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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.
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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:

 Q2850 Cupper Lamp  Hello I am from the Netherlands and I've found your site while searching possibilities to attempt to identify this great lamp that I bought at local antique shop. Is there any assistance your organization can provide? Its an outstanding piece.. I think its a signal lamp, but I really have no clue.. Its is a Cupper lamp. the diameter is about 30 cm and the depth is about 18 cm. With best regards,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, November 25, 2014 by RM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q2849 Bullseye Lantern  Could anyone who has any model of a bullseye railroad lantern post a picture of the front of it? Preferably showing close detail of what held the bullseye glass piece onto the lantern. Thanks, it'd be much appriciated.  Posted Monday, November 24, 2014 by KO   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q2848 Boston and Albany RR track Boards  Looking for more information on some 'track boards' I saw at an auction a few months ago for someone. Apparently they were used in towers and yards in Boston. Boards I saw were Allston Interlocking, Riverside Interlocking, Berkeley Street, and Huntington Ave. Thanks!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, November 23, 2014 by Joe   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. These are 'model boards' used in interlocking towers; the track diagram shows how the various tracks connect; the track, switch, and signal numbers guided the tower operator to which lever to throw or which handle to pull to accomplish train movements. On these particular model boards, it appears that many of the usual indicator lights were salvaged (no doubt when the board was taken out of service), although a few remain; these showed showed the position of trains and when signals were cleared. The Link is to one of the large number of videos on the web of interlocking towers; this one goes thru a good explanation of the model board and how it was used. (Bypass the first minute or two; the sound of a passing train blocks out most of the audio; the later part is worth it.) All of these functions are still performed today; but over time everything got miniaturized, and finally consolidated into computer screens, even down to touch screen controls to throw switches and clear signals, and often remote-controlled from hundreds of miles away from the actual interlocking.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, November 23, 2014 by RJMc

A. Regarding the indicator lights, what colors were used ? The person who has the boards intends on restoring them with new color indicator lights. Posted Sunday, November 23, 2014 by JoeF

A. As shown in the Marion OH tower video (link in ans. above) the lights centered in the track segment traces were probably white, and were lit (only) when their track segment was occupied by a train. So they lit up in sequence showing the route taken as a train moved thru the interlocking. The lights beside the traces were usually associated with signals, and were lit up green when their signal was cleared to pass a train, then went back to dark as the train passed and the signal went back to stop. As a guess, it looks like someone put just a few of the indicators (the colored lens part is called a 'jewel') back in these boards just for show; they are probably not what was originally in those positions. Looking up 'pilot light indicator jewels' on the web turned up 142 listings. Just be aware that a 'jewel' by itself does not have a light source, although many pilot lights do; and they come in many different sizes and voltages of light bulbs or LED's when they ARE included. In general, older boards used larger indicators; most things got smaller over time. Hobby shops often have these items for modelling use, and they may apply here as well.  Posted Monday, November 24, 2014 by RJMc

 Q2847 Bell ID Needed  Attached please find [see link] a sketch of a steam locomotive train bell my Grandfather collected from a long line of locomotives going into Todd shipyard for scrap in southeast Houston, post war (1947-1950). The bell has been in the family yard ever since. I believe but not sure that the train was a Southern Pacific. How can I find the name and photo of the train this bell came from with the info provided? I hear the 398 drilled into the top of bell might be the engine number.  Posted Saturday, November 22, 2014 by JL  Link 1     Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. There is no guarantee that the numbers are engine numbers. However, checking for SP steam locomotive info on the web shows a number 398 as a 'Ten Wheeler' type owned by SP subsidiary Texas and New Orleans (TNO) (see link). That site does not have any photos of this type of engine.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, November 22, 2014 by RJMc

 Q2846 RR Marking on Table/Sign  I was stripping an 'oddly shaped vintage table', that was in two pieces in a neighbors garage and was being thrown away. I could tell the table top itself was of excellent wood and older than the silly vintage cheap table legs that had been slapped on it. What I was rather amazed to find as shadow mark on the original wood, under six or more layers of paint were the words. R.R Railroad, not PRR. Clearly R.R. And 'above that', the words Congress St as the 'second iteration' of it's life. At least one other word shows in other paint, the word station. Since I found it in Virginia near DC, it was obviously in DC at some point. It's a pity at least six or more times someone redid this old sign. The old hanging holes were filled with very old old plaster maybe, its white grainy and fragile. It's a large oval center with corner edge details. I think both the early signs were black letters, there is an upper and lower black line detail. Partial or complete other words may be Aine Center in all caps, there is a shadow before AINE that might be a letter but I doubt it. It's too close to the edge and would be very off center for the 'balance' of the lettering. It's got no fine or modern joinery. Wood old glue that's dead and screws that look like old handmades. No biscuits, dadoes or even mortise. I don't think but I'll know more after I strip a billion years of dust and oil and schmutz off the back. If anyone can figure out where it came from I'd just like to know. I'm going to leave the shadow marks as I reseal it but there was too much damage in interim years to save the paint. I still live in the DC region so it will be nice to have. Thanks for any information. PS. Congress St. is now Congress ST NW or Southeast. it hasn't been plain old Congress St. for a long time. Thanks.  Posted Saturday, November 22, 2014 by Walkswdog   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It is very difficult to consider this without a photograph; there is a chance someone will recognize this sign or a similar one from old postcards, books,etc. Please include something identifiable in the pic(s) as a size reference. And I am sure that a "Congress Street" existed in many American cities (10 came up in just a 30-second web search, including both Richmond, VA, and Annapolis, MD for just 2 nearby examples) so a DC connection is not certain.  Posted Saturday, November 22, 2014 by RJMc

