Category:W.S. Darley & Co.

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W.S. Darley & Co.
Company W.S. Darley & Co.
Produced 1930s - Present
Type Electromechanical & Electronic

W.S. Darley & Co. is a company that has been selling a wide variety of products since 1908, including fire apparatus equipment, traffic signals, robotics and defense equipment, as well as civil defense and fire sirens. While they no longer produce their own sirens, they currently sell rebranded Sentry products.

Darley Champions

Darley entered the siren business as early as 1932, when the demand for fire sirens was still quite high. Their first line of sirens was the Champions, a series of small omnidirectional sirens. These ranged from single and dual rotor horizontal sirens, as well as several vertical sirens. These came in many shapes and sizes. These were in production until the late 1930s.

Peerless Champion

The Peerless Champion was a dual headed siren, similar those used in Britain during WWII. They were meant for use as fire sirens, and their biggest competitor was the Sterling Model M. These sirens were dual rotor single tone, and were never produced in dual tone. These used a dual sided 5HP AC motor, driving two rotors, and were available in 8-port single tone. The motor sat on a large base stating "CHAMPION, W.S. DARLEY & CO, CHICAGO". These had thinner rotors than the Super Champion, with 4 long vanes and 4 short vanes. The intakes were styled with a flare on the stator, and the stator ports were protected by a mesh screen. The Peerless Champion did not last long in production, and none of these are known to still exist.

Super Champion

The Super Champion is very similar to the Peerless Champion, but overall larger in size. The Super Champion uses longer rotors for better sound output, and is driven by a 7.5HP dual sided AC motor. These Champions were much more successful than the Peerless Champion, due to their better performance. These came in both 8-port and 16-port single tone, with no dual tone options offered. Interestingly, the 16-port units use 16-port rotors inside of an 8-port stator, leading to significant undertones. Like the Peerless Champion, the rotors use 4 long vanes along with 4 or 12 short vanes depending on the port count. Both single and dual headed models are known to exist. The overall design of the Super Champion is largely identical otherwise to the Peerless Champion, and several units can still be found as noon blast sirens or fire sirens.

Vertical Champion

These are single headed, vertical Champions. Also commonly referred to (and misnamed) as the Darley 3V8, these are essentially a single headed Champion flipped on its side vertically, using the same rotor, stator and intake. The siren was available in either 2.5HP (using the rotor and stator from the Peerless Champion, named the "Champion Giant") or 5HP (using the rotor and stator from the Super Champion, named the "Champion Fire Siren"). The 2.5HP variant was exclusively 8-port single tone, while the 5HP variant was available in either 8-port or 12-port single tone. The intake on these sirens are protected by a large two-piece intake cover attached to the stator, which keeps debris and rain out of the rotor, and is often equipped with a mesh screen around the intake and stator ports. The motor itself is held up by three mounting legs, which attach to wherever the siren is mounted. 2.5HP Vertical Champions have intake covers that extend halfway down the stator, while 5HP ones have covers that don't extend past the width of the stator. These were some of the cheapest sirens available in the 1930s, which made them quite popular at the time, and some have even found their way as far as Quebec, Canada.

Weatherproof Champions

These are also vertical sirens, but they differ quite significantly to the standard Vertical Champions. These sirens were designed with durability and longevity in mind, rather than price. Unlike the Vertical Champions, the Weatherproof Champions use a motor-over-rotor configuration, with the motor on top and the rotor and stator being located below, held up by a few supports. These sirens were placed inside weatherproof housings with a rounded top, and many slits are placed across the diameter of the housing to allow sound to escape, similar to a Sparton Sirens Sparton. While this does a much better job of protecting the siren itself from the elements, it does harm the siren's ability to project, and they tend to be quieter than other Champion models.

These came in three different varieties. The 2.5HP version came exclusively in 6-port single tone, using a universal motor. These were very similar to the Federal Signal Model 2, and had overall shorter housings than the other Weatherproof Champions, with only a single row of slits. The 5HP version uses a standard 5HP AC motor, and was available in either 8-port or 12-port single tone. The 12-port rotors on these use 6 long vanes and 6 short vanes, which gives it a significant rasp, similar to the Sterling 5VX. These are taller than the 2.5HP model, and can have either one or two rows of slits. The 7.5HP version is very similar to the 5HP model, but comes exclusively in 12-port single tone, with a rotor that has all long vanes and no short vanes. These can also have one or two rows of slits on the housing.

