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

Latest 50 Questions:

 Q3358 Lock Marking  I am trying to identify a railroad lock and am having great difficulty. I believe it is a Colorado rail lock, Miller brass lock marked on the shackle only C.ST.RM&O.RY.CO. I found it at a thrift store here in colorado. Must of been an old way to spell the line. I thought it was a Colorado Southern or Midland but I am not sure. sincerely,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, August 22, 2017 by Gavin   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It is Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha. CStPM&O Posted Tuesday, August 22, 2017 by JN

A. Chicago St Paul Minneapolis & Omaha Ry, a part of the Chicago & Northwestern Ry system. The railroad never made it to Colorado, although the lock itself did. Posted Wednesday, August 23, 2017 by BobF

 Q3357 Key ID?  I'm stumped with this one. The key has the usual S on the back of the bow. The only thing I can come up with is St Louis Public Utilities?? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, August 21, 2017 by Joe   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Can not tell much by looking at this pile of keys. What I can tell you is Z is New York Zone,L is Long Island R.R. then serial number. Next key on ring appears to be same cut. S is for switch lock key. Posted Monday, August 21, 2017 by DC

A. Sorry, my reply was for next question. Posted Monday, August 21, 2017 by DC

A. It looks like a MM Buck or Handlan Buck key blank. Since they were located in St Louis...I'd go with St Louis as part of the name. The PU????? Posted Tuesday, August 22, 2017 by BobF

A. Yes it is a Handlan Buck St. Louis MO , it was with some well used Missouri Pacific keys that I acquired. So I do think it is a St Louis area key , just the P U is the unknown ! Thanks for the reply . Posted Tuesday, August 22, 2017 by Joe

 Q3356 Switch Keys  Here is a photo of what I believe are my grandfather's switch keys. Only one has any identification, being ZL9237. He worked for the LIRR from the 1930s - 1950s. I'd be grateful if you could assist me in identifying the keys. Many thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, August 21, 2017 by Janet S.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. (See also answer which got mis-placed with Q3356.) The key at the 5:00 position is the standard PRR switch key cut, which has since become a Penn Central, then Conrail, and now Amtrak standard on the Northeast Corridor. Many LIRR trains operated over PRR/PC/CR/Amtrak lines into Penn Station and the Sunnyside Yard area, and LIRR was a PRR subsidiary for many years, so it would make sense to use the same key rather than having to issue everyone two. The key at the 2:00 position looks to be that same cut, but as a guess, over time LIRR may have moved to a smaller key since the PC key was among the larger switch keys used by any RR. It is very unusual to have the bit at right angles to the ring; the key looks almost "home-made" which was sometimes done by individuals, and sometimes the RR's themselves. The key at the 10:00 position was/is used to 'key in' at the control panels for the electrically-operated sliding doors on the Multiple Unit (MU) cars running on LIRR and also on the other former Conrail commuter passenger lines now being run by public agencies. I don't recognize the other two keys.  Posted Monday, August 21, 2017 by RJMc

A. Can not tell much by looking at this pile of keys. What I can tell you is Z is New York zone L is Long Island RR then serial number. Next key looks like same cut. S is for switch lock key. Others could be for signal, general purpose, car or other locks. Any letters on them ? Posted Monday, August 21, 2017 by DC

 Q3355 Bronze Bell Marking  Some friends of mine purchased a bronze bell with the markings of TFSEGOR & Co New York 1849 on it. The diameter of the bell is 20 inches at the bottom. They currently cleaned it up and built a form so they could mount it on their Church. It’s really beautiful with no dings or blemishes that we can see. We would like to know if you know what the TFSEGOR stands for. We were told it was a train bell. We would like to know more about the bell for the Church history books. Thank you, in advance, for any information you might provide.  Posted Wednesday, August 16, 2017 by CH   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Apparently T.F. SEGOR was an early builder of steamship engines. The piece below was the only info I could find - "St. John 1 ' was built for the People's Line for service between New York and Albany, and was one of the largest boats on the Hudson River at the time. Her hull was built of wood by John Englis at Greenpoint, in 1863, and her engine was the work of T. F. Segor, and formerly rested in the steamboat "New World." She was 417 feet long with a vertical beam engine with the longest stroke of any engine on the river." Further research on Hudson River boats, early boat builders, engine builder's etc might yield more results. But looks like your bell came off an early steamboat. Posted Friday, August 18, 2017 by DA

 Q3354 Missing Manufacturer's Globe Marking  I am considering purchasing a red short globe with a railroad's letters etched on it. The etched letters look legit to me. This is not my concern. My concern is there is no globe manufacturer cast or embossed on the globe. My past experience has been any etched globe that I have acquired has always been cast or embossed with a manufacturer (such as Kopp or Corning). Should I be cautious? Thanks in advance for any advice.  Posted Tuesday, August 15, 2017 by CRK   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. All my 3 3/8 and 4 1/2 Handlan etched globes are marked with either Kopp or Corning. If it is a small or hard to find RR I would be cautious. Just plain letters would be easier to fake than a logo. Posted Wednesday, August 16, 2017 by dc

A.  Thanks DC! Your comments are exactly what I have been thinking all along. Appreciate you taking time to answer. CRK Posted Wednesday, August 16, 2017 by CRK

A. There are short globes from Macbeth Evans Glass Co. that often have almost illegible, very small lettering M.E.G. Co. They look more like defects in the glass rather than lettering. (Should not be confused with the MACBETH Adlake Kero cast globes which are very obviously marked). Also, of the few GLASSBAKE 3.25" globes out there, most have a very faint and illegible logo on them. Both are very easy to miss if you don't know what you're looking for. Also on many KOPP globes, the trademark can quite weak as well. Posted Monday, August 21, 2017 by JFR

A. JFR - Thanks also to you for your informative comments. CRK  Posted Tuesday, August 22, 2017 by CRK

 Q3353 PRR Lock Question  I've had this lock quite a while and have just started trying to locate a key for it. I read your article online about the slaymaker locks with key number and a letter code PQ or PR. Mine is a PRR with a Z and a 44 and a 1962. Have you seen this? And do you think a PQ44 key would work? The other lock was pictured just for reference. Thanks in Advance   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, August 15, 2017 by Ritch W   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3352 PRR Class Lamps  Did the Pennsylvania railroad make their own Claw footed 4 lens locomotive classification/ marker lights or did Dressel?  Posted Tuesday, August 15, 2017 by Tom W   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Tom; this is an important question, and I'm hoping RJMc chimes in on this as he has a much more extensive library than I do. – I think the answer is Both; Dressel made a “Keystone Type” lamp identical to the Pennsy Pilot and Tender Lamps, it is listed in the Dressel 1926 catalog as a model No. 454 and made of Gray Iron (cast). I have photos of Dressel #454 lamps and Pennsylvania Pilot Marker Lamps and they are identical, with the exceptions being the Dressel lamps say Dressel on the dome of the ball, and the PRR lamps do not; the PRR ones rather having some raised company numbers cast on the surface of the ball half of the lamp. – Additionally, many PRR steam engines had unique small Class Lamps mounted high on the sides of the smoke box in the 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock positions, as well as the four footed pilot mounted lamps. Some engine photos show only the small high mounted Class Lamps and no pilot lamps. Other photos show only the pilot mounted footed lamps. As you mention, the pilot mounted lamps sat on a unique four legged base, as did the Dressel lamps. These footed lamps were also used as a permanently mounted marker light on tenders. See “LINK 1” for a good article on these. Which starts a good half ways down the page under “PRR Marker Lights”. A Google search of PRR steam engine photos will show examples of the pilot lamps and unique PRR class lamps. ---- …. Red Beard Link 1  Posted Tuesday, August 15, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Thank you very much. I thought also that both were made but I wasn't sure.  Posted Tuesday, August 15, 2017 by T.W.