 Q2845 Unusual Globe Base  Has anyone seen a globe base like this? Is it a reproduction? It looks poorly made, you can see waves in the glass. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, November 20, 2014 by KO   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hi KO,Your globe sure looks like a Canadian tall globe because of its base.I have globes from the CPR,CNR,CGR and GTR and they all have that unique extended base flange.Lets see what other collectors have to say about my hunch. DJB Posted Friday, November 21, 2014 by DJB

 Q2844 No. 1 R.R. Lantern  I have a brasstop, bell bottom lantern that is embossed 'No. 1 R.R.' on the brass top. No other markings are found. The globe, fount, and burner are missing. I am very curious who may have been the maker? It is about 10 inches tall. Any ideas? Thanks,  Posted Thursday, November 20, 2014 by RR   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  It might be Rogers or Howard & Morse, they both made No.1 lanterns but their catalog names are not exactly "No.1 RR". Try to give us an estimate of the height of the globe,it may have been a six inch or a 5&3/8 one. Does it have one or two guard wires? Photos will really help us out here, someone may recognize the profile of the brass top and the pattern of the vent holes. Posted Sunday, November 23, 2014 by KM

 Q2843 Fixed Globe Lantern Info?  Hi all. I wonder if you would be so kind as to examine these pictures. I have been trying to identify this old girl without success. All searches for fixed globe lanterns lead me to the RR sites. There are no RR markings on the lantern or glass and it's got a Holmes Booth & Hayden Burner. Any help greatly appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, November 19, 2014 by DK   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q2842 Modern Switch Lamp  I picked up this switch mechanism and lamp this weekend. It's going to look great in my model train room. I'm curious as to what railroads use today on switches for nighttime traffic? The small yard in my town has the targets on their switches, but no lamps. I'm assuming the targets are reflective and that's what is used at night. But are there any modern switch lamps used today? If so, I would love to see an image so I can compare 'back then' with 'right now'. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, November 17, 2014 by JP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. For the most part sheet metal flags / targets coated in retroreflective material are all that is used today. Modern locomotive head lights are very bright and the highly reflective coatings on the targets are visible at considerable distance, so in most situations reflective flags are sufficient. Remotely controlled / automatic switches usually have an electric dwarf-style fixed signal that changes color as the switch moves, but the signal does not rotate with the movement of the switch; it simply switches color. There are a rare, few electric switch lamps of the classic spherical or “Diver’s Helmet” style; such as the WRRS No.1880 lamps (see; LINK 1 under Maintenance of Way / Derails { http://www.wch.com/ }) still in use in industrial plants where there is no public access (and much less chance of ‘souvenir hunters’ walking off with them). I hear occasional reports of a few electric switch lamps still in railroad service, but have seen no recent photos; ..anyone?? – You have a really fine lamp and switch stand there! That’s quite a find. The round cap and conical stack would date that lamp to between the early 1900s to mid 1920s; so, it’s about a hundred years old! ..wish they still made stuff that would last 100 years! ---- …. Red Beard  Link 1  Posted Monday, November 17, 2014 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. ...when you click on the above LINK, you then need to click on the "Catalog" button on the left side of the home page. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Monday, November 17, 2014 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Thanks for info, Red Beard. I'll have to venture out to some bigger rail yards to see what I can find. I'd like to contrast the past and the present. Unfortunately the lamp on the switch has been electrified. Fount is missing, as well as the wick adjuster, and the peep hole glass. But it does display well. I'm thinking about using stop motion animation to show the switch in action on my webpage.  Posted Tuesday, November 18, 2014 by JP

