Question & Answer Board

Main
Q&A Page
Email a QuestionRailroadiana Home

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

Latest 50 Questions:

 Q3255 Refueling Dressel Lantern  I can't figure out how to refuel a Dressel railroad lantern.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, January 16, 2017 by cediller887   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. You press the clip on the top to swing the lid up. Your picture shows the clip under the lid. Lift the globe out. Lift the burner / fount assembly out. The burner should then twist about a quarter turn and pull off. Just pour your liquid in and reassemble. Posted Monday, January 16, 2017 by JN

 Q3254 PRR Plate  I came across you great website while trying to research this PRR Plate. I haven't a clue as to what it is and was wondering if someone could possibly help me out identifying this plate?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, January 10, 2017 by Dave   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is off a piece of rolling stock--freight car, passenger car, whatever. It is an air brake diagram. It shows how the brake rigging is laid out on the particular piece of equipment. I don't know if they are still used, but at one time almost every car had one to help trouble shooting. Posted Wednesday, January 11, 2017 by JN

A. Dave; look at the PDF in LINK 1, go to page 6 on the PDF page finder, the page diagram is actually numbered as '5' on the page. The diagram shows a 3-dimensional version of the diagram on your plaque. Brake rigging was in constant use and was the highest maintenance item on cars. Brake rods and levers would come loose, break and even fall off the car during day to day use, and especially in the case of a derailment. Repair facilities needed to know the EXACT length of the levers in order for the brake system to apply the needed pressure evenly to all brake shoes. - This varied widely from car to car, so it was impossible for the car shop to know what length levers to use in repairs without a plate like yours to go by. - The numbers on the plate indicate the length in inches between attachment points on the levers. The thing on the plate that looks like a wine glass on its side represents the brake cylinder. It is attached to, and acts directly on, the 'cylinder lever'. On your plate, the lines that have numbers by them are the levers, the lines without numbers are the brake rods. ---- .... Red Beard Link 1  Posted Wednesday, January 11, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. For additional examples and more description see prior Q's 1582 and 1441. Posted Wednesday, January 11, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3253 Defective China  Hi Everyone, I have 2 pieces of PRR China that have manufacturer's defects. The Keystone bowl has very distorted pinstripes while about 1/3 of the Purple Laurel bread plate has dimples like a golf ball. As far as I'm concerned they are just as important as examples of the patterns as mint pieces, they are just ugly ducklings. My question is: would these pieces have ever seen a dining car table, or would some QC employee have picked them out and discarded them and then 'liberated for preservation' ? Regardless, they do see service on my dinner table from time to time. Thanks for any info you folks can give me.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, January 10, 2017 by JN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. In my opinion the brown keystone piece MAY have slipped by the QA folks but the sand as its called on the purple laurel piece would never have made it to regular service. That said I am pleased that they now have a home. Posted Thursday, January 12, 2017 by Ex Sou Ry

 Q3252 'Gold' Lantern Question  First, I want to wish all viewers of this site a Happy, Healthy and Safe New Year! My question is this: I have a PRR lantern made by Handlan. It is painted gold. It doesn't look like a sloppy home paint job. When I purchased it the lantern was electrified. I have removed the electrical components and converted it back to an oil lamp. Now, on Ebay, I see another PRR Handlan lantern painted gold. Is it just coincidence? Or did Handlan or the PRR paint some of their lanterns gold?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, January 2, 2017 by JN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Lanterns were often painted by railroaders to quickly identify them. One crew member might paint his gold while another silver and the third multicolor. . This helped to avoid any confusion. Keep in mind that one guy might take better care to of his lantern globe cleaned, wick trimmed and pot fully of kerosene. Another guy might not be so well prepared. When it was time to get off the engine or caboose to do some work it was easy to tell them apart and the guy who was well prepared would make sure he got the right lantern. Posted Monday, January 2, 2017 by Ex Sou Ry

A. JN; "Ex Sou Ry" is right on regarding railroad men painting their lanterns. Aerosol paint has been around since the 1950s, so a very smooth finish could have been done by a railroader at home. -- Additionally, the fact that it was electrified makes me think that whoever electrified the lantern likely also painted it at the same time. Gold is a fairly common re-paint color for lanterns that ended up as 'decorator items'. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Thursday, January 5, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Electrified? Where's the wirers? I think its the reflection from the flash from the camera not a light bulb. Posted Wednesday, January 11, 2017 by LC

