018 01:56 pm
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Christopher Harding
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Excellent info MIke! Reallly enjoying your posts. My first job as a child in the 70's was for a family that owned "The Fire Barn" in Milford NH. They were the only dealer of Fire and Police equipment in NE at the time. We carried the entire line of Federal sirens and lights. I loved that family and the job but never knew it was the same Federal! As always, appreciate the info!
Chris

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 Posted: Sat Sep 15th, 2018 12:55 pm
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Jeff Rusnak
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B

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