 Q2841 Adlake Electric Lantern with Kerosene Body?  Did Adlake ever make a lantern like lantern #113 in the attached picture, a regular lantern body with a dry cell and small light bulb? Does anyone have a picture/catalog picture of said lantern if one existed? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, November 16, 2014 by KO   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q2840 'CS' Designation on Keys and Locks  I've been collecting locks and keys for over 25 years now, and am wondering about the 'CS' designation that Adlake stamps on some locks and keys. For example on an SP key, some are marked SP CS-4, on a UP roadway and bridge lock it has cast marks which include CS-21. I've seen a CS cast mark on old NP locks as well, and each road has a different number following the 'CS'. What does it stand for? Thanks for any help you can provide.  Posted Saturday, November 15, 2014 by Steve B.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. "Common Standard" An effort to standardize switch bit usage among various departments of the UP and SP during, and for many decades after, E. H. Harriman's control of those entities. The system was used by many of the lines affiliated with those railroads and evidently some that were not. Posted Saturday, November 15, 2014 by MG

A. Thank you MG for answering this...it has always been a mystery to me. I thought it had to do more with a casting number or ??? Thanks for answering! I sure appreciate this website as well, it has assisted me greatly. Steve B. Posted Saturday, November 15, 2014 by Steve B.

A. In the early years of the twentieth century, E. H. Harriman gained control of the Chicago & Alton Railroad, the Union Pacific, the Southern Pacific, the Illinois Central and the Central of Georgia. Harriman recognized that if all his railroads standardized numerous items, it would solve many problems. Shops and stores departments, as well as other departments, would only need to have one standard style of tools, car parts, car & locomotive designs, paint colors, line side building designs and, among other things, padlocks, system wide. This standardization also gave Harriman tremendous volume purchasing power. He could place orders with manufacturers for standardized materials for all of his railroads; this simplified things for Harriman and his suppliers and allowed him to purchase large quantities of standardized materials and thus obtain lower prices from his suppliers (think WalMart). The Harriman Common Standard system (“CS”) was a revolutionary innovation that worked quite well, and the SP and UP each maintained a strict Common Standard program for materials, building design and car and locomotive design after their Court forced separation in 1912. Though no longer tied together, the UP and SP maintained similar Common Standards for decades after their separation; an example would be their fork mount Adlake Switch Lamps with four 4.5 inch lenses. That “CS-21" lock is a classic with a beautifully cast front on the lock (send in a photo of that if you can). I can’t say anything specifically abut the NP item ---- .... Red Beard Posted Saturday, November 15, 2014 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. And thank you too Red Beard for your input! It all makes sense to me now. I've asked other fellas who have collected for years what 'CS' means, nobody could ever come close to answering. Thank you again and happy collecting! Steve B. Posted Saturday, November 15, 2014 by Steve B.

 Q2839 Lantern ID Needed  I ran across your site recently and hoping you can help me. I have an old, and what was told to me to be a conductor's railroad lantern. The history as I know it, my uncle used this lantern while he worked for the railroad out of or near Lindsay California. He lived and worked out of Lindsay California all his life, retiring from the Lindsay Packing (Lindsay olives you buy today) plant in his 60's after 30-40 years there. He died recently at the age of 92 in 2014. All I know is he used this lamp in the 50's, perhaps 60's, and could have been earlier; 40's? The lantern does not have any markings that I can find. I know it is made of metal as it has some rust on it. I just want to know what it is and perhaps how it was used.... Can you help? I tried the internet and been on several sites.. no luck...   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, November 11, 2014 by JC   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  I checked several books to see if I could help you out on this with no success. The lamp looks to me like it might be a bridge or navigation light and not a trainman's lantern. Does the bail handle have a small loop right at the top of it which could be used to tie it with a rope? Tie down rings in the bail and on the base of a lamp are usually clues that it was meant for marine use. And it is hard to tell how tall the lamp is from the photo, but it looks too tall to be a trainman's lantern.  Posted Saturday, November 15, 2014 by KM

A. Guys, Really???? This is what is left of a cheap import made in the last 20 years and avaiable in every import and junk shop in America. Sorry. No relation to the RR at all. GaryP Posted Saturday, November 15, 2014 by GaryP

 Q2838 Dressel Trolley Marker  I got an unmarked Dressel lantern with a marker bracket wedge on it and a clear globe (I had the globe out in the picture) , and after looking through a Dressel catalog on this website, I found a model very close (had a couple very small differences). It said available with red and green globes. So, my first question is were there any other Dressel models like this this that had clear globes, like an classification lamp on the white lenses signifying 'extra' or something? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, November 11, 2014 by KO   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The marker foot itself was an option that could be added to almost any lantern model and was offered by several different manufacturers. The globes are fully and very easily interchangeable, so anything might have happened. The reason these were 'trolley markers' -- usually with red globes -- was usually for street running, where speeds were slow and visibility was fairly good, and train orders were not used. But the extra train classification light function is safety-critical when using train orders to know when scheduled (or unscheduled) trains have passed, and was usually used on much higher speed running on 'steam' RR's and some interurbans, and lives depended on getting the proper message across as the train passed. A hand lantern used for that purpose would hardly be bright enough to be effective, and would likely be very dangerous to rely on; so I doubt that practice would have been acceptable even tho the lantern was available to hang out there.  Posted Wednesday, November 12, 2014 by RJMc

