American Crucible

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AmCr Logo LC.png

Corporate History and Overview

September 2013 view of the factory. Google Image.
Undated photo of the American Crucible Products company in operation. Black River Historical Society

The American Crucible Products Company was formed in 1919. In 1924 it began manufacturing traffic signals and flashing beacons from the foundry in Elyria, Ohio before moving ten miles north and closer to the lakeshore of Lorain in 1926. This foundry and machine shop would remain open until 2015, the aluminum foundry closing in 1997 when focus shifted towards bronze bearings. The Lorain factory façade as seen in the image here was completely levelled by fire on March 12, 2022.

Their signal line was called The Master Signal. In 1939 a company called The Master Equipment Corp. was selling "Master" traffic lights and controllers. This link is still being investigated. At some point prior to WWII American Crucible stopped manufacturing traffic lights but are still operating today as part of BecoTek Mfg. U.S.A. Inc. They had a strong sales presence throughout Ohio including special installations in Bellevue, Dover, Hamilton, Salem, and Xenia. They had a smaller showing throughout the midwest but still had signals in Scranton, PA. and Muncie, In. Less notable installations were made in Ashland, Bedford, Bluffton, and Gallion, Ohio. They are also believed to have installations in Southern Michigan.

Distributors and Contract Manufacturing

The following companies had distribution rights to these signals or sold a private label version of the Master Signal.

Traffic Signals

Design Characteristics

The traffic signals they produced were robust and had several notable design characteristics.

  • Were said to have a sun phantom proof design.
  • The prototype models had a mirror reflector before the early production units changed to an angled bulb mount while later ones had the industry standard straight bulb configuration.
    • Metal reflectors heavily chromium plated. Signals taken out of service 80 years later still have bright reflectors.
  • Early Models used Jefferson and Brilliant orange peel type lenses (Darley-like except a blue instead of green "green" lens.)
    • Later, Kopp #27 and Corning Type E
  • Sealed, "dustproof" construction with lens and door gaskets.
  • Early models featured cast cap visors, later signals were available with cast tunnel/circle visors and removable rolled aluminum visors.
    • Signals with removable cast visors are the final version produced by the Traffic Master Company or The Master Equipment Corp. around 1939 in Amherst, Ohio.
  • Marketed as "light weight" and weatherproof.
  • Lights with a thin bottom plate were controlled externally, lights with a large bottom section had an integrated controller.
  • Early signals were built from single piece side plates, later versions used used a stackable design to allow easy configuration of 1-4 signal sections.

There was different, early design of traffic light that was marketed in the mid 1920's timeframe. The body was slightly different with bolt on hinge plates and visors, as well the reflectors were glass. Most all the known documentation and specimens are indicative of the lights as seen from the 1930's to 1940's. The information contained in this article as of publishing time represents this single series of known lights produced.

Door Variations

During the course of production the most marked change to the signal was the branding as presented on the door.

  • Sectional body/removable cast visors [1924 through 1927]: The Traffic Master Co Elyria O
  • Sectional body/removable cast visors [1924 through 1927]: The Traffic Mas er Co Elyria O [Note the no T in Master defect]
  • The earliest improved version [1928-1930?] were of a solid body/cast visor design with no markings present on the door.
  • Solid body/cast visor design with: THE MASTER SIGNAL THE PROSPECT FIRE ENGINE CO PROSPECT O. [Verify Correct Wording]
  • Cast visor sectional body style: THE MASTER SIGNAL U.S.A.
  • Sectional body/removable rolled visor design [Final Production?] with no markings present on the door.

Latch Variations

During the course of production the latching materials used to hold the door closed changed slightly.

  • Most common is the stud with spring, cast tab, and steel wingnut (which often rusted and froze.)
  • This same style was also used with a stud and ESSCO-style thumbscrew.
  • The cast tab and spring were sometimes replaced with a stamped metal piece and boot-shaped collar.

Reflector Variations

There were three major styles of bulb reflector in these signals. The first style was a mirrored glass used until 1927. The second and third styles were a polished metal bowl used for the remaining period of production. From 1928 they used an offset socket in the reflector with a brass house-lamp style socket. Sometime late in production, by the time rolled visors were introduced they used a typical straight-bulb design with a two-piece porcelain socket.

Four Ways

Early Model (1924-1927)

Early solid-body signal with 1928 style green section added on. Note the bolted hinge plates on the red and amber as well as the slightly different design on the top and bottom plates. The visors for the red and amber section are bolt-on cast visors. The post mount may be a city-made modification, note the ball finial.

Model S-3-29

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Model S-2-29

This is the presumed model number for this variant.



They also produced adjustable traffic lights. Examples of rigid body construction are known, it is not believed that they produced sectional adjustable lights.

Restored example of an adjustable Master Signal from the Hahn Oil Collection. Photo by LC.

Pedestrian Signals

describe models, variations

Vehicle Heads (Round)

describe models, variations

Vehicle Heads (Square Door Adapters)

describe models, variations

Pedestrian/Sign Heads (Rectangular)

describe models, variations

Informational Signals and Signs

describe models, variations [delete] includes "box signs," "case signs," and Ped Heads with special [non-ped] lenses.


describe models, variations


The earlier lights used orange peel lenses, like used in Darley lights, except the green aspect was a blue lens, instead of a green lens. These were typically made by Jefferson or Brilliant.

Later lights used Kopp #27 and Corning Type-E Large Bead lenses.


describe models, variations


describe models, variations


describe models, variations


describe models, variations


  • Split amber operation - only the green light traffic sees the amber.
  • Single cam, induction motor mechanical controllers.
  • Sealed gear system.
  • Tungsten contacts with a sliding self cleaning action for longer life.
  • Unique RED-I-FLASH system where a flashing red light above green indicates a signal change for two color signals.
  • Single wire, impulse controlled coordination system.
  • Masterless coordination system, any controller serves as master.
  • Self lubricating bronze bearings.
  • Positive starting in cold temperatures

Special Features Available:

  • Emergency Control
  • Manual Control
  • Flashing or Night Amber mode
  • Pedestrian Controls
  • Coordination for Two and Three Period Controls


Miscellaneous Images

Relevant Patents

Patent numbers relevant to this MFR or signals specifically. Not just every patent by company X.


  • Lorain - Images of America: Ohio, Black River Historical Society, Arcadia Publishing, 1999, ISBN 0738501786, ISBN 9780738501789
  • Google Map Imagery, September 2013