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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, parts or services. This includes offers.

Email questions to 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:

 Q3161 PS Builder's Plate  We are trying to find a good picture of a Pullman Standard lightweight passenger car builder's plate. Particularly those placed on some of the passenger cars of the Santa Fe railway. After quite a bit of searching we still are unable to locate a picture of one. If anyone has photos, that would be extremely helpful. Also, where would these plates have been placed on the cars? Would they be on the outside or on the inside? Thank you very much for your help.  Posted Tuesday, May 24, 2016 by Tom M.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The lightweight passenger car builder's plates were usually flat stainless steel, usually with the mfr's logo enamelled on, and the ID info for the car stamped on. They were usually screwed on the end wall or ceiling above the aisleway at one end of the car, possibly in the vestibule if the car had a vestibule. As you probably know, because they were only screwed on they disappeared fairly rapidly, such as during the Amtrak conversion programs, but I am trying to locate pix. Posted Tuesday, May 24, 2016 by RJMc

A. I have this one in my collection but have no idea as to what it was on or where it was mounted. It is heavy gauge stainless steel, 8 3/8" long and 2 3/4" high. Not sure as to how I can send you a picture but will do some digging to make it happen! [Editor's note: To send images in response to an existing question, just email the image to this website just like an image sent with an original question.]  Posted Wednesday, May 25, 2016 by RL Niblick

A. Here's a picture [Click link]. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, May 25, 2016 by RL Niblick

 Q3160 Adlake Trackside Lamp?  I found your great website whilst researching my recent purchase. I bought this lamp here in England. I believe it is a US railroad lamp possibly a permanent tunnel trackside lamp. The dealer I bought it from believed it was something to do with subway trains. It is about 16 in. square and 10 in. deep. It is marked as an Adlake non-sweating lamp and it has a bracket on the back for it to be mounted on. Internally an electric bulb holder has been fitted to one of the gas burners; this is a modern conversion for display purposes. The thing that attracted me most to it is the number, it just looks so cool!! The weird thing is that it is made from what looks to be an acrylic plastic, so would be a fairly modern item. Behind the plastic panel is evidence of a long gone glass panel. I would be very interested to find out more about it. Kind regards,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, May 24, 2016 by Paul G.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. To me it looks like a subway (underground) speed limit sign. The NYC subway has timing circuits to measure the speed that a train is doing along with illuminated speed signs similar to this one. I can't swear it is a subway sign, but it looks like some that I am familiar with on subway lines. Posted Tuesday, May 24, 2016 by JN

A. This is a British Railways speed restriction sign made, or at least marketed, in the UK by the Lamp Manufacturing & Railway Supply Co. of London, under license from Adlake. These lamps were used where temporary speed restrictions were in force due to track faults or after re ballasting etc. The lamp would have been oil-lit and there would originally have been a glass panel behind the plastic number panel, which is interchangeable and indicates miles per hour. These lamps were in use until about 30 years ago, when they were replaced by battery electric units. Posted Thursday, May 26, 2016 by JAJ

 Q3159 Dietz #39 Marking  I recently found an old Dietz 39 railroad lantern with the following marks on the bell bottom: E.C.H.I. Has anyone had a lantern like this and do you know what company is represented by these letters? Had a drop in pot and a clear Dietz Vulcan globe.  Posted Friday, May 20, 2016 by BS   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The only thing I would find was this railroad name might be a short line out of the Chicago area. Hopefully this information helps.  Posted Thursday, May 26, 2016 by PRR Girl

 Q3158 B&O Screw Lock  I purchased a B&O screw type lock at the Gaithersburg Show in 2015 and am looking for detailed information on the lock itself and what kind of key it uses. Thanks!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, May 15, 2016 by TP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. There are currently 2 brass ones on ebay. At lest you will be able to see what bow of key is like. Search B&O screw lock. Posted Monday, May 16, 2016 by don cassadayor dc

 Q3157 Alco Builder Plate Thickness?  What is thickness & height of the characters of an ALCO 6 in. x 12 in. builder plate? The original was stolen off of locomotive 407. A foundry has offered to replace it for free. Attached is my 2D artwork and a digital rendering. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, May 15, 2016 by Pete B   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3156 Glass Marbles  Hello, when I was a kid in the early 1970's, I use to walk along the train tracks to school and I would find these glass balls that look like marbles. I have a few hundred of them that I found in a box in my parents garage that I forgot that I had. I don't know the age of them or why they were along the tracks. Could they have been used in a glass factory? I found them in a small town in Northern California, (Wheatland). Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, May 15, 2016 by Ross   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  Marbles may have been used at freight house to roll and move freight around. See the following article which is posted elsewhere on the Railroadiana Online website. Railroad Marbles Sam Ferrara The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad has lost its marbles! Glass agates can be found along stretches of the Cumberland Branch of the B&O. Usually they are found close to stations and/or freight houses. Condition of these glass globules can vary from no marks at all, to some scratches with cracks, to chipped or just glass pieces. The best place to look for them is in the ballast between the ties and rail. These marbles were first used between 1885 and 1890. As the story goes, a railroad official wanted a marble that would carry five hundred pounds of weight. He asked the Wheeling Glassworks to make him such an item and the railroad would buy tons of them. And so they did. The Wheeling Glassworks was able to produce a glass agate that would support five hundred pounds of weight. The marble is about three quarters of an inch in diameter, made of a greenish-clear glass, has a few air bubbles visible and linear indentations on the surface from either straw or forming. The latter in no way prohibits the sphere from rolling freely since it is almost perfectly round. Marbles were purchased by the tons and used in the freight houses and depots. Two one inch lathes were laid as tracks parallel to one another and the marbles were spread, filling the space between them. Freight that required moving was pushed up onto the "roadbed of marbles" and rolled along to its new location. Remember the planks in the flooring of these depots and freight stations were of white pine three inches thick and fourteen inches wide. Larger size marbles can also be found. Agates of approximately two inches in diameter can be found on another branch of this same railroad. These marbles were used by the Pennsylvania Sand Company on the main line up into Berkley. The larger marbles were put into the bottom of the sand hoppers to help the flow of the sand when emptying. Web Editor's Note This article was first published in Key, Lock & Lantern, Issue #87, Spring, 1988, pages 1681-1682. The marbles described here should not be confused with the railroad "logo" marbles that have recently been manufactured. The latter have railroad heralds or logos in them and are fantasy items, never having been issued by a railroad. The marbles described in this article are clear glass with no fancy markings. Our sincere thanks to Sam Ferrara for permission to reprint his article. Update. A gentleman from California emailed us to say that these are not only found in the East. The marbles shown at right were found outside Ludlow, California along a RR right-of-way after a storm apparently washed them into view. We thank him for sending us this image. Additional Update: A website viewer emailed us in late 2010 to say that she found similar marbles in Oro Grande, California. Thanks to all. © 2016 Railroadiana Online All Copyrights Apply  Posted Monday, May 16, 2016 by KM

A. I just read the explanation of the Glass RR Marbles. About 25 years ago when my 3 kids were young we would walk the RR tracks. I live in Riverside, California and the the track was a single Santa Fe track. We used to find the glass marbles and of course the kids would pick them up to save. It got to the point I would give each of them a Crown Royal Bag to fill with the marbles. (It was a difficult task to empty the Crown Royal to get the bags). There were so many marbles they would only save the ones that were unbroken and no chips. Of course they also would save the loose RR spikes and on occasion we would find a RR nail. We would rarely encounter a train. Now all of that has changed. It's now a double track for Burlington Northern and Santa Fe and has in the neighborhood of 100 trains a day with gates and fences at the crossing. It is also patrolled on a regular basis. Times change but it is one of my favorite memories of time spent with the kids.  Posted Friday, May 20, 2016 by Ted J.

A. Hello! I just read your article on railroad marbles. I thought I'd share with you that railroad marbles were fairly plentiful where I grew up in the northern Sacramento Valley. The towns where I spent my childhood were called Orland and Chico, respectively. In Orland, my family's almond ranch was bordered to the west by a railroad track (a Victorian steam engine once passed by when we were out in the orchards!). I was obsessed with trains and train tracks, and enjoyed scouring the tracks near my respective homes for marbles and the occasional stake that had become dislodged and thrown a few feet. I dearly loved these historic treasures. Oh, and my husband reports having seen railroad marbles in North Highlands, a suburb of Sacramento, where he grew up. Anyway, these marbles were a thing of mystery to me as a child. I really appreciate the article on your website; my childhood mystery is at last solved!  Posted Wednesday, May 25, 2016 by Gabriella

 Q3155 Handlan Lantern Info Needed  I’ve been trying to find information on a Handlan Lamp. I can’t find any photos of similar lamps. On the top its says 'Handlan St. Louis USA.' It has two round Fresnel lenses. Can you tell me anything about this lamp or point me in a direction where I might find information? Thanks!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, May 15, 2016 by Kathy S.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Lanterns with the larger fuel tank were typically used for highway warning service. There is a website dedicated to that kind of 'Traffic Gard' lanterns and they show 'special metal globes' such as yours (see Links), including some made by Handlan. They describe in some detail how widely interchangeable a lot of lantern parts were, so yours might have left the factory that way or could have been assembled or re-assembled by somebody in the field. Unfortunately, the Traffic Gard website doesn't explain how the metal globes might have been used(!!)  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Monday, May 16, 2016 by RJMc

A. The Links have some more info and examples of the metal globes with Fresnel bullseyes. Link 1  Link 2  Posted Monday, May 16, 2016 by RJMc

