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

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Latest 50 Questions:

 Q3463 Switch Key Numbers  I have two old switch keys marked only '52'and '30'. Any idea what these numbers mean? Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, May 19, 2018 by Steve   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3462 Lantern Restoration Advice?  My names Joseph and by some act of god I recently stumbled on and purchased a 1906-1908 adlake, bell bottom, blue globe, ice spike, workmens lantern at a garage sale outside of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Itís my belief the railroad etched on its globe is a very rare line, (Grand Rapids and Indiana, a line of the Grand trunk railroad). They primarily hauled lumber from the north to the ohio river early on. Later the GR and I transitioned to mostly moving passengers, it was during this period of time my lantern was made. Shortly there after they went out of business in 1918. Iím new to the hobby (like only a few days), and Iím interested in learning more about the lantern and how to proceed as far as restoration or possibly preservation. I had no idea what i was buying when i purchased it and now after days of research Iíve come to realize its rarity and to some degree its value. Also iíve come to learn the Grand Rapids and Indiana ran about 10 miles from my home in Brookville Oh (near New Paris, Ohio and Richmond, Indiana). For that reason I plan to keep it and possibly acquire additional similar lanterns in the future.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, May 15, 2018 by JO   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hello. That is certainly a very nice lantern. However, the Grand Rapids and Indiana was a Pennsylvania RR subsidiary, (not Grand Trunk) serving Ft. Wayne, IN on its south end in relatively recent times. According to Bill Edson's Railroad Names listing, Grand Rapids and Indiana existed (as a separate company) from 1867 to 1921. It continued to exist as an operating railroad (still referred to as 'GR&I' although not a separate company) as part of PRR, then Penn Central, and into Conrail. One issue discussed fairly extensively elsewhere here on this website: it is easy to add etching to lantern globes. Hopefully the lantern itself is marked GR&I, but in the pic the globe looks shiny and new, so the etching might have been added later, and some places are selling new globes today recently etched with long-gone RR markings. There are other clues as to how old the globe might be but it will take a closer examination to tell that.  Posted Wednesday, May 16, 2018 by RJMc

A. So appears Iím mistaken about the GR and Iy being a Grand Trunk line, my mistake. Hereís where it gets a little crazy though the globe directly beneath the GR and Iy etching is a very very faint casting in the rectangular label area which sates ďSONORA RYĒ. Itís only visible with light behind the globe. I believe that may be Mexican line? Iím so confused haha  Posted Wednesday, May 16, 2018 by JO

A. Here is more information about the GR&IRy - and note, the burner mark P&A is for Plume & Atwood which made burners for many customers including railroad lantern makers. I have no clue about your globe - that does sound like a puzzle - but the Sonora Railway was a subsidiary of the Anerican "Santa Fe Line" and was subsidized by the Mexican government. See .  Posted Thursday, May 17, 2018 by JMS

A. OOOPS - sorry ! I meant to post the links in the correct boxes, but mistakenly put them into the comment section, mea culpa !!  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Thursday, May 17, 2018 by JMS

A. Hereís a link to a clear globe with the same SONORA Ry marking minus the DEC 30 1902 patent date. The globe is embossed on the inside, you can run your fingers along it and feel it. My research says the SONORA RY ended in 1898. So it seems to me that possibly the GR and Iy purchased a used GTR ice spike bell bottom and then some how came across this odd Corning globe and strapped it together for a workmen? Itís nearly impossible to see the internal embossing without back light. I could be way off, I really donít know. I know the GR and Iy was hard up and intersected the GTR in Grand Rapids, so possibly? Link 1  Posted Thursday, May 17, 2018 by JO

A. You have not said: is the LANTERN marked (in the pic it looks like maybe GTW)? The issue with etching of globes is that almost anybody can do it, and almost any time. And old globes are just as easy to etch, or re-etch, as brand new ones. And since the globes are standard sizes, globes moved around all over, usually without the RR company even being involved. So there are many etched globes around, but the stamped letters in the lantern metal are much harder to add or alter.  Posted Friday, May 18, 2018 by RJMc

