Question & Answer Board

Q&A Page
Email a QuestionRailroadiana Home

Welcome to our Question & Answer Bulletin Board -- a bulletin board for collectors and anyone else to post questions about railroadiana. It 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:

  • PULEEZE! No questions about what something is worth -- see About Values.
  • No questions about contemporary railroading. We focus on antiques and history.
  • No questions or replies selling or looking for items or services. This includes offers or contact information looking to buy items or services.

Email a question to us.. 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. Stealing it 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 25 Questions:

 Q2891 PRR 1946 Calendar  I was recently given this calendar from the director of a streetcar museum and was wondering the history behind it. I noticed the 100 years on the top, so I was wondering if maybe it was from the PRR’s 100th anniversary. Is it rare? I don’t specialize in the PRR so any information would be greatly appreciated. Please excuse the camera flash. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, January 26, 2015 by TP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q2890 PRR 1955 Calendar  I was recently given this calendar from the director of a streetcar museum and was wondering the history behind it. I don’t specialize in the Pennsylvania Railroad, so any information would be greatly appreciated. Please excuse the camera flash. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, January 26, 2015 by TP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q2889 GM&O Advertising Piece  I have a relative who recently retired from Canadian National. He began working for GM&O, than IC, then he worked for ICG, and then Penn Central, CN&W, N&W, and a whole bunch of others. He has recently began giving me everything he has acquired from over 40 years of railroad service with like 8 different roads. I just acquired this piece from him and was wondering what it is? He said it was some kind of advertising piece. Does anybody know where it would have been located? I did open the frame up and found out that the 'timetable' is really a picture of a timetable printed on thick paper. He said it was 100% all original and from the railroad and that he acquired it personally. That’s it. Not sure if there is much more to it, but I really would appreciate any information. Please excuse the camera flash. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, January 26, 2015 by TP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q2888 Rust Removal  Has anyone tried the product Metal Rescue for rust removal? It advertises itself as an effective, non-toxic option for rust removal. I have used it on tools as well as a few lanterns. My advice would be to clean the lanterns first to remove oils and other particles and then dip the lantern for a day. Check it after one day to see if it needs more time. Does not appear to harm wood or paint and does appear to be effective. Non-flammable and gentle on skin. Was able to find at my local Home Depot. A gallon costs $25. It comes i a 5 gallon container as well, but that would require a special order. You store it in a plastic container with a lid to prevent evaporation. Seems like a good non-toxic option for rust removal. This is important to me because I am about to move into an old age home and there is a workshop where I hope to continue my lantern restorations, but must keep fumes, etc. to a minimum. Posted Monday, January 26, 2015 by OHP  Link 1     Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q2887 Local Kentucky Railroads  I have been researching local area railroads in Kentucky. Most were ICRR, and L&NRR, but I was wondering if you had seen any lanterns marked 'Owensboro, Falls of Rough, & Green River', or any at all with Owensboro. I live in Falls of Rough, and railroad tracks have been removed, but people use the railroad bed as a vehicle road now. Any info would be appreciated. Thanks,  Posted Thursday, January 22, 2015 by JW   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q2886 Number Boards and Bell  Last year I bought the number boards and the bell off this locomotive. How often is it that somebody can say what railroad and locomotive the items came from? Is it rare? thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, January 20, 2015 by RT   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q2885 Brass RR Lamp  I bought this brass Adlake lamp several years ago on eBay. It has the internal burner, but I carefully ran a small light bulb inside it to lighten it up. Based on the photo can someone help me identify what purpose this light served on the railroads?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, January 17, 2015 by JPH   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Judging by e bracket, it is automotive, not railroad. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Sunday, January 18, 2015 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. The bracket that has the bolt which locks onto a rod is an automotive type. Many cars and trucks did not have generators for electric lights in the teens and in some cases the 1920's See Q 1783,1884,2399, 2446 and 2677 in the Archives for other examples. The lamps shown in those questions are all painted. Your lamp looks to me like it is brass plated and not solid brass, have you tried putting a magnet on it? If it is plated someone may have done that at a later date, and that may have been an attempt by them to increase the value of the lamp. Painted versions of these truck lamps are offered on eBay fairly frequently. Posted Sunday, January 18, 2015 by KM

