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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. We've been advised that questions about current internet auctions may pose a liability issue, so we have to be careful here also.

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:

 Q3235 Black RR Marbles?  I was researching some marble sized black glass balls that I have found on my property and have been looking for answers and information for years and came across an article from the Railroadiana online website named 'Railroad Marbles' written by Sam Ferrara. In the article he states that these marbles were made of clear glass, the thousands we have found are black glass. We live in Baltimore Maryland and have a railroad quarter mile from our property that was used when Bethlehem Steel was at its peak of production. We also have the war of 1812 that was fought on our property and all around it, so another thought was maybe the British made these as a shot of some sort. Earlier this century there was a lot of dumping around our property, but this is the only thing we have found in that particular area. We have also found square marbles but I would say less than 5% of the thousands we have found have been square shaped. Here is a picture of these marbles to see if they look familiar or you can give us any information on these. Thank you very much,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, November 28, 2016 by Andrew Z.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I also read with interest the article discussing marbles and railroad usage. These may in fact be a variation with the black color defining a specific application. They may not be railroad/loading related at all. I've collected Civil War artifacts for years especially cavalry related. A related item is known as a caltrop or crow's foot used to maim horses and people even many years before the 1860's and during WWI in Europe. Essentially they look like toy game jacks of various sizes and construction configurations. They are "fairly common" however many being sold as caltrops are actually tumbling media used to remove flash, improve finish and excess material from castings of various ferrous and non-ferrous materials, thus the availability. Authentic pieces are far more rare. These may have had a similar function based on your location here in Maryland, i.e., tumbling media. Keep us posted; very interesting. Posted Tuesday, November 29, 2016 by JSM

A. This may be a shot in the dark but you said that this was near a Bethlehem Steel plant.We had a Iron mine in Morgantown PA that was run by them and they had a "Pellet Mill" that produced the iron ore in small round marble sizes. The right of way around the area used to have quite a few of these pellet that leaked out of cars. Maybe these may be just that! RLN Posted Wednesday, November 30, 2016 by RLN

A. First a question: Are your 'marbles' magnetic? I suspect these are related to one end,or the other, of the ironmaking process, and only incidentally to the railroad. On the front end, my recollection is that the steel mill at Baltimore extensively used imported iron ore, brought by ship from Brazil, and that it may have been black in color rather than the more typical rust red. And as mentioned above, it is quite possible it was enriched into some of your 'marbles' before investing in the shipping cost from Brazil...But the enriched ore would be unlikely to look much like glass, and might well be magnetic. What CAN look like glass, and possibly like marbles, is the slag from the back end of some blast furnace operations. Particularly at the iron furnace just south of Laurel, MD, which operated into the 1920's, bog iron ore was used from the local neighborhood. The local ore was naturally high in manganese. The particular metallurgy meant that limestone was not needed as flux, and the slag came out as black glass looking a lot like volcanic obsidian, but never having been near a volcano. This was markedly different than other steel mill slag which is a gray, porous rock. Other early furnaces in the general Baltimore area used this same process, and may have produced the same kind of slag. The slag, with most of the iron removed, would not be magnetic, and being very glassy would almost never weather away. (A note on the topic of steel mill slag: at the large CF&I mill in Pueblo, CO, the minerals in the ore produced glassy, multi-colored slag, seen as ballast on many western RR's.)  Posted Wednesday, November 30, 2016 by RJMc

A. While metal detecting around and adjacent to the mountains around Frederick, MD, I would occasionally get a good solid iron signal. Believe me I got excited thinking I had located a Civil War artillery projectile (I hoped). I dug fairly deep only to only recover a "hot rock". Essentially volcanic iron ore containing obsidian (volcanic glass). RJMc may be correct about this being slag. There were several local furnaces in the area processing local iron ore for the colonies and later.  Posted Wednesday, November 30, 2016 by JSM

A. I think the iron / steel process is the answer. I visited the closed Bethlehem Steel Plant last month. The ground around the ore trestle is covered with thousands of these. Posted Wednesday, November 30, 2016 by JN

A. JN, what part of the Bethlehem Steel plant did you visit? I have several contacts there and would like to talk to them about it.  Posted Thursday, December 1, 2016 by JN

A. This will be of somewhat local interest only, but see the Link for the full text of a 1906 document "The Iron Ores of Maryland" which is an ENORMOUSLY detailed, but still very readable, statewide study of the iron industry in Maryland up to 1906. It was done as a graduate thesis, but sponsored and printed by the state government. It even gets down to who was digging how much bog iron, of what quality, out of whose farm fields! It covers all the iron furnaces, including the one at Laurel, MD in great detail, even including a comparative economic study of what it cost to operate it with slave compared to free labor. (!!) The railroad and steel industries have always been closely related, with mutual interests back and forth, and I think people will find the insights in this document quite revealing.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, December 1, 2016 by RJMc

A. The Bethlehem Steel Plant in Bethlehem PA has been closed for years. It is now a tourist attraction. There is a visitor center and website that you can visit, but the plant itself is long out of business. The "marbles" are all around the railroad trestle that fed the blast furnaces. Posted Thursday, December 1, 2016 by JN

 Q3234 Cleaning a Lamp  I'm trying to clean out the kerosene tank on my newly acquired lamp/lantern... but not sure if it pries off or twists off. It's pretty well rusted and I'd like to do as little damage as possible while cleaning it. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I've attached a photo of the lantern and a photo of the kerosene tank/pot. Thank you,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, November 26, 2016 by John D.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The cap looks pretty stuck. Can you twist the burner off instead? it is brass and should twist off. Maybe a little penetrating oil? Great lantern!! Congratulations on a nice find.  Posted Saturday, November 26, 2016 by JS

A. To avoid any confusion of terms, these comments refer only to the kerosene pot, the plug in it, and the burner assembly. There was never any reason to need to open up the whole top of the pot, so the lid on it is probably soldered or maybe even welded onto the can, and you will not get the 'lid' off without destroying the can assembly. For both the filler plug and the burner: many of these were threaded in, some were merely press fits. The brass burner base mounts into a brass insert in the steel can neck, and if threaded, the threads are very fine. You will probably want to twist off the burner, in the direction of unthreading it, even if it is one of the press-fit ones without threads. Is there any kerosene left in the pot -- or anything close to kerosene? If not, a heat gun or hair dryer may help to loosen up the burner; soaking in penetrating oil is always good, but not if you will apply much heat later. The filler plug looks like it is almost totally corroded away anyway, and easy to replace, so you might just thread a self-tapping screw thru it to provide something to grab, or drill it to be able to collapse it into a smaller diameter and pull it out that way. If you are willing to take the burner out to fill the lamp, you can leave the plug alone.  Posted Saturday, November 26, 2016 by RJMc

 Q3233 Disassembly Question  I recently purchased a Dietz No. 39 Steel Clad lantern. I would like to take it apart to remove the rust particles. I can't determine how to do this. The base seems to be one piece, with no removable parts. The top looks like it should flip open, but I can't figure out how to do that. [A photo not posted shows a stamped 'City of New York' marking on the lid -Ed.] Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, November 13, 2016 by John M.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The top lid flips up once you push in the thumb latch that shows in your photo. Once the lid is up, you can remove the globe and then pull out the font (kerosene tank). If it won't pull out, it may be rusted in place and other persuasion methods need to be used.  Posted Sunday, November 13, 2016 by JEM

A. Used by City of New York water,sewer,streets and public works departments as a hazard warning. Not basically a railroad lantern but of that type.  Posted Sunday, November 13, 2016 by dc

 Q3232 What Kind of Lamp is This?  My wife purchased this lamp for me. It is a Peter Gray & Sons. It is large and heavy. It has a huge fresnal globe inside but I am missing the pot. It would have been large and round. I took a pic next to a lantern so you could get an idea of size. Any help would be greatly appreciated. My only thought is that it is a bridge lantern like the Armspear 450. Thanks!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, November 12, 2016 by Blake   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Blake: You hit it right on the money, it is a turn bridge lamp. - As the turning span rotated 90°, the lamp, which was fixed to the top of the span, would rotate, thus changing the color that projected down the track and down the river;green shining down the track when the bridge as closed and lined up with the rail line, and red shining down the tracks when the span was opened to allow river traffic to pass unobstructed by the bridge span. This also changed the color shining up and down the waterway. (good wife you have there!) -- Would you please take some additional detail photos of the lamp and send them to the web editor? Your lamp is in exceptionally good shape. some separate photos of that cylindrical Fresnel lens would be very valuable to this site as well. Thanks ---- .... Red Beard Posted Saturday, November 12, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Thanks Red! You helped me identify my Armspear 450. I will send in some more pics. It is dirty I have not cleaned it yet so sorry for the dirt. The problems with the lamp are: One cracked lens but it is still solid. No pot. The top hinge is broken. The arm that goes over the top holds it in place so there is no issue other than I know it is there. Pics to come tomorrow. Thanks again.....Blake Posted Monday, November 14, 2016 by Blake

A. Red Beard, I am curious as to the value to see if I overpaid or not. We were at a consignment store and luckily the guy who owned this came into the store. He had it priced at $400 but I talked him down to $250 and I hesitated but my wife said she had it and it would be a gift. Any idea of value? And yes, I have a great wife. Blake Posted Monday, November 14, 2016 by Blake

A. Hi Blake; couple of things; first the site does have a policy of not discussing prices/values, you can write me at railroadraider(at)gmail(dot)com if you'd like. --- 2) PLEASE don't do anything more than just a light washdown with some mild dish soap when cleaning the lamp. That thing is in beautiful condition. Lamp by lamp, collector by collector we are rapidly destroying irreplaceable and invaluable pieces of history by "cleaning" and "restoring" these beautiful relics of the past. (AKA painting them) You can never replicate how the lamp looked when it came out of the shipping carton from the factory. You can, however, preserve the way the lamp looked when it was in actual railroad service! ...your choice --- 3) I have a C&NW #163 Adlake Distant Signal Lamp; a slight variation of the one shown in LINK 1 - Since buying it, I have seen several sell on eBay for around $400. I paid $800 for it and have absolutely NO regrets for having paid what I did for it (I had actually placed a max bid of $1,600, and would not shed a tear if I'd actually paid that for it, as I truly wanted it!!) The value of anything is what someone (including you) is willing to pay for it. ---- .... Red Beard Link 1  Posted Tuesday, November 15, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Didn't realize we were destroying our lamps and lanterns by "cleaning", restoring and God forbid "painting them" to original color. Maybe better to leave the rust on and let the humidity in the air slowly eat them up. Not cleaning is good for coin collectors but for lanterns maybe not so much. lol. Posted Wednesday, November 16, 2016 by NR