 Q3351 CW Lantern?  I recently got this lantern and believe it's a Civil War railroad lantern due to the date on the burner which is 1864. I am trying to find out if it is railroad and who made it. Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, August 12, 2017 by Randy   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hobson's "Lanterns That Lit Our World" shows Dietz No. 9 "Champion Railroad or Ship Lantern" made from 1870 to 1885, with the distinctive "corrugated band at the top" which looks very much like your lantern. The No. 6 Vesta offered from 1870 to 1887 appears virtually identical, but may have had a different oil pot release mechanism. A No. 7 Gem Oil Lantern (1871 -1880) also has the same frame and top band, but had a two-tube burner for sperm oil. Since the lantern manufacturers traded (borrowed, stole?) designs back and forth, others may have also made the same or very similar designs so further checking is warranted.  Posted Monday, August 14, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3350 Lamp ID Needed  I am looking for help identifying these lamps. They are oil and have mirrors. No markings or numbers. Reproductions?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, August 9, 2017 by Sherri T   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. More fantasy than reproduction, look like something from Pier One Imports. Posted Thursday, August 10, 2017 by dc

 Q3349 A&W Lamp  I recently purchased this railroad lamp. If anyone has any information it would be much appreciated. I believe it is Adams and Westlake. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, August 7, 2017 by Scott R.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Is it marked Adams and Westlake? Looks like a glass chimney is missing. Is the up side down looking brass bowl attached to the wooden 'ceiling' above the lamp original to the lamp? Posted Tuesday, August 8, 2017 by JE

A. It is not marked Adams and Westlake. I believe the brass smoke catcher is original to the fixture. Posted Tuesday, August 8, 2017 by Scott R.

A. OK, I think Adams & Westlake marked their products. They're still in business and have a website. Maybe if you sent them a picture of it, they could confirm if they made it. The burner looks like an Aladdin lamp burner. You might check the Aladdin oil lamp collectors web site. Link 1. If link doesn't work, just google it Link 1  Posted Wednesday, August 9, 2017 by JE

 Q3348 Unknown Odd Device  I have a device that looks to be a wall hanger and is marked on one side D&H Geneva, NY.. The back plate has a keyhole slot for mounting, but I have no idea as to what the other part is for. I'm hoping that someone out there can enlighten me!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, July 28, 2017 by Bob N.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. We need a size reference; how big is this item? And possibilities that come to mind right away (not necessarily realistic), bottle opener or boot jack. The way the base (the end away from the mounting slot) is tapered has to do with the function; what did that taper interlock with?  Posted Saturday, July 29, 2017 by RJMc

A. If D&H is taken to be Delaware & Hudson seems odd that it would be made for a specific town. Possibly a hardware item made by D&H in Geneva NY. Posted Saturday, July 29, 2017 by DC

A. Geneva Shops?? Posted Sunday, July 30, 2017 by DA

A. D&H is obviously the manufacturer of this device and not a Rail Road. Posted Tuesday, August 1, 2017 by JE

A. Looks like something used in roofing to hold a foot board in place when working on a steep roof. Posted Saturday, August 5, 2017 by DC

A. Sorry to take so long in getting back as I misplaced the piece for a while. The overall length is 6 1/4" high, 1 1/2"wide, the arm is 3 5/8" high, the space between the plate and the arm is 2 7/8" and the arm is 5" high. The base is like a split fork and does not allow the plate to fit flat on a wall. I had guessed at first that it could hold a "D" handled shovel, don't figure why the plate is angled at the base! Someone did tell me the the D&H did have some shops int the Geneva area. RLN  Posted Monday, August 7, 2017 by RLN

 Q3347 Lamp ID Needed  I'm trying to find information about an unusual lamp, I believe to be RR. I'm thinking 'Caboose' as it most apparently is a signal lamp of some kind, with three lens positions. It has (had) three lenses which are missing, but were square flat plates that fit into the lens holders, the lenses could have been Fresnel grooved or just plain glass, no way to know. One lens position is fixed in place, but the glass could be removed/replaced easily, as are the other two, the two swinging lenses when not in use were slid in side the lamp and locked in position. For use they would be pulled out and swung in front of the fixed position and locked into place. The fixed position could be easily changed by opening a flap on the top. The swinging lenses being removed, changed, replaced by just dropping in or out. It has a convex reflector behind the flame, a fixed bail handle, a tang on the rear for mounting in addition to grab handles that fold flat against the back and swing out for hand holding. There are no maker markings but is stamped on the back with either 'E 5' or number '85' with a 'W' stamped in the top section of the 'E' or '8' and an '3' or possibly an '8' stamped in the bottom section of the number or letter. Any help would be greatly appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, July 24, 2017 by Stephen P.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Judging by the shape of the top of the chimney, I think that this is French, probably a fourgon (caboose) lamp. Posted Friday, August 4, 2017 by JAJ

 Q3346 Badge ID?  Any thoughts on which railroad this MCRR cap badge is from? Perhaps the hallmark will help: 'E.J. Brooks & Co. N.Y.' Thank you,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, July 24, 2017 by D.G.    Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I found 2 badges, same marking style as yours, one in the Smithsonian and another that had sold on Ebay in June................Both listed as Michigan Central Posted Tuesday, July 25, 2017 by DA

 Q3345 19th Century Swing Bridge  Thank you for any help that you can provide in identifying this location.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, July 24, 2017 by Alan B.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Some initial observations of my own, plus comments from a very experienced and widely travelled RR bridge engineer: (1) Although highly detailed, the pic is an artist's conception, not a photo,so some artistic license may have been used. (2) All of the trees shown are without leaves, indicating a more northern location in winter, but no pine trees are in evidence which would be likely at a far northern location. (3) There is no hardware anywhere in evidence that would be associated with a RR bridge, such as signals or indication lights or communication wires of any sort; bridges such as this had oil burning lamps before electric ones became available and telegraph lines were installed as early as 1860; (4) This leads to the possibility it might be a highway bridge. (5) The length of the open swing span indicates heavy water traffic. (6) All that said, the location isn't familiar to anyone so far.  Posted Thursday, July 27, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3344 Baggage Tag Info Needed  I dug this baggage tag and I'm trying to get some information on it please.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, July 24, 2017 by AP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Could be Memphis & Charleston (later Southern) and Nashville & Decatur (later L&N). Posted Monday, July 24, 2017 by BobF

 Q3343 Eug Halard Lamp  I have a Eug Halard lamp per the brass tag. It is 25.5 inches high. Has a white reflector. Unfortunately it was electrified. I converted it to a clock. My question regards the tags welded on the right side. First one is: 23 A 662. Second tag reads: 5 DOLE. The name plate on the front is also dated 1947. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks in advance…….   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, July 21, 2017 by JR   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is a French locomotive headlamp. Dole is a town in eastern France. Posted Friday, August 4, 2017 by JAJ

 Q3342 Vesta Globe Question  Does anyone know why this Dietz Vista lantern marked 'Wabash R.R.' has a clear pear shaped globe with 'U.S.A.' in raised letters on it? Thanks for your time any attention. Best Regards,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, July 21, 2017 by Ed   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. See Prior Q 2572, which lists others as well, explaining how the US Government purchased many thousands of Vesta's for wartime service, many marked with 'USA'.The parts were fully interchangeable with the lanterns being sold to RR's. Posted Friday, July 21, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3341 Tag Info?  I found this tag while scuba diving in the Appomattox River in Virginia. It's does not seem to be brass. A railroad came down to the river. During the civil war the track was melted down for cannons. Have you seen this type before? Any info would be appreciated. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, July 16, 2017 by Tim   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It appears to be a baggage tag. One of the best sources of info on these tags is Scott Czaja's Tag Town website (see Link). The maker's mark in your pic is hard to make out, but might be J.C. Robbins of Boston, one of the makers listed on the Tag Town site, where only one example is listed as known and they don't have a photo (yet) of that mark.  Link 1  Posted Monday, July 17, 2017 by RJMc

A. Glad you posted here - this is clearly from a railroad, but which one is the N&RRR, is the puzzle. It's also possible it is not a baggage tag, as railroads used tags to keep tabs on all kinds of property. I could find nothing for N&RRR from a brief search, it would be terrific to know which road this is from. It may be a small local.  Posted Monday, July 17, 2017 by JMS