 Q2837 B&O / GE Pictures  I was recently given three (3) framed pictures of Baltimore and Ohio Railroad GE class LE-1 (number 1), LE-2 (number 6 &7), and OE-1 (number 11). Number 1 was built in 1895, numbers 5 & 6 in 1903, and number 11 at around 1923. All three framed pictures have metal tags on the bottom that say 'GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY, SCHENECTADY, NY.' I have visited the B&O Railroad Historical Society and only have information on the locomotives, and not the whole frames and everything. They said they are probably very rare, and hard to find. I have attached photos:[upper right], [link1], [link2]. Please excuse the flash reflection. There are NO cracks in the glass. The paper on the back of the fames was peeling off (it’s so dry,) so we taped them closed. The interesting thing is that there are four holes in each frame. Two at the top, and two at the bottom. The historical society said that GE probably had them hung up in their offices, and bolted them that way so no one would steal them. Can anyone provide additional information regarding these items? ANY information is appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, November 11, 2014 by TP  Link 1   Link 2     Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q2836 Lock Cleaning  I recently attended the Golden Spike Enterprises Gaithersburg Artifact show and purchased several items including a Brass B&O heart shaped lock that says FRAIM MFG. It has a lot of dirt and grime on it. Normally I do not clean items in my collection, but this one is an exception as it is quite dirty. Would Brasso work or should I use something else? Also, I have a Western Maryland figure eight switch lock from Yale that is also rather dirty to the point of it almost hiding the Yale logo. It is not brass (see picture.) What might be the most safe and effective ways to clean both of them?? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, November 10, 2014 by Tommy   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I've been in the same situation myself. When I was young and foolish I took brass to an older brass lock to 'improve it's appearance'. I regretted it after removing all of the patina, as well as the value of the piece. For older brass locks I don't use brass, but use kerosene on an old rag or cloth. This removes the dirt, grease and grime but leaves the patina. You can scrub around where the railroad initials are stamped and make them more readable. For the steel locks, the same applies. You can use fine steel wool, kerosene or wf-40 and very LIGHTLY touch them up a bit removing rust and grime and being careful not to bring the steel up to a high polish. Don't use a wire wheel. Also don't use a buffing wheel on your brass locks, you have to do this by hand- carefully. Happy collecting! Steve B. Posted Thursday, November 13, 2014 by Steve B.

A. I said brass but should be 'BRASSO', stupid auto correct on these computers, how dare they think they are smarter than we are and to correct us! Steve B Posted Thursday, November 13, 2014 by Steve B.

A. Some folks say to leave the patina on brass locks. I personally like them shiny. And so far I haven't seen cleaning affect the value of a lock. If anything, it seems to generate more interest from potential buyers. I know with some stuff you're supposed to leave it alone, like coins and furniture. I don't think that's the case as much with railroad stuff.  Posted Thursday, November 13, 2014 by JP

 Q2835 C.T.H.& S. Tall globe Handlan  I got this lantern a while back, it is a tall globe Handlan made for the Chicago, Terre Haute & Southeastern Railroad (I believe). The question has to do with paint. It was painted flat black, and while stripping the black paint on the lantern hood/curved part that has railroad marking(dont know exactly what you call it) was painted green, as the picture shows. At first i figured the whole lantern might've been painted green, but found no other traces but on the hood. So my question is, did the cth&s possibly paint the hood the color of the globe similar to what nycs did with some of their red lanterns? Or is it more likely the railroader that used it just painted it that way to distinguish it from other people's lanterns? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, November 9, 2014   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I have seen and owned a number of CTH&SRy lanterns over the years and those that had paint were clearly painted after they left railroad property. It is interesting to note that the "Southeastern", as it was known after the Milwaukee Road acquired the line, ordered lanterns from both Handlan and Adams & Westlake. Handlan stamped its lanterns CTH&SRY while A.& W. stamped theirs CTH&SERy. CTH&SRY Handlans can be found with either drop in fonts or twist off fonts. Posted Sunday, November 9, 2014 by Albert

A. Yes, I know it could've been painted after it was sold for non railroad use, the thing is, I believe the green was painted by the railroad or railroad personnel because the green was only on that one spot, like New York Central did to some of their red lanterns.  Posted Sunday, November 9, 2014 by KO

A. Red paint on the brim of Handlan short globe New York Central lanterns was applied at the factory. It is conceivable that a brakeman or other employee with too much time on his hands and access to green paint decided to personalize his lantern. There is no operational reason for doing so. Posted Sunday, November 9, 2014 by Albert

