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

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Latest 50 Questions:

 Q3270 Amtrak Silverware Patterns  Does anybody know how many patterns of silverware Amtrak has had during its history? I have 2, both marked with the current 'wing' logo (for lack of a better description). The book Silver At Your Service lists 2 unmarked patterns. If anyone has information it would be appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, February 24, 2017 by JN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3269 Use of E.T. Wright Lantern?  Curious about this trainman lantern. Produced by E.T Wright & Co. Hamilton Ontario with a Pat. Date of 1908. Branded C.N.R. It has a red bulls eye lens and a side bracket. How would this lantern been used? Was the side bracket just to assist in storage so they were not kicking around on the floor?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, February 23, 2017 by Dave S.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I have some Canadian lanterns with wire hooks/brackets, which were apparently used to hang the lanterns on the rear gates of passenger cars. The folding scissor-type gates (similar to wooden baby gates now, used to keep toddlers, or pets, from getting onto stairways) are stretched across the the walkway to prevent anyone from accidently walking off the otherwise-open rear end of a passenger train. Hanging the lantern(s) on the rear gate makes them ready-to-hand for a flagman leaving the back of the train to go back and flag, as well as getting them up off the floor and protecting them from damage, and keepting the smell of burning kerosene out of the car interior. The placement of the red lens on your lantern, and the fairly narrow solid bracket, makes it look to me like this one could have been used as a marker. That fairly narrow flat steel bracket looks like it would go into a conventional side-mounted marker bracket, pointing the red lens to the rear.  Posted Friday, February 24, 2017 by RJMc

A. Another possibility is use as a marker on a track speeder or motor car.  Posted Friday, February 24, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3268 Purpose of Lens?  I have a Corning Lens, Pat 1913. Could you tell me where or what this 10 inch lens was for? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, February 20, 2017 by Erich N.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This lens might have come off a trackside signal like a block signal. In my opinion (and I am not an expert) a lens that big would be impractical for anything considered "portable" like a switch or marker lamp. Hopefully the link will take you to an example. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, February 21, 2017 by JN

 Q3267 Purpose of LV Bucket?  I have the attached bucket which is marked LVRR(lehigh valley railroad). Is this for carrying water or for fuel or oil? Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, February 20, 2017 by JR   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I would think it is probably for water. If it were kerosene the spout would be different. Also if it were for any type of fuel it would probably have a screw on cap for safety reasons, not a flap type lid like your can has. It is a cool item regardless. Posted Tuesday, February 21, 2017 by JN

A. The flap-type lid and the back handle allow tipping the can almost all the way over to pour the contents out, where a top-mounted screw lid would likely leak. The very narrow spout says it had to be a fairly thin liquid, in order to get any out. So I see the can being used to reach in to fill some kind of reservoir, likely in a restricted space, with either water, fuel, hydraulic fluid, or the thinner kinds of lube oil. Hard to say beyond that. In the 'Articles and Info' section of this website is a description of many standardized types of RR tinware, titled "New! Extract (PDF) from Master Mechanics Assoc. 1916 Standards and Specifications for Tinware" but unfortunately this particular type of can is not listed in it.  Posted Wednesday, February 22, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3266 Kero Lantern Info Needed  Hello, looking for information on this lantern, any ideas on time (year) of production, use, etc. Would like to add to a display on lanterns in the Myrtle Beach Train Depot but want to have some good info before we do. Any help at all would be appreciated. Thank You   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, February 17, 2017 by Troy M   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Look on the very bottom of the lantern. It MIGHT have a date after Adlake Kero, such as 4-55. 4-55 would indicate the fourth quarter of 1955, and so on. If there is no date then it is probably after mid 1965. Posted Friday, February 17, 2017 by BobF

A. Dear Sir: Your lantern is an Adlake Kero M400 conductors/brakeman lantern. Note there is a clip that holds the top to the wire frame and secures the globe inside the lantern. With your finger, gently lift the clip and the top will swing up. This will allow removal of the globe and burner/oil font assemble. The wick raiser assembly is a "twist lock" type that turns approx. 1/8 turn and lifts out of the oil font or oil pot. Look down in the oil font and you will notice that it is stuffed full of cotton. There is a hole in the center where the wick extends into the oil. I think the cotton is in the font to prevent the oil from spilling out and causing a fire if the lantern is knocked over. - SEW  Posted Saturday, February 18, 2017 by SEW

A. Hi, I would like to add to SEWs reply. He mentions cotton inside the oil pot. If you are not going to use the lantern you may want to pull all of the cotton out. (You will probably be surprised as to how much is in there!) The reason you should pull it out is that the cotton will absorb moisture and can rust out the pot over time, especially in a humid climate. You can still fire the lantern without the cotton inside the pot should you so desire. Posted Saturday, February 18, 2017 by JN

A. Be advised that the comments the moderator made about removing the cotton from the oil pot, when not filled with kerosene, are exactly what happened to my Adlake. My oil pot was destroyed by rust! However, I would also like to state that another major reason the cotton was in the oil pot was to help contain the kerosene when the lantern was swung in a circle motion. This is the signal to the engineer to back-up. Without the cotton the kerosene could likely sling out of the lantern.- SEW Posted Thursday, February 23, 2017 by SEW

 Q3265 Builder Plates Info Needed  I have two builder plates from steam locomotives. I am trying to determine which railroad purchased these locomotives and any other info you may have. Both are ALCO plates. Schenectady Works 48859/Dec 1910. Brooksworks 52394/Dec 1912. I acquired these plates at an auction in northern Minnesota about 25 years ago.  Posted Saturday, February 11, 2017 by John M.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Both plates according to my Alco records are CM&StP. 48859 is from a 2-6-6-2C part of an order from 48838-48862 with road #s of 5000-5024 weighing 385,000 lbs with 57" drivers and 52394 is from a 2-8-0S part of an order from 52360 -52394 with road #s of 7205-7239 weighing 224,000lbs 24x30 cylinders and 63"drivers Posted Sunday, February 12, 2017 by CD

 Q3264 Info on NYNH&H Lamp?  Just acquired what I think is an older vintage NYNH&HRR Main Line switch lamp. If this prompts any particular interest, I would certainly appreciate any comments. I stumbled upon it at auction and found I just had to have it. It has two golf ball sized dents in the top housing but overall is in pretty nice condition otherwise. Lenses and burner are all intact. I donít believe it is a terribly common unit but am certainly no expert and could be wrong. Either way, I just really like it. Many thanks!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, February 11, 2017 by Brian   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Brian: Can the lenses be removed? If so, how? And what does it say on the back side outer rim of the lenses?, Thanks. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Monday, February 13, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Brian: additionally, on the inside of the door, under the lens, there is an oval emblem; what does it say inside of that oval? Can you send in a close-up photo of that emblem? Thanks, ---- .... Red Beard Posted Monday, February 13, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Red Beard, Lenses are installed to an outer lip and swaged in place from the inside. Do not appear to be easily removed. The oval emblem reads "Peter Gray and Sons, Makers, Boston. Engraving on lens at 12:00 location is "CORNING PAT 10-10-05; at 6:00 is "U"; at 10:00 is "312F" with the numbers being very light and not square in line, as they might have been manually stamped in the mold. Appreciate your responses, never would have found the lens engraving! Thanks, Brian Link 1  Posted Tuesday, February 21, 2017 by Brian

A. Hi Brian; That is a very old lamp design, likely from the late 1800s. -I was hoping RJMc would chime in on this, as he has an extensive library on old lamps- The lamp is in extraordinarily good condition for something of that age, indicting that it saw minimal use on the railroad before going into someone's collection. Square body switch lamps don't show up very often, as most of them haven't survived. The 1905 patent date on the lenses indicates that it was actually made in the early 1900s. Cylindrical body lamps were introduced around 1900 and quickly became the industry standard; so again, you have a very old piece, and in unusually good condition. - Peter Gray & Sons was a Boston based lamp manufacturer, selling mostly to northeastern railroads; New Haven (your lamp) and Maine Central were principle customers for Gray. ---- .... Red Beard  Posted Friday, February 24, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

 Q3263 CPR Handlan Lantern  I bought this lantern recently. It's very clearly a Handlan (I think #176) and has a Handlan marked burner, but there are no other marks or patent dates on the lantern. The only markings on it are CPR. I'm wondering why this one lacks any makers marks, could this have been made by a Canadian manufacturer for Handlan so it could be sold in Canada? It's got thick green paint so I may be missing some small markings but I'm worried about the condition underneath so I'm debating removing it or not. Thanks a lot.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, February 7, 2017 by Drew G.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. If it has the snap off font (can't tell from the photo) might be a Handlan lantern with a Handlan-Buck snap off bottom font holder cup. Handlan never marked their name on the top of the lantern of this style but marked the bottom snap off font holder cup instead. In contrast, Handlan Buck always marked their name on the top of this style, but left the bottom snap off font holder cup blank. They're both the same maker, just slightly different dates of production of the same exact parts, with Handlan Buck the earlier. It might be a mix of parts using a Handlan Buck part on a Handlan lantern. Posted Wednesday, February 8, 2017 by BobF

