Smoke Alarm, Hubcap or UFO?

I have not seen this type of device before. They were located on each level of the home outside all the required places for smoke alarms. The red lever on the right side says “Rewind”. House is over 20 years old. Early wind-up type smoke alarm?


Fire bell

Man, I feel a bit sheepish. The winder thingy is for the bells hammer. Should this firebell be hooked up to the smoke alarm? Do not typically see firebells in residential homes here.

Hank, that does appear to be an older model mechanical heat sensing fire alarm. The bronze center part is likely a wax filled tripping mechanism set to trip at maybe 160-180 degrees or so. Since it is mechanical in nature then there would be no way to interface it with a smoke alarm. I’d describe the device and recommend additional installation of modern, high quality smoke alarms.

As stated that is a fire alarm. Purely mechanical. Winds up just like a giant clock spring. That small metal button in the center is made of “Woods metal”. It has a very low melting point. Same metal they use on sprinkler systems at the sprayer nozzles in the ceilings. Once it melts there is a tiny wire plunger that pops out in the center then all hell breaks loose. It is the loudest thing I have ever heard and I used to be on Aircraft carriers. I had some in my house many moons ago and one night after a few cool brewskis we (me and some equally stupid friends) decided to test one out, so I popped the metal button off the front. It DOES NOT stop until it is completely run down. Best not to fool with it unless you really like being embarrassed.

I would also suggest an up grade.

Their may be nothing wrong with it (as far as it may work) but everything has a life span.

Doug. That story was funny. Our curiousity rarely prevents us from leaving things the heck alone. As far as the home is concerned, they already had celing mount smoke alarms in place and they were functioning. They can probably leave them in place if they would like.

I hear ya. The brand name I had was I think “Vanguard” and looked very similar to the one in your picture. I never touched one of them again once I got that one wound up again.

That is a spring wound, heat sensitive alarm bell.

I remember sitting through a home presentation on this fire alarm. That was 20-25 years ago. They were expensive then. Hundreds of dollars for the whole house. We of course said no, the high pressure saleman does the typical and calls his “dispatcher” to say we were choosing to go unprotected. Then the price came down. More pressure and then I booted him.

They looked interesting at the time. I would recommend adding current standard alarms but since they aren’t hard wired and don’t take batteries, what harm in keeping them? They should just be the back-up.

i’d also recomend an upgrade. based solely on the fact that once it goes off, how do you “reset” it. can you still buy the center “woods metal” to replace it? how do you test it? if it were me, i’d leave it up for conversation, but add some smokes near by.

After a stint teaching SCUBA in the Keys, then hard-hat construction diving in Pensacola Bay ('73?), a was needing $ and took a job to (attempt to sell) those things.

It was one of the low points of my career, & didn’t last long at all . . .


Sorry to dig up an old thread, but like Russ, I also sold these. They, IMO are still the best - require no power to operate, guaranteed will work once you pop off the sensor on the front (or it gets too hot and pops itself off)!

I don’t get the idea of ‘upgrade’ when no upgrade can do what this kinda old ugly looking things can do. It’ll still work during a nuclear strike. These noisy bastards are the bomb, they will wake up even the heaviest sleeper, and jeez man, when’s the last time you did a test on your smoke alarms and it actually woke you or your family up?

These fellas will wake up the Kremlin all the way from Washington DC.

My stint was in like 1978 with this ugly system. It rocks though. Wish I could find at least one for my house now. After multiple lightning strikes here, tons of electronics damage r/r over the years, there is no substitute for a real alarm that will work when nothing else will.

I would definitely sleep better.

PS: like sstanczyk said, keep them… but imo, they wouldn’t be the back up, they would be the real reason why I wouldn’t have to be concerned about some electronic pos made in china to get zapped and not work when I least expected it.

The ones I have hanging in the shop/storage are (L) Vulcan Autosonic Mark 60 (manual wind-up 135°F heat sensor) must be used in conjunction with smoke detectors per labeling and the ® Vulacn PVR Mark II Smoke Detector (photoelectric 120V no battery back-up)

U.S. Safety & Engineering Corp.
Vulcan Headquarters
2365 El Camino Ave.
Sacto, CA 95821

A blast from the past!

We just aquired 6 of these detectors. Can you tell me how to manually discharge one?

Thanks in advance

Push the rectangle flag in and down while depressing the center button on the back this will allow the alarm to CHIME until it has unwound.

This may take some time and is very loud.

i have one of this but its a masterguard fire protection system. Its does have the winding device and has 136F on a what i guess is called a fuse on the front and yes it still works very lound are this alarms still sold today and what are they woth any ideas thanking about selling mine thanks in adavance

No upgrade required. It is a fire alarm. The fuse is visible from the front. They can be more reliable than a smoke alarm when a fire burns cleanly creating heat without smoke. But because they work with heat, there is very, very little time to escape since a fire is already burning. Some homes can go up in a matter of minutes and they are a great supplement for family protection.

There should be a small tab on the back…you can push it in or push it in and down to lock it on…it can also be used as a Burglar alarm
you tie a string to the tab then to a small chain then put a hook in the door and hook the chain to the door…it has to be mounted so that when the chain is pulled ie: the door is opened it will pull the tab into the lock position and the string will break ie: so as not to break the tab off. I was there when my Mom bought these and I still use them. The heat sensor will reset itself and does not have to be replaced if they are set off with heat.
They are the best

That post was almost 4 years ago. I hope he is not still waiting for a timely answer.