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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:

  • No questions or responses regarding values or what something is worth -- see About Values. Also, no questions or replies selling or looking for items, parts or services. This includes offers. We reserve the right to remove responses that are discourteous, inappropriate, or violate our policies.

Email questions to qa@railroadiana.org. Most questions are actually posted within a day or so. While an image to go along with the question is optional, it is strongly recommended and will help others find an answer. Email the image(s) as an attachment, but it must be YOUR OWN IMAGE. Re-posting a photo from Ebay is a copyright violation. Also see our Frequently Asked Questions or FAQs page and our Contact Us page for questions that we cannot reply to.

Latest 50 Questions:

 Q3928 SAL RR Soup Tureen  I have a question that may need investigating. In 1912 did the Seaboard Airline Railroad have soup tureens that had script writing on their sides? If so, can anyone provide a photo of same?  Posted Monday, May 23, 2022 by Dave   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. There is a photo in both railroad silver books: (1) "Silver in the Diner" (John Fowler) (Link 1) states "The Atlantic Coast Line Railroad put its first dining cars into service in 1913. As one of the two primary carriers from the North to Florida, its long-distance passenger service thrived until the advent of air travel." Fowler shows a manufacturer's photo of pieces included in the service, INCLUDING a soup tureen (side marked) that was made in two sizes: 1 pint and 1-1/2 pint. In the corner of that photo is an 1847 Rogers Brothers logo - Fowler goes on to say that International Silver provided the ACL's initial silverware using the Meriden-1847 Rogers Bros until 1914. (Dave - WHICH mark "your" piece carries will date it as before 1914 or after 1914) (2) The other book, "Silver Banquet II" (Everett Maffett) shows the same manufacturer photo but without the area in which the Rogers Bros logo appears. Maffett also identifies the same soup tureen in the same two sizes, but with no discussion of any kind. Dave - As far as WHICH soup tureen you are trying to find out about, the size probably will be marked on the bottom: 1 pt or 1-1/2 pt along with the maker mark. If the Rogers Bros logo appears, per Fowler, the piece was made 1914 or before; after 1914 apparently the "standard" International Silver mark(s) were used.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, May 26, 2022 by JMS

A. Dave, if you are considering the tureen listed on eBay right now I hope I'm wrong, but I'd be very concerned about the marking. Since the piece is bottom marked INTERNATIONAL SILVER (unfortunately with no date box they usually included) per both books, it is post-1914. I'd be very concerned that the script on the side truly appears to be amateurish ... BOTH Fowler and Maffett show ONLY the ACL circle logo, and more importantly, the International Silver Company photo of all 12 pieces shows ONLY the circle logo. Fowler actually additionally shows the round circle logo that was used. No mention by EITHER author is made of any script marking - so you are very wise to question it. My other consideration is wondering -- compared with the allover wear on the entire piece, why is the script not more worn? Is the piece a plain, "generic" tureen that somebody unethical has added a railroad marking to, to substantially increase its value? In many cases honest sellers are fooled by shysters and not being RR-oriented, they don't realize. I can't tell if this is one of those cases. One "good" thing here is that with eBay taking over sales, ALL buyers must accept returns - eBay guarantees money back, and you can return any purchase for a refund. Just be careful!  Link 1  Posted Thursday, May 26, 2022 by JMS

A. Hi, Thank-you for the reply. First of all, NO, I am not considering it because I used the very same word(amateurish)when I originally noticed this item for sale. I contacted the seller twice to inform him that the piece looked suspicious. The first response was polite but the second response was more defiant saying that it was an original piece and that he received calls from so called "experts"stating that it was fine. He subsequently asked me not to contact him any more. I've been at this game a long, long time and for the most part I can see things for what they truly are. It's a shame that some people will not admit to being wrong or at the very least unsure of something. That is why everyone must be very careful when purchasing railroad items either on E-Bay or in a brick and mortar store. Posted Saturday, May 28, 2022 by DY

 Q3927 C&A Badge  I have found information on 3 'C&A' railroads but cannot identify the source of this badge. Any information will be appreciated. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, May 17, 2022 by Larry R   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3926 IC Tag  I can't find any information on this tag. It's 2 in. by 3 in. and was folded-up when found while metal detecting. I was wondering if you could tell me anything about it? Found 50 miles south of Memphis. Thanks!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, May 5, 2022 by Brian   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Straight out of Baker's Railroadiana 4th edition (1990): Baggage Checks page 18-->>"ICRR - Return this check to Ill. CENT. RR CHICAGO, circle/diamond shape logo below, 2 x 2 7/8", strap, W.W. Wilcox Co., Chicago.......${valuation deleted}" Posted Thursday, May 5, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. His book was titled RailRoad Collectibles by then. Posted Thursday, May 5, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. Thank-you for your reply. Would you have any idea of possible age or date range?  Posted Friday, May 6, 2022 by Brian

A. Quck fishin' in the Muddy Mississip places logo date range after 1896 and before 1936. Postally confirmed date of 1908. Pass date of 1916. Several ads in 1905/6/7 era. So, likely approximation 1900-20 commonly known as "heavyweight era". Posted Friday, May 6, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. Thank you again, appreciate your info!  Posted Friday, May 6, 2022 by Brian

 Q3925 Fount Burner Variation  This fount with this burner came out of a late model Adlake switch lamp from the Union Pacific. I am not sure of the purpose of the two small metal plates on each side of the flame spreader. I have a large collection of lamps and have never seen this appendage. Have I missed something?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, May 5, 2022 by TE   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. As a guess, those look a lot like the wire loops that were used on lard oil burners to move heat from the flame to keep the oil warm enough to flow up the wick. May be an adaptation for extreme cold weather service -- UP certainly has some places where that could be an issue.  Posted Friday, May 13, 2022 by RJMc

A. There are excellent sections of Adlake catalogs in the Archives section of this RRiana site. Several of them have very detailed illustrated parts breakdowns -- since most RR's rebuilt valuable things like switchlights many times and needed replacement parts. Link 1 is to an Adlake discussion all about the wide variety of available burners, globes and wicks for switchlights in about 1940. Nothing in there clearly shows your mod, but the No. 90 burner comes close, possibly if your burner had a piece missing. Link 2 is the catalog pages with parts breakdown for the entire Model 1370 switch lamp -- again, not showing your specific mod but with a lot of very detailed info about the standard lamps, for future reference. Nothing required any given RR to stick to the AAR standards; this may well be something only the UP (or a predecessor RR) required and ordered as a special.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Friday, May 13, 2022 by RJMc

A. Correction: Its a Model 1307 above. Another possibility: since things were so interchangeable, it may not be an Adlake burner. But so far looking at the other mfr's catalogs in the Archives here doesn't show anything like your mod, either.  Posted Friday, May 13, 2022 by RJMc

A. The notation on the top of the fount saying "Use Kerosene Oil Only", the co. name shown as Adams and Westlake (not Adlake) and the general look cause me to think that although the lamp may have been 'late model' this fount is much older.  Posted Friday, May 13, 2022 by RJMc

A. Good points all. Thanks for the input. I agree the fount is an older model. The lifting handle is just a half circle, bent hook. I hadn't thought of the plates being a warmth retention item for extremely cold winter conditions through the Rockies. Close examination seems to indicate that they were well manufactured, meaning, it doesn't look like someone just quickly soldered them into place as an afterthought of, "lets try this." My gut feeling is that the burner is an older version of a same modern one. I say that because while the design can be matched to a modern one in the catalogs, this one is overall, lighter in weight with slightly thinner metal pieces than all the other burners I have, and that's a lot. No markings on it at all. Regardless, it's always a treat to open up a switch lamp and see what is going on inside with interchangeable, replaceable parts.  Posted Sunday, May 15, 2022 by TE

 Q3924 Seat Check/Ticket Stub-Astoria & Columbia River RR 1908  From what I can gather, Northern Pacific came into control of Hammond's A&CR in 1907 and later folded it into SP&S. At the time of this stub, the rail-ferry at Goble would have been ending, changing the nature of the Astoria road though it would still have a connection to Portland via an existing line to Goble. Rainier Oregon was about six miles west. I don't find much paper relating to this road, but does anyone know more about stubs for the line?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, April 29, 2022 by Shasta Route   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. While researching further, I found that A&CR timetables show trains that depart from a depot in Portland bound for Astoria & way points beginning with Goble....but, Houlton on that NP section was used as flag stop for those using the Astoria road points. [Houlton was the rail connection for nearby St. Helens on the Columbia. An online seller was posting a real photo snap of the Houlton Station with a stopped train, but I could not identify which road it was owned by...looks like a small loco. While there could be an image of this station in some book, it is the only one I could find in any online source. There is another photo that looks up the road to that crossing site, but the station is missing at that point..perhaps moved.] So, there might be Houlton stubs issued by A&CR in addition to their own stations. Posted Friday, April 29, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. -->From the steam roster of the SP&S, I was able to find A&CR engines by road number became SP&S engines in 1911, though not all prior numbers were accounted for. Whether they were retired or missing was not clear. -->From a 1913 report showing a closed complaint about inadequate depot facilities at Houghton, I was able to find this rail line was now listed as the Astoria division of the SP&S (Link 1). -->From government survey marker placement project reports (leveling), they continue to refer to the Goble-Portland section as "part of line" in reference to the A&CR. Some sources seem to believe this line was originally built as OR&N (becoming ORR&N after the default) to Goble wherein it is claimed Villard ran out of funds and had to stop. There is a short period where NP & OR&N are held in joint control which might explain why some have called this an NP line. At this point, it's difficult to believe any claims about who built or owned that section, or how it was aquired. Link 1  Posted Saturday, April 30, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. In 1958, George Abdill* emphatically stated that the first section of line out of Portland was carried out as the Astoria & Coast (no reference as whether railroad or railway) but he did not specify who controlled this nor if it was just a construction company name. Elsewhere, it is noted that the first service (circa 1883-4) was a shoreline built operation ending at Hunters where the Kalama ferry boat was met. This terminus was later shifted to Goble. [The local newspaper, The Oregonian, ran an article in 1901 covering the failure of the Astoria & South Coast under Reid to reach the 1890 agreement with Colis Huntington on the then planned coastal connection to Southern Pacific via a branchline. This later became part of the A&CR (SP&S).] If there are surviving ticket stubs, they could involve these other names and locations. The A&C has not surfaced in searches. *See Superior Seattle, This Was Railroading, Abdill. Reprinted Bonanza. Posted Tuesday, May 3, 2022 by ShastaRoute

 Q3923 RR Lighting?  I have been trying to research the following lantern. It is up for sale online and have not seen one like it before. Would you have any knowledge or history on this item? Thank you,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, April 20, 2022 by Rodney   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Research "MINING LAMPs" or a similar topic. I was in a mining museum out west some time back and they had several examples of smaller lighting objects and especially version of the taller one on the left in the picture. Posted Friday, April 22, 2022 by TE