A. I tested the lamp with a magnet and it does attract so it is steel plated. I also looked at the posted articles and it doesn't match any of these. There is a small window in the back, directly behind the main lens. It also has a handle so is there any possibility this could be a presentation lamp? Posted Sunday, January 18, 2015 by JPH

A. Not steel plated but made of steel then brass plated. Many ebay sellers do not know what they have, especially railroadiana.  Posted Sunday, January 18, 2015 by DC

A. Barrett's Encyclopedia of RR Lighting Vol. 2 shows a photo and gives a spec sheet for what appears to be exactly this lamp as a "Motor Car Lamp" where 'Motor Car' refers to railroad maintenance-of-way speeders, not automobiles. They further explain that in 1917 the State of Illinois passed a law requiring all RR speeders to have headlamps 'visible from 300 feet' and other states instituted similar requirements. That was no doubt due to accidents where speeders hit either RR employees or members of the public on the tracks, as well as providing a headlight for the vehicle operators at night. Speeders have been known to travel at up to 50 mph or more, so accidents could easily be deadly. There was such a large lamp market created by the laws that other major lamp suppliers also made them. The similarity to automotive-type products (of which there are many) is almost certainly no coincidence -- the manufacturers just changed the name to fit the new RR market. Speeders also were equipped with this same lamp as a taillight, just with a red lens instead of clear. The lamp pictured in Barrett was marked for the Southern RR; without such a marking or some really clear known history it would be hard to guarantee whether the individual lamp was RR or automotive/truck.  Posted Friday, January 23, 2015 by RJMc

A. Just a little clarification: The 'exactly' description refers to the design of the lamp, not the finish. As indicated above, the brass plating would have been highly unlikely for a lamp for actual use on the railroad (where black paint was the norm) and was most likely done later, unless the lamp was produced to a very special order.  Posted Monday, January 26, 2015 by RJMc

 Q2884 1925 B&O Lantern  A few years back I acquired a B&O Railroad lantern from a gentleman in Ohio. I was told that this lantern is a rare amber globe switchman's lantern. Is this true? Who would have used it? Is the amber globe the original color and would it have had the railroad name etched in it? Also, I noticed on the top of the lantern there are the numbers '1925'. Is this a date or something else? Did railroads really include the date on their lanterns? I really appreciate and welcome any information. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, January 17, 2015 by TP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is an engine lantern. The heavy base is the clue. B&O had marked globes either cast or etched. The 1925 is the patent date. The globe is not original to the lantern. Amber globes are not rare and would never be on a locomotive. Posted Saturday, January 17, 2015 by BK

A. Hi, To answer your questions: The 1925 is the model number of the lantern. I'm sure your lantern says "Armspear". They were the manufacturer of the 1925 lantern. An amber globe is desirable for collectors. It was a less frequently found color. A globe can be marked with the name of the railroad, either etched or cast into the globe when the globe was manufactured. Globes were also made with no name. As for the use, the fat, heavy bottom ring marks this lantern as used by an engine crew (steam locomotive). Steam locomotives bounced around a lot so the added weight helped the lantern stay put on the deck.  Posted Saturday, January 17, 2015 by JN

A. There is a brief paragraph on this lantern model on one of our web pages [see link]. The example shows a B&O red cast globe. Link 1  Posted Saturday, January 17, 2015 by Web Editor

 Q2883 Lock Info Needed  I'd like to know the model number of this Corbin railroad padlock and maybe the key cuts for this padlock SV124. I'd like to have or make a new key. Thanks for your web site. It’s very interesting and a lot of information.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, January 14, 2015 by Marc   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q2882 What is it?  A friend has asked me if I could ID this piece of equipment and I had to guess at it. I think that it may be some sort of block signal and is English. Any help will be greatly appreciated.  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, January 14, 2015 by RLN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. You are right, it is a British block telegraph instrument. This is the transmitting instrument, known as the "pegger", and is one of a pair, the other being the receiving or "non-pegging" instrument and both would work in conjunction with single-stroke electric bells, to give audible, as well as visual, indications. It would have been situated in a signal-box (tower) and would have been connected by telegraph to the receiving instrument in the next signal-box. Trains would be progressed along the line by the signalman transmitting a code by moving the handle from side to side, which correspondingly moved the "needle" on the dial of the receiving instrument. It was interlocked with the signals, points and, in later applications, track circuits. This is a standard 3-position instrument, probably from the London, Midland & Scottish Railway, dating from between 1923 and about 1950. However, if the initials "M.R.Co." are stamped into the top, it will have originated with the Midland Railway, a constituent of the LMS. In that case it could date back to the 1880s. Examples of this equipment remained in use until the 1990s. Posted Wednesday, January 14, 2015 by JAJ