 Q3154 Gillet & Forest Lantern  I was serving in the USCG and purchased what looked like a special lantern that had something to do with Great Lakes shipping at a flea market near Boyne City, MI back in the early 1970’s. I have always thought that it might be a ship, train, semaphore, and caboose or bridge lantern. It has just sat on a self all these years. I finally cleaned it up and after looking on-line found your Railroadiana website hoping you/associates and readers would be able to advise about its origin and uses as Gillet & Forest was discussed in Q1438. I would like to restore the lantern if possible. Do you have any information or references? The lantern has a plaque/plate which is an embossed brass rectangle 2 2/32 in. L x 1 in. W attached w/solder: 'GILLET & FOREST G. FOREST & C IE SUCC RS INC RS CONST RS B ÉTS S.C. D.C. 32. BOULEVARD HENRI IV. 32 PARIS'. The lantern is 20 in. tall, including the top hook, which is double riveted each side. It is a 6 1/2 in. x 6 1/2 in. oblong box with 7 in. x 7 in. rolled edges base. The cylindrical chimney is brass with a 7 in. x 7 in. bottom rolled edges and is 4 1/2 in. tall. Both left and right sides of box contain 2 rows of vent holes about 2 in. from the bottom. The lantern weighs 10.8 lbs. The back of the lantern has 2 ladder type hooks double riveted to a welded plate. The right hand side has a 2 1/2 in. L x 2 in, W hole that looks to have had a hinged door of sorts – maybe a lighter access? Inside on the left hand side is a 2/32 in. wide slot, 5 in. x 5 in. opening, which may have been used for holding something, and has springing latch. It looks to have been piped to a gas line into top left. The piping is copper and fittings are brass. The burner nozzle is brass, threaded on the inside and looks much like a propane torch nozzle. No flame spreader was included. The burner is attached with 3 rivet bolts with 8mm nuts to a raised triangle shape and mounted on 5 1/2in. x 5 in. slide-out plate. The lantern has a hinged door and brass hinged lens hole cover, which has a brass wire closure. The lens hole opening is 5 in. diameter, however no lens was included. Thanks for your review and assistance.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, May 10, 2016 by Michael S.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  I checked eBay France and found several other Gillet&Forest lanterns but none like this one so keep watching there I suspect that the gas burner is not original in this, does it look like it was added later? How does the gas line enter into the lantern, did someone drill a hole for it? There used to be an antique store nearby that specialized in Great Lakes maritime stuff and I stopped there frequently and never saw any Gillet&Forest lamps or any lamps that were connected to an outside source of gas. Carbide may have been a possibility.  Posted Thursday, May 12, 2016 by KM

A. Gillet & Forest were a well known lamp manufacturer and supplied many of the French railways. Your lamp appears to be a semaphore signal lamp interior, for fitting inside a weather-proof case. These lamps were usually oil-lit, but gas was sometimes used in urban areas where a "town" gas supply was available. Alternatively and as KM says, carbide is a possibility as it was widely used in French railway lamps of all kinds. How did it get to MI? A GI's souvenir perhaps? Posted Thursday, May 12, 2016 by JAJ

A. This sounds to me like it could have been a Canadian RR collector's piece - Canada is very French in some places. Given the way collections of lanterns and other relics travel around, it would not surprise me if this came from a predominantly French area of Canada that was either sold or traded and ended up in the US.  Posted Sunday, May 22, 2016 by JS

 Q3153 PRR 'No Trespassing' Sign  I recently came across this cloth PRR no trespassing sign. I have seen signs like these but they are made of cardboard or paper; this sign is made of cloth. I was wondering where this sign would have been displayed (on cars, rail yards etc.) Did these signs have a specific purpose on the railroad? Thank you!!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, May 9, 2016 by PRR GIrl    Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. There is very small lettering at the top; could you please write back with an exact quote of what that says? Thanks, ---- .... Red Beard Posted Friday, May 13, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. C.T. 1500 10M 11 1/3x by 10w 9-12-52 I was told this a printers code. Not sure what C.T. 1500 means but know that 10M means 10,000 print run, 11 1/3 by 10 is the dimensions and 9-12-52 is the date printed. Posted Friday, May 13, 2016 by PRR Girl

A. The legal references are to Pennsylvania state laws made by the Pennsylvania General Assembly -- rather than to any Federal laws which might have been in effect in 1943. So the sign would only have meaning within the Commonwealth (State) of Pennsylvania. The 1952 date is interesting because it corresponds with the major US Steelworkers strike in which Pres. Harry Truman nationalized the steel industry for a while (see Link) until that move was ruled unconstitutional, and labor relations were turbulent in the coal mining industry as well, all this during the Korean War. PRR operations and properties in the state of Pennsylvania were in the middle of all of these events and these signs were probably posted so that the RR could assert its legal rights during the uproar.  Link 1  Posted Friday, May 13, 2016 by RJMc

A. Much appreciated. Thank you! Posted Saturday, May 14, 2016 by PRR girl

 Q3152 How to ID Caboose Key?  I live in a Soo Line wooden caboose from 1909. The doors have brass rim locks. I have a skeleton key for one, but it doesn't fit the other one. How can I identify the right key for the other one without purchasing tons of skeleton keys, which I can't afford?  Posted Saturday, May 7, 2016 by MW   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I'd take the locks off both doors and take them to a real locksmith (not the guys at Home Depot) and see if they can make a key for you that will work in both locks. Otherwise, he should be able to custom cut one just for the other door. Those aren't too complex, and a real locksmith should be able to accommodate you for $20+. Another idea, if the boxes are heavily painted to the door would be to tell the locksmith your story and see if he'd take a deposit and let you take a dozen keys home at a time, bringing them back to him for another dozen until you find the one that works, and then purchase that particular one; getting the rest of your deposit back. A real old time locksmith should be willing to do that for you. Another thing you could do is to ask him to give you a call the next time he's going to be out your way and bring some keys along. Tell him you're short of cash and see if he'll write off the service call charge considering he's already in the area. -send us a photo of that caboose, be fun to see!- ---- .... Red Beard Posted Saturday, May 7, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. In general, there were not a whole lot of different caboose door key patterns, at least in skeleton keys, and they are usually pretty easy to find. Diesel locomotive cab door keys are often the same patterns. When you say the one 'doesn't fit' are you referring to the diameter of the key shaft; the length of the key bit, or that the key goes in, but won't operate the lock? If the key goes in, but won't operate the lock, you can often turn the key bit against whatever is preventing it from turning, work it back and forth to get a mark on the key bit, and file away the obstructing part of the key bit. But I would do this on a new blank first, rather than risk destroying the one working key you have. With a car as old as 1909, I would also try to determine whether the lock might not be full of 'vintage RR crud' in such a way that no key will work it (mud dauber wasps get into the smallest openings and REALLY pack things up with mud!). Try blowing it out with compressed air (commonly available in small cans now, you don't have to have a compressor) and/or soaking it internally with WD40 or PB Blaster and then blowing it out. That might get your one key to work.  Posted Sunday, May 8, 2016 by RJMc

A.  I have had recent experience with more modern caboose and coach door locks and I found that using the wrong key size may work for a while. The problem is that a smaller key may move the brass pall inside the lock, but eventually it will bend it and then the lock will no longer work with any key. When the pall is bent the bit of the key can't reach it to activate it or the pall may jam on other parts of the lock. And a word about mud wasps, I have found them in the discharge hoses of fire extinguishers, and just the other day I found them in an air brake angle cock valve. Air brake triple valves have a wasp shield on their discharge ports that looks like a small umbrella. The thing moves up and down when air is discharged and stops the wasps from entering into the valve. Posted Monday, May 9, 2016 by KM

 Q3151 Appalachian Railroad History  I was wondering if anyone had any information on the Appalachian railroad history (what area in the mountains did it run, etc). I bought a Appalachian railroad railroad torch. I was wondering how old it is. Thank you!  Posted Thursday, May 5, 2016 by PRR Girl   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Bill Edson's Railroad Names book says the Appalachian operated from 1909 to 1935 when it was abandoned. It was a Class III RR, meaning a small line taking in less than $100,000 per year in revenue. Posted Thursday, May 5, 2016 by RJMc

A. The Link, which is all about "Very Short Line RR's", has this to say (in total): Appalachian Railway Company: 10 miles. Connected with Southern Railway at Eta, NC. Equipment (January 1928 ORER): Locomotives, 1; flat, 2; rack, 1; passenger, 1; motor car, 1; caboose, 1.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, May 5, 2016 by RJMc

A. A couple of additional comments: the "Class III" is an Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), now Surface Transportation Board (STB) category, based on revenue to determine the class. Bill Edson relied primarily on this kind of ICC data in compiling his book. But note that Class III tops out at $100,000 per year, but there is no bottom....Many Class III railroads continued to exist as companies on the ICC books but never turned a wheel in some years and collected no revenue at all. So the dates in the Railroad Names book have to be checked from other sources if you really want to know whether an operating RR existed over that whole time period. And the reference to ORER is the Official Railway Equipment Register, an often-updated catalog of kinds, quantities, specifications and car numbers of all the equipment of all the RR's in North America. It was essential for freight agents to have that info to know whether a particular shipment could go in a particular car.  Posted Sunday, May 8, 2016 by RJMc

 Q3150 Hannibal & St. Joseph Spittoon  Given to me by my grandfather. Real or fake?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, May 3, 2016 by NK   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hi, These are aftermarket décor items. I have also seen them in Union Pacific, and Central Pacific Railroads. Posted Tuesday, May 3, 2016 by wdpdepot

A. Yes, the other clue is that the H&SJ only operated up thru 1863 before being absorbed into bigger systems (See Link.) The 2-8-2 type of locomotive portrayed on the item was not even constructed until 40 or so years in the future from 1863. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, May 3, 2016 by RJMc

A. Correction; the H&SJ operated up thru 1883, but the 2-8-2 'Mikado' type didn't exist yet then, either.  Posted Tuesday, May 3, 2016 by RJMc

