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

  • No questions about what something is worth -- see About Values. Also, no questions or replies selling or looking for items or services. This includes offers or contact information looking to buy items or services.

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. 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:

 Q3012 What is this Cabinet?  Does anyone recognize this type of locked glass front cabinet? I purchased this locked cabinet at an antique/collectible store in the Sebring, FL area. I was told that it is a display cabinet that once hung in the old Lake Placid/Sebring, Florida train station and it was used for posting train schedules etc. (NOTE: the reflection in the glass is our kitchen table etc.) I am not a train memorabilia collector-I just liked the cabinet. I haven’t decided what to display in it yet but if it is a train station display cabinet I’d like to know what is historically correct to post int it. I’d appreciate any help you may give me to find out what this cabinet was used for. Thank you so much.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, August 25, 2015 by FS   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I have worked at many military bases and public schools built in the 1920's and this cabinet is a generic glass display that was purchased through a builders catalog. It is still possible that it could have been done in a company workshop but it still fits the furniture style of this era. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, August 25, 2015 by venezia52

A. I think this old cabinet looks terrific! Some depot furniture and accessories would have been purchased rather than company made, and surely this could have been one. It would have been used to post public notices about train information, including what are called "broadside timetables" -- essentially large one sided train schedules. A nice RR map would also look great. The place to start finding something is the shop where you bought the cabinet, if they don't have something hopefully than can refer you along. You can also watch on eBay. If you check Link 1 below, you will find a list of Florida railroads including defunct ones, and hopefully there may be several that served the area. I did some further checking and it looks like the Atlantic Coast Line ran though Lake Placid - see Link 2 for a great depot picture. If you can find some 1920s vintage documents from its hometown railroad lines to display, this old cabinet will be a real beauty.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Friday, August 28, 2015 by JS

 Q3011 Gimbal Lamp in Railroading  I’ve been trying to find this information on the RR sites, but so far I’ve had no luck. Have you ever heard that the railroads used a gimbal lamp? Thank you.  Posted Sunday, August 23, 2015 by BW   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Gimbal-mounted lamps are much more typical of ship's cabins. In rough seas and high waves a ship may tip up to 45 degrees or more, first to one side then the other, without capsizing the ship, so their lighting installations had to tolerate that by gimballing. Many US and Canadian RR's have had and some still have tug boats and ferry boats, and even fleets of cruise boats, which may have had RR-marked marine-type lights. Other than these applications, trains can not tip to anywhere near the angles that ships survive without derailing or overturning, so gimbals were not needed or used for typical railroad car lights.  Posted Sunday, August 23, 2015 by RJMc

 Q3010 Hocking Valley Lantern Questions  I got this Hocking Valley lantern from my grandmother. My grandfather had it for as long as she can remember and they have been together for 40 years of marriage. I have a couple of questions about this Adlake 250 model lantern. My first question: What time frame was the Corning CNX logo used? My next question: After a merger did railroads reuse lanterns that were owned by the railroad they took over? The reason for the the last question is the HV lantern had a C&O cast globe. I'm thinking either the original globe shattered and was replaced with a C&O globe after the merger in 1930 or its globe was lost in time and someone just replaced it with a C&O one to get it working again. I have never seen this combo before. My last question: Did some railroad employees paint their lanterns or were they unpainted most of the time? Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, August 21, 2015 by CH   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Your lantern was your responsibility. Some railroaders marked or even painted their lanterns so they could readily identify. Coming from the manufacturer they were usually unpainted. Posted Friday, August 21, 2015 by JN

A. The Corning CNX trademark was first used in 1909 and was used up thru the 1950's. The Link is to a page (elsewhere on this Railroadiana website) all about Corning globes. Railroads are 'very frugal' (cheeeep) and would almost always continue to use up available supplies and items already in use, with the prior ownership markings, right on up thru locomotives and cars. One exception might be prominent advertising items, but often not even these were changed until some other factor required their renewal. Since Hocking Valley was absorbed into the C&O system, it is perfectly natural to see a C&O globe placed in a Hocking Valley lantern to keep it in service. As to paint on lanterns, probably a majority were not painted but some railroad lanterns were painted by the manufacturers. See prior Q's 2553, 1664. and 964 for more discussion.  Link 1  Posted Friday, August 21, 2015 by RJMc

 Q3009 Stuck K-C Font  I recently bought this Keystone K-C lantern. However, the top part that screws on to close the oil chamber is stuck on, and a previous owner had tried prying it off with a screwdriver, which made it even worse. Do you know what the best way to go about this would be? I don't want to end up wrecking it, but I don't know if I have any choice.Thank you,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, August 19, 2015 by Kevin   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Kevin, The burner in your Keystone "Casey" is a signal oil/lard oil burner rather than the "convex" style kerosene burner. It is likely that the now quite hardened residues of that type of fuel have literally "glued" the two halves together. In the past I've used two methods of separating these parts, one is place the whole assembly in an old pot filled with water and Dawn detergent or some other good quality cleaner and degreaser and heat it up just to the point of simmering, turn the heat off and let it soak, when it got just cool enough to handle with gloves I was able to unscrew it wit a good bit of force. That worked for me once. The next time I used a butane micro torch to heat the threaded part and while it was still hot and with a pair of heavy gloves was able to unscrew it quite easily. Also if you're not already aware of it these parts are reverse or "left" threaded so you unscrew it in the opposite direction than usual. Your fount is of the later "new" type and there are instructions for it here on this site. This link should take you to that page. Best of luck. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, August 19, 2015 by WM

A. If you do decide to use heat, do it outside, as some of the old fluids do smell quite ripe when certain temperatures are attained.  Posted Thursday, August 20, 2015 by hvcollector