A. Red Beard, sorry I didn't know about the value thing. I will contact you directly. I sent the extra pics in so I don't know if they will post them or not. I NEVER restore my stuff. I like old, I like patina. Like you said, I just do a gentle cleaning. I hope they post the photo's I sent in. It is a great lamp. Blake Posted Wednesday, November 16, 2016 by Blake

A. ( @NR -- Didn't realize we were destroying our lamps and lanterns by "cleaning", restoring and God forbid "painting them" to original color. Maybe better to leave the rust on and let the humidity in the air slowly eat them up. Not cleaning is good for coin collectors but for lanterns maybe not so much. lol) A light cleaning to remove crud/dirt/dust is really better. If you read the old catalogs you will learn that "Original color" is usually metal - NOT painted!! A capable restoration can make it look like it did when it left the factory and is perfect for "basket cases" that need parts/otherwise too far gone to last much longer; but there are way too many poor quality "restorations" that essentially destroy lanterns that should be OK without anything being done. I would not laugh about this -- Are you keeping your lanterns in the house where something of value should be, so humidity is not a problem -? Or are they down in the cellar or out in the barn, so of course humidity is going to ruin them over time. No matter the condition or how common they are today, each is a historical piece and is NOT replaceable (they are not making them any more) and every one of them that is destroyed is a piece of American history gone forever.  Posted Saturday, November 26, 2016 by JS

A. From what I've seen, cleaning, restoring, and re-painting railroad lamps does NOT hurt the value. If anything, it seems to help the value. They are not like antique furniture. That said, I do understand why someone might want to preserve the original paint, from a historical perspective. Me personally, if a lamp looks bad, I start shaking the can of Rustoleum. :) Posted Thursday, December 1, 2016 by JeffPo

 Q3231 Conductor Globe Color  I was wondering about the purpose of the blue conductor globe in the photo? I am thinking that it is a recent reproduction or novelty? The clear one to the left is only to show a comparison of style and size. Thank you for any help!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, November 10, 2016 by DF   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. First of all, many people on the railroad used oil lamps for a variety of lighting purposes; among them, switchmen, brakemen, clerks, station agents, and many more, not just conductors. -- Blue globes were used by carmen and men working on locomotives to indicate that the piece of equipment was being serviced and workmen were on top of, underneath, between and in the general close proximity of the cars or locomotive and the piece of equipment was not to be moved or even coupled onto, as any slight movement of the piece could injure or kill the men working on or around it. -- Blue lanterns were hung on the piece of equipment in question along with a blue metal flag, usually stenciled with "SAFETY FIRST" in white letters. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Thursday, November 10, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. I remember at least 40 years ago visiting a fellow collector and seeing his Pullman conductors lantern with a blue globe just like this. That was way before repros started coming out. The Pullman Co would have just as much need for a blue globe lantern as a regular lantern, what with their repair shops, set outs, etc. Posted Thursday, November 10, 2016 by BobF

A. Thanks RB for the info. I am somewhat familiar with the blue globe signifying a car or engine could not be moved. So you are saying that a conductors lantern, even though ornate, could still be used for this purpose?  Posted Thursday, November 10, 2016 by Dave F

A. A blue light is a blue light. It doesn't matter what the blue light is coming from. Posted Friday, November 11, 2016 by JN

A. Your assuming your tall Blue globe is original to your conductors lantern. It probably isn't. A conductors lantern would usually have a green over clear globe or just a clear globe. The Blue globe lanterns hung on equipment were not "fancy" conductor type lanterns. They were brakeman type lanterns with tall globes and short globes depending on the era etc, Posted Friday, November 11, 2016 by LF

A. I think people are missing the gist of your question. You have a blue globe in the style of a conductor lantern globe and you're wondering if it's original, given you haven't seen a blue globe in a conductor lantern, nor would think such a fancy lantern would be used in that kind of service. I don't know the exact answer for sure, but like you I think it's a reproduction for both those reasons. In my limited research so far, I've seen ads for clear, half blue, half green, and half red globes for conductor lanterns, but I have not seen an ad for a full color conductor globe other than clear. Nor do I think they'd used such a fancy lantern to mark equipment that wasn't to be moved.  Posted Friday, November 11, 2016 by JeffPo

A. Well, to contradict myself, I just saw reference to a full color blue globe for a conductor lantern. The Dietz No. 3 globe. Link 1  Posted Friday, November 11, 2016 by JeffPo

A. I thank everyone for their input. Thoughts..... Since the railroads did not supply employees with a conductors lantern I can't see someone buying a conductors lantern with a blue globe. Based on the above info I now think that it is possible that a blue globe that fit a conductors lantern was sometimes available to be used in an emergency. As mentioned the Pullman Company could have been a likely candidate for this. Otherwise in later years it is possible that colored conductors globes could have been reproduced.  Posted Friday, November 11, 2016 by Dave F

 Q3230 Amtrak Badge  I bought this Amtrak INFORMATION badge over the weekend (you guessed it – at Gaithersburg.) Not sure if there is much to it, but I would appreciate information on this piece. Can anyone identify the mark in the center? The seller claimed it was a 'rare' piece. True?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, November 10, 2016 by TP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The design in the center is just a decorative design to take up the blank space. No particular reason for it other than that. The "information" occupation is uncommon and the badge is probably less common than most Amtrak badges, but 'rare' is a relative term, especially for a 1970's badge versus an 1870's badge. Link 1  Posted Friday, November 18, 2016 by SN

 Q3229 Dietz Track Walker Lanterns  What factory colors/finishes were available for the early Dietz protector track walker lanterns? I would like to restore mine to as correct detail as possible.  Posted Wednesday, November 2, 2016 by Glenn S.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Have seen many of these and inspectors lanterns. Don't believe they ever came from factory in optional colors or finishes, just galvanized tin. If it is lightly rusted, silver or cold galvanize spray will do. Posted Thursday, November 10, 2016 by dc

 Q3228 PRR ID Card  I found this temporary employee ID card at a flea market. Does anybody know the PRR Altoona Shops well enough to tell me where this gentleman was going to work? I can't come up with anything that matches the 'Employed At' space on the card. It looks like it would be South ---- Bldg. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, October 31, 2016 by JN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The Link is to a VERY comprehensive timeline history of the Altoona Shops complex(es), and there were really very many of them and they changed fairly often over time. Does anything associated with your find indicate any kind of time reference, which would help quite a bit to pin things down? Link 1  Posted Monday, October 31, 2016 by RJMc

A. On going thru Link 1 above, I now guess the card says "S. Alt Fdy" which would be South Altoona Foundry (or Foundries.) The foundry complex existed at least by 1905 and survived many years past 1931. It certainly employed many, many people while producing all major castings for the PRR, such as locomotive parts, and even down to coach window brass latches. Posted Monday, October 31, 2016 by RJM

A. The land was bought for the Foundry Complex beginning in 1903, it opened in 1904 and 1905, and the complex was finally closed and replaced by the brand new Hollidaysburg Shop complex in 1955.  Posted Monday, October 31, 2016 by RJMc

A. If you want to pursue this further, a Mr. C. E. Weyant (in some cases with Mrs.) shows up in Altoona and Johnstown, PA newspaper articles from 1920 or so, and Mr. F.G. Grimshaw shows up in about 1920 as a PRR Division Superintendent and then in the 1940's as Works Manager. (You have to sign in and/or subscribe to read the actual newspaper text, but the various articles show up radily in searches just using the names and PA or PRR for additional ID.)  Posted Tuesday, November 1, 2016 by RJMc

 Q3227 Pullman Pitcher  I have a Pullman railroad china water pitcher and have been unable to track down the pattern and any additional information on the piece. The pitcher stands approximately 7 1/4 inches tall at the highest point of the spout. The makers mark is Burley and Co., next line Chicago, and under that Made in Germany. Thank you for any assistance you can offer.  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, October 29, 2016 by Sue C.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is the Calumet Pattern. It is an early Pullman pattern, dating from the early 1900's. Burley was probably the importer that Pullman purchased it from. It was probably made by Baucscher & Rosenthal of Germany. It is a pretty pitcher. Enjoy it. Posted Saturday, October 29, 2016 by JN

A. Thank you for the pattern information. I have enjoyed it for many years but now would like to sell it. Ant recommendations on the best venue to use to sell the pitcher? Posted Tuesday, November 8, 2016 by Sue

A. Ebay will probably give you the most exposure, especially if you make it available to several countries. Ebay is very easy to use if you have never tried selling on it. Just take pix of how you would look at it if you saw it on a table at a show. Sides, bottom, inside, etc. Good luck with it. It is a larger size cream pitcher that doesn't come up too much.  Posted Tuesday, November 8, 2016 by JN

A. Thanks for the EBay info! Posted Wednesday, November 9, 2016 by Sue

A. Currently taking pics of the Calumet pitcher to post it on EBay. Noticed what looks like "92 W" or a "92 script a" in the lower right area of the base of the pitcher...hard to see without really looking for it. Was wondering if anyone knew what that meant? Posted Wednesday, November 23, 2016 by Sue

 Q3226 Lite Gard Lenses  Anyone know who manufactured the lenses for the Detroit Metal Products Lite Gard globes? They measure 3 inches + or -. Information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.  Posted Wednesday, October 26, 2016 by Dale T   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Dale; there are some good photos of the Lite Gard "globe" on the net (Link 1) and a good drawing of one in a lamp as well (Link 2)- Lite Gard metal globes show up on eBay every now and then, but it wasn't until I found the photo in Link 1 that I'd ever seen a green or yellow one, only red before that. All of the photos I can find seem to show a fairy good quality Fresnel lens. Most likely the lenses were from the same suppliers railroad lamp manufacturers got theirs from; Corning, KOPP and Macbeth. See my additional answer for a link to the list of lens sizes found on this site on page 7 of the 1956 Handlan catalog which lists lenses as small as 2.5 inches in diameter. I've seen Corning lenses on eBay in 3 and 3.5 in. sizes recently. You just to need to search eBay frequently under "railroad lens". ---- .... Red Beard Link 1  Link 2  Posted Sunday, October 30, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Here's a link to the lens size chart on this site. ---- .... Red Beard Link 1  Posted Sunday, October 30, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. I found out a little info on the Lite Gard lenses. They were made by a company called LL CO. The number on the red lens is 2130. DMP is also marked on the lens. Does anyone know what company LL CO. is?  Posted Wednesday, November 2, 2016 by Dale T