A. Enjoy this because Grandfather gave it to you! It is a terrific decorator item - some years from now it will be a precious sentiment. A number of non-RR companies such as Red Man Tobacco can be found on these, which appear frequently on eBay.  Posted Monday, May 9, 2016 by JS

A. These are most common marked for the Union Pacific. I saw one on Ebay a few months ago complete with the original "Made in Taiwan" sticker still attached.  Posted Tuesday, May 10, 2016 by JEM

 Q3149 PRR Pitchfork Uses?  I recently bought this PRR pitchfork at a auction. I was wondering if this fork was used in the locomotives to clean out the leftover coal in fireboxes? Thank you!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, May 2, 2016 by PRR Girl   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. These were used in track work to smooth ballast and other uses as needed. Posted Monday, May 2, 2016 by Ex Sou Ry

A. Thank you so much!!! Posted Wednesday, May 4, 2016 by PRR Girl

A. The railroad name is 'ballast fork.' This term is still used today when these are sold for lots of different uses, but as indicated above they are used on the RR to move ballast. One of the places this type of fork is particularly necessary is when 'raising' the track, also called surfacing, to get it back into smooth and level alignment when various places, such as joints, have been beaten down by the passing traffic. A track jack lifts a length of rail and the ties lift with it, up out of the ballast bed. The ballast fork is then used to shove ballast under the raised ties, into a space which might only be 1" tall, and the track is then lowered back down into place. This has to be done all along a stretch of service-worn track which has gone out of level. The sharp tines of the ballast fork can reach into those narrow slots to shove more ballast in place under the ties; a regular shovel with a curved blade would not fit. (I looked, but surprisingly couldn't (yet) find a video of this process being done manually on the web! These days it is almost all done by machine, there are lots of videos of those.)  Posted Thursday, May 5, 2016 by RJMc

 Q3148 Carbide Lanterns  I own two carbide lanterns that were used on the B & O RR in the 1940’s. I would like some information on this type as I haven’t found it available.  Posted Monday, May 2, 2016 by Mrs. Smith   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Putting 'carbide' (without the quotes) in the 'word or phrase' search box on this site turns up prior Q's 2163, 1385, 1353 for just a start. You can also search on line for 'acetylene lantern' because the lump calcium carbide compound when wetted with water in the lantern produced acetylene gas, which was what was actually burning in the lantern. This is the same acetylene gas as commonly used in welding torches. Carbide is still available (but be careful with it!) either online in small quantities or at cave explorer supply stores. Posted Tuesday, May 3, 2016 by RJM

 Q3147 F.O. Dewey lanterns  Dewey made both mill and RR lanterns. Did they sometimes use a mill lantern frame with a RR globe? I have such with a P&R heavy globe. Have seen F.O. Dewey Co embossed in lip of globe but this one has * H&M *.  Posted Friday, April 29, 2016 by Don   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Very old P&R globes appear to be of the "fixed globe" type, that is to say they could have been plastered into a frame. But, of those that I have seen, they were used/found in an unmarked frame where the globe is removeable. The frame manufacturer is unknown as far as I know, but the frame is known to collectors. Ken Andrews clued me in on this one. The globes are more available than the frames sorry to say. If you have a pic of the globe and the markings it might be helpful.  Posted Wednesday, May 4, 2016 by G.S.

 Q3146 Button ID Needed  Can you identify this button as belonging to a New Mexico and Arizona Railroad (Santa Fe) uniform? Sincerely,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, April 28, 2016 by DT   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Work clothes (jackets, coveralls) manufacturers commonly used buttons like this with generic RR themes. They were not associated with particular RR's and were sold to all kinds of workers, and may have been sold in widely different areas, depending on how successful that mfr. happened to be. If someone recognizes the pattern it might be possible to say more about where it might have been used. See Prior Q's 3057 and 2771 for more discussion, using the 'By Question Number' box to search the Archives here on this site. Posted Thursday, April 28, 2016 by RJMc

 Q3145 Fake M-K-T Coffee Pot  A fake M-K-T (Katy) coffee pot joins the ranks of the faked door knobs and chamber pots. A friend of a Katy collector told him he purchased it at a flea market. It appears to be an old enamelware coffee pot with a red M-K-T shield. The biggest give away is the fact that shield and lettering was never used. M-K-T Railroad is correct as is M. K. & T. Railway, but never M-K-T Railway! I do not believe the Katy marked any coffee pots.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, April 28, 2016 by Chris C.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3144 RR Candle Lantern  I'm looking for help with this mid 19th century candle lantern. It is a Parker's Patent 1853 Proctorsville, VT. Above the Parker's Patent name plate are the embossed letters ' B & S.L.R.R. '. I have never seen one of these Parker's candle lanterns with this marking before and the only thing I can think of is that it is a railroad marking. If this is true, it would certainly be the earliest railroad lantern that I have ever seen. The lantern measures 15 in. tall with the handle by 4 1/2 in. by 4 1/2 in. Any help with this would be greatly appreciated. Best regards,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, April 23, 2016 by Nick D.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. One immediate observation is that the "B.& S. L." lettering appears, from the uneven look of the spacing and the dishing of the flat sheet metal surface around each letter, to have been hand stamped using a hammer and individual letter stamps. Somewhat unfortunately, that could have been done by almost anyone, anywhere, and any time between 1853 and now, since 'vintage' older stamp sets are commonly available. The corrosion might provide some hints as to the age of the stamping; I would look at the back side of the stamped letters, where the metal was stretched rather than compressed, to possibly get a better indication of how long the stamping has existed in the metal. But this is unlikely to be definitive because so many people have gotten into 'chemical aging'.  Posted Sunday, April 24, 2016 by RJMc

A. I am about 99.999% certain that this lettering was done at the time of the lanterns production or very shortly thereafter. I have many years experience with primitive tin workmanship and am also very familiar with the processes that were used to produce this type of debossed lettering. The lantern would have to have been entirely dismantled to do this in any recent time without altering the shape and the very brittle solders that hold this lantern together. Furthermore this specific lantern has been in my mothers family for 3 generations and never left the home until I inherited it so that adds another large layer of doubt to the theory that this was done later. I do appreciate your thought process and understand why you came to that conclusion. I guess the better question to ask would have been what do these letters stand for? And, could it be the abbreviation for an early railroad that likely doesn't exist anymore? Posted Sunday, April 24, 2016 by ND

A. In the 1850s they were still hand cutting US Currency bills from the large printed sheets with scissors so I wouldn't expect the original stampings on this lantern to be perfect. They were probably done by hand and hammer during manufacture. Posted Monday, April 25, 2016 by LK

A. Interesting points about what the violence of hand stamping would do to the structure, had the lantern been assembled when stamped. It is interesting to compare the lettering on the manufacturer's label, also stamped but much more 'artfully' and likely with a single stamp or die for production quantities, rather than separate hand stamps. As to what 'B. & S. L. R. R." might stand for, the most likely lead so far is "Buffalo & State Line Rairoad (1849)) among the earliest predecessors of the New York Central (See link). B&SL became part of the broad gauge Buffalo and Erie before becoming part of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern. From Bill Edson's comprehensive 'Railroad Names' book, there was also the Black River & St. Lawrence, existing from 1869 to 1880, then abandoned. There is nothing in the 'interurban' section but there were few operating before 1900. Edson did not attempt to cover Canada, so there may be other possibilities there. Is any of this consistent with your family history? Link 1  Posted Monday, April 25, 2016 by RJMc

A. The Buffalo & State Line Railroad would make perfect sense as my mothers side of the family hails from Buffalo, New York. I know that my Great grandmothers brother worked for the Buffalo & Susquehanna Railroad during the early 1900s and according to my grandmother, his father was also a railroad man. Thank you for the information. Posted Tuesday, April 26, 2016 by ND

A. Another thought to add. The manufacturers name plate was more than likely stamped before it was welded onto the lantern. I have seen several of these Parker's Patent tin candle lanterns before but none that also had the Railroad debossed letters. I would venture to guess that the company that made these lanterns took a special order from this railroad and added the debossed letters requested by the railroad during manufacture. Just an idea that seems to make sense. Posted Tuesday, April 26, 2016 by ND

A. Very interesting on several fronts. The Buffalo and State Line was directly involved in the famous 'Erie Gauge War' as described in the Link above. For a while passengers had to walk or ride carriages for several miles, even in the dead of winter, to get across the gap between rail lines of different gauges at Erie, PA. And Buffalo and State Line went into operation in 1852 or so and only operated under the B&SL name for a very few years, consistent with purchasing lanterns right in the 1853 time period. That helps to narrow in the possible time of the origin of the lantern, since patent dates on lanterns get used for decades after the date of the patent (Completely appropriately, but notoriously making exact dating of things very challenging). So back to my original questions, which are NOT conclusions, but questions: is there any way to be more CERTAIN about when this particular 'B&SL' stamping occurred? The well-known history of the Buffalo and State Line, if possible to more closely link this item to it, would make considerable extra efforts worthwhile to confirm the link. At the same time acknowledging that the fame of the Buffalo and State Line would also have made later stamping more attractive. Things to consider, which you have already mentioned, might include the soldering techniques and materials and the effects of the stamping on them. There are some metallurgical effects that change in predictable ways over time (corrosion is one, age hardening is another) but offhand I don't know if those would be meaningful on the material(s) of this lantern. And looking again at the lantern pix, where was it likely kept? The impression is it spent time outdoors, which might have been during an original owner's use, or occurred later. But also the surface effects might be oxidation of an original coating such as plating or one of the many possible paint, enamel, or shellac techniques which might have been applied. Intriguing issues, in any case, and probably worth professional (which I am not, in these areas!) consideration.  Posted Tuesday, April 26, 2016 by RJMc