 Q3922 SP Lines 'Setting Sun' Mirror  Measures 73 in. L x 57in. H. Outer staplings on reverse show it was once fully covered. Some tiny losses behind glass suggest older real mirror. Closest I could see on a matching frame was RCA Victor Master's Voice one that also seems to pre-date those 1970's-80's era knockoffs. This is an older find from around the time when the Eugene Shops complex was being retired by Union Pacific, so that could be in consideration for where it may have resided. Any thoughts on authenticity are welcome.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, April 13, 2022 by Shasta Route   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3921 REA 1930s Shipping Frame?  I hope you might be able to give me some information. Attached are photos of a Railway Express item which some workers recently found in my attic. My house was built in the mid 1930s. Perhaps you can help identify what this curious item is? At first we thought it was some kind of low table or a small cushion support because of the chicken wire and that it has swing open 'legs.' But that certainly doesn't make any sense at all. Maybe those legs hold an item in and that's how the item can be removed. But what could possibly fit behind them pressed into the chicken wire? This is about 5 feet tall and 2 1/2 feet wide. It's well reinforced at the corners with metal braces. Judging from the name of the addressee, it was the first owner of our house on Long Island, so it must be in the mid to later 1930's. Please let me know either way if you can help identify this. I am no longer on Facebook, so I can't get in touch with the Railway Express Agency Fangroup that was passed on to me by Freightwaves as a possible way to get this identified. Thank you so much for your time.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, March 28, 2022 by Nancy   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. What an intriguing item! Obviously it folds up for easy handling/shipping, and the wire would seem to have been used to keep the weight as minimal as possible. But I do not think this is an item that the Railway Express Agency actually owned. The REA label on it seems to be a shipping label, sending the item via REA (by train), rather than a label identifying it as REA property. The Post Office label seems to confirm that it was shipped another time via the postal service. Is there an antique shop locally that might be able to offer suggestions?  Posted Tuesday, March 29, 2022 by JMS

A. I agree with JMS; it was shipped via REA and USPS, but not owned by them. It is constructed in a way to minimize shipping charges when it is all folded up. I note that the size is almost perfect for a bed, but the construction is not substantial enough to actually be a regular bed frame. Was the first owner of your house a funeral director? I can see this item possibly supporting a casket during a funeral. Another item usually in this same size is the folding tables used in schools, churches, and at conventions and shows. This could have served in that capacity at remote events such as revival meetings, long before the friendly area rental store became a common phenomenon.  Posted Tuesday, March 29, 2022 by RJMc

A. This looks like a base frame for what was called a "day bed" years ago. There would have been a thin mattress on the top. Think of it as a camp bed, that could be easily folded up and stored during the day. My family had one of these in a side room that my grandmother would rest on when she needed a break, without going upstairs to the bedroom. Probably modeled off of Civil War beds used by the officers that also folded up in the middle. Posted Friday, April 1, 2022 by h v coll

 Q3920 Old RR Electric Lantern Requirement  Since railroad lanterns were used to pass train signals, there used to be a requirement posted in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) that the lanterns have two bulbs and be capable of storing a spare bulb. The redundant bulbs were to avoid accidents from lack of train signals from a lantern bulb failure. Can anyone tell me what that former CFR number was? Thanks. Posted Monday, March 28, 2022 by Russ   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I do not recall ever seeing a hand lantern provision in 49 CFR, where railroad safety regulations are located. This doesn't surprise me because the hand lanterns have been standardized for so long by the railroads and lantern manufacturers -- long before FRA existed and long before any coverage of RR issues in CFR. The rules that existed then were Interstate Commerce Commission rules. Link 1 is to a Star Headlight and Lantern Co. website and their catalog for 1952, which says Star had focussed on electric lanterns since 1930 "exceeding AAR standards." And there are other references to electric lanterns as far back as the 19-teens (Link 2). The two bulbs available in most of these lanterns serve different functions: one provides a focussed spotlight, the other a wide-angle light for signaling. I suspect any requirement for lantern standards may have been similar to the requirements for watches, where the employee had to HAVE a watch which HE had to provide and maintain, and that watch had to meet the RR's standards. That was a rulebook requirement, not a Federal rule. Many RR employees provided their own kerosene lanterns and one RR cited in Link 2 required each employee to buy at least one lantern from the RR on employment. The AAR standards would have provided a benchmark for what lanterns were acceptable to meet any such rulebook requirement.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Tuesday, March 29, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3919 Dietz FITZALL Raised Numbers  A LOC-NOB red globe with 1/8 in. thickness. Appears to be similar to #852, but measures closer to W.T. Kirkman No. 0 Tubular Globe with minor difference of lower outside diameter being 3 3/8 in. (3 6/16 in.) rather than their specified 3 7/16 inches. Upper outside diameter is 2 3/4 in., and overall height of 6 5/8 in. The main question is what could 'C+2' reference since that does not appear to be a factory location code? (This is red glass through and through.) TIA!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, March 23, 2022 by ShastaRoute   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I was able to find a similar globe in a listing of what is obviously a Dietz "Monarch" hot blast. Photos were tough but it appears to read "C+3" and all else is equal. Posted Friday, March 25, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. Dietz (as well as other lantern and lamp mfrs) globes were made by different glass outfits. These almost always bear maker and mold numbrs in code. C2 for example would be Corning glass and mold #2 for that globe. For mass produced globes like the Fitzall there were dozens of molds in use at any time. I've had numbers up into the 60's.  Posted Friday, March 25, 2022 by James

A. Full list of those glass makers codes is found under Question 10 of F.A.Q's. at W.T. Kirkman's site lanternnetdotcom (Link 1). [And Thanks, James.] Link 1  Posted Saturday, March 26, 2022 by ShastaRoute

 Q3918 Builders Plate Info?  I'm from the Netherlands. I've got a Brooks Works plate as shown in the photo. My father found the plate in the 1980s. He was trading in old metals and found the plate in a container. Could you tell me please more about the type of the locomotive?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, March 13, 2022 by CP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. You have a very nice plate it is from a 2-8-2 built for the Ferrocarrilles de Cuba number 354 also worked for MINAZ Lopez Pena plant number 1910 as well as the MINAZ Espana Republicana plant number 51 MINAZ is the Spanish initials for the Ministry of Sugar Posted Monday, March 14, 2022 by RMH

 Q3917 Oil Can Marking?  I have been working on selling off some of my railroadiana items, and one of the oil cans that I have is a tallow pot with the markings Pa.L.W. After some extensive searching online, I have not been able to come up with the railroad name that it was associated with. I had assumed that it was Pennsylvania, Lehigh, & Western, but I have not found any railroad with that moniker. Can you help me find the correct name for these initials? Kind Regards,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, March 13, 2022 by Scott   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Pa.L.W. is for Pennsylvania Lines West of Pittsburg or P.S. Pennsylvania system. Posted Sunday, March 13, 2022 by DC

 Q3916 Globe for Adlake 100 Lantern?  What size globe is needed for an Adlake 100 Lantern? Thank you in advance.  Posted Thursday, March 3, 2022 by JN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Adlake 100s take a 4" globe that looks like a #39 with an 1 3/8" cut off the top. This leaves a globe that looks like it is upside down to the point that most are marked "TOP" so you put them in correctly. The other option is change out the globe retainer for a standard Reliable retainer and then you can use a #39 globe Posted Friday, March 4, 2022 by COD

A. The Adlake #100 takes a globe that is 3 5/16 in. bottom diameter X 3 1/2 in. top diameter X 4 in. in height. See Link.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, March 6, 2022 by RJE

 Q3915 Handlan Lantern for US Army?  I found this globe today and am trying to figure out what it might go to. It’s 4-1/2 inches tall so I thought Handlan lantern, and it's etched 'U.S.A' so I thought possibly US Army, but I haven’t been able to find any historical reference for Handlan lanterns in use with the US Army, just Dietz and Adlake. It's Macbeth glass (High Speed MEG Co Made in USA), but I don't know how long Corning carried the Macbeth branding after the 1936 purchase and I'm not clear on the Handlan #345/358 production dates so having a hard time placing the globe on a timeline. Hoping this group can shed some light, thank you!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, February 23, 2022 by Jake   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This will fit the Dietz Vesta lanterns or a special order/special size Adlake Reliable that was made for the Army but not marked except for the maker.  Posted Saturday, February 26, 2022 by COD

A. I had a terrific Dietz Vesta Navy dark lantern and was so pleased when I found one of these USA globes for it ... the lantern was all brass. President Wilson nationalized the railroad system during the World War I emergency - this lasted from 1917 until 1920. See Link 1 for interesting history.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, February 27, 2022 by JMS

A. Wow. So can this be summed up defining the entire period that these military versions were in use? And, if WWI, then did the army ones also find use in Europe where US personnel operated trains beyond those of French railroads? Posted Monday, February 28, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. The US military for decades used many tens of thousands (millions?) of kerosene lanterns on all kinds of operations, not just railroading. Every tent in an encampment needed one or two. Just put ' U.S. Army ' in the Search by word or phrase box (without quotation marks) to see a lot of prior discussion.  Posted Wednesday, March 2, 2022 by RJMc

A. Ok, so I led the group astray…the globe was labeled 4-1/2 in. when I bought it - didn't think much to question it… then I read through Q2690 after RJMc’s response and that thread questioned whether or not a 4-1/2 in. globe would fit the Vesta and short Reliables so I put a tape on it… it's a 4-1/4 in. globe, doh! This makes much more sense and I think it's certain it would have been used on a Vesta or short Reliable. It still begs the question of time period. The only references I’ve been able to find on USA marked globes for these particular lanterns all cite cast marked globes (even the 4-1/4 in. globe survey here only notes cast USA marks). Yes, quartermaster records show the US supplied upwards of 200,000 kerosene lanterns during WWII; I’m sure they were used for many purposes, but I'm guessing this globe pre-dates WWII. The glass has somewhat yellowed and Macbeth was bought out by Corning in 1936. Would like to find a period correct lantern to put it on; at this point I'm thinking an unmarked short Reliable or pre-1936 unmarked or 'US' marked Vesta would be appropriate. I don’t know if this globe came standard on one lantern or the other vs. the cast globe or perhaps it came on neither and the U.S. Government simply had a contract for spare globes with Macbeth and they were swapped in whenever and wherever needed? I think we've nailed down the lantern(s) this globe belonged to; just hoping to dial in the time period. Thank you all for the valuable feedback! Posted Sunday, March 6, 2022 by Jake

A. Note the profile on this Vesta type globe is of the earliest style with the short top rim flange. They are found both cast and etched U.S.A. and yes thats for US Army. They are WW1 era contracts along with the Adlake Reliable hybrid model. The Army purchased extra fount/burners & globes for obvious reasons. Over their service life some of these old globes wound up in later short model Vestas up to WW2 although most later army Vestas came with the std. Dietz Vesta globe; plain or simply etched 'US.' I used to find cardboard boxes of these (cast & etched) with Army QMC storage stamps.  Posted Sunday, March 13, 2022 by James