A. That 'left hand thread' pointer is critical....it was done so that the cap and wick assembly did not unscrew when the wick was tried to be raised. Another good and relatively mild source of heat to do the operation described in the answer above is an electric heat gun often used for heat shrinking tubing, unfreezing pipes, etc. They are often available quite inexpensively from the online or discount tool places. And even more available option is a hair dryer. If you can't beg/borrow/steal one in your own household (or are wise enough not to do that!) you can go to the local thrift/resale shop and the hair dryers there usually go for $4 or so, and even have selectable heat settings.  Posted Thursday, August 20, 2015 by RJMc

A. As an alternative to heat, which is often my last resort but many times is the only thing left to try works well especially the gentle methods suggested which should not harm finish/patina, is a product called PCL (Protect Clean Lubricate). Great penetrating oil type fluid. Usually available at auto parts stores. I've also had success with kerosene plus patience and a long soak period. Posted Thursday, August 20, 2015 by JSM

 Q3008 Dodo BAT Lanterns  I have a pair of Dodo BAT lanterns. Can you tell me who made them and what they were used for? My dad is a huge RR fan. I want to restore these Dodo's for him! Would I use the same techniques to restore them that I have seen on your website? Thanks!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, August 19, 2015 by JH   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. JH, This type of lantern was generally used on barricades or around road/utility work in progress to warn motorists and pedestrians of road hazards like the contractor's and utility lanterns here in the U.S. and aren't usually considered R.R. lanterns but I would suspect some did end up in some types of R.R. related service. Most were used in, but not limited to the U.K. and are constructed to a british standard design BS 3143. There were many companies producing them over the years but most all share similar design to comply to the aforementioned standard. Rather than going into lengthy detail I would recommend visiting this website devoted particularly to these lanterns and several other types like the WWII Air Raid Precaution Lamps, road torches etc. with lots of photos and information about them including a little about the origin of the Bat variants. What method of or how much restoration is of course up to you to decide on. The link should take you to the Road Danger Lamps site homepage, at the top you can click on the Bat Variants button. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, August 19, 2015 by WM

 Q3007 Lantern Cleaning Info  I have two lanterns and found your board as I was in the midst of trying to remove the rust and paint on both of them. I was shocked to see you recommended a lye soak. As someone who makes soap, I have a healthy respect for lye, and I know it reacts strongly with aluminum. (I also question the wisdom of combining lye with hot water: lye gets plenty hot all on its own). I can understand lye soaks for cast iron, but these lanterns look fragile, and furthermore, how can you tell what metal they are made of? One is an Adlake no.250 Kero Wabash RY. (The Adams Westlake Co, Chicago, Elkart, New York.) This is a family hand me down, and according to my mother-in-law’s notes, was made in 1913 and it was once painted silver. This feels like a very malleable metal. The second is a Deitz Vesta New York, Wabash RR. Again. According to my MIL, it was made in 1951. This was painted gold. It appears rusty, but that is the last of the paint, which I suspect was more copper than gold. This is a far more sturdy lantern than the Adlake. If anyone can talk me down from the intense fear of using lye to soak these antiques in, I would be grateful. None of my more natural approaches (vinegar, baking soda, kosher salt) and soft core options (Brasso, Barkeeper’s Friend) have done much at all. If I knew the metal they were composed of , or where I could find that out, it would be a big help. Thanks!  Posted Wednesday, August 19, 2015 by CC   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I won't use lye either. They don't even sell it around where I live because of the Meth connection. Anyway I just use paint remover to get the paint off then wearing rubber gloves put Navel Jelly (Rust remover) sold at Lowes etc on with a brush. Wait a bit then rub with steel wool. Wash in hot soapy water. Dry in your kitchen oven for a few minutes when your wife isn't around. The steel will be a grey color until you polish it with fine steel wool as a final step. Others will cringe at this method but it works for me. Posted Thursday, August 20, 2015 by PF

A. The lanterns you are interested in cleaning are made of steel, not aluminum, and so lye will not react with the metal. A quick test with a fridge magnet will confirm. I have successfully cleaned many lanterns with a lye solution and recommend it. Naval jelly is acidic and if left on too long will start eating the steel. Lye removes the unwanted paint, soot, kerosene residue, and it softens rust, all without hurting the underlying metal. Here is how I use lye for cleaning lanterns: ***USE RUBBER GLOVES and EYE PROTECTION*** Take apart the lantern as much as possible. Fill up a five gallon plastic pail with hot water. Add 12 -16 oz of lye. Put in the lantern and cover top of pail with plastic to hold in the heat. Wait at least 24 hours (two days are better) and then remove lantern and rinse it off. Use a Brillo pad (Brillo works the best by far)to scrub the lantern - keep scrubbing and rinsing until lantern is clean of rust and / or paint. Dry the lantern with a towel and then soak in a pail of WD-40 - or spray plenty of WD-40 to remove residual water. A good swabbing with gun oil or LPS 3 rust inhibitor, keeps rust away. Note - Kero 250s date from the late 1920s.  Posted Friday, August 21, 2015 by JEM

A. I second JEM's remarks regarding using lye. Yes, there are many other methods out there but lye does work and I've cleaned many railroad lanterns that way. As a collector who spends thousands of dollars on this stuff, would it make sense then that I would ruin these historic pieces with lye after buying them, then pass on bad advice to others on this site? Not likely.  Posted Friday, August 28, 2015 by Steve B.

 Q3006 What Kind of Lamp?  Is this lamp a caboose lamp or a passenger car lamp? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, August 9, 2015 by RT   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hi, I have a lamp similar to this one but from a different railroad. There is a steel bracket that my lamp drops in too which is circular and the lamp I have has a rim on the top of the pot that the bracket rests against. On the back of the bracket are holes to mount on a wall of a caboose. Your lamp is very nice. The shape of the pot is different on yours and obviously was held in a different way. I would say that yours is also a caboose lamp. It is rare to find a caboose lamp in as good a condition as yours is, and many I see for sale or in people's collections are missing the tin reflector. Jerry Hemm is a lamp collector in Washington state and his grandfather worked on the Rock Island. He has an website at: http://jerrysrrstuff.com . He is extremely knowledgeable and friendly. He would be glad to help you identify this lamp and be even more certain than I am. Happy collecting! Posted Sunday, August 9, 2015 by Steve B.

