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Welcome to our Question & Answer Bulletin Board -- a bulletin board for collectors and anyone else to post questions about railroadiana and related history. Please note that we do not deal with contemporary railroading. This board is moderated (all volunteer) but is not staffed by "experts". Rather it relies on everyone to share what they know. Any question or reply about railroadiana is welcome except the following:

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Latest 50 Questions:

 Q3196 A&W Logo Change  What year did A&W (Adams & Westlake) change from the hex logo to the Adlake logo? Thanks.  Posted Wednesday, August 24, 2016 by Tim C.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3195 Builder's Plate  Could you please give me some information on a builder plate from Baldwin Locomotive works 18196? Year is 1900. What engine number did this go on? It appears to be mounted like a plaque.  Posted Monday, August 22, 2016 by RO   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. If it is a real Baldwin plate there should be a class code stamped in the back (ex. 8-16D-59). If you post this number I could find the specs sheet, Engine No., and railroad for your plate. These plates were mounted on the smokebox of the locomotive typically (unless it's off of a tank engine with tank extending far past the front flue sheet). If by plaque you're referring to it being on a wooden mount, that's not original, but they make nice displays. **Note: Do not clean the back of the plate any more than needed to find the stamped code. Some insist this decreases value of plate. Pictures are always nice if possible, too. Posted Tuesday, August 23, 2016 by K.H.O.

A. After removing plate from stand I found that someone had marked engine # with chalk; it is very faint but looks like #358. A light cleaning on code# looks like 10-38E-1538. What is this code used for? There are also some other faint chalk marks but can't quite make them out looks like W.C ? Thank you for your information. Will try to send pictures. Posted Wednesday, August 24, 2016 by RO

 Q3194 Lantern Info Needed  Can you tell me anything about this RR Lantern?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, August 20, 2016 by DCP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Appears to be a German Rail Road lantern. Probably post WWII unless marked with Deutsche Reichsbahn insignia. See Link 1 Link 1  Posted Sunday, August 21, 2016 by JS

 Q3193 RR Lantern Handles  Here are pictures of various RR lanterns. Why do the handles of all of these (originally I thought this was an individual defect or damage) have an odd 'bend' in the handle? Do you know what its purpose is?  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, August 17, 2016 by Chris W   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I have lanterns like that too. J bet if you grip them your thumb will end up there. Probably gives better control when swinging. Posted Thursday, August 18, 2016 by JN

A. agree with jn, it is for your thumb, most common on dietz vestas. Posted Thursday, August 18, 2016 by dc

A. The bail (handle) on that lantern in the center was originally on a Dietz Vesta. The thumb notch is typical of Dietz Vesta, even the bends at the end where it is attatched is typical. Posted Thursday, August 18, 2016 by dc

A. This ergonomic bail was added to the Dietz Vesta in the early 30's as near as I can place it at least to 1933 or earlier? It was designed to fit the hand (gloved works best) for a better grip. The thumb rests in the "notch" and the fingers in the bend just below that. These were used not only on the Dietz Vesta but also on the Dietz No.999 Railroad lantern and on the Dietz 8-Day lanterns both with square and round fount versions. Posted Friday, August 19, 2016 by W.M.

 Q3192 'The Handlan' Lantern  Does anyone know approximately how old this lantern is or have the patent dates for it? Can't find the patent dates anywhere, think they must've been on the fount, which is missing. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, August 9, 2016 by KO   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. As a starting point, this lantern appears to be very close to the Handlan No. 177 lantern pictured in the 1918 catalog pages reproduced in the Archives section of this RRiana site (See Link). Handlan at that time was heavily promoting "Electrically Welded...Constructed Entirely Without the Use of Solder." Maybe WW I restrictions on use of lead and tin encouraged that(?).  Link 1  Posted Friday, August 12, 2016 by RJMc

A. Thanks for the link and general idea, though this lantern has all soldered joints.  Posted Saturday, August 13, 2016 by KHO

A. From what I can see of the very top it appears to be a Handlan Buck "The Handlan". I figure the firm switched from marking Handlan Buck to just Handlan somewhere around 1913-1915 or so. I would guess your lantern is from around 1906-1913, give or take. This style looks to have been an adaptation to compete the the TL Moore smaller lighter weight lantern. It's obviously a little earlier what with the soldered joints and the leaf thumblatch. Posted Sunday, August 14, 2016 by BobF

 Q3191 West Side Lumber Baggage Tag?  Anyone have any idea on the authenticity of this item? Wouldn't have thought West Side would've ever used baggage tags, and if they did I'd think they would've been marked HH&HV for their 'passenger' operations, not West Side Flume and Lumber.......thoughts appreciated. Such a thing would be very, very easy to fake.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, August 6, 2016 by KO   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I think this is a tool check. That would make more sense. A worker takes this tag and leaves it on the tool rack when he borrows a tool. He takes gets the check back when he returns the tool after he finishes using it. Almost every railroad or industrial application of any kind used tool checks. They still do in one form or another. Industries need to keep track of their tools. Posted Sunday, August 7, 2016 by JN

A. You're right, likely it is a tool check...don't know how I didn't think of that. Does anyone have any ideas on the authenticity of it though?  Posted Sunday, August 7, 2016 by KHO

 Q3190 What Type of Lamp?  Hello, Can you tell me what type a lamp this is? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, August 3, 2016 by Patrick   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It's obviously unusual, but as nobody else has replied, here's a suggestion from England. I have a lamp of basically similar type, though rather more ornate. It's slightly larger than a standard office lamp but, like your example, has a deep ruby/red outer glass, which would make it no good for lighting purposes. My lamp is of railway origin- it bears a soldered-on brass plate marked "Great Eastern Railway, District Inspector's Office, Liverpool St. No.27", Liverpool Street being one of the main London rail termini. It's purpose puzzled me for a long time, until a specialist lamp collector told me that it's not for lighting purposes, it's an office heater.  Posted Monday, August 8, 2016 by JAJ

A.  The lamp is a Kosmos lamp intended as an ‘’insert pot’‘ for a decorated holder. There is no collar to indicate the font could have been used in a gimbal mount for mobile use in a rail car. The weight of the red glass shade and lack of a weighted font would defeat use in a gimbal in any case. Furthermore, there is no indication of adaptation for a wall mount. Thus the identification of this as a ‘’partial lamp’‘ or pot insert seems most likely, which makes identification as a lamp for railroad lamp quite difficult. The wick winder knob should have some indicia which would help identify the manufacturer (almost certainly European) but the knob was not shown in the photo. For more information on Kosmos lamps, go here > Miles Stair The Wick Shoppe  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, August 10, 2016 by Miles

 Q3189 What is It?  Here is a pail/bucket/can that has 'Handlan St. Louis U.S.A.' imprinted on it. Can anyone identify what it is or its purpose?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, August 3, 2016 by BL   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. In the not-so-"Good Old Days" the toilets on passenger cars dumped straight out through the floor of the car, usually onto the track. This became a major problem "where Pullman cars and private cars are required to stand in the terminal while occupied." This quote is from the Link, which is to a 1916 American Master Mechanics Assoc. publication describing on pages 721 thru 743 how the industry was standardizing all kinds of tinware, and there are about 40 really great dimensioned drawings of torches, oil cans, sand cans, fire buckets, and 'soil cans' similar to yours. The 'soil cans' were often called 'honey buckets.' The industry stamdards ultimately adopted in the 1916 time period explain why virtually every RR oil can in North America looks the same, regardless of manufacturer or using RR.  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, August 3, 2016 by RJMc

A. The 'Standardized Tinware' pages mentioned above have now been added as a link from the 'Tinware' page on this site, and will be much easier to access there than in the 1,000 page document in the Link above.  Link 1  Posted Monday, August 8, 2016 by RJMc

 Q3188 Blenko Railroad Lantern Globes  Are the Blenko globes old stock as some people say or are they newly made globes in old patterns?  Posted Sunday, July 31, 2016 by RP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Blenko has been in business since 1893. They have an online site at Still in business so you be the judge. Don't see where they are presently making RR globes. Posted Sunday, July 31, 2016 by dc

A. OK -some seller claims his or her globe is made by Blenko. The question that needs to be asked is what proof is there? From a quick reading about Blenko marks, most of their glass went out with a paper or foil Blenko sticker attached. Some high end pieces had an etched or cast "signature". On that un-named but ever popular auction site, a seller has a blue AT & SF cast blue globe and claims it came from the Blenko warehouse. But no Blenko sticker or markings are on the globe. Globe is about 6 inches tall and the glass is very thick. "AT & SF RR" is cast in an oval panel and the letters are pretty crude looking, IMO. Blenko makes higher end glass pieces - would they stoop to make junky looking railroad lantern globes? Links are to web sites relating to identifying Blenko glass.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Monday, August 1, 2016 by JEM

A. I forgot to add that the seller of the blue globe I mentioned above claims it was made around 15 years ago.  Posted Monday, August 1, 2016 by JEM

A. Went to the Blenko site and clicked "contact us" asked if they are presently making or have ever made railroad lantern globes with embossed lettering. Awaiting reply. Will post. dc  Posted Monday, August 1, 2016 by dc

A. Contacted Blenco on Aug.1, said they would respond within 72 hrs. Now Aug.6 No response. Posted Saturday, August 6, 2016 by dc

