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Hammer & Sickle Soviet Block Signal Hammer & Sickle

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About This Accessory

Every Stalin-era and Khrushchev-era train set produced by the Soviet Union in the 1950's and 1960's included three block signals. These sturdy signals featured a "target head" that covered three 13.5-volt bulbs, each with a different colored lens. When energized, the signal would generate either a red, amber or green light depending on where the train was situated on the track. The overall height of this accessory is 8 inches. This item was first made in 1951 and after undergoing one design change in 1957 (or 1958), was last produced in 1969.

Photo of Soviet Block Signals
Photo of Block Signals
LEFT: Early-style signals . . . . . . . RIGHT: Later-style signals


--- Early Style (1951-1957?)

The early-style Soviet block signals were constructed of metal and painted all silver. They also have a relatively plain pedestal and base support which are similar to the pedestal and base support of the early-style lamp posts. Although the overall design appears to be a simple one, a close examination reveals many individual parts which resulted in rather complicated manufacturing and assembly operations. The pedestal, base support, and pole were separate parts that had to be swaged or fused together -- plus the lamp socket had to be wired to the terminal block. In addition, the face of the signal is held in place by pressure, not screws. That approach required that the parts had to be made with tight tolerances. An additional manufacturing complexity results from the light hoods, which are separate parts that had to be fused to the face.

The early-style block signals -- which only came in Stalin-era sets -- were still being produced in the 4th quarter of 1956 and presumably for several months after that. (The early-style lamp posts have been found with a 1st quarter of 1957 date and therefore it is believed that the early-style block signals were produced in 1957 as well.) The earlier (plainer) block signals are much harder to find than the later ones.

--- Later Style (1958-1969)

The later-style Soviet block signals have a silver-painted metal pedestal, base support and pole but also featured a black Bakelite head (similar to Lionel's #99 & #99N prewar signals). In addition, the later-style Soviet block signals have a fancier pedestal and base support as compared to the early-style signals. (The later-style pedestal and base support are similar to the pedestal and base support of the later-style lamp posts.)

The design change resulted in a more attractive accessory as compared to the earlier one and -- since the pedestal and base support on the later-style block signal were cast or molded parts -- it also simplified the manufacturing and assembly operations. In contrast to the pressure-mounted face on the metal head of the earlier-style signal, the Bakelite head and face are attached to the later-style signal using screws. In addition, the light hoods are part of the head -- not separate pieces. These changes resulted in a higher quality product and although the wiring and the rest of the assembly operations described above remained the same, it had to be a less costly item to make.

The later-style block signals came in the later Stalin-era sets and all of the Khrushchev-era sets. The later-style block signals have been found with a 3rd quarter of 1958 date but initial production may have started a few months before that. They were first depicted in the September 1958 instruction manual.

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This page is an information document only; nothing on this web page is being offered for sale. This page and all of the other pages from Our Soviet Archives were developed to assist you in understanding the components of the train sets produced in the Soviet Union during the 1950's and 1960's. These sets are known today as "Stalin-era" sets and "Khrushchev-era" sets. We have used pictures from our old files and personal collection to construct this area of our website. If you are interested in buying something, please view our inventory listings to see what we currently have for sale.

This web page was last updated on September 9, 2005. If you have suggestions for improving this page or if you see any errors, please contact us.

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