 Q3262 B&O Logo  Could someone tell me why some B&O Railroad Logo Signs have a closed '&' and some others have and open 'E' between the B/O. I found a couple of different cast iron pieces and they are different because of this. Didn't know if someone could help answer this. Thanks,  Posted Monday, February 6, 2017 by David S.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The Link is to a website all about B&O lettering and logo styles, courtesy of the B&O Historical Society. It is targeted at modellers and real equipment owners interested in painting things as authentically as possible. One of the last entries in the site is labelled "B&O Logos 1937 - 1960" and it shows the open form ampersand being used from 1937 to 1945, otherwise the closed form. There is no specific info on logos before 1937, but many of the blueprints shown and reproduced in the site date back to 1903 and seem to use conventional lettering styles which would be consistent with the closed ampersand. Link 1  Posted Monday, February 6, 2017 by RJMc

A. Thank you so much for the info and the link.  Posted Tuesday, February 7, 2017 by David S

A. This turns out to be an interesting question, because of the apparently very limited time the B&O used the open ampersand logo. It seems to be a product of the B&O's relationship with industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss, who was responsible for streamlining B&O steam engines and redesigning their whole 'look'. See the link (or at the only photo I have found so far where the open ampersand logo is visible. Although there may be others, the only other RR I have found using anything close to it is the Wilmington and Western, a modern shortline/excursion line. All the others found so far use the conventional closed form (except the D&H uses its own unique form in its shield logo/herald)or just print out the word 'and'. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, February 14, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3261 C&NW Marking  I have an older Adlake tall globe lantern that's marked C&NWRR on the lid and the globe is embossed C&NW Ry. This is the first lantern I've seen marked RR instead of Ry for the Chicago & Northwestern. Maybe another named railroad? Thanks.  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, January 26, 2017 by Nick G.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Most pre-1900 or so lanterns, keys and locks from the Chicago & Northwestern were marked C&NWRR....even thought the correct marking should have been "RY" instead of "RR". There are quite a few lanterns from the Chicago & Northwestern marked just like yours. Strangely, the lantern globes were correctly marked C&NWRY. Some very early keys were marked RW (for railway), and some very early lantern globes were marked C&NWR. There was English money invested in the line and the C&NWR marking would be of the English style, as also done in Canada (GTR, CNR, CPR, etc.) Posted Friday, January 27, 2017 by BobF

 Q3260 Lantern Model?  I have a lantern that looks to be a marine style lantern; a No.0 style lantern globe seems to fit it perfectly. The only name I can find is on the burner. BB&C Co. Bristol Brass ? I did find a similar lantern in Lanterns That Lit Our World Book Two by Anthony Hobson. A Helvig style of lantern ? Any info would be appreciated. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, January 26, 2017 by Nick G.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  Another possibility for the burner is Bridgeport Brass Company. The link is from The Lampworks and it has a short history of Bridgeport Brass Co.  Link 1  Posted Friday, January 27, 2017 by KM

 Q3259 Brake Valve  Hello again, I truly appreciate everyones' assistance in helping me identify and understand what my recent PRR Brake Plate was and its use. I have another question for all your experts. Here are pictures of a PRR AAR brass valve that I came across and was trying to figure out where/how it was used in relation to the PRR. Thanks in advance for all your expertise!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, January 26, 2017 by DS   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  The Association of American Railroads,aka AAR, had their own standard for pipe fittings. The AAR fittings were heavier and larger than others that were in common use. This means that when you remove an AAR fitting it might be a fraction of an inch longer than a common fitting. This valve appears to be a check valve which allows flow in only one direction. Pressure and flow go in through a one way gate and cannot go back out. It might have been in an air brake line where 1 inch pipe is used.  Posted Friday, January 27, 2017 by KM

A.  The link is from "Railway Preservation News" and it has a short discussion about AAR pipe fittings. I am not sure if any manufacturer is still making them, most of the air brake work that I have been involved with recently has been done with welded socket type Schedule 80 fittings.  Link 1  Posted Friday, January 27, 2017 by KM

A. This check valve was likely used for steam, either on a locomotive, coach heat system, or in station or shop steam plumbing, but could also have been used for high pressure air. "AAR" "Double Weight" and "Schedule 80" are all terms for the extra-thickness, higher rated pipe fittings which are still in use for higher-pressure or physically more demanding applications. Some fittings are still sold marked "AAR". See Prior Q 3228. Since PRR used huge quantities of plumbing of all kinds, and they had their own highly-capable foundry complex at Altoona, there is a pretty good chance that PRR manufactured this valve themselves on their own property (!!!) and the X1485 might be their in-house part or mold number.  Posted Sunday, January 29, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3258 GT Ry Lantern  I picked up this lantern at an estate sale. Embossed on top of the shoulder cage is: Grand Trunk Ry. The top has the following: The Adam & Westlake Company - Chicago - New York.After searching the Q & A page, most specifically question 1156 which I posted, the last post on that question makes me think this lantern might of been manufactured by Boxall from Toronto Ontario but I am no expert and not sure this is the case. I normally collect oil lamps. Also, this lantern has a glass insert oil container with the inscription: E Miller Company Made in USA on the brass wick turner. Would this be the right oil container for this lantern as most lanterns have a metal container? Any idea how old this lantern is? There is an area on the bottom where there must of been a lock mechanism to lock the cage to the bottom of the lantern, but it seems to be missing. Thank you for any information you can give me.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, January 20, 2017 by RF   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Grand Trunk and a number of eastern roads had lanterns with glass just fonts like yours. I believe it was to accommodate whale oil as fuel. The "snap" that would lock the bell bottom base in place is missing from your lantern. Over the years sometimes the solder lets go. It is definitely an Adams & Westlake product. Your lantern dates from late 1880's to mid 1890's. Posted Friday, January 20, 2017 by BobF

 Q3257 Age Range of an Oiler  I work at the Childress County Heritage Museum in Childress Texas. Weíve received a donation of an oiler from the CB&O railroad. There is a logo on it and Iím trying to determine the age range of the item. Per searches, it says that the Johnson Mfg Co out of Urbana Ohio, had just the letter 'J' inside of a diamond and that was in the early 1900ís. Mine, in a diamond, says Johnson/Urbana O. Any ideas as to how to date this oiler?  Posted Friday, January 20, 2017 by Lee Ann M   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hello....Look closely, it is likely from the C B & Q, which was the Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy, commonly referred to as "The Burlington Route." (See Link) The Burlington existed (and probably bought some types of new oil cans marked CB&Q from Johnson) until being merged into Burlington Northern in 1970. The second link is for the historical marker for the Johnson Co. in Urbana, OH. It mentions a historical museum for the company and they can probably help you with when the form of the trademark changed.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Friday, January 20, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3256 Cast Eagle  Can you please give any information about this eagle? I am told it was attached to the front of a steam locomotive around the 1800s, there is a 'N' on the front and E.S on the back. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, January 19, 2017 by James G.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I wanted to add that Robert Bishop did a sculpture that is similar to this eagle in a a book called American folk art pggs.76-77. Thanks for any help.  Posted Thursday, January 19, 2017 by J.G.

 Q3255 Refueling Dressel Lantern  I can't figure out how to refuel a Dressel railroad lantern.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, January 16, 2017 by cediller887   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. You press the clip on the top to swing the lid up. Your picture shows the clip under the lid. Lift the globe out. Lift the burner / fount assembly out. The burner should then twist about a quarter turn and pull off. Just pour your liquid in and reassemble. Posted Monday, January 16, 2017 by JN

 Q3254 PRR Plate  I came across you great website while trying to research this PRR Plate. I haven't a clue as to what it is and was wondering if someone could possibly help me out identifying this plate?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, January 10, 2017 by Dave   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is off a piece of rolling stock--freight car, passenger car, whatever. It is an air brake diagram. It shows how the brake rigging is laid out on the particular piece of equipment. I don't know if they are still used, but at one time almost every car had one to help trouble shooting. Posted Wednesday, January 11, 2017 by JN

A. Dave; look at the PDF in LINK 1, go to page 6 on the PDF page finder, the page diagram is actually numbered as '5' on the page. The diagram shows a 3-dimensional version of the diagram on your plaque. Brake rigging was in constant use and was the highest maintenance item on cars. Brake rods and levers would come loose, break and even fall off the car during day to day use, and especially in the case of a derailment. Repair facilities needed to know the EXACT length of the levers in order for the brake system to apply the needed pressure evenly to all brake shoes. - This varied widely from car to car, so it was impossible for the car shop to know what length levers to use in repairs without a plate like yours to go by. - The numbers on the plate indicate the length in inches between attachment points on the levers. The thing on the plate that looks like a wine glass on its side represents the brake cylinder. It is attached to, and acts directly on, the 'cylinder lever'. On your plate, the lines that have numbers by them are the levers, the lines without numbers are the brake rods. ---- .... Red Beard Link 1  Posted Wednesday, January 11, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. For additional examples and more description see prior Q's 1582 and 1441. Posted Wednesday, January 11, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3253 Defective China  Hi Everyone, I have 2 pieces of PRR China that have manufacturer's defects. The Keystone bowl has very distorted pinstripes while about 1/3 of the Purple Laurel bread plate has dimples like a golf ball. As far as I'm concerned they are just as important as examples of the patterns as mint pieces, they are just ugly ducklings. My question is: would these pieces have ever seen a dining car table, or would some QC employee have picked them out and discarded them and then 'liberated for preservation' ? Regardless, they do see service on my dinner table from time to time. Thanks for any info you folks can give me.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, January 10, 2017 by JN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. In my opinion the brown keystone piece MAY have slipped by the QA folks but the sand as its called on the purple laurel piece would never have made it to regular service. That said I am pleased that they now have a home. Posted Thursday, January 12, 2017 by Ex Sou Ry