A. Hi LC, please read my description again. I said when I got the lantern it HAD BEEN electrified. I converted it back to oil after I got it home. You are seeing the actual flame Posted Thursday, January 12, 2017 by JN

A. OK got it. Old age short term memory lapse. Posted Thursday, January 12, 2017 by LC

A. Hi LC, What were we talking about again? Happy New Year! Posted Friday, January 13, 2017 by JN

 Q3251 RW&O Globe  A friend of mine has acquired a globe that is cast RW&O RR in a rectangular plate. The globe is 4+ inches, looks like a Hanlan style shape and size. The railroad is Rome Watertown & Ogdensburg but not sure if it is a repo or real. No other marks are evident on the globe. Any thoughts or experiences with this type and name of globe? Thanks for your help.  Posted Sunday, January 1, 2017 by BSnyder   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The RW&O operated from 1842 - 1891 - too old for such a short globe? The globe sounds very suspicious. Check the link for Key Lock & Lantern's survey of the use of different types of globes by many railroad lines. Also see the link on this site addressing fake globes. Is your plate truly rectangular or is it a "trapezoid" as shown there? The fake globes out there are just terrible and it is so very hard to avoid them.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Sunday, January 1, 2017 by JS

A. The globe marks are not in a trapezoid configuration but as mentioned, the size and shape of the globe indicates a Handlan type globe that probably would not have been used in the 19th century. I saw there was a reference that this line was taken over by NYC RR in early 20th century. No other information to add to this mystery.  Posted Sunday, January 1, 2017 by Bill S

A. According to Wikipedia, by 1891 the RW&O became a subsidiary of NYC. On April 12, 1913 the RW&O was formally merged into the NYC.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, January 8, 2017 by JS

 Q3250 Gaithersburg Photos & New Years Wishes  For those who don't regularly check the home page for new updates, the photos from the 2016 Gaithersburg show are now available, courtesy of Rob Hoffer. May I take this opportunity to note that Railroadiana Online is now in its 20th year of operation, having begun in the Fall of 1997. The Q&A Board dates to 2003. There are many times when I didn't expect a question to be answered only to see multiple, informative answers within hours! Thanks very much to everyone who has participated in this website, especially to those whose names and initials appear regularly. And here's wishing all of you a safe and happy 2017!  Posted Saturday, December 31, 2016 by Web Editor  Link 1     Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Awesome!!! Thank you! I would love to go to this railroad show someday.. maybe this year. Also love your website keep up the amazing work!  Posted Monday, January 2, 2017 by PRR girl

 Q3249 Cleaning a Trackwalker Lantern  Can you tell me how to take the glass out to clean a 1909 Dietz protector trackwalker lantern?  Posted Saturday, December 31, 2016 by Lori U   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This would be easier to answer with a pic of the lantern from the front. The Archives here on the RRiana site have a 1909 Dietz catalog (see Link) that describes the Protector model, but only shows it from the rear. Link 1  Posted Saturday, December 31, 2016 by RJMc

A. There is a wire running around top of globe that comes up through a hole and forma a loop. Use this to raise wire from top of globe. Tip forward and remove. There is also a curved metal band that you can put thumb under and raise globe above burner if necessary. Should also be a red lens facing rear that can be seen or blanked out. Posted Sunday, January 1, 2017 by DC

A.  So how is the small red lens at the back of the lamp fastened in? Posted Thursday, January 5, 2017 by KM

A. Red lens has a brass band crimped around its edge, not easy to remove. If you just want to clean it lift the clear lens to clean one side then remove globe and reach through reflector to clean other side. That metal rod sticking out is to move red lens aside. Posted Saturday, January 7, 2017 by dc