A. What I find extremely curious about the "Blenko" globe is that no one in any publication since I got into organized collecting in the early 1970's has ever listed Blenko as a globe maker. Consider that tall globe lantern production other than some Dietz models seems to have ceased in the 1930's. There would still no doubt be a need for replacement parts like globes for some time after that. By the 1940's or certainly the 1950's I can't imagine anything other than unmarked replacement globes being produced for a tall globe lantern, certainly nothing with cast lettering. How would one expect a company like Blenko to jump into a dead (other than collectors) market and develop molds, etc. for production after the railroad market disappeared? I've looked at that blue cast AT&SF globe on the unnamed site and the production quality appears to be terrible with ridiculously thick glass and generally poor overall standards.  Posted Saturday, August 6, 2016 by BobF

 Q3187 Brill Lamp  I purchased this brass oil lamp at an estate sale and it has a 'plate'with J. G. BRILL COMPANY, PHILADELPHIA on it. I understand they made trolley cars, buses, etc. Is this considered a railroad lamp and also where and how was it used?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, July 24, 2016 by Dorothy   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Just looking at the photo, the base does have an old look, but the wick raiser and globe look cheaply made. And I am very wary of any RR related items having a soldered-on tag. That is usually the calling card of Asian made fantasy items. On the plus side, I've never come across this before, and as we all know they don't turn out fake items in the dozens, its more like 12,000. A closer photo of the tag mighty help. Posted Tuesday, July 26, 2016 by DA

A. Some context: the electric trolley car and the electric light bulb came on the commercial scene at much the same time, becoming popular around 1890. Trolley cars, with their guaranteed source of electricity, got electric lighting very early on and therefore did not need kerosene lamps. But horse cars and cable cars did not have electrical supplies, and horsecars were not finally eliminated in New York City until 1917 (see link). Brill sold both horse cars and cable cars, so there is some possible application for inside illumination there. The unusual shape of the fount might argue for being contained in a wide but shallow box, for lighting a sign, for example. And that use might be part of car 'standard equipment' which might get delivered with, and stay with, a car, unlike interior lamps that probably got worn out and replaced often.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, July 26, 2016 by RJMc

A. Seems rather fragile to be used in any means of conveyance. That chimney could easily be tipped over and come out of its mounting. Looks to be for indoor use. Posted Tuesday, July 26, 2016 by dc

A. I agree that it looks delicate, but Nickel Plate Road wooden cabooses (for example) used very similar lamps in marker boxes on each side of cupolas, possibly into the 1960's. The lamp was inserted into the box from inside the cupola. Another possibility to consider: Brill was in business from the 1860's; it might have been used at the Brill plant. Where was it found? Posted Tuesday, July 26, 2016 by RJMc

A. The previous owner kept a file card on each of her oil lamps. This lamp was purchased at the Arlington Race Track Antique Show on April 1, 1977 from a person from Pittsburgh, PA. Brill Company was at Philadelphia, PA. I don't believe the chimney is original. Here's a closeup of the tag. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, July 26, 2016 by Dorothy

A. Just brainstorming - The applied label could well have been attached by the Brill company to this lamp (and others) that they purchased for use. Certainly they had offices that would need light fixtures. ALSO - I wonder if the burner/chimney is the original? wondering if this pot was made to fit inside a larger lamp similar to a switch lamp situation ?  Posted Monday, August 22, 2016 by JS

 Q3186 French Railway Lantern  Bonjour. We bought a copper lantern in a French Online Buy & Sell. The lantern is very solid and heavy and looks very old but after reading so much about fakes we are now not sure. It is supposed to have been an SNCF (the French Railway started in 1827), lantern. However it has no makers marks or date. One of the brass bars at the front of the lantern is missing. The red glass looks slightly too new to be original but we are only guessing. It is a lovely thing but we want to be sure before we sell it that it is not a fake. We understand that you may not be able to help us as it is French, but it is nearly impossible to find any information in France. Kind regards,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, July 24, 2016 by Chris & Susan   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It is indeed a handsome lamp, but doubt that is SNCF or even railway/railroad. In fact, it dosn't look particularly French! (Most French lamps/lanterns have a characteristic spun copper chimney cap, unlike this one.) The SNCF is the French National Railway, formed when the railways were nationalised in 1938, SNCF lamps are invariably marked. Your lamp looks more like a marine navigation lantern. Posted Tuesday, July 26, 2016 by JAJ

 Q3185 Lantern Info Needed  I recently purchased my first kerosene lantern and am working on making it functional. I was on lanternet reading up on how to identify the age of a Dietz lantern but I’m not seeing the normal identifying marks. I know it’s a Dietz D-Lite No. 2 with a red globe that has Loc Nob on the globe. The globe tilts out. The etching on the right of the air tube is fairly clear. But I can’t find an 'M' or 'S' followed by month and year. Here’s best what I can make out. Each group is on separate line below. There’s certainly a chance that I have a digit or 2 off. 8911 or 6911 1795542 1892292 D101113 2062051 078125 45 Thanks, any help or even a recommendation on a forum about these lanterns would be appreciated.  Posted Friday, July 22, 2016 by Dan D   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The M or S followed by a date were only stamped on Dietz Vesta Rail Road Lanterns. Your D-lite with a red globe was probably used as a warning lantern by a construction company or utility company on the roads. With a clear globe it would be a typical barn type lantern. Posted Sunday, July 24, 2016 by GS

A. As noted - the D-Lite is a common non-railroad "barn" style tubular lantern, and with a red globe most likely used in a hazard warning capacity. W.T. Kirkman's web site covers most or all Dietz lanterns - look for the D-Lite under cold blast lanterns -see link below. More info about the D-Lite is found using the next link.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Sunday, July 24, 2016 by JEM

A. The numbers stamped on the air tube of the streamlined D-Lites are the actual patent numbers themselves rather than the usual Patent dates stamped on the non-streamlined models and should read as follows: Patented 1795542 1892292 D101113 2062051 2078125 S-?-? (You fill in the ?'s) There should be no "M" the main plant closed in 1931 and production consolidated with the Syracuse plant "S" before the Streamlined models were introduced. Sometimes these stampings are tweaked and obliterated during the stamping process with all the beading in the tubes or filled in during painting and are difficult to read. My recommendation for a forum for you would be W.T. Kirkmans' "Tubular Lantern Collectors"group on facebook.  Posted Friday, August 19, 2016 by W.M.

 Q3184 Hole in the Bottom  I have noticed on some models of lanterns that there is a hole in the bottom of the lantern while others don't have it. Is there a significance to the hole or is it something someone added for the purpose of converting it to electric? Thanks for any replies.  Posted Monday, July 18, 2016 by dolgor   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I believe in most cases it was added as a drain for any rain water that may have gotten in. Lanterns are sometimes found where the fount is rusted in so badly it is very difficult to remove. Another use is in the lantern shop it could be pushed down over a dowel in the bench to remove fount. Posted Monday, July 18, 2016 by dc

A. Thinking more of daily use, the bottom hole provides an exit for any spilled kerosene if the fount is refilled still in the lantern. Also as mentioned, the hole provides a way to push out the fount to get it out for refilling; the smooth round surfaces of the fount and lantern body fit tightly together and tend to get wedged when either one gets slightly out-of-round or picks up some dirt. And the fine brass threads on the burner and the fairly thin stamped metal burner parts aren't made for pulling and hauling the fount out, against a tightly wedged fit. The surfaces can also form an air seal, particularly when wet with kerosene, and the bottom hole allows air access to break any vacuum formed when trying to pull the fount out of the lantern base.  Posted Wednesday, July 20, 2016 by RJMc

A. The Adams & Westlake Company began putting drain holes in the bottom of its ADLAKE KERO models in the 1950's. KERO models with drain holes made prior to that time would have been added outside the factory. Posted Thursday, July 21, 2016 by JH

 Q3183 Milwaukee Lantern Questions  I've got a couple questions about this lantern that I bought last week and got cleaned up. First off, is the chain on the bail an actual Milwaukee Road modification? If so, does anyone know what it was used for? I'm going to be using this while conducting on an 1880 NG Milwaukee Road wood caboose so I want to keep it as historically correct for the Milwaukee Road as possible. Figured it was not an original railroad modification, but looking through pictures of Milwaukee Road lanterns, I saw one other lantern with such a chain, which made me curious. And the last thing: is this the correct bottom for this lantern? I've never seen an Adlake Beehive with this style of bottom clip stopper. Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, July 17, 2016 by K.H.O.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. You should do a half turn and take (and post) a photo showing it from that angle. The part I believe you're asking about doesn't show from the photo. It looks like the proper bell bottom, as it is a later model (1910 and later era). The oil font looks to be missing. Posted Tuesday, July 19, 2016 by BobF

A. Sorry about that. Thought I had attached another picture showing closer detail of the bell bottom clasp stopper. All the other Adlakes of this model I have seen have a wire stopper instead of having a buldge stamped into the sheet metal. With this considered, is this still the right bell bottom? Yes it is a later model, it has pat. May 1908 stamped (not embossed like the other patent, May 1985) on the lid. You're right about the fount, it was cut out as somewhere down the line it was electrified. In this picture you can see the fount that I fabricated for it. If anyone out there has any details or even theories about the chain, I'd love to hear them. In my railroading experience with kerosene lanterns I've never thought, 'hey, a chain on the bail would be nice now', though I don't want to speculate before I go cutting off a piece of Milwaukee Road history. Thanks.  Link 1  Posted Friday, July 22, 2016 by KHO