 Q3252 'Gold' Lantern Question  First, I want to wish all viewers of this site a Happy, Healthy and Safe New Year! My question is this: I have a PRR lantern made by Handlan. It is painted gold. It doesn't look like a sloppy home paint job. When I purchased it the lantern was electrified. I have removed the electrical components and converted it back to an oil lamp. Now, on Ebay, I see another PRR Handlan lantern painted gold. Is it just coincidence? Or did Handlan or the PRR paint some of their lanterns gold?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, January 2, 2017 by JN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Lanterns were often painted by railroaders to quickly identify them. One crew member might paint his gold while another silver and the third multicolor. . This helped to avoid any confusion. Keep in mind that one guy might take better care to of his lantern globe cleaned, wick trimmed and pot fully of kerosene. Another guy might not be so well prepared. When it was time to get off the engine or caboose to do some work it was easy to tell them apart and the guy who was well prepared would make sure he got the right lantern. Posted Monday, January 2, 2017 by Ex Sou Ry

A. JN; "Ex Sou Ry" is right on regarding railroad men painting their lanterns. Aerosol paint has been around since the 1950s, so a very smooth finish could have been done by a railroader at home. -- Additionally, the fact that it was electrified makes me think that whoever electrified the lantern likely also painted it at the same time. Gold is a fairly common re-paint color for lanterns that ended up as 'decorator items'. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Thursday, January 5, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Electrified? Where's the wirers? I think its the reflection from the flash from the camera not a light bulb. Posted Wednesday, January 11, 2017 by LC

A. Hi LC, please read my description again. I said when I got the lantern it HAD BEEN electrified. I converted it back to oil after I got it home. You are seeing the actual flame Posted Thursday, January 12, 2017 by JN

A. OK got it. Old age short term memory lapse. Posted Thursday, January 12, 2017 by LC

A. Hi LC, What were we talking about again? Happy New Year! Posted Friday, January 13, 2017 by JN

 Q3251 RW&O Globe  A friend of mine has acquired a globe that is cast RW&O RR in a rectangular plate. The globe is 4+ inches, looks like a Hanlan style shape and size. The railroad is Rome Watertown & Ogdensburg but not sure if it is a repo or real. No other marks are evident on the globe. Any thoughts or experiences with this type and name of globe? Thanks for your help.  Posted Sunday, January 1, 2017 by BSnyder   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The RW&O operated from 1842 - 1891 - too old for such a short globe? The globe sounds very suspicious. Check the link for Key Lock & Lantern's survey of the use of different types of globes by many railroad lines. Also see the link on this site addressing fake globes. Is your plate truly rectangular or is it a "trapezoid" as shown there? The fake globes out there are just terrible and it is so very hard to avoid them.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Sunday, January 1, 2017 by JS

A. The globe marks are not in a trapezoid configuration but as mentioned, the size and shape of the globe indicates a Handlan type globe that probably would not have been used in the 19th century. I saw there was a reference that this line was taken over by NYC RR in early 20th century. No other information to add to this mystery.  Posted Sunday, January 1, 2017 by Bill S

A. According to Wikipedia, by 1891 the RW&O became a subsidiary of NYC. On April 12, 1913 the RW&O was formally merged into the NYC.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, January 8, 2017 by JS

A. Although I've never seen or heard of one marked RW&O, it might be an from a very early Dietz Vesta. Posted Monday, January 23, 2017 by JFR

 Q3250 Gaithersburg Photos & New Years Wishes  For those who don't regularly check the home page for new updates, the photos from the 2016 Gaithersburg show are now available, courtesy of Rob Hoffer. May I take this opportunity to note that Railroadiana Online is now in its 20th year of operation, having begun in the Fall of 1997. The Q&A Board dates to 2003. There are many times when I didn't expect a question to be answered only to see multiple, informative answers within hours! Thanks very much to everyone who has participated in this website, especially to those whose names and initials appear regularly. And here's wishing all of you a safe and happy 2017!  Posted Saturday, December 31, 2016 by Web Editor  Link 1     Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Awesome!!! Thank you! I would love to go to this railroad show someday.. maybe this year. Also love your website keep up the amazing work!  Posted Monday, January 2, 2017 by PRR girl

 Q3249 Cleaning a Trackwalker Lantern  Can you tell me how to take the glass out to clean a 1909 Dietz protector trackwalker lantern?  Posted Saturday, December 31, 2016 by Lori U   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This would be easier to answer with a pic of the lantern from the front. The Archives here on the RRiana site have a 1909 Dietz catalog (see Link) that describes the Protector model, but only shows it from the rear. Link 1  Posted Saturday, December 31, 2016 by RJMc

A. There is a wire running around top of globe that comes up through a hole and forma a loop. Use this to raise wire from top of globe. Tip forward and remove. There is also a curved metal band that you can put thumb under and raise globe above burner if necessary. Should also be a red lens facing rear that can be seen or blanked out. Posted Sunday, January 1, 2017 by DC

A.  So how is the small red lens at the back of the lamp fastened in? Posted Thursday, January 5, 2017 by KM

A. Red lens has a brass band crimped around its edge, not easy to remove. If you just want to clean it lift the clear lens to clean one side then remove globe and reach through reflector to clean other side. That metal rod sticking out is to move red lens aside. Posted Saturday, January 7, 2017 by dc

 Q3248 RR Light?  I picked this light up and I am trying to figure out what it is. It appears to have bolted to something and the output leans down about 15 degrees. It is about 10 in. in diameter and weighs around 22 pounds. It does have a socket for an electrical lamp. The only markings I can find it a number that is T129293B. I was hoping that someone might know what this is. I collected RR lanterns with my father but this is different. I got it from an auction that had other RR stuff, it is rusty / dirty and before I recondition it I would like to know what it is or what type of stock it came off of. Thanks for your help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, December 31, 2016 by Charles L C   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  I am not at all familiar with the inner mechanisms of railroad signals, but my thought is that this is part of a searchlight signal. There is usually some thing mounted on the front of those signals that is angled like this that causes the light beam or the external lightto shine in a different direction. That part is known as the phankill. During different lighting conditions searchlight signals can display phantom aspects and the phankill may help prevent that from happening. Search "searchlight signal" no pun intended. Posted Thursday, January 5, 2017 by KM

A.  The link is from and it shows the phankill units from Union Switch and Signal. They look very similar to your item, including the prism lense that focuses the beam.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, January 5, 2017 by KM

A. Thanks so much for your help. You are right about the unit. It is an adapter for a searchlight to make the beam visible to for a limited degree of view. it is called The Phankill Unit and fits on wayside searchlights. Again Thanks So Much For Your Time And Knowledge!!!! Link 1  Posted Wednesday, January 11, 2017 by CL Codding

 Q3247 Use of Lamp/Lantern?  My wife and I purchased a railroad lantern several years ago and I asking if you would give us a better idea of its use. It has two green rounded lenses and two yellow lenses also rounded. It has a kerosene tank with a brass cap with a narrow wick. I would say itís in good shape with the original paint. I have enjoyed it sitting in the living room, we are within eyesight of the Cape Cod Railroad and Gray Gables, a beautiful area. I grew up in Waverly Square, Belmont and could hear the train rumble by or stop to pick up coal from the large storage bins down the tracks a little way. I like trains! If you have the time I would appreciate your reply. Best Regards and a Happy New Year,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, December 30, 2016 by Gordon W   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This appears to be a switch lamp (or lantern). The green / amber (or yellow) indication was often used in yards. Green would indicate the switch was lined for the lead track (or ladder) while the yellow indicated the switch was set for the yard track (or side track). These lamps often had a permanent marking for a specific railroad. If the railroad marking is not plainly evident turn the lamp upside down and look inside the mounting bracket. You might need a flashlight to see it but there is a good chance that the abbreviation for the railroad is cast in to the bracket itself.  Posted Friday, December 30, 2016 by Ex Sou Ry

A. Hi, Go to this link.,204,203,200_.jpg It will show a picture of a lamp like yours mounted on a switch stand showing how it looked in railroad service. Happy New Year! Link 1  Posted Saturday, December 31, 2016 by JN

A. Here is a different style lamp but yours would mount and operate the same way. Happy New Year Link 1  Posted Saturday, December 31, 2016 by JN