A. Just to note, there were also Naval Railway artllery sections operating in France in WWI. Presumably, they would have had a need for equipment of this sort. Posted Friday, April 1, 2022 by ShastaRoute

 Q3914 China Info?  I have a mystery piece of RR China I would like to know more about. I tried many years ago - but no definitive answer on it. Thought I'd try again. Can you tell me any info on this? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, February 23, 2022 by Patricia   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The pattern order for Western Pacific appears to be WP-3 Keddie by Warwick, then WP-4 Meridale (a stock border customized with logo) by Onondago Pottery Company [OPC-Syracuse], and finally WP-2 Feather by Shenango. [ What could be missing is unknown until someone actually finds it and proves it.] Manufacturer date codes are the only thing can provide factual information, but Meridale was probably a mid-1920's pattern and we see some decoration on menus that would suggest such. Yours is Feather, which has recieved additional gold "overglaze" (over the glaze, not overglazed decalcomania which is under the glaze) by Royal China who largely specialized in household type wares (see Jo Cunningham's American Dinnerware on them). Why and when create another problem. So far, Larry Paul has concluded that that other feather design by Scammell at the Maddock Pottery (appx.circa 1926-8) is the pattern used at the Feather River Inn by that time. But we are still missing the earlier pattern when WP built and operated the lodge resort (1916-). And perhaps WP operated other things that needed china. On the other hand, perhaps the railroad just decorated these for another undocumented reason, or an excess at Shenango ended up in the hands of Royal (not very likely for controlled patterns). It all seems improbable but I myself have a piece from Maddock made for a Portland eatery which also has a stamp from one of these third party china makers that never worked in vitreous wares..even the supplier is identified on it. I believe that one also has gold overlay. Subcontracting? Who knows...they're all dead and left us no notes. Certainly yours is an interesting piece to have. Looking into Royal's history might help here. Posted Thursday, February 24, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. One added consideration...if this was excess stock from late production, then the cancellation of passenger services may well have led to these wares going into the hands of third parties who contracted for the gold additions. If the supplier was Dohrmann Hotel Supply out of San Francisco, then they might have had warehouses to dispose of in addition to the railroad or Shenango. IIRC, Royal was still operating in the 1970's and maybe up to the '80's. Gold overlay is finished at lower temperatures than greenwares and glazedwares, so it can be added after the glost firing, but only above the glaze. You might be able to feel this with a finger. Posted Thursday, February 24, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. I am somewhat confused by the number of possibilities mentioned in the first two answers. Am I reading correctly: This is a piece originally made to a much simpler WP Feather pattern -- (was that pattern used on the railroad?) Then sometime after the original manufacture THIS piece was modified (by Royal -- somebody other than the original mfr.) to add the gold trim? Was that process done by hand, one piece at a time, or somehow automated? And highly unlikely (??) that such a piece would have been used out on the railroad, but may have been used for PR giveaways or other auxiliary purposes? Interesting circumstances, in any case.  Posted Friday, February 25, 2022 by RJMc

A. Luckin's sample backstamp for Meridale dates to December 1929. Not sure when Feather was introduced, and patterns can overlap, but 1930's seems a reasonable "earliest date". Royal was created primarily to engage in premiums/advertising/etc. from older potteries. But it became much more. Looking at backstamps, on a historical site with 2 pages for Royal, I saw one that matched this style (for the gold decor) and it was basically datable by a note that put it as a gift in 1940. [When the stamp starts or ends is hard to say.] So it would seem that this piece could have been finished at almost any point during the lifespan of the Feather pattern. It would then seem that a lot of possibilities for this piece's decoration are there. This was an era still of hand done decoration, not full automation. I doubt the piece ever saw use before the gold was applied..it was likely re-routed from new stock. [I know-extra transport costs! The two potteries are in adjoining states-Penn. & Ohio-so who knows? If aquired as a lot at discount price, they might have made their numbers.] And of course, railroads themselves made shiny new things available for direct order by passengers. Maybe it was mentioned on some piece of paper? Posted Friday, February 25, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. And yet more...think of the effect of the WWII materials restrictions orders and the ensuing rush to deplete non-essential production before the deadline fell in 1942. Beyond that...if this is a one-off item, just looking at the oddities of china companies like Homer Laughlin will show you there were many reasons such things exist, some decorated by another firm. Posted Friday, February 25, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. Thank you both for the wealth of information! When I first sought information around 2005 or so, I was told it was a gravy boat,circa 1949,and may have been a sample or presentation piece. I have been trying to locate where the Royal China records might be to see if it was perhaps a special order. They did do decorative gold application for other pottery companies, like Hull. But Royal appears to have been a division of Regal China. I read Shenango had supply issues around this time, so maybe they subbed out? There are voluminous Shenango records @ the Lawrence County Historical Society in New Castle. I contacted them in July 2020 and sent photos, but research volunteers were working from home then due to Covid. I followed up 6 months later and got no reply back. I also found a video online of the abandoned (some 30 years ago) Shenango plant. It was filmed in 2019. The site is in awful shape;there are records all over the floor,employee x-rays, tons of finished and unfinished china, et al. When they zoomed in on orders I looked to see if they might just be for my gravy boat--lol! I guess they didn't save everything ;( Both spooky & sad. Posted Friday, February 25, 2022 by Patricia

A. Addendum: Just discovered that there were actually two Royal China Companies--Chicago,Ill. & Sebring, OH. The one I referenced above(in Chicago)isn't the correct one. I also found the historical site ShastaRoute mentioned with the datable note ;)This makes sense as Sebring and New Castle are only an hour apart. I've gone ahead and inquired about further info from the histrical site. Will let you know if these bird seeds lead anywhere!  Posted Saturday, February 26, 2022 by Patricia

A. One other possibility perhaps - I've seen quite a few Pennsylvania Railroad china reglazed with distinctly non-railroad patterns -- both on the same piece. It's really weird to see a nice PRR keystone design under a bunch of flowers and gold. My thought was perhaps the factory wanted to test something or other and they happened to have some left over/rejected/extra/whatever at the factory, so they grabbed the RR pieces and tried the other pattern on top. Maybe they needed to test kilns, transfers, glazes, who knows and the RR pieces being there, were handy to use. Just a guess.  Posted Sunday, February 27, 2022 by JMS

A. In "The Official Guide to Railroad Dining Car China" Douglas McIntyre calls this pattern "Feather River" and states it was first produced in 1947-49.  Posted Sunday, February 27, 2022 by JMS

A. JMS-very interesting. Did McIntyre explain where he got the dating info. on the pattern, like Shenango records or useage photos? (I unloaded my copy long ago.) Posted Monday, February 28, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. No explanation from McIntyre about where the dating came from, but I imagine he had to have had information or he wouldn't have printed such specific years. He and Rich Luckin both had close contacts with Syracuse China getting production records, and I would imagine/guess either or both of them were after the same from Shenango. What they did or got I have no clue. Years Syracuse offered an Archives service that even I was contacting, retired employees ran the service on a volunteer basis and could be spoken with on Wednesday afternoons. They would look up and send copies of actual orders to people who inquired. That was years ago and I should have taken much greater advantage, but I did not want to overdo my welcome, so I didn't.  Posted Thursday, March 3, 2022 by JMS

A. Here is another "double dipped" piece of railroad china, this one marked for the Pennsylvania - see Link 1.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, March 5, 2022 by jms

A. SORRY - I messed up and the photo/link I posted about isn't the one with the PRR on the piece, right there with the floral design. I have seen several of those; a PRR keystone mark right on a dish with flowers - can't tell which transfer is on the bottom. This sauce boat is the very first Wabash piece I've ever seen this "double" pattern on.  Posted Saturday, March 5, 2022 by JMS

 Q3913 Fake PRR Bell?  I have a box of items from my grandfather, who worked out of Baltimore as a brakeman for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. One of the items is a mountable brass bell with clapper, and with the keystone PRR logo on the exterior. I'm not sure where he got it or why, and I've read that almost all of these types of bells are reproductions or fakes. Before I try to sell it, I'd like to know if this one is a 'fake' or reproduction? Another way to ask the question is: Are *any* bells like this authentic? Any help would be appreciated!  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, February 3, 2022 by Lynn   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The Link is to a page here on the RRiana site that discusses what is known about this type of marked "Hand Bell." As far as we know these were never used on a RR, but produced as keepsakes. There is an outside chance the RR itself might have produced them for this purpose, such as for marketing giveaways. Mentioning Baltimore causes me to wonder if bells like this might have been sold at the B&O Museum Gift Shop in Baltimore. Over many years the Museum sold many newly-manufactured keepsake type items (for example lanterns and china pieces) as well as authentic RR surplus items.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, February 5, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3912 3-1/4 Inch Corning Globe with Libbey Logo  I have a Corning Kero globe (3-1/4 inch) with a 'Libbey Glass logo' opposite the Corning logo. This is the first one I have seen. I know that Libbey Glass dates back quite far, but why would their logo be on a Corning globe for a railroad lantern? Any thoughts???  Posted Thursday, February 3, 2022 by Dave   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Can you post a picture please ? The only "Libbey glass" logo I know of is a scrolling letter L . Thanks.  Posted Monday, February 7, 2022 by JMS

A. Hello, I'm sorry but I cannot send a photo. The casting is so light that you would not be able to see it. The Libbey name is enclosed within a circle. The letter L begins at top left then proceeds downward slightly to the left before reaching the bottom. It continues unbroken to the right then loops up to form the letter Y. In between are the letters IBBE. This logo is extremely difficult to see in person let alone a photo. I hope this description helps a little. Posted Thursday, February 10, 2022 by Dave

A. I google searched and found an interesting story - see Link 1.I have no way to know if this is true, but it's what turned up. Link2 is Libbey Glass company information. If you scroll all the way to the very bottom there are illustrations of the circle logos with dates when they were used.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Thursday, February 10, 2022 by JMS

A. Hello, Thanks for the links. Great information !!!!! The logo on my lantern dates in the 1919-1945 era. This is why railroad lanterns are so fascinating. You never know what type of information will turn up. Posted Saturday, February 12, 2022 by Dave

 Q3911 Adlake #1112 Switch Lantern Target Finish  I am restoring an Adlake #1112 lantern and while stripping two or three coats of paint off from the targets, I'm ending up with an extremely hard red finish which is not removed with stripper or even a heat gun. Does anyone know what this finish is and what will possibly remove it? Is it ceramic or possibly lead based? Thanks.  Posted Wednesday, February 2, 2022 by Jim C   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. That is a baked-on porcelain finish, designed to withstand almost anything nature could throw at it, including the expansion and contraction of the base metal with extreme rates of temperature change. Only physical impact (bullets, for example) would typically cause it to shatter and flake off. Sometimes with great age it would develop cracks but usually the entire coating would not peel off. Only intensive and very aggressive sandblasting would be likely to remove it. It would be easier to find a different target, if the porcelain color is not to your liking on the one you have.  Posted Wednesday, February 2, 2022 by RJMc