 Q2881 Meaning of Marker Lights  Hello. I'm in rules class today and my instructor has an old marker lamp. The question is: what do the two green lights signify? They are not class lights but they do relay a message. Thanks  Posted Tuesday, January 13, 2015 by Napa P&W RR   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. On some RR's a train in the clear, on a siding or passing track, would change its markers to green to signify to an overtaking train that it was in the clear and OK to pass. That would avoid having to extinguish the red markers and then having to relight them again when resuming travel on the main. (Whenever we have these discussions, it pays to recall all these things had to be done 24/7, in the dark, freezing rain, high wind, etc., and maybe on the 'blind' end of a passenger car with no platform, where getting a set of markers re-lit might not be easy.)  Posted Tuesday, January 13, 2015 by RJMc

A. A little more on Marker Lamp Use. (Note; some roads PRR, GN, AT&SF among them, used red and yellow lenses in their markers)– First; a question. What makes a train, a train? Well, historically, ...Marker Lamps! – One or more engines with no cars and no caboose would be considered a “light” movement, or “running light”. One or more engines with one or more cabooses, but with no cars would be considered a “cab hop”. An engine, a cut of cars and a caboose is what we usually envision; but all any of these are is an assemblage of equipment -Until- Marker Lamps are displayed on the rear of the movement; Then and only then does it become a TRAIN. For decades of railroading a train could consist of all sorts of equipment, but hanging the markers on the rear end, made that equipment officially a train that could move down the line. When a train entered a yard at the end of its run, the first thing that was done was to remove the markers, signifying that it was no longer a train, but simply equipment to be separated; engines to the engine house; caboose to the caboose track and cars to be switched to their next destination. – The rear facing red lenses of the Marker Lamps let any train behind you know you were there so you didn’t get run into. Red was the universal and absolute signal to stop. If a train following you saw your red markers, the engineer knew he needed to stop well behind you. In early railroading, many failsafe procedures were written into the rules. If an engineer approached a “dark” signal (unlit) of any kind he had to assume the most restrictive aspect of that signal was in force. Out on the line at night, if an engine’s headlight revealed a train ahead with unlit markers, the engineer would most likely throw the brakes into emergency so he could stop and find out why the markers were out, as it is impossible to see if a train ahead of you is on your track, an adjacent track or in a siding, until it would be too late to avoid a collision. The same is true of approaching a train with lit red markers. To allow the train behind you to know that you were not blocking their way, Marker Lamps could show different color combinations in different situations. On most roads if you were safely in a siding, past the fouling point and with the switch closed so the approaching train wouldn’t follow you into the siding, you would rotate both of your markers to show green (or yellow) to the rear. On some roads, if you were in the siding, you would show green (or yellow) on the side the approaching train would pass you on and red on the other side. If the railroad had a two (or more) track main line; one track for traffic in each direction, sometimes it was necessary to run trains on both tracks in the same direction with one train running against the normal direction on one of the tracks (called “running against traffic”). In that case, the train “running against traffic” would show a red marker on the outboard side of the train and a green (or yellow) marker of the side next to the other main track; that way the train running in the normal direction of traffic could identify that the train on the adjacent track was running against traffic and not on the same tracks and not blocking your way, and could be passed. There are other situations, where railroads had a three or four track main line and used markers with red, yellow AND green lenses, so various combinations could be displayed to indicate which of the tracks they were running on. ---- .... Red Beard  Posted Thursday, January 15, 2015 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Likewise, if you were in the siding showing at least one green (or yellow) marker to the rear, once a train had passed you, and before your engineer began to pull your train back out onto the line, you had to set both of your markers back to red. It would be crucial for any other approaching train to see those red lamps while your caboose was still on the siding and stop; even though the line appeared clear and your train in the siding, as the line would be blocked ahead by your engine starting to pull back onto the line. So, red markers on a train in a siding would still signal STOP to an approaching train on the main or branch line, even if the approaching engineer could clearly see that the REAR of the previous train was in the siding and in the clear. -– And another piece: Union Pacific used Red & Green lenses in their markers, but the UP had to run over AT&SF tracks on Cajon Pass to get into Los Angles, and the Santa Fe used Red and Yellow lenses in their markers. When running on AT&SF tracks, the UP trains had to follow AT&SF rules. As a result, UP trains had to display Red and Yellow markers while running over the Santa Fe. Union Pacific engines and cabooses in that district had to carry both Red & Green as well as Red & Yellow markers. I have several UP markers with Red & Yellow lenses, including the O.S.L. lamp in Q2043 ---- .... Red Beard  Posted Thursday, January 15, 2015 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. I have been reading with great interest the info on marker lamps.The missing info in the replies has been the use of marker lamps in signal territory.The most common forms of signal systems were ABS-automatic block signals and CTC-centralized traffic control.In both cases,when a train was safely in a siding and the switch closed,this allowed a clear signal to be displayed.This clear signal was not necessarily located right at the switch,but regardless,its clear indication superseded the display of red markers and the train could proceed at normal speed past the train in the siding.I do agree with the previous replies,but under these conditions,an overtaking train does not have to stop for markers showing red to the rear. DJB Posted Wednesday, January 21, 2015 by DJB

