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Semaphore Reference Guide and FAQ
Thanks to Matthew Ross

 This guide was prepared as a reference for the make, model, part number, lens color and arm style to help you quickly:
* Identify which semaphores you have, or
* Determine the correct semaphore for your vehicle.
Year Model and Part Number Brand Lens Color Arm
1940-1943 19290-left hand   Orange Ribbed
1940-1943 19294-right hand   Orange Ribbed
1943-1946 20 953 021-left hand   Orange Ribbed
1943-1946 20 953 022-right hand   Orange Ribbed
1946-July 1949  AL 142.001
Right and Left
or
L143.001-2
Right and Left
SWF Orange Ribbed
July 1949 -December 1953  AL.143.001.1
or
L.143.001-2
or
111 953 021
SWF Orange Ribbed
July 1949 -December 1953 111 953 021 SHO Orange Grooved
January 1954 -August 1957  AL 143.001.1
or
111 953 021B
SWF Orange Smooth
January 1954 -August 1957 111 953 021A SHO Orange Smooth
September 1957 to August 1959 111 953021D SWF Yellow Smooth
September 1957 to August 1959 111 953 021C SHO Yellow Smooth
September 1959-August 1961 111 953021F SWF Yellow Smooth
September 1959-August 1961 111 953 021E SHO Yellow
K20605/1
Smooth
Convertible  151 953 021 A
or
151 953 021 B
or
15.143.001.1
SWF Orange Smooth

Semaphore FAQ - General

How do they work?
Semaphores are operated by a push/pull solenoid that pulls on a piston connected to the arm and lens assembly.
The upward rise of the arm is cushioned by a spring so that the action is not too strong. When the semaphore is
completely extended from the side of the car, the pointed end of the piston touches a metal contact sending a signal
to the light bulb inside your speedometer confirming that your turn indicator is on. The semaphore arm retracts into
its pocket in the side of the car under the force of gravity and a small return spring when the turn signal switch is
turned off.

What color should the arms be?
The arms were always painted body color; however, the arms of replacement semaphores purchased at the dealership were black.

What is the difference between SWF and SHO?
SWF and SHO are two different manufacturers of semaphores. Parts are not interchangeable.

What is the difference between ribbed and grooved semaphores?
Ribbed semaphores were made by SWF and grooved semaphores by SHO. These two types are often confused but you can tell the difference by the:
* SWF or SHO logos on the underside of the body and/or on the lenses.
* Part numbers on the underside of the body and/or on the lenses and referring to the chart above.
* Look of the arm. For ribbed semaphores, visualize a flat surface. On the outside edges of the ribbed arm material has been added (a rib) above the flat surface of the arm. For grooved semaphores, visualize a flat surface. On the outside edges of the grooved arm material has been removed (a groove or channel) from below the flat surface of the arm.
 

Semaphore FAQ - Troubleshooting

Why don't my semaphores rise properly? (They rise slowly, bind or don't rise at all).
Recommended steps:
1. Ensure that the semaphore is centered in the semaphore post. It may bind by rubbing on the side of the body post (not centered left to right) or may bind on the bottom or top of the post (not centered top to bottom).
2. Remove semaphore and inspect the piston-it may be rusty or very dirty-if so, it must be replace or cleaned.
3. Check tension of return spring because it may be too great. This is the spring that is on the side of the semaphore and winds around the hinge pin.
4. Check all moving parts and linkages by slowly moving the arm up and down to see if any part is binding or catching. Sometimes the pin that goes through the tail of the piston is offset and catches, other times the link between the piston and the piston tail is bent and catches or binds.

Can I operate semaphores on 12 volts?
This topic is covered in an article in the June 1997 issue of "Hot VWs". I strongly encourage running your semaphores on 6 volts if it is at all possible. If you must use 12 volts, your options are:
* Install 12-volt, 3-watt semaphore bulbs and you are done! The main downside is that the push/pull solenoid may quickly get hot and possibly burn out. If you choose this option, don't leave the semaphores "up" for long.
* Install a 12-volt to 6-volt step down reducer. A key drawback is the heat produced by the device. It must be safely mounted well away from any other wiring, parts or person that could be damaged or hurt by the heat KYMCO Motorsports in Costa Mesa, California carries reducers including a step down adjustable type reducer.

 


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