A. Just realized I wrote Patent May 1985-meant Patent May 1895. Posted Friday, July 22, 2016 by K.H.O.

A. Thanks for the second photo. That is how Adlake made the clasp/stopper on later bell bottom lanterns. The earlier models had the brass wire stopper. You have the correct bottom for the lantern. As to the chain, i can't figure out why anyone on the RR would have put it there. I suspect it was added later after leaving the RR. Posted Friday, July 22, 2016 by BobF

A. I can see maybe using that chain to hang the lantern from a handrail, say on the back of a caboose, or on the back of a freight car where a light was required when backing up a cut of cars at night, where there was no provision to secure the lantern, particularly over grade crossings. Since the handrails are closed and fastened at both ends, there is no way to put the bail over the rail. Either a hook or some kind of clip would be needed to close up the length of chain around some such support. Is the top of the bail worn, or are there other impact marks on the body, consistent with swinging from the chain? My recollection is that rule books showed the light should have been red (red globe, for warning) if used as a trailing marker, but white (clear globe, for both illumination and warning) if used with the blind end leading. Posted Saturday, July 23, 2016 by RJMc

A. Regardless of any previous use cannot see dragging that chain around while working as a conductor. Save the chain if you think it is of any historical significance. Posted Sunday, July 24, 2016 by dc

A. I agree with DC. That chain poses an actual hazard to safety. It's at best a distraction and could get caught in or on something causing you to drop the lantern or lose your balance; very dangerous! On an actual revenue operating railroad, an official would see that chain and order you to remove it and maybe write you up for a safety violation. -- I once had to explain to a very tearful switchman's wife why her husband didn't wear his wedding ring to work; could cost him his LIFE!! Jewelry frequently got caught on the darnedest pieces of equipment, and often tearing the owner's finger or whole hand off in the process!! I was in the Council Bluffs yard office one night when we got a call from the Train Master letting us know that one of the clerks we all knew at the Omaha Piggy Back loading ramp had been rushed to the hospital. His glove had gotten caught while loading a trailer and it pulled (pulled, not cut) his thumb right off his hand! They found the glove with his thumb still in it, but couldn't reattach it. Dangerous business, railroading. -- That chain in the question was most likely added by a post railroad owner to hang it up by. Do take it off for safety sake. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Sunday, July 24, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Interesting theory about hanging it off of a handrail; we always hang our lanterns from the air dump pipe on our coaches (though I likely won't do that with this lantern as I'm not going to risk damages to the lantern from it jarring around in an emergency-application stop since it's much more fragile than our electric lanterns). As for the safety hazard, I wasn't going to keep the chain dangling. I know that would prove dangerous. For now, I clipped the loose chain end to the other side of the bail. Will probably end up lightly heating up the chain link on the bail and carefully bending the chain link appart to get it off without wrecking the chain. Thanks for the concerns and comments, KHO  Posted Monday, July 25, 2016 by K.H.O.

 Q3182 What is This?  What is this? Metal. Green patina. Makes me think brass. About 9 inches tall, very heavy. Thanks for your site.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, July 17, 2016 by Cliff   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is a 'Friction Bearing Journal Brass.' Before roller bearings were used, a 'journal brass' such as this sat on the top of every axle and provided the interface between the non-rotating part of the car or locomotive, and the rotating steel axle surface. The bottom of your 'brass' should be coated with a silvery metal layer of 'Babbitt' metal (almost like solder); a softer and better bearing surface than the plain brass would provide. Liquid oil from the 'journal box' was carried up into the surface to lubricate the bearing. When that lubrication failed for any reason, the hottest part of the 'hotbox' was the bottom surface of the brass you have, which got hot enough to get white hot, melt and catch the remaining oil and packing in the journal box on fire. The brasses were expensive enough, and there were so many of them, that the RR that bought it originally, in this case C&O, had their initials cast right in when it was made. The 5x9 stands for 5 inch diameter axle by 9 inch wide brass bearing surface, an industry standard size which would fit a bearing suitable for a 50-ton rated freight car. The MCB stands for 'Master Car Builders' which was the overall RR industry mechanical standards group before the Association of American Railroads (AAR) took over those standards functions some time around 1930. The number which looks like 7-37 might actually be the month and date of casting, since the specifications and patterns for parts such as this journal brass remained standard and did not need to change for decades after the name of the standards organization had long since changed. Friction bearing journals such as this are still commonly used in some parts of the world, but have been banned on North American main line RR's because roller bearings are more efficient and require far less maintenance.  Posted Monday, July 18, 2016 by RJMc

A. See also prior Q 1267 for more discussion and references about this kind of bearing. Posted Monday, July 18, 2016 by RJMc

A. Of Interest -- RJMc in the above mentions that Journal Brass was an expensive component. Because of the copper content in brass, brass has always had a high scrap metal value. Also, the scrap metal business has historically had a very shady side to it, frequently with ties to the mob, and often not too concerned about where scrap metal came from or how it was "acquired". It was pretty easy to remove journal brass from the journal box; mostly involving placing a jack under the bottom of the journal box and lifting it up (and the truck frame with it) until the weight of the car (via the truck frame) was lifted off the brass and axle. With a little work, the brass could then be removed from the journal box and carted off to the local scrap metal dealer (one reason railroads marked them!). This was a huge problem for railroads, especially during the Depression, when money was so hard to come by. Otherwise honest families would occasionally "borrow" a little brass from the railroad to help make the mortgage payment. There were also gangs that made a career out of this. In larger cities where metal dealers actually melted down scrap, they would coordinate times with large volume "salvagers" and have a pot of molten metal waiting and toss the brasses right in the pot to destroy the evidence as soon as it got there! -- Also, as RJMc mentions, a hot bearing could literally get white hot, so hot that the end of the axle would actually break off as the steel softened from the heat, causing catastrophic derailments as the truck then collapsed and fell apart. - Yours is a particularly interesting and collectable piece as not many of these have survived, most being melted down. Due to their weight and shape, a number of them did end up as door stops for large and heavy doors in various railroad buildings and survived that way. ---- .... Red Beard  Posted Monday, July 18, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Q2122 in the archives has a lot of information about journals in it. Posted Tuesday, July 19, 2016 by KM

 Q3181 What Brand and Size Burner?  I just recently purchased a C.P.R. Lantern that someone has converted to and electric light bulb and I would like to restore it back to the original burner and fount if I could. On the bottom of the lantern it has: Adlake - Kero 4 - 51. On the top it has CPR Hiram L. Piper Co Ltd. Can you tell me what style and size of fount and burner would fit this? I am totally new to this and never have had anything to do with lanterns. Thank you for any help.  Posted Sunday, July 17, 2016 by dolgor   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It would be either an Adlake #300 font and burner or an Adlake #400 font and burner. The difference is that a #300 takes a 5/8" wide wick, while the #400 takes a 7/8" wide wick. The #300 font and burner are still produced by Adlake, while the #400 is no longer produced. Both types can be found for sale on eBay. Posted Sunday, July 17, 2016 by BobF

A. Thank you for the quick reply. Posted Sunday, July 17, 2016 by Q3181

 Q3180 C&EI Dressel Lantern  I recently purchased a Dressel kero lantern, stamped C&EI RR. Looking through your lantern survey, I noticed that C&EI is not listed in your known Dressel railroad list. The lantern is painted gray and it has the patent number stamped in the bottom, like the war time Dressel lanterns. Therefore, gray paint could be correct. The letters on the shade are 1/4 in. high and appear to be very uniformly spaced and following the curve of the shade, not like individual letters, stamped with single letter stamps. The red globe is etched with C&E.I. R.R., in 3/8 in. letters and underneath SAFETY FIRST, in 1/4 in. letters. The lantern's gray paint is uniform semi-gloss and almost pristine condition, except for the bale, which is worn from handling/hanging. The inside of the chimney and font holder is painted in the same paint. If you think this lantern is authentic, then you might want to add it to your Dressel lantern survey. If you think it's not authentic, then please share your thoughts with me. It's a beautiful lantern. If it's a fake, someone went to a lot of trouble and expense, to create it.Let me know what you think. Thank you,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, July 12, 2016 by Lance B   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. As far as we know, this lantern model has not been faked or reproduced, so your lantern is very likely the real deal. The C&EI marking has been added to the Dressel short globe lantern page. Thanks for the new marking. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, July 12, 2016 by Web Editor