A. what you have there is a railroad warehouse lamp. they could carry the lamp with them and set it down anywhere it was needed. this type of lamp was not used as a wall lamp.the fount was small enough to hold in your hand with out dropping it.the reflector was welded to a bracket and welded to the cap so when you removed the cap to put fuel in it the reflector and the burner came off as one piece it made it easier to re fill. this kind of lamp is hard to find  Posted Wednesday, August 12, 2015 by tm

A. Looks cobbled together as the reflector is not in the focal plane of the flame greatly decreasing its effectiveness. Haven't seen anything like this in any railroad supplier catalog or reference book that I have. Perhaps an experienced Rock Island collector could share some better info on what may be a unique RI style of lamp. Looks to me like the tag could have been cut from a dented or rusted out can and soldered on the lamp. Just my guess, still trying to keep an open mind. Posted Wednesday, August 12, 2015 by JFR

A. It sure doesn't look old to me. It wouldn't take much to stamp a tag and apply to a generic lamp. I would be skeptical. Posted Wednesday, August 12, 2015 by bobf

A. this lamp was made by plume and Atwood it has a heavy Gage steel fount to keep it from tipping over. p&A was in business from 1869 to about the 1950s. this was there warehouse model Posted Wednesday, August 12, 2015 by tm

A. I also have never seen a lamp fount such as this one. However, I did recognize the shape...See Link. In addition to the reflector not being set up to match the flame, the rolled seam on the bottom of the tank would prevent it from fitting into the usual caboose mount, which had a cup to receive the lamp fount. Although some of the caboose founts have somewhat rounded tops, although not as rounded as the "CRI&P" one, the lamp fount/tank had to have smooth sides to fit snugly into the bracket.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, August 13, 2015 by RJMc

A. Warehouses and mills were required by their insurance companies to have much more secure designs for the lanterns they carried around. This is a stationary lamp and was not designed to be carried around anywhere. It would not be used in moving railroad cars as the globe could be easily knocked off the lamp by slack action. The only way to positively identify this lamp is from the manufacturer's or sellers' catalogs. Many different lamp manufacturers used P&A burners and they were also a popular replacement burner so it can be difficult to identify the actual manufacturer, the age, and the lamp's intended (not always actual) use. Posted Thursday, August 13, 2015 by JFR

A.  One dreary night I whittled a worn piece of wood in a switchman's shanty to fit into the end of a fusee to use as a holder/extension. I carved my name and RR initials on it. Is it a RR artifact? I guess it depends on the word provenance. The same I suspect is at work here. Did some Rock Island clerk buy this unlikely lamp for warehouse illumination, then take a box car seal, clip the ends off and solder or glue it to the base? It's unlikely given the lamp in a dry dusty warehouse would be an accident and fire looking for a place to happen. But it's possible...depends on the provenance which seems to be lacking here. Posted Thursday, August 13, 2015 by MG

A. A Mill or warehouse would probably have used a "Mill Lantern" (not an oil lamp) in which the globe was well protected in a wire cage and could be hung up or carried about without to much fear of breakage presumably as to avoid a fire in the facility. If you search "Mill Lantern" you'll see some pictures. Posted Thursday, August 13, 2015 by GK

 Q3005 Lantern ID?  I purchased this lantern at an auction. Can anybody help me identify it? It says pat 26-64 Chicago on top part. The bottom comes off. Thanks for any help!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, August 5, 2015 by SC   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. To railroad lantern collectors this type lantern is called a brass top - bell bottom (solid metal bottom). The bell bottom in this lantern is removable as you state - some had fixed or non-removable bell bottoms. A very quick look at "The Railroad Lantern" by William Cunningham indicates this lantern may be an Adams & Westlake Model 1873, made from 1874 to 1882. If the bell bottom is a true 1873 one, it should have an A&W makers stamp on the bottom with 14 patent dates. Your picture is out of focus so it is difficult to see the exact configuration of the bail ears and what type of clips are used on the guard wires. These items help to identify the lantern model.  Posted Tuesday, August 18, 2015 by JEM

 Q3004 PRR Ingot  What is this PRR thing? It's 9 inches long, 2 1/2 tall. It wieighs 4 pounds 13.7 oz and is made out of aluminum. Help me. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, August 5, 2015 by RT   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Ingots such as this are how the raw materials are provided to foundries to be melted for casting or for other bulk operations such as hot dip galvanizing. The PRR had heavy industrial capabilities at Altoona (and other major shops) including foundries in which they home-made many parts for locomotives, cars and all kinds of other materials for their RR. A little mystery about this ingot is what they may have been casting out of the aluminum. The data you provided (assuming it is solid) and some calculation gives a density of 2.3 grams per milliliter for your ingot. Many places on RR's cast Babbitt metal bearings and battery electrodes out of zinc, and would have started out with ingots looking like this, but both of those metals are much heavier (7.3 and 7.4, see link), so the aluminum ID (printed density 2.7) is probably correct. Because of its great chemical activity, aluminum did not become commercially practical until the early 1900's. The RR's were expanding rapidly at that time and much equipment and new track and facilities were being built which could have made use of aluminum parts. Just one example of an item cast in aluminum is headlight housings, where the lightweight but tough aluminum serves well. Another logical place would be station and other signs where heavy material is not needed or wanted.  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, August 5, 2015 by RJMc