 Q2880 R&W RR - What is it?  Does anyone know of or have you heard of the Rutland and Whitehall/Washington railroad? Any clue what this is? I unearthed this relic on my property,I'm assuming it's one of a kind. I live across the Castleton river from the tracks on old 4 in Castleton VT. My property is loaded with railroad spikes.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, January 12, 2015 by KC   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is from the Rutland & Washington RR, an early 1850's road. I actually found a mortgage bond for sale from the road. According to my reliable source it was the first railroad that future railroad tycoon Jay Gould invested in. Go to the link. As for what this piece is, it could be a journal cover from a wheel journal box.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, January 13, 2015 by JN

A. Very interesting,so it seems to have some age to it.And thanks for the info on the Rutland and Washington history.  Posted Tuesday, January 13, 2015 by rts

 Q2879 Piper Candle Lit Railroad Lantern  I have exhausted my research on the internet trying to find even another image similar to this lantern so that I could get some history on it. It has Piper Maker stamped into one of the lids that lift up which can be seen on one of the photos I've attached. Lids open upwards on two sides with removable red glass plates inside. It is illuminated by a candle which fits inside a metal cylinder. Of all the research I have done, I cannot seem to find any information on railway lanterns that are lit by candlelight. I read Q844 in your forum and didn't see anything about a candle lit lantern such as this. Any information regarding it's age and use would be very much appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, January 12, 2015 by KM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  I am not sure that this is a railroad lantern and I am thinking that it might be a photographer's darkroom lamp. See Q 2826 in the Archives for other examples of darkroom lanterns. Light the candle in it or place a small flashlight in it and see if any light escapes when the lids are closed.  Posted Tuesday, January 13, 2015 by KMc

A. Thank you. I'll do some more research in that area then. The only confusing part is the Piper maker mark on it which suggested railroad, but maybe they made darkroom lamps as well. Thanks for the lead and appreciate the quick response. Posted Tuesday, January 13, 2015 by KM

 Q2878 Patent Dates on Railroad Lanterns  Can you tell the year of manufacture by the last patent date on a railroad lantern? Thanks.  Posted Monday, January 12, 2015 by BC   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. No Posted Monday, January 12, 2015 by BK