 Q3246 Lantern ID?  I was wondering if you could help me identify the lantern in the photos Iíve attached or give me some direction. I received two of these from my mother. If I recall, she said they were from the USS Constitution and they had been converted to electric. I do not believe they are the correct era for the early 1800s and am not sure if they are mariner or railroad lanterns. Iíve looked through some of your photos and they look similar to the conductorís lantern. Both the top and bottom are hinged. The globe has a vertical seam. There are no markings, stamps or signatures that I see. The only thing I see that is distinct is the shape of the pattern in the top perimeter. Any thought, idea, notion or educated guess would be greatly appreciated! Thank you,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, December 30, 2016 by Paul S.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. They have the tie down rings on the bottom that are common on marine lanterns and not found on railroad lanterns. You are correct though, they are not fixed globe lanterns where the globe is semi-permanently glued into the lantern with a plaster type material and that places them closer to the 1870 to 1910 date range. The chess pawn shape of the cut outs is found on some Helvig Lantern Company and Perkins Marine Lamp Co.lanterns. Both of those companies usually marked their products with the Co. name. Please measure the globe and give us the diameter of the top, middle bulge and bottom and the height. We may be able to match that pattern to a standard catalog drawing which shows globes from Macbeth Glass Company and that might help with further identification. Unfortunately there is not a very good reference source for marine lanterns.  Posted Friday, December 30, 2016 by KM

A.  I believe that these lanterns are not two hundred years old and are not original equipment on the Constitution. I suppose that it might be possible that they were replacements used after one of the many restorations that the ship has undergone. If that is what happened it will be very hard to prove without a manufacturer's name and some documentation.  Posted Friday, December 30, 2016 by KM

A. Thanks for the replies! The measurements of the globe are as follows; Top Flange - 2.580" Middle Bulge - 4.915" Bottom Flange - 3.980" Height - 6.5" including flanges I have a photo of the globe by itself but do not see a way to attach it to this thread. Thanks again for your help. Posted Tuesday, January 3, 2017 by PAS

A. Here's a photo of the globe... Link 1  Posted Tuesday, January 3, 2017 by PAS

A.  See page 291 in "The Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Railroad Lighting,Volume 1-The Railroad Lantern" by Richard C. Barrett. There is a Macbeth Glass catalog from 1896 reproduced there and it shows a drawing of a number 237 globe which has very close dimensions to your globe. I do not know what that globe might fit though. That does fall into the 1870 to 1910 date range for production of the lantern that I gave in the first reply. The drawing does not show the extra taper at the top which is on the globe that you have. Posted Wednesday, January 4, 2017 by KM

A.  Check out page 97 in "Lanterns That Lit Our World Book Two" by Anthony Hobson. This shows two possibilities made by Perkins, a River and Lake lantern which is 14 inches high and an Improved Navy lantern which is 11 or 12 inches high. The bottom fastening arrangement is more like a dead bolt, and not the spring clip that your lanterns have. The diameter of the base of the lantern is either 5&5/8" or 5&3/4". Those lanterns were made by Perkins from 1916 to 1925, but they may have been made earlier than that by other companies also. Perkins may have acquired the molds from National Marine Lamp Co.,and National may have acquired them from Helvig. If they are Navy lamps then other manufacturers may have made them also. Due to the nature of government contracting which requires standardization, the lanterns from various manufacturers would be very similar. The chess pawn cut out pattern on the top is shown in the drawings of the lanterns on page 97 in Book Two.  Posted Wednesday, January 4, 2017 by KM

A.  W.T.Kirkman sells a replacement globe that is just like yours. Check out his Navy lifeboat globe that fits a Helvig or Perkins Marine lantern.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, January 5, 2017 by KM

A.  Try this link. Link 1  Posted Thursday, January 5, 2017 by KM

 Q3245 Possible Railroad Bell?  Could you confirm or deny that this is in fact a railroad bell or not?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, December 30, 2016 by FH   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It appears to be the type of bell often found on steam locomotives. Posted Friday, December 30, 2016 by Ex Sou Ry

A. Reminds me of a PRR bell with that big square base. Are there any markings on top of the bell ? Sometimes the PRR marked AMS on the top of the bell for Altoona Machine Shop. They also sometimes stamped the engine number into the top of the bell as well.  Posted Thursday, January 5, 2017 by CD

 Q3244 4-6-0 Question  Merry Christmas, folks! Hope to get the benefit of your knowledge one more time on my research for the 1899 Wilcox robbery. This question deals with the chase train that wasnít robbed, and almost panicked the Wild Bunch when they saw it bearing down on them. (Incomprehensibly, they failed to realize those trains traveled in pairs.) According to my research, the day after the robbed train went out, a new experimental locomotive went out on the same run from Omaha. (At least, it appears it was NOT a part of the robbery, but missed it by a day.) However, the Salt lake newspaper reported that the second train came in with 8 or 10 cars filled with almost 300 passengers compared to the 30 passengers on the robbed train, which had a 4-6-0 locomotive, which I think was the normal engine type out of Laramie. That sounds way out of proportion to me (who am not a train expert), and Iím wondering if that indicates the second locomotive wasn't a 4-6-0 that was used on the Laramie to Salt Lake run, but actually the new heavy locomotive, loaded down with a maximum cargo to test its limits. Would a 4-6-0 be able to carry 300 passengers on a run like that through the mountains of Wyoming and Utah? The robbed train, with 6 cars as noted by the engineer, had a hard time even starting up a mild grade with 30 passengers. Thanks for your opinions.  Posted Wednesday, December 28, 2016 by vggarcia   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Just for reference, today's coaches and other passenger cars are all almost uniformly 85 feet long over couplers, including vestibules (if any -- some types of cars, such as diners, may not have vestibules.) Long Island RR coaches, with 3 seats on one side of the aisle and 2 seats on the other side can seat 125 psgrs in one car and STAND 125 more folks in that same car; total 250 in ONE car. This is called, for obvious reasons "CRUSH loading...". The 1880's cars were shorter, but you can clearly pack a lot of people in a small space and a few cars, if they will put up with it. And people in the 1880's were on average somewhat smaller than now. And on most passenger trains, the weight of the passengers is not really significant compared with the weight of the cars, anyway.  Posted Thursday, December 29, 2016 by RJMc

A. Also, a locomotive leaving Omaha in the 1880's would not likely go more than one division before being changed out for servicing; Wilcox, WY is still many divisions west of Omaha, and divisions were shorter then. Posted Thursday, December 29, 2016 by RJMc

A. Hi, RJMc. You are right, they switched out engines along the line. But the test locomotive did make the whole run. However, I get from what you say that this could well have been a normal 4-6-0 w/a lot of passengers, which basically answers my question if that's the case. thx Posted Thursday, December 29, 2016 by vince g

 Q3243 Fake Step Boxes?  Any knowledge of fake step boxes? There are 3 on [an internet auction site] now: SAL,SCL,SR, some saying fake. Thanks.  Posted Tuesday, December 20, 2016 by Tim C.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I just looked on eBay and found Seaboard Coast Line (newest), Seaboard Air Line Railway (oldest), and Seaboard Air Line Railroad (in between the two age-wise)[no SR] -- They are genuine, and here's how you can tell. Foremost, Look at the triangular rubber foot pads. Those would be extremely hard to duplicate and on all three boxes the foot pads have clearly been on them for some time. -- SAL Ry. changed to SAL RR in 1946, making the SAL Ry one the oldest. The rubber feet on that one show considerable wear and there is even a closeup of one pad showing the missing screw head on one of the three screws. That's too much detail to fake. -- Another item is the gauge of the metal. Thin sheet metal can be easily worked and shaped in a home shop, but it looks hand made. Look at the lamp in Q3236, though nicely done, it is clearly thin gauge sheet metal and almost certainly hand made. Metal of heavy enough gauge to use as a step box is much harder to work; and all three of the boxes are clearly professionally manufactured. Also, embossing the emblems in heavy gauge metal is no small task; the set up of the dies alone would be very costly and require a lengthy production run to recover the cost of just making the dies. -- Next, look at the tread pattern on the step surface. Again, no small feat to stamp that in heavy gauge metal. It's also exactly what an old Morton tread looked like (I have one) -- The rust pattern on the SCL (off-white) one is just too subtle for someone to have faked. Hope this helps, (P.S. who said they were fakes and what reasoning did they give??) ---- .... Red Beard  Posted Tuesday, December 20, 2016 by RedBeard the Railroad Raider

A. There are fake small size Morton boxes. 1 thing I remember to look for is the end of the box where they are seamed together. The new boxes have pop rivets while the old ones have a solid metal rivet. These were shown to me a year ago at the Gaithersburg show.  Posted Tuesday, December 20, 2016 by cd

A. As info, see prior Q2008 and the other Q's listed there. Morton is still making step boxes in the traditional manner. As with the traditional ones, they are very nicely made and hence very expensive (from the railfan point of view...). As we have often discussed here, I would not call a newly-made Morton box 'a fake' and not even 'a repro' but it also not 'an authentic RR-used antique' either. Morton takes quantity orders, but does not want to deal with the public on small quantities. New sets of the rubber feet have been commonly available for some time from several sources but are also not inexpensive.  Posted Wednesday, December 21, 2016 by RJMc