A. I've had several just like yours. It's legit. Posted Tuesday, July 12, 2016 by BobF

 Q3179 Cleaning Oil Smells?  I'm sorry if this is a strange question, but after searching on the Internet, you seem to be the best option for this question: I recently purchased a very old railway cart. It's so beautiful. I want to use it in the house, but the odor is quite off-putting. I believe the smells are from the metal and oils on the metal, but there may be some oil that seeped into the wood as well. My Significant Other suggested applying polyurethane to the wood, so as to seal the odor in, but I am very much against that idea, due to the decrease in value and authentic appearance. Does anyone have any suggestions for cleaning the metals and wood that would take away the oil odor, but not decrease the value? Thank you in advance for taking the time to read and respond to my questions!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, July 12, 2016 by Robyn   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. First off; There are no "strange" or "stupid" questions. Bringing "smelly" items into the house is actually a pretty common issue with old railroad pieces. - That is a really nice old cart. Polyurethane will ruin it; so don't go that direction. - You are going to have to pin down the exact source(s) of that smell. Seriously here, get down on all fours and sniff that thing, inch by inch, like a hound dog would. Do this first at room temperature and then set it out in the hot sun for 20 minutes and do it again. Figure out exactly where the odor is located; and don't get squeamish about it! - Some old greases used to lubricate metal can really stink; almost like rotting meat. If it's a lube oil of some sort, you can dissolve and flush most of that out by flooding the offending area with WD-40. - Start by either taking the wood deck off, or covering it with a plastic garbage bag sealed at the edges with duct tape. (if you get the WD-40 on/into the wood, you'll have a new odor problem to deal with) - Flood the area, let it set a while and flood again till the grease starts to ooze out. After it is softened and well worked out, work some good quality liquid dish detergent in there several times and then rinse all of the detergent out with water, let it dry in the sun and lightly lube the area with a modern low odor oil (electric motor repair shops will have a bearing oil that has almost no smell to it) - If the odor is in the wood from kerosene or diesel fuel, I'd recommend xylene. ($20/gallon at a real paint store) Be careful here as it is highly flammable and you don't want to breathe it or get it on your skin. Outside and away from any ignition sources, flood the wood repeatedly to try to soften and draw out the residue. Lightly use a medium stiffness brush to avoid taking the patina off the wood. (you will loose some patina) Make a thick solution of powdered Tide laundry detergent and hot water (Tide is the best, but not liquid Tide) and gently work that into the wood while it is still damp with the xylene. Let that sit for a few minutes and rinse well with the garden hose. Let it dry well in the sun and do the same the next day - xylene and then Tide. You won't get all the smell of fuel oils out, but you can knock it down quite a bit. (a little odor adds to the nostalgia) ---- .... Red Beard Posted Tuesday, July 12, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. A first impression is that this is the kind of cart used in roundhouses, foundries, or other areas such as machine shops to carry heavy parts or molds. Note the very heavy solid cast iron or steel wheels; necessary to haul heavy parts on rough floors. Everything that is used around a machine shop gets soaked with cutting oil that usually has a sulfur component and that may be what you are smelling. Machined parts carried on the cart would be almost dripping wet with the cutting fluid. As already mentioned, other likely candidates for the source of your issue are petroleum-based fuels or lubricants, and all of these liquids tend to penetrate heavily into anything that is at all absorbent. Looking at the cart, you need to be aware that even the cast metal wheels can absorb some liquids and if this is the case, getting them back out of the metal (to a level below detectability by smell) is extremely difficult. Almost the only approach is some form of degreasing process to dissolve the offending liquids back out and away from the item ('dry cleaning' on a bigger scale). Do you have any more info on the kind of facility where the cart may have been used?  Posted Wednesday, July 13, 2016 by RJMc

A. "Simple Green" also works wonders on getting oils off metal and wood - but it has a smell to it also that many find objectionable. -- As always with cleaning products, use the original, not the store brand knock-off. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Thursday, July 21, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Using polyurethane will NOT "seal in" any odor. It will only ADD to the STINK. Polyurethane on ANY antique piece completely destroys its value. Suggest you follow the guys' ideas about metal cleaning. If you have to take the boards off to do that, try sprinkling them with kitty litter (plain not the scented type) and wrapping in plastic, leave them wrapped while you are working on the metal. Then unwrap and air out for a while. Once you get the wood finally clean and lightly sanded you can try a half and half mixture of turpentine and boiled linseed oil as a final cleaner, which will add great color and a nice scent.  Posted Monday, August 22, 2016 by js

 Q3178 Bell Info Needed  I picked up this bell at an estate sale and want to learn whatever I can about it. The seller's father worked in a rail yard and said it came from a decommissioned train about 50 years ago. It measures 11 1/2 in. tall and 15 in. in diameter. It isn't magnetic and is extremely heavy. Any help or information would be appreciated!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, July 10, 2016 by JA   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  This bell appears to be from a diesel locomotive, possibly one made by EMD. I am puzzled by the 15" diameter of the mouth because usually the bell height would be greater than the diameter of the mouth. By chance did you reverse the two dimensions? See Q 2707, 2650, 2629 and 1837 in the Archives for more information on EMD bells. What is missing is the air operated bell ringer mechanism. Contact Curran Castings if you wish to try and get a mounting for this bell that will let you ring it. Note that this bell was not made to swing in a mount, it was always permanently and securely mounted and the only part that moved was the clapper. Posted Saturday, July 16, 2016 by KM

 Q3177 Southern Ry Sign  I saw this Southern Railway sign at a flea market. I did not purchase it, but I was wondering if anyone has ever seen a sign like this before and if anyone has any thoughts on it? Is it real or did someone create it? If it is genuine, where would a sign like this had been used? Thank you for any information that anyone can give me.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, July 9, 2016 by JN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I think it's genuine. It looks like it's painted on a piece of plywood, correct? The lettering is too sharp and the placement is too exact not to have come out of a company sign shop. Railroads needed to mark all sorts things with explanatory signage, and most often used the company logo on any signs they created. Some uses on other roads I've seen are; company parking lots, team track access, piggy-back trailer loading and unloading areas, the entrance road to all sorts of facilities, company hotel or dining hall, road entrance to a terminal area or shops or the dining car commissary building. The sign pictured is likely to have been cut down from a larger sign with lettering on it. For collectors and dealers, storage space and ease of transportation is pretty important. Many interesting lettered signs with a company logo on them got trimmed down to size, saving only the railroad logo. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Monday, July 11, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

 Q3176 Lake Tahoe Railway and Transportation Company Baggage Tags  I have never seen any baggage tags from this railroad available for show or sale and I have a few of them and wondered how rare they are? [Ed Note: A general comment on rarity is OK but values/appraisals are against our policy]. This was the spur line that took passengers from Truckee to Tahoe City so they could catch the Steamer Tahoe to Glenbrook, NV. Also, the tags are oxidized and I wondered if collectors prefer tags like these in their natural state or cleaned up and shiny again? Thanks in advance for any help or counsel you might be able to provide.  Posted Thursday, July 7, 2016 by Tim   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. On preservation; my suggestion is to -ALWAYS- leave patina and original finishes on items if you plan to sell or otherwise pass them on to someone else. (I suggest the same even if you plan on keeping it too!) It took many decades to develop what ever oxidization is on them; likely longer than your lifetime to date. In terms of desirability, many collectors would place a much higher value on a piece that has a natural patina or oxidization on it, than if you took the same piece and cleaned it up. ..gently washing dirt off an item is OK, just don't damage the oxidization; let the next owner decide what to do with it. --- I began collecting railroad items in my teens (some time ago), and "cleaned up" everything I got my hands on; destroying patina, natural aging and the history of the item together! Now, I really regret having done that. I wish I'd left them just as I found them (except for a good gentle washing) ---- .... Red Beard Posted Saturday, July 9, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

 Q3175 What is It?  The attached photo shows a piece of hardware found along an abandoned railroad. Any idea what it is?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, July 6, 2016 by Jon   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Once again, it is very hard tell the size of things from just one pic, with nothing for comparison. How big (or small) is this?  Posted Thursday, July 7, 2016 by RJMc

A. It would also help to know: what periods of time did that piece of RR operate? When did it start operations, and how long ago did it stop? We can look up some of that info if we know the line where this was found. That might help put this piece in context and trigtger some thoughts about how it was used.  Posted Thursday, July 7, 2016 by RJMc

A. The stem (upper part of the photo) is about 1" across, length of object is about 3.5". The stem is wrapped in a separate loose piece of metal that has indents, which holds it onto a slot that is cut circumferentially into the stem. The large ring (widest part) is loose (a washer). Posted Friday, July 8, 2016 by Jon

A. Here's my best guess: I think it is a removable connecting pin of some sort. The posted photo is upside down to how it would have been used. This type of pin could have been used to hold in place the connecting bar between a track gang speeder and a trailer cart; 'link-and-pin' coupler style (or many other uses). The loose cylindrical collar would act as a spring pin (also called tension pin or roll pin), being slightly larger in diameter than the hole it would be driven into. The tension of compressing the diameter of the spring pin by driving it into the receiving hole keeps it in place. The washer then helps reduce the friction with the eyelet in the towing bar of the trailer as it squirms around while being towed. (the crew would likely have kept the washer greased to cut down on the metal to metal squeal, which could be considerable.) - again; this is a 'best guess'. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Saturday, July 9, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Guess #2: The now heavily beveled 'ball' suggests that it might have been some sort of a King Pin that another piece was free to partially rotate back and forth around. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Saturday, July 9, 2016 by Red Beard

A. I'm going to withdraw 'Guess #1', as that would create wear marks on the pin between the spring and the washer, and there are none. This has to be some sort of a king pin, where the bearing surface pressure caused that flattened facet on the back side of the ball. Any other ideas out there?? ---- .... Red Beard Posted Saturday, July 9, 2016 by Red Beard

A.  It might be part of the torsion mechanism from a vestibule trap door floor from an older heavyweight passenger car. In that case it would work side ways, and there is a tube that has flat pieces of metal in it that are wound up to provide the spring tension that causes the floor to raise up when the catch is released. I will look at several of them this week to see if they look like this.  Posted Sunday, July 10, 2016 by KM