A. I specialize in collecting memorabilia from the Milwaukee Road and its Indiana predecessors and am curious to know if the globe that came with your CTH&SRY is marked? Also, does your lantern have a drop in font or one that twists off? Thank you and best wishes.  Posted Sunday, November 9, 2014 by Joe

A. I actually have 2 C.T.H.&Se. lanterns that I got from the same person. They're both tall globe handlans with twist off founts and are pretty much identical, but the chimneys are different. The one not pictured has a flat topped chimney that says handlan st. Louis USA on the top. The one pictured has a blank globe, the one not pictured that has the flat top says C T H & SE Ry. (Exactly as typed). However, it says C.T.H.&S.Ry on the brim of the same lantern. Posted Sunday, November 9, 2014 by KHO

A. Albert, I guess I just figured NYCS's red paint was an in-shop modification, because my NYCS engine lantern's red paint definitely doesn't look factory, it looks very much brushed on without any sort of masking. Is there a reason for the red paint on NYCS lanterns? Was all of the colors? I thought I remembered seeing a picture of a nicely restored green globe lantern with a green brim/hood/whatever the proper name is before. Link 1  Posted Monday, November 10, 2014 by KO

A. Great find! The dome top lantern would be older than the one with a flat top and obviously the globes are interchangeable. Posted Monday, November 10, 2014 by Joe

A. Believe it or not Handlan applied the red paint to the brim of NYCS short globe lanterns, which was an available option published on later Handlan catalogs. As discussed in the previous Q&A below, Handlan 3 1/4" short globe lanterns were not well made and factory quality control was marginal at best. In theory the red paint on the brim of the lid indicated a red globe for flagging, but once they were placed into service any globe color have found its way into such a lantern frame. Posted Tuesday, November 11, 2014 by Albert

A. Yes,, Handalin short globe lanterns were painted silver unless requested differently by the customer. The tall globe lanterns were galvanized or in some cases tin was used. Back then only two colors of paints were heat proof, silver and black. Silver was used mainly on radiators, steam pipes and black for stoves. For a exact match use engine block spray paint in aluminium or cast aluminium color. I find the regular aluminium color is a exact match. These paints are good to 600 degrees and are very fast drying synthetic lacquers. Other colors were not heat proof. Back then, these paints were not available on the commercial market in the retail hardware stores. Keith Posted Friday, November 14, 2014 by Keith

 Q2834 Matching Handlan Silver Paint  Most, if not all, HANDLAN short globe lanterns were factory spray painted silver. Has anyone found anything close to the original finish that is available in a spray can today? Thanks,  Posted Friday, November 7, 2014 by Albert   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. They weren't spray painted silver. They were galvanized. If you want to shell out more money than you bought the lantern for, you can have them refinished. When I cleaned up both my Pennsylvania rr handlans, I just tried to save as much as the original finish as possible, then sprayed the inside of the chimney with high temp. paint. (I volunteer at a rr museum so I use my lanterns often, so wanted to protect them as much as I could). I've read about people cleaning all the rust off then clear coating them, and that works... if you dont fire them/dont fire them often. Hope that helps.  Posted Sunday, November 9, 2014 by KHO

A. I disagree. Handlan short globe lanterns were in fact painted silver and were not galvanized like ADLAKE KERO models. If you put a barn fresh Handlan short globe lantern into a hot bucket of lye the water turns silver. That does not happen with any other hand lantern.  Posted Sunday, November 9, 2014 by Albert

A. Interesting. My pennsylvania lanterns look exactly like adlake galvanizing. Do you have a picture? It'd be interesting to see. I don't have access to lye, but the finish sure didn't come off with my lacquer thinner process, like it should if it was painted.  Posted Sunday, November 9, 2014 by KHO

A. Don't have a photo handy to post, but you can find examples on eBay. Handlan 5 3/8" tall globe lanterns seem to have been better made than later short globe models and definitely were not factory painted. Compared to short globe lanterns of other major manufacturers Handlans do not hold up as well as a rule, which I suspect is attributable the use of lower quality metals and material in general.  Posted Sunday, November 9, 2014 by Albert

A. Lye will remove the zinc galvanizing from the lantern. Google "How to remove galvanizing" or "Will lye remove galvanizing"? and lye is mentioned among other methods if you read the answers etc.. I don't believe Handlan painted their short globe RR lanterns silver.  Posted Sunday, November 9, 2014 by JK

A. When I get home, I'll post a picture of my short globe handlans. I totally agree with you about how late handlans were made, they're good for a shelf, but wouldn't ever use one for very long, because of the quality, and inabilityto properly clean the globe retainer of build-up (on the fdiamond shaped globe ones at least). Posted Sunday, November 9, 2014 by KHO