A. Three searches of sources so far come up with no good prospects for "N&R" as RR initials. One is Bill Edson's "RR Names", second is Joseph Gross' "Trolley and Interurban Directory", third is David Bright's 'Confederate RR's' website (see Link). From Edson, based only on the initials there is Nashua and Rochester, operating in Massachusetts only less than two years in 1874 and 75, then merged thru various iterations ending up as part of Boston & Maine. This could be a possible source, given the Boston source of the tag; but no guarantees.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, July 18, 2017 by RJMc

A. There was also a Newark & Roselle RR, taken over by the Lehigh Valley. I got this from 1907 Official Guide old and new names section. Posted Tuesday, July 18, 2017 by BobF

A. Possible Newport & Richford. Part of Canadian Pacific lines in Vermont. Could coincide with Boston tag maker. Posted Tuesday, July 18, 2017 by DC

A. Interesting, as always. The Edson listing primarily contains references from documents at the ICC, of U.S. RR's that were common carriers. Many other varieties of RR's existed that would not make that list (intrastate-only carriers, during-construction-only co's, trolley lines, and Canadian RR's in Canada for some examples. The Newark and Roselle didn't get into Edson (my copies, anyway) but I had overlooked the Newport and Richford, which IS in there, shown as part of CPR lines in VT. from 1908 to 1926. With the 'part of CPR' status, not clear whether that N&R would have issued separate tags, but possible.  Posted Tuesday, July 18, 2017 by RJMc

A. Interestingly, I got curious and looked into a couple old Official Guides I have...November, 1889 doesn't list the Newark & Roselle as either a current or superseded RR, while August, 1895 shows it as an old RR superseded by the Lehigh Valley. Maybe it was just a "paper" RR for a track extension or relocation, not a "real" operating RR. That could be why Edson didn't pick it up?? If that's the case then the tag would be from one of the other lines mentioned as answers, not the Newark & Roselle. Posted Tuesday, July 18, 2017 by BobF

A. In searching N.R.R.R. came up with The Official Guide North American Freight Service Edition 1895. An article on Baltimore Steam Packet Line says they made connections with all railways to principal cities. Schedule shows Charleston via N.R.R.R. I did not go any further. Posted Thursday, July 20, 2017 by DC

A. A friend asked me to weigh in on this tag. (1) I have several similar tags with rimmed edges in pot metal, perhaps lead. In the catalogs they call it German Silver. They are real early and I have a 1850's John Robbins catalog with a few examples. The catalogs don't show these tags in the 1870s. It is definitely a commercial railroad baggage tag (2) I believe that it is a mis-strike and it should have been N&P Newport & Potomac. Call me crazy. Mistakes were made on several tags over the years. (3) No updates have been made to TagTown for 17 years - I got endless requests for historical and value information just to see things mis-quoted on ebay 2 hours later. I lost interest. TagTown was a private site for sharing and it grew when treasure hunters found it. It has Never been advertised as a commercial site. I hope this helps. Scott Czaja  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, August 1, 2017 by Scott Czaja

 Q3340 Age of Reading Badge?  I have this badge and would like to get an idea of it's age please. There are no markings on it that I can see. It is actually silver in color. Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, July 10, 2017 by Nell   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It would be from the middle thirties on, as that's about when they went from P&R Ry to the Reading Company! RLN Posted Wednesday, July 12, 2017 by RLN

A. The type of pin also helps date it - this simple style was early 1900s - so it sounds like 1930s or thereabouts is right on. I also asked a RR police badge specialist friend and he confirmed it's 100% legit. Enjoy !  Posted Monday, July 17, 2017 by JMS

A. This is a "first" issue Reading Railway Police badge from the 1930's. It is known as the "acorn" style. The findings on the rear are the original spring pin and tongue style catch. Nice patina. Great old badge.  Posted Tuesday, August 8, 2017 by CG

 Q3339 Chicago Milwaukee & Puget Sound Name Train?  I have seen any number of 'Olympian' fine china sets by the Chicago Milwaukee & St. Paul, including the 'Puget Sound' box logo, but I have never seen one like this before. Can anybody help? Inside the cup instead of a logo is 'Chicago Milwaukee & Puget Sound Railway' (does not mention St. Paul). On the saucer is 'Pioneer Pacific Special.' Was the Pioneer Pacific Special a name train ? I can’t believe this can be a repo – the gold in calligraphy is too well applied, and it is a Haviland Limoges set, similar in shape to the more readily found Olympian pieces. Thank you!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, July 9, 2017 by JS   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. According to The Official Guide to Railroad Dining Car China these sets were reportedly given as a gift to the woman selected to pour afternoon tea in the parlor car. Posted Sunday, July 9, 2017 by DC

A. Yes, they apparently were, thank you for that additional information! But this particular decoration does not appear in either McIntyre or Luckin... I have seen many of the "usual" design, but never one like this before. The others all have had logos in the cup and on the saucer (as shown in the books). Never calligraphy in 22-24k gold, and I have been stumped trying to find out info about the Pioneer Pacific Special.  Posted Sunday, July 9, 2017 by jms

A. Ooops, sorry,the maker is Guerin (Limoges), better/more desirable than Haviland.  Posted Sunday, July 9, 2017 by jms

 Q3338 Correct Pot for A&W 200?  I was wondering what the correct burner and oil pot is for an Adams and Westlake 200 railroad lantern. I'm looking at one and the oil Pot says… Use kerosene oil only and the burner has adlake on one side and I believe 187 in the other.....any help is appreciated. Thank you,  Posted Saturday, July 8, 2017 by Janine   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Despite the number the number on the burner, that is the correct fount and burner. the later 250 went to a flat wick burner marked Adlake 250 and the fount changed to longtime burning oil with no model number. later keros have both the fount and burner marked for models 300 or 400.  Posted Monday, July 10, 2017 by JFR

 Q3337 Peter Gray Lamp  I have what I believe to be a Peter Grey & Sons switch lamp. It does not appear to have been converted to electric. Is this indeed a switch lamp? If so I've not seen a Peter Grey N&W switch lamp before.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, June 28, 2017 by Jamie N   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I believe it was converted to electric due to the added solid top. See link for a picture of what it originally looked like as a oil burner. Link 1  Posted Thursday, June 29, 2017 by LC

A. Jamie; First off, Yes, it is a switch lamp. - Next; it came from the factory with that solid lid on it, and was not converted from kerosene. If it had been converted from oil burning, the railroad would have simply used a sheet metal disk to seal off the top. Railroads were known for penny-pinching and would never purchase a retrofit conversion top from the original manufacturer as it would be too expensive and too cumbersome of a process to order retrofit lids when they could make a just as functional lid from plain sheet steel. - When you say that it doesn't appear to have been converted to electric, do you mean that there is no bulb socket in the lamp or no hole in the body for an electric cord? A photo of the interior of the lamp, especially the floor, could help tell if it had electric fittings in the past, which had been removed at some point. - It is possible that it came from the factory with reflector lenses and never was used as an illuminated lamp. - The railroad lamp business was highly competitive and manufacturers needed to control their costs. I have never seen a specifically reflector body from Peter Gray, with no side door or hinged lid, such as Adlake, Dressel and Handlan made specifically and exclusively for reflectors. I don't know if Gray made a specific sealed body just for reflectors or used an electric body with the side door, rather than go to the expense of creating an additional body style for use with reflectors. Even though your lamp has a sliding side door to access the inside of the lamp, it very well could have come from the factory with reflector lenses and no interior lighting hardware; OR, the electrical hardware may have been removed. N&W lamps from Peter Gray show up from time to time; so, Yes, N&W did use Peter Gray lamps. SEE, Q2818 for some discussion on another N&W lamp from Gray that may or may not have come originally with reflectors or factory electric hardware, ---- .... Red Beard Posted Thursday, June 29, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A.  Thank you for the replies, I couldn't find any information about the lamp. It will not let me upload the inside pics to the site for some reason. The side of the light slides off. It's open with no reflectors inside.  Posted Thursday, June 29, 2017 by Red Beard

A. I read and looked at the pictures on question 2818, it's the same lamp. Mine does not have the reflectors like his. Mine has the glass lenses on it. I also submitted pictures to be added of the inside.  Posted Thursday, June 29, 2017 by Red beard