 Q3174 Disposing of Lye Solution  I recently began using the 'Lye Solution' (approximately 16oz to 5 gallons of water) mentioned in the 'Lantern Restoration Page' [see link] section of your website to clean my lanterns and lamps. My concern at this point is how to best dispose of the lye solution when I am done using it. I live in a rural area with septic systems, so I'm not inclined to pour it down the drain. I have done some reading about using vinegar, but that appears to be more for chemist, not for novice. I was told long ago that 'the solution to pollution is dilution'. Would I be better of just sticking a garden hose in the bucket and letting it run until the lye solution is diluted and dissipated? If so how far from plants, leach fields, trees etc. should I do this? Thanks for your help.  Posted Thursday, June 30, 2016 by Stuart S.  Link 1     Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Google "lye solution disposal" and take your pick. There are several trains of thought that conflict with each other. -Do NOT- put it down the sink, even if diluted as you'll kill the bacteria in your septic tank and then need to pump it out. It would take a huge amount of vinegar to neutralize what you have, as vinegar is only 5% acid. Traditionally, very dilute lye wont hurt vegetation, ..but that might be illegal (check local laws and EPA, etc. ...and don't tell the neighbors) Posted Saturday, July 2, 2016 by Joe Blo

A. People use to process lye by leaching water through wood ashes from the fire place shoveled into a V-shaped trough and collecting what worked its way through so is a fairly natural entity. A good dilution with water should easily suffice. It's really not a big deal! Posted Tuesday, July 5, 2016 by TE

A. I think some facts might help this discussion. Putting one pound of lye (almost pure sodium hydroxide) into 40 pounds of water (5 gallons) makes only a 3% (three percent) by weight solution. Most of the MSDS sheets with their very dire (and very serious, and merited) warnings refer to 50% (FIFTY percent)solutions, which are almost soupy and similar to many of the very strong drain cleaners. But you would have to put 19 more pounds of sodium hydroxide into your bucket to get up to that strength. That said, your 3% solution still presents three issues: (1) it is corrosive; (2) it's chemical constituents don't go away (particularly the sodium), and (3) it may contain heavy metals and other compounds leached off of your lantern or other metal items that you cleaned. Dealing with these in turn. (1) The corrosiveness is due to the hydroxide. That can be neutralized by any acid and the hydroxide part then turns into just water. Vinegar is actually a pretty good choice. Since most (cheap) vinegar is 5%, as mentioned above, for a couple of dollars two gallons or so of cheap (5%) vinegar, mixed slowly with your 5 gallons of 3% hydroxide, will neutralize most or all of the hydroxide into sodium acetate and make the solution only very slighty corrosive, if at all. Another very interesting solution is (TAKE YOUR BUCKET OUTSIDE!) and put 2 or 3 pounds of dry ice into it, a little at a time. (See Link) Sodium hydroxide gobbles up the carbon dioxide from the dry ice. Although this makes lots of fog, that looks like smoke, it is really very harmless. After all the bubbling and fog stops and all the dry ice has evaporated, you will have a solution of sodium carbonate (washing soda)which is much less corrosive. As to part (2), the sodium component will still be in either solution from above. But it is no better, or worse, than the sodium component in regular rock salt or table salt, and you only started with one pound to begin with, so you really don't have a whole lot to deal with. As to harming plants or leach fields, just picture putting out one pound of rock salt, say for de-icing, and you should have a good picture of the consequences. As to Point 3 above, there are probably some heavy metals in the solution, but not a whole lot of them unless you have really done a huge volume of cleaning. Just spreading the solution out over some open ground should dissipate any issues from that; alternatively you can turn it in if there is a community 'haz-mat collection day'. But after any of these operations, it doesnn't hurt to get rid of most of the water. In fact, one pretty good way to deal with the whole situation is just take your original 5 gallons and boil most or all of the water back out of it, leaving mostly the original 1 pound or so of sodium hydroxide (mostly unchanged) and you can use it again next time.  Link 1  Posted Friday, July 8, 2016 by RJMc

 Q3173 Long Island Globe?  I have had a red cast 5 3/8 globe that is marked 'LIR' in my collection for over 25 years. I was told that it is for the Long Island RR. I would like to find out if it is indeed a LIRR globe. It was made by Kopp, and is in a square end panel. Any help is welcome! Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, June 28, 2016 by RLN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The Key Lock and Lantern RR globe survey lists a clear cast LIR globe under Long Island RR. Your red cast would be a new addition to their list. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, June 29, 2016 by DA

 Q3172 Cleaning Dirt off a Lantern  I read the cleaning methods from your website, including cleaning with Tide [see link]. I would like to do just a gentle cleaning of the dust and dirt off a blue Dietz basic lantern. I don’t want to remove any paint or any rust. What is the best thing to use to clean the dirt? Thanks.  Posted Tuesday, June 28, 2016 by Brian  Link 1     Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I like good quality dish detergent diluted in lots of water. (Dawn, Palmolive, etc. not the Dollar Store stuff) Fill a bucket with warm water and add just enough dish soap to make the water slightly slippery when you rub your fingers in it. Use a sponge on the surfaces and a soft toothbrush for crevasses. Rinse it in water of the same temperature. I think Windex is a little more aggressive, but still gentle, and it rinses off completely in warm water as well. Spray down the dry lantern heavily with the Windex, wipe with a damp sponge and use the toothbrush as well, then rinse. ---- .... Red Beard  Posted Wednesday, June 29, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. I really appreciate your help, Red Beard!  Posted Thursday, June 30, 2016 by Brian

 Q3171 EL 'Little Wizard' Lanterns  I recall personally seeing, and also in photos, the Erie Lackawanna using what appear to be Dietz Little Wizard lanterns, blue with a red globe, as markers at the ends of cabooses on through trains. I have inquired at numerous train shows, only to get shrugs. Can you please shed light on what type of lanterns these were, how and when they were used? Thanks much!  Posted Sunday, June 26, 2016 by TD   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The last DL&W lanterns were Dietz 999 models painted in the typical Dietz blue of that era. Perhaps those were what you remember seeing. The EL used Dressel and Adake Kero lanterns into the 1970's. The local station agent had to have a red and clear on hand and they were constantly being stolen by train crews and/or signalmen stopping after hours to use the station's phone. Never heard of Little Wizard usage on EL trains. Posted Monday, June 27, 2016 by JFR

 Q3170 Silverware Question  I have a teaspoon in the King's pattern with the letters MC intertwined on the handle. Can anyone say which it can be, either Maine Central or Michigan Central?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, June 19, 2016 by RN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The book Silver At Your Service lists this pattern as a Michigan Central pattern. Posted Monday, June 20, 2016 by JN

 Q3169 Number Plate Info?  This certainly is a number plate though I can't identify it by the design. Could you help? It also appears that the last digit was changed some time in its life. Why would this have been done?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, June 16, 2016 by Owen   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. What size is this plate? As with a lot of things, it is not possible to tell the size from the pix without something in the pic for comparison. And plates like this get used for hundreds of applications, not only on RR's; office door numbers in higher-class buildings are just one example. To me, the spacing and style of all the numbers look consistent, and the back of the plate shows no evidence that anything was changed after the plate left the foundry. What causes you to think the "7" was changed? If a series of plates like this is being cast, often a single pattern with the '301' is set up for repeated uses, and then only the last digit on the pattern is changed as needed. A procedure like that could have caused the differences in background texture.  Posted Friday, June 17, 2016 by RJMc

A.  My immediate thought when I first saw this plate two days ago is that it is not railroad related and that it may be an address sign from a building. One reason for that is that it is hollow and has only two bolts to hold it on. Items that are bolted onto moving railroad equipment are usually more substantial and have four mounting bolts. And agreed it would help to know what size it is, how thick the walls of it are and what is the size the mounting bolts? Posted Saturday, June 18, 2016 by KM

A. The item is 17X7 and weighs approximately 25-30 lbs. The 7 appears to be soldered on and has a slightly different color.  Posted Tuesday, June 21, 2016 by ORL

A. Upon inspection it does appear that the original number was carefully ground off and replaced by the "7". The area around the "7" looks different then the rest of the piece on the front but not the back so I'm thinking grind marks that have been polished down. As to its original purpose, that may remain one of those eternal mysteries. Posted Wednesday, June 22, 2016 by PF

A. The item is 17X7 and weighs approximately 25-30 lbs. The 7 appears to be soldered on and has a slightly different color.  Posted Wednesday, June 22, 2016 by ORL

A. Thank you so much for your assistance  Posted Wednesday, June 22, 2016 by ORL

 Q3168 Presentation Lantern Globes  I have seen many presentation lanterns. Some globes have a wreath around the person's name on globe. Did this mean something special like a retirement? Or did the railroad present these lanterns the family of a railroader that died on the job? Any information would be great! Thank you!  Posted Thursday, June 16, 2016 by PRR Girl   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It's my understanding that these "presentation" lanterns were something that were ordered, the globe engraved locally, and then given to the person who was to be honored. The globes, clear, or 2-color, with wreaths, or without, etc or even more ornate, with locomotives, etc., were at the discretion of the party ordering the lamp, and having the work done. I'd say that in most cases, the lanterns were meant to be used, so they were mostly ordered while the recipient was still "on the job". I would think alot of conductors would have also just ordered one for themselves............. Posted Monday, June 20, 2016 by DA