A. My mistake. In my haste i didnít release that railroadaina cut about half of my original post off. Hereís more info. I also have a ton of pictures i could send also. -1906-1908 Adams and Westlake NO. 39 bell bottom double guard wire railroad lantern with inside wick raiser (not outside) -8 ice spikes under the base of the bell bottom -the chimney is labeled ďThe Adams and Westlake Company/ Chicago New York/ G.T.R / Patented May 28, 1895Ē -Blue 5 3/8Ē Corning globe, etched on the outside ďG.R.&I.Ry.Ē Also it has the patent date embossed at the top outside reading ďPAT DEC 30 1902 NO 717 501Ē -Also its embossed on the inside very faintly ďSONORA RYĒ which is only visible with light behind the globe- -The globe in my opinion is in a very good condition, no cracking, major chips or flea biting. It does have one small internal chip on both the top and bottom openings. -The burner is labeled on the wick raiser (THE P&A MFG CO) it appears to be possibly affixed to bell bottom (possibly for Icey conditions?). Nothing obvious i can see though. -No writing on the bell bottom what so ever. -The general condition of the lantern is poor to fair, lots of dents on the bell. Also it has some warpage though the bell into the burner. -The original nickel plating is showing in some small spots but not much, it was painted silver at some point -Very little to no rust though out, some surface rust inside the chimney though. -Before i knew it rarity i tested it using tiki torch fuel, no leaks or other problems. Posted Friday, May 18, 2018 by JO

 Q3461 RR Carbide Lamp?  I came across your website while trying to find info on a recent carbide lamp I acquired. Iíve seen quite a few carbide lamps but have never seen a lantern like this one. I live in West Virginia and carbide lamps are easy to find. This one is more like a railroad lantern. Has no markings. It is missing a threaded pressure cap. Do you recognize this? Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, May 15, 2018 by Don Z.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3460 Nickel Plate Award  I have this plate in my collection and have no idea as to what it really is. It is 4 1/2 inches round, brass or bronze, about 1/2 in. thick and weighs about 1 pound 6 ozs. Raised around the outer edge is 'To Employees No accidents' and in the center is 'Nickel Plate Road' along with a section of track and a wreath. The back has what looks like some type of mounting that has been broken off. Any help with information is welcome. Look to be a safety award but what else went with it? Thanks   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, May 15, 2018 by RLN    Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is indeed part of an annual safety award plaque. It was mounted on a finished wood plaque with a brass tag attached listing the work unit and the year worked with no accidents. The tag on the plaque I am looking at says "Ft. Wayne Engine House, 1957" They were hung on the wall or in a glass case in a prominent location and there might have been ten or more accumulated over the years at a very safety-conscious location. The Nickel Plate was nationally known to be safety conscious and won several of the prestigious Harriman Awards, hotly competed nationally among railroads and awarded based on the Federally-reported safety statistics. Because many of the plaques would be awarded every year to work units all over the 600-or-so mile NKP system, the plaques are not too hard to find, but that safety record is one of the reasons the NKP is so fondly remembered today, over 50 years after it disappeared by merger into the 'Greater' Norfolk and Western system.  Posted Wednesday, May 16, 2018 by RJMc

A. Thanks for the rapid answer to my question. I was amazed at the size and weight of this award and wondered about it's history. Is there any chance of getting a picture of a completed award so I have something to compare? Any help is very welcome! Bob Niblick Posted Wednesday, May 16, 2018 by RLN

A. Here is a photo of one of the NKP Award Plaques discussed. Link 1  Posted Saturday, May 19, 2018 by RJMc

 Q3459 What Is This Device?  We have this item that we have no knowledge of. It appears to be either a mic/speaker or buzzer, wired to a knife switch. (The inside view shows it was a product of the 'Kellogg S and S Co'. There is no date on it. This is an item in our railroad museum, and I havenít found anyone who has any info on it. I assume if it was donated to us it is RR related. Can anyone help identifying this piece and itís function?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, May 13, 2018 by Steve S   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  It is Kellogg Switchboard and Supply Co. I suspect that it is part of an intercom system. Try posting this question on a telephone collectors site. There are many Kellogg catalogs that have been reproduced and available on the net. Posted Monday, May 14, 2018 by KM