 Q3248 RR Light?  I picked this light up and I am trying to figure out what it is. It appears to have bolted to something and the output leans down about 15 degrees. It is about 10 in. in diameter and weighs around 22 pounds. It does have a socket for an electrical lamp. The only markings I can find it a number that is T129293B. I was hoping that someone might know what this is. I collected RR lanterns with my father but this is different. I got it from an auction that had other RR stuff, it is rusty / dirty and before I recondition it I would like to know what it is or what type of stock it came off of. Thanks for your help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, December 31, 2016 by Charles L C   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  I am not at all familiar with the inner mechanisms of railroad signals, but my thought is that this is part of a searchlight signal. There is usually some thing mounted on the front of those signals that is angled like this that causes the light beam or the external lightto shine in a different direction. That part is known as the phankill. During different lighting conditions searchlight signals can display phantom aspects and the phankill may help prevent that from happening. Search "searchlight signal" no pun intended. Posted Thursday, January 5, 2017 by KM

A.  The link is from trainweb.org and it shows the phankill units from Union Switch and Signal. They look very similar to your item, including the prism lense that focuses the beam.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, January 5, 2017 by KM

A. Thanks so much for your help. You are right about the unit. It is an adapter for a searchlight to make the beam visible to for a limited degree of view. it is called The Phankill Unit and fits on wayside searchlights. Again Thanks So Much For Your Time And Knowledge!!!! Link 1  Posted Wednesday, January 11, 2017 by CL Codding

 Q3247 Use of Lamp/Lantern?  My wife and I purchased a railroad lantern several years ago and I asking if you would give us a better idea of its use. It has two green rounded lenses and two yellow lenses also rounded. It has a kerosene tank with a brass cap with a narrow wick. I would say itís in good shape with the original paint. I have enjoyed it sitting in the living room, we are within eyesight of the Cape Cod Railroad and Gray Gables, a beautiful area. I grew up in Waverly Square, Belmont and could hear the train rumble by or stop to pick up coal from the large storage bins down the tracks a little way. I like trains! If you have the time I would appreciate your reply. Best Regards and a Happy New Year,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, December 30, 2016 by Gordon W   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This appears to be a switch lamp (or lantern). The green / amber (or yellow) indication was often used in yards. Green would indicate the switch was lined for the lead track (or ladder) while the yellow indicated the switch was set for the yard track (or side track). These lamps often had a permanent marking for a specific railroad. If the railroad marking is not plainly evident turn the lamp upside down and look inside the mounting bracket. You might need a flashlight to see it but there is a good chance that the abbreviation for the railroad is cast in to the bracket itself.  Posted Friday, December 30, 2016 by Ex Sou Ry

A. Hi, Go to this link. https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/514XRPJsjzL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg It will show a picture of a lamp like yours mounted on a switch stand showing how it looked in railroad service. Happy New Year! Link 1  Posted Saturday, December 31, 2016 by JN

A. Here is a different style lamp but yours would mount and operate the same way. http://www.jeffpolston.com/SwitchLampMounted.jpg Happy New Year Link 1  Posted Saturday, December 31, 2016 by JN

 Q3246 Lantern ID?  I was wondering if you could help me identify the lantern in the photos Iíve attached or give me some direction. I received two of these from my mother. If I recall, she said they were from the USS Constitution and they had been converted to electric. I do not believe they are the correct era for the early 1800s and am not sure if they are mariner or railroad lanterns. Iíve looked through some of your photos and they look similar to the conductorís lantern. Both the top and bottom are hinged. The globe has a vertical seam. There are no markings, stamps or signatures that I see. The only thing I see that is distinct is the shape of the pattern in the top perimeter. Any thought, idea, notion or educated guess would be greatly appreciated! Thank you,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, December 30, 2016 by Paul S.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. They have the tie down rings on the bottom that are common on marine lanterns and not found on railroad lanterns. You are correct though, they are not fixed globe lanterns where the globe is semi-permanently glued into the lantern with a plaster type material and that places them closer to the 1870 to 1910 date range. The chess pawn shape of the cut outs is found on some Helvig Lantern Company and Perkins Marine Lamp Co.lanterns. Both of those companies usually marked their products with the Co. name. Please measure the globe and give us the diameter of the top, middle bulge and bottom and the height. We may be able to match that pattern to a standard catalog drawing which shows globes from Macbeth Glass Company and that might help with further identification. Unfortunately there is not a very good reference source for marine lanterns.  Posted Friday, December 30, 2016 by KM

A.  I believe that these lanterns are not two hundred years old and are not original equipment on the Constitution. I suppose that it might be possible that they were replacements used after one of the many restorations that the ship has undergone. If that is what happened it will be very hard to prove without a manufacturer's name and some documentation.  Posted Friday, December 30, 2016 by KM