 Q3003 2 Track Sign  Can someone tell me how old this 2 track sign is? It's riveted to 3 flat steel bars with the mounting brackets on it. They used steel straps to hold it on the pole. It came from the east coast. Thanks   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, August 5, 2015 by RT   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3002 Item ID Needed  A friend of mine found this item along an old RR grade in Nevada. It's about 2 3/8 x 4 3/4 inches; made of brass or bronze. Anyone know what it is? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, August 3, 2015 by Dan   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I suspect this is an 'oil cup' or 'grease cup' lubricator used on a steam locomotive crosshead or side rod bearings in the late 1800's. The Link has a really outstanding line diagram of an 1899 steam locomotive with almost all of the parts numbered and ID'ed. You can click on the diagram to enlarge it many times to get close looks at the various parts. Just below the number 100, on top of the crosshead (#96), (but unfortunately not identified separately) you will see a device which looks a lot like yours, but with its cap in place which is missing from yours. Similar ones are sold today for live steam models and steam threshing machines; usually the more recent ones use a transparent casing so the oil or grease supply can be checked visually.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, August 4, 2015 by RJMc

A. Some web searching turned up lots of photos of Virginia and Truckee steam engines which used cup lubricators on their side rod bearings and the crossheads. The Link is one of a very good series of pix of Nevada RR Museum #25; in this pic you can clearly see the shiny brass lubricator cups above the pin bearings. In other pix of the series you can see that this engine had 3 cups on the crosshead guides, 2 cups on the main bearing pin, and one each on the other pins. Looking at the fairly long threads on the bottom of yours, it probably unscrewed itself due to vibration and fell off, rather than being broken off, but that's just speculation.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, August 4, 2015 by RJMc

 Q3001 Odd Lantern Base  Here is a A & W lantern with a heavy brass addition to the underside of the bell bottom. I'm assuming that this was done in a railroad shop but don't how it was used or what purpose it served. I'm thinking it was mounted on a post of some kind and because of the additional heavy weight of the brass it would be very tiring to carry this lantern around all day. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thank You   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, August 3, 2015 by DF   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Thanks for your help. I never knew that bellbottom lanterns were weighted also. Do you think that there was some mounting in the engine where this brass ring would lock onto? Link 1  Posted Tuesday, August 4, 2015 by DF

A. It might be a post mounting, but more than likely it was modified for engine service. Steam locomotives bounced wildly in service, as the thrust of the pistons and the pounding of the rods created vibrations. Lantern manufacturers would add weight to the bottom of locomotive lanterns so that they wouldn't bounce around on the deck of the locomotive. Since the engine crew would rarely use it for long periods of time the added weight didn't matter, compared to a brakeman's lantern which would be constantly carried and swung while switching cars. I have attached a link showing a standard wire base locomotive lantern. You can see how heavy the base was. Your lantern may simply be the bell-bottom style. I know that at least the Reading RR physically stamped the their lids specifying "Loco Dept".  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, August 4, 2015 by JN

A. I have been studying this for a while now and have not come up with any good answers. Some thoughts: One possibility is that the "P" in PRR here might NOT be for 'Pennsylvania.' Where was the lantern found? Are there any dates on the lantern? A smaller company than the Pennsylvania RR might have had such a specialty light; if it WAS the Pennsylvania there would likely have been bunches of them and we would have seen them before. The L-slot cut in the ring makes it into a "bayonet mount," which is used to twist-lock something into place, with very precise positioning. The lantern would have to be dropped down onto the mount, and it would be a very firm mount. The bell bottom shadow would make the light project out only sideways. Something like a searchlight might make use of these features. I can not picture anywhere on a locomotive where that would be necessary or would make sense. In any case, steam locomotives began getting steam-driven electric headlight generators about 1900 and incandescent lights usable for auxiliary functions became available starting in 1913, so any highly specialized kerosene lantern to be fixed to the locomotive would need to predate that time. Still a mystery on this one.  Posted Monday, August 24, 2015 by RJMc

A. To be clear, the heavy-based locomotive-service lanterns shown in the link above were issued and used by many RR's at least until the end of steam in the late 1950's, when the permanently-mounted locomotive lights had been electric for decades. It was the occasional need for portable lights, such as for flagging, that kept the kerosene lanterns in use, and most I have seen had red globes. I do not know if the locomotive-service kerosene lanterns were ever issued for use on any RR's diesels, where they would create a nuisance in an enclosed cab. Electric hand lanterns and red-burning fusees were available to fulfill any flagging requirements.  Posted Tuesday, August 25, 2015 by RJMc

 Q3000 PRR Box  Can you tell me what the number 660 is for, the conductor or the locomotive etc. and about how old this box might be? The are four 5 minute flares in it dated 1964, and paperwork from west jersey R.R dated 1890. Thanks .   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, August 3, 2015 by JG   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. JG,Even though your metal PRR box had fusees and paper forms in it,I believe that its original use was as a cash box for a dining car and the diner's number was 660.Maybe another person has a PRR passenger car roster that can check for a car 660,or in fact knows what the box was really used for,if not a cash box. DJB Posted Tuesday, August 4, 2015 by DJB

A. I have seen more that a few of these over the years, and they are always refereed to as a Conductor's box. Some still had old ticket receipts, employee's timetables, envelopes for turning in cash receipts, various PRR forms, etc. I would think the number was assigned to a specific conductor, and it was his personal box to work out of. Posted Tuesday, August 4, 2015 by DA

 Q2999 Embury Lens  I received a Dressel Lantern and it had an Amber Embury No 40 Traffic Guard lens with it. Great looking lantern but wrong lens. Doing a little research on the Embury No 40 lens in the book 'Signal Lights' by David Dreimiller, I found that Embury manufactured the Traffic Guard from the early 30’s until Dietz acquired them in 1953. Originally, Embury it appears only produced the lens in Red, Clear & Green. After Dietz started producing the Traffic Guard, it was available with Red, Blue, Green & Amber lenses. My questions are did Embury produce an Amber lens for the Traffic Guard during the time they were produced by Embury (early 30’s – 1953) and how common is an Amber Embury No 40 lens? The lens does say 'EMBURY NO 40' in raised letters on the lens. Thanks for taking the time to reply to my question.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, August 2, 2015 by RL   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Apparently they did as well as Blue. See link. Yours appears to have a peep hole or flame sight so it was manufactured in 1952, a year before they closed. I think it can be considered a rare globe. I suppose there is always the possibility that it was manufactured by Dietz after they took over Embury in 1953. Link 1  Posted Monday, August 3, 2015 by LN