A. First picture... Link 1  Posted Friday, June 30, 2017 by Red Beard

A. Second picture... Link 1  Posted Friday, June 30, 2017 by Red Beard

A. Jamie: are there any small holes for screws in the floor of the lamp? Holes would give a clue as to whether there had been an electric lamp socked inside the lamp at some point. Also, looking for a large hole, 3/8 to 1/2 inch for an electric cord. One hole in the center of the floor would be for water to drain out, so I'm asking for additional holes other than in the center. Minus any holes for screws to hold a socket in place and a hole for a cord, my guess would be that it came with reflectors and at some point, who ever had the lamp put lenses in it for a better appearance. Part of the fun of this hobby is that there are subtle mysteries that we'll never really figure out. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Saturday, July 1, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Your lamp apparently dates from between 1900 and 1907, the years that PETER GRAY AND SONS company name appeared on these brass plates. According to "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Railroad Lighting Vol. 1" by Richard Barrett. Between 1878 and 1900 the name was PETER GRAY. In 1906, Peter Gray, Sr., died and in 1907 the company was incorporated when all four of his sons took over.  Posted Saturday, July 1, 2017 by jms

A. Sorry, I meant to add that as of 1907, the company name stamped on the little brass plates was PETER GRAY AND SONS, INCORPORATED  Posted Saturday, July 1, 2017 by jms

A. Quoting Barrett, this time in "Vol 2, The Railroad Signal Lamp," in his chapter on Peter Gray, he names a model "GRA SW-03, Mushroom Cap Switch Stand Lamp," and says, "At least three versions of this lamp exist. There is a short version and a taller version. The taller version apparently had a larger capacity fount. Another version exists with day targets." This certainly sounds like your lamp. Regarding the holes, this lamp has had over 100 years of time and any number of different owners. Anyone could have made modifications, including an electric conversion, and then back. Gray lamps are notoriously hard to find founts/burners for.  Posted Saturday, July 1, 2017 by jms

A. No, there Is no screw holes in the bottom. I want to thank everyone for the responses. I was not having much luck finding anything on line.  Posted Saturday, July 1, 2017 by Red beard

A. No, there Is no screw holes in the bottom. I want to thank everyone for the responses. I was not having much luck finding anything on line.  Posted Saturday, July 1, 2017 by Jamie Neal

 Q3336 Kero Burner Question   I purchased this lantern at a yard sale and have been trying to find out all I can about it. It is marked The Adams & Westlake Co as well as SOO LINE. What is confusing is I just opened it up for the first time and the inside does not look like a typical Kerosene burner set up. There is no turn knob on the outside for the wick. I thought that might be missing but the inside looks strange and not like a typical burner. Can you tell me anything about this? Many thanks is advance.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, June 25, 2017 by Joanna   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hi Joanna, you're correct, it is not your typical lantern burner. Someone has replaced the burner with one from a railroad switch lamp; having a round wick instead of a flat one. Looking at the photo as presented on this web site, there is an oval shaped bend in the wire in the 6 o'clock position below the wick. That should be the wick advance; try turning it. The font (oil pot) looks like a typical lantern font. You can find a replacement burner on eBay, with a flat wick, if you look daily for a while. I have seen round wick burners used in lanterns before, so yours isn't the first time someone has substituted one for the other. Or, you could use the round wick one and keep it as a conversation piece. ---- ....Red Beard Posted Sunday, June 25, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. The proper burner should look like this one. See Link Link 1  Posted Monday, June 26, 2017 by LC

A. The Link in the second A above (to the Kirkman site?) doesn't seem to be working. Posted Tuesday, June 27, 2017 by RJMc

A. Try pasting this address to your browser address bar ( http://www.lanternnet.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=WKL&Product_Code=WTK999&Category_Code=WTK-Heritage-Series-Lanterns ) --- frequently, very long addresses won't work in the automatic "LINK" feature on this site. - Woody Kirkman should be lionized for the work he has done in the lantern collecting world. Thank you so much Woody! ---- .... Red Beard Posted Tuesday, June 27, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. From the photos, you will need a #300 burner, but it would probably be the threaded version which is the harder one to find. Switch lantern burners are usually threaded and fit into a 7/8" opening. Does it unscrew (threaded) or are there two "knobs" that hold the burner in. That will help answer your question. Posted Tuesday, July 4, 2017 by BobF

A. While I'm not familiar with SOO LINE practices, some railroads, Southern Pacific comes to mind, occasionally used longtime burners like this one in hand lanterns for a stable, longer lasting signal due to the lower oil consumption. Southern Pacific also had some hand lanterns with unusually large founts to extend the burn time even further. I would hazard a guess the SOO LINE used the lantern this way, but I couldn't say for sure. Posted Monday, July 10, 2017 by JFR

A. THANK YOU TO ALL WHO REPLIED TO MY QUESTION! ALL INFORMATION WAS VERY HELPFUL TO ME.  Posted Saturday, July 22, 2017 by JOANNA

 Q3335 NYC Lines Vs System  I have two lanterns from New York. One is a Dietz Vesta high-top with New York Central embossed on the skirt of the dome. The globe is embossed NYC Lines and on the opposite side embossed Dietz Vesta and the Corning logo. The other lantern involved is an Adlake Kero with the skirt embossed with NYCS. It seems from my research that NYCS stands for New York Central System. I spent a fair amount of time researching how New York Central Lines would relate to New York Central System. I see the NYCS logo on some newer locomotives and the research indicates that NYCS referred to a time in the early 1800's where it stood for transportation including other than railroads. There is a lot of information on the formation of the New York Central but nowhere that I can find are the two terms explained. Can you tell me how New York Central Lines and New York Central System are related?  Posted Wednesday, June 14, 2017 by Phillip   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Here is some info I turned up on a website: "The New York Central changed its oval herald to read "System" instead of "Lines" as of November 1935." Posted Thursday, June 15, 2017 by DA

A. One was used to refer to the New York lines, the other referred to the railroad west of Buffalo, which would include the Michigan lines. I don't recall which is which, but everything became NYCS around 1920ish or so.  Posted Thursday, June 15, 2017 by JN

A. The question of "Lines" vs. "System" has come up many times, and involving many major RR's around the U.S. which all seemed to follow much the same trends in how things were named and organized as the whole RR industry evolved. In the East, both NYC and PRR followed those trends. With regard to NYC, enter 'By Question Number' 1333 for a good start, then look at 1501, 1525, and 2097 for a lot of prior discussion. If you enter 'PRR Lines' or 'PRR System'(without the quotes) in the 'Word or Phrase' box, and give the site time to sort them out, you will see a whole 'nother string of Q&A's about the Lines/System issue.  Posted Thursday, June 15, 2017 by RJMc

A. The more exact answer to your question is that the two terms refer to much the same overall operation(s), but before and after some corporate re-organization. Changing the corporate name and/or trademarks and branding was (and is) a way to change the official names of things, to reflect new ownership or refinancing or bankruptcy, for example, without needing to change the underlying brand identity and losing public recognition developed over decades. The changes back and forth between 'Railroad Co.' and 'Railway Co.' are done for similar reasons. Other transportaton companies, not just RR's, have these same happenings. Today it is Greyhound LINES but Trailways SYSTEM, but that could change tomorrow. Posted Saturday, June 17, 2017 by RJMc

A. My information is that the New York Central LINES began when the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad ended in 1914. The New York Central SYSTEM began in the summer of 1935 (hence the herald change shortly thereafter) and lasted until 1968 when the NYC was forced to merge/become Penn Central. Another good source of information may be the NYC Historical Society, a large and active group, which should be able to provide more details.  Posted Saturday, July 1, 2017 by jms

 Q3334 JT Co. Key  I have an Adlake brass switch key stamped JT Co. Any idea which RR it came from?  Posted Tuesday, June 13, 2017 by LF   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Possibly 'Johnstown Traction Company', as in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Posted Tuesday, June 13, 2017 by PEK

A. I believe the most common name that turns up for this key is Jacksonville Terminal Co Posted Wednesday, June 14, 2017 by DA