A. Thanks for the replies! The measurements of the globe are as follows; Top Flange - 2.580" Middle Bulge - 4.915" Bottom Flange - 3.980" Height - 6.5" including flanges I have a photo of the globe by itself but do not see a way to attach it to this thread. Thanks again for your help. Posted Tuesday, January 3, 2017 by PAS

A. Here's a photo of the globe... Link 1  Posted Tuesday, January 3, 2017 by PAS

A.  See page 291 in "The Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Railroad Lighting,Volume 1-The Railroad Lantern" by Richard C. Barrett. There is a Macbeth Glass catalog from 1896 reproduced there and it shows a drawing of a number 237 globe which has very close dimensions to your globe. I do not know what that globe might fit though. That does fall into the 1870 to 1910 date range for production of the lantern that I gave in the first reply. The drawing does not show the extra taper at the top which is on the globe that you have. Posted Wednesday, January 4, 2017 by KM

A.  Check out page 97 in "Lanterns That Lit Our World Book Two" by Anthony Hobson. This shows two possibilities made by Perkins, a River and Lake lantern which is 14 inches high and an Improved Navy lantern which is 11 or 12 inches high. The bottom fastening arrangement is more like a dead bolt, and not the spring clip that your lanterns have. The diameter of the base of the lantern is either 5&5/8" or 5&3/4". Those lanterns were made by Perkins from 1916 to 1925, but they may have been made earlier than that by other companies also. Perkins may have acquired the molds from National Marine Lamp Co.,and National may have acquired them from Helvig. If they are Navy lamps then other manufacturers may have made them also. Due to the nature of government contracting which requires standardization, the lanterns from various manufacturers would be very similar. The chess pawn cut out pattern on the top is shown in the drawings of the lanterns on page 97 in Book Two.  Posted Wednesday, January 4, 2017 by KM

A.  W.T.Kirkman sells a replacement globe that is just like yours. Check out his Navy lifeboat globe that fits a Helvig or Perkins Marine lantern.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, January 5, 2017 by KM

A.  Try this link. Link 1  Posted Thursday, January 5, 2017 by KM

 Q3245 Possible Railroad Bell?  Could you confirm or deny that this is in fact a railroad bell or not?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, December 30, 2016 by FH   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It appears to be the type of bell often found on steam locomotives. Posted Friday, December 30, 2016 by Ex Sou Ry

A. Reminds me of a PRR bell with that big square base. Are there any markings on top of the bell ? Sometimes the PRR marked AMS on the top of the bell for Altoona Machine Shop. They also sometimes stamped the engine number into the top of the bell as well.  Posted Thursday, January 5, 2017 by CD

 Q3244 4-6-0 Question  Merry Christmas, folks! Hope to get the benefit of your knowledge one more time on my research for the 1899 Wilcox robbery. This question deals with the chase train that wasnít robbed, and almost panicked the Wild Bunch when they saw it bearing down on them. (Incomprehensibly, they failed to realize those trains traveled in pairs.) According to my research, the day after the robbed train went out, a new experimental locomotive went out on the same run from Omaha. (At least, it appears it was NOT a part of the robbery, but missed it by a day.) However, the Salt lake newspaper reported that the second train came in with 8 or 10 cars filled with almost 300 passengers compared to the 30 passengers on the robbed train, which had a 4-6-0 locomotive, which I think was the normal engine type out of Laramie. That sounds way out of proportion to me (who am not a train expert), and Iím wondering if that indicates the second locomotive wasn't a 4-6-0 that was used on the Laramie to Salt Lake run, but actually the new heavy locomotive, loaded down with a maximum cargo to test its limits. Would a 4-6-0 be able to carry 300 passengers on a run like that through the mountains of Wyoming and Utah? The robbed train, with 6 cars as noted by the engineer, had a hard time even starting up a mild grade with 30 passengers. Thanks for your opinions.  Posted Wednesday, December 28, 2016 by vggarcia   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Just for reference, today's coaches and other passenger cars are all almost uniformly 85 feet long over couplers, including vestibules (if any -- some types of cars, such as diners, may not have vestibules.) Long Island RR coaches, with 3 seats on one side of the aisle and 2 seats on the other side can seat 125 psgrs in one car and STAND 125 more folks in that same car; total 250 in ONE car. This is called, for obvious reasons "CRUSH loading...". The 1880's cars were shorter, but you can clearly pack a lot of people in a small space and a few cars, if they will put up with it. And people in the 1880's were on average somewhat smaller than now. And on most passenger trains, the weight of the passengers is not really significant compared with the weight of the cars, anyway.  Posted Thursday, December 29, 2016 by RJMc