A. The following is a link to an excellent example on eBay that has very clear pictures, which you may have to copy and paste in order to view: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Antique-HANDLAN-Railroad-Lantern-ST-LOUIS-RARE-VINTAGE-COLLECTOR-KEROSENE-LAMP-/181581889760?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2a471fc0e0 Posted Sunday, November 9, 2014 by Albert

A. As I examine my collection, it looks like the slightly taller, but still considered short, diamond shaped globes were (just an inference through my collection) galvanized, while the 3 1/4 in. globe lanterns were painted a silvery finish. Tomorrow I'll go out to the paint cabinet (we have many, many different colors) and try to find something that matches and where to buy it, if you haven't found a good replacement yet. Link 1  Posted Monday, November 10, 2014 by KO

A. KO, Any help you can lend matching the silver finish on Handlan # 1/4" lanterns will be very much appreciated. Posted Tuesday, November 11, 2014 by Albert

A. The different lantern manufacturers sold many different lines of lanterns over time. And barn lanterns were often painted at the factory; as were RR marker lamps. So the lantern factories usually had the in-house ability to use almost any finish a customer wanted, or that the factory chose to use for their own reasons (cheaper, more available.) And RR's are/were notorious for ordering things their own way, and that also changed over time, depending on who was ordering that week. And things such as material availability (WWII restrictions, for just one example) could change all of the specs almost overnite. Bottom line, regarding lanterns, and particularly regarding factory finishes: I would never say 'It NEVER happened' and I would also never say 'It ALWAYS happened....' because over time, and for different customers, things changed quite a bit. Posted Wednesday, November 12, 2014 by RJMc

A. Oops, read answer directly above your question. I used the wrong column. Keith Posted Friday, November 14, 2014 by Keith

A. Keith: Thank you for the sharing your information with us. Is Engine Block aluminum or cast aluminum available in a spray can? If so, can you recommend a make that you feel is best? I only have on lantern to restore.  Posted Friday, November 14, 2014 by Albert

A. Albert, Use Dupli-Color engine enamel, DE1615, Aluminium. This is available only in spray and is good to 500F degrees. This is a exact match to Handlan's silver. It is available at all auto parts stores or it can be ordered on line. I would also change the bail if the one that is on your lantern looks bad. Handlans bails were usually very shody and looked like a 10 year old made them out of coat hangers. (They used child labor). Clean the lantern completely before spraying. Stay away completely from any harsh chemicals. Soap and hot water with oooo furniture grade steel wool. Do not use hardware store steel wool! It scratches and scrapes the metal and is not a acceptable archive cleaning material. Thank you Keith.  Posted Sunday, November 16, 2014 by Keith

A. Keith: Thanks so much for the great information. Have you found Dupli-Color in black to be equally good for restoring switch & marker lamps?  Posted Sunday, November 16, 2014 by Albert

 Q2833 Lamp ID Needed  I have a Delaware and Hudson railroad lantern that I cannot identify and asking for some help. This is an electric lantern with a white and red lens and it has 2 mounting brackets. Is this a caboose lantern and what is the proper name of something like this? As always, I appreciate your time and expertise.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, October 30, 2014 by JC   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is a locomotive classification lamp. The two mounting feet allow it to be mounted showing either the white to the front (indicating an 'extra train') or the red to the front, as a marker light, if the engine were backing up at night. It does not have a green indication, making it likely used on a freight diesel or other equipment which was never expected to run as a 'first section' of any train, at least under train order authority. More modern diesels had these functions handled by built-in classification lights. Earlier model diesels, such as the ALCO Road Switcher (RS) units on the D&H, had external lights similar to this, altho looking thru pix on the web shows much more substantially built lamps on the ones I have seen so far. So this light might have been for some kind of portable service, or used on some other type of equipment that needed the functions without going to the more substantial model light.  Posted Thursday, October 30, 2014 by RJMc

A. I concur this is a locomotive classification lamp. The knob between the 2 lenses, (both lenses were originally clear), controlled two colored roundels, usually green, that were in a holding bracket. These roundels could be flipped in or out of position to indicate the class of train the locomotive was pulling. White (clear) for an extra, unscheduled movement or green, indicating another section of the train was following. Your example is missing that mechanism. It was probably modified by the railroad for some specific use as described by RJMc.  Posted Friday, October 31, 2014 by JFR

A. This is a Dressel #360 Engine Classification Lamp. The fact that it is painted blue also indicates diesel use. Many roads painted class lamps the same color as their diesel units. On multi-colored units, they were even color matched to the portion of the engine they were mounted on. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Saturday, November 1, 2014 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. This lamp on ebay shows how your lamp was originally configured. I have not interests in this transaction, just sharing it for the photos.  Link 1  Posted Monday, November 3, 2014 by JFR

