A Short History of the Delta Electric Company

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Kirk

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Thanks to Louis E. Ebert and the Marion, Indiana Public Library for the information shown below:

In September of 1913 local capitalists in Marion, Indiana purchased a half interest in Delta Electric Co., Inc., located in Chicago, Illinois, and moved the company to Marion. The company was reorganized as Delta Electric Co., and capitalized at $25,000.

One of the company's earliest products was, what was claimed to be, the first battery-powered portable electric hand lantern. This lantern used a single 1.5 volt #6 dry cell battery (6" tall x 2.5" dia.).

By 1916, the company was making 15 varieties of electric lanterns and flashlights, filling orders as large as an order for 200,000 pocket flashlights for one concern. Along with other electrical devices, they manufactured pay telephones which were exported to the Canadian market.

During WW1, Delta engaged in the production of lighting devices for government use. Several of these were of special types made to Army and Navy specifications.

After WW1, the company resumed full production for the civilian market. By this time they were making automobile spotlights and switches, bicycle lights, flashlights, boat lamps, buggy lights, and hand lamps and lanterns. They were also making batteries for their lights and lanterns. The company was producing 25 distinct products and turning out over 1,000,000 articles a year. Their products were being shipped to Canada, Mexico, South America, England, and Europe.

During 1922 as commercial radio broadcasting advanced and radio sets came onto the market, Delta added radio earphones to their other
electrical product lines.

In 1933, Delta introduced the item that became their single most well-known product when they started producing the 6 volt two reflector "Powerlite". This lantern would continue to be made through the 1930s and during the 1940s, when it was made for the military. Powerlite production continued through the 1950s and 1960s, and into the early 1970s.

The mid-1930s saw the development of the electric bicycle horn, which was added to their line of bicycle lamps and accessories, Delta lanterns, truck and bus lighting equipment, warning signals, sockets, connectors, switches, and other similar devices.

At this time the line-up of hand lanterns included the "Redbird", "Apollolite", "Husky",
"Silverlite", "Wildcat", "Juniorlite", "Buddy", and "Marionette". Bicycle lights included the "Nighthawk", "Tarzan", "Clipper", "Silver Knight", and "Sportster".

Delta also produced the "Flashing Powerflare", used for construction site barricades and as road-side warning lights for truck breakdowns. Electric switches and lighting devices were made for Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors.

With the onset of WW2, production once more reverted to military equipment for the government. Devices made included life preserver lights, signal gun lights, Navy watertight flashlights, Navy watertight lanterns for ship crew compartments, life raft float lights, aircraft gunnery tow target lamps, blinker lights, Navy running lights and battle lamps, aircraft recognition lights, parachute cargo dropping lights, debarkation beach marker lights, flashing flares, along with numerous control devices electric junction boxes.

With the end of WW2, regular commercial production resumed. Several military devices were adapted to civilian use. Other products added included a line of marine products including bow and stern lights, horns, navigations lights, exhaust blowers, and pumps. In addition to the proverbial "Powerlite", hand lanterns included the "Delta-Ray", "Power King", "Reddylite", and "Buddy". Bicycle accessories included a generator and light set, "Sealed Beam Bicycle Headlight", "Jet-Ray Hornlite", "Rocket Ray" light, "P-T" light, "P-T" horn, "Winner" light, "Winner" horn, "Jr. Headlight",
"Hurricane" horn, "Seat Post Tail-lite", "Redguard Tailite", "Safety Lites", and an axle-hub light set.

As imported lamps and bicycle lights invaded the U.S. markets, Delta increased their line of automotive products. Doorjamb switches, window switches, tailgate window switches, convertible top switches, wire harnesses, etc. were produced. Delta's bicycle accessories line of products was sold off in 1973.

In 1964, Delta Electric was purchased by Novo Industrial Corp., a diversified industrial and service corporation. One of Novo Industrial Corp.'s subsidiary companies, King Bee Manufacturing Co., was moved to Marion, and its line of automotive lighting and safety equipment,
including headlamps, safety lights, directional lights, mirrors, and reflectors for trucks, buses, trailers, and farm tractors, was merged into the Delta line of products.

Delta Electric was a division of Novo Industrial Corp. until 1968 when Novo became part of United Filtration Corp. Delta continued to operate as a division of United Filtration. After selling off the line of bicycle accessories, Delta continued to produce accessories for the automotive industry such as truck side view mirrors and various automotive switches. By 1976 the company's main line had become warning buzzers for fire and security alarms.

On March 31, 1978, Halle Industries Inc., who had acquired Delta in 1977, shut down production of Delta Electric due to losing contracts for their smoke detector alarms to Japanese imports.

Kirk here: Hope you enjoyed this little history lesson. I have a few Delta flashlights and lanterns and wondered what happened to the company. I got this info by contacting the Chamber of Commerce in Marion. They suggested I contact the library. I plan on checking various chambers and libraries to get info on other "defunct" companies such as Carpenter and Burgess. We'll see how it goes.

Regards,
Kirk
 
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Timothy Walker

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I was very interested to read this piece. I am researching the life of Dr Banda of Malawi who spoke to the Kiwanians at the scout hut, near Jonesboro, in 1928. W P Stephenson of Delta Electric Company was in the audience and he was so impressed he then sponsored Dr Banda's further studies. I would like to hear from anyone who could add any information.
Best wishes,
Tim Walker
 
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cave dave

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We so need pictures!
 
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captain smiley

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ww1 navy delta and later cast aluminum deltas I polished:













a few powerlites:










two on the bottom right are deltas:




HAPPY?:eek:

Thanks for the info, I always wondered if they made these for ww1 but couldn't find any online information, if you could find some information on the Grether Fire Equipment Co. Dayton Ohio, that would be awesome.:twothumbs
 
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dan-epfd

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Captain smiley I see you have Grether Lanterns. Do you have any for sale , doesn't have to work. My fire dept. is currently reserrecting our 1931 Buffalo Pumper Truck and we're missing a lantern.
 