A. Also, a locomotive leaving Omaha in the 1880's would not likely go more than one division before being changed out for servicing; Wilcox, WY is still many divisions west of Omaha, and divisions were shorter then. Posted Thursday, December 29, 2016 by RJMc

A. Hi, RJMc. You are right, they switched out engines along the line. But the test locomotive did make the whole run. However, I get from what you say that this could well have been a normal 4-6-0 w/a lot of passengers, which basically answers my question if that's the case. thx Posted Thursday, December 29, 2016 by vince g

 Q3243 Fake Step Boxes?  Any knowledge of fake step boxes? There are 3 on [an internet auction site] now: SAL,SCL,SR, some saying fake. Thanks.  Posted Tuesday, December 20, 2016 by Tim C.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I just looked on eBay and found Seaboard Coast Line (newest), Seaboard Air Line Railway (oldest), and Seaboard Air Line Railroad (in between the two age-wise)[no SR] -- They are genuine, and here's how you can tell. Foremost, Look at the triangular rubber foot pads. Those would be extremely hard to duplicate and on all three boxes the foot pads have clearly been on them for some time. -- SAL Ry. changed to SAL RR in 1946, making the SAL Ry one the oldest. The rubber feet on that one show considerable wear and there is even a closeup of one pad showing the missing screw head on one of the three screws. That's too much detail to fake. -- Another item is the gauge of the metal. Thin sheet metal can be easily worked and shaped in a home shop, but it looks hand made. Look at the lamp in Q3236, though nicely done, it is clearly thin gauge sheet metal and almost certainly hand made. Metal of heavy enough gauge to use as a step box is much harder to work; and all three of the boxes are clearly professionally manufactured. Also, embossing the emblems in heavy gauge metal is no small task; the set up of the dies alone would be very costly and require a lengthy production run to recover the cost of just making the dies. -- Next, look at the tread pattern on the step surface. Again, no small feat to stamp that in heavy gauge metal. It's also exactly what an old Morton tread looked like (I have one) -- The rust pattern on the SCL (off-white) one is just too subtle for someone to have faked. Hope this helps, (P.S. who said they were fakes and what reasoning did they give??) ---- .... Red Beard  Posted Tuesday, December 20, 2016 by RedBeard the Railroad Raider

A. There are fake small size Morton boxes. 1 thing I remember to look for is the end of the box where they are seamed together. The new boxes have pop rivets while the old ones have a solid metal rivet. These were shown to me a year ago at the Gaithersburg show.  Posted Tuesday, December 20, 2016 by cd

A. As info, see prior Q2008 and the other Q's listed there. Morton is still making step boxes in the traditional manner. As with the traditional ones, they are very nicely made and hence very expensive (from the railfan point of view...). As we have often discussed here, I would not call a newly-made Morton box 'a fake' and not even 'a repro' but it also not 'an authentic RR-used antique' either. Morton takes quantity orders, but does not want to deal with the public on small quantities. New sets of the rubber feet have been commonly available for some time from several sources but are also not inexpensive.  Posted Wednesday, December 21, 2016 by RJMc

A. The step stools in question, Southern, SCL and one of the SAL are indeed fakes or repo's take your pick what you prefer to call them. For one the feet are positioned wrong. On vintage step stools from Morton the feet have a slight overhang around the entire rubber foot whereas these have overhang on the sides and are flush at the tip. The feet are also attached wrong. On the repo ones that I have seen, only two of the three screws are attached. The very front screw is just held in by the rubber foot. Morton Mfg. stools were not made this way, their front screw hole was threaded. Another thing in question is the Morton ID Tag. For one the font is wrong. If you doubt this, compare it closely to a known vintage Morton tag and you will see the difference. Also on vintage known real Morton boxes the ID tags are not pop riveted . Morton used rivets that were hammered or pressed. The construction is suspect to. True Morton Boxes are spot welded these are brazed using brass rods and an acetylene torch. Why would Morton digress in their manufacturing technique? They wouldn't. Granted these boxes are nice but they are nice repo's. Also I referred back to a manufacturing list supplied to me by the President of Morton Mfg. and they do not list a step stool manufactured for the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad.  Posted Thursday, December 22, 2016 by RUB