 Q3333 SP Conductor Badge  I am investigating a CONDUCTOR over S.P.CO. Badge (I believe it is Brass) It is 3 1/2 inches long. I would like to know the era it is from and any other info you are willing to provide. There are no further marks other than those you see on front or back of the badge.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, June 6, 2017 by WBC   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3332 Trust Plate  I have a Milw trust plate and would be really interested to find out more about it. The oblong alloy plate has a red background and reads in raised silver lettering 'Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad Equipment Trust, Series VV. Continental Illinois National Bank And Trust Company of Chicago, Trustee, Owner And Lessor.' On the reverse is a cast number 7805. I know what it's use was but is it possible to find out what it was attached to and in what era?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, June 4, 2017 by KB   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. You could probably research the trust number. As far as what it was attached to, equipment trusts can have hundreds of pieces of equipment. The plate number would all be the same.  Posted Monday, June 5, 2017 by JN

A. Thanks, What would be the best way of researching the trust number ?  Posted Monday, June 5, 2017 by KB

A. For addtional info about trust plates, also see answers to prior Q's 2528, 2386, 2078. For your specific plate, a good start seems to be the Annual Reports of the RR Co. The complete 1941 Annual Report (see Link) is available on the web, and has the following description: "FINANCIAL: On May 1, 1941, the Trustees sold $3,120,000 principal amount of Equipment Trust Certificates, Series" V," at 100.0530/0 of par, plus accrued dividends. These certificates are dated April 1, 1941, bear interest at the rate of 2 1/8% per annum, are payable semi-annually on April 1 and October 1 of each year, and mature in twenty equal semi-annual installments of $156,000, from October 1, 1941, to April 1, 1951, inclusive. Proceeds of these certificates were to finance not to exceed 75% of the cost of 16 Diesel locomotives, 500 box cars, 25 cabooses and 20 passenger-train cars." Unfortunately, Series V and Series V V are probably not the same. The 1941 report has similar info on "Series W". But it looks like a good bet that the Milwaukee Road Annual Reports will ultimately get you the best info you will get about Equipment Trust Series V V".  Link 1  Posted Monday, June 5, 2017 by RJM

A. To make things even simpler, the site at the Link has ALL the Milwaukee Road Annual Reports, available to read or download. Picking the 1965 report, just to start, on Page 24 it has a table of all the outstanding equipment trusts. It shows Series V V as having been first issued on Feb. 1, 1957 and maturing on Feb. 1, 1972, with a total value of $11,745,718. Looking back at the 1957 Report, it shows Series VV as issued, but the later Reports do not include the depth of detail that the 1941 Report had about Series V. The 1956 Report shows only thru Series UU, but does give the following equipment acquisition plan: "The budget provides for new equipment and improvements to existing equipment, the estimated cost of which, chargeable to Capital Account, is $14,090,000. New equipment includes: 1,000-50-ton steel box cars; 100-70-ton steel covered hopper cars; 35-50-ton airslide steel covered hopper cars; 15-70-ton airslide steel covered hopper cars; 2-Diesel-electric pile driving locomotive cranes" and this likely describes what Equipment Trust Series VV was intended to purchase.  Link 1  Posted Monday, June 5, 2017 by RJMc

A. Strangely, I have an exactly identical plate-way over in England! I was given it a couple of years ago as part of a small collection of railway items, most of which are reproductions, so I have some doubt about whether this plate is genuine. I would obviously be delighted if it was the real thing, what do US experts think? Posted Tuesday, June 6, 2017 by JJ

A. As noted in some of the other answers, the quality of these plates was not high to begin with, because it didn't need to be. And it looks like somebody had to make almost 3,000 of the plates for Series V V, to put one on each side of almost 1,500 pieces of rolling stock. It is quite likely that the plates of this one series were manufactured at different places, since the equipment was purchased from different suppliers. All of these factors make it very difficult to determine authenticity. A side note: as with most financing plans, there were also paper trust certificate notes labelled "CMStP&P Equipment Trust V V" issued to those who purchased them that can now be found in collections. And a major RR borrowing $14 Million was a major investment opportunity, so there is likely more info in places like the Wall Street Journal and the other major finance publications.  Posted Tuesday, June 6, 2017 by RJMc

A. Thanks for the fascinating replies, I certainly know a lot more now. I must try and find a trust certificate to go with it.  Posted Wednesday, June 7, 2017 by KB

 Q3331 Builders Plate  How do you trace the RR and type of locomotive with only the builders plate Number and Manufacturer? I have a Baldwin Manufacturing Co. plate dated Mar 1924 with number 57664. Regards,  Posted Friday, June 2, 2017 by William S.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. My Baldwin records show you have a plate from a 2-10-0 built for the Ga, Fla & Ala RR # 401 with 56" drivers and 24x28 cyls later became SAL # 524 Posted Sunday, June 4, 2017 by CD

A. Thank you for the information on the Baldwin builders plate 57664. The plate now resides in the Central Florida Railroad Museum in Winter Garden Florida.  Posted Wednesday, June 7, 2017 by William S.

 Q3330 Blacksmith ID?  Does anyone have any idea who the blacksmith is that used this touch mark or hall mark? This had so much grease on it when I started restoring it I couldn't make out a lot of the engraving or get a clear image of the mark I've pictured here. It's a nickel plated Adam & Westlake lantern with the copyright date of April 26th 1864 with the name Geo W Thornburg engraved on the lantern and globe it. Any help with this would be greatly appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, May 31, 2017 by John   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Don't know but great restoration job. You brought it back to its former glory and saved history for future generations. Posted Thursday, June 1, 2017 by LC

A. Its my understanding that the lanterns were purchased from the mfg'r and the engraving on the frame and/or globe was usually done by a local jeweler Posted Friday, June 2, 2017 by DA

A. Perhaps you could submit a picture of the touchmark to one of the online registry of marks. I did find that a George W. Thornburg was chairman of a grievance committee for Order Of Railway Conductors in Topeka, Kansas. Posted Sunday, June 4, 2017 by dc

A. Thank you LA for the compliment and DA for the good idea and dc for taking the time to look the name up on it.You found more than I did and I really appreciated you doing that.I just found out its silver plated not nickel and needless to say I was surprised.Thanks again. Posted Thursday, June 8, 2017 by John

 Q3329 B&A Lantern Marking  I found a lantern with the markings 'B & A R. R.' Could someone please tell me what it stands for? Thank you.  Posted Friday, May 26, 2017 by Jason   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. You have a couple possibilities. "Boston & Albany" or "Bangor & Aroostook". If you could actually show the lantern someone might be able to tell more. Posted Friday, May 26, 2017 by JN

A. Yes please post a picture of the lantern, thanks! On smaller items, Bangor & Aroostook referred to itself as "the B&A" but not on lanterns...... Posted Sunday, May 28, 2017 by JS

 Q3328 Real or Repro Number Plate?  I just got this number plate. The number matches the B&O berkshire locomotive but the numbers are a different style. This plate is cast iron and comes in at 30 pounds. It is 21 inches wide and 12 inches tall. It has casting numbers on the back. They think it may be a repro but they're not sure. Any info would help. Thanks .   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, May 22, 2017 by RT   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It appears to be a C&O style number plate. Can’t say for sure if its a repo or not. Posted Tuesday, May 23, 2017 by Ex Sou Ry

A. I agree it is the C&O style number plate, from a 2-8-4 Kanawha type (C&O didn't call theirs 'Berkshires' although almost everyone else did). For comparison, Link 1 shows sister engine C&O 2732 on display in Richmond, VA. Link 2 shows the C&O 2736 on display in Green Bay, WI., with what appears to me to be a replacement front plate (looks flat, not raised numbers, and numbering style looks incorrect to me.) Another view for comparison is of engine C&O 2724, in service, is at http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=4278182 . In that picture you can clearly see the raised numbers and style of the front plate. The great difficulty with your particular plate is it would represent an engine which has long been on display, making it a likely target of interest for people to duplicate the plates, but also making more likely the survival of the original plate since many of that series of C&O engines were held in storage for quite a while before being donated.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Friday, May 26, 2017 by RJMc