A. There are porcelain repair folks, but I doubt if the repair cost is cheaper than finding another target. As said in the prior response, they were designed to take a beating. I have found some that were bent, maybe from a piece of dragging equipment, with no damage to the face, except for a few minor cracks. If you go looking for a replacement, remember to match it to the lens size, plus the shape of the target, as there are many different ones out there. A&W made plenty of them, but not being in service for years, it could take some time. Posted Wednesday, February 2, 2022 by h v coll

 Q3910 C&O Switch Lamp  I've been collecting mostly china for a while, but I've just recently gotten into lamps & lanterns, so I'm not as knowledgeable about this topic. I recently acquired a switch lamp from the Chesapeake & Ohio, and I have a few questions about it. Currently, it is painted 'Fire Hydrant Red.' Is it safe to assume it was never painted this color by the railroad? If so, would it be beneficial or detrimental to repaint it black (which I'm assuming is the correct color)? It's also painted gold on the inside (again, I'm assuming not correct). I've seen similar lamps finished inside with silver paint, gray paint, mirror polished metal, and unfinished bare metal. How would these lamps have normally been finished inside in actual use? Lastly, the lenses are currently four different colors (red, amber, green, and clear). Would this arrangement have ever been used by the railroad or was this another modification made by a later owner? For clarification, it is definitely on a switch mount base (footed square post hole on the bottom) and not a caboose lamp base (rotating bracket). Thanks for any insight you can share!  Posted Thursday, January 27, 2022 by Nick   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. There is a very good reason for switch lamps to be painted black -- as are almost all signal heads. Any other color similar to the indication colors could cause the lamp body to be mistaken for an indication, bearing in mind that switch lamps had to be seen in widely varying ambient light conditions. This is particularly true if day targets are not used. Some special-application lamp bodies, such as derail position indicators, might have been other colors, but red would not be a likely one. Some RR's painted marker lamp bodies bright yellow, but in that case that fitted the correct function to mark the rear of a train even if the lamp was not lit. We have discussed lens colors on the site here many times in the past, and they varied widely; see prior Q 2971 for starters. To my knowledge the question of painting the inside has not come up here before. Most lamps in service quickly gained a layer of soot, but probably left the factory with metal on the inside with no finish added. The lens openings leave so little area on the inside of the lamp body that reflecting more light doesn't improve the operation enough to justify the added cost.  Posted Thursday, January 27, 2022 by RJMc

A. As previously stated, I have never seen a listing for the inside color of a switch or marker lamp. From memory, black or bare metal silver was it. As to signals, many masts are painted silver at the bottom to show better at night for the brakeman walking a broke down train, but past head height was black so as to not give a false reading from the sun. Depending on the type of signal, and the location. some of these were a bear to paint, without getting anything on the lens. Many times, I used my pole gear, swung around with a can and brush, and did the best I could. You had to watch out behind you at all times for trains, as you could be blocking the signal. Posted Friday, January 28, 2022 by h v coll

A. Very interesting inquiry as I had been looking at an online image of the Burlington Zephyr approaching a station with passengers which had been colorized a few years ago. Not a bad job and don't know if they now have a way to scan grey tones for likely color clues, but they ended up with one switchstand base in a bright apple green like some sort of antique Ford Cabriolet. Sure gonna leave future generations with a Disney view of the reality of the past unless they dug up some corroborating proof of this implied practice. Posted Saturday, January 29, 2022 by ShastaRoute

 Q3909 A&W Question  I'm wondering when Adams & Westlake stopped using their 'A&W CO' stamp and changed to Adlake? Posted Wednesday, January 26, 2022 by DA   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Seems like it depended on the lantern style, but it appears to be in the teens. Question would be how many pieces did they have pre-stamped in stock that they continued to use. Posted Thursday, January 27, 2022 by h v coll

 Q3908 Builder Plate Hypothetical Guessing on Design?  I am trying to make an educated-decision on what a BUILDERS PLATE for the Philadelphia & Erie/ PRR Renovo, PA Shops locomotive plates would have actually looked- like from the over 120 steam locomotives built there from 1860s on? My assumptions so-far are that they may have imitated the PRR Altoona builder plates on the Renovo-builts? But they may have forged their own unique builder plates also? This question leads to a lot of speculation and outright guesses, I agree, but Im hoping a history-fan of steam builders plates could add his- her knowledge and logic of what they probably looked like back then? I have tried the easy route of looking at old pictures of Renovo- built American locomotives to physically see of it was... circle...keystone...oval...??... but I cannot identify the builder plates on the grainy old photos. Thanks.  Posted Wednesday, January 26, 2022 by VT   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It was a circle builder plate. I have narrowed the answer to that level with certainty. I found a picture of an 1888 Renovo-built D8a "American type" 4-4-0 locomotive number 101 stationary with the crew standing in front of her posing. The engine number plate on smoke box was a cast circle with simply the number centered on a raised edge plate.  Posted Thursday, January 27, 2022 by vvtdeb

A. There is at least one photo I have seen that shows a round builders plate with a single bolt hole on the smoke box and you can read Renovo Shops on the plate. It is very similar to a round Altoona plate before they moved to the ovals.  Posted Thursday, January 27, 2022 by COD

A. Very good info...we got the fact that the RENOVO Shops locomotive builder plate was actually a round metal plate. Now the question becomes, WHAT WAS INFORMATION shown on these builder plates? I am assuming there was common cast of the wording of "Built at Renovo Shops" on every plate? "Date built" is probably another sure bet on information contained? Wonder if they used the "Shop Serial number" of each engine? This was literally numerical sequence of each build prefaced with "R" from 1 thru 120. Any for sight by anyone knowledgeable in small shop builder's plates is highly appreciated!  Posted Saturday, February 19, 2022 by vvtdeb

 Q3907 What is This?  This was found in Raleigh County, WV at an old homestead. Directly across from the homestead is the New River, and Summers County, WV with the railroad lines within eyesight. I've researched a lot and found some information about a Chicago Central Railway that was around in 1889-1891. I thought this may have represented that company but, if so, it was in an odd area for it to be found. I'm not sure if this is a railroad item or not. For a long time I thought it stated CC Rv Co and now think it’s CC Ry Co. The sign is two sided and has the same markings on both sides. Any info/perspectives would be greatly appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, January 20, 2022 by D   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Interesting to note that the item does not show any obvious signs of having been mounted anywhere. And the double-sides mean it wouldn't have been glued or soldered onto something, and also makes using it as a printing block unlikely. Almost suggests a paperweight, although somewhat large for that application, and that wouldn't need a date.  Posted Friday, January 21, 2022 by RJMc

A. The only thing that I can see is that the border design changes at the bottom corners on both sides of the plate. If it was mounted, then it sat in some form of slotted bracket at these areas. On one side there is a slight wearing mark on one corner above that change in border, but that mark could have been from anything. Posted Friday, January 21, 2022 by DRay

A. I can understand two different pieces having the same casting flaws in the same places, but not the exact same stains. Even had they been stored facing each other to mirror the stains, they would be at opposite ends. So how can these two be so identical? In no stack of metal plates have I ever found two identically weathered pieces. Very odd. Posted Saturday, January 22, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. The posted pictures are of the same side. The one in my hand was to sorta show the size. But no, the stains are different and there are different wear marks on the obverse. Only the text and date are the same. Sorry to create confusion about that.  Posted Saturday, January 22, 2022 by DRay

A. Double-sided means a frame, itself suspended, is more likely so it can be seen from both sides approaching it. Given the Victorian era, seems that a Realty Company selling new homes with the built date is possible. For rail, the 1893 OG has a list of old and new names at the back pages, but they don't differentiate railway from railroad...that would have to be searched. I see several C.C.'s on the defunct side: Canada Central, Cape Cod, Carroll County, Cheraw & Chester, Chicago & Cincinnati, Cleveland & Canton, Colorado Central, Concord & Claremont, and Crooked Creek. Of course that may not cover some already gone, and names may get re-used in later years causing confusion of histories. Did you rule all these ones out so far? There was a lot of consolidations and abandonments in that period, all compounded by short lived logging roads, city & county boom operators, and what-nots of every kind with horse or mule power. Posted Saturday, January 22, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. I know there's no ampersand, but I threw them in just in case. Posted Saturday, January 22, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. The idea that 'Ry' = 'Realty" (not 'Railway') is really interesting. Do we have any evidence that this was an abbreviation convention back in the day? It's plausible since the context would distinguish such an abbreviation from 'Railway'. I had never thought of or heard of this before. Posted Saturday, January 22, 2022 by Webmaster

A. That provided lots of perspectives that I had never even considered before. I don’t have any knowledge about railroad items or anything like that. I’ve just stumbled on a few web pages from my recent internet searches. The idea of it being related to something of those descriptions and to the local area of WV makes much more sense to me than my original thought that it was something from a Chicago Railway Company. That idea only came to me when I saw that name on another website related to railroad items. I really appreciate your time and comments on this. Posted Saturday, January 22, 2022 by DRay

A. The best sources for seeing what abbreviations were used would be city directories or specialized business periodicals, especially in the adverts placed in them. Wasn't concerned with it went it popped into my head, but I believe I've seen Ry. for Realty while scouring ancient listings for hotels, suppliers, etc.. Places like New York, Saint Louis, and San Francisco have directories back to the 1800's which have been scanned and posted...come up in searches easily. Posted Saturday, January 22, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. Something else to consider: the 1889 may be a street address or a room number, rather than a date. See prior Q's 3386 and 3169. Just enter the Q# in the "Question Number" box to be taken directly to the prior Q's. Posted Sunday, January 23, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3906 Unusual Signaling Device?  I came across this unusual 3 paddle item marked 'Adlake'. I cannot find it in any of my reference books. It has 3 'arms' joined together, but they pivot, red, yellow, and blue. What is it? I figure it is for signaling somehow. Any help is appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, January 17, 2022 by Louis   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I saw a set of these years ago, and they were marked that they had come from a subway. May or may not be correct. Cannot help other than that. Posted Wednesday, January 19, 2022 by h v coll

A. What is the size of this item? What diameter are the lenses? Posted Thursday, January 27, 2022 by RJMc

A. About 14 inches in height, glasses are a little over 4 inches diameter. I got one on e***, so here's a better picture. Link 1  Posted Sunday, January 30, 2022 by Louis

A. Well, we are in very good company in not knowing. I forwarded the query to Adlake and got a quick courteous reply from Mike Rzeszutko, President of today's Adlake. They don't know what it is, either. He noted that a lot of historical material has been lost over the years.  Posted Thursday, February 3, 2022 by RJMc