A. This lantern would have spent most of it's life indoors at least since the early 1900s. I'm also sure that it spent time outdoors or at least partially outdoors during it's original use. It had been kept in storage in an attic for at least the last 30 years or so before it came into my possession. As for the corrosion, it does seem consistent with being done a very long time ago. When looking at the debossed letters from inside the lantern there is much corrosion / oxidation along with built up creosote from the burning of a candle over the years. I will do more research and see if I can find someone to take the lantern to who can confirm the age of the B & S.L.R.R debossed letters. Thank you for your advice on this matter RJMc. I'll post back with any further developments. Posted Wednesday, April 27, 2016 by ND

 Q3143 Railroad Bat/Club  I have a wooden bat-like item marked: ERIE RR embossed in the wood. It is 28 inches long, tapered handle, and barrel part about 2 inches across. Can anyone shed some expert light as to what it is exactly ...night stick / billy club to chase hitchhikers away ? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, April 23, 2016 by Dennis   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  it is a brake bat, provides extra leverage when turning wheel to set hand brakes. Posted Saturday, April 23, 2016 by dc

A. To add to the previous response, freight car brake wheels had spokes, and the bat could be placed between the spokes of a brake wheel to tighten brakes. Posted Saturday, April 23, 2016 by PK

A. These harken back to the era of vertical brake staffs with wheels sticking up above the tops of the cars. Setting the brakes on a car manually consisted of turning the brake wheel by hand, causing the chain at the end of the brake linkage to wrap around the lower end of the brake staff, applying the brakes as the chain tightened. It relied on brute force, and lots of it. Modern brake wheels, mounted on a horizontal axis, have a box of reduction gears behind them; if you spin the wheel, you will notice that the brake chain doesn't move much. The gears in the box provide a tremendous mechanical advantage, moving the chain only a little with each spin on the wheel. The brake bat, or brake club, helped give the brakeman some mechanical advantage in turning the brake wheel. It still took a great deal of strength to tighten down brakes by hand on vertical brake wheels. The spokes on vertical brake wheels were spiraled, which helped lock the brake club tightly between the rim and spoke of the brake wheel, with the far end of the club braced against the vertical staff. -- The other use of these was as a WEAPON! -- "hobos", bums and other transients have always been a problem on the railroad. Colorful and romantic though the image of the Hobo is, many transients were dangerous and violent! Often times criminals on the lam would hop a freight to get out of town to evade the local police. Just like today's transient population, many of these men also had severe mental illness and could become violent if confronted. -- Many a brakeman used his club to fend off drunk, belligerent or otherwise violent confrontations with "unauthorized" riders. --- Unfortunately, there were also a number of railroad men of bad temperament. Some brakemen and conductors would make a sport of beating non-threatening bums, just out of meanness. Many a hapless hobo of small stature or physical weakness was severely and mercilessly beaten, and some times killed, by an ill-tempered trainman, ..just for the 'fun' of it! - "Railroad Bulls" made a sport out of this too, thought that is material for another post. ---- .... Red Beard - © 2016, Red Beard the Railroad Raider Posted Saturday, April 23, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. I actually own one of those brake wheels complete with the shaft. It measures 5 feet tall. They would be at a height so that a brakeman would work it standing up on the car roof so he could apply full force and not have to bend over to operate it. Posted Sunday, April 24, 2016 by JN

 Q3142 Adlake Kero  Need help on this Adlake Kero. It has a #400 pot and burner on the top dome. It has Adlake Kero and then railroad on the skirt. It has C&ARR. There is no pat dates on the bottom of the lantern. It has a drain hole on bottom. The guy I got it from said it was from the Chesapeake and Albemarle Railroad. When I look it up the C&ARR was a short line from 1990 owned by Norfolk Southern short line program. The guy said the pot and burner was in the lantern when he got 20 years ago. I talk to Adlake and they said they have not made the #400 pot and burner in about 40 years.I am thinking this might be from another railroad with C&A on it. Could this lantern be from the 1960s or 1970s? Thanks for your help   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, April 21, 2016 by RT   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. More likely: CHICAGO & ALTON Locations: IL, MO, Mex Express: American and National Expresses Type RR: steam unless noted otherwise Disposition/Successor: GULF, MOBILE & OHIO Posted Thursday, April 21, 2016 by BK

A. It's definitely NOT Chicago & Alton. The lantern dates to recent times per the stamping on top. The Chicago & Alton was reorganized as the Alton RR in about 1932, far earlier than when this lantern was manufactured.  Posted Thursday, April 21, 2016 by BobF

A. Under Railroadiana Types on Railroadiana Home page, click on Lanterns. Next,on Railroad Lanterns page, click on A&W Kero II. The page "Adams & Westlake Kero Lanterns: The Last Stand" will come up. This page might be helpful in more closely determining the age of your lantern. Posted Friday, April 22, 2016 by CRK

A. One tip off its not C&RRR short line is that all the RRs were using battery lanterns not kerosene in 1990. Posted Friday, April 22, 2016 by LP

A. Hi, This is a Chesapeake & Albemarle Railroad Adlake Kero "Heritage" lantern. If you go to the Railroadiana home page, click on "Lanterns' in the right side column, and then "A&W Heritage", you'll see the listing of Kero "Heritage" lanterns (for short lines, museums, tourist RR, Lionel, etc) and the C&ARR is listed there. Your lantern should have had a #300 fount/burner when it was made by Adlake. It is a rare piece as only 19 were made. It is part of a collection of lanterns made to commemorate old short lines of the South.  Posted Monday, April 25, 2016 by wdpdepot

A. thank you wdpdepot for the info do you have ideal why they put a #400 burner and pot in this lantern thanks agan Posted Tuesday, April 26, 2016 by rt

A. The #300 and #400 are interchangeable. The most common reason for changing a pot is if a pot has developed "pinholeing" (metal rusted through allowing the fuel to leak out), but your lantern appears to never have been used. It could have belonged to a collector at one time who needed a #300 and made the swap, or it could have been "new old stock" that was replace by the railroad - there's really no way to know.  Posted Tuesday, April 26, 2016 by wdpdepot

A. thank you wdpdepot for your help Posted Tuesday, April 26, 2016 by rt

 Q3141 Bell Markings  This bell has stamped markings 16281,464,andDD19. Wondering if it was off of a Hudson464,DD19 was a delivery date or what???? Anybody have any ideas on what RR it is off of? Any information would be appreciated. I bought the bell and was told it was a NP, I am not sure of that. Thanks   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, April 19, 2016 by Rodger   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3140 Gummed Up Lantern Burner  I recently came across an old Pennsylvania Railroad Lantern. Everything is in really good shape but the burner is all gummed up and there is still liquid inside. Is there any way to these burners open up to give it a good cleaning and get it back in working order? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, April 19, 2016 by Joey P.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Let it soak outdoors in gasoline over night and it will loosen it up, dissolve the gunk and clean it up as well. Air dry. Wear latex/rubber gloves. Posted Tuesday, April 19, 2016 by DG

A. You can hold the brass part that holds the wick then with other hand turn the very bottom portion that raises the wick counter clockwise to unscrew it from the wick assembly then you can look inside and even clean it better with a rag. Reassemble in reverse. Lantern is a Keystone Casey. Posted Wednesday, April 20, 2016 by dc

 Q3139 What is it? RR?  My grandfather was the railroad agent at the Cedar Point, Kansas Santa Fe Depot, and we found this item in some of his belongings. He died in 1951 at the age of 49 when I was one-year-old. Can you tell me what this item is and how it was used? It appears to tap out code when the brake is released. It is spring driven, wound by a key.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, April 12, 2016 by Barry L.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It is an Omnigraph used to practice and be tested on Morse code proficiency.  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, April 13, 2016 by eg

A. As explained in much greater detail in the answer and link above, you would connect this instrument to a battery and a telegraph sounder (or maybe a buzzer, or headphones depending on the telegraph service you were working in.) Turning on the 'omnigraph' plays a different pre-programmed short telegraph message out on the sounder, buzzer or headphones as each of the surface bumps on the rim of each separate disk pass under the contact. That way a single person could listen to standard code messages over and over again for training, and a standard exam could be given to many people if desired. Various disks were available so that the msessages could be changed, to make sure that the complicated and uncommonly used characters and numbers could definitely be practiced and/or tested.  Posted Thursday, April 14, 2016 by RJMc

 Q3138 RR Lamp Info Needed  I received This lantern from a person whose uncle worked for the Burlington Railroad. It is stamped B R on the frame(see pic). The burner is marked Sherwood Limited Trademark Sound and BR. The wick knob is marked Sherwood BHAM. Any help would be appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, April 11, 2016 by Mike S.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  This is a trackwalker's lamp from British Railways, not the CB&Q, Burlington Route. Sherwood was a lantern maker from Birmingham, England, and Birmingham had been a center for English lamp manufacturers. Many folks make the mistake assuming that BR means Burlington Route, search "British" in the Word or Phrase Archive feature, and check out Q 1533 for more information. Also look at eBay Great Britain and you will probably see similar lamps listed there. Adlake and other American lamp manufacturers made multicolored trackwalker lamps a very long time ago, but at some point they were outlawed because of the possibility of displaying the wrong color aspect. Also ceramic burners are not found in American lamps. Posted Tuesday, April 12, 2016 by KM

 Q3137 Adlake 100 Markings  I've searched your site and found little on this topic so I'd thought I would ask here. Does anyone have a list on the known markings on the Adlake 100 Kero? New York, New Haven and Hartford and New York Central seem to be the most common. I've also seen a Central of Georgia, Indiana Harbor Belt and a Lehigh Valley 100 and I'm looking at purchasing a Pere Marquette 100. Any other roads known to exist that ordered the 100? I have yet to see a western road that ordered these.  Posted Sunday, April 10, 2016 by lionel1225   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Sorry that I don't have a list, likewise wish I did. However, I do have a 100 marked Southern Ry. with patent dates ranging from 5-5-1908 to 5-9-22. Hope you get more responses on this question. Posted Monday, April 11, 2016 by CRK