A. Well, well, well; live and learn! That "LL Co" information really helped. After hitting the usual search engines with no results (or, should I say, vastly too many results to be of any use), I thought to put "LL CO Lens" into the search on eBay and, vou la! - LL CO Lens brings up an assortment of automotive taillight lenses! (you have to include "lens" though) -- Get this; one of which lenses also says "STIMSONITE" on it; our old friend who made those interesting plastic switch lamp lenses with the waffle pattern, surrounded by a ring of reflector prisms. - The big Prize here is that STIMSONITE lenses have been almost impossible to research back in history past the current owner/manufacturer, "Ennis-Flint" - thanks for sharing that info Dale! ---- .... Red Beard  Posted Saturday, November 5, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. ---Oh BTW, there is also a 3" dia, green Fresnel lenses currently listed on eBay under under the search "LL CO Lens" that might fit one of those Lite Gard globes! ---- .... Red Beard Posted Saturday, November 5, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

 Q3225 Linen Bags  Hi Everyone, I found a pair of linen bags at a barn sale. They have PRR and LIRR markings. They measure approx. 13.5 in. x 6 in. and appear to be cash bags. However, the 'Return to Stationery Storekeeper' lettering seems to indicate that they served another purpose. Does anyone have any ideas?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, October 24, 2016 by JN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Well, the Stationery Storekeeper may just have been the one who kept the supply of empty bags -- whatever they were used for -- and would be the one responsible for ordering more when the existing supply of usable bags ran low. That said, blank ticket stock would be something else, in addition to cash, that would get handled very carefully. I am wondering if the grommetted holes were for applying seals and/or numbered tags to mark shipments.  Posted Monday, October 24, 2016 by RJMc

 Q3224 BLW Plate  I have recently acquired a Baldwin Locomotive Works Brass Builder Plate with the number 73362 and the year 1947. Is there a way identify what RAILROAD this locomotive went to? Is there a way to tell if it was a steam or diesel? Thank you.  Posted Sunday, October 23, 2016 by Rusty S.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. My Baldwin records indicate this plate is from Norfolk Southern # 662 a 660 HP diesel  Posted Sunday, October 23, 2016 by CD

 Q3223 Railway Express Cart  We were just given a railway express baggage cart. Pretty poor condition. My question: I have seen photos of both iron and wooden spoked wheels. Ours has wooden spokes. The previous owner said it was ~100 years old. Any thoughts?? Any place I can find more info?  Posted Sunday, October 23, 2016 by John   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. There has been lots of discussion on baggage carts here on the Q&A website. Just to start, use the 'By Question Number' search box to look at prior Q's 3116, 2298, 2228, 1627, 555, 545, and 506. Or just enter 'baggage cart' in the word or phrase search box and these should all come up. I don't think any of these go directly to the material of the spokes, but they will certainly give you a head start on how to restore yours if you decide to do that. Posted Tuesday, October 25, 2016 by RJMc

 Q3222 Dating a A&W 1112 Lamp  I need your help in dating my ADLAKE Non Sweating 1112 Bell-Bottom Switch Lamp. My lamp has 5 3/8 inch lenses (4) however a distinguishing element is the Peep Hole which I think may be an item that helps determine the period that is was in production [from- to]. Do you have any suggestions on dating this lamp?  Posted Wednesday, October 19, 2016 by Dave M.    Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Dave; PLEASE send a photo, as that would give us more to go on. -- Also, say more about why you think the peep hole would distinguish the lamp. -- Based on experience, to the best of my knowledge, all 1112 lamps came with a peep hole. The ones that show up on line without a peep hole have had a metal disk soldered over the original hole. (such as PRR lamps) -- It's pretty hard to date 1112 lamps, as they were produced over a good four+ decades with no noticeable changes (variations, but no actual changes to the original design). -- You mention "bell-bottom"; does the lamp have fork mount tubes? ---- .... Red Beard Posted Monday, October 24, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

 Q3221 Essco lamp  I am wondering about this old Essco lamp. Different from typical old headlights, it is labeled Golden Glow Searchlight. Have considered that it is nautical not railroad, however it is made of what seems like cast iron on the body and base, arm is cast aluminum. I believe and would think it would have suffered corrosion at sea. Serial number on badge on backside looks like FLE1419. ANY info greatly appreciated!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, October 17, 2016 by KH   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Many, many search lights were used on fire apparatus. Most pumpers and ladder trucks carried at least one in the 1910'S and 20'S, before sealed beam and halogen bulbs made everything very much smaller and still able to put out adequate light. See link for many pix, some very similar to yours. Link 1  Posted Monday, October 17, 2016 by RJMc

A. Question: what is the square box on the top of the spot light? Is it a transformer; and if so, what is the input and output voltage? - Also; what does it say on the bulb as to voltage and wattage? -- Something I refer to frequently is that with the level of sky glow in the 21st century, it's hard to fathom how dark the night really was just fifty years ago in and around rail facilities. Railroads used spotlights similar to the one pictured in many places. Larger yards would have tall poles or steel towers with spot lamps pointed down into areas that needed to be illuminated. Many yard buildings had spot lights. much like yours, mounted right to the building; interlocking towers and yard offices being among them. When I was a clerk on the U.P., I relied on such building mounted spot lights to illuminate a string of cars as they rolled by, so that I could write down the car numbers. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Monday, October 17, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Thank you so much for the replies! In response to Red Beard questions.. not sure if a transformer, the lightbulb socket is located inside, there is a threaded turn screw on the top that doesn't tighten or seem to do anything and a pull knob on the back that appears to be on/off. It is stamped Phila Ess co on the top. The bulb is a Mazda 1000 watt bulb. Posted Tuesday, October 18, 2016 by KH

A. On further consideration, I suspect a primary function of the box on top of the housing is to act as a chimney while preventing rain, etc from getting to the hot lamp. Incandescent bulbs such as the one in the lamp are only about 2% efficient at turning electricity into light, and the rest comes off as heat. Assuming the 1,000 watt lamp was routinely used (it does seem quite large for this service), you really have a 900+ watt electric furnace in the housing and it had to get nearly red hot. Is there any other provision for ventilating the housing? And with a lamp that large, the unit was almost certainly mounted on a building or a light tower rather than any kind of mobile application.  Posted Tuesday, October 25, 2016 by RJMc

 Q3220 Santa Fe Ry. Switch/Caboose Lamp Fonts and Burners  Why do you almost never find these lamps with the pinch pots and burners? I know these lamps are difficult to find due to the fact that the Santa Fe was the only RR that used this particular Adlake Lamp type. Thank You,  Posted Monday, October 17, 2016 by KFK   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I've thought about this same situation. The first two reasons I can think of are "decorator convenience". - 1) the pot on the switch lamps were fairly tall, sticking out quite a bit below the base of the lamp. If set on a shelf or table for display (post railroad use), they were more than a bit unstable with a high center of gravity due to the light weight of the empty pot, and could be tipped over much more readily than if the pot were removed. - 2) Most AT&SF marker lamps were converted from kerosene to electric with a special clip-in base holding the new electric bulb socket; which directly replaced the original oil pot in existing markers. The heavy, somewhat stiff rubber coated electric cord stuck straight down out of this electrified base. If you set a marker on a shelf or a table for display, the cord got in the way and made the lamp tilt several degrees off vertical making for an odd and unappealing display. Removing either the oil pot or the electric conversion base making for easier display, many oil pots and marker bases got lost over time after they were separated from their lamp. ---- .... Red Beard  Posted Monday, October 17, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

 Q3219 Conger Electric Lantern  Hello, we are trying to put some displays together for the Myrtle Beach Historic Train Depot. Someone has donated this Conger Electric Lantern to us, and I am looking for any information on it. It was owned by a former Atlantic Coast Line Employee. Any information will be extremely helpful. Thank You,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, October 17, 2016 by Troy   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3218 Train Outrunning Dynamite  Thanks to those who addressed my last question [#3214]. THIS question deals with how fast a train can go from a standing start to crossing a bridge, trying to outrun a lit fuse. After the four robbers spotted the chase train coming up the rear, they panicked and ordered the engineer, fireman, and three guards to pack into the cab of the 4-6-0 engine (they must have been packed like sardines), and ordered it onto a bridge where they had laid some dynamite on a stringer. The dynamite man got off, ran forward to light it, then ran back, presumably shouting for the engineer to gun it. I assume he just jumped onto the steps and hung on while the engineer opened it up--and prayed. (In court testimony he said he could see the sputtering dynamite as they passed it and was certain the train would be blown up.) The train consisted of an engine, tender, 3 mail cars, baggage car, sleeper, and a Pullman car. Or 7 cars + engine and tender. It cleared the bridge by 50’ before the dynamite blew. The question is: Did it do this in 30 seconds or 60 seconds? Those are the two fuse lengths the robbers could have worked with. My opinion is that they would have used a 30 second fuse. I believe that because they told the engineer they had planted the dynamite to touch off in case the train refused to stop, in which case they would send it into a gulch by blowing the bridge. (The last part I think was BS as the dynamite was only half-assedly placed on the bridge, and did no real damage. My opinion was that it was meant only to SCARE the engineer into stopping.) And in order to assess for sure whether the train was going to stop, and then blow the bridge and give the train time to lock up the wheels and come TO a stop, the robbers would need a short fuse, not one a full minute long IMO. So the question is: What’s the consensus? Could the train, with an impetus of move fast or die, have cleared the dynamite by 50’ in 30 seconds? I asked the Nevada State Railroad Museum a while back, and they felt yes it could. I did not know then the engine was a 4-6-0 so don’t know how much power one of those had for that kind of demand. Last question: Anyone know what sort of horn signal, if any, the train would have given to indicate it was going to stop when it saw the signal lantern? Long toot? Combination of toots? No whistle? Thanks again for any input.  Posted Monday, October 17, 2016 by Vince G    Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Vince, is the material you cite available on line? If so. could you send a link? I'd like to read the whole piece. Thanks. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Monday, October 17, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Red Beard: Posted Tuesday, October 18, 2016 by vince g