A. Thank you! :) Posted Thursday, June 23, 2016 by PRR Girl

 Q3167 Type of Builder's Plate?  There's an SP builders plate currently for sale on a popular merchandising website. The plate reads: 'Built by Southern Pacific Equipment Co, Sept., 1921, Sacramento, Cal.' Does anyone know if this plate is, in fact, off a locomotive built at SP's Sacto shops, or was if once affixed to something else, like a railroad crane? Since the plate doesn't display a job order number and a specific date (mo/day/year) like old BLW plates, is it likely this is a non-loco plate? Thanks for your time....Regards,  Posted Thursday, June 16, 2016 by CMR   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3166 Armspear Burner FIt   I have a railroad lantern made by Armspear. It is a 1925 model but the burner is missing. I have the fount; the burner is a bayonet type. I was wondering if an Adlake 300 fount and burner would work? Any info is greatly appreciated.  Posted Monday, June 13, 2016 by Splumber   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The 300 will fit but it is not period correct. The 1925 had a burner that was marked 1925. Posted Tuesday, June 14, 2016 by Ex Sou Ry

 Q3165 B.C.R.R.C. Marking?  Any idea what railroad would be the B.C.R.R.C.? Thanks.  Posted Monday, June 13, 2016 by Mark   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. In New York there was a Buffalo Creek Railroad. I have the switch key in my collection but it is marked BCRR. BCRRC could stand for Buffalo Creek Railroad Co., but can't say with 100% certainty. Posted Monday, June 13, 2016 by Steve B.

A. There are a lot of possibilities in both era and location. To narrow things down, what area and what time period are you talking about? British Columbia, Bear Camp, Bay Colony, Beaver Creek, Beech Creek, Bellefonte Central, Big Creek, Burlington County, are all possibilities on just a quick scan through Bill Edson's Railroad Names book, and this is not even a complete list from the quick scan.  Posted Monday, June 13, 2016 by RJMc

A. Time period is close to 1880. I have a tintype of a conductor, his had reads "Conductor B.C.R.R.C". Also a tintype that might be Coal Miners. The closest I could find was B.C.C.R.C Beaver Creek & Cumberland River Coal Company. Thank you both for replying. Posted Tuesday, June 14, 2016 by mark

A. Forgot to mention the area, purchased in Maine Posted Tuesday, June 14, 2016 by mark

A. On what type of item was this marking found on? Posted Tuesday, June 14, 2016 by dc

A. It is from a tintype from around 1880. Shows a conductor and the initials are on his cap. Thanks Posted Tuesday, June 14, 2016 by mark

A. Bill Edson lists "Beaver Creek and Cumberland" as operating (meaning recognized by the ICC) "by 1888" and until 10/1890 when absorbed by the Greenwood Ry. and Coal Co. which itself was abandoned in 1893. The listing shows them both as affiliated with the Cincinnatti, New Orleans, and Texas Pacific (CNO&TP), a Southern Ry predecessor, which would not comport with operating in Maine. But items as portable and personal as tintypes migrate all over the world, so it doesn't by any means rule out (or rule in, either) the possible connection with Beaver Creek. Are there any other details in the tintypes which might confirm locations?  Posted Wednesday, June 15, 2016 by RJMc

A. No other details in the tintype, Thank you for the information. Posted Wednesday, June 15, 2016 by mark

 Q3164 Authentic Lock?  Is this a authentic Colorado Southern Lock? If so what would the key look like?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, June 2, 2016 by Jimmyt   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Not even a RR lock, it is S&Co for Sargent & Co., Lock maker. Posted Friday, June 3, 2016 by Don Cassaday

 Q3163 Adlake # 199 Drawbridge Lamp  I am restoring a pair of Adlake No.199 Drawbridge Lamps. Unfortunately, these lamps did not come with any founts or Fresnel lenses. I was lucky enough to find two Fresnel lenses that fit the bottom rings perfectly. But I still have no information concerning the fount, or any manner in which the Fresnel lenses were held in place. Any pictures of the insides of complete lamps, or drawings, sketches, etc. would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance for your time.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, May 28, 2016 by Stuart   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3162 New York US Supply Co Globe  I recently got this 6 inch barrel type globe and it has US Supply Co New York heavily embossed around the top. 2.5 top and 3.5 bottom opening. I did a lot of research using many different words and phrases yielding no results. Any information you could give me would be incredibly helpful. Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, May 28, 2016 by Jason M   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3161 PS Builder's Plate  We are trying to find a good picture of a Pullman Standard lightweight passenger car builder's plate. Particularly those placed on some of the passenger cars of the Santa Fe railway. After quite a bit of searching we still are unable to locate a picture of one. If anyone has photos, that would be extremely helpful. Also, where would these plates have been placed on the cars? Would they be on the outside or on the inside? Thank you very much for your help.  Posted Tuesday, May 24, 2016 by Tom M.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The lightweight passenger car builder's plates were usually flat stainless steel, usually with the mfr's logo enamelled on, and the ID info for the car stamped on. They were usually screwed on the end wall or ceiling above the aisleway at one end of the car, possibly in the vestibule if the car had a vestibule. As you probably know, because they were only screwed on they disappeared fairly rapidly, such as during the Amtrak conversion programs, but I am trying to locate pix. Posted Tuesday, May 24, 2016 by RJMc

A. I have this one in my collection but have no idea as to what it was on or where it was mounted. It is heavy gauge stainless steel, 8 3/8" long and 2 3/4" high. Not sure as to how I can send you a picture but will do some digging to make it happen! [Editor's note: To send images in response to an existing question, just email the image to this website just like an image sent with an original question.]  Posted Wednesday, May 25, 2016 by RL Niblick

A. Here's a picture [Click link]. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, May 25, 2016 by RL Niblick

 Q3160 Adlake Trackside Lamp?  I found your great website whilst researching my recent purchase. I bought this lamp here in England. I believe it is a US railroad lamp possibly a permanent tunnel trackside lamp. The dealer I bought it from believed it was something to do with subway trains. It is about 16 in. square and 10 in. deep. It is marked as an Adlake non-sweating lamp and it has a bracket on the back for it to be mounted on. Internally an electric bulb holder has been fitted to one of the gas burners; this is a modern conversion for display purposes. The thing that attracted me most to it is the number, it just looks so cool!! The weird thing is that it is made from what looks to be an acrylic plastic, so would be a fairly modern item. Behind the plastic panel is evidence of a long gone glass panel. I would be very interested to find out more about it. Kind regards,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, May 24, 2016 by Paul G.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. To me it looks like a subway (underground) speed limit sign. The NYC subway has timing circuits to measure the speed that a train is doing along with illuminated speed signs similar to this one. I can't swear it is a subway sign, but it looks like some that I am familiar with on subway lines. Posted Tuesday, May 24, 2016 by JN

A. This is a British Railways speed restriction sign made, or at least marketed, in the UK by the Lamp Manufacturing & Railway Supply Co. of London, under license from Adlake. These lamps were used where temporary speed restrictions were in force due to track faults or after re ballasting etc. The lamp would have been oil-lit and there would originally have been a glass panel behind the plastic number panel, which is interchangeable and indicates miles per hour. These lamps were in use until about 30 years ago, when they were replaced by battery electric units. Posted Thursday, May 26, 2016 by JAJ

A. Thank you for your responses. I would have liked it to be a NYC subway lamp, but I feel confident JAJ is correct in his/her appraisal. There must have been thousands of these lamps in existence but they appear to be very rare nowadays. Posted Wednesday, June 22, 2016 by PG

 Q3159 Dietz #39 Marking  I recently found an old Dietz 39 railroad lantern with the following marks on the bell bottom: E.C.H.I. Has anyone had a lantern like this and do you know what company is represented by these letters? Had a drop in pot and a clear Dietz Vulcan globe.  Posted Friday, May 20, 2016 by BS   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The only thing I would find was this railroad name might be a short line out of the Chicago area. Hopefully this information helps.  Posted Thursday, May 26, 2016 by PRR Girl

 Q3158 B&O Screw Lock  I purchased a B&O screw type lock at the Gaithersburg Show in 2015 and am looking for detailed information on the lock itself and what kind of key it uses. Thanks!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, May 15, 2016 by TP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. There are currently 2 brass ones on ebay. At lest you will be able to see what bow of key is like. Search B&O screw lock. Posted Monday, May 16, 2016 by don cassadayor dc

A. This lock dates from the 1840s or thereabouts, it is one of the very earliest type of switch lock ordered by railroads. Keys are nearly impossible to find because most all are NOT railroad marked. If you got to Gaithersburg maybe you can get to the Lancaster Lock Show in July - see the Link. There will be collectors/experts there who can give you a lot more information on this type of lock. Good luck !  Link 1  Posted Thursday, June 9, 2016 by JS