 Q2832 Unknown Padlock  I have an old padlock. It is heart shaped. On the front of the hasp it is marked “ONLAUSY.” On the back it is marked 1948 and then SLAYMAKER. My question is what do the letters ONLAUSY stand for? Best Regards,  Posted Monday, October 27, 2014 by JV   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. LAUSY stands for Los Angeles Union Stock Yards. I don't know what the ON is for Posted Tuesday, October 28, 2014 by DA

 Q2831 US&S Lamp  I am really glad I found your website! I am hoping you can help me identify a cast iron signal light I have. It is stamped -US&S . - Patent Pending - on the back. So far I haven't had much luck finding out when it was made. Any help you can give me with dating this item would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for any info you may be able to give me.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, October 27, 2014 by MM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is a US&S N-2 dwarf signal. They were produced from the 30-50's. The early ones were cast steel, the later ones cast aluminum. If it is steel with "patent pending", I would guess it would be an early model. Nice find! Posted Friday, October 31, 2014 by JPN

 Q2830 What kind of Pyle Light is this?  Can you please tell me what kind of light this? Thank you guys.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, October 24, 2014 by JP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is an 'explosion proof' sealed light fixture. Pyle sold many thousands of fixtures like this. They were used in grain elevators, ships, oil refineries, and wherever light was needed but the bulb had to be protected from breakage, and from igniting a hazardous atmosphere if the bulb did break. Railroads used these mostly because they provided extreme protection from weather and damage to the light fixture. They were likely used on the back of steam locomotive tenders where overflowing water from overfilling the tender would wash down the sides. They might have been used to provide a signal indication; if only a basic light, not focussed, was needed. One clue as to where this one was used would be the light bulb; if one is present; the voltage rating of the bulb would be different for different applications, although virtually all of them used standard screw-based bulbs. If the bulb was 32 Volt, for example, that would argue for a steam locomotive application (although tug boats also used 32 Volt systems....) As you can see, unless you know some actual history, it is almost impossible to be certain.  Posted Wednesday, October 29, 2014 by RJMc

 Q2829 Button ID Needed  Hello! I have thoroughly searched your website and many others and am at a loss to identify the rail line associated with a button in my collection. It has the letters C,V & I on it and was made by the Hoole Mfg Co, 46 Bond St, NY. One source I spent a lot of time in was 'The Official Railway Guide: North American Freight Service Edition' published in 1882 and available on Google Books. Hoole Mfg. Co. has advertisements throughout the book and there are numerous lists of railroads in operation at that time and also railroads under construction. This is an amazing resource and so fantastic that it is freely available to all! I believe that the railroad is most likely to be from a central or western New York line because that is where the bulk of buttons are from that I purchased in an estate lot. I have tried every combination of the letters on the button in my search: CV&I, VC&I, CI&V, IC&V, VI&C, IV&C and have come up empty-handed. Perhaps someone could help out with identifying this. Any information you could provide would be extremely appreciated. This has become a mystery that I cannot solve! Thank you so much.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, October 24, 2014 by Holly from Oswego, NY    Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. While I know nothing about buttons,I looked at your button and I think it's marked with an E, U & I - not C,V, & I. Try searching those combinations and see if you have any luck.  Posted Friday, October 24, 2014 by wdpdepot

A. I did a little searching myself and if it is "UI&E" it would be "UTICA, ITHACA & ELMIRA" which would fit the central or western NY locale you mentioned.  Posted Friday, October 24, 2014 by wdpdepot

A. Many thanks, wdpdepot!!! It absolutely must be Utica, Ithaca & Elmira Railway. I had wondered if that might be a stylized "U" instead of a "V". I must be blind as a bat, I never saw the center line of the letter "E". How wonderful to have my mystery solved! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Posted Friday, October 24, 2014 by HCV

A.  Don VanCourt listed this little jewel in Volume 1 of his Transportation Uniform Buttons as # 1/29 under the Utica ID. He dates the die as being ordered from Waterbury in 1882 and the line being reorganized into the Elmira Cortland & Northern in 1884. They also had a similar button with a C E & N monogram so you might watch for it in your other buttons.  Posted Friday, October 24, 2014 by MG

 Q2828 Lock ID Needed  Picked up a lock at the Double Tollgate Fleamarket near Winchester VA. No 48 Lock, Pat Sept 24th 1912 (on back) Adlake (on hinged keyhole cover) P I & P (on hasp) [Pee Eye and Pee] 'Fraim' inside Keystone symbol [on key which fits lock and operates] I am presuming it is a railroad lock. Is that right? What railroad is this? Thanks,  Posted Sunday, October 19, 2014 by Brian   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  I can't find any PI&P listed in any of the RR name guides or lists. Are you sure that the second letter is an eye and not an ell? If it is an "L" that might stand for Public light and Power which may not have been a railroad or interurban line, just a utility company. Send in a photo of the key pattern and perhaps someone with the guide book that shows them can identify it.  Posted Thursday, October 23, 2014 by KM