A. Hello Steve, This device is indeed one that was used in a lot of railroad depots and we called them an annunciator or squawker and their purpose was to let the agent know that the dispatcher was attempting to talk to him on the Disp phone when in fact he was away from his desk,and this device let out a loud 3-5 sec raucous noise to get the agents attention.Many railroads such as my alma mater,used a loud bell that served the same purpose.These devices were hooked to a selective ringing circuit where each depot had its own code and the disp would select the depot wanted and the device would go off once per code transmission.DJB  Posted Monday, May 14, 2018 by DJB

A. Thanks for the replies and the info. I had come across a site that had old Kellogg S and S catalogs but I could not find any description of this item. What you say about itís purpose makes sense though. The wiring from the knife switch seems to indicate that perhaps there were two sources of input signal.  Posted Monday, May 14, 2018 by SS

A. Hi again Steve,Actually,the knife switch was to shut the device off when the agent was at his desk near the dispr phone ,mostly so the device wouldn't blast into the agent's ear.These were very loud if you never had the "pleasure" of hearing one go off.The bell type was equally loud. DJB  Posted Tuesday, May 15, 2018 by DJB

 Q3458 B&M Steel Guard Lantern  I just picked up this lantern at a flea market. The condition is neither thrilling, nor atrocious. Alas, the burner is lacking. But thereís something that has me puzzled. Thereís this copper, or brass tag of sorts, soldered onto the chimney. It is stamped 'A 1 6 4 2'. Any idea why that tag is there, what it could mean? Also, something else strange. See that dark stuff, that looks like old paint or something? Well, itís really tough, but it can be chipped off. And underneath, thereís solder. So that raises a few questions for me- Why was there solder there What's the black stuff? Is it some kind of oxidation? Seems more like paint. If it was painted, how come the paintís all cleanly gone from everywhere else? The patent dates are a little hard to read, but the latest one I could read seems to be '97. Iíve read that collectors generally use the latest patent date on this make of lantern, as a way to approximate around when the lantern was manufactured. Any further tips, corrections, anything I should know about considering its age? Any thoughts, or answers you might have for me, are greatly appreciated. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, May 13, 2018 by Ellie F   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. See prior Q's 3135 and 3118 which talk about the uses and circumstances for numbered (and usually tagged) lanterns. (Just put the Q number in the search box.) As to the 'black stuff' I can't tell what you are referring it something that coated the whole lantern? Posted Monday, May 14, 2018 by RJMc

 Q3457 What Is This Tool?  I found this at a garage sale, seller told me it's a very old railroad tool. My son works for a railroad track company in Dallas, I wanted to give it to him, but not without an explanation of what the heck it is. Can anyone help identify it? I saw it in a photograph of a museum display with no explanation, and the display was of antique railroad tools, so I'm pretty sure I'm on the right 'track'.  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, May 13, 2018 by Mark M   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. These are to a sickle bar style mower, the moving bar would slide over a row of these bolted to a fixed bar to cut grass/hay. The serrated pads should be riveted to these and are replaceable, the pads are the other half of the cutting mechanism. The RR's may have used these to cut weeds but I cut a lot of hay on the farm with a mower that these were part of.  Posted Sunday, May 13, 2018 by COD

 Q3456 B&O China Question  I saw a 9 inch (actually 8.75 inch) plate, Harper's Ferry, Horse Drawn Car - Lord Baltimore. The back has Scammell's Lamberton, Patent Applied For and Shield with milestones 1828-1874. The question is: It does not have the years next to the Capitol Dome at the top of shield. No evidence of fading. Did they wear completely off OR were some plates made without the date? Also, rough time frame for this plate? Thanks. Posted Sunday, May 6, 2018 by Steve   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. If it says "Patent Applied For" That would make it from the very first batch from 1927. Looking at other pieces of that I see they did not have the years on them in that batch. You have one of the first pieces. Very hard to find. Enjoy it! Posted Monday, May 7, 2018 by JN