A. What you can tell is that the item is NO OLDER than the patent date. Once a feature is patented, it would be used for years afterwards. -- Why don't you tell us what you are trying to date, or better yet, send in a photo and we may be able to help you. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Monday, January 12, 2015 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. If the lantern is a Dietz Vesta, the built date may be on it. Below the patent date info is usually a letter - number i.e. S-41. The letter tells the plant that made it, the number is the year. I don't think any other makes actually date coded their pieces. Posted Tuesday, January 13, 2015 by JN

 Q2877 Spring-Loaded Coach Candle Lamp  I just bought a pair of D&H spring loaded candle wall sconces without the chimneys. Know nothing about these. They're all brass. What do the chimneys look like and how does the spring mechanism work? I'd like to get them working if possible. Thanks.  Posted Monday, January 12, 2015 by Bob   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. These are from an RPO (POSTAL) car and were not used in coaches. The candles advanced in the holders by spring power as the candle burned and melted. While original chimneys are very hard to find, re-pros show up at train shows. They are not a universal size so be sure and have one of the holders with you. These were used from about 1907 to the 70's.While quite common most were not RR marked. Those marked with the D&H are quite rare. Posted Monday, January 12, 2015 by BK

A. Take a look on the W. T. Kirkman site. [] (LINK 1) If that Link isn't the right one look through the on line catalog. He has lots of good stuff on the site. (sometimes really long links don't automatically connect) ---- .... Red Beard Link 1  Posted Monday, January 12, 2015 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A.  See Q2299 in the Archives for a lot more info on these RPO candle lamps including the patent number that was issued in 1907 and assigned to Adams & Westlake. They were also made by many other manufacturers and because they had to conform to a government standard they all look very similar. In the early 1970's I had permission to go through a scrap line of RPO cars that belonged to the New York Central and I was able to save six of these lamps. I don't think there was a chimney left on any of them, but I have been able to get the replacement chimneys over the years. Because these lamps were small and did not contain kerosene many of them went home with employees in their lunch bags or grip and they turn up on eBay very frequently.  Posted Wednesday, January 14, 2015 by KM

A. I want to thank everyone for their replies. Posted Tuesday, January 20, 2015 by Bob

 Q2876 Switch Lamp ID?  Can anybody id this switch lamp? The only marking on it is on one of the feet in raised numbers -- 121, no other marking at all. It stands about 16 inches tall. The lens is about 4 inches across. If you look close at the pictures you can see 4 bolts in the middle of the lamp where it comes apart. Thanks for your help   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, January 11, 2015 by RT   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hello, This is an armspear lamp. Your tag appears choked over with paint. The N&W and ACL with several others used this brand. GaryP Posted Sunday, January 11, 2015 by GaryP

A. Look up inside the base of the lamp, inside the hollow square socket where it sat on top of the switch stand. Some RR's had the mfgr's cast the RR initials on the inside of the socket to permanently mark their property in a way that was not subject to much wear or weathering and was certainly not easy to remove. Posted Sunday, January 11, 2015 by RJMc

A. Dressel seemed to be the only manufacturer that marked their lamps that way. Don't remember seeing that on any other lamps in 40 years of collecting. I have seen bases swapped out, but they are usually reassembled with screws and nuts or Pop rivets making the swap obvious. Posted Wednesday, January 14, 2015 by JFR

A. According to Barrett's Encyclopedia of RR Lighting, Volume 2, lamps split across the middle were made by Armspear, such as yours, and also by Adams & Westlake, between about 1890 and 1910. I suspect the middle split was a patented feature which probably caused other mfrs. not to use it. The original idea of splitting the lamp across the middle seems to have been to permit changing out broken or damaged lenses without unsoldering anything -- which required sending the entire lamp back to a shop, and meant having a spare lamp always on hand to replace any sent back. Beginning about 1900 and thereafter everyone switched to 'lens coupling rings' where just the one ring had to be unbolted and slid off to change a lens, and after that most of the mfgrs. used plain, cylindrical housings. Your lamp may be from the 1900 - 1910 period of transition where lamps were made with both features, or its brass coupling rings might have been added later to make disassembling the body unnecessary.  Posted Friday, January 16, 2015 by RJMc