A. I also can not find any listing that would come out as "P.I. & P." in any national lists. However Bill Edson's Railroad Names does have the Potomac, Fredericksburg, & Piedmont, the "P. efF. & P." and it was located in the central Virginia area not too far from Winchester. It started out as a narrow guage in the 1800's and ran as the PF&P until 1925. Then it was absorbed into the Orange and Alexandria which had a very complicated history after that, but the actual railroad which started as the PF&P probably continued to operate for quite some time. Most Adlake switch locks from that general era have a two digit year date code stamped under the keyhole cover; does your lock have a date code?  Posted Thursday, October 23, 2014 by RJMc

A. Wow! Thanks for the responses. I will email pics in a moment and if they are not good quality can send again. Indeed there are numbers under the keyhole cover which I missed! They are 4 [space] 21. (At least there appears to be a space between the 4 and 21. I looked very closely at the stamp on the hasp and (hoping it would magically change to RF&P...Richmond Fredericksburg and Potomac) and now Potomac Fredericksburg and Piedmont, still see them at PI&P. (: Watch for the pics in a bit. And if they are not good, or upside down, my apologies, I will send again. Link 1  Posted Saturday, October 25, 2014 by Brian

A. Looking very closely at expanded views of the pics, I think I see that the visible lettering was stamped or re-stamped over earlier lettering. (Hint: in a lot of Windows applications, hitting the 'Control' button along with the '+' button will zoom in the view, often to very close range. 'Control - ' reverses the zoom. ) With items this worn, detecting underlying lettering can be very difficult. However it looks to me that the first 'P' might originally have been a 'B'. Industries with plant railroads, and short lines are likely candidates for re-stamping locks which started out on bigger railroads. But so far, no better leads on where the lock might have been used.  Posted Thursday, October 30, 2014 by RJMc

A. Well it may have to remain a mystery. But thanks for the follow up. Still a very nice lock. If I ever figure something out I will post thoughts and theories. Posted Thursday, October 30, 2014 by Brian

 Q2827 Bell ID Needed  Hello everyone. I was wondering if anyone might have any information at all about this bell's possible origin? All I know is my grandfather retired from the B&O and Chessie system railroad in 1979. His father before him was a trackback. There are raised numbers on the bell: 280574 and engraved numbers: 300 23 close by. It is brass and heavy. If anyone could help it would be greatly appreciated for he was a good man and treasure all his railroad goodies he left me. Thanks   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, October 13, 2014 by CF   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  It is very difficult to identify what locomotive a bell came from unless the railroad marked it somehow when they removed the bell during maintenance on the engine. Those markings may be small numbers stamped into the bell with a steel stamp, or paint markings and this bell has obviously been refinished. One thing which may help with the ID is to know what size the bell is, can you measure it across the mouth of the bell and let us know? It is hard to tell from the photo, but if the bell is only 12 inches across I am thinking that it may have come from a diesel and the finial nut and rope pull were machined and added to it after it was removed from the locomotive. If it was given to your grandfather at retirement in 1979 that would also make sense.  Posted Tuesday, October 14, 2014 by KM

 Q2826 PA RR Lamp  Looking for info about the lamp as pictured. It has a PRR log/symbol above the maker's name which seems to be Carbutt's ..... Lantern. I can't make out the complete name, sorry. It is 8.5 inches square and 21 inches high and contains its burner, red and amber panes of glass, and one damaged foot. It also seems to have been over- painted slightly at some point. Anything you can tell me about this lamp would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, October 13, 2014 by JP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Not railroad, it is a Carbutts Dry Plate lantern, aka a darkroom lantern used by photographers. That may be a keystone stenciled on it but it is not a PRR emblem. See the link for some other ones that have come up at auction. Some of the clues that it is a darkroom lantern are the yellow and red lenses and the shield which flips down to black out the flame without extinguishing it. The red light does not affect film exposure during developing. It was patented in 1882.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Tuesday, October 14, 2014 by KM

A.  Other darkroom lantern questions in the Archives are numbers 167,522,641,1027 and 1396. Posted Tuesday, October 14, 2014 by KM

A.  John Carbutt was an early pioneer of dry plate photography and later on color photography. He competed with George Eastman. His Keystone Dry Plate Works was located in Philadelphia and that is probably what the wording in the keystone emblem on your lantern says. He also photographed the Grand Trunk Railway in Canada from 1853 to 1859. His photos and glass plates for Magic Lantern slides are well known for their high quality. See the link for a short history of John Carbutt which is posted on the Historic Camera website. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, October 15, 2014 by KM