A. Thanks! Posted Monday, May 7, 2018 by Steve

 Q3455 Key Info?  I recently acquired two keys that are not traditional switch keys. One is marked NY&OMRR with a C near the barrel. Believe this is from New York and Oswego Midland Railroad. Cannot make out the makers name but can read Newark NJ. The other is marked S&MRR with an S by the barrel. Double bit and no maker's mark. I hope someone can help me out with any info about these keys.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, May 6, 2018 by TML   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I have an early double bit key from an 1860's RR line that looks like your key, double ring, etc. It was made by PYES, known for their double-bit brass lever locks. No maker's mark on my key either.  Posted Monday, May 7, 2018 by DA

A. You're correct about New York & Oswego Midland. As to the S&MRR....there were quite a few lines with those initials. Any idea what geographical area it came from? That may help to narrow it down. Posted Friday, May 11, 2018 by BobF

 Q3454 SP Sunset Pattern China  I have been collecting this pattern for several years. I have never seen a cup saucer with the Top Logo on it. Do they exist? Thanks.  Posted Friday, May 4, 2018 by Doug   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3453 Conductor's Lantern ID?  Can anyone help me identify this lantern? Solid brass. Has (what I assume to be) a whale oil burner. Also has a screw-in globe retainer. Looks like a conductor's lantern, but I'd love to know the manufacturer and/or model. Iíve been told it could be a Parmalee & Bonnell. There is a patent date of 1871 on the bottom. Any help is appreciated!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, May 4, 2018 by AD   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I believe this lantern is a CT ham model either number 1 or 3. This lantern is considered to be a conductor lantern, sometimes given to conductors for retirement gifts. This lantern should polish up nice with some care and patience. Nice find! Posted Friday, May 4, 2018 by RR Gal

A. Thanks for the response RR Gal! But, I have both of the lanterns you mention (CT Ham #1 and #3) in my collection, and while it shares some similarities, it's definitely not either. Quite a bit smaller than a #1 with a different bell, and with a very different profile than a #3. Posted Friday, May 4, 2018 by AD

A. This is an early Steam Gauge & Lantern Co. product, possibly their No. 3. See Barrett, p. 216. Artistís rendition shows step in the base, but not made that way. The patent stamp is Parmelee & Bonnell, also seen on early successor SG&L products. This lantern dates to mid- to late-1870s. Posted Monday, May 7, 2018 by ASwoyer

 Q3452 Lantern Marking  I have an old railroad lantern with the markings 'P. S. & C. N.Y'. on the top. It also says 'Porter'. Do you know what railroad this is from? It has a red globe, 5 3/8Ē high. Thank you,  Posted Monday, April 30, 2018 by Andy N   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The marking stands for the maker which is Porter Sons & Company New York not a RR marking Posted Monday, April 30, 2018 by COD

 Q3451 Locomotive bell stand/cradle casting date  I am overhauling a 14.5 in. - 15 in. brass/bronze B&O loco bell. The steel stand/cradle has 2 different sets of numbers cast in it. One number is 200369 (or maybe 2Q0369) and is cast on the outside edge and on the bottom. The other number is 104?0 (or maybe 104 0. Can you tell me what the numbers mean, and if they are casting dates, what the date is?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, April 30, 2018 by JT   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. In most foundries, these were pattern and/or part numbers which would seldom change over many years. For sand casting, making up the 3-D wooden pattern is a significant portion of the labor to make any casting; after forming the cavity in the sand in the mold, and before pouring the metal, the numbered wooden pattern is removed and saved to use over and over again. A foundry kept the wood patterns on hand for all kinds of parts and the pattern numbers helped to keep them organized, and matched them to the blue prints and part numbers. But there was no reason (except maybe on builder's plates or service-time-limited items such as brake hoses) to change the numbers for various dates.  Posted Tuesday, May 1, 2018 by RJMc

A. One useful aspect of the numbers might be to confirm what foundry made your castings. Although there is no catalog anywhere, you may be able to match the part numbers you have with other similar parts which have a known history. Many major, and not-so-major RR companies had their own in-house foundries; I am fairly certain the B&O shops in Baltimore did their own castings and I know the PRR in Altoona had a huge foundry complex. The major locomotive builders also probably cast many of their own parts, and all of these organizations also bought many parts from outside suppliers which probably used their own part numbers.  Posted Wednesday, May 9, 2018 by RJMc