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w1zyv

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Hi: I have one Powerlite that is missing the top lite portion. Is there anyplace that might have parts?

Thanks, John, [email protected]
 
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rbaker

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Hello....
I am new to the forum as I have just purchased a Grether lantern....I was doing research to see if I could find out anything about it...after a search i found this thread....

I know nothing about vintage lanterns but I purchased this one at a local auction as I felt it looked quite unique...

It is cast aluminum with two brass tags and a pull/push switch on the top...i removed the top and it had two old batteries....everything looks fine with it including all the brass screws....one brass tag reads "portable electric lantern..style no. 6......patented July 30, 1918...."

The switch, lens, handle and abrass focus screw on the back seems fine.....it has an old decal on the back that says "Electrical & Water Depts. Kaukauna, Wisc. Phone 231" .....

I found some info on this forum site regarding the Grether Fire Equipment Co.(the other label on the top) Dayton, Ohio ...Patents Pending

I would love to get some additional info on it.....would also sell if you are interested... Thanks...... Randy
 
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tebore

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Did this company turn in to the Delta we know today that is well known in the computer industry for fans and laptop power supplies?
 
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Tom me

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Jul 26, 2009
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I found this Delta Lamp in a friends basement. It says it is a APOLLO model, no date or patents. There is no battery inside and the light bulb connecter needs tobe repaired.
delta 1.jpg

delta 2.jpg

delta 3.jpg
Of course I wonder if it has any value or should I just junk it?
 
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Boudreaux

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I am wondering if anyone has found any information on the
CARPENTER MFG. CO.
BOSTON, 45, MASS U.S.A.
mentioned in Post #1.
Edit: I have found that the Carpenter Mfg. Co. became the Carpenter Division of Walter Kidde & Co. (Fire Systems and Extinguishers), Charlottesville, VA 22901. At some point they became the Carpenter Division, Electronic Technologies, Inc. of Charlottesville, VA 22901. More info to follow.
I recently acquired one of their MASTER-LIGHT lanterns. I think they were primarily produced for the Firefighting Industry.
Any information would be greatly appreciated.

I'm also restoring a KOEHLER lantern, a much more modern lantern, that is also a brand primarily used by Firefighters. I have a
GRAY NAVY BATTLE LANTERN made by Delta and two
YELLOW NAVY BATTLE LANTERNS all yet to be restored.
Edit: One of the Yellow Navy Battle Lanterns was made under contract to the U.S. Government by J.M.C. (possibly the Jay Molding Corporation.) More info to follow.
 
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ulightupmylife

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Thanks for a very informative article about Delta Electric Company! I recently inherited a Delta redbird that belonged to my Dad who passed away in December 2007. He took care of his tools, so the lamp is in great condition, but is missing the battery. Will a regular battery work?
 
B

Boudreaux

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Welcome, ulightupmylife! :welcome:

According to the Flashlight Museum www.flashligtmuseum.com both models (circa 1940 and 1945) of the Delta "Redbird" in their collection use 2-1.5V dry cell batteries. These are sometimes hard to find but are still available. The last one I ordered I think was from RadioShack.

Perhaps other members will have current info on where to obtain them.


 
toby_pra

toby_pra

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Very vintage flashlights you have there guys...:twothumbs
 
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mlchrt4

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Kirk, I've got a little info to add to your history of Delta Electric. Those wonderful bicycle horns you wrote about are well know to Lionel train collectors. I don't know how long Lionel used the Delta horns, but everything my Dad had collected has a Delta horn in it. The horns are stamped clearly, Delta Electric Co Marion, Indiana. My husband was cleaning and oiling one of my Dad's engines from 1950 and we noticed the printing stamped on the horn. I found your forum when I googled Delta.

Deb
 
K

Kirk

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Central California
I can't believe this thread is still going after almost 7 1/2 years! I think it's probably one of my first posts here on CPF. I haven't found too many decent Deltas in the past few years. Most are dented, corroded, and just generally beaten up. You folks have some nice lights. Let's see more!
Kirk
 
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Lrsmith1971

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Have a Delta F-L-A-S-H-I-N-G POWERFLARE. Was wondering what it was used for, its value, if it can be restored and used? :thinking:Should I try polishing it up? Have been looking at tons of pics of these types of lights and have not found one that looks like the one I have. Any information is welcomed and will be more than what I have now. Thanks so much. Peace.
 
B

Boudreaux

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First of all, WELCOME to C.P.F.!

Secondly, do you have a picture of the Delta Powerflare that you could post on here? What color is it and what color are the lens? They were made circa 1935, and were generally red, but there may also be some green military version.

I think you can get a look and some more information on this light from this source: www.flashlightmuseum.com .
 
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Lrsmith1971

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Thank you so much for responding. I don't know much about the piece but it very interesting. I've taken 2 pictures for you to look at. I'm just not sure how to send them to you
 
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lvelectrician

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Apr 22, 2010
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I am a flash light junkie. I have a small collection of antique Big Beam and some Japanese ones, no not made in china, made in Japan. I also have a Delta Electric model "Delta-Jet" that I am trying to figure out. Does anyone have any information on the Delta-Jet model? It looks like the slip on the back of it is designed for your belt. It is similar to the redbird but appears more modern. I was thinking maybe it was designed for miners, the lens on it seems to be designed for impact resistance.
 
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captain mako

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I have a Delta-King sealed beam lantern. I don't know how old it is or what it may be worth and I am curious. I don't want to sell it or anything, but I didn't see anything in this history about this particular model. It has no model number on it. can anyone help me out?
 

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