 Q2875 MCRR Lantern Marking  I recently purchased an MC RR Railroad Lantern. The seller is calling it a Maine Central (MEC) Lantern. When I received it it did not say MEC RR on it but MC RR. I did a google search for MCRR and it came up with Michigan Central. Can you tell me which it is? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, January 10, 2015 by BC   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  There are at least three other possible railroads with these initials and probably more that could have used this lantern during the era it dates from. This was a widely used model. Your best bet is to ask the seller why they think it to be Maine Central, as in, from an estate or barn sale in Maine. Even then, these things can travel or the years.  Posted Saturday, January 10, 2015 by MG

A. The Maine Central / Michigan Central question comes up frequently and has caused lots of controversy over the years. There are some few legitimate Maine Central lamps and lanterns that were factory marked “M.C.” Something to know is that lamp and lantern manufacturers produced thousands and thousands of their products; the initials stamped into the lantern caps for a given road sometimes, or even frequently, varied a bit from run to run. As MG mentions above, “M.C.” could have been several different roads. “MEC” or “MeC” would almost certainly be Maine Central. – The real question here is: were you promised a lantern marked “MEC”? If you were, and you are not satisfied with the purchase, send it back! – Another thing to know is that many on line sellers (on eBay) know very little about railroad lamps and lanterns and often make honest mistakes in describing what they list; others over inflate descriptions or intentionally misrepresent items. — If you got it on eBay and think it was misrepresented, launch a complaint against the seller. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Sunday, January 11, 2015 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Thank you both for your input. I did purchase this on eBay and it was advertised as a MEC Lantern but I believe this is a honest mistake. Thinking it might be a Michigan Central it would be a nice add to my collection so I'm going to keep it. Posted Monday, January 12, 2015 by Hoghead

 Q2874 Brake Diagram Plate  I looked at all the Q&A's about brake diagram plates but did not see any responses that answered how to tell their age. Does anyone have any idea of the approximate time this one was used? Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, January 7, 2015 by Sherry   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Sherry, your brake diagram plate would be at least as old as the Burlington Northern merger of 1969-70 or before, when the Chicago Burlington and Quincy was folded in with The GN and NP railroads.Your plate does have the CB&Q name cast into it,if you did notice this.Its a little harder to date this plate when it is removed from its car,which would have shown a build date stenciled on its side. DJB Posted Wednesday, January 7, 2015 by DJB

A. It looks like the visible paint on the plate is a bright cherry red; is that accurate? (Color is often hard to tell from photos on line) – Take a small knife blade and scrape through that red paint and try to ascertain if there is any other color under the red. ..if so, tell us what that color is. – If not, Take a little Comet or other sink cleanser on the wetted tip of your finger and polish some of the reddish painted area on that plate to where you can see the original, unoxidized red color. – Go to this site (Link 1) Look for Pantone 485, halfway down the far right column; a Bright Red in with browns and violets. – HOW Close to Pantone 485 is the polished red paint? – In 1958 or 1959 the CB&Q began painting cars “Chinese Red” and used that color until shortly before the BN merger, when the car color changed to “Cascade Green” – Pantone 485 is not a match for “Chinese Red” but that online color sample is close enough for comparison. If the cleaned up red on the plate is actually a more terra cotta or brownish red, it would pre-date the Chinese Red and be older than the late 1950s. ---- .... Red Beard  Link 1  Posted Thursday, January 8, 2015 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Pantone 185 , (third column in from the far right and 11 down in the above LINK) or directly... (Link 1) is an even closer match to "Chinese Red" , but again , not exact ---- .... Red Beard Link 1  Posted Thursday, January 8, 2015 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

 Q2873 Lamp/Lantern Info Needed  I was wondering if anyone knew how old this lantern is and also some history about this item? I just picked it up at a garage sale and was wondering what year it was made? It says on the top Adams and Westlake Co., If that helps at all.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, January 7, 2015 by PJ   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hello PJ, What you have is a caboose or bunk car lamp. It is of the older style as the fount has the ribs on the bottom and a filler cap. Later versions didn't have these. Also the hangars on your lamp are seperate. Most have a single plate wall bracket with the shade, globe spring, and fount holder mounted to it. Several other companies made similar lamps. Look in the library of this site under Handlan catalog and there are photos of theirs. I cannot give you an age but yours is definately not one of the newer styles. Maybe someone else can chime in on approx. age. They were made for decades and used on the N&W RR in cabooses through the 1970's. Hope this helps. GaryP Posted Saturday, January 10, 2015 by GaryP