A. I don't have specific information yet, but I have seen a photo that these devices were mounted in the nose of F-units (diesel engines, like F-5's or F-7's) in order to change the classification lights. The light source and device was all mounted behind the nose hood so nothing was on the exterior to interfere with the 'streamlining' — like the typical cannonball style class lights. Well, with that being said, I still can't confirm or prove it, because I can't find the photo—even after searching numerous times; but I know for sure I've seen it… just hoping it helps! Thanks,  Posted Wednesday, March 23, 2022 by KG

A. Last night I showed this at our Historical Society. Today I got a text from one of the members. Here is what he found: This is an antique R 1-9 Marker Lamp Semaphore. This handle came from the R 1-9 cars of the IND Subway, which were built in many waves by a few different builders (American Car & Foundry, Pullman, and Pressed Steel) between 1930 and 1940. There were over 1800 built. The last of them were retired and scrapped in the 1970s. A few still exist as part of museum collections, including the New York City Transit Museum and the Shore Line Trolley Museum in East Haven, CT. Each car had two operating positions – one at each end. Each driving position had two of these semaphores mounted over the interior end of the roof of the car. The color light shined through a clear lens mounted on the outside of the car. Changing the colors let the Towerman know how to route the subway train. This semaphore measures 14 inches long and 5 inches wide. Posted Saturday, March 26, 2022 by Lou L

A. Great info and thanks for coming back with it. The one aspect (so to speak) of this item that still bothers me is there doesn't appear to be a way to show just one color in the clear in front of the light source (and behind the outer clear lens). Did the user push one lever and lens up above the rest to give the single color indication? Also see prior Q 3811 regarding "route indicators" as used on various subway systems. Link 1 below, also referenced in Q3811 actually discussed the IND line specifically and how they used combinations of colors from these lights for particular route designations. The subway systems -- not being bound by any kind of regular RR rules -- called these "markers" while RR's called front-facing lights "classification lights" but they also had different purposes.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, April 2, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3905 Lock and Key Common ID System?  My Railroad lock and key collection (among others) has grown quite large over the 50 plus years I have been collecting. In re-organizing it I am looking for some sort of Railroad Cut Number. Let me explain. Like the telegraph/signal insulators have a common numbering system called Consolidated Design number, an example the Hemingray 60 (Mickey Mouse) aka CD257. Size and shape help identfy what the line was intended for. This allowed the same insulator to be made by many different companies across the country as there was no way one company could make the hundreds of millions that were needed. In the locks and keys railroads such as PRR, B&O, UP, NYCS and so on could order their respective locks and keys so that all worked together whether from Fraim, Slaymaker, Adlake, Wilson Bohannan.... You get the idea. Perhaps a member who was a store keeper with the Railroad may have the answer. Please let me know anything you can share and thank you for help.  Posted Monday, January 17, 2022 by M   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. If you look at older Adams & Westlake keys, you can see a faint number at the top of the bow. I've always taken these to be a blank number. Yale numbered their keys from A to K. Very few examples exist of factory marked railroad initials applied by Yale but I have seen them. What is seen when you look at dozens of switch keys is that the same cut got used by different railroads. The standard PRR cut that was originally PCC&STL was also the cut for CRI&P Pump House (PH) keys. Nevada Northern switch is the same as Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee. There's only so many bit shapes and cuts to go around, so they tend to have gotten repeated and I've only given a minimal number of examples. The late Don Stewart in one of his publications identified key bit types for both solid shaft and barrel type keys. The bit types I've identified being used in railroad switch keys were: Right (or Left) Angle Rim Bit, Right (or Left) Dog Leg, Plain Bit, Right (or Left) Z Bit, Right (or Left) Cove Bit. The specific cut for a railroad then depended on where and how deep you placed your individual cuts. Cuts are seen machined parallel to the barrel and perpendicular to it. I own keys that have cuts parallel to the barrel on both the barrel end side and the bow side (these are ward cuts)- sometimes more than one, and single or multiple cuts perpendicular to the barrel (these are lever cuts). These individual cuts get known as "the cut" of that key. The earliest keys for the Phila & Reading come to mind, as they were so intricate in these individual cuts that it took them being as exact as they were to pop open any of the early locks. Examples of later years for that railroad show less exactitude, as the lock workings became less intricate. In sum, I feel it impossible to categorize railroad key cuts by a Cut Number. Insulators are easy, as the casting molds were numbered. What popped out of the mold was a standard design. Railroad keys too were castings, but then had machining done to them to make them specific for the purpose of whatever railroad ordered them.  Posted Monday, January 17, 2022 by keyresponse

A. I think the best indication that there was NOT such a general numbering system is the practice at Adams and Westlake / Adlake. Adlake always had/STILL HAS their own blank numbers and cabinets filled with sample cut keys tagged and numbered with their own internal number and (maybe) railroad initials or names and (maybe) how the key was used. This applies for all kinds of keys and locks, not just switch keys, to include coach and Pullman door keys and other types as well. This is well illustrated in Barrett and Gross's book on Railroad Locks and Keys, Vol. 1, Adlake, where with Adlake's full cooperation they photographed and documented as many as the various sample keys as they could locate. There was never any mention of industry standard numbers. I recently purchased some newly-made passenger car door keys from Adlake, and the process is a matter of either selecting one of their known samples (looking at Barrett and Gross for reference!), or sending them a sample key or lock that you want them to match -- quite likely the process the RR's historically followed, as well. Glass insulators need more stringent specs because of the electrical properties they must have (for safety, when the voltages were often 440 AC and higher), as well as needing to serve as direct physical replacements in the field.  Posted Wednesday, January 19, 2022 by RJMc

A. This is more about identification for mass production purposes. For example a batch of switch locks in my collection as follows NYCS-Fraim, PENNA-Adlake, B&O-Slaymaker, B&M-Corbin and I have others. These locks are all steel, 1920ish and made by different makers but they all look alike with the same specs, same shape, almost the same rivet pattern. Keys are the same with the only difference is in the bow. I have heard that a #252 is a caboose key made by various manufactures as is a #533 is for CTA switch locks The closeness of these locks is more than just by chance. Knowing this identification system would help in cataloging and as well as a cross reference sheet as to what keys opened who's locks. I don't know if it has anything to do with the CS numbers like CS-1 is UP mainline CS-2 Oregon Short Line, CS-8 Northwestern Pacific. These are hard to find for some yet others put them on the locks. Posted Friday, February 4, 2022 by M

A. See prior Q 2840 for a detailed explanation of how the owned and affiliated Harriman railroads adopted CS, a C_ommon S_tandard system of specs for procuring things, including locks, keys, and many other things. At one time Harriman controlled SP, UP, and many other RR's. But CS was not industry-wide standardization, just for Harriman RR's. There probably IS an industry-wide standard for the size and shape of switch locks and signal locks, if only to insure that replacements would fit into the hasps and keepers, etc. But the key pattern doesn't affect whether the lock will fit and so remained unstandardized as discussed above. And in the early 1900's there was much cross-sharing of patents and designs where one manufacturer would produce items to the specs originally delivered by another, by licensing agreements that actually specified what portion of total trade which mfr. would produce -- practices long since banned as anti-trust violations. Posted Friday, February 25, 2022 by RJMc

A. I've found that there was not likely a huge effort to adhere to a standard cut. The most recent example of this are the Keline keys that clearly are made to only vaguely resemble the cut of an Adlake or whomever key. Don't forget that the newer locks have only 1 lever (both Keline and now the newer Adlakes). I can find many examples of variations in the barrel ID and even the OD, not to mention the cuts themselves. Not major mind you but there are noticeable differences. For example, I have an old Frisco Slaymaer/FS Hardware style key marked key that will not open a MoPac lock but Adlake Frisco keys will. Bear in mind that they keys are fairly identical to the eye. So much for "anything will open a switch lock". If you collect signal/general purpose lock then you might have noticed that the AT&SF Ry versions have a huge difference in the post diameter and the bit size even though the key cuts are of the same general profile. This includes Fraim, Miller, Yale and Slaymaker at least.  Posted Tuesday, May 3, 2022 by spladiv

 Q3904 Button ID?  I'm trying to figure out the name of the 'Street Railroad Co' with what looks like a monogram of 'E.O'. The backmark is the Pacific Button Co. S. Fran. Cal. Any ideas? Thank you,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, January 13, 2022 by Renée   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. East Oakland Street Railway/Railroad Company seems likely (Link 1) and there's one listing on the e(ast)bay claiming such. Link 1  Posted Thursday, January 13, 2022 by ShastaRoute

 Q3903 Key Questions  I have a couple keys I'm hoping to get some information on. The first is stamped G&NW RR and backside has Handlan Buck S very worn. The only name I can find on this site's data base is Gainesville and Northwestern. My research indicates this road was constructed in 1912- 14. I have 2 questions about this key. It being tapered, I'm thinking this key is earlier than that time frame. Second, being a Handlan Buck, I haven't seen any Eastern US road keys with that maker. All of them tend to be midwest or southwest. So is it indeed Gainesville and Northwestern or some completely different road that isn't in the data base of this site? My second key, the Bohannon Grand Trunk, doesn't have the traditional GT switch key bit. I'm wondering if it could possibly be a car or RT or some other special purpose? There is no designation marking on the back other than the makers mark. Any help on these two keys would be most appreciated. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, January 13, 2022 by Jim   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Please add a photo of the back sides of these keys and I and others can try to help.  Posted Friday, January 14, 2022 by keyresponse

A. OK will do  Posted Friday, January 14, 2022 by Jim

A. Here's the back sides of the keys. Link 1  Posted Friday, January 14, 2022 by Jim

A. I too have these G & N W keys. The one on left is the same cut as yours and mine is numbered where yours is not. I bought it out of an estate in Missouri and that man shopped for locks and keys in that state and adjoining ones. So I took it to be Gainesville (Georgia). Over the 45 years I've collected, with some exceptions, I've seen that artifacts generally stay in or nearby the area they were used. Mine is RY and yours is RR. The one on the right was bought from Oronoco, MN and I feel it could be Garvin & North Western. It is the same cut as a Chicago & Northwestern key but I don't believe it's a mismark. On your Grand Trunk, I've seen many cases where a purpose other than switch is not marked on a key and only those who used it knew what lock it was meant to go to. You're correct that Eastern roads generally used Eastern manufacturers and Buck and H-B products are found on Midwestern and Western keys. But the possibility for exceptions exists there as well. See Link. Link 1  Posted Sunday, January 16, 2022 by Non

A. The Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) had a VERY long and complicated history in Canada and the US (see Link) with MANY subsidiary companies coming and going at various times. I would be very surprised if there was just one 'standard switchkey' among all those various entities that all operated under GTR at one time or another. And that multiplied the numbers of specialized keys (car, RT, etc etc) many times over, as well. Link 1  Posted Thursday, January 20, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3902 Fresnel Globe in Armspear 1925 Lantern  My father left me a short frame Armspear '1925' lantern marked for the B&O with a fresnel globe. Given the good condition of the piece I am thinking the globe is original. Does the use of the fresnel globe make this more likely to be made closer to 1931? Would the fresnel globe (instead of a regular 'short' globe) have been a specification by the B&O? Thanks for your response.  Posted Monday, January 10, 2022 by Steve   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. 25 is a patent date, not a made date. If to shows a patent date, remember it is always newer than that date. I cannot remember all the locations that used fresnel globes, but I do remember crossing watchmen using them. Posted Monday, January 10, 2022 by h v coll