A. Forgot to mention in my prior answer, please refer to my prior question Q1968 posted 10-13-2010 and answers to that question. Also, you might want to refer to question Q2254 posted 1-6-2012 and answers. Hope this helps some. Posted Monday, April 11, 2016 by CRK

A. I once had #100 lanterns from the CNO&TP RY (Cincinnati New Orleans & Texas Pacific), and GS&F RY (Georgia Southern & Florida). I never had one, but seem to remember seeing a #100 from the C&ARR (Chicago & Alton). Posted Monday, April 11, 2016 by BobF

 Q3136 Brass Handlan Switch Lantern  I was visiting a friend's house and I noticed that there was a solid brass Handlan switch lantern that was electrified. Does anyone know what purpose a brass switch lantern might have played in the role of railroading (possible retirement gift, used on a special dining car, etc.)?  Posted Friday, April 1, 2016 by JAT   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Handlan was in dire straights in the 1980's and started making items for the railfan trade. The brass plated switch lamps and made them into table lamps and swag lamps.It was not very successful and they eventually were bought out by Adlake. Posted Friday, April 1, 2016 by BK

A. Although most of the brass plated lamps went to railfans, some were bought for the kind of ceremonial occasions you mention. For example, I saw one case where the UTU national office bought one to donate to a Christmas charity auction. The next year it was a brand-new gold-colored Adlake Kero. (Not at ALL clear whether those now count as 'AUTHENTIC' RR lamps!!) People buying them from Handlan could get kerosene or already electrified, in brass, silver colored, black or almost any color paint, and if desired with a tag with any RR (or other) initials you chose to specify. If it didn't matter to you, Handlan would provide a lamp with a randomly-selected tag from whatever they had on hand; 'MoPac' was a common one. The Link is a whole page of discussion about these doings elsewhere on the RRiana site.  Link 1  Posted Friday, April 1, 2016 by RJMc

A. --There are several problems here that need to be addressed. --- I don’t have all the timeline dates at my fingertips as I write this, but I need to get some facts on here while this question is still a fresh item! -- -- There is some serious MISINFORMATION out about Handlan; including the article -ON THIS SITE- that RJMc links to in the above answer. --- I’m guessing that BK’s answer is based on that misinformation as well. --- First of all, starting towards the end of the time line, Handlan was -NOT in dire straits- in the 1980s; it was in fact a rather profitable small business; and “Railfinders/Handlan” did quite well for over a decade! -- The people owning and running “Railfinders”, a middle-aged husband and wife team, were the fourth set of owners of the Handlan company in the 20th century; a married couple who had purchased the remnants of Handlan to run as a small business venture, specializing in hobbyist and collector sales as well as providing switch lamps for what little was left of the actual railroad based business. Railfinders/Handlan actually provided them with a comfortable income for quite some time, and was a very successful small business venture for them --- Handlan, in its heyday during the first half of the 1900s, had been a profitable family owned business. The family sold Handlan sometime in the late 1950s - early 1960s, as best I recall off the top of my head – These second owners kept everything the Handlan family passed on to them, including all the old paper records, catalogs, shop manufacturing patterns, etc; and continued offering pretty much the entire line; though much of it was obsolete with the death of steam and the electrification of signals. – these second owners then sold the company to a group of investors who decided to streamline the company. Regrettably, the third owners went through the records and the manufacturing shop and threw out nearly everything that wasn’t related to then current market demand; primarily kerosene and electric switch lamps. – All the old paper history of the company; records, catalog sheets, historical materials, etc were thrown out! - They also went through the shop and tossed out any remaining obsolete stock and all the patterns and forms for manufacturing nearly all of the old historic line of products; except for what they could at that time still sell to the railroads; primarily just switch lamps. ---- This was a huge historic loss, as up to that time the original and second owners had apparently kept -everything- from over the years! ..paper records and obsolete products. ---- The final owners, the married couple, had some investment money and wanted to purchase a small business to run for their personal source of income. They came across Handlan and purchased the remains of the company. – Railfinders/Handlan served them well for quite a while, and it’s -unfortunate- to have people who don’t know what they are talking about say that it was a “dying remnant of its former self”, “going out of business”, “in dire straits”, “last-ditch effort to stay in business”, “Railfinders was a subsidiary operation”, etc, NONE of which is even remotely accurate!! --- The couple ran the company -successfully- for over a decade and supported themselves comfortably with it! --- Adlake NEVER bought Handlan. -- Adlake did buy out Dressel. --- Some fifth entity apparently purchased the switch lamp patterns and made a cheap, cheesy decorator version of the switch lamp where railroad names were stamped into the vent cap. A few of those show up on eBay from time to time. – The married couple (4th owners) had some promotional materials written and printed up for Railfinders, and the copywriters of those materials used quite a bit of creative license. The photos of the man and woman working in the production shop (Link 1 in the above answer) were actually from the 1950s or even the 1940s ; though by reading the blurb you would have thought they worked there during the “Railfinders” era; -not so. Fortunately, those photos and a few others of the old manufacturing operation survived the great purge of material done by the third owners – In the quote; “Railroad lamps handmade the old Handlan way by craftsmen “-like-” Lou Wanner and Mrs. Nancy Torp”, the operative word is “like”; by the Railfinders days, Lou and Nancy were long gone, and the assembly people of the 1980s did do work “just like” Lou and Nancy had done many years before. – -- It is true that during the “Railfinders” iteration of Handlan, the company still sold switch lamps to railroads; …and to hobbyists alike. There was also a “decorator” line of swag lamps and table lamps; but, if you bought a Switch Lamp from them, it was identical to the ones sold to the railroads, and therefore you CANNOT tell if a switch lamp from that era was ever in railroad service or if it went directly from Handlan to someone’s train room collection. --- Answering the original question; ..a SOLID BRASS lamp would be from the Railfinders era. However, in the 1960s and 1970s it was quite popular to take old railroad lamps from any manufacturer and have them plated in nickel, brass or copper, so a plated lamp could be either an old lamp that someone had plated or one that came plated directly from Railfinders ---- …. Red Beard Posted Sunday, April 3, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

 Q3135 Brass Tag Info?  I would love to get any information about this brass tag. I can't seem to find anything on the internet about a railroad 'lamp check.' Thank you!!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, March 29, 2016 by Audrey G   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The lamp check was used like a tool check. I have seen several and at one time had a lamp check from the BA&P Ry. When a lamp or lantern was checked out, the check was hung on the hook from where the lamp was taken and the number was recorded with the employees name in a ledger.  Posted Tuesday, March 29, 2016 by JJ

A. See Prior Q 3118 for the 'lantern' version of the same story, altho in that case they have the lantern but no check to go with it. In a Union Station the 'lamps' probably referred to car inspector lamps, which are even bigger and bulkier than brakeman-style lanterns (see Link), and would have been even more trouble and nuisance to carry back and forth to work on city transit systems. With the larger car inspector lamps, the back-and-forth to work issue would have still remained even after all the lamps became electric. But at least an assigned electric lantern could be safely put away into a locker without risking burning down the facility. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, March 29, 2016 by RJMc

A. The second response makes a lot of sense to me for another reason. From old price lists I've seen the larger car inspector lanterns were a lot more expensive to purchase than am ordinary hand lantern. It would make more financial sense to keep better control over them for that reason. I'd never thought about this in the past and it would make a lot of sense. Posted Wednesday, March 30, 2016 by BobF

 Q3134 Star Headlight Lantern Marking  I picked up this Star Headlight lantern that I believe is a track walkers inspection lantern. Whats throwing me are the intials in the handle 'RIL.' I initially thought they could stand for 'Rock Island Lines' and maybe they do, but I'm not certain. The other red flag is the letters are set into the handle and not raised like I am accustomed to seeing. Does anyone have any thoughts?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, March 25, 2016 by Craig H.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. They might be the employees' initials. Workers were usually responsible for their lanterns. Looks like someone could have taken it to the shop and punched their initials after being assigned the lantern. Posted Friday, March 25, 2016 by JN

A. What you have is an inspectors lantern, track walkers lanterns are quite different. Posted Friday, March 25, 2016 by don cassaday

A. I have one just like this with RIL stamped in the handle although not quite as clearly stamped. Posted Friday, March 25, 2016 by Rick T

A. The letters are set deep and straight so I do believe they were done with some form of a machine and not by an individual with a set of individual letters.  Posted Saturday, March 26, 2016 by ch

A. I'd go with Rock Island Lines. I've seen others like yours in the past similarly marked and I'm in the Midwest (Rock Island territory). Posted Saturday, March 26, 2016 by BobF

A. Thank you Posted Monday, March 28, 2016 by Craig H

 Q3133 Alaska RR Kero?  I was wondering if the Alaska Railroad ever use the Adlake Kero lantern on their system? There is no listing for them on your site, any info would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.  Posted Thursday, March 24, 2016 by Rick M   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. While on a business trip to Alaska during the late 1980's one Saturday I rode what was known as the Whittier Shuttle on the Alaska Railroad, complete with snack car, coaches, auto transport flat cars and caboose. At Portage autos on flat cars were transported through the tunnel to Whittier and back three times along with the caboose. Once in Whittier I walked back to the caboose and asked its two man crew if I could ride with them for the remaining two turns and much to my surprise the answer was "yes". Earlier that morning I purchased an ALDAKE KERO lantern marked "ALAKSA RR" at the Anchorage depot gift shop and was curious to see if there were any on the caboose. There were two, but unlike mine neither lantern was marked, other than ADLAKE KERO. The crew allowed me to hang my lantern on the rear of the caboose for the next two turns so I could say with certainty it truly did see active train service on the ALSKA RAILROAD. I did not see anymore ADLAKE KERO lanterns in Alaska after that trip and have always wondered if the marked ones, like mine, were a special run made for ALASKA RAILRAOD gift shop sales or if any saw train service. Posted Saturday, April 2, 2016 by JH

