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What happened to Cleveland's old Thunderbolts and Model 5A's?

Sun Jun 17, 2018 5:49 pm

Since there's so much new info coming out and that I'm finding out about Cuyahoga County's CD system, I thought I'd address a few things. In this topic there are photos, records, and all the more information about Cuyahoga County's CD system.

What about the Civil Defense Program?

CD in Cleveland began in 1951 and ended in November 1972. Sirens were installed between 1952 and 1957. More information about the CD Program in Greater Cleveland/Cuyahoga County.
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Fallout Shelter Sign; Washkewicz College of Engineering, Cleveland State University. (Photo Taken on April 2, 2018)

Did Cleveland have Thunderbolts?

Yes, they did. Many of them, actually, although an exact number has never been determined as records were never found. They were mostly around downtown but were also around the city and in the suburbs too.

Newspaper Article Dated February 14, 1952 from The Salem Press about Cleveland's Purchase of Thunderbolt 1000 Sirens from Federal Enterprises:

Just found this on the Internet. Sirens were installed just months later. Cleveland and the suburbs in the county received more Thunderbolts and Model 5A's as well up till about 1957.

CLEVELAND CONSIDERS AIR RAID SIRENS
CLEVELAND (AP) — The air raid warning committee will decide Monday on the purchase of 72 air-raid sirens for $200,000 from Federal Enterprises, Inc. of Chicago. John J. Pokorny, Cleveland’s civil defense director, said the firm promised to begin delivery within 30 to 60 days after receiving the order.

Do any pictures of the old system still exist/did exist?

Yes, but only four or five photos still exist. Here they are:
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Federal Enterprises Thunderbolt 1000 at the Lakewood Police Dept., 1952.
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Modified Federal Enterprises Thunderbolt 1000 on Terminal Tower, 1953.
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Federal Enterprises Thunderbolt 1000T (4/5 port); on the roof of the Brilliant Electric Sign Co., March 1956. You can see Terminal Tower in the background.
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What appears to be a Model 5 being installed atop a building in Cleveland.

How many Thunderbolts were in the first batch of siren installations?

17, according to this Federal advertisement dated 1952 (which is when the first installs started going up). The entire system consisted of mostly these early 1000's along with a few early 1000T's (4/5 port, Federal Enterprises), as well as Model 5A's and 5AT's. Most of the sirens were roof-mounted atop buildings.
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Federal Enterprises ad dated 1952.

While blurry, you can make out the words "Cleveland and Cuyahoga County: 17 Thunderbolt's" [sic].

The advertisement also says that Mahoning County (Youngstown) also had 10? (or does it say 18?) Thunderbolts as well; one in Youngstown still stands, yet inactive (replaced by Whelens years ago in the early 2000's). Lake County had 4 as well, and there were also some in Ravenna in Portage County. The only one in Summit County was in Barberton and still stands and is active today; Akron didn't have money for any sirens and still doesn't have any.

You can also see Cleveland mentioned in at least two more ads:
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Federal Enterprises ad, Oct. 1952
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Federal Enterprises ad, Dec. 1952

Were Cleveland's Thunderbolts ever recorded on any sort of records?

Yes. According to an old booklet dated Oct. 21, 1964, several of Cleveland's sirens were purchased with US Office of Civil Defense Matching Funds. Here's a screenshot of that page (below).
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What happened to the sirens/where are they now?

Most of the Thunderbolts and the Model 5's were scrapped when the system was removed in 1973 (CD ceased operations here in November 1972), however some are still in operation today.

Independence: 2 Thunderbolts from the CD system (still active) and 1 5A and 4 5AT's from the CD system (also still active; the 5th 5AT they have was installed by Independence themselves in 1982).

Cuyahoga Heights: 1 Thunderbolt 1000T (4/5 port, reverse-wired; might have a horn that is a bar-grille that could've came off a 1000) at the NEORSD facility (Southerly Wastewater Treatment Plant on Canal Rd.); was taken down from an old school, restored, refurbished, and reinstalled by the village in 2013 on the NEORSD plant to protect the southwest side of the village (they also have a presumed 8 port Fedelcode 5 and an extremely high pitched 2001-SRNB which was installed in 2005). The story about the Thunderbolt was confirmed in city records (below) that I found regarding it (previously I had thought that that Thunderbolt had always been at the plant, but not according to this). Never found out what "school" they were ever referring to.
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One of Cleveland's Thunderbolt 1000's also went to a fire department in central Ohio near Columbus, and was removed and supposedly acquired by a private collector some time ago.