A. The step stools in question, Southern, SCL and one of the SAL are indeed fakes or repo's take your pick what you prefer to call them. For one the feet are positioned wrong. On vintage step stools from Morton the feet have a slight overhang around the entire rubber foot whereas these have overhang on the sides and are flush at the tip. The feet are also attached wrong. On the repo ones that I have seen, only two of the three screws are attached. The very front screw is just held in by the rubber foot. Morton Mfg. stools were not made this way, their front screw hole was threaded. Another thing in question is the Morton ID Tag. For one the font is wrong. If you doubt this, compare it closely to a known vintage Morton tag and you will see the difference. Also on vintage known real Morton boxes the ID tags are not pop riveted . Morton used rivets that were hammered or pressed. The construction is suspect to. True Morton Boxes are spot welded these are brazed using brass rods and an acetylene torch. Why would Morton digress in their manufacturing technique? They wouldn't. Granted these boxes are nice but they are nice repo's. Also I referred back to a manufacturing list supplied to me by the President of Morton Mfg. and they do not list a step stool manufactured for the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad.  Posted Thursday, December 22, 2016 by RUB

 Q3242 RR Lock?  Came across this lock and was wondering if it is an early railroad lock? If so, how to determine an age? Little to no markings. Any other info would be great. Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, December 20, 2016 by Bruce   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Not a RR lock, these are referred to as wrought iron "smoke house" locks. Marking is for Sargent & Co., manufacturer.  Posted Tuesday, December 20, 2016 by dc

 Q3241 Lock IDs Needed  I am hoping you can help my 78 yr old neighbor. Judging by the logos, can you identify which railroad companies are affiliated with each of these locks? Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, December 20, 2016 by Will   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. They are not RR locks. Commonly known as wrought iron "smoke house" locks. One on left looks foreign made, one on right is William Wilcox & Co. 1854-1874. Posted Tuesday, December 20, 2016 by dc

 Q3240 Lamp Info Needed for Gift  A friend of mine bought this for her father, a collector of railway things for Christmas. My friend past away two months ago, and I am trying to prepare this gift for her dad. I was hoping to add some information to it, but I can't find anything. I don't even know what it was used for?? Please help. The marking H . L. piper Montreal is very clear. Thank you,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, December 14, 2016 by Stefanie   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. H.L.Piper Montreal made many items of maritime and railroad lighting as well as many other items. Do not believe this to be of specific railroad use. Possibly general lighting in a shipboard cabin. Link 1  Posted Thursday, December 15, 2016 by dc

A. See prior Q 3089 for a very similar lamp. It is likely a ship's 'binnacle lamp' to light the compass at night. The chimney is kind of unique among various types of kerosene lamps and lanterns; I suspect that was to keep out blown water and spray, and excess wind during rough weather. As suggested in the answer to 3089, darkroom use is a possibility nut there are other types of kerosene lamps made specifically for that application, and they usually don't have (or want) such a wide 'window because of the difficulty of controlling light leaks. I hope your friend's father is into boats as well as trains....Searching 'binnacle light; on the web comes up with many pix of binnacle lights. Posted Thursday, December 15, 2016 by RJMc

A. This is a Canadian railway station platform lamp. It was hung on the outside wall of the station in the days before electricity. Yes, the chimney was advertised as "thoroughly wind proof" and were sold in cases if 6. They had a steel fount and burner and a chrome reflector. I've attached an image of the small flag station of Clarkson's Ontario in the late 1800s where you can see an example behind the man waiting for the train. Link 1  Posted Thursday, December 15, 2016 by Jason Whiteley

A.  See Q 1241 in the Archives. This looks like a triangular station lamp in the number two or three size. The lamp was probably used in the interior of a station that did not have electricity. They were made by many lamp and lantern manufacturers, not just H L Piper. The actual lamp assembly was easily removable for servicing and had a small round thumb handle so that it could be hand held and used for lighting away from the housing. Most of the major lamp manufacturers made these and their use was not limited to railroads. W. T. Kirkman Co. may be able to provide a reproduction of the missing lamp assembly.  Posted Friday, December 16, 2016 by KM

A.  Woody Kirkman makes a Number One and a Number Two Climax replacement lamp that may fit into your housing. He can also customize the tank on those if his standard tank does not fit. The reproduction lamps are available in oil fired or hard wired electric versions so your friend could have his choice based on where he plans to display the lamp. Contact Kirkman and see if his lamp will fit in this. I don't think this is a binnacle lamp because it appears to be too large and it displays the light in multiple directions. It also lacks some of the normal marine light items like tie down loops on the lamp assembly or the little tie loop in the bail.  Posted Friday, December 16, 2016 by KM

 Q3239 'IC Ry' Marking?  I have a standard 5 3/8 inch brakeman's lantern that I thought was made for the Illinois Central Railroad. It's marked on the brim of the lid with raised letters 'IC Ry' and has an 'IC RR' clear cast globe with it. Recently I was told that the Illinois Central was never a 'Ry'. Now I'm trying to find out what road this lamp could be for! Any help will be greatly accepted!  Posted Thursday, December 8, 2016 by Bob N   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. IC was a Ry at one time. I don't know the dates. If you go to Wikipedia a document is shown with Railway on it. Sometimes the name changed due to reorganization after bankruptcy or sale. For example, Erie Lackawanna Railroad became Erie Lackawanna Railway in the 70's. It also could have been an error on the part of the lantern maker, one that wasn't worth worrying about. If you go to the home page of this website, go to Railroad Names and enter ICRY in the initials, Illinois Central and 6 others turn up. You can check the other names to see what dates they operated. Is the lantern Armspear? They did make a tall frame ICRY for Iowa Central. The 5 3/8" globe would be a tall frame style.  Posted Friday, December 9, 2016 by JN

A. I'd go with Iowa Central. To the best of my knowledge the Illinois Central never reorganized and was always Railroad (RR). Both lines crossed each other a good number of times so a mismatch like this would not be at all, unusual with an Iowa Central frame ans an Illinois Central globe. Posted Friday, December 9, 2016 by BobF

 Q3238 Lamp Sign Info Needed  I would really like to know a little about my Adlake non-sweating lamp sign. I can't seem to find anything like it online.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, December 5, 2016 by KD   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hi, in the search box to the left of this screen, type 2655 in the "Question Number" box. An item just like this will appear along with the associated information that was collected. I believe the one you will find is a different maker but overall it is the same item. Posted Tuesday, December 6, 2016 by JN

 Q3237 Waterbury Buttons and Current Authenticity  I've looked into Waterbury, and apparently theyíve been in business for over 200 years. Many railroads bought Waterbury buttons to begin with, which makes them the authentic source for those buttons. The question, then, is whether unused Waterbury buttons are still authentic, or whether they are actually still producing them today as reproductions, and if so, whatís the difference between those made today and those still in a filing cabinet drawer at a railroad's personnel department? I have no stake in this, but I like knowing the origins of things, so whatís the general consensus about this? Waterburyís designs are most likely the original dies. The original machines (or even present day versions of them) made both the railroadís buttons and the reproductions, most likely in the same building, and in some cases maybe even by the same hands. This seems to be an interesting case.  Posted Sunday, December 4, 2016 by MGR   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hello. Just enter the one word 'Waterbury' (no quotes)in the 'By Word or Phrase' search box. The searching may take a while, but you should get a list of 10 or more prior Q&A's on exactly this question. If for some reason that search doesn't work, go to Q# 1962 for just one example of the many in the archive.  Posted Monday, December 5, 2016 by RJMc

A. I guess regulars here know the key to searching, which for me, at least requires typing it twice. The first time always yields 0 results, but the second time gets a pop-up of the word or phrase, which you can click, and then you get the entire search results. I didn't realize that before. It appears that the answer to my question is involves the singular or plural (or possessive) of "Waterbury Co." If it says Waterbury Co's, it's a reproduction. If it says Waterbury Co., it's original. I've written to Waterbury to ask if that is a reliable method for all their production. We'll see how they respond, but for now I'm going to assume that it's correct. I've got some of each, and the "rule" seems to apply to mine.  Posted Wednesday, December 14, 2016 by Shooshie

A. POSSIBLE UPDATE: From the chronology in the Waterbury website (See Link): "2000 - The button business of the Waterbury Companies are purchased by OGS Technologies, Inc., which promptly readopts the name, The Waterbury Button Company." I don't know whether they changed the backstamps, but this may be another generation of button markings.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, December 17, 2016 by RJMc

 Q3236 What Kind of Lamp is This?  Just bought this at an antique store in UP mine country and wondering if it's a mine lamp or a railroad lamp. It's triangle shaped. Any ideas are appreciated!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, December 4, 2016 by Jaci P   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. My guess is that it is nautical; serving as the port (red) and starboard (green) indicator for the bow of a boat. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Friday, December 9, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