 Q3132 What is this from?  I just got this Lehigh Valley ID tag. It is brass, 2.5 inches x 3 inches and has LV red/brown paint on it. It has only 1 mounting hole. It says: 'LV CL T1 SH146138 FR SAY 531518'. Any information anyone can provide would be helpful. Thank you very much.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, March 21, 2016 by JN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3131 Original Lenses?  I recently acquired a Handlan black switch lantern with two amber and two green Stimsonite lenses. The lamp has the word Frisco on the side and Handlan on the top. The item was sold as NOS new old stock. The interior shows it was never circulated. The lantern is new and clean in the interior. I want to know if the Stimsonite lenses were added or potentially original?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, March 18, 2016 by Marc   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I don't know specifically about the Frisco, but the Wabash/Norfolk & Western in the midwest were big users of Stimsonite lenses like this in the 1960's till they removed the lanterns altogether. I remember in about 1969 the N&W did some track work on the bridge just west of Landers yard in Chicago and installed two new switches, complete with brand new Adlake switch lanterns equipped with Stimsonite lenses. They certainly are appropriate for the time period for late production lanterns like yours. The lenses reflected with the outer ring and if the lantern were to be lit the lenses could also be acceptably illuminated. Posted Friday, March 18, 2016 by BobF

A. This is one of those "maybe" situations. The last of the lamps Frisco got from Handlan were just as yours; coming new in the box with the Stimsonite lenses. I have one exactly like yours, Stimsonite lenses and all, that I know came out of the Frisco's Kansas City yards in the mid 1970s. The last time I saw lamps on the Frisco was in 1982 and they were still just like yours. -- The "maybe" part comes in, as Handlan was selling lamps to the general public in the 1970s & '80s and some of the most common of those are marked "FRISCO"; so it is impossible to say if yours came from the Frisco or directly from Handlan to a hobbyist/collector. -- BobF, above, is spot on about the N&W lamps. In the late 1960s, early 1970s, the N&W (old Wabash) yard in Council Bluffs, IA had some of those Adlake lamps; #1112, that came fresh out of the box, with all 5-3/8 in. Green & Yellow Stimsonite plastic lenses, just like the lenses in Marc's Frisco lamp. They had also refitted all of the old, heavy gauge sheet metal Handlan lamps with new Stimsonite lenses. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Saturday, March 19, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

 Q3130 Lamp Info?  What kind of base is this for? Never saw one like this. Is this a semaphore or a train order lamp? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, March 14, 2016 by RT   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Some questions: Who made the lamp? What color is the lens, and confirm there is just one lens? The metalwork of the base looks suspiciously like the cast metal used in switch throw mechanisms and mechanical interlocking devices, so as a guess maybe this lamp marked a remotely-thrown derail or maybe a movable bridge.  Posted Tuesday, March 15, 2016 by RJMc

A. the lamp is made by adlake there is only one lens its red  Posted Tuesday, March 15, 2016 by rt

A. the lamp has a tag on it with p b & w rr and a another tag with pat dats the last pat dat is 1906 Posted Wednesday, March 16, 2016 by rt

 Q3129 Lantern Info Needed  Can anyone tell me about this?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, March 14, 2016 by Amanda S   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is a tall globe lantern made by Dressel. One is shown on this website -- follow the ink below.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, March 15, 2016 by PK

 Q3128 Lantern History?  I have acquired a cool, interesting railroad lantern. I'm not selling it, but am interested in its history. I just retired on disability from 37 years in the track maintenance beginning with the SLSF (Frisco) railroad, out of Springfield, Missouri in the late seventies. The lantern and its total markings are: The Adams & Westlake Co. New York-Chicago-Philadelphia Adlake Reliable 11.28. 1911-7.2. 1912-4.1.1913 9.22. CAN. 1921-1923-PATS PENDING PADT. 5.5.1908. 1-26.1909 1-26.1909. 9-21-1909 Glass Globe reads -SAFETY FIRST MADE IN USA. Cnx It has a wick in it, the globe is intact, undamaged. Again, I do not ever intend to sell this, I am interested in the history only. Modern Railroading does not turn me on, but the founding railroads do.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, March 11, 2016 by Stan   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Go to the "Lanterns" page on this site. There is a write up about the Adlake Reliable. It even shows a lantern like yours. I attached it to the link on this page.  Link 1  Posted Friday, March 11, 2016 by JN

 Q3127 B&MR Keys  I enjoy your website very much and thank the people who responded to my questions. I have a couple other keys that I'm looking for information regarding their purpose. Both are Burlington and Missouri River. They are neither of the standard switch cut keys this road used. The Fraim key came from Iowa and the J.L. Howard key which has the most unusual bit I have ever seen came from Bismarck N.D. Any positive IDs are most welcome. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, March 9, 2016 by Jim   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. My version of the JL Howard key on the left is over-sized -- about 2.5" long -- leading one collector to theorize that it's a strong box key. Yours is the third I've seen -- Scott Czaja sold another one recently at his Brookline auction.  Posted Wednesday, April 6, 2016 by RobbM

 Q3126 1873 A&W Brass Lantern with Cobalt Blue Globe  Is this lantern now being reproduced and starting to be sold in the U.S.? Two have shown up on Ebay in one weeks time. Both identical in condition and style.  Posted Tuesday, March 8, 2016 by RP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. No. More like monkey see, monkey sell. Just a case of an original lantern selling for what someone else with one thought was worth their while to try and sell theirs for. They are both original lanterns, and probably original globes. Posted Tuesday, March 8, 2016 by EN

 Q3125 SCL Lantern  I found this lantern in an antique shop this weekend, bought it for $9.00. Got onto your site, looks like it may have been made in the fifties if I understand what I read. Also it is stamped 'SCL' but I didn’t see that in your list of railroads. Could it be Seaboard Coast Line? If you could tell me what you think I would appreciate it. Thanks in advance.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, March 6, 2016 by Richard S   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. "SCL" is the reporting mark for the Seaboard Coast Line. "A reporting mark is an alphabetic code of one to four letters used to identify owners or lessees of rolling stock and other equipment used on certain railroad networks". So your guess seems to be correct. You got a good deal for $9.00. Clean and derust and you'll have a nice lantern. The lid hold down clip looks like it might be broken but I'm not sure about that. Posted Wednesday, March 9, 2016 by GK

A. looks like the hold down clip may not be broken, just closed with it inside top wire rather than outside. Posted Wednesday, March 9, 2016 by DC

A. After examining my Adlake lanterns the locking clip on said lantern has definitely been broken or cut short. An unbroken clip would never fit inside the top wire as it would be way to long. The bend in the clip that 'grabs' the top wire is also missing in the above lantern Posted Friday, March 11, 2016 by GK

 Q3124 What is it?  I just purchased this plate at a train show. It looks like it came off of a PRR diesel Electric locomotive main generator. Can anyone shed light on this? The plate measures approx. 3.75 inches x 2 inches. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, March 6, 2016 by JN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The part number 'Type 148 A 1' will be the most likely way to pin this down, because it will likely apply to more equipment and more RR's than just PRR. And PRR had a huge diversity of motive power, so EMD, ALCo, Baldwin, Fairbanks Morse, Lima, General Electric, and Westinghouse are all possibiities. A main generator is a possibility; other possibilities are the DC wheel-driven generators under passenger cars and also possibly steam generators on passenger diesels which had to be periodically tested for safety. No hits on any of my searches so far.... Posted Monday, March 7, 2016 by RJMc

A. Possibly some progress: the 'shop' designator very likely stands for "12th STreet ALToona," and the 1956 date can help pin down what kind of work was done in that shop. The Link is to a very comprehensive timeline of the history of the PRR shops in Altoona; unfortunately over time there were a LOT of PRR shops there, and several centered on 12th Street. It appears that in 1956 the "12th Street Shop" worked on locomotives. However we have to note that there are many kinds of generators around a RR, in addition to the ones mentioned above, including for example welders, more modern cabooses, and even the charging generators on maintenance trucks, so we still don't have a good answer for what equipment may have worn this tag.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, March 10, 2016 by RJMc

A. Hi RJMc, thank you very much for the research you have been doing. I really appreciate it. Posted Thursday, March 10, 2016 by JN

 Q3123 Santa Fe Key Question  I've had these 3 Santa Fe keys for quite a while and always wondered why all are marked 'C' which is usually associated with 'car'. My question is: why would they have 3 different bit cuts for the same department? Although the first two keys pictured are similar under close examination there are differences. Could one of the keys be communications? I hope someone can shed some light on this mystery. thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, March 5, 2016 by Jim   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The two keys on the left are close enough to be intended to be the same pattern and would probably work interchangeably in locks. The locks are really not that precise and small details in key sizes changed over time and with different key manufacturers. The key on the right is clearly a different pattern. But the Santa Fe was a very large RR system, having several major regions (Chicago, Texas, California areas just for example.) Each Santa Fe region was bigger than many RR's in the US. Since few employees worked in more than one region there was no requirement that there be just one key pattern for any given function.  Posted Sunday, March 6, 2016 by RJMc

A. Hello Jim, I will put some ideas out there on your keys : I have seen different RR's keys marked C which stood for Car (dep't) or some lines called it the RT or Rip Track; Car lock,mostly used for overnight locking of partially loaded box cars until which time they were fully loaded and sealed ; finally Carhouse, which was the section crew's small storage sheds for their tools,lamp supplies and motor car.Take your pick now as to what the C stood for on keys and locks. It meant different uses on different railroads. DJB  Posted Sunday, March 6, 2016 by DJB