 Q3450 Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen Service Pins  Help? I have been trying to find information on Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen member service pins. Does anyone know where I can find information of types and the years when the service pins were issued? My internet searches have been fruitless. Attached is a scan of the ones I have been able to find so far.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, April 30, 2018 by TC   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I have never found any dates for when these were used, just know that these are the early ones (Screw Backs) and I was told that the different regions were able to design their own. For example, I have 8 different 25 year pins and from there on, I have anywhere from 2 to 4 variations of each five year pin. later they switched to a common pin that has a shield shape with a large number and a different color. The last ones (UTU) are in a oval (Foot Ball)shape and have the number at the top. Good luck on finding out what you are looking for! RLN Posted Friday, May 4, 2018 by RLN

 Q3449 Lantern Info Needed  Can you give me any information on this lantern? It was in my great aunt's basement in Iowa. There are no markings other than what is noted on the bottom and no globe (although I'd like to know what kind of globe this takes). It appears to be all brass. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, April 19, 2018 by Pam   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  Chicago Manufacturing Company was in existence from 1850? to 1874, located at 43 and 45 Franklin Street, Chicago. At the time that it was sold the company was owned by Joseph Dennis and Henry Wheeler and they sold it to Adams and Westlake. The October 24, 1865 patent may be referring to James Irwin's patent number 50591. Chicago Manufacturing held the rights to that patent starting in 1868. This may be a #7 Champion conductors lantern. See pages 42 and 45 in "The Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Railroad Lighting, Volume 1-The Railroad Lantern" by Richard C. Barrett. Also see page 124 and 125 in "Lanterns That Lit Our World" by Anthony Hobson. It is hard to say what globe this lantern uses, start by measuring the height, see if it might be 5 and 3/8 inches tall. That would probably be a common #39 globe which is readily available. If that is the wrong height than give us the correct height along with the diameter of the top and bottom openings and the widest width of the bulge and we can determine what globe will fit.  Posted Friday, April 20, 2018 by KM

 Q3448 Lantern ID Needed  Can anyone help identify this lantern? I am wanting to restore it. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, April 18, 2018 by MB   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  This is what's left of a New England Glass Company fixed globe lantern that was made around 1855 to 1875. Good luck with the restoration because you are missing the globe, burner and tank. See pages 22 and 23 in "The Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Railroad Lighting, Volume 1-The Railroad Lantern" by Richard C. Barrett.  Posted Friday, April 20, 2018 by KM

 Q3447 Locomotive Bell?  My father in law had this bell, however we do not know much about it. It has been sitting in front of my barn for 15 or so years. I recently started researching this bell and from what I can tell it may be a locomotive bell? The pull arm has been cut off with a torch, not sure what else is missing? Just looking for any info and history on this type of bell. Thanks in advance for any information.  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2018 by Mark   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. What size is it? The form is consistent with bells that were used on steam locomotives for many decades or on some early diesels, and also on many fire trucks and some ships. What size is it? The mounting holes appear small for locomotive service. Does it have a clapper? On locomotives the mechanical ringing arrangement was often eliminated and an air-operated piston was substituted to eliminate the requirement to pull the bell cord all the time. The numbers visible in the pic are casting part numbers. Are there any numbers or letters steel-stamped into the top of the bell itself? If so, they might indicate what RR or locomotive the bell was used on. For a lot more info and description, go the Railroadiana Home selection on this site and select "Bells" as the topic in the right hand column.  Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2018 by RJMc

A. Another source of excellent and wide-ranging info on all kinds of bells, including railroad bells, is the Brosamer website (see Link). Look at their bell RR95 for one very similar to yours which they say came from a narrow-gage RR locomotive. Their section on "Post Bells" used around farms and residences also shows one similar to yours, and in that section they also list replacement parts (which are usually NOT easy to find) if you are interested in restoring your bell. Link 1  Posted Friday, April 13, 2018 by RJMc