 Q2998 KCFS&GRR Key  I recently picked up a key marked KCFS&GRR which was in with around 20 keys owned by a former section foreman on a Class 1 road. This was an estate lot and his relatives have no idea as to when or where he acquired the key. According to my research, the Kansas City Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad ceased to exist in 1888. The few pictures of KCFS&G keys that I have seen show them to be the older taper barreled kind with maker’s marks. This key has a straight barrel, the correct bit cut, no maker’s mark, light patina and very little wear. I suspected it to be a fake and have been assured by an advanced collector that it is, in fact, a fake. I was wondering if there is any information on when these KCFS&G 'fakes' appeared on the market and if there are many out there? I’m submitting this along with pictures for the information of other collectors and I would be interested in hearing others’ comments about the key. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, August 2, 2015 by Brad L   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The non-serif letters and sloppy stamping would tell me the key wasn't kosher. I don't think there were a flood of KCFS&G keys that hit the market. More like somebody with a blank key and a set of modern letter stamps wanting to make the key more "valuable"............... Posted Tuesday, August 4, 2015 by DA

A. Someone might have one of these. I would say that the 'key' part of this might hold the answer. A person faking a key like this might not know what the key part looks like. It looks in good shape, the barrel, hilt and stamping is in excellent shape  Posted Wednesday, August 5, 2015 by BJ

A. Thanks for the feedback. On closer inspection, in comparison with a KCFS&M key, it is close but not quite the correct bit cut. I think I spoke too quickly in saying the cut was ‘correct’.  Posted Friday, August 7, 2015 by Brad L

 Q2997 Dietz Vesta Lantern Globes  Were or are the Dietz Little Giant/Little Wizard Loc-Nob Globes interchangeable with the Dietz Vesta Lantern Globes? I've seen where some Dietz Vesta Lanterns have a Loc-Nob Globe. Thank you for taking the time to reply to my query.  Posted Tuesday, July 28, 2015 by RL   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The "Loc-Nob" ears press under the guard wires to prevent the globe from slipping out when tipped back. Since the Dietz Vesta has no such guard wires around the globe and does not tip back but instead is lifted straight up there are no Loc Nob Dietz Vesta globes. The Litte Wizzard/Giant globes are not interchangeable with the Vesta globes as far as I know. Posted Wednesday, July 29, 2015 by LN

A. LN Thank you for the reply. The Dietz Vesta lantern definitely has a red loc-nob globe in it and it was a listing on eBay. The lantern looked to be in great shape, but seeing those locking nobs on the globe kinda threw me for a loop as I hadn't seen that before. It was listed as a New York RR but the images show U.R.R. stamped on the lid. Another red flag. Posted Wednesday, July 29, 2015 by RL

A. In my opinion its not a correct Dietz Vesta globe. Some one stuck a loc nob Wizzard type globe in it. Not that uncommon on Ebay to get a lantern with the wrong globe stuck in it. The correct globe breaks and someone sticks a globe in it that "kind of fits but not quite". Posted Wednesday, July 29, 2015 by LN

A. Right. And the "New York" comes from the fact that the Dietz Co. was located in New York and that is stamped on the lantern; nothing to do with what RR may have bought or used the lantern. I am surprised we never hear about the "Pat. Pending" railroad.... Posted Friday, July 31, 2015 by RJMc

A. The U.R.R. lantern stamping likely may mean Union Railroad - check the RR names by initials on this site for more info. Wrong globes aren't limited to eBay - We've seen many in antique stores and flea markets.  Posted Friday, August 7, 2015 by JS

 Q2996 Builders Plate  Can anybody tell me about this bulders plate? I noticed the number 4 is smaller then the other plates I've seen and the letter 's' is bigger . This plate is made of cast iron. It's 11 inches by 7 inches, about 5 or 6 pounds. Is this a repo? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, July 27, 2015 by RT   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is a builder's plate from a Pennsylvania Railroad K4s 4-6-2 Pacific type locomotive, one of the most famous classes of steam passenger locomotives ever built. The PRR had 425 of these machines, built in their own shops. They handled all passenger trains from lowly commuters up to and including the famous Broadway Limited. The S stands for "Superheated", which means that the steam was heated to a very high temperature to get the maximum expansion power. Usually the "4" is the same size as the "K" and the "s" is smaller. Why this plate is different I don't know. Posted Tuesday, July 28, 2015 by JN

A. This is a reproduction builder's plate. The pattern is totally different than the normal PRR class ovals. About 99% of the K4s plates were cast in bronze. The mounting bolt pattern is also incorrect. Hope that helps! Posted Saturday, August 1, 2015 by RJM

A. hear is a statement out of bill & sue knous book the railroad detective a guide to replica railroad collectibles. it says most reproductions appear to be aluminum or fiberglass and originals were either brass or cast iron.not bronze.they also say in the late 60s a company offered for public sale over 60 different reproduced full size builders plates made from either fiber glass aluminum or bronze not brass .rt this builders plate is made out of cast iron i dont know of any company that would spend the money to reproduce fake cast iron bulders plates do you.and even if the pattern is totally different than the normal prr class ovals who knows what they did back in 1918 97 years ago. Posted Saturday, August 1, 2015 by mj

A. Making a plate such as this out of cast iron is a very simple and inexpensive thing to do. Many high schools and vocational schools have foundry classes and facilities where this could be done by students, not to mention the thousands (at one time, now getting scarcer) of commercial foundries around the country which could certainly do this in cast iron, brass, bronze, or aluminum as desired. Making the pattern would be simple because it has only basic lettering and numbers, even without an original to copy. So there is no way of knowing the true origin of this particular plate, but based on the comments above it is very unlikely that it is an original from a PRR locomotive.  Posted Saturday, August 1, 2015 by RJMc