A. A stick of dynamite would be (and can be today) set off using a blasting cap and a length of fuse which looks like treated string and which typically burns at 2 to 3 seconds per inch (see link). Fuse material (then and now)comes in rolls of up to 100's of feet, and it gets cut to any desired length to set the desired burning time. There is no reason to limit a fuse to particular 30 or 60 second lengths. For the travel time part of the question, for convenience in estimating, a constant speed of 1 mph moves a vehicle close to 1 1/2 feet in 1 sec.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, October 18, 2016 by RJMc

A. In my research on the dynamite, I found in that era, fuses were available pre-made in 30 and 60-second lengths, and that's most likely what they would have used. I do not believe they cut random lengths Posted Tuesday, October 18, 2016 by vince g

 Q3217 Number Plate  I'm trying to identify the railroad that this 1082 steam locomotive number plate is from. It is cast iron, but was unfortunately sandblasted at some point. It has a 'SC' part number cast into the plate. Does anyone have a idea of what railroad it might be from? Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, October 15, 2016 by Brad   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3216 Lantern Type?  I found these lanterns last weekend. They are marked F.H. Lovell Arlington NJ on the base of one of the pair. I’ve never seen this type before. They seem like they would be gas because of the top fitting, but they have handles, so that makes me wonder. Anything you can tell me about them would be helpful.  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, October 13, 2016 by Ryan   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. They are marine or nautical electric lamps. Put F.H.Lovell Arlington NJ in Google and depending on the site you use there are many pictures. Posted Thursday, October 13, 2016 by dc

A. If they are nautical, why would they have a door on the base for emptying debris or ash? Posted Friday, October 14, 2016 by Jt

A. May have been gas. There are presently a pair on ebay # 381813595379 with many different views. Posted Friday, October 14, 2016 by dc

A. Ebay search Rare F.H.Lovell, NJ Solid Brass Nautical Bridge Lanterns Posted Sunday, October 16, 2016 by dc

 Q3215 Uniform Button  I have a small brass uniform button with the initials 'NYC AND NR' surrounded by a wreath on a ribbed surface on the front and 'HOOLE MFG CO 45 BOND ST NY' on the back. What railroad is this and when does the railroad and maker date from? Any other/all info welcomed and appreciated.  Posted Monday, October 10, 2016 by Gaylan K   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Sounds like NYC & HR New York Central & Hudson River RR - 1869 - 1914 Posted Monday, October 10, 2016 by DA

A. The button definitely says NYC AND NR....not NYC AND HR. Also, didn’t HOOLE quit using and/or end business during the Civil War (1863)? With these particular Hoole markings as they are, as mentioned in Q3215, does that indicate to you dates of the button and what other railroad that could be? Thanks.  Posted Tuesday, October 11, 2016 by GK

A. According to Don VanCourt's book on railroad buttons it is New York City and Northern Railroad. The NYC&N was formed in 1871 for the purpose of being a direct connection for Ninth Ave El passengers to Brewster, NY and through connections there to Boston. The original main stem was opened to Brewster in 1880. With its Yonkers Branch,it had 53 route miles, including trackage rights on the EL down to 125th St. It became the NY&N in 1887. Item 3/17 in book. Posted Tuesday, October 11, 2016 by DC

A. Lantern in Question 3212 is a Dietz Vesta. Look at Q3212 just a few prior to yours. Posted Wednesday, October 12, 2016 by dc

 Q3214 U.P. Lantern History Question  Hello, Folks. I have been researching the 1899 Wilcox train robbery by members of Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch, and I’m running into a brick wall on one point of the robbery: The engineer made it clear that he stopped the train because the robbers waved the proper signal lantern (apparently, by his own words, a single red and white lantern papers claimed they obtained from a grading crew; not a pair of red and white lanterns as normally claimed by historians). The UP historic division was no help on this, and I am hoping someone here may have some info on any red-and-white lanterns the UP may have used in 1899. All I've seen have been red and green lanterns. Does anyone have any photos or info on red and white UP signal lanterns being used in the late 1800s in Wyoming? Thanks for any help.  Posted Monday, October 10, 2016 by Vince G, Fresno, CA   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Could it have been a red over clear conductors lantern ? Posted Tuesday, October 11, 2016 by dc

A. Can't say if it could have been red over clear. It was described as a "red and white light," and from that I presume it was a double lantern with red and white lenses, but I have no certain idea. All I know was that it was a specific signal lantern the robbers were smart enough to get, and the engineer recognized Posted Tuesday, October 11, 2016 by vince g

A. Not likely a red over clear conductors lantern used as a signaling device as it would be difficult to distinguish both colors from a distance. ANY color lantern when waved horizontally across the tracks would be sufficient to be recognized as a signal to stop. Clear and/or red are the preferred colors. I have never seen a "double" lantern. Posted Tuesday, October 11, 2016 by rrbrakeman

A. Lantern in question 3212 is both red and clear. Posted Tuesday, October 11, 2016 by dc

A. DC--can you give me more info on "lantern 3212"? Was this an Adlake? Did the UP use such lanterns in 1899? thx for any details Posted Tuesday, October 11, 2016 by vince g

A. Lantern in Q3212 is a Dietz Vesta, look at Question 3212 just a few prior to yours. This was also posted by mistake in response to your request at another question.  Posted Wednesday, October 12, 2016 by dc

A. DC--thank you! Unless someone has another candidate, this Vesta looks like it fits the bill nicely. The rarity gives me a little pause that the engineer would so easily consider it the "proper" signal lantern, but with a lack of any other lanterns to consider, I have to treat this as a good candidate for what he saw, and as what may have been used in the area by the company that year. Posted Wednesday, October 12, 2016 by vince g

A. One important fact that hasn't been considered in this present discussion.......that model of Vesta (question 3212) wasn't in production in 1899. In 1899 there were bell bottom Vesta's only and I have never seen a bell bottom Vesta with that lense attachment. Posted Friday, October 14, 2016 by BobF

A. Vince: Could you please post the exact quote of the engineer that you are referring to? His original wording might give us more clues as to what he was trying to convey. His words about the signal he perceived and how the robbers obtained the lamp/s. Also a few quotes as to what the historians you cite have said. -- This would give us more to pick apart. -- Also: are you writing a piece on this yourself? ..are you an historian, or, like most of us, a curious hobbyist. Thanks ---- .... Red Beard  Posted Friday, October 14, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. OK, here are the salient points about what I have found on the lantern: "The man who used the lantern [Sundance] was a large man and perhaps 30 or 35 years of age. ...The men used the vilest and most profane language I ever heard." So its a single lantern according to the engineer A newspaper the next day reported "lantern used by the robbers was found today and identified as one purchased yesterday" So a second source says it was a single lantern. A passenger said: "The fact they used a red and white light--the regulation signal--is what fooled the engineer. Had they used a red or white light alone, no attention would have been paid to them." So evidence is overwhelming it was a recognizable Union Pacific red and white lantern, which caused the engineer to stop the train; otherwise, their standing orders were to go on through to avoid just this thing: being robbed. Where historians have been reporting the robbery wrong for a hundred years was based on one of the guards' statements (a man who didn't even see it as he was locked in a car) that "we were stopped by red and white lights," and from that the story got out that both a red lantern and a white lantern were being waved. Not so. I am not a train student but a Butch Cassidy historian somewhat specializing in the Wilcox robbery, and identifying the lantern has been one aspect of the robbery that has been eluding me The actual article is here: Link 1  Posted Saturday, October 15, 2016 by vince g

A. This is a followup to the post I just made. Looking over my footnotes, I forgot this important note: A very early report in the June 3 1899 Salt Lake Tribune noted the train was "flagged by a red and white light, which is the company danger signal." So apparently SOME sort of red and white lantern was a recognizable danger signal for the UP back then in that part of the west.  Posted Saturday, October 15, 2016 by vince g

A. Hi Vince. Thanks for that additional information. -- I don't have access to any rules books from that era; hopefully someone else does. However, having worked for the railroad (U.P.) and being familiar with how rules are stated, I read the quote "The fact they used a red and white light..." and "we were stopped by red and white lights,(plural)" as meaning TWO separate lanterns, one RED and one WHITE (clear, uncolored globe)being held up together in one hand. Again, not having any rules books handy at the moment, I can't give you a quotation, but numerous signals were given by holding various combinations of two lanterns of different colors up together in one hand. -- I wouldn't base any judgments on the quote "The man who used the lantern..." and wouldn't assume his use of "lantern (singular)" to mean they had one lantern displaying two colors. I'd be more likely to chalk "lantern" up to being his use of language, a misquote or a simple typo. -- I can't account for the news quote "lantern (singular) used by the robbers was found today and identified as one purchased yesterday", which does imply one single lantern; unless they discarded or dropped one of the two as they made their escape. My guess here would be that they saw no further use for a red globe lamp, tossed the red one and kept the clear one. -- They would not have had to be railroad style lanterns either. Hot or cold blast lanterns were items of day to day life in the 1800s. Red globe lanterns and clear globe lanterns were stock items at any general store at that time. -- Even with the quotes you have referring to a single lantern, my best guess is that they had two lanterns; one red and one white. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Saturday, October 15, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Thanks for the input, Red Beard. It is a bit of a conundrum. It's still hard to figure out precisely what happened. The robbers appear to have had no reason or time to think, if they'd wanted to, of picking up any lantern to take with them (their hands were filled with guns for the first 20 minutes) as they all panicked and piled into the engine to run down the track when they saw a second train coming up behind. This may be a question about the robbery I will never have a definite answer to. Not a major issue, but I'm a detail guy who needs to know every little point, LOL Posted Saturday, October 15, 2016 by vince g

A. If the "lantern used by the robbers was found today and identified as one purchased yesterday," I'm guessing it was probably not railroad issue. Posted Tuesday, October 25, 2016 by RobbM

 Q3213 C&PS Key  Can anyone shed some light on this C&PSRR Key? It is smaller than normally seen keys. About 1 5/8 inches in size. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, September 29, 2016 by Paul   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Could be Columbia & Puget Sound 3' gauge till 1897. Lot of those narrow gauge, lumber & coal company railroads had smaller keys. Posted Thursday, September 29, 2016 by dc

A. Another general possibility: that 'SRR' on the end could be for 'Street RR'; a lot of streetcar and interurban lines also used smaller keys and for some reason seemed to favor the more elaborate right-angle steps in the bit, such as yours has. (That probably made the locks more secure; with just a straight bit a very common skeleton house door key or a furniture key would usually open the lock. The right-angles in the keyway kept that kind of key out of the lock.) Still looking for other matches for the C&P initials on the street railroad side of things.  Posted Friday, September 30, 2016 by RJMc

A. A run through Gross's Trolley and Interurban directory came up with the Cicero and Proviso Street Railway (not RR) with 50 miles of apparently street trackage in the Chicago area in the 1890's. The C&PSTRY was absorbed in several stages into what became the Chicago Surface Lines streetcar system. Companies often shifted beween calling themselves RY or RR, sometimes with no apparent reason, so the Chicago-area line might still be a possibility for your key.  Posted Friday, September 30, 2016 by RJMc

A. Thanks so much for looking, hopefully something may still turn up? Posted Friday, September 30, 2016 by Paul

A. It is purportedly Columbia & Puget Sound. I have an identical key which came from the Pacific Northwest area. This version is not the switch cut, I have one of those also and it is a full-size key. Take note that manufacturers offered locks that were small to medium sized and used similar keys for signal and MofW, etc use. The Western Union key is this same cut or the mirror image, I can't remember which. Their keys have the date of manufacture and no initials (at least on the ones I have seen).  Posted Thursday, October 27, 2016 by spladiv

 Q3212 Unusual Vesta Lantern  I was hoping that you could provide some information on this particular Dietz Vesta lantern. Through social media groups I have learned some information as to the rarity. Some believe this may be the 7th known version of this un-cataloged option. It is not marked with any particular railroad. It is missing one 4 inch red lens on one side and the screws and clip to hold the lens in. Other than that the condition is fantastic. Any information that you could provide I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, September 29, 2016 by Jeff C   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  It is a crossing watchman's lantern with two red lens to stop vehicular traffic and hides the red lens to train so it is not taken as a stop signal. I have one just like it and replaced some of the screws with brass ones. Mine is not marked with a RR either but was purchased at an auction where a lot of Reading items are sold and now display it with a clear P&R globe. Adlake makes a similar one with blinders attached to a shorty. Posted Thursday, September 29, 2016 by dc

A. There are many lens available on ebay, those broken off screws can be drilled out,holes rethreaded and new screws applied.If any of the nuts that the screws are in are missing a new one can be soldered in place. Posted Friday, September 30, 2016 by dc

 Q3211 Erie Lock  I got this small Erie utility lock as a gift. Does anyone know the approximate age? The hasp at 12:00 has F--S in a diamond. I assume that that would be Fraim - Slaymaker, which went out of business around 1930. At 9:00 on the hasp looks like '193' or '1 o 3'. At 10:00 on the hasp it is stamped 'AN'. and at 3:00 on the hasp looks like 'M'. The lock measures about 3 in. high x about 2 in. wide. Any info anyone can provide is appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, September 25, 2016 by JN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. this ias a locker lock Posted Monday, September 26, 2016 by bk

 Q3210 Lantern Bail  I have a K&IT RR lantern that I picked up 20 years ago of all places, Kentucky and I never paid much attention to it until recently. This has a bail that is extended down one side so the the bail is locked in the vertical position all the time. I've never noticed this style on any other lamp and want to know if there are others like this. It looks like it was factory made. It is on a Dietz frame. Any help is welcome!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, September 25, 2016 by BN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Probably done by a railroader himself to lock the bail in place. I've seen quite a few lanterns with the bail modified like this. Posted Sunday, September 25, 2016 by BobF

 Q3209 Adlake fount, burner and Chimney  I have acquired an Adlake fount, burner and glass chimney. Can you please tell me what its application was? The burner is marked 'ADLAKE' TRADE MARK LAMP MFG & RLY SUPPLIES LTD LONDON. The fount is 16cm in diameter, capacity about a litre. The burner is very small, obviously intended for very long duration burn. I don't think the light output would have been sufficient for railway use. Perhaps it was a ship's binnacle compass light.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, September 23, 2016 by Paul   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This fount and burner is from a semaphore signal lamp, the fount is probably from an earlier (pre 1920) cylindrical type lamp case which has been "modernised" by fitting an Adlake burner. These lamps were designed to burn for a week between servicing. The Lamp Manufacturing & Railway Supply Co. were the leading suppliers of signal lamps in Britain and supplied "Adlake" patented material under license. Posted Wednesday, September 28, 2016 by JAJ

 Q3208 Item IDs Needed  I'd like to track down the name and purpose of these objects. I know some are from Pennsylvania Railroad and Cumberland Valley Rescue Railroad. I'm just not sure what they are. Does anyone have any info on what these objects are? Thank you for your time.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, September 23, 2016 by Tyler S.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Most likely these are paperweights, used on office desks where RR's used to have LOTS and LOTS of papers, waybills, orders, letters, etc etc. There was no air conditioning so windows were often open and when they were lucky (summer temps often of 100 degrees), the breeze blew through. Its hard to tell the sizes, and the shapes because the pic is looking almost straight down, but the one on the right seems to have the typical knob sticking out the top which many paperweights had. The ones on the left seem to have a much more irregular shape. The Cumberland Valley Rail Road (not 'rescue') was the predecessor of the PRR between Harrisburg, PA, Hagerstown, MD. Martinsburg, WVa, and Winchester, VA. Stations, towers, and RR offices between Hagerstown and Winchester were also in B&O territory and items such as paperweights probably got swapped back and forth.  Posted Friday, September 23, 2016 by RJMc

A. I'm thinking that they are drawer pulls, the handle by which you pulled open a drawer. Using the screw and screwdriver bits as a scale of reference, they would be the right size. Also, they have recessed finger groove on the upper and lower back edges. -- What is on the piece of paper that is shown in the upper right corner of the box those are in? -- There is a partial picture visible of the C.V.R.R design showing on that paper and it may give you more clues. -- The wooden ones may be actual drawer pulls, or they may be patterns for casting the metal ones. Casting patterns were usually made of wood, and just slightly larger than the finishes cast metal product, as metal shrinks slightly as it cools and solidifies. One of the metal CVRR ones has a signature engraved on the end; do any of the others, and if so, are the signatures all the same or are they different? ---- .... Red Beard Posted Saturday, September 24, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. The oval PRR is definitely a paperweight.  Posted Sunday, September 25, 2016 by GLM

A. Yes, the wood parts on the left are almost certainly the patterns to make the casting molds for the CVRR pieces. You can see small imperfections in the top wooden piece that show up in the metal cast pieces....and the white powder sticking to the wooden letters is probably the mold release powder from the sand casting. But I don't think we have nailed down the purpose of those pieces on the left, yet; the almost "shoe" shape of the CVRR's is very unusual and the oval B&O pieces don't look usable as drawer pulls. What metal are these cast in? Another possible hint; the purple coloring on two of the pieces looks like machinist's 'bluing' dye. And there has obviously been some smoothing and finishing of the raw cast CVRR pieces. A side view pic of these pieces would be very helpful, and also a back view to show whether they have holes, bosses, or attach points to serve as drawer pulls.  Posted Wednesday, September 28, 2016 by RJMc

 Q3207 Key Descriptions When Selling  How should a seller describe keys that are apparently over-runs when selling them online? Your discussion on the subject is excellent! To say the least, the subject can be confusing. Thanks,  Posted Friday, September 23, 2016 by Carl   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. That's a very tough question. In the late 1960's, early 1970's a lot of Slaymaker "overruns" made the rounds with or without Slaymaker hallmarks. While I don't doubt that a key maker would produce extra keys in anticipation of repeat future orders from a regular customer, a good number of those "overruns" were from railroads that were gone from the 1930's and 1920's or even earlier, yet they looked shiny and brand new without the slightest bit of patina. This is about the time that phony keys from other various sources started hitting the market. That has made the issue of "overruns" very touchy to many collectors. The big question was whether these were old leftovers, or new ones made with original molds, etc...for the collector market. I suspect the latter for a lot of those "overruns". I have and have had very old keys that were never used, but they did show years of patina nevertheless. The best way to list such a key is to be truthful. If a seller somehow knows for a fact that a key is a legitimate overrun, then tell why you know it's an overrun. Otherwise just present it as it is and mention the presence or lack of patina, wear, etc. Simply, tell the truth. Posted Sunday, September 25, 2016 by BobF

 Q3206 Unknown RR Item?  I bought this item from an estate sale. The woman said it came out of the railroad depot here in Palestine, Texas. There is one just like it here in the railroad room, in a section where they have telegraph items at the local museum. It appears to punch holes with a point and has two circular areas (for holding something on each side). Nobody here can identify it. I would appreciate it if someone can tell me something about it, like what is it? How old? How was it used? It is made of cast iron and has painted on gold decorations on the side and top where you punch it down. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, September 23, 2016 by Elise D   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I don't believe this item is specific to railroad use. Does it punch a round hole or a slot ? Those brass head paper fasteners had flat spears and worked better in a slot. The two cups on either side were for a supply of the fasteners. Posted Saturday, September 24, 2016 by dc

 Q3205 N&W Plate/Loco Questions  Over the years my father, brother and I have collected railroad artifacts. Recently my brother asked me if I wanted the Y6a Builder and Cylinder Plate from Norfolk and Western Locomotive 2157. After some discussion we decided to give it away as a Christmas Present. We are going to have it mounted on a plaque with the following laser engraving on the plaque. The Boiler and Cylinder Plate are from Norfolk and Western Steam Locomotive number 2157, a Class Y6a Steam Locomotive built in Roanoke Virginia. This was the only Class of Steam Locomotive authorized by the War Production Board to be built by the Roanoke Shop during the War Year 1942. The Roanoke Shop built sixteen locomotives numbered 2155-2170. The War Production Board was established on January 16, 1942 by Executive Order of President Franklin D Roosevelt. The Builder and Cylinder Plates are in like-new condition with a few very small nicks around the holes where the rivets were removed. The Boiler Plate states that the Locomotive was built for the Norfolk and Western, Y6a, Apr. 1942, No. 318, Roanoke Shop. The questions that I have about this Locomotive and Builder plate are: 1. Are there any fake plates from No. 318, Locomotive No. 2157? 2. Did the Locomotive have one or two Boiler Plates since it was built in the War Year 1942 when metal was scarce and was being used for the war effort? I have looked at a lot of the N&W steam photos and cannot determine if they had plates on both sides of the boiler. I think the 2156 has plates on both sides but this could have been added or a second plate forged by N&W because it was being donated. 3. What was the official date this Locomotive was placed in service and was an Official Builders Photo taken and where could I get a copy of it? 4. When was the Locomotive officially taken out of service? 5. When, where and who cut the Locomotive up? Was it the N&W or a scrap yard? I just came across your web site and really enjoyed reading it. Any information you can assist me with would be appreciated. Thanks.  Posted Friday, September 23, 2016 by John S   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3204 Hat Badge Question  Hi Everyone, Can anybody tell me if the Erie Lackawanna RR had hat badges that carried the EL name? I have seen Erie hat badges and Lackawanna hat badges, but never an Erie Lackawanna hat badge. If anyone has a picture of one I would love to see it for reference. Thank You  Posted Thursday, September 22, 2016 by JN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. No. The trainmen just wore their old badges. Posted Friday, September 23, 2016 by BK

A. I'd imagine with the massive 1960's cutbacks in passenger service, there were more than enough old badges to meet crew requirements. Also the hard up "Erie Lack-of-money" had to watch every penny. Posted Friday, September 23, 2016 by BobF

 Q3203 Strange A&W 300 Frame  Anyone ever seen an Adlake 300 frame like this? It's marked for the SP and it's shorter then the standard 300. Base is smaller, tank is smaller and the cup isn't as deep. Also comes with a rigid bail. Does not appear to be a shop made piece but something factory made. Construction looks too clean for someone on the railroad to have made. Also note the comparison of the SP Short 300 to a standard 300 frame marked for the Pennsy prior to restoration. If anyone has seen one of these, can you tell me how common or rare they are?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, September 19, 2016 by lionel1225   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Some speculation: the fixed handle looks to be fiber or another electric insulating material, suggesting use on electrified railroad, where lower overall height would also be desirable. The smaller fuel capacity would be reasonable for commuter operations. SP ran electrified commuter lines in southern California (and possibly elsewhere, on a smaller scale) until at least 1941 (see link) and that timing I think is consistent with Model 300 production. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, September 21, 2016 by RJMc

A. I was thinking along the same lines as RJMc. I don't know anything about SP operations and didn't know that they even had electric operations, but it is almost identical to a Long Island RR lantern that I had. The LIRR definitely has electric operations! JN Posted Thursday, September 22, 2016 by JN

A. Bail is made of steel or aluminum, not an insulated material. (My Lantern) Posted Wednesday, September 28, 2016 by MJC

 Q3202 Civil War Rail Implement  The attached photo and drawing describes an implement used during the Civil War by the Union to impede use of southern railroads. My understanding is that rail sections were heated, one or more of these twisters hooked onto the rail base and long bars/levers were used to twist the soften iron rail. They couldn’t easily be straightened for reuse in a timely manner, thus, the 'Union bow ties' created by the USMRR. The drawing attached captures the dimensions of an actual dug example recovered near Petersburg, VA, done by me to get a quote from a blacksmith to fabricate. Do any of you know of any additional information on these?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, September 15, 2016 by John M   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The Link is a 30-second actual live video demonstration of the technique on YouTube, titled "Sherman's Necties", done by a gang of about 20 Union soldier re-enactors. I am sure there are others. Usually the red-hot rail was wrapped around a tree or telegraph pole. You can see in this video that the hot section of the rail is so flexible that it flops almost like a wet noodle. In this video they do not seem to be using any grips or tools, just manpower; having additional leverage (such as your grabbers would provide) would considerably reduce the manpower needed, and importantly(!!), reduce the risks that are obvious in the video of a lot of people tripping all over themselves, breaking bones in addition to the rail, and getting seriously burned....  Link 1  Posted Friday, September 16, 2016 by RJMc

A. Two other possibilities come to mind. The link below talks about a different destruction technique, apparently directly ordered by Gen. Sherman, in which one end of the heated rail was twisted vertically. That would make a vertical corkscrew shape rather than a hairpin shape. Your grabbers would be much more useful and much more necessary for that operation than to do the hairpins. An even different possibility is they were TRACK twisters, not RAIL twisters, and maybe not for destruction so much as construction. Assembled railroad track is really very flexible in both the horizontal and vertical directions and it will stay assembled, stay in gauge, and remain usable despite being moved. In an area with temporary track and lots of changes, it would be very useful to be able to grab a piece of track and change its curvature very quickly. This is done all the time in lumbering operations, gravel pits, slag dumps and open mines. It was quite likely done during the siege of Petersburg where huge quantities of earth, equipment and supplies were moved daily and if available, railroad was the preferred method. At that time they would probably have hitched a team of horses or mules to the 'grabbers' to pull the track to the desire new alignment. Today, they use bulldozers for the same job. Today's much larger rail and ties are somewhat stiffer, but still really very flexible.  Link 1  Posted Friday, September 16, 2016 by RJMc

A. As suspected, the following link describes US Military RR (Union) operations from the port at City Point during the 9-month long Siege of Petersburg. USMRRC ended up constructing over 21 miles of track carrying up to 18 trains per day and running up 2.3 million miles of travel. And all the trackage was undergoing constant change as separate actions were fought during the overall campaign. So I strongly suspect your 'grabbers' were tools, rather than weapons. (No 'soldier' would want to be bothered needing a special tool just to destroy stuff. But 'track engineers' love special tools for getting a job done right when somebody has to use the track afterward!) Link 1  Posted Friday, September 16, 2016 by RJMc

 Q3201 Lamp Restoration  I really enjoy your website! We just bought a house with some outdoor lanterns that have been switched to electric. In their condition, I am afraid to use them. I would like to completely strip them down and then probably repaint them black. First of all, I do not know what they are made of, and I would like to use the lye method. Secondly, the lantern on the post appears to have duct tape around the bottom and then been painted over. Do you have any advice for cleaning? Thank you!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, September 15, 2016 by LD   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Lye is problematic considering they have been electrified and dangerous too unless your careful. I'd just go with paint stripper and see what condition the metal is underneath. If its clean and rust free you can just repaint.  Posted Friday, September 16, 2016 by LF

 Q3200 AT&SF Railroad Thing?  I came across this thing with a set of pull down school maps. I'm thinking at the auction this thing was thrown with it to make it all 'railroad'. Did this stick have any use in railroad functions or is it really a map puller? It's marked atsf on the metal hook and on the other side of the hook is a rubber stopped thing. Would love to get down to the bottom of this. None of the maps show any direct association to the railroad. Thanks for any help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, September 14, 2016 by Nick   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Early passenger cars had "clearstory" windows, small windows along the sides of the roof line to provide ventilation in the days before air conditioning. This pole was probably used to open & close those windows. Posted Wednesday, September 14, 2016 by JN

A. Nick, see Q2222 for some detail on this item, -- It is a hook primarily used to open and close windows which were hinged along the bottom edge, and opened by the upper edge being tipped forward into the room; the hook being used to grab a ring on the latching mechanism that held it closed. The rubber pad was used to push the window closed. ...again see Q2222 for some detail. -- It could certainly have also been used to pull down those old roll-up maps. -- Take a good look at those old maps! Do they have railroad lines marked on them?? Railroads used roll-up maps in their offices. I once had a personal tour of the "12th Floor" (President's and V.P. offices) of the old Union Pacific Headquarters building at 16th & Dodge St. in Omaha. There was a large conference room with a 20 foot long map of the U.P. permanently mounted on the wall, which showed every main and branch line on the U.P. System, all stations and all interchange points with other lines. Additionally, there were moveable cutouts resembling every crane and snow plow the road had. These cutouts were moved on the map every time the individual piece of equipment was moved on the line. There were also dozens of roll-up maps for every railroad in the US, Canada and Mexico. This was the strategy room where the president and all the top operating and maintenance of way department heads met when there was a major derailment, blizzard, forest fire, flood or other disaster that blocked any part of the railroad. They would stay holed up in that room for days until the problem abated; frequently having to reroute traffic over other railroads in the meantime. The roll-up maps were used to plan how and where to divert blocked traffic, and over which competing roads, so that the U.P. could retain as much of the billable mileage as possible, and not give away too much freight mileage to other roads. The cutouts of the plows and cranes helped plan on how to deal with the situation using their own equipment based on where any of it was at in the given moment. --- Other departments also used roll-up maps like those to plan shipping routes for customers, always trying to optimize the most road miles of the shipment over their own line as railroads split up the freight charges by the portion of the shipment that traveled on their rails. This may seem inconsequential in this time when there are only a few long-reaching railroads; however just a few decades back, monster roads like today's BNSF, UP, CSX, NS didn't yet exist; their current routes then being comprised of dozens of smaller roads, all fighting for every dollar they could squeeze out of every shipment by garnering every road mile they could before giving the shipment to the next railroad. -- Do take a good look at those maps; they maybe railroad maps! ---- .... Red Beard  Posted Wednesday, September 14, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. I have two of these in my collection, one is marked (Raised Letters) PRR and the other is CN RR. My question is, what was the length of the wood rod for the trainmen to be able to reach the upper windows? RLN Posted Thursday, September 15, 2016 by Robert L Niblick

A. RNL: see the one pictured in the Link on Q2222; it is only about 3 feet long, which would have been more than enough to reach the clearstory windows in an old heavy weight passenger car, as those windows were just above your head when standing in the aisle. However, these hooks were used in buildings as well where the moveable window pane could be at any height. I've seen these poles anywhere from 3 feet in length to 8 foot, for very high windows. The ones I used in grade school were over six feet long (much too long to be used in a passenger car). Again; see the long piece I wrote in Q2222 -- Additionally, the one pictured above in this question could very well have found its way into a school room for use on the roll-up maps. I remember teachers struggling to pull those maps down as they were usually mounted one above the other, and several high. Lots of stuff owned by the railroad was eventually "appropriated" for other uses. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Thursday, September 15, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Errata: The old Union Pacific HQ Building was at 1416 Dodge Street in Omaha, filling the entire block from 14th to 15th. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Thursday, September 15, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

 Q3199 Fake AT&SF Clock?  I would appreciate your help! I have an old short drop Santa Fe Railroad Seth Thomas wind-up clock. I was wondering if this clock is an old school click converted into a fake railroad clock? A clock guy said they never made short railroad clock. Thanks you for your help!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, September 7, 2016 by Amy M   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. To start the discussion see the 'Clocks' discussion page elsewhere on this RRiana site (see link.) Also use the word or phrase finder; I know we have discussed clocks elsewhere here before....At the link there is discussion about the RR markings being put on the outer face of the glass, but I know we have discussed people producing the backing for the hands, as well.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, September 8, 2016 by RJMc

A. Q2022 is a good place to start.  Posted Thursday, September 8, 2016 by RJMc

A. There should be a number stamped on the door frame opening. Not on the door itself, but on the frame where the door rests when it closes.  Posted Wednesday, October 19, 2016 by John

 Q3198 Lamp Info Needed  I have been looking everywhere for info on a Boesch Head-light Co., San Francisco, CA headlight. I don’t know anything about it. Any info would be appreciated. Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, September 3, 2016 by Cindy   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  See Q 2599 and Q 1003 in the Archives for more information on Boesch Lamp Company. It is hard to tell what size this headlamp is from the photo. If it is only 12 to 16 inches tall then it probably is not a railroad headlamp. Boesch made or sold headlamps for other kinds of machinery like steam tractors and vehicles. Boesch closed down around 1920 and some motor vehicles were still using kerosene head and taillights then.  Posted Tuesday, September 6, 2016 by KM

 Q3197 Silver Pitcher ID Needed  Can you identify this silver plate small pitcher by Reed & Barton? Is the B&D line the Baltimore and Delta from the late 1800’s? Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, August 26, 2016 by Karen   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. No, Detroit & Buffalo Line Great Lakes Steamship. Great piece, but not RR. Link 1  Posted Friday, August 26, 2016 by JFR

A. Apparently the link didn't work. You'll see that logo on a few of these images. Link 1  Posted Friday, August 26, 2016 by JFR

 Q3196 A&W Logo Change  What year did A&W (Adams & Westlake) change from the hex logo to the Adlake logo? Thanks.  Posted Wednesday, August 24, 2016 by Tim C.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Interesting question. The "classic" original hex mark seems to have been dropped about 1904. Somewhere in the mid to late 1910's it seems to have reprised, but with a cruder version for only a short time. The original hex mark is distinct, complete and very readable, while the later crude one is only a partial stamp. The later 1910's partial hex marking seems to be stamped "cockeyed" at about the 7 o'clock position. I know over the years that the hex stamp dating has been a recurring question with fellow collectors. I settled on the 1904 original changeover years ago based on a very nice A&W non-hex key being marked for a RR that was reorganized in 1904 with a totally new name/initials. On the other hand I have a later crude 7 o'clock hex key marked for an interurban that reorganized with a totally new name/initials in 1916, so obviously that hex logo version was reused somewhere by 1916 or later. Posted Friday, August 26, 2016 by BobF

A. Sorry to pile on. Anyone have any concrete data on when the A&W "five line" or Philadelphia oval was used? Posted Saturday, August 27, 2016 by JW

A. Just to clarify....I was referring to switch keys in my earlier answer. I believe the hex logo still continued to be used on locks till I don't know when, maybe the 1920's. Also consider that no doubt key blanks were made and probably thrown into a bin. I'd assume that the blanks probably had the makers logo stamped on them from the beginning, the RR initials stamped later when they were actually used to fill an order. Therefore a hex key could theoretically could be a "new" key delivered to a RR after A&W no longer used the hex on new blanks and as a result a RR that didn't exist in 1904 (or so) could have a hex key marked for them. When a new order came in I would think that a worker scooped out the correct blank, cut the bit and the RR mark was stamped. It would make sense that the blanks could come out at random in the scoop and some older ones (hex) still used until they were all gone. Posted Sunday, August 28, 2016 by BobF

A. Hi BobF - Can you post a photo of the two different hex logos as you understand them -- the classic and the crude? Thanks.` Posted Tuesday, August 30, 2016 by Robb M

A. I've never posted a photo to this site. Took a good shot showing "classic" and cruder later hex keys. I need a little help on the technical side to post the photo. For what it's worth, I'd also describe the "classic" hex as more stretched out, while the cruder later version is more scrunched together. Posted Thursday, September 1, 2016 by BobF

A. To post a photo to this site, just send it as an attachment in an email to this website using the same email address as when you send a question. We don't allow direct posting in order to save bandwidth (all images are resized) and also to prevent spamming. Posted Friday, September 2, 2016 by Web Editor

A. Regarding the A&W logo change remarks, here is an example of what Bob F. talked about when he speculates that certain parts and key blanks may have had the current A&W trademarks stamped on them at the time of manufacture, but years or decades may have passed before these parts ever saw the light of day when finally removed from the bottoms of various parts bins and made into a finished key or lock. This example has 2 distinct trademarks from 2 very different eras. Being that the C&IMRR was very small and their key bit was quite complicated, I would speculate that with such small and infrequent key orders, that the basic key blanks stayed in the bins until an order large enough cleaned it out to the bottom. Otherwise,later production blanks would get dumped on top of the old stock. Why this key got 2 trademark stamps is of interest, but they are legit. Behind the serial number,one can see the mold or possible blank casting number that normally is removed or unreadable. Maybe my first sentence will prove to wrong? Comments anyone?  Link 1  Posted Saturday, September 3, 2016 by DJB

A. Here's more info on the A&W Hex logo question. The attached image shows four keys. The two keys at left show what I call the classic A&W hex. The two on the right, the later cruder version stamped at 7 o'clock. Note how the the logo's at left are a bit more stretched and very readable, while the two at right are partial and a bit 'scrunched'. One at right is from the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee, which reorganized from the Chicago & Milwaukee Electric Ry in 1916. I also once had a P&WV hex at 7 o'clock key. The P&WV reorganized from the Wabash Pittsburgh Terminal Ry in 1916 or 1917. Obviously, these are not from original hex logo period, which I believe stopped about 1904. In my collection I have a Quincy Carrollton & St Louis Ry key with the A&W Co Chicago mark....without the hex and with the large 'S' on the reverse side. This RR was reorganized in 1904 from the Litchfield Carrollton & Western Ry, so I figured the changeover from the hex to just A&W Co Chicago would seem to have occurred on new key blanks by then (1904). I Hope this helps. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, September 7, 2016 by Bobontroy

A. One more clarification. This goes to show that your should look things up (again) and not rely on memory alone. The QC&StL Ry was incorporated in 1898 and operated the former Litchfield Carrollton & Western Ry that it did not technically have title to, until 1904 when the property was acquired by the Chicago & Alton. This suggests that sometime between 1898 and 1904, the hex logo was dropped and key blanks were stamped only A&W CO Chicago, without the hex. Another key in my collection is an II&MRY, also marked with the A&W CO Chicago and large 'S' stamp on the reverse. The Illinois Iowa & Minnesota started up in about 1905-6, once again suggesting that the hex was no longer used on new keys by that time. I can probably add more, but I think this suggests that very early in the 20th century ( I arbitrarily use 1904) the hex logo was dropped on new keys. Posted Friday, September 9, 2016 by BobF

 Q3195 Builder's Plate  Could you please give me some information on a builder plate from Baldwin Locomotive works 18196? Year is 1900. What engine number did this go on? It appears to be mounted like a plaque.  Posted Monday, August 22, 2016 by RO   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. If it is a real Baldwin plate there should be a class code stamped in the back (ex. 8-16D-59). If you post this number I could find the specs sheet, Engine No., and railroad for your plate. These plates were mounted on the smokebox of the locomotive typically (unless it's off of a tank engine with tank extending far past the front flue sheet). If by plaque you're referring to it being on a wooden mount, that's not original, but they make nice displays. **Note: Do not clean the back of the plate any more than needed to find the stamped code. Some insist this decreases value of plate. Pictures are always nice if possible, too. Posted Tuesday, August 23, 2016 by K.H.O.

A. After removing plate from stand I found that someone had marked engine # with chalk; it is very faint but looks like #358. A light cleaning on code# looks like 10-38E-1538. What is this code used for? There are also some other faint chalk marks but can't quite make them out looks like W.C ? Thank you for your information. Will try to send pictures. Posted Wednesday, August 24, 2016 by RO

A. Here's a photo. Link 1  Posted Thursday, August 25, 2016 by RO

 Q3194 Lantern Info Needed  Can you tell me anything about this RR Lantern?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, August 20, 2016 by DCP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Appears to be a German Rail Road lantern. Probably post WWII unless marked with Deutsche Reichsbahn insignia. See Link 1 Link 1  Posted Sunday, August 21, 2016 by JS

 Q3193 RR Lantern Handles  Here are pictures of various RR lanterns. Why do the handles of all of these (originally I thought this was an individual defect or damage) have an odd 'bend' in the handle? Do you know what its purpose is?  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, August 17, 2016 by Chris W   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I have lanterns like that too. J bet if you grip them your thumb will end up there. Probably gives better control when swinging. Posted Thursday, August 18, 2016 by JN

A. agree with jn, it is for your thumb, most common on dietz vestas. Posted Thursday, August 18, 2016 by dc

A. The bail (handle) on that lantern in the center was originally on a Dietz Vesta. The thumb notch is typical of Dietz Vesta, even the bends at the end where it is attatched is typical. Posted Thursday, August 18, 2016 by dc

A. This ergonomic bail was added to the Dietz Vesta in the early 30's as near as I can place it at least to 1933 or earlier? It was designed to fit the hand (gloved works best) for a better grip. The thumb rests in the "notch" and the fingers in the bend just below that. These were used not only on the Dietz Vesta but also on the Dietz No.999 Railroad lantern and on the Dietz 8-Day lanterns both with square and round fount versions. Posted Friday, August 19, 2016 by W.M.