 Q3446 Lantern ID?  What kind of lantern is this? I found this lantern in a market in the South of France. The fresnels are plastic.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2018 by EW, Sweden   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The lantern appears to be a traffic warning lantern - used at road construction sites and the like. It is not a railroad lantern. See Link 1 for a picture of a similar lantern.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, April 12, 2018 by JEM

 Q3445 Lantern Age?  I found this lantern and trying to find out the year it was made. Think it says defense lantern spd co. Then it says n.y and on the front it says no.0 perfect.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, April 5, 2018 by DR   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is a "barn" style tubular lantern, and not a railroad lantern. It looks nothing at all like any railroad lantern. It may be a Defiance Lantern and Stamping Company product. If so, it may be similar or the same as a Defiance No. 0 Regular Tubular Lantern - made from 1901 to the 1930s, according to information in Hobson's book, "Lanterns That Lit Our World".  Posted Saturday, April 7, 2018 by JEM

 Q3444 Bell Restoration Question  We have an old B&O locomotive bell with base as pictured on your web-site front page in the second row down, far left. Listed as on your web page as: 'it is 14 1/2' in diameter, mounted on a mahogany base, and believed to be a Baltimore & Ohio Railroad bell due to the fact that a very similar one is pictured in a circa 1950 B&O gift shop catalog. Ours has the same cradle (with oval bottom) and yoke design. Our bell is larger than 14 1/2 in. (about 18-20 in., but have not measured it...) and has a internal air passage through the pin and up through the yoke for the air operated clapper. It also has a moisture separator screwed into the end of the air supply pin. Took 3 men to carry and remove the assembled bell from the garage. We at an American Legion Post are rebuilding/overhauling this after it was stored in a dusty/dirty garage for over 50 years. It will be in our museum for your 100th anniversary of the legion in 2019. We have gotten the bell, brass ball nut and clapper (with threaded stud) off the yoke but are not sure if the 2 steel pins that attach the yoke to the cradle have tapered ends fitting into tapered holes in the cradle. Were the pins installed from the inside going outward, or from the outside going inward? The steel pins in the cast steel cradle are rusted and if we have the use a sludge hammer to drive the pins out, we hope the pins are straight so it won't matter which direction we drive the pins. We are hoping to drive the pins from the outside, inward. Can you help us? New steel pins and brass cradle bearings/bushings will be machined for the overhaul.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, April 4, 2018 by JT   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Assure that you rigidly support any of the cast components to isolate them from the force of impact; they may fracture. I have had success saturating stubborn steel pins, screws, etc. by soaking with a penetrating oil (WD-40) or kerosene for several days and using a punch with an outside diameter slightly smaller than the pin OD to distribute the impact force. Good luck!  Posted Thursday, April 5, 2018 by JSM

A. Heat just the pin as hot as you can get it. (do not heat the area around it) Let it set and cool while you take a break and it should drive out. The hot pin will expand and cause the material around the pin to expand, because that outer area was not heated it will stay expanded and not contract like the pin will. Never had this not work Posted Thursday, April 5, 2018 by LF

 Q3443 NYCS Tool  Can anyone suggest what this NYCS 'tool' was used for? It clearly should have a handle, but itís definitely different than the high-window opener poles we have seen. The hook would have been to pull on something at a distance, but why the slot down the middle? Thank you for ideas!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2018 by JMS   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Just a guess, but, the slot may be a manufacturing feature, i.e., core, to reduce weight and cost (less material), insure consistent wall thickness and deformation of the part and reduce casting/cooling time. Use, well, how about a hook on a shaft to retrieve mail pouches?  Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2018 by JSM

A. This looks very much like the center piece of a small brush or broom. I don't see any means by which bristles or broom straws could have been fastened into the head, but that may have been only by compressing the bundle of them into the slot in the head. The 'NYCS' stamp marks this as later than 1920. The use of brass or bronze for this item says to me it was for some 'higher class' function, probably on a passenger, sleeper, or dining car. An office building might also be a possibility. I am guessing the hook may have been to hang it up when it was not in use; the hook does not appear to be worn by a lot of use. For very similar shapes, see theimage of brushes and brooms [See link] which were for sale to RR's around 1895. This pic comes from the Illustrated Catalogue of Ry and Machinists' Tools and Supplies of the distributors Manning, Maxwell & Moore, Inc. The catalog was scanned and made available (free) online by Google books.  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, April 4, 2018 by RJMc