Champion Little Giant

These are the smallest model that was available, and was Darley's take on Sterling's Sterling Little Giant siren. Running on a 1.5HP single phase AC motor, which drove two 10-port rotors at 4400RPM, this siren was meant for short range use by small rural volunteer fire departments, or industrial work lunch whistles. The rotors and stators are enclosed inside small stylized horns, resembling the shape of the stators used in the larger Champion models, and the stators lack a ring on the edge of the stator ports. The siren also comes with the W.S. Darley branded stand, which is removable. These are rare to find compared to other Champion units.

Federal Rebrands

In the 1940s, W.S. Darley & Co. discontinued their original Champion line of sirens, instead partnering with Federal Signal (then Federal Electric) to produce rebranded versions of the Federal Signal Fedelcode (and later Federal Signal Model X series) line of sirens. These sirens, like all of Darley's sirens, are also known as "Champions" and are identical mechanically to their Federal counterparts, using the exact same rotors, stators, and motors. The only difference between a Federal branded siren and a Darley branded siren is the housings. Darley's housings are much more rounded and ornate, often resembling a fire hydrant.

Darley made their own variants of the Federal Signal Model A, Federal Signal Model L, Federal Signal Model 2, Model 5 (C2 1/2), Model 7 (C3 1/2) and their dual tone variants, and the Federal Signal STH-10. The Darley STH-10 in particular is unique in that it has the motor on the bottom and the intake on the top, with a housing bracket, unlike Federal's version with the motor on top and intake below. This made it very similar to the Model X series of sirens, but used the STH-10's rotor and stator. Another thing to note is that the dual tone variants of the Model 5 and Model 7 are marked on the tag with two "T"s (5TT and 7TT) instead of Federal's normal designation of 5T and 7T.

These would be produced until sometime in the 1960's, when they were discontinued. However, Darley continues to sell the Federal Signal Q2B to this day, as well as its electronic counterpart.

ACA Rebrands

In the 1970s, W.S. Darley & Co. partnered with Alerting Communicators of America (ACA) to produce rebranded versions of their sirens. These sirens were physically identical to their ACA counterparts, with the only difference being the addition of "DARLEY" branding on the housings of the sirens. These were sold under the Champion brand and often advertised by their horsepower rating, and many different models were sold including the Screamer, Super Banshee, Allertor 125, and Hurricane.

In the 1980s, the Darley catalogue would be expanded, now also selling the standard Banshee 115 (referred to as the Banshee 10), Cyclone 125, Penetrator series P-15 (advertised as the P-10), and Penetrator-50, as well as the Alertronic Series line of electronic sirens (including the now-extinct Alertronic 5000). The sirens were now referred to by their ACA-given names, though they also kept their Darley-specific model names. The "DARLEY" branding on the housings was also removed by this point, making them indistinguishable from ACA-branded sirens. This partnership would continue through the 1980s, likely ending in the 1990s when ACA faced bankruptcy. It is unknown how many Darley-branded ACA sirens survive to this day, as the brandings on the sirens have likely faded, and later models lacked any branding. One W.S. Darley branded Allertor 125 is known to survive in service, located in Niles, MI.

Sentry Rebrands

During the 1980's, Darley also chose to partner with the then-new Sentry Siren, selling rebranded versions of their sirens. These rebranded Sentry sirens were sold alongside Darley's rebranded ACA sirens, until ACA went out of business. Originally, only the Sentry Siren Incorporated 10V2T and F-2 were offered, under the names "Dual Tone General Alert Siren" and "110/220V Alarm Siren". The short lived 3-signal Sentry Siren Incorporated 10V2T-3S was also offered by Darley.

After ACA's bankruptcy, Darley continued to partner with Sentry exclusively, becoming one of many companies reselling Sentry's sirens. These sirens are identical to their Sentry counterparts, and are Sentry-branded from the factory. This makes it impossible to tell whether a given siren is from Sentry themselves, or from Darley. At least one siren is confirmed to have been bought from Darley, a 10V located in Glenbeulah, WI. Darley expanded their options, and as of today now sells rebrands of the F-2, E-6, Sentry Siren Incorporated 3V8 (and 3V8-H), Sentry Siren Incorporated 7V8, Sentry Siren Incorporated 10V, Sentry Siren Incorporated 14V, 10V2T (despite it being discontinued by Sentry) and the Sentry Siren Incorporated 15V2T (which Darley calls "the Decibel Busting 15HP Siren").

Darley is still partnered with Sentry today, and their sirens can be bought off of their eDarley website.

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