 Q3901 Lamp ID?  I've had this piece forever but cannot locate it on line. Can you help? It measures 9 3/4 in. at the base by 8 in. deep by 11 in. tall plus about 4 1/2 in. for the chimney. The lens is 8 in. diameter with pat. Dates for U.S. Feb 20, Can. Mar 23 & Apl. 13, and Eng. Dec 24, 1877. Haven't tried it but oil lamp (font - not shown) looks perfect. Hard to tell but likely repainted at some time. Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, January 10, 2022 by Ken   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3900 Obscure items  I have in my possession about 4-5 stones, almost completely round. They look like the balls that used to be used inside a computer mouse. My grandma told me she picked them up beside a railroad near Seal Beach in the early 1910s-1920s. According to her, they were stones put in the train cars that were transporting salt so it wouldn’t clump. She said the rocks were worn down into spheres as the train rocked. Some are grey, some white. But I can’t find any record of anything like this being mentioned anywhere. Was this a common practice? Do these rocks have a name? Are there others out there? I can only find info on train marbles, and speculation as to what they were used for. Your site seemed to be a good source for this kind of knowledge. Thank you for taking the time to read my inquiry!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, December 28, 2021 by HB   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. There has been quite a bit of past discussion on the RRiana site here about glass 'train marbles' found along tracks all over the US. Three possible uses mentioned so far are (1) as a type of floor conveyor system in freight houses, or (2) as you mention, maybe buried in some kind of bulk load to help it flow out of a hopper car, or (3) as bulk material in some kind of manufacturing process. See Prior Q's 3362, 3265, 3156, 2414 just to start. Another use not mentioned so far, suggested to me by the stone material of your ball, is in a 'ball mill' used to crush various things into smaller pieces and/or mix powders together (See Link) -- one common example is raw cement 'clinker' and a second is black gunpowder which may be processed in a ball mill both to completely mix its ingredients and to produce the desired grain size. In handling gunpowder the stone would probably be a much better material than metal, to avoid sparks. In all of these uses, the balls would be produced in a factory somewhere in their final round shape, and shipped to the point where they were to be used, a few no doubt leaking out on every trip on the way.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, December 28, 2021 by RJMc

A. I think these are just clay (or earthenware) toy marbles. See link below Link 1  Posted Thursday, December 30, 2021 by DA

A. Seal Beach was accessed in 1904 by the Pacific Electric Railway, with the rest of the Newport/Balboa line completed in 1905/06. There once were salt works on the area below the Santa Monica bay, but I don't know of any in the southbay. [A glass insulator maker did exist in Long Beach area, but I can not say anything for ceramics.] A rail extension to the Seal Beach naval munitions facilities is well documented on-line, but it comes too late for the period that granny claims. Newport actually did have a port connecting to rail services heading inland at one time, but this would probably not affect Seal Beach up the coast. There were clay related manufacturers in SoCal for pottery and tile all the way back to near 1900 (and maybe some before), but local clay marbles is not something I have heard of. So maybe they were just what DA is pointing to, but brought in for retail...PE did handle all kinds of product shipments. Posted Saturday, January 1, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. Afterthoughts-British educated and Wade family related George Poxon was a foremost authority in ceramic glazes. He came to California and started a pottery (tiles and then more) in Vernon south of downtown Los Angeles around the era (c.1912/3) noted. Conroy linked him as a supplier to the Southern Pacific, but I don't know what she found. No doubt some of the wares were sold at places like Santa Fe's La Grande Station (check silent fim footage) or the early goods stores in SoCal (some ads exist). They eventually made vitrified hotel china (very hard to find). Poxon is the SoCal equivalent to Union Porcelain Works of Greenpoint N.Y. or KTK up in Ohio, both making early railroad chinas. If Poxon made clay marbles as another product, and you can find proof of that, it would be historically significant. There was a twenty year plus search to re-locate a clay deposit that was involved in award winning pottery. It appears to be the Albermarle (?) clay pits that exists in Riverside County and was located along a Santa Fe branch. (It's all somehow related to Poxon among others, but much of the information was lost to researchers working before the internet machines went to digging through sources.] You might want to contact some of the pottery experts, if you can find one still alive and interested. Posted Saturday, January 1, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. BTW-A large plant for refining sugar from the beet industry was the big deal on the rambling marsh lines down the coast (inland a bit) above Newport Beach. I believe PE could exchange cars with SP if it made any sense. So maybe grandma saw sugar tanks instead of salt? Posted Saturday, January 1, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. This may be hard to believe, but as a life long Railroad employee (retired) I have found these in switch point filler blocks. The ones I have found were actually track stones that were stuck inside the block and over time rounded from movement of the train traffic. Just another possible explanation.  Posted Thursday, March 10, 2022 by Ricks

A. I doubt it can be related due to the size difference, but Ira Swett's Interurbans Special (1965-66) on Los Angeles Pacific Railroad development shows an image of massive round rocks uncovered in the L.A.-Santa Monica basin zone when they were cutting into hillocks to lay out lines. Seems nature had produced something odd and perhaps buried them when it was all ocean covered along the coasts. Nothing was noted about any small ones, but this Newport line was in the same general area. Posted Monday, April 11, 2022 by ShastaRoute

 Q3899 Unknown RR Lantern Marking  I've been collecting railroad items for a few years now and Railroadiana has been an invaluable resource for information. I recently purchased a Dietz Vesta lo-top lantern that has very unique markings. I haven't been able to find any information about these markings on the Railroadiana website, or anywhere else on the internet. I believe the 'B&M' stands for Boston & Maine, but I was wondering if anyone at Railroadiana could identify the meaning of 'X-277'? Sincerely,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, December 28, 2021 by JPV   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The Boston and Maine had a LOT of grade crossings. As a guess, that X-277 designates which crossing watchman's shanty the lantern belonged in, or which crossing watchman it belonged to, to prevent lanterns from being 'borrowed' back and forth all the time.  Posted Tuesday, December 28, 2021 by RJMc

A. I was reading your story and thought I would add that the 'X' number was a very common steam engine prefix like yours is. They used the X before a lot of steam engines, and it is believed it stood for experimental because when they made the first one or two they used the X for testing purposes. Then just like the challenger or the big boy they did away with the X and gave it a full number. Just my 2 cents worth but nowadays it's my nickels worth !!! :-) I fully believe that the number is for a steam engine crew who wanted to keep their lanterns on their own engine. There was a lot of pride and they depended a lot on different lantern styles like yours and also an inspection lantern and so on. It could have been for a switch house, it was a small house where you could get in out of bad weather when a man had to baby sit the switch due to so much traffic and so on.  Posted Monday, March 14, 2022 by Ron

 Q3898 Dietz #6 Lanterns  When did the manufacturer marking on No. 6 lanterns change from R. E. Dietz to simply Dietz? Are R. E. Dietz lanterns found less frequently than Dietz?  Posted Sunday, December 26, 2021 by Non   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3897 RR Item?  Back in 1976, The Freedom Train went through town and I found quite a few of these 2-inch triangular shaped items strewn along the RR Tracks... My recollection is that The Freedom Train burned oil for fuel... So might anyone know what this item might be? Thank you!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, December 25, 2021 by TK   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. What town or area are you referring to? Which locomotive was pulling the Freedom Train at the time: ex-SP Daylight 4449, ex-RDG 2101, ex T&P 610?  Posted Saturday, December 25, 2021 by RJMc

A. Sorry not to have mentioned it before... The Train pulled through Jefferson City Missouri in April 1976... Unfortunately, being a kid, I was too young to know which locomotive was there that day... Your response led me to find a partial link, but it didn't really mention locomotive specifics... Thank you for looking at my question! Link 1  Posted Sunday, December 26, 2021 by TK

A. The look of this is the way many bulk chemicals look. What comes to mind are detergents, fabric softeners, dishwasher cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, and maybe at the outside, water softeners. I suspect this is something that leaked out of a badly-closed outlet in a covered hopper car in a freight train, rather than the Freedom Train. I don't know of anything like this used around any of the steam locomotives I have helped to operate. In any case, whatever it is cost money, and strewing it around the right-of-way would be the basis for getting in trouble for someone. As a further thought, if this was found at a site where the Freedom Train was displayed, it might be detergent for power washing the train, which happened at about every site.  Posted Monday, December 27, 2021 by RJM

 Q3896 Adams Lantern Marking?  I have found an Adams RR lantern with a clear globe that that says C.S.L. Ry etched on the globe. I would like to know what railroad that is? It is a new one for me. Any idea what it might be ? Thanks.  Posted Wednesday, December 22, 2021 by FRC   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Chicago Surface Lines (1913 - 1947). Posted Thursday, December 23, 2021 by ASwoyer

 Q3895 Globe Maker and Style?  What maker and style of lantern does this globe fit? I don't believe it is for a barn or utility lantern, thus suspect railroad. It is 5-1/2 in. high, with top outer diameter 2-3/4 in., extended base bottom opening 3-3/8 in. The glass is 3/16 in. thick, which is at least twice as thick as barn lantern globes. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, December 12, 2021 by Non   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Unmarked? Try searching "Dietz Globe" (might be a generic copy) and you will see similar ones. [At least one retailer has a chart to match it up to the lantern models.] And, of course, check back here to see if you get a more precise answer than this. Posted Monday, December 13, 2021 by ShastaRoute

A. Here is a photo of the type of lantern that I believe your globe fits [see link]. The measurements you gave and globe shape are not exactly the same but very close to the lantern globe in the photo. Earlier fixed globes in this style lantern were plastered in place while later styles were held in place by soldered guard wires and your globe would fit both of these criteria. Fixed globe lanterns were general use lanterns but also used by railroads. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, December 15, 2021 by VE

 Q3894 Seized Lantern Founts  I have recently purchased a couple of standard Adlake hand lanterns in which the founts have seized in the lamp (presumably rusted in) and I can't remove them. Is there anything I can soak them in to free them up? Thanks for any help you can provide.  Posted Friday, December 3, 2021 by Jason   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. From what I have found, there is no perfect answer, almost everyone is different. Just remember, WD40 and others like it are lubricants, not rust inhibitors. You might think of heat around the outside to expand the metal that is holding the font. Be careful as the contents are flammable and can also put off an odor when heated. Always be prepared for the unexpected as the fonts were never designed for what you are about to do. I have been lucky and never had a problem, except for some that are still stuck.  Posted Saturday, December 4, 2021 by h v coll

A. This might be a good time to remind everyone of the lantern restoration page [see link] which has a bunch of general rust removal advice, although not with specific focus on seized fonts.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, December 4, 2021 by Web Editor

A. A good MODERATE source of heat is a hair dryer. If you don't have one, or don't want to borrow somebody else's (at possibly great risk to your relationships) try the local thrift store. I have found many there in the $4.00 range -- I have often bought them to use as '1,000 watt dummy loads' to test portable electric generators. As to WD40, it is not even a lubricant. It is actually a degreaser, and acts as a lubricant only when it is still wet. Things may stick even harder once freed with WD40. There are probably thousands of brands of penetrating oils which can be tried. Things should actually be soaked in them for some time (at least days) to get results on really stuck items. If you can't actually submerge the item, paint the penetrating oil on repeatedly to keep the affected area wet with it. The link is a handy reference to some testing of which brand might be best for use on stuck bolts on cars. Their best result of all was to home-brew a mix of transmission fluid and acetone. But given the flammability issues, I would try some of the others first. De-rusters which contain phosporic acid actually chemically convert the rust to gray iron phosphate which then protects the metal from further rust and can act as an effective primer if any kind of coating is to be applied later, while also freeing the joint.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, December 4, 2021 by RJMc

A. PB B'laster to break the rust? Posted Wednesday, December 8, 2021 by ShastaRoute

 Q3893 Help Identify...  Trying to figure out what this is. Was told 'PRRS' was Steam so it's fairly old but no idea what it is. Thanks   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, November 21, 2021 by Jim H   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Could be a bulk lead bar used in soldering.  Posted Sunday, November 21, 2021 by h v coll

A. The S could be for system or Pennsylvania lines west of Pittsburgh Posted Monday, November 22, 2021 by DC

A. Yas, this is what is called "Plumber's Bar Solder." Also see prior Q 3004 for another metal ingot labelled PRR. At one time this kind of bar solder was sold in every hardware store. The 50 - 50 refers to its composition of 50% lead and 50% tin. Other kinds of solder, such as used for electrical or electronic work may be 60 - 40 which melts at a much lower temperature and usually comes as wire on a spool rather than in bars. The Plumber's Solder was used extensively on copper water pipe joints and the end-bell joints on black iron water pipe which can go to very large sizes (feet in diameter) so each joint needed a LOT of solder, which was melted in a pot and then poured on top of fiber packing which was forced into each slip joint after the pipe run was assembled. Of course lately no lead is being used (legally, anyway) on water pipe joints. It was also used to solder joints on things like gutters and other tinwork; possibly for filling the counterweights on steam locomotive drive wheels (many pounds per wheel), all things the PRR did extensively to maintain its thousands of buildings and locomotives. And also used to make fishing sinkers among many other uses. Particularly for such generally useful stuff as Plumber's Solder they were labelled so that the RR did not end up supplying solder to every plumber and fisherman in Altoona and much of the Eastern US. And the S is likely for 'System' as mentioned.  Posted Tuesday, November 23, 2021 by RJMc

 Q3892 Unusual Lantern Conversion  I just ran across a very unusual D&RGW RR lantern that was converted from kerosene to 6 volt battery. It looks like a professional metal worker did the conversion. Very well made and it does function. I would enjoy any information.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, November 18, 2021 by David   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The more I look at the pix, the more I am convinced this is not a "conversion" but made by the lantern manufacturer. For example, the horizontal guard wires at the base are perfectly bent, in exactly the same manner as the other guard wire joints. An even better indicator is that where the guard wires cross the battery holder, there are "ears" in the casting to hold those wires in exactly the right places. And the (well-worn) switch is set into its own housing, obviously purpose-cast into the side of the battery box. And the ring sized to exactly hold the globe base is also cast into the top of the battery box. The only part that looks adapted is the blue top light and it appears to happen to have fit just right into where the kerosene top would also have fit. The lantern manufacturers were very flexible and would make almost anything a RR wanted (or anybody else with $$, for that matter)and they would always make use of patterns they already had to keep startup costs down. I suspect this was made to use to 'blue flag' yard or shop tracks, and/or to hang on the side of an engine while stopped to be serviced in a terminal, and the original globe would also have been blue. This would have been used in the time period before transistorized blue flashers became commonly available, probably 1950's.  Posted Wednesday, November 24, 2021 by RJMc

A. A further thought on looking at all the heavy duty features built into this lamp. This is the kind of construction of lamps to be used in hazmat environments, such as to blue flag tank cars holding flammable materials while being loaded or unloaded, for handling explosives, or maybe even a grain elevator where potentially explosive dust is an issue and where open flames are banned. That's the kind of application that would justify the obviously great expense of making up that battery box casting. And the limited number of those places explains why so few of these have been seen.  Posted Wednesday, November 24, 2021 by RJMc

A. I have one of these lanterns in very good condition, with cobalt top AND cobalt globe. Top is marked D&RGW RR, and THE ADAMS AND WESTLAKE COMPANY. See pic.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, December 14, 2021 by Doug

 Q3891 Locomotive Bell Info  I just purchased this bell and am hoping to find out some info based on the numbers stamped on top of the bell. One side of the bell has numbers that appear to be 1238 then 1 on top of 1 then 273…. The other side of the bell is stamped 270. Removed the nut and washer but there are no numbers under there. The bell is cast iron not brass or bronze. Any help in identifying this bell is appreciated. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, November 14, 2021 by JM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. In the earlier days of railroading , when an engine was shopped , shop crews marked a bell with the locos number so the same bell could be replaced and not get mixed up with the others that had been removed. With multiple numbers , there is a good possibility the previous loco had been wrecked or scrapped , and the bell had been placed on a different loco. Posted Sunday, November 14, 2021 by h v coll

 Q3890 Lock Sites?  I recently purchased a Baltimore and Ohio Brass Railroad Switch Lock without a key and stamped with 'B & O R.R' and 'F S HDW.Co' from the Fraim and Slaymaker company. Some eBay Sellers claim this older style Brass lock was made by Fraim and Slaymaker and supposedly manufactured in the 1920s. I can’t see any markings on the lock that give me a clue when it was made or which hollow key pattern will unlock it. I realize that hollow key patterns and their matching locks often changed between railroad divisions and sometimes on a periodic basis for railroad security. Are there Internet websites dedicated to discussing and collecting USA Railroad Locks and Keys and their use/history – including Fraim and Slaymaker - and if so, what are their URL addresses?  Posted Saturday, November 13, 2021 by SN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. First be sure to check out the key related discussions on this site. Also, I hope the Key Lock & Lantern organization can help, Link 1. I don't know where you are, but the 2022 convention is scheduled for Carbondale PA; see the website for details. There are several groups that discuss keys/locks on Facebook; Link2 is a good one but you can probably find more by using FB's search function. RE: Fraim and Slaymaker, my information is that ET Fraim started the business in 1879; his sons Walter and Samuel joined the firm in the 1880s. ET died in 1917. About 1920, Samuel bought Walter out. By 1921, Walter had bought a major interest in the Slaymaker Co. and formed Fraim-Slaymaker (F-S Hardware), in direct competition to his brother. F-S Hardware lasted about 15 years. Fraim operated until the 1950s. I have never seen a lock coded for date/key cut. Some manufacturer stamp styles can help with dates; example, E T FRAIM LOCK CO in a straight line is the oldest Fraim mark; followed by FRAIM inside a keystone; then FRAIM inside a bowtie/banner/dog bone. Link 1  Link 2  Posted Sunday, November 14, 2021 by JMS

 Q3889 Pyle National Marker Lamp  I have a Pyle National Marker Lamp. Can anyone tell me what size original light bulb it was used in it. I am not running it and it is for looks. Thank you. Don  Posted Friday, November 12, 2021 by Don   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The socket in most electric markers and class lights is a standard 'Edison Medium Base' female receptacle, the same as is used in regular household lamps. Markers and class lamps usually used a 15 or 25 watt, 32 Volt bulb which ran on DC voltage from the locomotive or passenger car. Illuminated number boards often used two or three sockets with the same size bulbs. Because the bases are the same, and even for 32 volt service the insulation was rated at 600 volts, household bulbs can be used directly to light class lamps and markers with household 120 vac PROVIDED that you either confirm that insulation is still good, and/or replace any wiring where time, wear, or weather may have degraded it.  Posted Friday, November 12, 2021 by RJMc

A. The above answer refers to the larger 'cannonball' style marker and classification lamps. The later 'cat's eye' smaller style of markers, some also made by Pyle National, used a bayonet 'twist lock' base lamp often running at 12 VDC and very similar to some automotive turn signal lamps. If you are trying to match that lamp, be aware that the side pins on most turn-signal type lamps are not directly opposite each other; the pin configuration must match the socket for the bulb to fully engage and work in the socket. Some of the auto bulbs made for top lights and/or reverse lights may have the pins opposite each other since they only have a single conductor in the base. Once again, a picture of your item would be most helpful.  Posted Sunday, November 14, 2021 by RJMc

 Q3888 S.P. Co. Steel lock and Brass Key  A Diamond 'S' lock, RR marked front with 1961 dated back. Key works fine but is marked 'round top Eagle Lock Company Terryville Conn. U.S.A. with code 13c1 on obverse. No RR stamp on key. [Key has been in place for a long time as no rust formed behind area where drop was swung over..same for front area of key that was inserted in the workings.] All kosher and do we know more about this key? TIA   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, November 8, 2021 by ShastaRoute   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Correction: 13c1 is on the reverse side of key, not the obverse where the Eagle Lock name is. Posted Saturday, November 13, 2021 by ShastaRoute

A. This would appear to be a Southern Pacific Company lock. Link 1 is some info on the railroad line. I am not sure what I can offer about the key: it fits, it works, it was made by a fine company but as you state, it is not railroad marked. I have no way to know what 13c1 means. It's a plus to have a good working set, but of course it would be more valuable if the key was stamped SPCo as well.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, November 14, 2021 by JMS

A. Found 2 records (2019 & 2021) of what may be the same (twice sold) "13C1" key in different numbers stamp from mine, but the complex cut is a match [Note use of large "C" on that one.]. It was also marked Eagle Lock w/o RR identity. The second source was in Dubuque, but they may have obtained it online from another area. So, at least we now know those lost keys should work on a select Southern Pacific lock set. Slaymaker was gone in 1973, so maybe they had to get replacement keys from Eagle in the last years before they went under too in 1975? Posted Monday, November 15, 2021 by ShastaRoute

 Q3887 Class Lamps?  On an online auction I recently purchased a pair of lamps that were described as classification lamps. However, they both have both green and red roundels. It was my understanding classification lamps only displayed either clear or green. Are these in fact classification lamps, or some other application? If they are classification lamps, when would the red indication be displayed?  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, November 3, 2021 by Joe C   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Red lights on the front of an engine were used as markers when the locomotive was on the trailing end of a reverse move. Among the most obvious place to see this was on the front of some ALCO and MLW diesel locos where all three light colors were prominent with each color having a separate lens (see Link). Link 1  Posted Wednesday, November 3, 2021 by RJMc