A. Thanks so much for the ideas. It is brass. NYCS operated between August 1935 and 1968 - we hadn't thought about a brush/broom holder base, indeed it could be, if the bristles could be forced in tight enough. Thank you especially for the lead to the Google Books listing, we'll definitely check that one out ! Posted Friday, April 6, 2018 by JMS

 Q3442 Eagle Tallow Pots  Were Eagle tallow pots (steam cylinder/valve oil cans) painted originally or galvanized? If they were painted, what color should they be? Thinking of the ones made from 1900-1940ish.  Posted Monday, March 26, 2018 by KO   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. All Eagle products I have seen were blue unless very old and rusty. Google "Eagle tallow pots" and you will see current line of of tallow pots. Posted Saturday, March 31, 2018 by DC

 Q3441 RR Button?  Can you identify this? It has a back mark but unreadable. Thanks for your help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, March 23, 2018 by Wayne   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3440 Lantern Info Needed  I picked this up for $10 at estate sale. Canít find any history for lettering on top D & R.G RR . It looks like it might be missing a ring around the globe area. I canít find one like it on internet to compare to.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, March 17, 2018 by Don D   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The D&RGRR is for the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad. You did very well in your find for $10. Maybe post a photo of "the ring around the globe area". Nice work on your find! Posted Saturday, March 17, 2018 by LN

A. Wow, you are so lucky. Lucky that you found this mint condition Star headlight lantern for 10 bucks. Lucky that it also had a MM Buck fount in mint condition!! Lucky that you found this website!! Lucky that you took wonderful sharp & detailed pictures that all the western collectors can drool over!! Lucky that you were so ignorant of the internet that simply typing in D&RG would gain you a wealth of info on the Denver and Rio Grande railroad. But you found this website and were able to post a message and download pics!! And lucky that you posted it on St. Patrick's Day!!! The only thing better would be if you posted this on April one!!! Mr Lucky!!! I found a Union Pacific Big Boy one time, just sitting on a siding, but I could not carry it home on my skateboard. But hey, thanks, we all need a good laugh from time to time.  Posted Sunday, March 18, 2018 by GWS

A. Not real sure what that (Mr. Lucky)is all about but, what color Globe would this Lantern normally have. Thinking about buying a replica to display it. Posted Tuesday, March 20, 2018 by Don D

A. Some people aren't happy to see others find nice things I guess. Jealousy does funny things to people. Anyway, most typically it would have had a clear or "white" globe in it for standard use. If you are looking for any color in particular or a nice original marked or unmarked globe instead of a re-pop that you'll typically find on a particular 4 letter internet auction site, there are several website based dealers you can probably find a nice globe at a reasonable price with a simple google search. You might also be able to find an original font for it. It is a very nice find and congrats. Posted Tuesday, March 20, 2018 by FC

A. Don D; W.T.Kirkman (LINK 1) is your one stop source for many parts for old lanterns, including a globe for your fine piece. Look at the Replacement Glass link on the left side of Kirkman's page -- One reason for confusion over the initials "D&RG" is that the Rio Grand reorganized in 1920-1921 and became the "D&RGW". You, being a wise collector (not a wise-@$$ with a keyboard) were likely searching for the exact letters"D&RG", and not finding much. Glad you found this site. Please know that MOST collectors who respond to questions on this site are happy to share legit information, not sarcastic drivel. ---- .... Red Bread Link 1  Posted Wednesday, March 21, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. From your photo it appears the lower horizontal wire guard is missing. Replacing this piece is a fairly easy restoration / fabrication. Finding the replacement clips however is going to be the tough part (note the clips where the upper horizontal and vertical wires come together). Your best bet is to attend a railroadiana show where you will find boxes of lantern parts. It will take some hunting but you may be able to find a frame like yours and salvage both the lower horizontal wire and clips. While you are at the show be sure to keep an eye out for an original globe too. Having your lantern complete, right and tight will make a nice find even better. Good luck. Posted Friday, March 23, 2018 by Ex Sou Ry