A.  The key on the right looks like the #1782 key marked Santa Fe C on page 46 of Barrett & Gross' "Railroad Locks and Keys, Volume 1". I haven't encountered this bit, the Santa Fe & GC&SF keys I've seen with the C designation were all keyed like the examples on the left. The C probably refers to car rather than communications, signal being more likely the mark used for that purpose on the Santa Fe.  Posted Sunday, March 6, 2016 by MG

A. Thanks RJMc, DJB, and MG for your input. I appreciate you all taking the time. Although we might not all exactly know for sure, it does shed light on the subject.  Posted Wednesday, March 9, 2016 by Jim

A. The two keys on the left are no doubt the same. The center one has probably had the barrel filed down, some employees modified keys to pass and open other locks than what they were designed to open. I've never seen a GC&SF C key (which doesn't mean much!). GC&SF had a similar key style to the left two keys, slightly smaller barrel (identical to the SP CS4 switch cut), stamping was GC&SFE RY with a D for derail (rip track), just like the "D" designation keys marked AT&SF except they were a different bit than the the GC&SF key. Posted Thursday, March 10, 2016 by spladiv

 Q3122 Reflectorized Railroad Lamp?   I've had this piece for many years and always believed it to be railroad-related, but after much internet research, I haven't seen one like it to confirm or not. Can you shed some light (forgive me, I couldn't resist that awful pun...I'll bet I'm the first :)) on this reflectorized square lamp?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, February 29, 2016 by K Man   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It's a non-illuminated switch stand marker Posted Monday, February 29, 2016 by BK

A. K Man, see Q2310 for some detail on an older question on these. ---- First a question for you; Could you please shine a bright light into one of those green reflectors? ..let us know what color the glass is. Is it the usual railroad "Teal Green" color of switch lamp lenses? The one in Q2310 looks to be more of a grass green color, but digital photos can skew the color quite a bit. -- Do you know what part of the country it came from? ---- I'm still guessing that these are shop made by some railroad, and that they are definitely a switch stand indicator. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Monday, February 29, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. K Man; can you also please send in a photo of the bottom of the item? That could tell us something, Thanks, ---- .... Red Beard Posted Monday, February 29, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. The Link describes the technique of using the 'button' reflectors on highway signs, last used in the early 1960's when flat reflectorized sheeting such as Scotchlite and paints with reflective particles became popular. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, March 2, 2016 by RJMc

 Q3121 Colorado Midland Railway locomotive stamp/plate?  We found an interesting item in our storage, with no identifying tag. It appears to be some sort of plate with a rough '303' on it. Initially, I thought it was something used for branding; it has a 34 inch pole welded to it. However, the numbers appeared to be soldered to a metal plate, which doesn't seem appropriate for a branding iron. I've attached an image of the plate with the numbers. Could it possibly be related to locomotive #303 from the Colorado Midland Railway/Midland Railroad Terminal? Thanks for any help you can offer.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, February 26, 2016 by KS, Ute Pass Hist. Society   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. KS, could you please send in a photo showing the full item? ---- .... Red Beard Posted Monday, February 29, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Here's a better photo, as requested. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, March 2, 2016 by KS

A. My initial reaction is also some form of marking iron or tool, possibly for wet concrete on construction jobs. The Link shows sets of ready-made 3" high brass numbers made for that purpose -- and fairly expensive. Your home-made one is a lot plainer and much more economical. The numerals on yours were made by laying down a heavy weld or braze bead onto a steel plate with an electric welder which certainly heated the backing plate when metal that thick was laid down, the kind of work that would be done on a construction or mining site. Marking of wood products or maybe even metal ingots (lead?) in a smelter could be another possibility. If you are in the Colorado Midland general area ('Leadville?') smelting was certainly a common activity, and lead ingots wouldn't justify fancy markings.  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, March 2, 2016 by RJMc

A. Thanks for your reply! KS Posted Thursday, March 3, 2016 by KS

 Q3120 Lock & Key Questions  My husband and I are cleaning out our garage. We haven’t been able to find any information on a lock and key I have that are marked simply, ORY. I have seen other similar markings, but always combined with other letters. Can you tell me if this is Oregon, or Ohio, or something else? Also, I have another lock that is quite worn and has markings on it I do not understand: SW1 CS. Can you help? One more question. I have an unmarked lock that has a marked key: Erie. Is this common to have unmarked railroad locks? Does it affect the value? Thank you for your amazing website!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, February 26, 2016 by Mary W   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. See Prior Q 2840 for an explanation of the 'CS' for 'Common Standard' marking which was used by a whole group of RR's which were under common ownership at one time, including UP and SP. A view of the shape of the keyhole would help indicate which RR it might be. The Erie key pattern is a quite common one among various RR's and non-RR-users alike, so without other markings or history the lock might or might not be RR. At one time locks like this were sold in almost every hardware store (Remember what one of those is? They are getting very rare.) and lock shops.  Posted Saturday, February 27, 2016 by RJMc

A. Here’s an additional photo of the 'Erie' lock showing the keyhole shape. Link 1  Posted Monday, February 29, 2016 by Mary W

 Q3119 Age of 'NC&STLRW' Lock?  I have a 'NC&STLRW' stamped lock. I'm just wondering how old it might be? It has 'RW' instead of 'RY'. The back says George Bahr and Company.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, February 25, 2016 by JC   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I'm sorry it say's George B. Bahr Posted Thursday, February 25, 2016 by james christensen

A. GEO B. BAHR & company just want to get it right Posted Thursday, February 25, 2016 by james christensen

A. R W (for Rail Way) usually indicates an older mark - 1860's -- 1870's. This may be a lock from the first bunch they ordered for the new road. Posted Friday, February 26, 2016 by DA

A. Thank you I was hoping mid to early 70s I like thing from that time frame still would have bin happy if it was late 1870s any thing newer than that I probably wouldn't keep  Posted Friday, February 26, 2016 by james christensen

A. Happy to hear if anyone one else has any knowledge on this. Is it rare or common i'v seen only one other on the internet  Posted Friday, February 26, 2016 by james christensen

A. Thanks for the information from the answer you have given me so it's from 1873 or A little bit after and maybe if it's from the first bunch they ordered for the new road and I would say that wouldn't make them common .I'm finding with railway or railroad locks it's so hard to date them unless they have A patent date at least from what i'm seeing .I like Wild Bill Hickok so I like things that were around when he was around so I was hoping the lock was made before 1876. Posted Saturday, February 27, 2016 by james christensen

A. Saw something I wanted more decided to put it on ebay thanks for your help Posted Sunday, February 28, 2016 by james christensen

A. must be really rare always cool to hold something from that time in my hands never no who touched it or passed it on there way somewhere thanks again for the age  Posted Sunday, March 6, 2016 by james christensen

 Q3118 MRy Lantern Number  I acquired this lantern a few days ago. I know it is from the Monongahela Railway by the stamp on it. However, I am not sure what the other stamp is, which reads 'L-986'. I checked to see if this might have been a locomotive number, but it doesn't appear to be so.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, February 23, 2016 by JT   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. With a number in the 900's, the "L" is probably for "L-antern" number, so they could track which lantern was issued to which employee. The Link is to a GB&W marker which is also stamped; they suggest that the serial number was needed because the lamp got issued to different employees at different times and so needed accountability. The Monongahela operated in a small enough area that most crews started and finished their shifts at the same base location (Brownsville, for example); if the RR issued lanterns daily all the employees would not need to carry them back and forth to work on the extensive trolley service that once operated there. They probably also recorded which lanterns were assigned to towers, stations, crossing watchmen shanties, etc. where many different employees used the same lanterns. (I am surprised that more RR's DIDN't number the lanterns. Just another indication that mass-produced, stamped out lanterns were really very inexpensive when you bought a couple hundred at a time!))  Link 1  Posted Thursday, February 25, 2016 by RJMc

 Q3117 Pin Holes in a Lantern Fuel Font  I am working on a NYC lantern. The kerosene pot has some pin holes in the bottom. Any recommendation on what to do to plug the holes? I was thinking of using the stuff you see on TV, flexseal, but thought the kerosene might dissolve the stuff. Also should I try sealing it from the inside as well?  Posted Tuesday, February 23, 2016 by Tim B   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I've had success with JB Weld products. Basically a two part slow cure epoxy available in several different versions based on the application, ie, filled for extra strength, etc. I'd first try to apply from the inside and extrude out through the holes. Of course if that doesn't work apply from the outer surface. The bond surface must be clean. I minimally buff a small area around the holes with 0000 steel wool, wipe with acetone (leaves no residue) and apply the JB Weld. Let us know how it works. BTW, I've used this technique on air compressor pressure tanks (about 125 psi max), antique powder flasks and many others. Let us know the results. Posted Wednesday, February 24, 2016 by jsmosby

A. Reasonably priced new and good used fonts are available on Ebay in the lantern and Lamp section. Would not affect the value of your lantern and a better fix then sealing the pin holes IMO. Posted Wednesday, February 24, 2016 by JK

 Q3116 Info on Restoring Luggage Wagon  I have been given a frame (wheels and tongue) for a luggage or freight wagon. Where could I find info to restore it and plans?  Posted Tuesday, February 23, 2016 by Chuck S   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The Link is to a very well illustrated "How To Do It" from the Alexander Chapter NRHS, showing how they rebuilt theirs from a skeleton. These were usually called 'baggage carts' and searching on that term turns up lots of sources.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, February 25, 2016 by RJMc

 Q3115 Northern Pacific Caboose Day Markers  I just got these northern pacific railroad caboose day markers. I would like to know when they started using this type.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, February 18, 2016 by RT   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. i cannot believe that nobody knows anything about caboose day markers what kind of people or on this site. day markers were mostly used on the older wooden caboose from around 1800s to about the 1940s maybe a little latter.this way railroads could save a little on fuel from not burning the marker lamps also you could not see the marker lamps that good in the daylight hours.not all railroads use day markers. i see yours our marked np day markers or hard to fine now days and may be rare. Posted Thursday, February 25, 2016 by mike