A. thanks guys for the info .so what our you saying is this real or a repro Posted Saturday, May 27, 2017 by rt

A. Not exactly sure but I think RJMc said it was a reproduction but in a very round about and convoluted way. Posted Sunday, May 28, 2017 by LC

A. What I meant to say was, there is really no good way to tell, from just a picture.  Posted Sunday, May 28, 2017 by RJMc

A. Please post a good photo of the back of the C&O #2736. This plate appears to have a weld repair on the LH side between the 2 and 7. I had a number plate many years ago with this number and that repair. I think this might be a good plate, but we need some better photos to be sure. RJM Posted Sunday, June 18, 2017 by RJM

A. rjm there is a weld mark on the back that runs from top to bottom between the no 2 and no 7 i though it might have been a mold mark but its a weld mark i had a welder look at it and he says it has been repaired Posted Tuesday, June 20, 2017 by rt

A. Here's a picture of the back. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, June 20, 2017 by rt

A. NOTE FOR THE RECORD: rjm just above, and RJMc are not the same person replying. Further comments by RJMc: Some of these discussions go on at length and take interesting turns. After looking again several times, what I REALLY meant to say was that the actual C&O engine 2736 on display in Green Bay would look MUCH better if it had your plate, rather than the clearly-repro one that it has on it now. Even if you duped yours in fiberglass, painted it, and furnished that copy to Green Bay, the engine would look better. The Link below is a repeat to the pic of the C&O 2736 in Green Bay.  Link 1  Posted Friday, June 23, 2017 by RJMc

A. thank you rjmc for the info Posted Saturday, June 24, 2017 by rt

 Q3327 A&W #250 Fuel Pot  I have this Hocking Valley Adlake 250 lantern. I have noticed that in other 250's the fuel pot was stamped 'use long time burning oil'; whereas mine is stamped 'use kerosene oil only . I want to know if there was a kerosene option with this one? Or it was a replacement part that someone used to get it working?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, May 22, 2017 by CH   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The fuel pot that you have is the earlier of the two types mentioned and is period correct for a No. 250 lantern. The burner more than likely is marked No. 250, which would also be factory original. Fuel pots marked "USE LONG TIME BURNING OIL" came with later "KERO" models, that were introduced during the early 1930's and were often used as replacements in No. 200 and N. 250 models.  Posted Wednesday, May 24, 2017 by JH

A. I do believe also, that the phrase "long time burning" was used dating back to the time when more and more gasoline was being refined for auto and engine uses and many people were not fully aware of its volatile nature and that the makers of lamps and lanterns wanted to verify what was needed to safely use their products. I have a font in my collection that is stamped use lard oil only.  Posted Wednesday, May 24, 2017 by TE

 Q3326 Semaphore Number?  I was wondering if a letter or a serial number on a semaphore can be traced to what RR used it? Thanks.  Posted Thursday, May 18, 2017 by TW   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The numbers and letters on signals usually refer to milepost locations, usually assuming one decimal place. So for example, 899 would be milepost 89.9. Sometimes a letter may indicate a division ID (but often not.) Some railroads in the West, Santa Fe for example on the line thru central Kansas, did reach mileposts over 1,000, but in most cases RR's were divided into much smaller 'chunks' than that for milepost purposes. (See Link; this semaphore in New Mexico is 849.1 miles from Chicago.) So if you already know or suspect which RR the item might have come from, you might be able to determine exactly where it had been located on that railroad. There are references which may be available, such as track charts, which indicate where signals were located and how they were numbered. But since all the RR's usually started their milepost numbers on each line (somewhere) at 0.0 and counted up, there are many duplications of numbers (particularly relatively low numbers) and it is not possible to tell which RR may have had that signal at that particular milepost number.  Link 1  Posted Friday, May 19, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3325 Handlan Buck Jack?  Did the Handlan Buck Co make railroad jacks? I have a jack and it looks like 'Buck' is stamped into the handle.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, May 17, 2017 by 67Chevy   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I think "Buckeye" is more likely than Handlan-Buck; the rest of the name just wore off. There are lots of references to the Buckeye Manufacturing Co. on the web (mostly people looking for parts for them....See Link). Link 1  Posted Wednesday, May 17, 2017 by RJMc

A. Buckeye jack in Google search will also have images of jack. Posted Thursday, May 18, 2017 by dc

 Q3324 Tool Check   I bought this off eBay. Appears to be a tool check, the maintenance of way being the main reason. Can anyone shed some light onto what railroad it could be from? Marked 'O. D.' under the M. of W. letters.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, May 17, 2017 by TP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hello TP,Your tool check tag could possibly be from the Old Dominion RR.It certainly looks old enough.Good luck...DJB Posted Saturday, May 20, 2017 by DJB

A. Apologies as there never was an Old Dominion Railroad so clearly the abbreviation O.D. does not designate a specific railroad. That said there was a Washington & Old Dominion Railroad (W&OD) ran across portions of Northern Virginia. Posted Tuesday, May 23, 2017 by Ex Sou Ry

A. I collect W&OD - knew from the beginning it wasn't from them. I've asked multiple collectors and we all agree that it's railroad, but none of us are sure which. O.D.... maybe a division? Railroads certainly didn't mark ALL of their assets....  Posted Tuesday, May 23, 2017 by TP

A. I have found that sometimes the letters are for a specific building / place on a railroad. They could be actual telegraph call letters. O.D may not even be a railroad at all. Many different industries use tags like this. Rights-of-way can be power lines, gas lines, etc, not just railroads. Just my input. Posted Wednesday, May 24, 2017 by JN

 Q3323 Key Info Needed  I recently purchased a key marked CMRR on the front and W. Bohannan and C on the back. I'm unsure of the railroad, thought it might be a Colorado Midland car key since it has a C for car. Unfortunately upon comparing it with a known Colorado Midland car key the key cut didn't match up. I know there are a lot of railroads that have CMRR lettering. I was hoping somebody might have some insight. Thank you in advance for any help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, May 16, 2017 by Josh   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Where did you find this key? If you go to the Railroadiana On Line homepage you will see a box on the left that has all different categories. One says Railroad Names. If you click on that and search by Railroad Initials you get a half dozen or so railroads that used CMRR initials. Maybe that can help you narrow it down. Posted Wednesday, May 17, 2017 by JN

A. I bought this key at a auction in eastern kansas. The gentleman that had the auction had several hundred lots that had keys, locks, and various railroadiania. I checked the database you mentioned and used that as the beginning base for my search. I also looked through The Guide to North American Railroad Keys, American Railways Switch Key Directory, and Railroadiania 2 price guide and didn't see anything that matched the cut that had the right initials. I guess I'll work the date angle with the railroads and see if anything makes sense. If anybody has any other suggestions it would be appreciated. Thank you again for your help. Posted Wednesday, May 17, 2017 by Josh

A. The problem with the key guides you quoted is that they are very incomplete and from time to time also have inaccurate identification. The American Railways Switch Key Directory in particular was a compilation of key drawings provided to Key Lock & Lantern back in the 1960's/1970's....purely voluntary so only a relatively small number of drawings were available. That KL&L effort stopped when certain persons used the information to produce fake keys in the 1970's to have their fake keys use the correct key cut. Were the other RR items from the west or midwest, as compared to having stuff from eastern RR's??? That may give more of a clue to help identify it. Posted Thursday, June 1, 2017 by BobF

 Q3322 superintendent's Car Desk  Good day. Attached is a photo of a desk we have had in the family for years. It came off a superintendents car in Renovo pa. I'm fairly certain of that fact as my family worked in the railroad there for decades and several family members had one. I would be very interested in what you members think or know about it or if there might be some photos of it installed on the car. As always much appreciated. Respectfully.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, May 14, 2017 by Jan   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3321 Station Tag?  I just acquired this tag. It is painted steel. It has the number on both sides. It is stamped PRR a little sloppily. Could this have been a station locker check that a passenger would have used or maybe an employee locker? Maybe a key was attached to it? Does anyone know details? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, May 12, 2017 by JN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3320 Tag Info Needed  Cool site. I was wondering if you could make out the manufacture on back, or have additional information on the luggage tag? Found in Cincinnati. I believe it to stand for Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Railway (1846–1917). Many thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, May 12, 2017 by Gary   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The maker is James Murdock of Cincinnati, Ohio. I got this info from the Tag Town website. I have an Ohio & Mississippi tag with the same fancy logo on the reverse. Unfortunately, like yours it's almost impossible to make out very much. The tag town site has better photos and you can make out the fancy manufacturer's logo on the reverse side. That's how I found the identification for my tag's maker. You are correct on the RR name. Posted Saturday, June 3, 2017 by BobF

