My Vintage Fire Alarm Systems and Devices (June, 2022)


Control Panels

Simplex 4208AX

This is a Simplex 4208AX, manufactured in the mid 1970s. The Simplex 4208 series of control panels were first prototyped in 1969, and released for sale in 1970. Two models were available at the time - the 4208A, which was strictly a DC system with battery backup, and the model featured here - the 4208AX, which was an AC system. The 4208A would become less common around 1975 with the release of the 4207, and both were eventually superseded by the 2001 in 1978.

This 4208 features 15 zones and 2 AC bell circuits. There is also a master code motor in the bottom of the panel that provides signal coding over the bell circuits, along with 2 auxiliary relays for elevator and HVAC control.

(Controls on the front of the panel)

(Simplex FIRE ALARM SYSTEMS logo, used from 1969-1978)

(Inside of the panel)

(Back of the panel door)

(Top four boards for the bell circuits, auxiliary smoke power, zones 1 thru 4 and zones 5-8, respectively)

(Bottom four boards for the main controls, zones 10-13, zones 14-15, and the auxiliary relays/code motor, respectively).

(Code motor assembly. Configured for cadence marching code - 4-4-4-4)

(Side view of the panel looking left)

Simplex 2001-8001

This is a Simplex 2001-8001. It was built between sometime in 1979 and 1980 and is an early version of the 2001. When the 2001-800x series was first released for sale in 1978, the panel featured an aluminum door with red pin-striping (as shown here) and a slightly different main control card. Other notable features of early 2001 systems is that like the 4207 and 4208, they are still largely relay based. While the coding is no longer produced by an electromechanical wheel, the zone cards and bell cards still use relays to operate the system. Zone cards on 2001 systems manufactured after 1980 no longer used relays, but used transistors instead. 2001 systems would retain the design seen here until late 1980 or early 1981, when the panel was redesigned with a new control card, zone cards, and black (or in some cases, red) painted door. Operation of early 2001 systems was also different compared to 2001s manufactured after 1980. There is no alarm silence feature (“ACK” on newer systems) on the main control card, silencing signals would require a system reset. In addition, when an alarm or trouble condition comes in on the panel, the LEDs light solid and do not flash off and on. There are very few known examples of 1st generation 2001s such as this one left in existence, and are very hard to find due to their very short 2-3 year production span.

This panel features 5 zones and one signal circuit. Coding is provided by the marchtime card slotted next to the signal card on the far top right.

(Panel with door open)

(View of the system cards. Top - Main Control, Battery Monitor, Detector Reset, Zone 1, Zones 2-3, Zones 4-5, Marchtime, Signal Circuit 1 and Bottom - Battery Charger, Power Supply)

(Close up of the main control card. Notice the different design compared to the newer control cards from the 1980s).

(Inside of the panel with the dress panel removed)

(Manufacturer tag)

(View of an older zone card. Notice the large relays, something newer zone cards are lacking).

Since taking pictures of all of the devices individually would take forever, I took a picture of all of my vintage devices I currently have on hand.

From left to right, top to bottom - Simplex 4037-1 (from @4903-9222, thank you so much), Honeywell SC804D1018, Exide 969R, Simplex 4041, Simplex 4070-6, Simplex 4050, Simplex 4050-80+4051, Space Age Electronics AV32 + Wheelock 34-24, Simplex 2904-9003 (Light), Simplex 2901-9806, Simplex 2904-9101 (Strobe), Simplex 2903-9005+2901-9833.

Also from left to right, top to bottom - Autocall 4015, Simplex 4251-111, ESB Couch F660A, Simplex 4251-20

There are a few things not pictured here, such as my IBM 4251-111 (same as the Simplex) or my IBM 4032-1 horn. Other devices that were previously seen have been sold, or traded.

Some of you may also be asking what happened to the rest of the control panels that I had previously, such as the 4010, 2001-8023 and the smaller 4208. As of last month, I have gifted those panels to my brother, who has developed a slight interest in the hobby and who has always helped me with things such as restoration projects on old panels. I did not see the need to keep all of them, nor do I have the storage space since I currently do not own my own home. I know they are in good hands with him, and he will enjoy them as much as I did.

Although incomplete and missing boards, I do still have my 4020 system. I did not bother including it above as it isn’t really a vintage/antique system (I consider that to be anything over 35 years old). I am not sure what I would like to do with this system (if I should keep it or let it go), as parts for them are extremely pricey. But, for now, it and the devices that go with it will continue to sit under my bed.

I also have a Simplex 4004 that I may be putting up for sale very soon (also willing to do trades within reason). I have to determine if it’s fully functional or not, all I know is that they keypad takes a lot of force for it to register. If I can fix it up, get resistors for it and get it working beautifully, I would love to see it go to another good home.

So that’s everything for now. While I do not have any immediate plans for new control panels (as they are bulky and take up too much space, plus I got rid of my old storage locker), I do plan on obtaining several more devices soon, especially vintage pull stations since I’m lacking in that department. I recently scored a lot of IBM devices off eBay, including another 4037, as you can see below. I’ll be sure to add pictures here once it all comes in the mail.

Anyways, I have a lot more in the works, so stay tuned.

All of those devices are in fantastic condition! Nice collection!