 Q3235 Black RR Marbles?  I was researching some marble sized black glass balls that I have found on my property and have been looking for answers and information for years and came across an article from the Railroadiana online website named 'Railroad Marbles' written by Sam Ferrara. In the article he states that these marbles were made of clear glass, the thousands we have found are black glass. We live in Baltimore Maryland and have a railroad quarter mile from our property that was used when Bethlehem Steel was at its peak of production. We also have the war of 1812 that was fought on our property and all around it, so another thought was maybe the British made these as a shot of some sort. Earlier this century there was a lot of dumping around our property, but this is the only thing we have found in that particular area. We have also found square marbles but I would say less than 5% of the thousands we have found have been square shaped. Here is a picture of these marbles to see if they look familiar or you can give us any information on these. Thank you very much,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, November 28, 2016 by Andrew Z.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I also read with interest the article discussing marbles and railroad usage. These may in fact be a variation with the black color defining a specific application. They may not be railroad/loading related at all. I've collected Civil War artifacts for years especially cavalry related. A related item is known as a caltrop or crow's foot used to maim horses and people even many years before the 1860's and during WWI in Europe. Essentially they look like toy game jacks of various sizes and construction configurations. They are "fairly common" however many being sold as caltrops are actually tumbling media used to remove flash, improve finish and excess material from castings of various ferrous and non-ferrous materials, thus the availability. Authentic pieces are far more rare. These may have had a similar function based on your location here in Maryland, i.e., tumbling media. Keep us posted; very interesting. Posted Tuesday, November 29, 2016 by JSM

A. This may be a shot in the dark but you said that this was near a Bethlehem Steel plant.We had a Iron mine in Morgantown PA that was run by them and they had a "Pellet Mill" that produced the iron ore in small round marble sizes. The right of way around the area used to have quite a few of these pellet that leaked out of cars. Maybe these may be just that! RLN Posted Wednesday, November 30, 2016 by RLN

A. First a question: Are your 'marbles' magnetic? I suspect these are related to one end,or the other, of the ironmaking process, and only incidentally to the railroad. On the front end, my recollection is that the steel mill at Baltimore extensively used imported iron ore, brought by ship from Brazil, and that it may have been black in color rather than the more typical rust red. And as mentioned above, it is quite possible it was enriched into some of your 'marbles' before investing in the shipping cost from Brazil...But the enriched ore would be unlikely to look much like glass, and might well be magnetic. What CAN look like glass, and possibly like marbles, is the slag from the back end of some blast furnace operations. Particularly at the iron furnace just south of Laurel, MD, which operated into the 1920's, bog iron ore was used from the local neighborhood. The local ore was naturally high in manganese. The particular metallurgy meant that limestone was not needed as flux, and the slag came out as black glass looking a lot like volcanic obsidian, but never having been near a volcano. This was markedly different than other steel mill slag which is a gray, porous rock. Other early furnaces in the general Baltimore area used this same process, and may have produced the same kind of slag. The slag, with most of the iron removed, would not be magnetic, and being very glassy would almost never weather away. (A note on the topic of steel mill slag: at the large CF&I mill in Pueblo, CO, the minerals in the ore produced glassy, multi-colored slag, seen as ballast on many western RR's.)  Posted Wednesday, November 30, 2016 by RJMc

A. While metal detecting around and adjacent to the mountains around Frederick, MD, I would occasionally get a good solid iron signal. Believe me I got excited thinking I had located a Civil War artillery projectile (I hoped). I dug fairly deep only to only recover a "hot rock". Essentially volcanic iron ore containing obsidian (volcanic glass). RJMc may be correct about this being slag. There were several local furnaces in the area processing local iron ore for the colonies and later.  Posted Wednesday, November 30, 2016 by JSM

A. I think the iron / steel process is the answer. I visited the closed Bethlehem Steel Plant last month. The ground around the ore trestle is covered with thousands of these. Posted Wednesday, November 30, 2016 by JN

A. JN, what part of the Bethlehem Steel plant did you visit? I have several contacts there and would like to talk to them about it.  Posted Thursday, December 1, 2016 by JN

A. This will be of somewhat local interest only, but see the Link for the full text of a 1906 document "The Iron Ores of Maryland" which is an ENORMOUSLY detailed, but still very readable, statewide study of the iron industry in Maryland up to 1906. It was done as a graduate thesis, but sponsored and printed by the state government. It even gets down to who was digging how much bog iron, of what quality, out of whose farm fields! It covers all the iron furnaces, including the one at Laurel, MD in great detail, even including a comparative economic study of what it cost to operate it with slave compared to free labor. (!!) The railroad and steel industries have always been closely related, with mutual interests back and forth, and I think people will find the insights in this document quite revealing.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, December 1, 2016 by RJMc

A. The Bethlehem Steel Plant in Bethlehem PA has been closed for years. It is now a tourist attraction. There is a visitor center and website that you can visit, but the plant itself is long out of business. The "marbles" are all around the railroad trestle that fed the blast furnaces. Posted Thursday, December 1, 2016 by JN

 Q3234 Cleaning a Lamp  I'm trying to clean out the kerosene tank on my newly acquired lamp/lantern... but not sure if it pries off or twists off. It's pretty well rusted and I'd like to do as little damage as possible while cleaning it. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I've attached a photo of the lantern and a photo of the kerosene tank/pot. Thank you,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, November 26, 2016 by John D.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The cap looks pretty stuck. Can you twist the burner off instead? it is brass and should twist off. Maybe a little penetrating oil? Great lantern!! Congratulations on a nice find.  Posted Saturday, November 26, 2016 by JS

A. To avoid any confusion of terms, these comments refer only to the kerosene pot, the plug in it, and the burner assembly. There was never any reason to need to open up the whole top of the pot, so the lid on it is probably soldered or maybe even welded onto the can, and you will not get the 'lid' off without destroying the can assembly. For both the filler plug and the burner: many of these were threaded in, some were merely press fits. The brass burner base mounts into a brass insert in the steel can neck, and if threaded, the threads are very fine. You will probably want to twist off the burner, in the direction of unthreading it, even if it is one of the press-fit ones without threads. Is there any kerosene left in the pot -- or anything close to kerosene? If not, a heat gun or hair dryer may help to loosen up the burner; soaking in penetrating oil is always good, but not if you will apply much heat later. The filler plug looks like it is almost totally corroded away anyway, and easy to replace, so you might just thread a self-tapping screw thru it to provide something to grab, or drill it to be able to collapse it into a smaller diameter and pull it out that way. If you are willing to take the burner out to fill the lamp, you can leave the plug alone.  Posted Saturday, November 26, 2016 by RJMc

 Q3233 Disassembly Question  I recently purchased a Dietz No. 39 Steel Clad lantern. I would like to take it apart to remove the rust particles. I can't determine how to do this. The base seems to be one piece, with no removable parts. The top looks like it should flip open, but I can't figure out how to do that. [A photo not posted shows a stamped 'City of New York' marking on the lid -Ed.] Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, November 13, 2016 by John M.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The top lid flips up once you push in the thumb latch that shows in your photo. Once the lid is up, you can remove the globe and then pull out the font (kerosene tank). If it won't pull out, it may be rusted in place and other persuasion methods need to be used.  Posted Sunday, November 13, 2016 by JEM

A. Used by City of New York water,sewer,streets and public works departments as a hazard warning. Not basically a railroad lantern but of that type.  Posted Sunday, November 13, 2016 by dc

 Q3232 What Kind of Lamp is This?  My wife purchased this lamp for me. It is a Peter Gray & Sons. It is large and heavy. It has a huge fresnal globe inside but I am missing the pot. It would have been large and round. I took a pic next to a lantern so you could get an idea of size. Any help would be greatly appreciated. My only thought is that it is a bridge lantern like the Armspear 450. Thanks!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, November 12, 2016 by Blake   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Blake: You hit it right on the money, it is a turn bridge lamp. - As the turning span rotated 90į, the lamp, which was fixed to the top of the span, would rotate, thus changing the color that projected down the track and down the river;green shining down the track when the bridge as closed and lined up with the rail line, and red shining down the tracks when the span was opened to allow river traffic to pass unobstructed by the bridge span. This also changed the color shining up and down the waterway. (good wife you have there!) -- Would you please take some additional detail photos of the lamp and send them to the web editor? Your lamp is in exceptionally good shape. some separate photos of that cylindrical Fresnel lens would be very valuable to this site as well. Thanks ---- .... Red Beard Posted Saturday, November 12, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Thanks Red! You helped me identify my Armspear 450. I will send in some more pics. It is dirty I have not cleaned it yet so sorry for the dirt. The problems with the lamp are: One cracked lens but it is still solid. No pot. The top hinge is broken. The arm that goes over the top holds it in place so there is no issue other than I know it is there. Pics to come tomorrow. Thanks again.....Blake Posted Monday, November 14, 2016 by Blake

A. Red Beard, I am curious as to the value to see if I overpaid or not. We were at a consignment store and luckily the guy who owned this came into the store. He had it priced at $400 but I talked him down to $250 and I hesitated but my wife said she had it and it would be a gift. Any idea of value? And yes, I have a great wife. Blake Posted Monday, November 14, 2016 by Blake