 Q3242 RR Lock?  Came across this lock and was wondering if it is an early railroad lock? If so, how to determine an age? Little to no markings. Any other info would be great. Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, December 20, 2016 by Bruce   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Not a RR lock, these are referred to as wrought iron "smoke house" locks. Marking is for Sargent & Co., manufacturer.  Posted Tuesday, December 20, 2016 by dc

 Q3241 Lock IDs Needed  I am hoping you can help my 78 yr old neighbor. Judging by the logos, can you identify which railroad companies are affiliated with each of these locks? Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, December 20, 2016 by Will   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. They are not RR locks. Commonly known as wrought iron "smoke house" locks. One on left looks foreign made, one on right is William Wilcox & Co. 1854-1874. Posted Tuesday, December 20, 2016 by dc

 Q3240 Lamp Info Needed for Gift  A friend of mine bought this for her father, a collector of railway things for Christmas. My friend past away two months ago, and I am trying to prepare this gift for her dad. I was hoping to add some information to it, but I can't find anything. I don't even know what it was used for?? Please help. The marking H . L. piper Montreal is very clear. Thank you,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, December 14, 2016 by Stefanie   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. H.L.Piper Montreal made many items of maritime and railroad lighting as well as many other items. Do not believe this to be of specific railroad use. Possibly general lighting in a shipboard cabin. Link 1  Posted Thursday, December 15, 2016 by dc

A. See prior Q 3089 for a very similar lamp. It is likely a ship's 'binnacle lamp' to light the compass at night. The chimney is kind of unique among various types of kerosene lamps and lanterns; I suspect that was to keep out blown water and spray, and excess wind during rough weather. As suggested in the answer to 3089, darkroom use is a possibility nut there are other types of kerosene lamps made specifically for that application, and they usually don't have (or want) such a wide 'window because of the difficulty of controlling light leaks. I hope your friend's father is into boats as well as trains....Searching 'binnacle light; on the web comes up with many pix of binnacle lights. Posted Thursday, December 15, 2016 by RJMc

A. This is a Canadian railway station platform lamp. It was hung on the outside wall of the station in the days before electricity. Yes, the chimney was advertised as "thoroughly wind proof" and were sold in cases if 6. They had a steel fount and burner and a chrome reflector. I've attached an image of the small flag station of Clarkson's Ontario in the late 1800s where you can see an example behind the man waiting for the train. Link 1  Posted Thursday, December 15, 2016 by Jason Whiteley

A.  See Q 1241 in the Archives. This looks like a triangular station lamp in the number two or three size. The lamp was probably used in the interior of a station that did not have electricity. They were made by many lamp and lantern manufacturers, not just H L Piper. The actual lamp assembly was easily removable for servicing and had a small round thumb handle so that it could be hand held and used for lighting away from the housing. Most of the major lamp manufacturers made these and their use was not limited to railroads. W. T. Kirkman Co. may be able to provide a reproduction of the missing lamp assembly.  Posted Friday, December 16, 2016 by KM

A.  Woody Kirkman makes a Number One and a Number Two Climax replacement lamp that may fit into your housing. He can also customize the tank on those if his standard tank does not fit. The reproduction lamps are available in oil fired or hard wired electric versions so your friend could have his choice based on where he plans to display the lamp. Contact Kirkman and see if his lamp will fit in this. I don't think this is a binnacle lamp because it appears to be too large and it displays the light in multiple directions. It also lacks some of the normal marine light items like tie down loops on the lamp assembly or the little tie loop in the bail.  Posted Friday, December 16, 2016 by KM