A. "i dont know of any company that would spend the money to reproduce fake cast iron bulders plates do you."................it doesn't have to be a "company". There are guys who worked for the RR who did it themselves in their spare time. There are iron mongers TODAY who will reproduce a station sign or other cast iron RR signs if you give them a pattern to make the mold.............(and they are then sold as originals). There was at least one notorious RR'iana dealer who was known for making fake PRR keystone front end plates and "salting " them into auctions.........many of them are in collections today, the owners no doubt believing they own an "original". No, its not hard at all, unfortunately. Posted Sunday, August 2, 2015 by DA

 Q2995 Starlite Lanter Model 222  I have a Conrail Starlite Lantern Model 222. Can anyone tell me when it might have been made? Conrail would date it back to at least 1976 and I know that the current model is the #292. Thank you for any info that you can provide. Posted Saturday, July 25, 2015 by JN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The Link is to the Star Headlight and Lantern Co. website, showing they are a 5th generation family-owned business and giving a lot of the company history, and contact info. If there is any kind of ID number on your lantern they can probably tell you exactly when it was made. See also prior Q 2908 for a lot of discussion of this type of lantern. Link 1  Posted Saturday, July 25, 2015 by RJMc

A. Out of curiosity I contacted Star headlight and Lantern with this question and they very promptly replied: "The Model 222 was made in the late 1970's and early 1980's. There were no date codes on the lanterns at that time" so there is no way to be more definite. Posted Monday, August 3, 2015 by RJMc

A. That is interesting. I contacted Star last week after I got the lantern and got absolutely no response from them. Those dates are close enough for me. Thanks for finding out the information for me. Posted Monday, August 3, 2015 by JN

 Q2994 Plate/Engine Identification  I had posted earlier an inquiry about a number on a Baldwin builder's plate and the answer proved to be dead on.. I am just wondering how you folks cross-reference the builder number to the actual engine name and number? Thanks!  Posted Saturday, July 25, 2015 by PFL   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. When a railroad orders a locomotive (even today with diesels) The builder's number is recorded on all the documents, just like the vin number on an automobile. If you can get the builder's list of numbers then you can cross reference.  Posted Saturday, July 25, 2015 by JN

A. As mentioned above, the builder's number is a key piece of ID for everybody concerned in producing and purchasing a locomotive. The challenge is finding the info long after the manufacturer has gone out of business, been merged a few times, had a major fire in the records room, etc. See the last entry to prior Q 2974 which describes where a bunch of the Baldwin company official records ended up, and are available to the public over the web today. The Lima Loco and BLH records were preserved essentially complete by the Allen County Historical Society of Lima, OH when BLH went out of business. Many ALCO records were preserved, but not in as comprehensive a manner and not all in one place. But for Q 2983, just doing a routine web search on "ALCO Builder Number xxxx" turned up the answer very quickly (but it doesn't always work that easily....)  Posted Saturday, July 25, 2015 by RJMc

 Q2993 Very Old Locomotive Model  I have a model of a locomotive made in 1870. It seems like it was made as an apprentice project by two young engineers. I think the makers decided to call it 'Engineer' and I was wondering if such locomotive actually existed or at least a locomotive with a similar name? I also noticed two railroad buttons attached as decorative elements on this locomotive. It looks like they picture the similar locomotive. Thank you. Regards,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, July 18, 2015 by Roma   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Looks distinctly European to me, with the buffers on the back. Maybe German or English. Posted Monday, July 20, 2015 by RJM

A. It is, indeed, most likely an "apprentice piece" and, based on the loco's and the builder's names and the design, it is almost certainly British. It is a model of a type of locomotive that was popular in Britain in the 1840s. Posted Monday, July 20, 2015 by JAJ

 Q2992 Lamp ID Needed  You guys did real good on the marine deck lantern. How about the age on this one? Small Lenses, marked SLSF RY   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, July 18, 2015 by BJ   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hi, SLSF RY stand for the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway, more commonly know as "The Frisco Line". It appears to be a switch lamp. Posted Monday, July 20, 2015 by wdpdepot

A. Hi again BJ, You didn't mention it,but this is a Handlan St Louis mfr'd switchlamp.Assuming that the top cap wasn't replaced in a damage repair,it should state this... DJB Posted Monday, July 20, 2015 by DJB

A. Hi BJ, Take a look or take a pix of the top ventilator cap.If it has the mfr's name and city in 2 straight lines above and below each other,its a fairly old model,probably from the 40's and earlier.If it has the mfr and city in a circle around the outer edge of the cap,its a much later lamp.Another indication of age is the fact that the top hinges open instead of a sliding door to service the fount and burner.That seemed to be the more approved design as time progressed but some roads may have hung on to the hinged-open top later than others.The real experts can pinpoint the production dates of these various features better than I but this will serve to jumpstart the info machine. DJB Posted Monday, July 20, 2015 by DJB

A.  adding to DJB's astute comments – The small lenses are uncommon, as most older Handlans found today have all 5 3/8 inch lenses. It most assuredly has the straight line lettering on the cap. The lamp originally came without day targets as it has the short stemmed wick adjusting knob on the side. The lamp is in very good condition. – As always, and in particular because of the overall good condition and rare small lenses; I STRONGLY suggest that you leave it just as it is and -DO NOT- attempt to repaint it!! –-- Frisco and Handlan had a long, as far as I know, an exclusive relationship; perhaps a loyalty cemented by the fact that they were both headquartered in St Louis. I have never come across a FRISCO marked Adlake or Dressel lamp in all the years I’ve been collecting. (same case for the Missouri Pacific) …anyone else?? ---- …. Red Beard  Posted Monday, July 20, 2015 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. If those Dressels ar the ones I am thinking of, they came into Frisco in the late 70's and not too much before the BN merger. We used to call them "Cannonball" type. Also the small ones was "National Pile" BJ By the way this is a great site. Posted Tuesday, July 21, 2015 by BJ