One Thunderbolt is sitting atop a building in Cleveland and was abandoned and never removed or scrapped. It appears to just be rusting there. It's located at 8200 Madison Avenue on the National Foods Packaging building. I would get photos of it but it is in a bad area. There's also what's left of a Model 5A on a building somewhere off I-90 in Bratenahl (it is on The Siren Archive), but it might've been removed (or the abandoned-looking building it's atop of could've been demolished by now). There is also an abandoned Model 5A which was part of the old CD system still standing in Shaker Heights.

The rest were scrapped.

...and that's about it! Hope you enjoyed reading this!
Last edited by fire_freak_57 on Tue Jun 26, 2018 3:01 pm, edited 19 times in total.
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Re: What happened to Cleveland's old Thunderbolts and 5AT's?

Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:26 pm

What a FANTASTIC post. So much interesting info that's been well researched. Thanks for sharing.

P.S. This probes my hypothesis that the 4/5 1000Ts predated the 5/6. Didn't guess they were out as early as 56 but makes sense with the matching funds that were being provided for dual toned sirens.

Also that rotatorless custom 1000 is awfully nifty.

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Re: What happened to Cleveland's old Thunderbolts and 5AT's?

Mon Jun 18, 2018 2:21 am

That shroudless one by the parkway is a single tone one. Could it be plausible that some sirens were around during WWII such as the single tone 5s? Quite a bit of war production happened up there.
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Re: What happened to Cleveland's old Thunderbolts and 5AT's?

Mon Jun 18, 2018 2:32 am

Brendan W wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 2:21 am
That shroudless one by the parkway is a single tone one. Could it be plausible that some sirens were around during WWII such as the single tone 5s? Quite a bit of war production happened up there.
Not that I'm aware of. According to city archives and the little bit of surviving info from the Cleveland Press collection that I could find, sirens went up in 1951. There apparently weren't any sirens prior to that.

By the shroudless one, are you referring to the one in Bratenahl?

There’s an old STH-10 in Highland Hills and a abandoned STL-10 in Mayfield. Also an abandoned Model 5A from the CD system in Shaker Heights.
Last edited by fire_freak_57 on Mon Jun 18, 2018 4:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What happened to Cleveland's old Thunderbolts and 5AT's?

Mon Jun 18, 2018 2:39 am

Brendan W wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 2:21 am
That shroudless one by the parkway is a single tone one. Could it be plausible that some sirens were around during WWII such as the single tone 5s? Quite a bit of war production happened up there.
Just found something: a newspaper article about the Thunderbolts being purchased! I'm gonna put this in the main topic too.

CONSIDER AIR RAID SIRENS CLEVELAND (AP) — The air raid warning committee will decide Monday on the purchase of 72 air-raid sirens for $200,000 from Federal Enterprises, Inc. of Chicago. John J. Pokorny, Cleveland’s civil defense director, said the firm promised to begin delivery within 30 to 60 days after receiving the order.
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Re: What happened to Cleveland's old Thunderbolts and 5AT's?

Mon Jun 18, 2018 8:58 am

Great stuff, nicely done!
My knowledge excels on the Federal Thunderbolt siren and SiraTone EOWS sirens. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Re: What happened to Cleveland's old Thunderbolts and 5AT's?

Mon Jun 18, 2018 5:43 pm

Yes, I was speaking of Bratenahl. Nice work!
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Re: What happened to Cleveland's old Thunderbolts and Model 5A's?

Thu Jul 12, 2018 2:15 am

Here's a quick update:

The 5 in Bratenahl is still up; I passed it on my way to Mentor this morning.

I also drove by the last remaining Cleveland Thunderbolt on the National Foods Packaging Plant on Madison Avenue (we were driving to Edgewater Park and the GPS on my Aunt's phone was directing us through the bad neighborhoods by accident)... I recognized this Thunderbolt and snapped a quick picture with my phone (sorry for the blurriness). Looks like the siren was repainted too; although I don't know why.
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Madison Avenue Thunderbolt
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Madison Ave. Tbolt Closeup
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Re: What happened to Cleveland's old Thunderbolts and Model 5A's?

Sun Jul 15, 2018 8:58 pm

Can I have coordinates or the address to the Brilliant Electric Sign Co?

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