 Q2872 PRR Tool  Can anyone tell me what this is? Looks like a weed cutter. It's got the keystone logo with PRR in it. The blade is 12 inches long and 3 inches wide. The handle is 34 inches long. It's about 10 pounds, made of heavy steel. It came from a retired railroad man who had a lot of track tools. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, January 5, 2015 by RT   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hello, This tool is a brush axe. Hard work involved!!!!! GaryP Posted Monday, January 5, 2015 by GaryP

A. I have one of these from the B&O and I have seen at least one or two other railroad marked ones. It was a standard tool of the day. Was your made by Tru-Temper? They were a big maker of these. Posted Monday, January 5, 2015 by JN

A. the only marking is prr if you notice mine has 3 holes for adjusting the bracket most of the ones i have seen only have one. this might be shop made by prr. Posted Monday, January 5, 2015 by rt

A.  See Q2766 in the Archives for another example of a brush ax. Other names for this tool may be swing blade, kaiser blade or ditch bank blade. Railroad Tools and Solutions still sells these. Posted Monday, January 5, 2015 by KM

A. the brush ax that railroad tools and solutions sells does not look anything like the ones tru-temper made years ago.even mine is 47 years old or more. rember prr became pc in 1968. so we may be talking 1940s or 50s hear.i know the style could have changed over the years.the ones that railroad tools sells or made by another co. Posted Tuesday, January 6, 2015 by rt

A. just a note about tru-temper railroad brush ax tru- temper was makeing u s military machetes as early as 1943 they were stamped tru-temper us 1943 Posted Tuesday, January 6, 2015 by rt

A. This also called a brush or bush hook. Sold at Lowes and Tractor supply among others. Posted Wednesday, January 7, 2015 by BK

A. the ones at lows made by tru-temper dont look anything like the old ones, look at the pictures of them Posted Wednesday, January 7, 2015 by rt

 Q2871 Santa Fe Steam Engine Bell  This bell has numbers 10 2281 d62 and number 504 under 281. These numbers are located at top of bell. Can you tell me what these numbers mean. Thank You.  Posted Saturday, January 3, 2015 by BK ( Retired SF Telegrapher)   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  A photo of the bell would help out here. Are you sure that it is a steam loco bell and not a diesel bell? If and this is a big if, the number of the locomotive is 504 then the Santa Fe had a very old 4-4-0 with that number, see Link One. the ATSF had a GE diesel numbered 504 see Link Two. How long have you had the bell, and is there any cradle with it? Is it set up for an air ringer or does it only have a pull rope? What size is the bell measured across the full width at the mouth? Again, the 504 number may or may not have been the loco number. Link 1  Link 2  Posted Monday, January 5, 2015 by KM

A.  They also had a Fairbanks Morse switch engine built around 1950 with the 504 number, see Link One. Link 1  Posted Monday, January 5, 2015 by KM

 Q2870 Unable to ID Lantern  Greetings, I have come across many lamps and lanterns over the years and am usually able, with some research, to identify them. Not so with this lamp. It looks like it is marked 'Rochester, NY' on the side along with 'S G & L Co'. It has one large bulls eye lens but there is an insert inside that makes it possible to change the clear lens to blue or red. It has two handles, one on the back of the lamp and one on the top of the lamp which is also part of the insert that clicks into the lamp base. The burner is still in place. The original black paint has mostly chipped away but the lamp is still in wonderful condition. Any information you could supply is much appreciated. Thank you,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, January 2, 2015 by JR   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This a track walker's (inspector)lamp made by Steam Gauge and Lantern. Posted Friday, January 2, 2015 by BK

A. The Encyclopedia of RR Lighting Vol 1 shows this same or a very similar design advertised not only by SG & L but also by Dietz, Adlake, and Peter Gray, probably among others. These were advertised between about 1880 and 1910 and discontinued after that. The cap with ridges is characteristic of items from that time period; later lamps all had the smoother styles. This design may have been shared by agreement among the various mfr's, or one co. may have made them and furnished them to the other co's. to sell, tactics which were not uncommon in many industries at that time.  Posted Tuesday, January 6, 2015 by RJMc