A. Red Beard, thanks for the memory jog, I haden't heard anyone refer to the porcelain rings as day targets, in many years. It didn't really ring home, but the reflective targets were in use when I went to work in the track in 1970. They was easily seen at night and we phased them out, replacing most with the lift style lanterns that was easier to replace the oil and adjust the burner. The other types, reflective came out, because many of the oil burning lanterns walked off.  Posted Tuesday, July 21, 2015 by BJ

A. Well Red Beard, since you asked. I'm in the East and right now on my garage floor I've a stainless Dressel electric marked in the socket StL&FRISCO and 2 kerosene Dressels socket marked MO.P and have also had a few Dressels marked MOPAC in the socket as well. I sold 2 Dressel reflex lamps a couple months ago with the same Frisco cast in socket markings. It's a bit unusual to find these so far from "home" and perhaps somewhat unusual a long time collector like yourself hasn't come across any in home territory yet. Seems a little like my experience with NKP switchlamps, they had a yard and terminal in town, but I've never come across a marked NKP switchlamp. As for the straight line Handlan lettering on the top, that seems to have changed in the late 20' or early 30's to the circular design. Posted Tuesday, July 21, 2015 by JFR

A. Thanks for all the excellent replies. A good friend picked three of these up in St Louis years ago. We were both supervisors for Frisco. Here is a couple more photos. He gave me one.  Link 1  Posted Monday, July 27, 2015 by BJ

A. As some have said the Hanlan St Louis is straight line. The wick adjustment on the side, did those have some kind of a rod that attached to the burner? Sounds like the answers reflect the 20's or 30's Thanks BJ Posted Tuesday, July 28, 2015 by BJ

 Q2991 Lantern ID Needed  I have tried over several years to identify this type lantern. Can you help? Its a Dietz but what is the use, if you have seen one like this?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, July 16, 2015 by BJ   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This was called the World Standard Deck Lantern by Dietz. Used by the Navy in WW1, these were made for Dietz by the Perkins Marine Co. Posted Thursday, July 16, 2015 by JJ

A. These were also called 'Dark Lanterns' as described in the Link, for including a built-in shield to close off the light quickly in blackout situations. The link has good pix of the same style made by various mfrs. Link 1  Posted Thursday, July 16, 2015 by RJMc

 Q2990 Restoration Question  I have a Handlan caboose lamp that I want to clean and restore. On the top of the lamp is a flip top cover that attaches to a base piece. This base piece has two small notches on it that when turned would match up with two small dimples on the stack thus allowing the top to be removed. I have tried turning this piece and have applied penetrating solvent to break any rust or corrosion with no luck turning it. Am I on the right track with my observations on removing this piece? It would make cleaning and restoring a lot easier. Thank you for any help!!  Posted Wednesday, July 15, 2015 by RD   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is hard without a picture, but look for a spring under the cap that may be holding spring tension on the part, you may need to press down to depress the spring and then turn.  Posted Wednesday, July 15, 2015 by RJMc

A.  RD: here’s my advice. 1) DON’T “Restore” it! Clean it up with some detergent, hot water and a soft brush. Sit with the cleaned up lamp as it is for a year or so just as it is and let it grow on you. -- Hobbyists are RUINING historic old pieces on an ongoing basis by attempting to “restore” lamps! – You will never be able to make it look like it did when it was new. You cannot find the original paint they were painted with. As an experienced collector, the refinished lamps I constantly see for sale on line look absolutely AWFUL! The finish on them screams “fake”. – Per my suggestion, clean it up a bit (but not too much) and let it grow on you. – By cleaning it too much, you are removing irreplaceable traces of history! – the grime on the lamp was deposited by decades actual use on the railroad; soot from countless diesels and steam engines rumbling past settled on that lamp while it kept silent sentry on its switch stand. That’s irreplaceable. – In the bottom of the lamp is a fine to heavy layer of grime from countless re-fillings of kerosene plus a good mixture of soot from burning the lamp, which carries a certain fragrance from a bygone era; in the stack too! If you wash that authentic railroad smell out of the lamp you are destroying an historic element of the lamp that you will never be able to replace! ..believe it or not, over time you will come to appreciate that scent; it is uniquely railroad, and once you remove it, you will never be able to smell that authentic fragrance again from a bygone era. Likewise, any soot or dust on the back of the lenses is testament to years of actual railroad service. It signifies that you own a lamp that was actually used on the railroad. I could go on and on. In my younger days, I refinished/restored countless lamps (and I was pretty good at it). Today, I deeply regret having done that, as they look nothing like the authentic finish of the ones I did not “Restore”. Trust me; your taste will change over time, and you will come to greatly appreciate the original condition of your lamp! ---- NOW, to answer your actual question; you’re close, but you’ve got it backwards. The notches and dimples do line up, BUT by reaching inside the lamp and turning the cone that’s inside the stack, you can remove the vent cone; not the top of the lamp, that is a fixed part of the body. ---- Please do think about what I’ve said regarding leaving the lamp in its current, historical condition. ---- …. Red Beard  Posted Wednesday, July 15, 2015 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. oops, you said caboose lamp, not switch lamp; though the same applies ---- .... Red Beard Posted Wednesday, July 15, 2015 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. I tried Red Beard's suggestion when I started my collection but strangely my wife didn't appreciate the dirt, soot, grime and dust not to mention "the fragrance of a by gone era" in the house. So I now clean everything and even restored some items before bringing them in the house. Happy wife, happy life. Posted Thursday, July 16, 2015 by GK