 Q3886 Hiram L Piper Lamp  I'd been interested in a rail lamp for a long time and, just yesterday I stumbled into this repainted, Montreal based Hiram L Piper. As found in a 1960 catalogue of parts; with matching dimensions and lenses (4), it's got to be either a No. 8 or No. 12 Standard switch lamp. The catalogue says it's 19 lbs, crated. The actual weight is 11.4 lbs. It's not electrified, but has no fount. It's on a No. 54 lamp bottom [stamped 54 and its patent date is 1909-12-20. Most of the examples I find have CPR or CNR stamped on them. This one does have any other markings beyond HLP M, patented date and 'Piper Montreal'. Assuming that they only branded CNR and CPR because of the scale, I assume it was owned by one of the 100 or so railway companies early-mid 20th century Canada, but I’d like to try and date it. Anybody have info or tips? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, October 31, 2021 by Jeff   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Greetings Jeff, I vaguely recall having this same discussion with the late Paul Roy, Canadian railroadiana collector and long-time Key Lock & Lantern and RCAI member. You're right that these lamps don't have manufactured dates on them like the lanterns do. He told me that you can roughly date your lamp by looking closely at the outer edge of the lenses, many are engraved very lightly with the date they were made (you may have to open your lamp and look through the lamp against a flash light to see, and you may even have to remove a lens to see the date clearly). I had a look at a few of mine, one CNR lamp for example had 1934 and 1935 date marks on the four lenses. This'll give a rough estimate of manufacture of 1935. I hope this helps you! Posted Sunday, October 31, 2021 by Steve B

A. Possibly unfortunately for the current discussion, the "1935" on many, many railroad lenses is a specification number, not the date of manufacture of the lens. That's why almost every lens which shows up for sale online is claimed to be "vintage 1935" when in fact many were produced quite recently. They often look brand new because they may BE brand new.  Posted Monday, November 1, 2021 by RJMc

A. The Link discusses the long history of development of standardized colors for signal lenses, not only for RR's but highways and aviation as well, resulting in US national standards. As to "1935" a short excerpt from the document at the Link: "Revisions In 1935: The year 1935 witnessed a revision of the specifications for lenses, rounddels and glass slides. Experience gained in manufacture and test at Corning, combined with research at the Bureau of Standards and experience in the field, permitted the specification to be rewritten permitting use of higher transmission glasses. The 1935 specifications define color values in a manner that with proper test equipment any doubtful glass will be eliminated. This specification also covers heat resisting discs for search-light signals."  Link 1  Posted Monday, November 1, 2021 by RJMc

A. The 1935 standard discussed above resulted from strong support from the Association of American Railroads (AAR) and its predecessor organizations. The Canadian (and Mexican) railroads have always been strong supporters of the AAR and its technical committees so the 1935 standard for lenses applied in Canada, also.  Posted Tuesday, November 2, 2021 by RJMc

A. Thanks for your insight RJMc, interesting article too. I had another look at the lenses I was referring too, and sure enough they are marked Corning. That'll explain the 1935 dates! Well Jeff, what can I say, I tried to unravel the mystery but no, you can't date your lamp just by looking at the lenses as it turns out. I am out of ideas as to how to date this. Posted Tuesday, November 2, 2021 by Steve B

A. Steve B, RJMc: I enjoyed the read and thanks for the info. No closer to getting a picture of where/when, but's all good. Odds are that I'll never figure it out and should just enjoy it for what it is. Wish I could do that with my WW2 rifles of the world collection, lol. I've since temporarily wired it (no damage) and put a LED fire bulb inside. Its floating between my office and what I call my music studio, until I find it's home. I'm considering building a post for it. I'll periodically poke around and, revisit here. Maybe I'll get lucky someday. Side note: The fire bulb and red lens looked really cool as a backlight to our jack-o-lantern.  Posted Saturday, November 6, 2021 by Jeff

 Q3885 Installing a Peepsight on Adlake 275 Lantern  I'm looking for information on how to install a peepsight on an Adlake 275 switch lamp. I am currently restoring a switch lamp that is missing the peepsight. There are peepsight replacement kits available for this lamp. My question is how to install it? Is the soldiering involved something that an amateur can do? If anyone has done this I would appreciate their insight in this application.  Posted Sunday, October 31, 2021 by DBN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3884 Donated Item Identification  This wheel was donated to our Depot Museum with the donor believing it is a railroad item, possibly a caboose wheel driven generator part or a 1940's PFE reefer car wheel driven fan system. The holes on the front are for accessing the mounting bolt. I have not been able to locate any photos showing this wheel. Steel wheel and rubber tire. At some point it was painted black and cream color. Any help would be greatly appreciated.  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, October 28, 2021 by Dale R   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I suspect it is a landing gear tire for a small airplane. Posted Friday, October 29, 2021 by RJMc

 Q3883 Lamp with White Lens  Here is a Northern Pacific lamp. Why does it have a white lens? The other lenses are 2 blue and 1 red. Thanks, look forward to your answer.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, October 23, 2021 by TR   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. We asked around trying to find an answer and the consensus was that a prior owner of this lamp put the white lens in it because it was what he happened to have. We could not come up with any use for this type of lens by a railroad. It works fine covering the hole, and it does look like a fine conversation piece.  Posted Friday, October 29, 2021 by JMS

A. Just "conjecture time"...could it have been used on an intermediate or secondary switch branching off of a main repair track, like a stub or even a runaround for engines? Blue at 180 degrees would be informative only to say the rip track is aligned. When the switch is thrown, red tells any opposing traffic not to cross the switch while showing an entering crew (facing white) that it is aligned for movement. If white were only informative, they would still be required to have clearance or orders to enter that track. Of course, I'm thinking special conditions for a particular place rather than general rules here. Any chance of that in the long past? Posted Sunday, October 31, 2021 by ShastaRoute

A. Of course, that makes no sense for a lamp set up as a marker. Posted Sunday, October 31, 2021 by ShastaRoute

 Q3882 SP GS-1 #4405 Locomotive Image Mirror  Two feet in length on 1/4 inch glass with mirror backing. Engineering blueprint diagram fast applied in black on surface. Looks to be very professional work. But for what purpose, when, and by whom? Haven't run across this as an item offered for sale to railfans in the past, but what use would it be, if any, to Southern Pacific? TIA   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, October 20, 2021 by Shasta Route   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. What a great find ! But I would wonder if it actually was made for the SP. Would think they would have used an actual image - not a blueprint - but this is just guessing. This would make a great wall mounted decoration or maybe might have been part of a "divider" somewhere - ? Just wild guessing. Restaurants use this type of decoration on privacy panels built between booths in dining rooms. I wonder if it came from a train theme restaurant.  Posted Sunday, October 24, 2021 by JS

A. Thanks, JS. There's no evidence of any prior framing, and the thickness of the glass would seem to preclude any chance of mass production for the railfan markets except where made-to-order custom work might be done. In addition, it's rather odd that they chose the number of a locomotive from within a class rather than the first model to represent that group. That also seems like a custom decision for some inexplicable personal reasoning...kind of like decorating a brass model to create a specific engine. As far as I know, #4405 has no particular historical significance. Posted Wednesday, October 27, 2021 by ShastaRoute

A. Shasta Route, it sounds like maybe this was custom made (another guess) and may have been created as a gift. An error like you mention suggests the artist was not a train person, just "painting" a locomotive with no real knowledge of what the numbers meant. The SP would have ordered numbers correctly. This makes an even better case for this being a "non-railroad" item. Regardless it's a terrific find, great on a wall anywhere some light reflection would be interesting.  Posted Friday, October 29, 2021 by JMS

A. The thick glass causes a reflection that that makes it near impossible to get a clean image, but rest assured that this is a very professional work of creating a decal or using an advanced printing process to transfer the schematic onto the surface, and the Espee rails-to-sunset logo is down at the center bottom. I suspect it may pre-date this era with technology in every garage or home office, and was done by someone with real skills. That said, I noticed #4404 was used in publicity for one of the name trains in Oregon during the '30's. I have not been able to ferret out any of the operating history of #4405 to see if it might have played a similar role in those early years before the Lima products. The image here is of the original Baldwin-built configuration with cylindrical tender before they were changed out. Espee did order a lot of odd items (like system maps applied to glass mirrors) which surface every now and then, probably used only in offices, agencies, or stations. Guess I'll just have to watch to see who might have produced a similar style diagram with the logo embedded on the turntable..? Posted Sunday, October 31, 2021 by ShastaRoute

 Q3881 Alco Builders Plate  I have an Alco builders plate and need some help identifying the locomotive. The builders plate is from a steam locomotive type: 38 /HLV 38. 2-8-0 Consolidation. Made for Belgium, 75 were delivered in 1920. Train numbers 5201-5275 How can I find 'my' locomotive? What happened with this steam locomotive?  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, October 20, 2021 by Theo B, Belgium   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I would say doing the math based on my Alco serial numbers book it came off engine 5228 I would guess it was probably destroyed or damaged in WW 2 Posted Monday, October 25, 2021 by RMH

A. There is an entry here (Link 1) giving the renumberings of class 38 (class 5201) if that might help find it. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, October 27, 2021 by ShastaRoute

 Q3880 N.L. Piper Lanterns?  Did Noah( N.L. Piper)make any railroad stamped lanterns or were they done by his son Hiram (H.L. Piper)?  Posted Wednesday, October 20, 2021 by boxcarwingy   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3879 HPR CPR Switch Lamp  I've recently acquired a Hiram L Piper CPR Switch lamp (1943). It seems to have had plastic lenses rather than glass. Were these lanterns made with plastic lenses? Any information would be greatly appreciated.  Posted Wednesday, October 20, 2021 by Dan   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Greetings Dan and congratulations on getting your war-era CPR switch lamp. I live in Canada and have been collecting for 34 years now. I have several lamp examples, however I haven't personally seen any lamps from the CNR or the CPR that didn't have plastic lenses. All ones I have seen either have the plastic fresnel type for the lamps with kerosene burners, and later, some which were converted to reflective plastic Stimsonite lenses which were used just as the reflectorized targets came out in the early 1970's. Common sense however tells me that the very earliest lamps would most certainly have had glass lenses prior to the development of plastics, but when the switch to plastic lenses occurred I really don't know. I think that may have been well before 1943. Also It's quite common for a lamp to go through a few changes and updates in its life depending on the requirements of the railroad, and I have seen several converted to the plastic Stimsonite lenses which were formerly kerosene burning. I have yet to see a Canadian switch lamp which has any glass lenses at all, not even one, but it doesn't mean that they don't exist somewhere possibly. I Hope this helps you. Posted Thursday, October 21, 2021 by Steve B.

A. Thank You Steve for the information, you've cleared up questions that I had and made ownership of the lamp much more interesting and enjoyable. Posted Monday, October 25, 2021 by Steve B