A. Additional info: all the ads mentioned above refer to 'clear, green, or ruby' selectable colors. In the time before 1910, that would be so the track inspector walking along the track could give trains 'Proceed, things are OK' with the 'clear' color, 'Caution' with the 'green' color, or 'Stop, danger' with the red color. The clear setting would also have been used for illumination and to examine possible track defects. One ad also mentions crossing watchmen using these.  Posted Tuesday, January 6, 2015 by RJMc

 Q2869 PRR Hand Tool  Can anybody tell me what this was used for? It's marked PRR. I was told it may be a rail nut cutter. The head is 8 1/2 inches long; the handle is 18 inches long; it almost looks like a rail cutter. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, January 2, 2015 by RT   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is a 'rail chisel'. In the 'good old days', using the wooden handle one man of a track crew would hold the chisel against a length of rail to be cut. A second man would smack the end of the rail chisel with a sledge hammer. Properly done, the rail would break very cleanly at the point of the chisel, possibly with just one stroke. You can see on the tool you have, it has been hammered very hard and mushroomed over; and probably ground down several times to keep fragments of the chisel from flying like shrapnel under the sledgehammer blows. I do not know how many times somebody had to practice to make this work -- and it did take teamwork -- but it was probably quite a few times to get it right.  Posted Friday, January 2, 2015 by RJMc

 Q2868 B&O Step Stool  I have two Baltimore and Ohio step boxes made by Morton. One step box has small B&O lettering about 1 inch high and the other has large B&O lettering about 4 inches high. Both step boxes are made of steel. Can you tell me what color the B&O used on these step boxes? These both have been painted black and I have tried to remove the paint to find the original color but have had no luck. I do know that some of the later step boxes were made made of aluminum and were silver in color. I have not been able to obtain the color of the early steel step boxes. I have contacted the B&O Museum and the B&O historical society and they could not answer my question. I have seen several restored step boxes and they have been painted blue with yellow lettering, the color used on diesel locomotives. I have seen one black and white photo and the step box shows up as a light almost white color. I feel that the black color has been added by previous owners. I do not think the Black color was used because the step stool would be hard to see in the dark when passengers were getting on and off the train. I sure the B&O had safety in mind. So the step stools were painted a lighter color. Any help solving this mystery will be greatly appreciated. Thanks  Posted Friday, January 2, 2015 by KT   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q2867 Continuation of Lock Question - 2851  As a continuation to #2851, we've posted a new web page authored by Chris May on a disassembled railroad lock. Thanks, Chris!  Posted Tuesday, December 30, 2014 by Web Editor  Link 1     Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  A railroad friend of mine that I correspond with sent me these emails and I thought they’d be good to post; — “Those pix of the disassembled steel switch lock on the website recently, show why these locks are restricted from use on mainline switches in the US. This may only be true on certain FRA track classes/speeds, but I was told by several FRA inspectors who I knew well from various inspections on my old territory. The reasons for this were 2 fold. That plastic part, which is technically a key indexer, can be melted and is only in there to prevent any key that would pass thru the front plate key outline from opening the lock. In other words, it qualifies the particular key bit so only it will open the lock. Those plastic pieces are machined to fit the key bit notches of a particular road’s key. The second reason, I was told, was because these Keline locks were only a 1-tumbler lock and the requirements were for a minimum of 2 or more tumblers. The Adlake locks did pass this test before they stopped producing them. Cheaper production costs = an inferior product in this case." ---- "To add further to my other email about the locks, now you can see why many of the original notches were eliminated from the key bits on the new sand cast and investment cast switchkeys. The new single –tumbler locks didn’t need them to open like the old multi-tumbler locks did. Compare some of the old and new keys and it becomes readily apparent. Basically, that plastic indexer eliminated the need for another tumbler !!! Without it, any key that fit in the key opening would probably open the lock." (thanks for sending that to me) ---- .... Red Beard  Posted Saturday, January 3, 2015 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider