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

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Email questions to 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:

 Q4009 Handlan Lamp  I work for [a local museum] in a river town until the river moved away from our side of the channel. But until then it was a bustling river town. We were recently given this lantern, being told it was from a steamboat. When I searched to find Handlan, i found you and mostly railroad lamps. So I understand steamboats may date back to an earlier period of your interest but thought there might be a chance somebody knows about lanterns on steamboats as well as on railroads. If anyone has any information on if this is really from a steamboat or if someone modified the story, I would appreciate whatever you might know. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, May 18, 2023 by MH, Historic Interpreter   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. U.S. Lighthouse Establishment? : see history here (Link 1) Link 1  Posted Thursday, May 18, 2023 by ShastaRoute

A. U.S.L.H.E. still active to 1903 era (Link 1). Link 1  Posted Thursday, May 18, 2023 by ShastaRoute

 Q4008 ALCO Number Plate  Can anyone tell me how the American Locomotive Company numbered their steam locomotives? I have an original round brass plate showing the American Locomotive Company # 1 dated 1920.  Posted Thursday, May 18, 2023 by JG   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. From what you posted if this is indeed an original it is not a builder’s plate. The number 1 is more than likely the designation for an engine number. Round number plates were mounted on the front of engines. Accurate measurements and a picture would be helpful. Posted Saturday, May 20, 2023 by Ex Sou Ry

 Q4007 C&O Greenbrier Known Variations  Sample double size butter chip made by Hutschenrether of Selb Bavaria and supplied by B. H. Field Co. of New York in 1925. Another version seen for a room tray is dated 1932 carrying the Black Knight brand (Selb) and with a different supplier. Luckin only noted Buffalo for C&O-5 even though Syracuse also produced it (maybe earlier?). Does anyone have a full list of all versions? [Unfortunately, Luckin assigned 5.1 to another decoration and used up his letter codes on the Rhododendron patterns.]   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, April 25, 2023 by Shasta Route   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q4006 ID of RR Lock Marking?  I have a lock stamped with PS RR. There are many railroads with PS. Does anyone know specifically which railroad this is? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, April 25, 2023 by DM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q4005 Lantern ID?  I picked this up the other day and cannot find who made it. It has a Dietz burner but I don't know if it's a Dietz lantern. There are no markings anywhere. It is odd for a tall Lantern because usually the bottom ring is wider than the top ring. In this case they're identical so it's straight up and down and only tilts in to hook to the top piece. I have never seen a globe shaped like this and the letters B&A are actually carved into the glass. It's not etched on. I don't know if some person frankensteined this in their basement or if it's a legitimate Lantern. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I looked through a thousand Dietz Lantern pictures and could not find it.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, April 25, 2023 by Blake   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Your lantern frame was made by the Excelsior Lantern Co. of New York, ca. 1870. Most Excelsior frames were not RR marked, except for a unique version made for the Erie Railway Co. The fount is a late model Dietz replacement. If the globe fits properly, then it’s correct for the frame. The B&A letters were copper wheel engraved, which is appropriate for the time period of the the lantern frame. Posted Thursday, April 27, 2023 by ASwoyer

A. Blake, you didn't ask but the B&A is almost certainly the Boston & Albany Railroad. (The other Northeast option is Bangor & Aroostook, in Maine.)  Posted Monday, May 1, 2023 by JMS

 Q4004 Globe Identification  I have 2 globes that I am trying to identify as to which types of lanterns they go with. The amber one is cast MEG CO 2 and the other is Cnx MADE IN USA. AMBER: 4 5/8 tall x 2 ½ x 3 5/8 outside diameter CLEAR: 4 ½ tall X 2 ¼ X 2 ¾ outside diameter. Is the clear for a Handlan lantern? Is it correct that MEG Co is also MacBeth? Thanks   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, April 25, 2023 by DM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. M.E.G. is for Macbeth-Evens Glass. The Cnx is the Corning logo. Posted Tuesday, April 25, 2023 by Ex Sou Ry

A. It is my understanding that Handlan lanterns that used this style globe were 4 1/2 inches tall and not 4 5/8 tall. Looking further into this, I am thinking the Amber is for Handlan based on the shape in the width area and perhaps the additional 1/8 inch in height is not an issue. Thanks Posted Wednesday, April 26, 2023 by DM

A. I remeasured the Amber MEG. It is 4 5/8 tall x 2 ½ x 3 3/8. I had the wrong base measurement.  Posted Wednesday, April 26, 2023 by DM

 Q4003 Lantern Info?  I'm trying to find out any information on this lantern. I've been searching and I can't find anything. I'd love to find out more about its history and time period. I have not been able to find a B&O MAIN STEM DIVISION lantern, and I haven't seen too many Star Head Light Company lanterns. Any help would be greatly appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, April 19, 2023 by BH   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I note in the pix that there appears to be no globe in the lantern. The B&O RR lettering was clearly stamped by the lantern manufacturer. But the type style, spacing, and indentation type on the "MSD 3938" was clearly made by hand stamping with separate stamps for each character. That process could have been done by almost anybody at any time in the lantern's history, from the manufacturer's shop down to an individual grade crossing shanty, to an individual's initials who was assigned the lantern or who acquired it as a keepsake later. If the lantern had been found with a red globe, I would have suspected a grade crossing watchman assignment. As a pure guess, I would also look at "M S Department" for the "D" rather than Division, but I have no strong candidates for what a "MS" Department might have been.  Posted Friday, April 21, 2023 by RJMc

 Q4002 Patent Model?  I have a question about this mostly wooden made model. I was told this is a locomotive patent frame from a 4-4- 2 Baldwin locomotive. Do you have more info please?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, April 19, 2023 by Rolf   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q4001 SP Sunset Lock Questions  I recently purchased a Southern Pacific sunset logo cast lock and am trying to determine which of the key patterns I need to use. Everyone I speak with tells me that in order to determine which one, they need to know the letter and number stamped into the shackle. The problem is that my lock has no numbers, only has two letters in different places. So no one seems to know which key to use without the number. There is a capitol Z on the top of the shackle, and then on the right it looks like a capitol K or possibly R. So my questions are… (1) Is it normal for that SP lock to only have letters? (2) Would you know which key style to use?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, April 6, 2023 by TK   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q4000 GM RR Kero  I have a GM RR Lantern Adlake Kero. Can you tell me anything about it? Thanks.  Posted Saturday, March 25, 2023 by Ed   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I also have one. I beleive it to be from the Green Mountain RR of Vermont. I would be interested to know if any where actually used by the railroad or sold as fund raiser. I think they ran excursions and may have had a gift shop. Bob Posted Thursday, May 11, 2023 by shvlhdbob

 Q3999 Switch Lamp Info?  I've recently acquired an Adlake switch lamp which I've been told is a model 175& 1/2. I've been looking for information on this and haven't been able to find anything. I've seen several models on your website but not this one. I am interested in finding out any information I can about this. Thanks.  Posted Saturday, March 25, 2023 by Chris   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The excellent catalog references in the Archives on this RRiana Site have Adlake reference material for the 1912 to 1916 time period (see Links). They describe the No. 175 switch lamp as the same as a no. 169 except improved by the addition of a much larger oil reservoir. As with their other switch lamp models, the "one half" model no. indicates a lamp supplied with day targets which were optional. There is also a full parts list and exploded view of the No. 169 lamp, most of which will apply to a No. 175 1/2. Link 1  Link 2  Posted Saturday, March 25, 2023 by RJMc

 Q3998 Uniform Visor Preservation  Can anyone recommend a product or method for preserving uniform hat visors? I've noticed it is very common for visors to lose their shine, dry up and crack or flake off. I'd appreciate any advice on preventing this from happening. Thank you. Posted Saturday, March 25, 2023 by JW   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. If I am not mistaken, cap visors should be patent leather. This is leather with a varnish coating to make it impermeable (which also prevents it from absorbing conditioners). I haven't noticed any becoming worse after I obtain them; most already are cracked and brittle from railroad use - sun is particularly bad news. Serious damage is not reversible. Suggestion: search online for "patent leather care" or ask at a better shoe repair.  Posted Saturday, March 25, 2023 by JMS

 Q3997 China ID?  I was told this was early Tennessee Central Railroad china. It is different from the style I have seen from 30's and 40's. Greenwood Pottery Trenton, NJ. I have searched for another TC in railroads, but with no luck. Anyone out there with info? Thank you,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, March 8, 2023 by Ed B   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. With regrets, Ed, I don't believe this is railroad china. Your pattern is not in any of the McIntyre or Luckin railroad china books. Link 1 (a display of several pieces in the Tennessee Central Railway Museum) is the only pattern considered as from the Tennessee Central - tan base ware with hand painted blue/yellow florals. McIntyre mentions it in his book as "Nashville" pattern. It is possible your pieces could be from a "T-College" or "T-Club" or another source.  Link 1  Posted Friday, March 10, 2023 by JMS

A. The “oldtimes rule of thumb” is: if its not marked railroad it is not railroad. This is not 100% always true but its best to when in doubt leave it out. Posted Wednesday, March 15, 2023 by Ex Sou Ry

A. @Ex Sou Ry --- Yup. Anything without a railroad mark truly needs a book reference. The books are new enough and patterns old enough that probably 99.44% of them are covered. One cannot say "never," as an undiscovered pattern might possibly surface, but they are very rare birds indeed.  Posted Wednesday, March 15, 2023 by JMS

A. The boxes of TC corporate records are itemized on-line. I eye scanned it all and found no mention of legal papers or contracts with China makers nor suppliers. There are some things related to a station restaurant (Nashville) and the Crescent News & Hotel Company (train and station concessions), but nothing specifically on dining car services. (Pullman does come up in general.) It would take a lot of work to prove an unknown pattern with no photo evidence, so it comes down to how reliable that “claimant” was or how good your “hunch” is before going any further on a goose chase. Posted Wednesday, March 15, 2023 by ShastaRoute

 Q3996 Railroad King Button  I have a railroad king button that looks different compared to ones I see in images. Are railroad king buttons a part of the rail workers' uniforms? And is this button an earlier date from when they were manufactured or something? Thank you for your help,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, March 7, 2023 by Ashlynn   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. These buttons were not used on passenger employee uniforms. They are from heavy duty work clothes (oten denim, sometimes striped) worn at work by many railroad workers on the job, and also by many workers in farming and other heavy industries. Put the word "overalls" (without the quotes) in the Search By Word or Phrase Box to see many prior Q's about this type of button. The Link is to a website all about the type of work clothes which used these buttons, and the people who lived in them, with some illustrations of buttons.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, March 7, 2023 by RJMc

 Q3995 ATSF Builders Plate  I wanted to see your opinion on this one. It is from ATSF 2-10-2 #59252. Front looks very clean but back looks kind of legit. Do you think it's real? It has an E stamped on back when is a 2-10-2 and should be an F plus it's not curved. Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, March 7, 2023 by Pete   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This won't be a definitive answer, but I think highly suggestive. Searching "Baldwin Locomotive 59252" on the web quickly brings up a reference to a website called "Elvas Tower" which hosts many well-attended forums on many topics on railfanning, including modelling with a special focus on railroad simulators and a recent focus on "3-D Modelling Software contributed by members." That refers to what is commonly called "3-D printing" which converts computer file data into solid objects. The Link is to an article published on the Elvas Tower forum back in 2009 specifically about the Santa Fe 2-10-2 with builder number 59252, which is why it came up in my search. For forum members, an apparently extremely detailed package of plans containing over 4 megabytes of data could be downloaded as the basis for producing models of the loco - then and apparently still now. Since I am not a member of the Elvas group I could not download the package of plans to check, but you can see in the Link the quote from the original upload provider "Also a very special thanks to: Steve Thomas for his fantastically detailed Baldwin builder plates." If someone went to the trouble to 3-D print a full size plate, it would probably be flat, as you have noted. And I strongly suspect they made more than one after the trouble of setting up. If we have any readers that are members of the Elvas group, it would be interesting to access that package of plans and see if the plate in the package has the various bumps and other details that we see in the plate in the pix. And also interesting to know whether the plans may have been based on scanning an authentic original plate, or whether the creator of the plans just made up all those interesting details.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, March 9, 2023 by RJMc

A. And the reason that answer is NOT definitive: there is some chance (remote, in my opinion)that the actual plate in your pic is the authentic one that those plans were scanned from.  Posted Thursday, March 9, 2023 by RJMc

A. To follow up on this question, I contacted the webmaster at the Elvas Tower website. He very obligingly checked and sent me a copy of the image of a Baldwin builder's plate they have on file. It is clearly different from the image in your pic; it does not have a builder's number, the month and year are different, and many details in the lettering are different. And he advises that the people involved in the project to build the model of the ATSF loco have not participated on their site in over a year. So once again, we can not be sure about the actual plate in the pic.  Posted Tuesday, March 14, 2023 by RJMc

 Q3994 20th Century China Photos?  I am planning to do the dining car table settings on an O gauge model of the 20th Century Limited, I was wondering if anywhere on your site might be photos of a full table setting or if not, of individual pieces of their china that I could copy. I would print them and adhere them to thin plastic to at least give a bit of a 3D effect. Thanks.  Posted Thursday, March 2, 2023 by Peter   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. There might be some photos from railroadiana shows in that section of the site [see link]. It would require someone who knows the pattern(s) to go through those pages to find them. Offhand we don't have any on the site. But some other collectors could send photos to this website as an attachment to an email, and they will be posted here. Link 1  Posted Thursday, March 2, 2023 by web editor

A. Presumably, Peter is asking about the original pattern for the 1938 streamlined train sets manufactured by Buffalo China with the full color border panel? Keeping in mind that the back-to-back dining car sets were used after the dinner service as a nightclub, I would add the question of whether the black Doric pattern (O.P.Co Syracuse China) demitasse sets reportedly used by the Central were part of this service (or even another color if that were the case)? Posted Saturday, March 4, 2023 by ShastaRoute

A. Peter - check out Link 1 - it's a Google search that has brought up quite a few photos of 20th Century Limited dining car interiors and ads. I don't know how helpful most would be but perhaps you will find something workable.  Link 1  Posted Monday, March 6, 2023 by JMS

 Q3993 RR China?  I have had this Syracuse plate for many years. It was sold to me as railroad china, but I can find no reference to it online or in Luckin’s book. I even looked up Syracuse hotel china on the web to see if it is maybe on there somewhere, but again no hits. Any ideas? Thanks for your help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, March 2, 2023 by Peter   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Find here (Link 1) the Restaurant Ware Collectors Network idwiki-2 entry for the 1922 stock pattern “Encanto” with the additional explanation of how pieces were customized for Fred Harvey with an orange stripe border. Link 1  Posted Thursday, March 2, 2023 by ShastaRoute

A. Added here (Link 1) is the Syracuse pattern “Sorrento” which is also “railroad related” (sometimes) stock pattern designated as a patented design and may cause some confusion for collectors. Link 1  Posted Monday, March 6, 2023 by ShastaRoute

A. Shasta Route is correct, and thank you for the additional information about "Sorrento." Luckin's book DOES show and discuss "Encanto" (Fred Harvey) on page 278 but his picture is a poor example : It's a coffee cup/saucer with only the outer rim band. A picture of a plate with the big floral decoration would have been so much easier to work with. Regardless, I'm sorry to say, Peter, yours is not railroad china. Fred Harvey Encanto must have an ORANGE outer rim band. I think this is one of the cases where Syracuse China used the same base design tweaked with minor details here and there, to make several very close but not identical pattern variations.  Posted Monday, March 6, 2023 by JMS

A. Updating: Getty images of the Fred Harvey Restaurant at Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal (LAUPT) include enough of a close up to identify the china as having the Encanto border, but there seems to be no orange band visible in the photos. This would be 1940’s era which may date back to the opening in the late ‘30’s. Posted Saturday, June 3, 2023 by ShastaRoute

A. Adding a direct route (Link 1) to the Esther Williams dining photo which shows the pattern; click on and expand to get the detail. Link 1  Posted Saturday, June 3, 2023 by ShastaRoute

 Q3992 Dressel Class Lamp  I have a Dressel classification lamp that is believed to be off of a Rutland 4-6-2, road number 80. This information came from a well-known steam engine collector. However, there are no markings inside or outside the lantern that would verify this. I have done some research and it seems Dressel stopped stamping lanterns after 1940. Do you know a way to verify? Thanks!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, February 20, 2023 by Dave   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3991 Keystone Lantern Co. Shortie  This is a short globe lantern from a company known for the Casey model and other tall globe lanterns. I can't recall ever seeing a short globe Keystone lantern. Are there others out there? Neither the frame nor globe have any railroad marking.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, February 20, 2023 by Anon   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3990 RR Sconces  I am the administrative assistant at [a museum] in Nevada. We recently received a donation of two 1907 Adlake spring loaded candle sconces. We are planning on adding these pieces to an existing exhibit and I wanted to find some more information about these particular pieces. I'm hoping to find photos of this model either being used on an actual train, or catalog photos of the model. I am also wanting to know how fresh candles would have been loaded into the sconces. If you or someone you know could give me any information please let me know. Thank you,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, February 20, 2023 by LM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. These are commonly called "candle lamps" and were widely used as emergency lighting on Railway Mail cars and some passenger cars as late as the 1970's. 1907 is the date of a patent that Adams and Westlake obtained on the design in 1907 and that year was stamped on many thousands of these produced over decades. Fresh candles were installed by inserting them in the top of the housing and pushing down on the spring. Put the words "candle lamp" (but without the quotes) in the search by word or phrase box to see many prior questions and illustrations of this type of lamp, and which include sources for parts such as the Pyrex chimneys and wall mounting brackets which were always used with these.  Posted Monday, February 20, 2023 by RJMc

A. To add to RJMc's good repsonse, I have good luck loading candles by unscrewing the bottom caps and slipping the candles upwards into the tubes (make sure the spring goes back in after the candle). Candles should be available at hardware and/or non-electric lamp supply stores - "emergency candles," not decorative ones. You can cut them to different lengths if you wish to improve the fit. Also, if you google "railway mail service" (WITH the quotations) you should get all kinds of interesting leads including photos and contacts.  Posted Tuesday, February 21, 2023 by JMS

A. Attached are two pix of complete candle lamps with mounting brackets and heat shields.  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, February 22, 2023 by Ex Sou Ry

 Q3989 Handlan Warehouse Photos or Info?  I enjoyed your piece on the St Louis Handlan Company in 1902 and was wondering if any information and/or photos of the Handlan Warehouse are extant? It was at 7th and Gratiot Streets. In 1904 the St. Louis Exposition Organ (now the Wanamaker Organ in Philadelphia) was put in storage after being the centerpiece of the World's Fair, in Festival Hall. The owners could find no buyers until the summer of 1909 when merchant John Wanamaker bought it and loaded it into about 11 freight cars (Vandalia Line) for his Philadelphia department store. I am trying to see if there are any photos of the warehouse, if anyone knows how much storage fees were back then, and any other information on the warehouse division of the company. Apparently the owners were unable to pay warehousing fees, and the instrument was sold for the back storage fees. Please accept my thanks for any light you might shed on this, and thank you for a wonderful website!  Posted Sunday, February 19, 2023 by Ray   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3988 MR Traveler/Peacock China List?  I’m wondering if you could possible help. Several years ago we received a complete list of Milwaukee Road Traveler and Peacock china patterns as well if they they had a BM. Unfortunately we misplaced the list and have not been able to locate it. I'm wondering if anyone would know how to obtain another list i.e books, catalogs, or personal lists? Thank you for your time.  Posted Sunday, February 19, 2023 by Liane   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3987 Monon Button Die?  Is this a Monon Railroad button die?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, January 30, 2023 by ME   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. What is the size? Something in the pic for size comparison would (always)be very helpful.  Posted Monday, January 30, 2023 by RJMc

A. For reference, the Waterbury Button Co. of CT made several designs of buttons for the Monon RR (see Link to Waterbury's excellent website for illustrations.) None of the Waterbury styles matches your design. In their section on "craftsmanship" there is a pic which shows some of their dies, which seem to be deeper and more robust that your pieces, but obvously different manufacturers would have used different tooling. I am wondering what other objects might have been embossed in the way your dies would do it; imprinting both sides of the material. Possibly business cards; stock or bond certificates, and maybe annual passes where elaborate designs were sometimes used. As a practical matter I am wondering how the two pieces of your die set were aligned in use, to make sure the "positive" imprint side correctly mated into the "negative" receiving side. You might try using the dies on some aluminum foil as an interesting experiment. Link 1  Posted Monday, January 30, 2023 by RJMc

A. There's a long list of Great Seal Button makers/suppliers (1902-on) at the site, including Marshall Field & Co. of Chicago. Guessing if you can make a button then you can also do button covers to customize standard uniforms for lobby clerks, baggemen, bellhops, and elevator operators here (Link 1) is the history of the Monon Building in Chicago from which the railroad removed their headquarters. Of the two hotels with the name, neither seems a good fit. The high school in Monon Indiana (where the railroad "X" lines crossed) used the name until three schools merged, but I found no history of any marching band online. This was not the actual railroad name until the post-war era, and was just a shortening of the "Monon Route" logo (Monon-The Hoosier Line later) which seems to always be in block letter style back to the late 1800's. In the town, there was also a Monon Telephone company but I found no logos. The uniform button collectors had some group on FB, IIRC. Good Luck, with whatever it is. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2023 by ShastaRoute

 Q3986 Lantern Marking  I'm hoping to get a solid identity on a tall globe A&W 'ADLAKE' lantern clearly marked 'I.R. Co' on the top (the globe is plain). This marking does not appear in your known listings as far as I can tell! I collect items from the International Railway Company (traction, western NY state), that generally marks their wares 'IRC' or 'INT RY CO'. I think we can rule out that company in this case. That leaves two main options as far as I can tell: the Interstate Railroad of Virginia, or the Indiana Railroad (traction). Any other ideas? Can anyone help confirm? Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, January 22, 2023 by Tom   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I have locks and keys here marked IRCO for the Ironton Railroad Co. They did not use the second R for Road like most railroads did. While I've never seen a lantern for them that has positively been identified for Ironton, this is a possibility. Hopefully, readers who live in the area of Allentown, PA will weigh in.  Posted Sunday, January 22, 2023 by N

A. Might be a longshot, but perhaps in plant switching operations for Ingersoll Rand. They were instrumental in the making of early Diesel switchers.  Posted Friday, February 3, 2023 by JFR

 Q3985 Union Pacific Sign  Could you help me identify this Union Pacific sign? It measures 7ft. 6in. x 23in. It looks like it would have been a nose badge on a 1940's locomotive. Regards,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, January 22, 2023 by Steve   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Yes, it appears to be a nose logo but it is impossible to determine which engine it is off of with out more information. Posted Monday, January 23, 2023 by Ex Sou Ry

A. Perhaps an Alco FA-1?  Posted Tuesday, January 24, 2023 by ShastaRoute

A. Some info here (Link 1) under "Winged Medallion Useage". Of course, not so sure about that three piece info in every application as photos might tell otherwise. In any case, there's a changeover to including RAILROAD on the third line at a time around 1950.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, January 24, 2023 by ShastaRoute

 Q3984 RR Tag?  Is this a tag from the Chicago, Indiana & Southern RR; or does it come from a non-railroad company? The use of 'CO' and the lack of 'RR', after 'C.I. & S.' has stumped me.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, January 22, 2023 by ME   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I & S markings in almost all cases, stand for Iron & Steel. Consider where the tag was found and then research any Iron & steel companies nearby to determine what the C stands for.  Posted Sunday, January 22, 2023 by N

A. The old “rule of thumb” applies here: If its not marked railroad its not railroad.  Posted Monday, January 23, 2023 by Ex Sou Ry

 Q3983 Key ID?  Does anyone know if the cut of this key matches any known railroad key cut? I wanted to know if this key could possibly be a railroad key. Thank you in advance for all answers.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, January 22, 2023 by DBN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3982 Loco Photo Info?  Can anyone help me find out which railroad owned this locomotive named 'Centennial'? This old photo dates from (guessing) the mid- to late 1800s. Thank you!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, January 8, 2023 by JMS   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Probably the most common reference to "Centennial" is to the 1876 Centennial Exposition of Arts and Industries at Philadelphia, helping to celebrate the 100th birthday of the U.S. That was reported to be the first World's Fair held in the U.S. and had thousands of exhibits by all kinds of manufacturers. The engine in the pic looks like it is new and "dressed up" for that kind of show, and hence no RR markings, but so far I have not found any direct connection between your loco and the 1876 events. Note that your loco has link-and-pin couplers, no air brakes, and no dynamo (not to mention no headlight at all)so consistent with mid-1870's time frame and set up for display rather than going to work. A greater enlargement might allow reading some of the apparent badge plate on the smoke box which might provide further clues but the shadowing is eliminating most of the detail. In the Link, scroll down to the last image of "Memorial Hall" where a PRR loco almost identical to yours is switching in the foreground. Link 1  Posted Sunday, January 8, 2023 by RJMc

A. Here at the big scrapbook (Link 1) is a shot with an engine that might be related, shunting freight. There was an internal "Passenger Railway" at the exhibition. The guy in your cab is dressed a bit fancy for yard work, and the engine is too nicely decorated for regular rail work. Perhaps yours is a page from an has some numbers there. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, January 10, 2023 by ShastaRoute

A. Yes, the engine in the center of the 'scrapbook' pic is closer to the mystery engine; the three-dome arrangement and the balloon stack in particular. Its interesting to note the RR track going inside the building in the scrapbook pic; maybe the reason for the balloon stack, where the PRR engine in the other pic has a straight stack. The mystery pic has the look of a builder's photo, so it could have gone either to work or to display afterward. But clearly the 1870's time period is close.  Posted Thursday, January 12, 2023 by RJMc

A. RJMc, the builder plate says Badwin Locomotive Works / Burnham Parry Williamson; I can't read the number, but that's the maker.  Posted Sunday, January 15, 2023 by JMS

A. That the maker was Baldwin is very helpful. The association with Burnham, Parry etc. began in 1873 and went to 1891, further confirming the likely association with the Centennial Exposition. The Link is to the MASSIVE collection of Baldwin business and engineering data (beginning from 1832 and covering their entire history of steam loco production) in the DeGolyer Library of the Southern Methodist University, which has digitized much of the material and generously makes most of it available online. Unfortunately the material went thru several hands before getting to DeGolyer, so there are gaps. So the one document I downloaded and studied so far shows an engine-by-engine list of loco type, wheel arrangement, buyer, name if any, and other info. It shows many 0-4-0's but the very earliest one in the list is 1878. There are various types of documents and drawings in the collection and the "Centennial" may well show up with further searching. Since Baldwin was in the Philadelphia area and very civic minded, it would not surprise me to find out they built the loco for the Exposition and may have donated it for service there.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, January 15, 2023 by RJMc

A. Just a little further searching in the Baldwin records at the DeGolyer Library (on page 22 of an 880-page list!) shows that loco "Centennial" was built in 1876 to be road number 14 of the New York Elevated. New York Elevated ("Centennial","Westchester")7 255 14, 15 1876 04-10 C 11, 12 29 There is probably quite a bit more engineering detail in the remainder of the records.  Posted Sunday, January 15, 2023 by RJMc

A. RJMc, THANK YOU so much!! Besides this one, I have two other antique photos with identifiable locos, but I was totally lost trying to figure this one out. I'm so glad to have the history on this. They are beautiful old original crystal clear focus builder photographs (crystal clear focus), not pages out of books, adhered to a lightweight "mat" with a printed red line/scrolling for decoration. This is light weight stock but it appears to be photo paper (like what is adhered to "cabinet cards" except cabinet cards have a board backing.) The red decorated "mats" are original, and I've seen them with other non-RR photos dated in the later 1800s. I never noticed the man in the cab before I enlarged the picture - but all this info surely points to these locomotives being at the Exposition, likely why the matted photos are still together.  Posted Thursday, January 19, 2023 by JMS

A. There are some possible sources around Philadelphia, but so far I have not found any kind of comprehensive listing of the exhibits from the Centennial Exposition. There is a somewhat larger loco "Jupiter" which definitely was there, and still remains in the Smithsonian in Washington. It would be interesting to know what was in what must have been a fairly large "railroad exhibit" at that event, when the typewriter was one of the celebrated new technologies of the day. Posted Thursday, January 19, 2023 by RJMc

 Q3981 Unusual MK&T Key  I recently obtained this unusual MK&T switch key not the usual fat barrel key. I have one other with the MOPAC cut from the Jay Gould era and I'm aware of one other cut with a straight drop bit. But this is the first I've seen with this bit plus it's steel. No maker's mark; only S on the back. Can anyone shed any light one when or where it was used? Possibly one of the many small lines they absorbed in their formation years cut to fit existing locks. Any help with my mystery key would be most welcomed and appreciated thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, January 1, 2023 by Jim   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It is a good bet this switch key was made and issued for general distribution during the period of unpleasantness of the early 1940’s. Brass is made out of copper and zink commodities in short supply during World War Two. You will recall locomotive builders plates and even one cent coins were made of steel during this time period.  Posted Friday, January 13, 2023 by Ex Sou Ry

 Q3980 Caring for B&O China  I have a set of B&O china purchased by my parents over the years starting in the 1960s, including dinner plates, small bowls, coffee cups and saucers, a creamer and a platter. I have never put any of the china in the microwave oven, and I am wondering if it is safe to do so? I realize that much of the china was manufactured before the advent of the microwave oven. When I google this question, I get answers that relate to ‘bone’ china, and I don’t think this is bone china. What type of china is it? The pieces are either Lamberton or Shenango, depending on when they were purchased. Thanks for any advice on this question.  Posted Friday, December 30, 2022 by Lucy   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. "Vitrified" or fully vitreous china, aka Restaurantware or Hotel Grade china. It has more resistance to intrusion of fluids/oils into the body than the more common semi-vitreous household wares of old. Some may try to call this stuff Ironstone or even Stoneware, but it does differ. Porcelain would not be an accurate description either as that should be equated to fine china. (Bone China is a specific fine type.) You should never subject any valued clay based products of any sort to either micro-wave or dishwashers...they might be built to withstand abuse but only so far as they would eventually be discarded. Micro-fractures in the body or crazing of the glaze would set in...heat, even as direct sun, is your enemy here. If someone selling you something says it is safe to beat on it, they're probably engaged in selling you replacements too. Reproduction wares, copies of original, may not always be constructed in the same way but there's often still a secondary market for good condition pieces, so why take a chance on destroying those...runs could be limited. Other than that, feel free to bounce it off the walls...pretty tough stuff, but not indestructable. Posted Friday, December 30, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. Excellent reply, ShastaRoute but if I could add to it I would be grateful. First, Lucy, read the article right here in about this china! (Link 1) The bottom marks are important as you know. Link 2 is the current list of ended eBay auctions of B&O china that has sold, so you can get some sort of values. Remember that no matter how humble, every piece of authentic railroad china is a piece of history and CANNOT be "replaced." If it's gone that little part of history is gone forever. I'm sure you must be caring for the china as a legacy from your parents, with the added historical benefit. As ShastaRoute says, please do NOT dishwasher or microwave them! The Lamberton (actually, made by Scammell China, in their "Lamberton" grade of ware) pieces date from the 1930s-40s and are most valuable. Pieces marked Shenango were made at the end of B&O passenger service; what was left when dining car service ended was sent to the B&O Museum in Baltimore MD for sale through the Gift Shop. It was so popular the Museum ordered more but sadly never changed the bottom marking, so it is impossible to know whether a Shenango piece actually rode the rails, or was a Gift Shop order; this unfortunate situation means it has significantly less collector value. Finally a black stamp was added to the Shenango mark; pieces so marked were strictly Gift Shop sales. I hope you'll treasures these pieces as heirlooms and relics of transportation history. I have a similar story about a set of Noritake china I bought for my mother while I was in college; it was the first SET she had ever owned,and she used it for years. When she passed away we auctioned it at an auction about 50 miles away; lo and behold it appeared years later at another auction house only 15 miles away, and I could not help myself, I had to buy it. It was like it was meant to be mine and she got it back to me. At this point, no amount of money could buy it from me. I wish you the best of luck with your pieces !!  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Saturday, December 31, 2022 by JMS

A. Hi Lucy, We have been eating off of B&O china (Shenango) for many years. It has been in both the dishwasher (daily) and microwave (occasionally) without adverse affect. We also have a substantial collection of P.A.F. Lamberton that stays in the corner cupboard for display only. That said a “Gaithersburg chilidog” (or two) have been served on particularly hard to find pieces when purchased at the show. The point I am making is: Yes treasure it but be sure to enjoy it as well.  Posted Tuesday, January 10, 2023 by Ex Sou Ry

 Q3979 Lock ID?  Can anyone help me identify the railroad that this switch lock is marked for? It is stamped S.H.R.R. on the back panel and is marked Adams & Westlake in TINY letters on the shackle.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, December 25, 2022 by JMS   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. As a start, purely based on the initials, the only likely match on a run thru the 'S' section of Bill Edson's 'Railroad Names' book is "Stone Harbor Railroad" which was reported from 1921 to 1932 in the Atlantic City, New Jersey area. It was part of the Reading and became part of the Pennsylvania Reading Seashore Lines. As a side note, I have now seen for sale many vintage and rare locks similarly marked with small stamped initials. I suspect that some very major prior collector(s) marked their prize finds this way, themselves, no doubt as a way to keep track of the items in the collection. And their collections may have now been broken up and become spread widely. Steel stamp sets are readily available, of course both to lock manufacturers and the general public. Can anyone substantiate that lock mfrs.(or collectors?) used this form of marking?  Posted Wednesday, December 28, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3978 Lamp Info?  I have had this for a while, it is a large lamp with a slide door to the burner access. Looks like original silver paint inside and out, although inside is blackened with soot. Bottom is yellow and a Dietz pattern, with burner and tank attached. It seems shop built - everything is soldered, it is solid, but the shape seems to be made to accommodate the base. Four way lenses. Have you ever seen anything like this? Thanks for any help,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, December 9, 2022 by HH   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I am terribly sorry to suggest this, but this lamp appears to me to be one of the fairly recent imports from India that were "shop made" over there. "'Railroad' anything" seems to be holding its value better than many other collecting areas, so fakers and scammers focus on "railroad" items to make the most profit. Some of the more honest ones call them "decorator items" and sell them to that market and unwary RR buyers.Dishonest scammers sell them as authentic railroad pieces. Link 1 is somewhat similar lamp selling on eBay (at least the listing is honest). There is a "look" you begin to spot if you see enough of these - very poor quality workmanship, and artificially made to seem old. You have a good eye and spotted red flags with your lamp: painted INSIDE (American makers never did this) and artificially coated with soot, except if it was "that" sooty any paint inside should have burned off (the soot was probably created from a dirty candle); tank/burner apparently permanently attached to the bottom, again never done here by American makers. I surely hope you didn't pay much for this. If I am mistaken about any of this I would welcome correction.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, December 10, 2022 by JMS

 Q3977 Pullman Blanket  About a year ago I purchased a Pullman blanket with markings that I had never seen before, online or elsewhere. I am including a picture of the blanket. My apologies as it is the only photo I have and the blanket is stored away at the moment. As you can see, it is similar and color and design as many of the other blankets, with the only difference being its slightly smaller size (48x72), the much simpler PULLMAN block name, and the lack of any numbering. I am looking for any information about when this blanket was made and where it was used on the trains.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, December 4, 2022 by Andy   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I have been watching Pullman blankets for quite a few years and have never seen one like this. As far as I know, Pullman always included a number representing the year of production in addition to the name PULLMAN. Link 1 is to this Board's Q&A section about questionably authentic Pullman blankets. The size of your blanket seems suspicious to me: 48 x 72 seems too "even," these old blankets tended to stretch or shrink into odd dimensions. Another offbeat thought is I wonder if this was made for a movie prop? Maybe someone had this one made up with a distinctly different style of PULLMAN letter and no numbers so it was impossible to confuse with a genuine blanket, and how many movie goers would know?! I have an online store and have been approached numerous times by prop people wanting to buy items for movies. When they can't find what they want, they often have them made. I thought I had a sale once (a genuine Pullman blanket), but the movie guy waffled and said they were too leery about copyright/trademark infringement - I suggested they fold the blanket so some of the design would not show - but still no dice. Your blanket has a GREAT look overall, but the decoration is so dramatically different - I wonder if this was the purpose for which it was made.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, December 10, 2022 by JMS

A. JMS - Thanks for your reply! I took the blanket out of storage and measured it again and it is 48 x 76, so a few inches longer than I stated in my original question. I was also able to get more info on the blanket from a curator at the Illinois Railway Museum. He stated that he had seen a blanket like mine several years ago on display as a part of a history of unions exhibit and it is a porter's blanket. I was surprised to hear this as my understanding was that the porter's used repurposed passenger blankets that were died blue, but he stated that these were made as well. The slightly smaller size and simple block letter design distinguished them from the passenger blankets, as well as the lack of a number. He thought the blanket was very rare as there would only be one or two of these per car versus 30 of the passenger blankets, and they would likely not get replaced as often as the passenger blankets did. He said I might be able to get more info from the Smithsonian, so that is what I am planning to do next. I hope he is right, but I am also prepared to hear that he wasn't. Posted Thursday, December 22, 2022 by Andy

A. Andy, thanks for the great followup. I'm glad you are pursuing this. Yes, Pullman dyed blankets blue (it's hard to even see the name on most) for porters (and other workers) to use, once they were too worn for passengers. I've rather "watched" Pullman blankets for some time now, but have never seen another like yours; didn't know what to make of it. Most fakes I've come across seem to try to duplicate the originals rather than make a dramatically different design. So I hope you can get reliable information.  Posted Sunday, December 25, 2022 by JMS

 Q3976 ETW Lantern Info?  I bought this E T Wright & Co lantern yesterday. It’s marked GTR on top and globe along with ETW&Co on globe. It says patented 1908 also and where it was made. I cannot find another example of this lantern or what model or year it is. The bail doesn’t fold down and it has a strange clip. Any information would be appreciated!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, December 4, 2022 by Ron S   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Barrett's Vol. 1 of the Encyc. of RR Lighting, in their Canadian section, has 4 or 5 pages on E.T. Wright of Hamilton, ON. with pix of several of their lanterns which were widely sold to Canadian RR's. Wright started business in 1908 and went at least thru 1927 and then the co. was bought out but continued to make lanterns. From the several pix, yours looks to be their Model 13, which Barrett saw in both a 1913 catalog and a 1927 price list. There is a particular note that Wright ordered their own globes cast with their name integral, as you see.  Posted Friday, December 9, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3975 Lantern ID?  Came across this Lantern and could not resist as I liked the look of it. It has a wheel cut globe that's B & A. And I have never seen a lantern like this before. So if it's real if you know what type of lantern and what it dates to I would appreciate it. If it's fake you can all make fun of me. Thanks for your help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, December 4, 2022 by BB   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Your lantern is a scarce model made by the Excelsior Lantern Co. of New York and dates to the early 1870s. Posted Sunday, December 4, 2022 by ASwoyer

 Q3974 Keen Kutter Lock  I have a Keen Kutter lock which has T&BV RR on the back. Has been in my family about 100 years. I can’t find if they made any Keen Kutter locks except [for the] Santa Fe.  Posted Thursday, December 1, 2022 by George   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Keen Kutter made numerous signal locks like yours, which is the Trinity & Brazos Valley. One of these just sold two weeks ago by a well-known catalog sales place out of the Georgetown, Colo area. This is one of the harder ones to come by, so you have a good heirloom. Keen Kutter locks were not a quality item and I've seen more broken-open ones than functioning ones. The internal mechanisms were just not well made. Metal detectors have found them along rights of ways when frustrated signal employees broke them off and tossed them besides the tracks decades ago. Arnall's Reference guides over the six editions he put out, have illustrated some of the other railroads you find in KK style. Nice to look at but the insides are as I said- junk.  Posted Thursday, December 1, 2022 by N

A. Here is the auction for the Keen Kutter lock with the same Railroad markings as George's (Link 1) Click on the green VIEW THE AUCTION button at top center, and the lock is Lot 426. I wouldn't name people, but I don't see any reason not to provide prices realized at an auction; learning about places to research for determining the value especially of a family heirloom can only help the RR collecting hobby.  Link 1  Posted Friday, December 2, 2022 by JMS

A. Here are pics of the lock. Link 1  Posted Sunday, December 4, 2022 by George

A. George, sadly your lock was at some point taken apart- perhaps for repair, or by a locksmith with less talent than a true professional- who would know how to make a key without taking the lock apart to expose the levers. I've seen the work of "locksmiths" who would have been better suited to being butchers. The area surrounding the rivets tells me it's been disturbed and there are grinding marks seen on what is called the case cover. It's still a good lock and a nice heirloom.  Posted Sunday, December 4, 2022 by N

 Q3973 Dressel Lantern Tag  This is a short globe Dressel lantern seen at a local auction. Has anyone ever seen one of these- with an embossed tag READING CO soldered to the rim rather than being pressed into the rim from the underside, as was standard practice? I have seen photos of tall-globe Dressel lanterns with soldered tags, but those are found on the chimney, not the rim. Your help is appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, December 1, 2022 by N   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Fellas, please realize this is not a car seal applied to an unmarked lantern. The curved ends are machine cut, not cut with tin snips, so it is authentic.  Posted Thursday, December 1, 2022 by N

A. I have seen a few examples of these tags on lanterns but if you look closely, these tags are also spot welded on the brim and sometimes soldered as well.I have had a couple lanterns marked OMAHA RY with tags like these and always thought that these may have been part of a rush order or maybe a small order to the factory. DJB  Posted Friday, December 2, 2022 by DJB

A. This kind of tag is also found on the sliding doors of marker lamps, for example. So the technique would have been ready-to-hand in the factory and as DJB notes might have been used on any kind of small order, maybe if the other tooling got lost or broken, or if the mfr. was trying to market a new customer RR. Out of curiosity I would also check the underside, beneath the tag, to see if maybe the tag was used to cover up something else!  Posted Monday, December 5, 2022 by RJMc

A. This is an early model Dressel short globe and the tag marking shows up on them fairly often. This model has the catch for the globe retainer attached with a screw and nut rather than a rivet. These have a unique globe retainer and a smooth bottom, no circular ridge as on the later model. Examples I've seen were Omaha Ry, WT Co., Erie RR and DT&I. I'm sure there are others. Posted Monday, December 12, 2022 by JFR

 Q3972 Baggage Tag?  Is this a baggage tag? It seems different than examples I’ve found on your site. I recently found it in an Arkansas hay field. Thanks for any info you can share.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, December 1, 2022 by Mark   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Indeed it is a baggage tag from the Baltimore & Ohio Southwestern and it traveled a long ways from the home area to get to where you found it. While you may not have seen plentiful examples of your style of tag on here, it is a typical one. A good reference for all sorts of rail tags is the site which is a real education. Exposure to soil and water has turned it green and the finish is called verdigris, which is brass "rust". If I were the owner, I would soak it in an old glass of 25% ammonia and 75% water for four days with saran wrap stretched over the top of the glass, to get the unnatural green color off. It is supposed to be yellow brass. Do not buff the thing or wirebrush it.  Posted Thursday, December 1, 2022 by travelrobbbbbbb

 Q3971 Dressel caboose lamp  I picked up a 4 lens Dressel caboose lamp, and it has plastic red and green lenses and a burner inside. Are the plastic lenses original? Would they melt from the heat? Thanks for any help.  Posted Sunday, November 27, 2022 by Nick G   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The short answer is that plastic lenses were widely used by RR's beginning some time around World War II, for all types of lamps with all kinds of illumination. Just put the words ' plastic lens ' (no quote marks) into the word or phrase search box to see many, many prior Q & A's all about this topic.  Posted Sunday, November 27, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3970 1923 Adlake Lantern  My question is what paint is used on inside of globe? The one I have is flaking, and I would like to restore it. The globe is etched ERIE R.R. on outside. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thank You.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, November 27, 2022 by JD   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Lantern globes were almost never painted; in all recent years the RR's ordered glass of whatever color they wanted. It appears that your globe is a home-made one. Its hard to tell from the pic whether the light was supposed to show thru the red, or be blocked by it. Either way, the kind of paint known as "bulb dye" should work for you. In the past, bulb dye was often used to turn a clear bulb into red or yellow, typically for automotive use. The electric bulbs get quite hot, particularly when painted over, so the bulb dye is made to withstand heat. You can commonly find bulb dye at automotive stores and truck stops, and as noted in the Link (which explains all about how to do it) at craft stores, as well. Be prepared for a higher price than most other kinds of paint.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, November 27, 2022 by RJMc

A. Looking at the picture, it's obvious that this is an ADLAKE KERO globe (it's marked), meaning it is an authentic RR globe, and it is new enough that it falls into RJMc's comment"the RRs ordered glass of whatever color they wanted." So it was originally completely clear. With the kind of paint that is on it, it sure looks like someone (NOT the railroad) decided to make it a "pretty" red over clear like a two-color globe and used probably an enamel type paint. To correctly "RESTORE" this globe means removing the paint - NOT replacing it.  Posted Saturday, December 10, 2022 by JMS

 Q3969 DIETZ #39 Brasstop ID  I have this lantern and I am looking for some information to further identify it. I cannot find this exact variation anywhere. All of the metal is magnetic except for the brass top. What makes this stand out, is the brass top with concentric circles. I have not found this exact top, even in steel, anywhere. Another detail that stands out is how the bail connects to the frame and how the frame is shaped in that area. Otherwise, in my opinion, it looks the same frame-wise as another model that is all steel. The burner dial is also shorter compared to others I have seen in a NO 39. It is an E. Miller Meriden CT . Any information would be appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, November 13, 2022 by DM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Barrett in Vol. 1 of the comprehensive Encyclopedia of Railroad Lighting mentions Edward Miller twice. Once to say that "Edward Miller & Connecticut manufactured lamps, but we have been unable to confirm ... any railroad lamps." (hence no helpful pix) and the second quote lists Edward Miller & Co. as someone the Dietz Co. or predecessors sued for patent infringement. However, the section of the book immediately ahead of the Dietz section is for the F.O. Dewey Co. There are three pix in that section of "brass top lanterns" apparently identical to yours. Armspear also made very similar "brass top" lanterns, shown in Barrett, after taking over Dewey. Posted Thursday, November 17, 2022 by RJMc

A. To confirm and add to RJMc's response, the Edward Miller Company sold lamps and parts. I have seen any number of railroad lanterns with wick raiser knobs (I assume this is what you mean by "burner dials") made by "non-railroad" lamp companies; another common find is Plume & Atwood. See Link 1 for a good Wikipedia writeup of the Miller company.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, November 19, 2022 by JMS

 Q3968 Distinguishing Real from Fake  I grew up in W. Central MN (Wadena) within 30-50 yards for the GN RR (and NP about 200 Yds away) and have several RR Kerosene lanterns. As a kid we played on and around the tracks routinely and in my HS years I found a Signal lamp which at the time I didn’t make much of it and put in my dads barn. After 2 years of college and 3 years in the Army I came home and it was gone and I have been trying fill that craving for years. I see GN RR Signal lamps on line but want to know the real thing from a fake. Can somebody help me sort this out? Thank you.  Posted Sunday, November 6, 2022 by Dan   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The best way to start on this is in the Archives here on the RRiana site. The first link is to the "Lamps" page where you can see many examples of various lamps used for various purposes to give yourself a good grounding in what the authentic lamps look like, as well as pick out what kind of lamp you are trying to replace. The second link is to the "Fakes and Repros" section which has a paragraph about lamps. Note that the latter-day Handlan lamps are not really 'fakes' since they were made by the original mfr. with original equipment, but few if any of them ever were on a working railroad.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Monday, November 7, 2022 by RJMc

A. I live in the Twin Cities area and have been collecting at on line sites and at local railroad shows for over 25 years and I can't ever recall seeing any fake GN or NP lamps or lanterns. They might exist, but if so no one has said anything to me about it. But recently there was a facebook discussion where someone took a SOO LINE tag off a Handlan switch lamp and put it on an Adlake switch lamp. The Handlan font is distinctive and it didn't look right on the Adlake. If you have concerns either this Q&A Board or a Facebook Railroad Lantern page can provide information.  Posted Tuesday, November 22, 2022 by JEM

 Q3967 Flagging Kit  Can you tell me approximately what year this flagging kit was made? Also, we have looked closely for a manufacture name, and found nothing. Do you know? Item was picked up at the Tucson RR roundhouse by a retiring engineer in 1998. Thank You,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, October 29, 2022 by DR   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Thing laying next to it at bottom looks like a torpedoe. Read prior posts, could be dangerous. Posted Sunday, October 30, 2022 by DC

A. Once again CAUTION. The small red packet with lead straps is definitely a torpedo. See immediately prior Q 3966. Posted Sunday, October 30, 2022 by RJMc

A. Flagging kits were made to bundle all flagging equipment like caps, flag, fussee’s (or flairs) together for easy transport. They were used from steam days until present. The age is pretty much impossible to tell but yours looks pretty new. Posted Monday, October 31, 2022 by Ex Siy RY

A. To add a bit to the torpedo warnings. You may well find the small red torpedos, usually plainly marked "DANGER", but without the lead straps. This is because railroaders are very creative people. When riding a freight train, and needing to throw off some kind of paper message to someone on the wayside (usually a tower operator or station agent), they would slide those thin lead straps out of a torpedo and wrap them around their paper message. Thus tightly wrapped and weighted, the message (but not the torpedo!!) was thrown off the moving train at the feet of the person standing on the wayside, with much less risk of it flying away in the slipstream or being dragged under the train and destroyed. Of course, this left that torpedo basically useless since it could no longer be fastened to a rail. I do not know how those leftover torpedos were disposed of.... Posted Sunday, November 20, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3966 What is this?  This looks like a two piece seal that is closed over lead ribbon. The round seal is about 1.5 inches in diameter and about .25 inches thick. It does not open. It was in a box of railroad things my father collected. I was able to identify some rail tie date nails but other than thinking these looked like some kind of seal, I wasn't sure. I can't find a matching image.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, October 25, 2022 by JH   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Just put Lead Seal into the phrase seach box on left top and you'll get a number of entries explaining the use of the Lead Seal Press tool (pliers like crimper). This would be the seal itself, probably unused if there are no marks impressed. Posted Tuesday, October 25, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. CAUTION: Those flat lead straps look suspiciously like the ones used on track torpedos, and the item itself is about the right size. For more discussion put the word 'torpedo' (without the quotes) to see several prior Q's, going all the way back to Q129 which inquired about what was probably a foreign-made metal shell torpedo looking pretty similar to what you have. The powder mixture used in torpedos always remains dangerously explosive (although very stable over time) and should be disposed of very carefully.  Posted Tuesday, October 25, 2022 by RJMc

A. Again, CAUTION!! If there is any chance at all that this is a torpedo, DO NOT try squeezing it with any kind of pliers!! You could lose all or part of your hand. (Most common lead car seals were much smaller in diameter than 1 inch and usually had wires, not straps.) Posted Tuesday, October 25, 2022 by RJMc

A. If this one is an older version torpedo, DO NOT HANDLE IT AT ALL. Here's a link to an article (Link 1) where just rubbing the surface may have set one off in the hands of an El Paso boy in 1946. No mention of pressure, just heat from friction apparently? (Military blasting caps, aka primers, provide both heat and pressure to set off C-4. You need both, but this stuff seems to go off with either.) There seems to be little certainty over what this stuff was made of, but an antique wood case on Worthpoint indicates the maker was a Powder in Blasting Powder. Put a metal bucket over it and make the call for professional disposal. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, October 26, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. I opened one tin. I still have no clue even after being with a museum curator and collectors in person. [Webmaster Note: This was sent before the above cautionary responses were posted. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, October 26, 2022 by JH

A. I've emailed JH to alert her to read the responses posted above. Thanks to RJMc and ShastaRoute for the cautionary posts!! She may have dodged a serious incident. Posted Wednesday, October 26, 2022 by Web Editor

A. I appreciate the heads up! The small canister was opened while I was at a museum last evening and no one there knew of the possible risk. I will check with someone at my local fire department.  Posted Wednesday, October 26, 2022 by J H

A. We did a lot of 'chemistry' in the basement years ago. Research then in the junior high school library revealed that torpedo material is typically made of potassium chlorate, sulfur, and glass powder mixed and made into a form of yellow cake or pellet. The friction and heat generated by a rail vehicle running over it and smashing it detonates it. It is designed not to cause damage, but to make enough noise to provide a warning of danger ahead to an engineer on a VERY noisy steam locomotive. Other, much lesser friction and heat, and possibly a static electric spark, can also detonate it. Separately the component materials are not particularly dangerous. It is only the combination of the potent chlorate oxidizer, the combustible sulfur, and the friction of things sliding over the glass powder that causes the explosive result. Yes, we did make our own in the basement. And yes, under a train they DID explode with quite a bit of noise. No damage resulted. At that time on the railroad torpedos were in fairly common use and sometimes got left out on the track when some work was completed. So one going off unexpectedly was not too rare an occurrence and caused no great comment.  Posted Wednesday, October 26, 2022 by RJMc

A. Here is a good clear illustration of how torpedos looked in 1894 (there are probably some of these STILL around, somewhere!!). This is extracted from the massive Manning, Maxwell, and Moore 1894 railway supply catalog. I was hoping maybe they showed flagging cases to answer the other part of Q3967, but no luck on that score. The case in that Q is a very complex piece of tinwork. I don't know if any of the RR in-house shops made anything quite that fancy, but they may have.  Link 1  Posted Monday, October 31, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3965 Baggage Tag  I am trying to narrow down a 'more approximate'date for a tag I found metal detecting. The maker's name l believe may be the clue:( F.T. Foster Philada ). Does anyone know when he was making these tags for the Western Atlantic R.R.? I have emailed Scott Czaja @Tag town, and he put it in the 1860 -1870 range, give or take 5 years. I tried researching it for many hours, but couldn't find any name to go with 'Foster' that had an occupation which could have produced the tags. Any and all help would be very much appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, October 25, 2022 by JDL   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. You might be able to find when the company was in business, by looking in Philadelphia city directories.  Posted Tuesday, November 1, 2022 by JMS

 Q3964 Time Check Tag  Would you have any information on how this tag was used? I found the maker but not sure if it is a RR tag. Thanks.  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, October 25, 2022 by John   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Employees presented these checks to identify themselves for timekeeping/payroll purposes when they entered or left many industries. That was the system widely used before 'stamp in' time clocks and time cards became commonly available.  Posted Tuesday, October 25, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3963 Lantern Paint Removal  I recently purchased a model 250 lantern in great shape but the previous owner painted in with a heavy coat of semigloss paint. Can I simply use paint stripper but will this harm the metals finish? I want restore it to its original bare metal appearance.  Posted Sunday, October 23, 2022 by Walt   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is actually a highly contentious question among the various fraternities of lantern owners, users, sellers and collectors. It often seems that any 4 of these folks will have 6 or 7 opinions on this subject. "Best Practices" are NOT agreed upon and may well/should depend on which of the many possible materials the item is made of and coated with. To start, the Link is to the Restoration page in the Archives here on the RRiana Site and many, many prior questions have thrashed this topic. Putting the words 'paint remover' (without the quotes) in the By word or Phrase Box will bring up just the first 10. Link 1  Posted Monday, October 24, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3962 Plate Location?  Would you have any idea where this piece would have been located on a train? Thanks for any help you can give. It's cast steel, about 10 inches wide, 6 inches high, 1 inch thick.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, October 13, 2022 by Karl   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Journal box cover, allowing access to axel when needing oiled. Posted Thursday, October 13, 2022 by h v coll

A. Just to aid the site's search engine, are we concluding this M.C.R.R. sample mark is from the Michigan Central Railroad? Posted Friday, October 14, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. Maine Central ? Posted Friday, October 14, 2022 by jms

A. I'm the owner and it's Maine Central Railroad. Thanks  Posted Friday, October 14, 2022 by jms

A. To allow interchange service across all of North America, the railroads (on their own initiative) standardized almost everything about interchange cars beginning in the 1800's. So the numbers 4 1/4 and 8 on this box cover designate that the axle it was on was an AAR Standard Type B. Just saying that specifies all of the axle, bearing and truck frame dimensions and performance requirements, and immediately informed anyone making field repairs what parts they might need. The friction bearing surface itself was 8 inches wide on a 4 1/4 inch diameter axle seat. By the 1970's, when this type of bearing was still permissible in interchange, the AAR Manual of Standards and Recommended Practices permitted 4 axles of this size to carry a nominally 50-ton freight car at 24,000 lbs. per axle, or a passenger car for up to 85 mph service at 20,500 lbs per axle. For a passenger car rated for service at 86 to 100 mph the axle capacity had to be derated to only 19,000 lbs per axle. This is why the heavyweight Pullmans and the very heavy RR office cars rode on 6-wheel 3 axle trucks. The A842 is probably the casting pattern number (in this case probably at the RR's own foundry) and would not have a wider meaning off the owning RR. The Link is to a fairly current version of the standards for passenger cars but size B is no longer in use.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, October 15, 2022 by RJMc

A. What all that detail means is that your journal box cover could have been on any kind of car; freight, passenger, or steam locomotive tender. However, as fancy as it is, I would guess passenger car or steam loco tender. You may even be able to spot them on the axle ends in historic photos.  Posted Monday, October 17, 2022 by RJMc

A. MCRR is tough to define, as from the earliest railroads to present time, there were 20 lines using these initials. Probably half could be eliminated by dates of not being old enough for this type of cover, but that still leaves a lot of choices. Posted Wednesday, October 19, 2022 by h v coll

A. Probably overkill but I want to clarify that apparently there are two of us with "jms" initiasl ... I'm the "jms" who asked "Maine Central ?" (posted Friday, October 14) - I am NOT the "jms" who posted that they're the owner. How coincidental having the same initials. I'll sign with JMS in all caps.  Posted Sunday, October 23, 2022 by JMS

 Q3961 Doubletree Rig  I believe I have a doubletree rig, circa 1876, used to move railroad freight cars on the siding tracks. I believe it was hooked up to move the freight cars left on the siding tracks by the R.R., by oxen. It measures 8 feet 4 inches end to end! Distance between oxen butts when hooked up is 4 inches 8 inches, same as distance between 2 tracks. Any opinions welcome. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, October 10, 2022 by George S   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The distance I think you refer to is four feet eight (and one half) inches, the so called "standard gauge" between the two rails on most railroad tracks around the world (see link). But as noted in the link that same distance was used on many horse-drawn vehicles well before railroads of any kind even existed. So while it is possible that your piece of "draft gear" might have been used to move RR cars, the spacing alone is not a good indicator of how it may have been used.  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, October 12, 2022 by RJMc

A. I'm pleading total ignorance on this one, but the OldOregonPhotos site has some logging shots with two images of an oxen team pulling a log car or bunker over wooden rails. The spacing looks wide (to carry those fat logs) and I expect the team walked between the rails. Looked like a dual yoke set-up but didn't see any kind of equalizer equipment in that. (Was this something to go behind the animals, separate from the main yoke?). We know from images that the South Pacific Coast Newark branch used a lone horse directly tied to the car and traversing the roadbed in the center. Also, there are a number of shots of mixed teams, but couldn't find anything like this doubletree in useage. Were they uncommon or just out of view? Posted Friday, October 14, 2022 by ShastaRoute

 Q3960 Lantern Problem  I've got a 1912 Adlake lantern. I'm not a collector and don't know anything about it . . . I just enjoy it and light it occasionally. I had an issue with it last night. The flame seemed to get away. After I extinguished it, I removed the burner from the fount and could see that the upper 'chamber' that I used to see when filling it was gone. Just a ring remained. The image shows a collar that used to be fastened (soldered?) just below the opening. After my flame-up, it's now just loose inside the pot. (I'm holding it up with a pick for the photo.) Does it matter that it's now loose down in there? I don't know what function it served. Other questions: (1). Why did it flame up to begin with? Wick too low? (2). What is recommended flame/wick height Thanks so much for your help! I really appreciate it.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, October 7, 2022 by Revgrid   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Prior Q 2043 has photos and a lot of discussion about runaway flame in an Adlake marker lamp. It talks about similar phenomena to what you observed. Did you refuel the lantern recently? If so, there has been considerable debate (also referenced in that prior Q) about how some products now sold as "kerosene" may meet recent technical specs but have MUCH lower flash points than traditional products and can produce runaway flames and sometimes explosions. Woody Kirkman's website (see Link) discusses satisfactory fuels for inside or outside lantern use with the reasons for recommending them.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, October 8, 2022 by RJM

A. The loose piece is a slosh baffle that was added to the standard signal oil pots so they could use kerosene, a much lower viscosity fuel. The burner should be a kerosene burner with the draft cowl (usually marked Adlake, Simplex, etc.) It does not matter if the baffle is loose. It helped prevent sloshing against the wick which can cause a flame to leap a bit when the lantern is swung, moved etc. If the wick is trimmed clean & straight across the top the normal burn height of the flame is about the size of a nickel. Anything bigger it'll usually start to smoke etc. Use K1 kerosene, Medallion clear lamp oil, or Kleen Heet. Posted Tuesday, October 11, 2022 by James