Page created by Tommy McGowan

Note:  this page doesn't go too much into the technical details on how the mechanisms operate.  The main purpose is to show the change in design of the gate mechanisms over the years and to help identify the age of signals.

This is arguably the most recognizable gate mechanism ever produced.  This was produced from the 1940s up until the 1980s, starting with Griswold. It was continued under the RACO and Safetran name as well up until the 1980s.

This is another early gate mechanism company. These are very rare to find these days, though seem to be more common in the southeast.

Griswold and Transport merged to form RACO, and this is one of the gate mechanisms produced under that name. I believe most of these were made under the RACO name, but might have been developed before RACO formed. These are probably the rarest gate mechanisms to find in the US.

This was the more traditional gate mechanism RACO made. These are very rare to find.  They used to be seen on the Chillicothe Sub, but I believe they've all been replaced.  Monroe St. in Sandusky, OH still has them. After this, RACO became Safetran.

This is the earliest style that was used on Safetran branded gate mechanisms, and the only one to say Lousiville, Kentucky on it.  These are fairly rare to find these days.  The BNSF Chillicothe Sub used to have quite a few, but most have been replaced by US&S or newer Safetran/Siemens mechanisms.

As the name suggests, this style was mainly used in the mid 1970s.  It took away the Louisville, Kentucky lettering the Early 1970s style had, and had the Safetran text moved up.  These are a little more common to find, but are still fairly rare.  The UP Geneva Sub had quite a few, but are being replaced with newer Siemens equipemtn.

This style came out in the late 1970s and was seen into the early 1980s.  The text is now at the bottom and has a border around it.  You can find these on ATSF and CNW installations although their numbers are slowly dwindling.

This style was introduced in the early to mid 1980s and was used until the early 90s.  This is mostly the same as the Late 1970s version, just without the border around the text.  These are still fairly easy to find, mainly on NS, ex ATSF crossings, and ex CNW crossings.

This style came out in the early to mid 1990s and was used until around 1998.  The lettering is not as protruding as it was before and was moved up slightly.  The edges were also more rounded than on prior designs. This is personally my favorite looking Safetran mechanism.  These are very common to find to this day on most major railroads.  They're often paired with the Hawker-Siddley branded Safetran light frames.


This is the most common Safetran gate mechanism you'll find on North American railroads.  The lettering is now protruding out more like before, and is now centered.  This came out in the late 1990s, and every railroad has used this at some point.  I call it 2000s, as that's when they were predominantly used, being produced from around 1998 until 2011.  It made a slight comeback in 2016, being offered as "Refurbished" Safetran gate mechanisms.

In 2011, Invensys Rail took over Safetran, and in the process, they redid the design of the mechanism slightly.  Instead of the lettering being imprinted on the mechanism, they now have a sticker or magnet being placed in a rectangle area in the middle of the mechanism with a black background and green text. 

In 2013, Siemens took over Invensys Rail and rebranded the gate mechanism immediately, now having a white background with teal text.  It still used the sticker/magnet that the Invensys ones did.   This used a narrow font, more so than what was used in the next iteration.

By 2014, Siemens changed the lettering to be thicker.  Everything else stayed the same.  This was used until 2017.

In October 2017, I discovered Siemens started making gate mechanisms with their logo imprinted on the gate mechanism instead of using a sticker.  This is what is currently being produced by Siemens, and is seen on most major railroads.  This will likely become the most common Safetran/Siemens gate mechanism design at some point.