 Q3319 Baldwin Builders Plate 60885  Can anyone help me identify the locomotive this builders plate came off of? It's dated July 1929. Lots of corrosion and slightly bent.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, May 11, 2017 by Mark L.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. My Baldwin records indicate 60885 is an SP 4-8-8-2 # 4115 with 4 24 x 32" cyls and 63" drivers  Posted Saturday, May 13, 2017 by CD

A. nice plate We have all seen the antiques TV program where the piece of furniture is worth $100. But if they hadn’t resorted or cleaned it would be worth over 1000 times that. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES CLEAN IT Posted Saturday, May 13, 2017 by Es Sou ry

A. Yes - a nice plate. Regarding refinishing or cleaning furniture on Antiques Roadshow, it all depends. Older era furniture may lose value if refinished or cleaned. Newer furniture such as mid-century modern furniture may not lose value as collectors don't care so much. That being said, many metal items on Antiques Roadshow that have been polished or cleaned, even years ago, have a lower value than untouched ones, according to appraisers. If this plate has corrosion eating at it, at the least the owner would want to remediate this.  Posted Wednesday, May 17, 2017 by JEM

A. Thanks CD for the valuable info. Would it be possible to email me a copy of the records that indicate this? Mark@railroadparkresort.com  Posted Sunday, May 21, 2017 by Mark L

 Q3318 RR Can  I was hoping you could help with possibly dating this piece along with verifying what it is. It appears that it would be about 1 gallon in capacity. We found it in my late Father-in-laws garage. He worked on the B&O from 1947 to 1989 and his father worked on the B&O from the mid 19-teens for 49 years so we don't know which one would have brought it home. Thank you for any assistance.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, May 11, 2017 by Biff A.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The Link is to a document elsewhere here on the site describing how the RR's standardized tinware in the 19-teens. They did that to simplify procurement and reduce costs by increasing the quantities purchased. Your item looks like one of the sizes of valve oil cans, which were used to refill the lubricators on steam locomotives. The earlier style of lubricator was mounted on the backhead inside the cab, usually fairly high up, and was filled by opening a plug. The spout on the can was needed to get the oil -- which is fairly thick -- into the opening in the lubricator body. The screw cap on the can was essential to allow the can to be tipped without spilling the oil out the top. Later locomotives had lubricators mounted out underneath the running board, with a square cap which opened on top, but the oil still had to be poured in from a fairly awkward position. These cans were made and used over many decades, making them almost impossible to date. Like most things around the RR, such cans would have found other uses even after all the steam engines left, and may have continued to be purchaed for the other uses found for them.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, May 11, 2017 by RJM

 Q3317 Builders Plate?  Can you help us with any history or background of this plate? What was it on or when? It looks to be brass under the black paint. Weighs a couple of pounds and 6 inches in diameter. It also has a threaded knob on the back like it was attached to something. Thanks in advance!!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, May 5, 2017 by Terrie M.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Apparently, from what I have found, is that this company built amusement park trains for 15" gauge. I found a blurb about it that mentioned the 1960's. The plate's small size kept it in scale with the locomotive. See the link. Link 1  Posted Saturday, May 6, 2017 by JN

 Q3316 Key ID Needed  Could you please tell me if you can identify which railroad this key was used? Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, May 5, 2017 by Brad D.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. A fairly quck (and not very thorough) search thru Bill Edson's Railroad Names comes up with "Slidell and Bayou Lacombe RR" as one possibility. It operated under than name for just a few years in the late 1800's before being absorbed into the Salmen Lumber Co. RR's. However, as we have said before, steel lettering stamp sets are very commonly available, making it exremely difficult to confirm any association with the actual RR operation without more info on the source of the key, etc. etc. I have not yet looked for trolley and interurban possibilities.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, May 7, 2017 by RJMc

A. I was thinking that the BL was possibly for branch line?Does the S stand for switch? I am not sure what you are saying about steel letter stamping? This key came with several other keys out of an estate.I cannot recall a lot about the others except they were different lines. Thanks for your information. Posted Sunday, May 7, 2017 by Brad D.

A. Does key have a makers mark and serial number on other side? Yes The S set off by itself is for switch. Never saw a key marked for the RR then BL for branch line. With a set of steel letter stamps and a hammer any unmarked key could be made whatever you choose, however since this came with other keys at an estate sale this is unlikely, but anything is possible. Posted Monday, May 8, 2017 by dc

A. There is a LOT of info about keys, and fake keys, in the other sections of this Q&A Board (see Link for just one of the sections.) And you can also select the 'Locks and Keys' category in the 'by Category' section of the Search Box to the left of the Q&A's. As you know, RR locks and keys are, and have been, fascinating to many, many people for quite some time (me included) so there has been a lot written about the topic. The difficulty is, after all the info is considered, there was never any master list or registry of which RR, or which Division, used which keys. Since (almost) every RR was privately owned, private property, with its own employees, there was never any requirement for such a list. This means we are almost never able to guarantee, with any certainty, where an 'unaffiliated' key might really have come from. This is even more complicated because it is so easy to mark blank keys, or re-mark authentic keys. We can state possiblities, and its good to ask around in case somebody else has either a known other example or maybe a known lock with the right pattern, but that's the best we can do. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, May 10, 2017 by RJMc

A. Thank you for trying to help me id my key.There is no markings on the back of the key.It's clear to me from the patina of the key initials stamp in person and even seen in the photo that this is an old key with an old stamp.Because something cannot be identified does not make it a fake.In my opinion the clear reason it is not a fake is the fact that no one knows where it is from.Usually a fake or forgery is from something famous and in demand making it worth a lot of money. So what I take from this forum is that this key is not from a known line and it is a possibility it belonged to some small private line or possibly the BL could be a small branch line? Again thank you! Posted Wednesday, May 10, 2017 by Brad D.

A. In my opinion, it looks like a fake, not a real key. Sorry, but it's sloppy, doesn't look like a blank from an established key/lock maker, the initials don't seem to match any known RR, there's no signs of use or aging, it has a very oddball bit and the font for the lettering looks recent, with no serifs, etc. As to marking fakes for famous lines...my experience is that many more fakes are for obscure lines. In the 1990's a guy used to show up at RR shows with keys marked for obscure or very old lines, looking to trade for a vendor's GOOD keys...multiples of his for one in return, and the keys all had a common look. It looked like he or someone else found an old Official Guide and used initials from the old & new names section. Why??? First you could appeal to someone with regional interests, and second with the obscurity involved, it was unlikely that many originals would be around to cross check. I did have originals for some of what he tried to pass off and his weren't even close. Those show up from time to time even now. Posted Thursday, May 11, 2017 by BobF

A. That's your opinion and I respect your opinion.But you have no evidence to back it up.I on the other hand know exactly where this key came from.I saw everything sell from this estate.The estate owner was a very wealthy lumberman.There were no fakes in his estate and very few railroad keys.No other railroad items.Possibly he used the key?The only thing he collected was money and lots of it. I think people on this forum should spend more time doing research and less time trying to explain something they are not familiar with as being a fake.Now that's my opinion.  Posted Thursday, May 11, 2017 by Brad D.