 Q3157 Alco Builder Plate Thickness?  What is thickness & height of the characters of an ALCO 6 in. x 12 in. builder plate? The original was stolen off of locomotive 407. A foundry has offered to replace it for free. Attached is my 2D artwork and a digital rendering. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, May 15, 2016 by Pete B   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3156 Glass Marbles  Hello, when I was a kid in the early 1970's, I use to walk along the train tracks to school and I would find these glass balls that look like marbles. I have a few hundred of them that I found in a box in my parents garage that I forgot that I had. I don't know the age of them or why they were along the tracks. Could they have been used in a glass factory? I found them in a small town in Northern California, (Wheatland). Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, May 15, 2016 by Ross   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  Marbles may have been used at freight house to roll and move freight around. See the following article which is posted elsewhere on the Railroadiana Online website. Railroad Marbles Sam Ferrara The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad has lost its marbles! Glass agates can be found along stretches of the Cumberland Branch of the B&O. Usually they are found close to stations and/or freight houses. Condition of these glass globules can vary from no marks at all, to some scratches with cracks, to chipped or just glass pieces. The best place to look for them is in the ballast between the ties and rail. These marbles were first used between 1885 and 1890. As the story goes, a railroad official wanted a marble that would carry five hundred pounds of weight. He asked the Wheeling Glassworks to make him such an item and the railroad would buy tons of them. And so they did. The Wheeling Glassworks was able to produce a glass agate that would support five hundred pounds of weight. The marble is about three quarters of an inch in diameter, made of a greenish-clear glass, has a few air bubbles visible and linear indentations on the surface from either straw or forming. The latter in no way prohibits the sphere from rolling freely since it is almost perfectly round. Marbles were purchased by the tons and used in the freight houses and depots. Two one inch lathes were laid as tracks parallel to one another and the marbles were spread, filling the space between them. Freight that required moving was pushed up onto the "roadbed of marbles" and rolled along to its new location. Remember the planks in the flooring of these depots and freight stations were of white pine three inches thick and fourteen inches wide. Larger size marbles can also be found. Agates of approximately two inches in diameter can be found on another branch of this same railroad. These marbles were used by the Pennsylvania Sand Company on the main line up into Berkley. The larger marbles were put into the bottom of the sand hoppers to help the flow of the sand when emptying. Web Editor's Note This article was first published in Key, Lock & Lantern, Issue #87, Spring, 1988, pages 1681-1682. The marbles described here should not be confused with the railroad "logo" marbles that have recently been manufactured. The latter have railroad heralds or logos in them and are fantasy items, never having been issued by a railroad. The marbles described in this article are clear glass with no fancy markings. Our sincere thanks to Sam Ferrara for permission to reprint his article. Update. A gentleman from California emailed us to say that these are not only found in the East. The marbles shown at right were found outside Ludlow, California along a RR right-of-way after a storm apparently washed them into view. We thank him for sending us this image. Additional Update: A website viewer emailed us in late 2010 to say that she found similar marbles in Oro Grande, California. Thanks to all. © 2016 Railroadiana Online All Copyrights Apply  Posted Monday, May 16, 2016 by KM

A. I just read the explanation of the Glass RR Marbles. About 25 years ago when my 3 kids were young we would walk the RR tracks. I live in Riverside, California and the the track was a single Santa Fe track. We used to find the glass marbles and of course the kids would pick them up to save. It got to the point I would give each of them a Crown Royal Bag to fill with the marbles. (It was a difficult task to empty the Crown Royal to get the bags). There were so many marbles they would only save the ones that were unbroken and no chips. Of course they also would save the loose RR spikes and on occasion we would find a RR nail. We would rarely encounter a train. Now all of that has changed. It's now a double track for Burlington Northern and Santa Fe and has in the neighborhood of 100 trains a day with gates and fences at the crossing. It is also patrolled on a regular basis. Times change but it is one of my favorite memories of time spent with the kids.  Posted Friday, May 20, 2016 by Ted J.

A. Hello! I just read your article on railroad marbles. I thought I'd share with you that railroad marbles were fairly plentiful where I grew up in the northern Sacramento Valley. The towns where I spent my childhood were called Orland and Chico, respectively. In Orland, my family's almond ranch was bordered to the west by a railroad track (a Victorian steam engine once passed by when we were out in the orchards!). I was obsessed with trains and train tracks, and enjoyed scouring the tracks near my respective homes for marbles and the occasional stake that had become dislodged and thrown a few feet. I dearly loved these historic treasures. Oh, and my husband reports having seen railroad marbles in North Highlands, a suburb of Sacramento, where he grew up. Anyway, these marbles were a thing of mystery to me as a child. I really appreciate the article on your website; my childhood mystery is at last solved!  Posted Wednesday, May 25, 2016 by Gabriella

 Q3155 Handlan Lantern Info Needed  I’ve been trying to find information on a Handlan Lamp. I can’t find any photos of similar lamps. On the top its says 'Handlan St. Louis USA.' It has two round Fresnel lenses. Can you tell me anything about this lamp or point me in a direction where I might find information? Thanks!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, May 15, 2016 by Kathy S.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Lanterns with the larger fuel tank were typically used for highway warning service. There is a website dedicated to that kind of 'Traffic Gard' lanterns and they show 'special metal globes' such as yours (see Links), including some made by Handlan. They describe in some detail how widely interchangeable a lot of lantern parts were, so yours might have left the factory that way or could have been assembled or re-assembled by somebody in the field. Unfortunately, the Traffic Gard website doesn't explain how the metal globes might have been used(!!)  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Monday, May 16, 2016 by RJMc

A. The Links have some more info and examples of the metal globes with Fresnel bullseyes. Link 1  Link 2  Posted Monday, May 16, 2016 by RJMc

 Q3154 Gillet & Forest Lantern  I was serving in the USCG and purchased what looked like a special lantern that had something to do with Great Lakes shipping at a flea market near Boyne City, MI back in the early 1970’s. I have always thought that it might be a ship, train, semaphore, and caboose or bridge lantern. It has just sat on a self all these years. I finally cleaned it up and after looking on-line found your Railroadiana website hoping you/associates and readers would be able to advise about its origin and uses as Gillet & Forest was discussed in Q1438. I would like to restore the lantern if possible. Do you have any information or references? The lantern has a plaque/plate which is an embossed brass rectangle 2 2/32 in. L x 1 in. W attached w/solder: 'GILLET & FOREST G. FOREST & C IE SUCC RS INC RS CONST RS B ÉTS S.C. D.C. 32. BOULEVARD HENRI IV. 32 PARIS'. The lantern is 20 in. tall, including the top hook, which is double riveted each side. It is a 6 1/2 in. x 6 1/2 in. oblong box with 7 in. x 7 in. rolled edges base. The cylindrical chimney is brass with a 7 in. x 7 in. bottom rolled edges and is 4 1/2 in. tall. Both left and right sides of box contain 2 rows of vent holes about 2 in. from the bottom. The lantern weighs 10.8 lbs. The back of the lantern has 2 ladder type hooks double riveted to a welded plate. The right hand side has a 2 1/2 in. L x 2 in, W hole that looks to have had a hinged door of sorts – maybe a lighter access? Inside on the left hand side is a 2/32 in. wide slot, 5 in. x 5 in. opening, which may have been used for holding something, and has springing latch. It looks to have been piped to a gas line into top left. The piping is copper and fittings are brass. The burner nozzle is brass, threaded on the inside and looks much like a propane torch nozzle. No flame spreader was included. The burner is attached with 3 rivet bolts with 8mm nuts to a raised triangle shape and mounted on 5 1/2in. x 5 in. slide-out plate. The lantern has a hinged door and brass hinged lens hole cover, which has a brass wire closure. The lens hole opening is 5 in. diameter, however no lens was included. Thanks for your review and assistance.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, May 10, 2016 by Michael S.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  I checked eBay France and found several other Gillet&Forest lanterns but none like this one so keep watching there I suspect that the gas burner is not original in this, does it look like it was added later? How does the gas line enter into the lantern, did someone drill a hole for it? There used to be an antique store nearby that specialized in Great Lakes maritime stuff and I stopped there frequently and never saw any Gillet&Forest lamps or any lamps that were connected to an outside source of gas. Carbide may have been a possibility.  Posted Thursday, May 12, 2016 by KM

A. Gillet & Forest were a well known lamp manufacturer and supplied many of the French railways. Your lamp appears to be a semaphore signal lamp interior, for fitting inside a weather-proof case. These lamps were usually oil-lit, but gas was sometimes used in urban areas where a "town" gas supply was available. Alternatively and as KM says, carbide is a possibility as it was widely used in French railway lamps of all kinds. How did it get to MI? A GI's souvenir perhaps? Posted Thursday, May 12, 2016 by JAJ

A. This sounds to me like it could have been a Canadian RR collector's piece - Canada is very French in some places. Given the way collections of lanterns and other relics travel around, it would not surprise me if this came from a predominantly French area of Canada that was either sold or traded and ended up in the US.  Posted Sunday, May 22, 2016 by JS

 Q3153 PRR 'No Trespassing' Sign  I recently came across this cloth PRR no trespassing sign. I have seen signs like these but they are made of cardboard or paper; this sign is made of cloth. I was wondering where this sign would have been displayed (on cars, rail yards etc.) Did these signs have a specific purpose on the railroad? Thank you!!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, May 9, 2016 by PRR GIrl    Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. There is very small lettering at the top; could you please write back with an exact quote of what that says? Thanks, ---- .... Red Beard Posted Friday, May 13, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. C.T. 1500 10M 11 1/3x by 10w 9-12-52 I was told this a printers code. Not sure what C.T. 1500 means but know that 10M means 10,000 print run, 11 1/3 by 10 is the dimensions and 9-12-52 is the date printed. Posted Friday, May 13, 2016 by PRR Girl