A. Hi Blake; couple of things; first the site does have a policy of not discussing prices/values, you can write me at railroadraider(at)gmail(dot)com if you'd like. --- 2) PLEASE don't do anything more than just a light washdown with some mild dish soap when cleaning the lamp. That thing is in beautiful condition. Lamp by lamp, collector by collector we are rapidly destroying irreplaceable and invaluable pieces of history by "cleaning" and "restoring" these beautiful relics of the past. (AKA painting them) You can never replicate how the lamp looked when it came out of the shipping carton from the factory. You can, however, preserve the way the lamp looked when it was in actual railroad service! ...your choice --- 3) I have a C&NW #163 Adlake Distant Signal Lamp; a slight variation of the one shown in LINK 1 - Since buying it, I have seen several sell on eBay for around $400. I paid $800 for it and have absolutely NO regrets for having paid what I did for it (I had actually placed a max bid of $1,600, and would not shed a tear if I'd actually paid that for it, as I truly wanted it!!) The value of anything is what someone (including you) is willing to pay for it. ---- .... Red Beard Link 1  Posted Tuesday, November 15, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Didn't realize we were destroying our lamps and lanterns by "cleaning", restoring and God forbid "painting them" to original color. Maybe better to leave the rust on and let the humidity in the air slowly eat them up. Not cleaning is good for coin collectors but for lanterns maybe not so much. lol. Posted Wednesday, November 16, 2016 by NR

A. Red Beard, sorry I didn't know about the value thing. I will contact you directly. I sent the extra pics in so I don't know if they will post them or not. I NEVER restore my stuff. I like old, I like patina. Like you said, I just do a gentle cleaning. I hope they post the photo's I sent in. It is a great lamp. Blake Posted Wednesday, November 16, 2016 by Blake

A. ( @NR -- Didn't realize we were destroying our lamps and lanterns by "cleaning", restoring and God forbid "painting them" to original color. Maybe better to leave the rust on and let the humidity in the air slowly eat them up. Not cleaning is good for coin collectors but for lanterns maybe not so much. lol) A light cleaning to remove crud/dirt/dust is really better. If you read the old catalogs you will learn that "Original color" is usually metal - NOT painted!! A capable restoration can make it look like it did when it left the factory and is perfect for "basket cases" that need parts/otherwise too far gone to last much longer; but there are way too many poor quality "restorations" that essentially destroy lanterns that should be OK without anything being done. I would not laugh about this -- Are you keeping your lanterns in the house where something of value should be, so humidity is not a problem -? Or are they down in the cellar or out in the barn, so of course humidity is going to ruin them over time. No matter the condition or how common they are today, each is a historical piece and is NOT replaceable (they are not making them any more) and every one of them that is destroyed is a piece of American history gone forever.  Posted Saturday, November 26, 2016 by JS

A. From what I've seen, cleaning, restoring, and re-painting railroad lamps does NOT hurt the value. If anything, it seems to help the value. They are not like antique furniture. That said, I do understand why someone might want to preserve the original paint, from a historical perspective. Me personally, if a lamp looks bad, I start shaking the can of Rustoleum. :) Posted Thursday, December 1, 2016 by JeffPo

 Q3231 Conductor Globe Color  I was wondering about the purpose of the blue conductor globe in the photo? I am thinking that it is a recent reproduction or novelty? The clear one to the left is only to show a comparison of style and size. Thank you for any help!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, November 10, 2016 by DF   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. First of all, many people on the railroad used oil lamps for a variety of lighting purposes; among them, switchmen, brakemen, clerks, station agents, and many more, not just conductors. -- Blue globes were used by carmen and men working on locomotives to indicate that the piece of equipment was being serviced and workmen were on top of, underneath, between and in the general close proximity of the cars or locomotive and the piece of equipment was not to be moved or even coupled onto, as any slight movement of the piece could injure or kill the men working on or around it. -- Blue lanterns were hung on the piece of equipment in question along with a blue metal flag, usually stenciled with "SAFETY FIRST" in white letters. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Thursday, November 10, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. I remember at least 40 years ago visiting a fellow collector and seeing his Pullman conductors lantern with a blue globe just like this. That was way before repros started coming out. The Pullman Co would have just as much need for a blue globe lantern as a regular lantern, what with their repair shops, set outs, etc. Posted Thursday, November 10, 2016 by BobF

A. Thanks RB for the info. I am somewhat familiar with the blue globe signifying a car or engine could not be moved. So you are saying that a conductors lantern, even though ornate, could still be used for this purpose?  Posted Thursday, November 10, 2016 by Dave F

A. A blue light is a blue light. It doesn't matter what the blue light is coming from. Posted Friday, November 11, 2016 by JN

A. Your assuming your tall Blue globe is original to your conductors lantern. It probably isn't. A conductors lantern would usually have a green over clear globe or just a clear globe. The Blue globe lanterns hung on equipment were not "fancy" conductor type lanterns. They were brakeman type lanterns with tall globes and short globes depending on the era etc, Posted Friday, November 11, 2016 by LF

A. I think people are missing the gist of your question. You have a blue globe in the style of a conductor lantern globe and you're wondering if it's original, given you haven't seen a blue globe in a conductor lantern, nor would think such a fancy lantern would be used in that kind of service. I don't know the exact answer for sure, but like you I think it's a reproduction for both those reasons. In my limited research so far, I've seen ads for clear, half blue, half green, and half red globes for conductor lanterns, but I have not seen an ad for a full color conductor globe other than clear. Nor do I think they'd used such a fancy lantern to mark equipment that wasn't to be moved.  Posted Friday, November 11, 2016 by JeffPo

A. Well, to contradict myself, I just saw reference to a full color blue globe for a conductor lantern. The Dietz No. 3 globe. Link 1  Posted Friday, November 11, 2016 by JeffPo

A. I thank everyone for their input. Thoughts..... Since the railroads did not supply employees with a conductors lantern I can't see someone buying a conductors lantern with a blue globe. Based on the above info I now think that it is possible that a blue globe that fit a conductors lantern was sometimes available to be used in an emergency. As mentioned the Pullman Company could have been a likely candidate for this. Otherwise in later years it is possible that colored conductors globes could have been reproduced.  Posted Friday, November 11, 2016 by Dave F

 Q3230 Amtrak Badge  I bought this Amtrak INFORMATION badge over the weekend (you guessed it Ė at Gaithersburg.) Not sure if there is much to it, but I would appreciate information on this piece. Can anyone identify the mark in the center? The seller claimed it was a 'rare' piece. True?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, November 10, 2016 by TP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The design in the center is just a decorative design to take up the blank space. No particular reason for it other than that. The "information" occupation is uncommon and the badge is probably less common than most Amtrak badges, but 'rare' is a relative term, especially for a 1970's badge versus an 1870's badge. Link 1  Posted Friday, November 18, 2016 by SN

 Q3229 Dietz Track Walker Lanterns  What factory colors/finishes were available for the early Dietz protector track walker lanterns? I would like to restore mine to as correct detail as possible.  Posted Wednesday, November 2, 2016 by Glenn S.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Have seen many of these and inspectors lanterns. Don't believe they ever came from factory in optional colors or finishes, just galvanized tin. If it is lightly rusted, silver or cold galvanize spray will do. Posted Thursday, November 10, 2016 by dc

 Q3228 PRR ID Card  I found this temporary employee ID card at a flea market. Does anybody know the PRR Altoona Shops well enough to tell me where this gentleman was going to work? I can't come up with anything that matches the 'Employed At' space on the card. It looks like it would be South ---- Bldg. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, October 31, 2016 by JN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The Link is to a VERY comprehensive timeline history of the Altoona Shops complex(es), and there were really very many of them and they changed fairly often over time. Does anything associated with your find indicate any kind of time reference, which would help quite a bit to pin things down? Link 1  Posted Monday, October 31, 2016 by RJMc

A. On going thru Link 1 above, I now guess the card says "S. Alt Fdy" which would be South Altoona Foundry (or Foundries.) The foundry complex existed at least by 1905 and survived many years past 1931. It certainly employed many, many people while producing all major castings for the PRR, such as locomotive parts, and even down to coach window brass latches. Posted Monday, October 31, 2016 by RJM

A. The land was bought for the Foundry Complex beginning in 1903, it opened in 1904 and 1905, and the complex was finally closed and replaced by the brand new Hollidaysburg Shop complex in 1955.  Posted Monday, October 31, 2016 by RJMc

A. If you want to pursue this further, a Mr. C. E. Weyant (in some cases with Mrs.) shows up in Altoona and Johnstown, PA newspaper articles from 1920 or so, and Mr. F.G. Grimshaw shows up in about 1920 as a PRR Division Superintendent and then in the 1940's as Works Manager. (You have to sign in and/or subscribe to read the actual newspaper text, but the various articles show up radily in searches just using the names and PA or PRR for additional ID.)  Posted Tuesday, November 1, 2016 by RJMc