A. Thanks for the lecture to we ignorant RR collectors. The fact that he was a lumberman and had very few "railroad keys" and no other railroad items isn't exactly a ringing endorsement that its not a fake. Posted Saturday, May 13, 2017 by JE

A. Brad, I'm the moderator and have a few comments. You state "I think people on this forum should spend more time doing research and less time trying to explain something they are not familiar with..". You may be annoyed by someone's opinion about your key's authenticity, but your statement basically insults everyone on this forum. You say 'doing research'. Where? To amplify RJMc's response above, there is no grand database of railroad keys, real or fake. We get lots of emails from people who assume that there are national registries of railroadiana like bells, keys, lanterns etc. that can simply be accessed to do research. Such registries or databases don’t exist. There are two self-published, out-of-print books on railroad keys, and these are very incomplete. The idea behind this website is that people can pool knowledge and educate each other, but in many cases this knowledge is both imprecise and less than definitive. A lot of history is simply lost to time. For the record, many people in this forum have spent careers in the railroad industry and/or decades collecting and learning about railroadiana. You’re free to ignore any and all responses but your comment basically guarantees that no one here will put any more time into your question. As to an item’s provenance, the source (estate) is generally weak evidence for authenticity. It's quite common to find railroadiana reproductions in estate auctions, and you could make the case that someone who is *not* an experienced collector of railroadiana is *more* -- not less -- likely to have acquired a fake since they’re not necessarily familiar with this area of collecting. Other brief points in response to what you've asked or said: (1) No use of 'branchline' exists in our database of over 6000 railroad names; this was a generic term like 'spur' or 'turnout' and not likely to be incorporated into a RR marking. (2) Switch keys were used by rank and file working railroaders to open locks on turnouts; a wealthy lumber magnate — “The Boss” — would not likely carry one of these around unless it was a memento of the really early days. (3) Your statement 'Usually a fake or forgery is from something famous and in demand making it worth a lot of money.' may be true on a very general level but keys from the big 'famous' railroads were made in quantities because they had more trackage. Since there are more of them, they have less collectible value, and counterfeiters have less incentive to make them, which is in line with BobF's comment. The list of fake key markings referenced by RJMc above includes pretty obscure lines. I personally have no opinion about the authenticity of your key, and the policy of this website is to NOT judge the authenticity of any particular item. Opinions expressed belong solely to the responder. But it seems to me that the responses have gotten you further down the road than where you started. Posted Sunday, May 14, 2017 by Web Editor

A. Brad reminds me of a certain guy in Washington DC. "You don't agree with me? You're Fired!" Posted Tuesday, May 16, 2017 by JN

 Q3315 Steam Whistle  I have acquired a steam whistle and don't really know much about it. Would really appreciate if you could maybe give me some info on it anything would be appreciated. Possible the maker and time era of it. Or maybe even a push in the right direction. Thank you for your time.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, May 5, 2017 by TR   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Nice looking whistle!! In the book "Engine's Moan - American Steam Whistles" by Fagen, I find 3 images of whistles that look just like yours, with the side rods. Two, made by Crane, and one made by a Canadian mfg'r - Morrison. Both are referred to as "piston whistles" , a.k.a "mockingbird" meaning that they had an adjustable piston inside the bell so you could change the whistle's tone. Apparently, American Steam Gauge also made this style of whistle. Date range seems to be 1890's - 1900's. No markings anywhere on your whistle??? Posted Monday, May 8, 2017 by DA

A. I found out that it is exactly the same whistle as the one at the New York Wire Co. in York P.A.  Posted Monday, May 8, 2017 by TR

 Q3314 Trying to solve a china plate mystery  I recently contacted a Wells Fargo historian, Alyssa Bentz, to see if I could discover the history of a china plate I own. This plate has been kicking around for many years (inherited it from my parents estate.) I’m semi-retired now, and finally decided to try and figure out why they had this plate. They (my parents) primarily collected early Americana in the form of 18th century firearms. I’m not a collector or dealer. Just someone who wants to try and find out some history on a china plate. The Wells Fargo historian suggested that this could have possibly been used in a private RR dining car. The thought never occurred to me. Just passing this by you folks in case you might have seen something like this. The only notes I have on this are that it once belonged to a 'Wells Fargo man.' There is a reference to the Am. Railway Express and a note that suggests George Jay Gould (1864-1923) might be the 'Wells Fargo man.' That is all I know. Thank you for your time. I enjoyed your website. *** Reply from Alyssa Bentz, Wells Fargo museum, San Francisco, Ca follows***: ['The china plate you have looks very beautiful and the design is certainly similar to some WF designs I have seen on ads and other publications where the W, F, and C, are all folded into one. But it is not identical. Unfortunately, I cannot really provide any additional information. Our records are extensive, but not comprehensive. .... There is one thing that comes to mind, however. It was not uncommon for railroad executives and others to have a special china set made for private dining cars. This plate reminds me of that. You could check with railroad collectible specialists...text omitted]  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, April 30, 2017 by Ron W.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Is that really a C or a G folded in with the WF ? could it be a G for Gould ? Posted Monday, May 1, 2017 by dc

A. Genuine Wells Fargo artifacts are always marked W F & CO, or W F & Co Ex. The "C" might be College? Going by the order of the letters on the plate, front to back, it looks more like F W C. Posted Monday, May 1, 2017 by DA

 Q3313 PRR Electric List?  Is there a list of PRR electric engines built by Altoona or others that includes build date and production number? Thank you for any help.  Posted Sunday, April 30, 2017 by George B   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I would suggest the book "Keystone Steam & Electric" by William Edson  Posted Sunday, April 30, 2017 by CD

 Q3312 Bell  Can anyone identify this bell? I have been contacted to install it on a fire house. I think it needs to go on a locomotive. Maybe some history will help? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, April 24, 2017 by Bob S   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. it is a locomotive bell Posted Saturday, May 13, 2017 by Ex Sou Ry

 Q3311 Ingersoll Rand Aftercooler Number Plates  I found these plates along the old abandoned CNJ tracks in Easton, Pa. I've searched and cannot connect them to any engine. I'm a novice but, do know it was most likely a turbocharged diesel. I thought the years, 1965 and 66 would have been a great starting point...nothing. I hope you can ease my frustration with any information. Thanks again.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, April 23, 2017 by Steve P.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  The Nat'l Bd refers to the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors which is headquartered in Worthington, Ohio. They are an independent agency similar to Underwriters Lab which develops safety standards for boilers and tanks that are subject to high pressure. The 18256 number is probably recorded with them but I don't know how to ask them about any information on it. All sorts of large boilers and pressure vessel tanks are recorded with NBIB. The stylized four leaf clover emblem which is on both tags is the NBIB logo.  Posted Saturday, April 29, 2017 by KM

 Q3310 SP Lock Marking  The marking on this lock and key is 'JNHFW' -- Anyone know what this marking is for?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, April 21, 2017 by Dennis M.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Probably the keying. Posted Friday, April 21, 2017 by BobF

A. Most of the RR brass padlocks like this have five tumblers (a few had 6). So your code would be one letter, designating the length, and order of each of the five tumblers. A well-equipped locksmith can make the key , or re-key more padlocks to work with the keys you already have, just by having the letter code, key blanks and/or padlock bodies, and a supply of the various length tumblers plus the tech. info of how deep to cut the key blank at each position to suit the designating letter.  Posted Friday, April 21, 2017 by RJMc

A. JNHFW is the Eagle Lock Co. code for the key. That could be looked up and a key cut to the depths in the list/book. The letters do not in themselves represent depths with the Eagle system. This lock is the M of W "Tool House" lock and was used on what railfans call speeder sheds and similar buildings, etc. The Telegraph (later Communications) Dept locks said Tele Dept, then Comm Dept and the last (newer style) ones went back to Tele Dept (probably a factory stamping error as the name never reverted back). The code on those is LBYWS. B&B (Bridge & Building) and WS (Water Service) gangs would send boxes of the JNHFW locks out to locksmiths and have them repinned. I personally know of 2 B&B variants and 1 WS keying. Eagle went out of business about 1975. SP then used American locks for the TH's (marked merely SPTCO)and the Comm Dept, the first Comm Americans were marked LBYWS-1 and were keyed on the "civilian" blank, the second ones were marked LBYWS-2 and were on a restricted blank.  Posted Tuesday, May 16, 2017 by spladiv

 Q3309 Brass Plate  This artifact was recovered while metal detecting the former rail yard of the Campbell's Creek Railroad 1865-1962 near Charleston, WV. I was hoping you might could tell me the origin of this relic. Thank you very much.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, April 14, 2017 by Todd H.   Post a Reply  Email a reply