A. The legal references are to Pennsylvania state laws made by the Pennsylvania General Assembly -- rather than to any Federal laws which might have been in effect in 1943. So the sign would only have meaning within the Commonwealth (State) of Pennsylvania. The 1952 date is interesting because it corresponds with the major US Steelworkers strike in which Pres. Harry Truman nationalized the steel industry for a while (see Link) until that move was ruled unconstitutional, and labor relations were turbulent in the coal mining industry as well, all this during the Korean War. PRR operations and properties in the state of Pennsylvania were in the middle of all of these events and these signs were probably posted so that the RR could assert its legal rights during the uproar.  Link 1  Posted Friday, May 13, 2016 by RJMc

A. Much appreciated. Thank you! Posted Saturday, May 14, 2016 by PRR girl

 Q3152 How to ID Caboose Key?  I live in a Soo Line wooden caboose from 1909. The doors have brass rim locks. I have a skeleton key for one, but it doesn't fit the other one. How can I identify the right key for the other one without purchasing tons of skeleton keys, which I can't afford?  Posted Saturday, May 7, 2016 by MW   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I'd take the locks off both doors and take them to a real locksmith (not the guys at Home Depot) and see if they can make a key for you that will work in both locks. Otherwise, he should be able to custom cut one just for the other door. Those aren't too complex, and a real locksmith should be able to accommodate you for $20+. Another idea, if the boxes are heavily painted to the door would be to tell the locksmith your story and see if he'd take a deposit and let you take a dozen keys home at a time, bringing them back to him for another dozen until you find the one that works, and then purchase that particular one; getting the rest of your deposit back. A real old time locksmith should be willing to do that for you. Another thing you could do is to ask him to give you a call the next time he's going to be out your way and bring some keys along. Tell him you're short of cash and see if he'll write off the service call charge considering he's already in the area. -send us a photo of that caboose, be fun to see!- ---- .... Red Beard Posted Saturday, May 7, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. In general, there were not a whole lot of different caboose door key patterns, at least in skeleton keys, and they are usually pretty easy to find. Diesel locomotive cab door keys are often the same patterns. When you say the one 'doesn't fit' are you referring to the diameter of the key shaft; the length of the key bit, or that the key goes in, but won't operate the lock? If the key goes in, but won't operate the lock, you can often turn the key bit against whatever is preventing it from turning, work it back and forth to get a mark on the key bit, and file away the obstructing part of the key bit. But I would do this on a new blank first, rather than risk destroying the one working key you have. With a car as old as 1909, I would also try to determine whether the lock might not be full of 'vintage RR crud' in such a way that no key will work it (mud dauber wasps get into the smallest openings and REALLY pack things up with mud!). Try blowing it out with compressed air (commonly available in small cans now, you don't have to have a compressor) and/or soaking it internally with WD40 or PB Blaster and then blowing it out. That might get your one key to work.  Posted Sunday, May 8, 2016 by RJMc

A.  I have had recent experience with more modern caboose and coach door locks and I found that using the wrong key size may work for a while. The problem is that a smaller key may move the brass pall inside the lock, but eventually it will bend it and then the lock will no longer work with any key. When the pall is bent the bit of the key can't reach it to activate it or the pall may jam on other parts of the lock. And a word about mud wasps, I have found them in the discharge hoses of fire extinguishers, and just the other day I found them in an air brake angle cock valve. Air brake triple valves have a wasp shield on their discharge ports that looks like a small umbrella. The thing moves up and down when air is discharged and stops the wasps from entering into the valve. Posted Monday, May 9, 2016 by KM

 Q3151 Appalachian Railroad History  I was wondering if anyone had any information on the Appalachian railroad history (what area in the mountains did it run, etc). I bought a Appalachian railroad railroad torch. I was wondering how old it is. Thank you!  Posted Thursday, May 5, 2016 by PRR Girl   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Bill Edson's Railroad Names book says the Appalachian operated from 1909 to 1935 when it was abandoned. It was a Class III RR, meaning a small line taking in less than $100,000 per year in revenue. Posted Thursday, May 5, 2016 by RJMc

A. The Link, which is all about "Very Short Line RR's", has this to say (in total): Appalachian Railway Company: 10 miles. Connected with Southern Railway at Eta, NC. Equipment (January 1928 ORER): Locomotives, 1; flat, 2; rack, 1; passenger, 1; motor car, 1; caboose, 1.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, May 5, 2016 by RJMc

A. A couple of additional comments: the "Class III" is an Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), now Surface Transportation Board (STB) category, based on revenue to determine the class. Bill Edson relied primarily on this kind of ICC data in compiling his book. But note that Class III tops out at $100,000 per year, but there is no bottom....Many Class III railroads continued to exist as companies on the ICC books but never turned a wheel in some years and collected no revenue at all. So the dates in the Railroad Names book have to be checked from other sources if you really want to know whether an operating RR existed over that whole time period. And the reference to ORER is the Official Railway Equipment Register, an often-updated catalog of kinds, quantities, specifications and car numbers of all the equipment of all the RR's in North America. It was essential for freight agents to have that info to know whether a particular shipment could go in a particular car.  Posted Sunday, May 8, 2016 by RJMc

 Q3150 Hannibal & St. Joseph Spittoon  Given to me by my grandfather. Real or fake?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, May 3, 2016 by NK   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hi, These are aftermarket décor items. I have also seen them in Union Pacific, and Central Pacific Railroads. Posted Tuesday, May 3, 2016 by wdpdepot

A. Yes, the other clue is that the H&SJ only operated up thru 1863 before being absorbed into bigger systems (See Link.) The 2-8-2 type of locomotive portrayed on the item was not even constructed until 40 or so years in the future from 1863. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, May 3, 2016 by RJMc

A. Correction; the H&SJ operated up thru 1883, but the 2-8-2 'Mikado' type didn't exist yet then, either.  Posted Tuesday, May 3, 2016 by RJMc

A. Enjoy this because Grandfather gave it to you! It is a terrific decorator item - some years from now it will be a precious sentiment. A number of non-RR companies such as Red Man Tobacco can be found on these, which appear frequently on eBay.  Posted Monday, May 9, 2016 by JS

A. These are most common marked for the Union Pacific. I saw one on Ebay a few months ago complete with the original "Made in Taiwan" sticker still attached.  Posted Tuesday, May 10, 2016 by JEM

 Q3149 PRR Pitchfork Uses?  I recently bought this PRR pitchfork at a auction. I was wondering if this fork was used in the locomotives to clean out the leftover coal in fireboxes? Thank you!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, May 2, 2016 by PRR Girl   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. These were used in track work to smooth ballast and other uses as needed. Posted Monday, May 2, 2016 by Ex Sou Ry

A. Thank you so much!!! Posted Wednesday, May 4, 2016 by PRR Girl

A. The railroad name is 'ballast fork.' This term is still used today when these are sold for lots of different uses, but as indicated above they are used on the RR to move ballast. One of the places this type of fork is particularly necessary is when 'raising' the track, also called surfacing, to get it back into smooth and level alignment when various places, such as joints, have been beaten down by the passing traffic. A track jack lifts a length of rail and the ties lift with it, up out of the ballast bed. The ballast fork is then used to shove ballast under the raised ties, into a space which might only be 1" tall, and the track is then lowered back down into place. This has to be done all along a stretch of service-worn track which has gone out of level. The sharp tines of the ballast fork can reach into those narrow slots to shove more ballast in place under the ties; a regular shovel with a curved blade would not fit. (I looked, but surprisingly couldn't (yet) find a video of this process being done manually on the web! These days it is almost all done by machine, there are lots of videos of those.)  Posted Thursday, May 5, 2016 by RJMc

 Q3148 Carbide Lanterns  I own two carbide lanterns that were used on the B & O RR in the 1940’s. I would like some information on this type as I haven’t found it available.  Posted Monday, May 2, 2016 by Mrs. Smith   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Putting 'carbide' (without the quotes) in the 'word or phrase' search box on this site turns up prior Q's 2163, 1385, 1353 for just a start. You can also search on line for 'acetylene lantern' because the lump calcium carbide compound when wetted with water in the lantern produced acetylene gas, which was what was actually burning in the lantern. This is the same acetylene gas as commonly used in welding torches. Carbide is still available (but be careful with it!) either online in small quantities or at cave explorer supply stores. Posted Tuesday, May 3, 2016 by RJM

 Q3147 F.O. Dewey lanterns  Dewey made both mill and RR lanterns. Did they sometimes use a mill lantern frame with a RR globe? I have such with a P&R heavy globe. Have seen F.O. Dewey Co embossed in lip of globe but this one has * H&M *.  Posted Friday, April 29, 2016 by Don   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Very old P&R globes appear to be of the "fixed globe" type, that is to say they could have been plastered into a frame. But, of those that I have seen, they were used/found in an unmarked frame where the globe is removeable. The frame manufacturer is unknown as far as I know, but the frame is known to collectors. Ken Andrews clued me in on this one. The globes are more available than the frames sorry to say. If you have a pic of the globe and the markings it might be helpful.  Posted Wednesday, May 4, 2016 by G.S.