 Q3227 Pullman Pitcher  I have a Pullman railroad china water pitcher and have been unable to track down the pattern and any additional information on the piece. The pitcher stands approximately 7 1/4 inches tall at the highest point of the spout. The makers mark is Burley and Co., next line Chicago, and under that Made in Germany. Thank you for any assistance you can offer.  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, October 29, 2016 by Sue C.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is the Calumet Pattern. It is an early Pullman pattern, dating from the early 1900's. Burley was probably the importer that Pullman purchased it from. It was probably made by Baucscher & Rosenthal of Germany. It is a pretty pitcher. Enjoy it. Posted Saturday, October 29, 2016 by JN

A. Thank you for the pattern information. I have enjoyed it for many years but now would like to sell it. Ant recommendations on the best venue to use to sell the pitcher? Posted Tuesday, November 8, 2016 by Sue

A. Ebay will probably give you the most exposure, especially if you make it available to several countries. Ebay is very easy to use if you have never tried selling on it. Just take pix of how you would look at it if you saw it on a table at a show. Sides, bottom, inside, etc. Good luck with it. It is a larger size cream pitcher that doesn't come up too much.  Posted Tuesday, November 8, 2016 by JN

A. Thanks for the EBay info! Posted Wednesday, November 9, 2016 by Sue

A. Currently taking pics of the Calumet pitcher to post it on EBay. Noticed what looks like "92 W" or a "92 script a" in the lower right area of the base of the pitcher...hard to see without really looking for it. Was wondering if anyone knew what that meant? Posted Wednesday, November 23, 2016 by Sue

 Q3226 Lite Gard Lenses  Anyone know who manufactured the lenses for the Detroit Metal Products Lite Gard globes? They measure 3 inches + or -. Information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.  Posted Wednesday, October 26, 2016 by Dale T   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Dale; there are some good photos of the Lite Gard "globe" on the net (Link 1) and a good drawing of one in a lamp as well (Link 2)- Lite Gard metal globes show up on eBay every now and then, but it wasn't until I found the photo in Link 1 that I'd ever seen a green or yellow one, only red before that. All of the photos I can find seem to show a fairy good quality Fresnel lens. Most likely the lenses were from the same suppliers railroad lamp manufacturers got theirs from; Corning, KOPP and Macbeth. See my additional answer for a link to the list of lens sizes found on this site on page 7 of the 1956 Handlan catalog which lists lenses as small as 2.5 inches in diameter. I've seen Corning lenses on eBay in 3 and 3.5 in. sizes recently. You just to need to search eBay frequently under "railroad lens". ---- .... Red Beard Link 1  Link 2  Posted Sunday, October 30, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Here's a link to the lens size chart on this site. ---- .... Red Beard Link 1  Posted Sunday, October 30, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. I found out a little info on the Lite Gard lenses. They were made by a company called LL CO. The number on the red lens is 2130. DMP is also marked on the lens. Does anyone know what company LL CO. is?  Posted Wednesday, November 2, 2016 by Dale T

A. Well, well, well; live and learn! That "LL Co" information really helped. After hitting the usual search engines with no results (or, should I say, vastly too many results to be of any use), I thought to put "LL CO Lens" into the search on eBay and, vou la! - LL CO Lens brings up an assortment of automotive taillight lenses! (you have to include "lens" though) -- Get this; one of which lenses also says "STIMSONITE" on it; our old friend who made those interesting plastic switch lamp lenses with the waffle pattern, surrounded by a ring of reflector prisms. - The big Prize here is that STIMSONITE lenses have been almost impossible to research back in history past the current owner/manufacturer, "Ennis-Flint" - thanks for sharing that info Dale! ---- .... Red Beard  Posted Saturday, November 5, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. ---Oh BTW, there is also a 3" dia, green Fresnel lenses currently listed on eBay under under the search "LL CO Lens" that might fit one of those Lite Gard globes! ---- .... Red Beard Posted Saturday, November 5, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

 Q3225 Linen Bags  Hi Everyone, I found a pair of linen bags at a barn sale. They have PRR and LIRR markings. They measure approx. 13.5 in. x 6 in. and appear to be cash bags. However, the 'Return to Stationery Storekeeper' lettering seems to indicate that they served another purpose. Does anyone have any ideas?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, October 24, 2016 by JN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Well, the Stationery Storekeeper may just have been the one who kept the supply of empty bags -- whatever they were used for -- and would be the one responsible for ordering more when the existing supply of usable bags ran low. That said, blank ticket stock would be something else, in addition to cash, that would get handled very carefully. I am wondering if the grommetted holes were for applying seals and/or numbered tags to mark shipments.  Posted Monday, October 24, 2016 by RJMc

 Q3224 BLW Plate  I have recently acquired a Baldwin Locomotive Works Brass Builder Plate with the number 73362 and the year 1947. Is there a way identify what RAILROAD this locomotive went to? Is there a way to tell if it was a steam or diesel? Thank you.  Posted Sunday, October 23, 2016 by Rusty S.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. My Baldwin records indicate this plate is from Norfolk Southern # 662 a 660 HP diesel  Posted Sunday, October 23, 2016 by CD

 Q3223 Railway Express Cart  We were just given a railway express baggage cart. Pretty poor condition. My question: I have seen photos of both iron and wooden spoked wheels. Ours has wooden spokes. The previous owner said it was ~100 years old. Any thoughts?? Any place I can find more info?  Posted Sunday, October 23, 2016 by John   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. There has been lots of discussion on baggage carts here on the Q&A website. Just to start, use the 'By Question Number' search box to look at prior Q's 3116, 2298, 2228, 1627, 555, 545, and 506. Or just enter 'baggage cart' in the word or phrase search box and these should all come up. I don't think any of these go directly to the material of the spokes, but they will certainly give you a head start on how to restore yours if you decide to do that. Posted Tuesday, October 25, 2016 by RJMc

 Q3222 Dating a A&W 1112 Lamp  I need your help in dating my ADLAKE Non Sweating 1112 Bell-Bottom Switch Lamp. My lamp has 5 3/8 inch lenses (4) however a distinguishing element is the Peep Hole which I think may be an item that helps determine the period that is was in production [from- to]. Do you have any suggestions on dating this lamp?  Posted Wednesday, October 19, 2016 by Dave M.    Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Dave; PLEASE send a photo, as that would give us more to go on. -- Also, say more about why you think the peep hole would distinguish the lamp. -- Based on experience, to the best of my knowledge, all 1112 lamps came with a peep hole. The ones that show up on line without a peep hole have had a metal disk soldered over the original hole. (such as PRR lamps) -- It's pretty hard to date 1112 lamps, as they were produced over a good four+ decades with no noticeable changes (variations, but no actual changes to the original design). -- You mention "bell-bottom"; does the lamp have fork mount tubes? ---- .... Red Beard Posted Monday, October 24, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

 Q3221 Essco lamp  I am wondering about this old Essco lamp. Different from typical old headlights, it is labeled Golden Glow Searchlight. Have considered that it is nautical not railroad, however it is made of what seems like cast iron on the body and base, arm is cast aluminum. I believe and would think it would have suffered corrosion at sea. Serial number on badge on backside looks like FLE1419. ANY info greatly appreciated!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, October 17, 2016 by KH   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Many, many search lights were used on fire apparatus. Most pumpers and ladder trucks carried at least one in the 1910'S and 20'S, before sealed beam and halogen bulbs made everything very much smaller and still able to put out adequate light. See link for many pix, some very similar to yours. Link 1  Posted Monday, October 17, 2016 by RJMc

A. Question: what is the square box on the top of the spot light? Is it a transformer; and if so, what is the input and output voltage? - Also; what does it say on the bulb as to voltage and wattage? -- Something I refer to frequently is that with the level of sky glow in the 21st century, it's hard to fathom how dark the night really was just fifty years ago in and around rail facilities. Railroads used spotlights similar to the one pictured in many places. Larger yards would have tall poles or steel towers with spot lamps pointed down into areas that needed to be illuminated. Many yard buildings had spot lights. much like yours, mounted right to the building; interlocking towers and yard offices being among them. When I was a clerk on the U.P., I relied on such building mounted spot lights to illuminate a string of cars as they rolled by, so that I could write down the car numbers. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Monday, October 17, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Thank you so much for the replies! In response to Red Beard questions.. not sure if a transformer, the lightbulb socket is located inside, there is a threaded turn screw on the top that doesn't tighten or seem to do anything and a pull knob on the back that appears to be on/off. It is stamped Phila Ess co on the top. The bulb is a Mazda 1000 watt bulb. Posted Tuesday, October 18, 2016 by KH

A. On further consideration, I suspect a primary function of the box on top of the housing is to act as a chimney while preventing rain, etc from getting to the hot lamp. Incandescent bulbs such as the one in the lamp are only about 2% efficient at turning electricity into light, and the rest comes off as heat. Assuming the 1,000 watt lamp was routinely used (it does seem quite large for this service), you really have a 900+ watt electric furnace in the housing and it had to get nearly red hot. Is there any other provision for ventilating the housing? And with a lamp that large, the unit was almost certainly mounted on a building or a light tower rather than any kind of mobile application.  Posted Tuesday, October 25, 2016 by RJMc