Union Switch And Signal 1911 Manufacturing Video

Wartime arms production is an amazing feat combining patriotism, teamwork, resource management and industrial engineering to mass produce functional art. The 10 minute Union Switch and Signal manufacturing video posted below is an awesome look back at a time when Americans joined together to fight evil on all fronts. Simpler times? Not so much – food rationing, a two-front World War and the real threat of Nazi world domination have a way of altering your Hollywood perception of that era.

Still, the simple and calm process to take a raw metal forging and create one of the most iconic weapons of all time is mesmerizing. Enjoy the video.

Union Switch and Signal

Union Switch and SIgnal History

US&S first patented the Model 15A Highway crossing bell on February 20, 1917. The bell has been commonly referred to as the “Teardrop” bell by railroaders and signal fans alike because of its unique shape and thus the name has stuck. This bell has appeared on advertising literature for railroad signals as far back as the 1920s as far abroad as Chile and Italy on early wig wag crossings and flashers. There have been subtle variations in the Teardrop bell over the years ranging from different sized electric coils, inclusion of the patent date on the rain hood, as well as a very early version with a less characteristic rain hood that simply read “UNION, patent pending.” This is the most commonly seen variation of the Teardrop. This bell is treasured by many for its slow low pitched ring at an irregular cadence. The production of this bell was discontinued sometime by the 1960s, but WABCO carried replacement castings and service manuals into the 1970s.

Wartime Production

Union Switch and Signal was one of the five contractors (including Colt, Remington-Rand, Ithaca Gun Company, and Singer Sewing Machine) to make M1911A1 pistols during World War II. The production blocks assigned to them in 1943 were between SN’s 1,041,405 to 1096404. Colt duplicated 4,171 pistols in the 1088726-1092896 SN range. Since only 55,000 1911A1’s were produced by US&S, they are highly collectible. The reason for the low production numbers is US&S was the last company awarded a government contract and as requirements were reduced in early 1943, the last contract awarded became the first to be cancelled. As a general rule, US&S produced high quality pistols. With the government-owned machine tooling already in place at US&S, they were offered a subcontract arrangement to produce M1 Carbine components. Only Singer produced fewer 1911A1’s at 500 total production.

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  • Stephen Paraski

    Cool shot of electric bus at end.

  • Wish they had showed more of the machines making some of the cuts but an interesting film overall. One hell of a woman at around the 6:25 mark, surprised she was not “office” material. Notice also not one bit of graffiti on the train, I wonder when that awful practice started?

    • Mystick

      The 1950’s.

  • Blake

    Is there something wrong with my machine, or is there no sound?

  • bigbarry

    who is the dumb Brod holding a 1911 with her finger on the trigger while pointing at her other hand . Is her nick name now rightly …..HA HA

    • some other joe

      You mean the Ordnance inspector who had previously cleared, detail stripped, and reassembled the gun and was conducting functions checks, to include ensuring it won’t fire out of battery (when she had her hand over the muzzle pushing the slide out of battery)? That apparently standard part of the manufacturing process?

      And rightLy as a nickname?

  • Chilly Billy

    Thanks for posting this. My dad worked on these pistols and other wartime subcontracts at US&S. The manufacturing plants survived into the 1980’s, when most of the historic site was razed to make way for a strip mall.

  • Cymond

    I know a guy who has a US&S. I’ve seen it, and saw most of his father’s original collection. His brother claims to have a Singer, although I haven’t seen it. I need to convince them to bring the two pistols together and take pictures. The 1911 collectors would go nuts.

  • alex archuleta

    Holy mackerel! Did you’se fellas see the dames in that moving picture?
    sure were a couple of butter and egg flies in there if ya know what I mean ?

  • Mystick

    No, they still have those.