You know, if you wanted to run DC alarms on your 4208AX you could always try wiring an AC relay into the NAC circuits & having it control 24VDC from an external power source.

Congrats on scoring that IBM lot. I remember watching that listing but it ended at midnight so i fell asleep before it ended lol. Hope your brother enjoys his new toys. Gotta love spreading the legacy of these old alarms around.

Thanks! I could do that, but I don’t plan on really messing around with it or changing things with it. I plan on wiring a very small setup with it that’s period correct with a bell and a pull station (my 4070-6 and 4251-20), and won’t be changing them out.

Thanks man, believe me, it was hard for me to stay awake to bid too, had a long day at work but I managed somehow. And I know he will, he takes great care of his things just like I do.

Alright. What I meant was hooking a relay to a pair of wires coming out of the panel that are connected to one of the two bell circuits, rather than modifying the circuitry itself to accommodate one.

This afternoon, the IBM lot finally came in. These pieces are absolutely in magnificent condition for being 60-70 years old, no rust, hardly any scratches, just a little bit of paint caked on here and there. I am stoked to add these pieces of fire alarm history to my collection.

First of course is an IBM 4250 break glass station. This design was first introduced in the 1940s, and was carried up until around the mid 1950s with the debut of the 4251 “Chevron” pull stations. To activate the station, an individual would take the side of their hand and smack the square metal “striker”, breaking the glass plate behind it. When the plate breaks, the button is released, causing an alarm. To reset it, a new glass plate is put in place, and the station is shut.

Next is an IBM 4015-6A 6" vibrating bell. This bell most likely would have been used with a time clock system as a class change bell, but it is possible it could have been used on a fire alarm system as well as I do not know the history behind it. It runs off of 115V AC.

This is an IBM 4030-1, a horn that most collectors are very familiar with. This appears to be a 1st generation of the 4030 series, as it features a slightly different physical design, and uses a different striking mechanism. I assume this horn is either from the late 1940’s, or early 1950’s before the series was redesigned.

Lastly is what is now my second 4037-1. There are virtually no differences between the IBM version and the Simplex version I already had, they function the exact same way. The only notable difference between these two horns that I could notice (outside of the brand name) is the fact that the IBM horn has a slightly darker paint color (blueish grey), while the Simplex version is more of a metallic grey.

While it is not fire alarm related, I figured I would throw this in here since it came with the lot, but the last thing in the lot was this IBM electric clock. Definitely an interesting piece, as most of the synchronous clocks that you see are Simplex rather than IBM.

That’ll be it for the time being. I have two more vintage devices coming soon. As I did with these, I’ll drop some pictures here when they arrive.

Man, those devices are in practically factory-new condition! (heck wouldn’t surprise me if that’s what they looked like rolling off the production line) Nice acquisitions!

THAT IS AWESOME!!! My K-8 school had that 6 inch IBM bell used as the school bell. There was an 8 inch IBM bell with a metal guard at the top, which was used on the original IBM FA system! There was a pull rod with manual trip bells connected to a light switch at the base! (pull rod was removed when I started middle school) I think the panel might’ve been a 4240 series!

I’ve seen Simplex 4037s in the wild at the Fisher auditorium on the Ohio State agricultural campus in Wooster; Pull stations are 4251–1s; panel is a 4200 series!

Congrats on that lot right there. Believe it or not, that 4030 is older than you think. Theres a fellow collector on youtube i am in good contact with who has that exact same horn. He found a catalog with that exact horn that dates back to the 1930s. So that horn is close to 100 years old now. Its amazing that it still is in mint condition.

Thanks. I’ve seen the catalog you’re referencing before, if I remember correctly it was from around 1939 or so. I’m not sure of the exact year that horn was manufactured, but anywhere from 1939-1952 or so is my best guess. Well over 70 years old at the very least.

The first of the two devices I ordered recently arrived today. It is a Faraday 10501-1101 coded fire alarm station from 1970. Seems to be in relatively good shape, however it is missing the plastic cover that was placed over the coding mechanism on the back. This station came from an eBay seller local to my area, and it was removed from a building in Pittsburgh.

The front of the station.

The back. The plastic cover that is missing would have been screwed in over top of the coding mechanism seen here.

The mounting plate, with terminals and model number.

The date code, which all I can make out is 1970. Cannot see the month or day.

Nice work on the coded pull station. Couple of questions, did you happen to be the winner of that huge fire lite triangular remote light? Something tells me you did LMAO. And secondly, i may be interested in that 4004, have you had any chance to play around with it? I know you may be looking to part with it so i thought i would let you know i may be interested in case you wanted to negotiate a deal on it in the future.

Thanks. It actually was not me, I don’t know who won that. I did have my eye on it, but I was busy the day the auction ended so I missed out on it. And yeah, if you are interested in the 4004 I wouldn’t mind negotiating something in the future. I have not had a chance to play around with it yet, but hopefully I will soon. No one else has messaged me about it, so I wouldn’t mind holding on to it for you. What type of deal are you thinking of, another trade, or would you like to buy it?

Honestly, it would depend on the condition of it. I saw a new cpu on ebay for 60 bucks currently so if needed, we can swap it out if its completely dead. Not entirely sure what you’d want as far as a trade goes but I could buy it off of you as well. Just depends on the price since im trying to put money towards the 2001.