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A Brief History of the Airfield Lighting Products Supplied by AMERACE

The early days with A'G'A

The Elastimold Era

The Amerace Era

The Thomas & Betts Era

The early days with A'G'A

In 1917, the American Gas Accumulator Company, which was a leader in the production of lighthouse equipment, supplied the United States Navy with one of the world's first aeronautical beacons. As aerial navigation progressed, A'G'A was called upon to install its equipment on the first lighted airways in the United States and Canada.
As an active member of the aviation ground lighting industry during the '20s and '30s, A'G'A was in a position to supply, directly or indirectly during World War II, substantially all of the needs of the allied armed forces for mobile field lighting trucks, portable-by-air floodlights, portable field lighting sets, and other similar aids.

The necessity for modernizing underground distribution systems for airport lighting at the close of the war induced A'G'A to concentrate its efforts on improving direct-burial transformers and cable connectors.

Iron Pot Transformer

Elastimold Era

Elastimold molded rubber transformers and cable connectors were the result of the development work of A'G'A and the company which succeeded it, the Elastic Stop Nut Corporation of America, or Esna.

The original Elastimold products were transformers encased in a watertight molded neoprene rubber cover, and associated cable connectors. They provided a new standard of safety for airport runways and taxiway lighting systems. (These systems could now be protected from short circuits, and would maintain their electrical integrity even when operating completely submersed.) The reliability of these products soon made them standard equipment for all classes of airports.

Neoprene transformer

Elastimold continued this record of innovation by introducing primary connector kits in the early '50s, and secondary kits in the late '50s.

In 1968, the Amerace Corporation and the Elastic Stop Nut Corporation of America merged to form the Amerace-Esna Corporation – which subsequently became the Amerace Corporation. The Elastimold Division was one division of this widely diversified manufacturer.

In 1984, worldwide product responsibility and all production of Airfield Lighting Products was consolidated at Amerace Ltd. in Canada.

The Amerace Era

Amerace Ltd. became involved with airport lighting in 1950 when production of FAA style transformers, i.e. without earth (ground) connection was begun to supply the Canadian market.

In 1972 production began on an epoxy transformer without leads, including an earth connection. Typical leakage currents were less than 2 micro amps versus the 12 micro amperes or greater of FAA style neoprene transformers.

After the consolidation of all airport lighting activity in 1984, Amerace accelerated efforts to export to markets around the world. This was aided by the availability of earthed transformers (ICAO style) used extensively in some parts of Europe or where European influence was strong.

Epoxy transformer

In 1985, the epoxy transformer designs were changed to incorporate FAA style leads, like those on neoprene transformers.

In 1987, Amerace Ltd. began an R&D project to 'build a transformer that was both better than an epoxy type, and less expensive than a neoprene one', using a new encapsulating compound, a thermoplastic. This material had better characteristics than both neoprene and epoxy.

ICAO Style transformer with earth connection (1)

During 1987-1990, the R&D project confirmed that the TPR material was indeed very advantageous for isolating transformer construction. In addition, the base transformer construction was changed to a bobbin approach, thus further increasing reliability.

In 1989 the Amerace Corporation was sold to Eagle Industries of Chicago, and Amerace Ltd. became a subsidiary of Eagle.

In June of 1990 FAA approval was received for the first new model, and shipments began.

During 1990-1992, all other transformers were converted to the new material, including FAA style (no earth), ICAO style (with earth), and CSA style epoxy (with earth).

In February 1993 CSA approval was received for the new transformers.

In April 1993 all neoprene and epoxy transformer production ended with ongoing supply in TPR.

Thomas & Betts Era

In January 1996 the Amerace Corporation was bought from Eagle Industries by the Thomas & Betts Corporation, and Amerace Ltd. (Canada) became Amerace, A Division of Thomas & Betts. Responsibility for airfield lighting products continues.

Amerace continued to grow to its current position as the largest supplier of series transformers and connectors in the world. New production capacity has been added, and new products such as improved primary connectors, the Super Kits, introduced, both for FAA cable and screened cable, as well as high temperature fixture leads.


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