 Q3239 'IC Ry' Marking?  I have a standard 5 3/8 inch brakeman's lantern that I thought was made for the Illinois Central Railroad. It's marked on the brim of the lid with raised letters 'IC Ry' and has an 'IC RR' clear cast globe with it. Recently I was told that the Illinois Central was never a 'Ry'. Now I'm trying to find out what road this lamp could be for! Any help will be greatly accepted!  Posted Thursday, December 8, 2016 by Bob N   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. IC was a Ry at one time. I don't know the dates. If you go to Wikipedia a document is shown with Railway on it. Sometimes the name changed due to reorganization after bankruptcy or sale. For example, Erie Lackawanna Railroad became Erie Lackawanna Railway in the 70's. It also could have been an error on the part of the lantern maker, one that wasn't worth worrying about. If you go to the home page of this website, go to Railroad Names and enter ICRY in the initials, Illinois Central and 6 others turn up. You can check the other names to see what dates they operated. Is the lantern Armspear? They did make a tall frame ICRY for Iowa Central. The 5 3/8" globe would be a tall frame style.  Posted Friday, December 9, 2016 by JN

A. I'd go with Iowa Central. To the best of my knowledge the Illinois Central never reorganized and was always Railroad (RR). Both lines crossed each other a good number of times so a mismatch like this would not be at all, unusual with an Iowa Central frame ans an Illinois Central globe. Posted Friday, December 9, 2016 by BobF

 Q3238 Lamp Sign Info Needed  I would really like to know a little about my Adlake non-sweating lamp sign. I can't seem to find anything like it online.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, December 5, 2016 by KD   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hi, in the search box to the left of this screen, type 2655 in the "Question Number" box. An item just like this will appear along with the associated information that was collected. I believe the one you will find is a different maker but overall it is the same item. Posted Tuesday, December 6, 2016 by JN

 Q3237 Waterbury Buttons and Current Authenticity  I've looked into Waterbury, and apparently theyíve been in business for over 200 years. Many railroads bought Waterbury buttons to begin with, which makes them the authentic source for those buttons. The question, then, is whether unused Waterbury buttons are still authentic, or whether they are actually still producing them today as reproductions, and if so, whatís the difference between those made today and those still in a filing cabinet drawer at a railroad's personnel department? I have no stake in this, but I like knowing the origins of things, so whatís the general consensus about this? Waterburyís designs are most likely the original dies. The original machines (or even present day versions of them) made both the railroadís buttons and the reproductions, most likely in the same building, and in some cases maybe even by the same hands. This seems to be an interesting case.  Posted Sunday, December 4, 2016 by MGR   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hello. Just enter the one word 'Waterbury' (no quotes)in the 'By Word or Phrase' search box. The searching may take a while, but you should get a list of 10 or more prior Q&A's on exactly this question. If for some reason that search doesn't work, go to Q# 1962 for just one example of the many in the archive.  Posted Monday, December 5, 2016 by RJMc

A. I guess regulars here know the key to searching, which for me, at least requires typing it twice. The first time always yields 0 results, but the second time gets a pop-up of the word or phrase, which you can click, and then you get the entire search results. I didn't realize that before. It appears that the answer to my question is involves the singular or plural (or possessive) of "Waterbury Co." If it says Waterbury Co's, it's a reproduction. If it says Waterbury Co., it's original. I've written to Waterbury to ask if that is a reliable method for all their production. We'll see how they respond, but for now I'm going to assume that it's correct. I've got some of each, and the "rule" seems to apply to mine.  Posted Wednesday, December 14, 2016 by Shooshie

A. POSSIBLE UPDATE: From the chronology in the Waterbury website (See Link): "2000 - The button business of the Waterbury Companies are purchased by OGS Technologies, Inc., which promptly readopts the name, The Waterbury Button Company." I don't know whether they changed the backstamps, but this may be another generation of button markings.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, December 17, 2016 by RJMc

 Q3236 What Kind of Lamp is This?  Just bought this at an antique store in UP mine country and wondering if it's a mine lamp or a railroad lamp. It's triangle shaped. Any ideas are appreciated!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, December 4, 2016 by Jaci P   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. My guess is that it is nautical; serving as the port (red) and starboard (green) indicator for the bow of a boat. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Friday, December 9, 2016 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

 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 90į, 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 Ė 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 50í 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: Whatís the consensus? Could the train, with an impetus of move fast or die, have cleared the dynamite by 50í 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 donít 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: centralcal.com/wilcox-exp.htm 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. Iíve 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, didnít 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 Iím 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: centralcal.com/wilcox-exp.htm 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