A. RD, it sounds to me like you should consider buying pieces that have already been restored. Since they're already done, you are blameless and can enjoy them with absolutely no guilt! We recently saw a cable TV show where a high-end professional restoration company took in a woman's toy ride-on truck that was her grandfather's. It was old and a bit faded with some dents but nothing really horrific. Famous company charged big bucks to make it totally like new again and the lady was delighted. Our view is completely different: every little bump and dent from Grandpa's little behind was gone. All the paint that his little hands touched was gone. All the scratches from the sidewalk where he rode it were gone. They had replaced some old brass on it, and you couldn't tell what was new from what was old. The truck looked like some brand new thing out of Toys-R-Us, all that remained was the old metal underneath a totally new finish. There was not even the slightest hint that it ever had anything to do with Grandpa. We thought this was just so terribly sad...... And I might mention "Antique Roadshow" where we see all kinds of furniture pieces that have been refinished, worth maybe $500 bucks as-is, but had they been left in original finish the value would have been $100,000. Railroad relics can be the same way. Just consider that even a good refinish destroys collector value, and if someday in the future you must sell, you'll very possibly be very sorry. One last thought -- If you're spending the many hours necessary to restore your lamps, you must be doing it in the basement or garage or a workshop so as to keep soot, dirt, grime and fragrance out of the home. Personally, as the lady of our house, I would prefer my husband to spend that kind of time with me, instead of a lamp.  Posted Thursday, July 16, 2015 by JS

A. JS: Nice to know that there are some ladies reading this drivel I grind out. Thanks for the supportive words. -- I rue the day that I (in my twenties) took two dozen+ lamps to have them bead blasted. --- I predict, and at the same time, am very concerned about the idea that 50 years from now the eBay equivalent will reflect your furniture scenario in future railroad lamp prices, with "un-restored" pieces fetching prices many times that of repainted ones; more and more original (read authentic)condition pieces are being destroyed every year by neophyte collectors. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Thursday, July 16, 2015 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. We railfans are an odd lot; we'll take a beautiful and expensive HO boxcar and spend hours trying to make it look old, rusty and decrepit and call it "weathered", because it then looks more authentic; but when we come up with an authentically weathered and aged switch lamp, we want to spend hours making it look "new". ---- .... Red Beard Posted Thursday, July 16, 2015 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Red Beard: I hear you! But the way it seems to be going I fear for any interest in US history at all, by then... it's bad enough now with schools seemingly teaching everything else but.... Indeed in almost every collecting area the holy grail is an unrestored actual condition with value determined by how pristine (or not) it is.... LOL, suggestion, maybe RD should attempt to get the wife interested in china or another area like prints, calendar artwork, heritage train rides, etc and she might become more understanding about smelly old greasy things .... The only thing I can say about "restoration" is that it is better than "repurposing" where ignoramuses destroy an old piece to make it into something different that they think is "cool." If they knew what they had and could determine an actual true value I would not mind so much, but they don't. So the rarest old lantern, or lock, or plate, or ? that a collector gladly would pay an arm for, could fall victim to a "steampunker" who only sees a junker and destroys the last artifact from one of the rarest shortlines.  Posted Wednesday, July 22, 2015 by JS

 Q2989 Cannonball Electric Switch Lamp  Here are pictures of what I think is a cannonball electric railroad switch lamp. I cannot find any manufacture's name or railroad name or initials on the lamp. I have located numbers on the lamp in the following places: (1) 1284 on the outside of the rectangular socket which is located in the center of the base of the lamp where it sits on top of the switch stand (2) 13102 on the inside of the rectangular socket. The lamp appears to have been painted black. There is the slight impression of a rectangle in the metal at the exact top of the lantern, two inches in length and 1/2 inch in width. I cannot tell if there is any lettering at this location. The lamp has four lenses (two red and two teal which I think would be green when the lamp light would be on). The dimension of all four lenses is five inches. Each lens has a 30 degree mark cast in the center of the lens. I would appreciate any information as to age, manufacturer, railroad if possible, years this type of lamp would have been used and any other information that can be provided. If you have any questions, I will attempt to answer. Thank you in advance,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, July 15, 2015 by CRK   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. CRK: I'm thinking that is an ADLAKE base with the "1284" on it. Look again real close and see if that is actually "1264", which is the standard ADLAKE base on 1112 lamps. I've seen photos of these lamps before and have always assumed they were ADLAKE because of the base, though I can't find them on this site and it's odd that Adlake wouldn't mark them. -- Take a look at Q2706; is yours the same lamp?? the foot tabs on your base are longer. Does your base attach with four rivets or eight? Four would be a Dressel base and eight would be an ADLAKE. -- Throw a magnet on the body; is it iron or aluminum? --- RJMc,does this lamp show up in any of your books? ---- .... Red Beard Posted Wednesday, July 15, 2015 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Closest I see (in the same reference) is the Adlake Model 1162 exactly as described in Q 2706. Don't see anything from Dressel close to this. It is strange that they didn't mark them. (Any chance the RR made their own? Maybe using some purchased parts from Adlake? N&W still had very capable facilities in Roanoke Shops, including foundries which certainly could have handled casting these in aluminum or steel, even into the 1970's). Posted Wednesday, July 15, 2015 by RJMc

A. Red Beard: Thanks for your quick response. The number on the base is actually 1264. Using a magnet, the body is aluminum and the base is cast iron. The base is attached to the body by eight rivets. I looked at the pictures in Q2706 and that lamp appears to be very simular to the one I have. I agree with your observation that the foot tabs on my lamp appear to be longer. Based on this, am I to assume that the manufacturer of my lamp is ADLAKE and the model number is 1112? If you have any thoughts as to the approximate age of my lamp and span of years that it may have been used, I would appreciate you letting me know. Thanks again, CRK Posted Wednesday, July 15, 2015 by CRK

 Q2988 Two-Tone Globes  Does anyone have any information on the two tone globes that were used in the presentation lanterns? The colors are ​Green over Clear, Blue over clear, and red over clear. Who used these​ color globes​​ in the lanterns,​ conductors​ or someone else on the train​?? Also, what were these colors was used for? What is the rarest of these three colors to find? Also did fireman on the railroad use the red over clear globes specifically? Thank you.  Posted Wednesday, July 15, 2015 by PRR Girl   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hello. The first Link is to the page elsewhere here on the RRiana site which is all about globes in general. The second Link is to the next page, which is all about two color globes in particular. These should be helpful. Link 1  Link 2  Posted Wednesday, July 15, 2015 by RJMc