A. Mike, the people on this website know how to spell, use proper punctuation and capital letters when appropriate. pajrr Posted Thursday, February 25, 2016 by pajrr

A. One more comment about the first answer.............. He wanted to know when they were used......."1800's to 1940's or later".......that answer basically covers the entire operating history of the Northern Pacific Ry. I will agree that they are "hard to fine", however. I've been buying & selling RR'iana for 40 years and I've never seen one, RR marked or otherwise. That might explain why nobody seems to know anything about them. Posted Friday, February 26, 2016 by DA

A. Its interesting that the 'markers' are green color. Not a usual color for markers; is the other side of these red? Or maybe white? The Nickel Plate always used white painted metal 'flags' on steam engines on extra trains (which were most of the trains they operated -- almost every NKP Berkshire picture ever taken has those white flags, except the rare ones in passenger service) even though the engines were also carrying white electric classification lights. Maybe these NP items were 'Class Flags' for 'another section following' and that wasn't all that common an occurrence.  Posted Friday, February 26, 2016 by RJMc

A. Here's a picture of an NP cab with markers. Link 1  Posted Friday, February 26, 2016 by RT

A. pajrr your right i dont know how spell very well but i dont wait till somebody else answers the question to come out of the closet your 2 cents is noted. dj seeing is believing look at the pic real hard what do you see i see np marking also click on link below my god its a np caboose with metal day markers.rjmc these or not flags there day markers made for cabooses not engines they our green on both sides.they were made so one is for the lift side and one for the right side they our not reversible so even if one side was red and the other was white it would not work because the way the bracket is curved these markers were meant to be used with coroner brackets. click on the link below to see np caboose Posted Friday, February 26, 2016 by mike

A. Examples: See Link 1 for Milwaukee Road and Link 2 for C&NW -- The ones I have seen are red on one side and green on the other. At the moment I can't find photos showing the green side. ---- .... Red Beard Link 1  Link 2  Posted Monday, February 29, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. here's one showing the back side being green ---- .... Red Beard Link 1  Posted Monday, February 29, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. To try to answer the 'when' part of your question, the Link gives the history of Scotchlite and related reflectorized material back to the 1960's, but plain-painted ones could have been in use long before that. The Link turned up the reference to 'button copy' which relates to the earlier reflectorization technique applied on the switch marker in Q 3122. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, March 2, 2016 by RJMc

A. To really answer the question, you would need to look at Northern Pacific operating rulebooks which instruct the crews what markers to display and under what conditions. Permitting non-lit markers to be used (in place of prior kerosene) would have been a fairly major change in allowed procedures and would have been noted. So far I haven't found any NP historical rule books on the web that can be read directly, but they are for sale. Posted Wednesday, March 2, 2016 by RJMc

A. Here's some relevant parts of a Q&A on (see Link for their full discussion): "Re: Early Amtrak Passenger Train Question Author: 1372" "... All trains on BN used rectangular metal non-illuminated marker paddles, red to rear, green to front. This dated from spring 1967, when Great Northern discontinued traditional marker lights ...(EXCEPT on trains running into Canada, which required lighted markers). The practice continued as long as (passenger) heritage equipment ran on BN lines."  Link 1  Posted Thursday, March 3, 2016 by RJMc

 Q3114 Handlan RR Lantern  I am new to Handlan lanterns and have been frustrated in researching information. I have the following questions, any assistance will be greatly appreciated. -Handlan Lantern: Height 10 in. -Clear Globe 5 1/4 in. -Marked: NYSRR -Lettering slightly tilted, lid repaired at hinge -Patent #s 41309 02310 122710 1212 -Adlake No. 1 Signal Burner This lanterns vintage (what years)? The railroads name or is it mis-marked? Does the repair on the lid send up any flags? Is the chimney missing anything and how do I remove the spring assembly?  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, February 17, 2016 by Jimmy T   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The closest railroad to those initials might be "New York State Railways". It was a conglomerate of trolley and interurban lines in upstate NY. Their Adlake Reliables marked N.Y.S. Rys are fairly common, but I've never seen another Handlan marked like this. If it is an interurban lantern, the burner might be considered correct, especially if the lantern had a mounting bracket and red globe for use as a marker lamp. Otherwise it would have a more typical Handlan burner with a narrower wick and shorter wick raising shaft. The lid repair could have done for a variety of reasons and you'll never know exactly why. On some of the later Handlans, (1920's?)the globe retainer and spring are held in with a spot welded piece and it's not removable. Hopefully someone can confirm the markings for sure, I'm just offering a possibility. Posted Thursday, February 18, 2016 by JFR

A. Some where along the line someone replaced the correct Handlan burner with one that was made for an Adlake lantern or lamp. Posted Thursday, February 18, 2016 by JK

A. What years was this lantern made? Posted Thursday, February 18, 2016 by JT

A. The top is typical of late tall globe Handlan lanterns and the frame is a late model tall Handlan style also, so a repair wouldn't make me too suspicious. Lanterns could get pretty abused so repairs did happen. Handlan didn't have the greatest quality control so a sloppy marking also isn't that unusual. That is the typical marking style for late tall Handlan lanterns and later 4-1/2 and 3-1/4 globe Handlans. It's probably from the 1920's and someone took a font/burner from stock and replaced the original Handlan one. Since the NYSRR also used Adlake lanterns a switch on the RR itself is very plausible since they would be in store. Posted Saturday, February 20, 2016 by BobF

 Q3113 C&A Brass Locks  I have a question or two about a brass C&ARR lock I recently found in a southern Wisconsin antique shop. The lock has WILLIAMSVILLE on one side of the hasp and S on the other side,denoting a switch lock. In Barrett's and Gross's lock and key book, it shows the C&ARR using 20 different keyings with their switch locks and 20 different city names to match, I assume, stamped on them, like this one, only the Williamsville name is not shown. Why would a smaller railroad actually want to use this many different keyings,and when did they finally settle on the more typical keying we now see? Their last keying lasted into the Alton Road era and probably later, from what I can determine. Can someone familiar with the C&A help with an explanation? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, February 12, 2016 by DJB   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Usually an arrangement with multiple keys like this would be more typical of maintenance of way or signal operations. Particularly when the economy was in tough times, there was a tendency for folks to go 'borrow' equipment or supplies from their neighbors down the road when the company would not or could not issue sufficient materials. I was told that in the 1950's the C&O had over 13 different keys for their Yale brass signal padlocks, so that each maintainer had some assurance of securing (and thereby could be held responsible for) his own territory. In that case, however, higher level supervisors had master keys to cover for emergencies. It is possible to set up brass locks such as yours to accept master keys; it would be interesting to know if the C&A did that so that senior company officials wouldn't have to carry about many pounds of keys! Posted Friday, February 12, 2016 by RJMc

A. I believe what you have is the lock for the Williamsville, IL station, the S on the back indicating Station. Back in the 1980s a man in Illinois named Randy Jacobs was editor of a small magazine called Railway Pass and Guide. In one issue he went into detail regarding the C&A station locks with photos of the Springfield IL station with I believe one other example. I cannot find my issue or I could give more details. I do recall the article and wish I could share what he knew. Obviously they must have had a different keying style for each station.  Posted Wednesday, February 17, 2016 by Jim

A. Thanks Jim.Your info makes a lot of sense to me even though we are so accustomed to attributing locks and keys with an S on them to being a switch lock.I do know Randy and will attempt to contact him.I was beginning to picture some unfortunate trainman or signal maintainer walking down the right-of-way in pain from carrying this load of switch keys.Thanks for your reply.DJB Posted Wednesday, February 17, 2016 by DJB

A. Yes, the 'Station' makes a lot of sense. It also implies that the C&A closed their stations frequently, maybe each night, in order to need the locks. Many RR stations were manned 24/7 and therefore didn't need locks, particularly if manned by an 'agent operator' who not only sold tickets but also issued train orders. But the mostly north-south C&A route has LOTS of other east-west RR's crossing it at diamonds at grade and had a signal tower in almost every town, so they had a way to get train orders issued and movements controlled 24/7 without needing to have the passenger/freight station open. At the station where we spent a lot of time as kids, the clue that it was going to be closed (for almost the first time ever) on third trick (midnights) was when they installed a hasp and lock on the door.  Posted Thursday, February 18, 2016 by RJMc

 Q3112 Key Questions  I have some 'early' BN INC keys with unusual bit cuts they are pictured from left to right GN cut NP/SP&S cut and Burlington Route Rip Track cut. My question is did the BN have a marked switch key with the Burlington Route switch cut or am I searching for something that doesn't exist? It would seem logical they did seeing that they had the others. My second question deals with the BNSFIBU key. It is a new Keline manufactured key that has a straight drop bit. what does the IBU stand for? I have shown it to quite a few BN people and no one has an idea. It came from the Chicago area if that helps. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, February 12, 2016 by Jim   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I suspect that the IBU stands for "BNSF Intermodal Business Unit", which runs the intermodal transfer terminal facilities, where they would want separate locks from the regular operating and maintenance locks. Per one of BNSF's websites: "Intermodal traffic represents nearly 50 percent of BNSF’s business by volume. BNSF’s intermodal business unit serves more than 8,000 shippers per year. In fact, BNSF loads the equivalent of a trailer or container every seven seconds. For more information about BNSF’s intermodal business, visit" Some time ago the term 'business unit' was a very popular buzzword around the RR industry, but my impression is that it has dropped out of favor more recently and more traditional terms such as Division, Region, and entirely different sub-corporation names are more popular now.  Posted Friday, February 12, 2016 by RJMc

A. Thanks RJMc The ID of the IBU key makes perfect logic to me especially since the key was from the Chicago area. Posted Thursday, February 18, 2016 by Jim