 Q3192 'The Handlan' Lantern  Does anyone know approximately how old this lantern is or have the patent dates for it? Can't find the patent dates anywhere, think they must've been on the fount, which is missing. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, August 9, 2016 by KO   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. As a starting point, this lantern appears to be very close to the Handlan No. 177 lantern pictured in the 1918 catalog pages reproduced in the Archives section of this RRiana site (See Link). Handlan at that time was heavily promoting "Electrically Welded...Constructed Entirely Without the Use of Solder." Maybe WW I restrictions on use of lead and tin encouraged that(?).  Link 1  Posted Friday, August 12, 2016 by RJMc

A. Thanks for the link and general idea, though this lantern has all soldered joints.  Posted Saturday, August 13, 2016 by KHO

A. From what I can see of the very top it appears to be a Handlan Buck "The Handlan". I figure the firm switched from marking Handlan Buck to just Handlan somewhere around 1913-1915 or so. I would guess your lantern is from around 1906-1913, give or take. This style looks to have been an adaptation to compete the the TL Moore smaller lighter weight lantern. It's obviously a little earlier what with the soldered joints and the leaf thumblatch. Posted Sunday, August 14, 2016 by BobF

 Q3191 West Side Lumber Baggage Tag?  Anyone have any idea on the authenticity of this item? Wouldn't have thought West Side would've ever used baggage tags, and if they did I'd think they would've been marked HH&HV for their 'passenger' operations, not West Side Flume and Lumber.......thoughts appreciated. Such a thing would be very, very easy to fake.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, August 6, 2016 by KO   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I think this is a tool check. That would make more sense. A worker takes this tag and leaves it on the tool rack when he borrows a tool. He takes gets the check back when he returns the tool after he finishes using it. Almost every railroad or industrial application of any kind used tool checks. They still do in one form or another. Industries need to keep track of their tools. Posted Sunday, August 7, 2016 by JN

A. You're right, likely it is a tool check...don't know how I didn't think of that. Does anyone have any ideas on the authenticity of it though?  Posted Sunday, August 7, 2016 by KHO

A. I have one from west side that I found. It was off a "mess tin" or lunch box. Secured with large gauge wire. #351 Posted Wednesday, November 9, 2016 by G.B.

A. I have one from west side that I found. It was off a "mess tin" or lunch box. Secured with large gauge wire. #351 Posted Wednesday, November 9, 2016 by G.B.

 Q3190 What Type of Lamp?  Hello, Can you tell me what type a lamp this is? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, August 3, 2016 by Patrick   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It's obviously unusual, but as nobody else has replied, here's a suggestion from England. I have a lamp of basically similar type, though rather more ornate. It's slightly larger than a standard office lamp but, like your example, has a deep ruby/red outer glass, which would make it no good for lighting purposes. My lamp is of railway origin- it bears a soldered-on brass plate marked "Great Eastern Railway, District Inspector's Office, Liverpool St. No.27", Liverpool Street being one of the main London rail termini. It's purpose puzzled me for a long time, until a specialist lamp collector told me that it's not for lighting purposes, it's an office heater.  Posted Monday, August 8, 2016 by JAJ

A.  The lamp is a Kosmos lamp intended as an ‘’insert pot’‘ for a decorated holder. There is no collar to indicate the font could have been used in a gimbal mount for mobile use in a rail car. The weight of the red glass shade and lack of a weighted font would defeat use in a gimbal in any case. Furthermore, there is no indication of adaptation for a wall mount. Thus the identification of this as a ‘’partial lamp’‘ or pot insert seems most likely, which makes identification as a lamp for railroad lamp quite difficult. The wick winder knob should have some indicia which would help identify the manufacturer (almost certainly European) but the knob was not shown in the photo. For more information on Kosmos lamps, go here > Miles Stair The Wick Shoppe  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, August 10, 2016 by Miles

 Q3189 What is It?  Here is a pail/bucket/can that has 'Handlan St. Louis U.S.A.' imprinted on it. Can anyone identify what it is or its purpose?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, August 3, 2016 by BL   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. In the not-so-"Good Old Days" the toilets on passenger cars dumped straight out through the floor of the car, usually onto the track. This became a major problem "where Pullman cars and private cars are required to stand in the terminal while occupied." This quote is from the Link, which is to a 1916 American Master Mechanics Assoc. publication describing on pages 721 thru 743 how the industry was standardizing all kinds of tinware, and there are about 40 really great dimensioned drawings of torches, oil cans, sand cans, fire buckets, and 'soil cans' similar to yours. The 'soil cans' were often called 'honey buckets.' The industry stamdards ultimately adopted in the 1916 time period explain why virtually every RR oil can in North America looks the same, regardless of manufacturer or using RR.  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, August 3, 2016 by RJMc

A. The 'Standardized Tinware' pages mentioned above have now been added as a link from the 'Tinware' page on this site, and will be much easier to access there than in the 1,000 page document in the Link above.  Link 1  Posted Monday, August 8, 2016 by RJMc

 Q3188 Blenko Railroad Lantern Globes  Are the Blenko globes old stock as some people say or are they newly made globes in old patterns?  Posted Sunday, July 31, 2016 by RP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Blenko has been in business since 1893. They have an online site at Still in business so you be the judge. Don't see where they are presently making RR globes. Posted Sunday, July 31, 2016 by dc

A. OK -some seller claims his or her globe is made by Blenko. The question that needs to be asked is what proof is there? From a quick reading about Blenko marks, most of their glass went out with a paper or foil Blenko sticker attached. Some high end pieces had an etched or cast "signature". On that un-named but ever popular auction site, a seller has a blue AT & SF cast blue globe and claims it came from the Blenko warehouse. But no Blenko sticker or markings are on the globe. Globe is about 6 inches tall and the glass is very thick. "AT & SF RR" is cast in an oval panel and the letters are pretty crude looking, IMO. Blenko makes higher end glass pieces - would they stoop to make junky looking railroad lantern globes? Links are to web sites relating to identifying Blenko glass.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Monday, August 1, 2016 by JEM

A. I forgot to add that the seller of the blue globe I mentioned above claims it was made around 15 years ago.  Posted Monday, August 1, 2016 by JEM

A. Went to the Blenko site and clicked "contact us" asked if they are presently making or have ever made railroad lantern globes with embossed lettering. Awaiting reply. Will post. dc  Posted Monday, August 1, 2016 by dc

A. Contacted Blenco on Aug.1, said they would respond within 72 hrs. Now Aug.6 No response. Posted Saturday, August 6, 2016 by dc

A. What I find extremely curious about the "Blenko" globe is that no one in any publication since I got into organized collecting in the early 1970's has ever listed Blenko as a globe maker. Consider that tall globe lantern production other than some Dietz models seems to have ceased in the 1930's. There would still no doubt be a need for replacement parts like globes for some time after that. By the 1940's or certainly the 1950's I can't imagine anything other than unmarked replacement globes being produced for a tall globe lantern, certainly nothing with cast lettering. How would one expect a company like Blenko to jump into a dead (other than collectors) market and develop molds, etc. for production after the railroad market disappeared? I've looked at that blue cast AT&SF globe on the unnamed site and the production quality appears to be terrible with ridiculously thick glass and generally poor overall standards.  Posted Saturday, August 6, 2016 by BobF

 Q3187 Brill Lamp  I purchased this brass oil lamp at an estate sale and it has a 'plate'with J. G. BRILL COMPANY, PHILADELPHIA on it. I understand they made trolley cars, buses, etc. Is this considered a railroad lamp and also where and how was it used?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, July 24, 2016 by Dorothy   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Just looking at the photo, the base does have an old look, but the wick raiser and globe look cheaply made. And I am very wary of any RR related items having a soldered-on tag. That is usually the calling card of Asian made fantasy items. On the plus side, I've never come across this before, and as we all know they don't turn out fake items in the dozens, its more like 12,000. A closer photo of the tag mighty help. Posted Tuesday, July 26, 2016 by DA

A. Some context: the electric trolley car and the electric light bulb came on the commercial scene at much the same time, becoming popular around 1890. Trolley cars, with their guaranteed source of electricity, got electric lighting very early on and therefore did not need kerosene lamps. But horse cars and cable cars did not have electrical supplies, and horsecars were not finally eliminated in New York City until 1917 (see link). Brill sold both horse cars and cable cars, so there is some possible application for inside illumination there. The unusual shape of the fount might argue for being contained in a wide but shallow box, for lighting a sign, for example. And that use might be part of car 'standard equipment' which might get delivered with, and stay with, a car, unlike interior lamps that probably got worn out and replaced often.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, July 26, 2016 by RJMc

A. Seems rather fragile to be used in any means of conveyance. That chimney could easily be tipped over and come out of its mounting. Looks to be for indoor use. Posted Tuesday, July 26, 2016 by dc

A. I agree that it looks delicate, but Nickel Plate Road wooden cabooses (for example) used very similar lamps in marker boxes on each side of cupolas, possibly into the 1960's. The lamp was inserted into the box from inside the cupola. Another possibility to consider: Brill was in business from the 1860's; it might have been used at the Brill plant. Where was it found? Posted Tuesday, July 26, 2016 by RJMc

A. The previous owner kept a file card on each of her oil lamps. This lamp was purchased at the Arlington Race Track Antique Show on April 1, 1977 from a person from Pittsburgh, PA. Brill Company was at Philadelphia, PA. I don't believe the chimney is original. Here's a closeup of the tag. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, July 26, 2016 by Dorothy

A. Just brainstorming - The applied label could well have been attached by the Brill company to this lamp (and others) that they purchased for use. Certainly they had offices that would need light fixtures. ALSO - I wonder if the burner/chimney is the original? wondering if this pot was made to fit inside a larger lamp similar to a switch lamp situation ?  Posted Monday, August 22, 2016 by JS

 Q3186 French Railway Lantern  Bonjour. We bought a copper lantern in a French Online Buy & Sell. The lantern is very solid and heavy and looks very old but after reading so much about fakes we are now not sure. It is supposed to have been an SNCF (the French Railway started in 1827), lantern. However it has no makers marks or date. One of the brass bars at the front of the lantern is missing. The red glass looks slightly too new to be original but we are only guessing. It is a lovely thing but we want to be sure before we sell it that it is not a fake. We understand that you may not be able to help us as it is French, but it is nearly impossible to find any information in France. Kind regards,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, July 24, 2016 by Chris & Susan   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It is indeed a handsome lamp, but doubt that is SNCF or even railway/railroad. In fact, it dosn't look particularly French! (Most French lamps/lanterns have a characteristic spun copper chimney cap, unlike this one.) The SNCF is the French National Railway, formed when the railways were nationalised in 1938, SNCF lamps are invariably marked. Your lamp looks more like a marine navigation lantern. Posted Tuesday, July 26, 2016 by JAJ