 Q3439 Lamp Info Needed  Would anyone happen to know anything about this lamp/lantern? There are no markings on it. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, March 15, 2018 by Jerry M.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. What do you think folks ? I am guessing a Hiram Piper switch light with a bunch of modifications over the years. Posted Thursday, March 15, 2018 by HVT

A. I'm wondering about it being a Peter Gray lamp but modified. That lens opening is pretty small and similar to my Peter Gray Maine Central lamp. This is a WAG though. Posted Thursday, March 15, 2018 by PK

A. That deep edged "Portobello Mushroom" cap on the lamp is a dead giveaway. This lamp is from INDIA. I don't know much about them, but many of them have shown up on the Net in recent years. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Thursday, March 15, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Jerry M. , could you please take one red and one green of the lenses off and write back and let us know what the lettering around the edge of the lens says? That would be a BIG research help! Thanks, ---- .... Red Beard Posted Thursday, March 15, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Assuming the lens is original to the Lamp. Posted Friday, March 16, 2018 by LC

A. Likewise Red Beard.......I'm sure that's an INDIA product from that site that's mentioned in the FAKE category on this site. I have a matching pair of platform lamps that I purposely bought off of Ebay (real cheap)a couple years back, just out of curiosity. Visually, from a distance, they actually look good but there is no wind baffling of any kind and the doors don't fit tight. You couldn't even use a candle in them and keep it lit. There was a cheap little tin font like you'd use in a craft product for looks only. I put a little kerosene in the one and it leaked immediately. The lens is a standard clear fresnel but it's hammered on with a strip of metal and not a drawband with a screw. AS i said, at a distance, it could pass for real. Up close, to those of us familiar with these.....No way! Posted Friday, March 16, 2018 by TE

A. Here ya' go. check out this site to see what i was talking about in the previous post. It's called Infiniti India Posted Friday, March 16, 2018 by TE

A. Hey TE, good to hear from you; been a while -- What does it say on the rim of the lenses in your lamps? How is the quality of the color in those lenses? ---- .... Red Beard Posted Saturday, March 17, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. YES....It has been awhile but I regularly check the site. The lenses in both, along the rim, have the following molded in: F89 MM 5 3/8 136 MMDIA There are no manufacturer marks on the lens or the lamp. After pulling them out and looking at them again, they aren't junk by any means. There's some heft to the metal and some craftsmenship in the overall construction. There's even a peep hole in the lower third of the body. They seem to have copied a really old pre 1900. There's just no wind proofing in the works. And as mentioned, the font is a cheap non-railroad item. These could easily fool a novice or non collector. TE  Posted Sunday, March 18, 2018 by TE

A. Forgot to answer your other question. The single lens is clear and of standard quality for typical modern fresnel lenses.  Posted Sunday, March 18, 2018 by TE

 Q3438 Marine Lantern?  I have a lantern that I cleaned up and clear coated. It looks like a marine style lantern with no makers mark. I found a picture similar to it in Anthony Hobsonís book 'Lanterns That Lit Our World' Book Two, similar to Helvig lanterns. The burner is marked BB&C Co. Maybe Bristol Brass Co.? It accepts a common barn size globe 6- 5/8 tall. The cold blast globes seem to fit better than the hot blast style. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, March 11, 2018 by Nick   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Might be Bridgeport Brass.... Posted Monday, March 26, 2018 by BobF

 Q3437 C&NW RR vs RY?  I have an early tall globe Adams & Westlake lantern that is marked C & NW RR on the rim. The globe is marked C&NW Ry. Most of the Chicago & Northwestern lanterns Iíve seen are marked 'Railway' instead of 'Railroad' Were earlier lanterns marked in this matter?  Posted Sunday, March 11, 2018 by NSG   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Before the "Adams" and "Reliable" lanterns, Chicago & Northwestern lanterns were routinely marked "RR" instead of "RY". Older keys and locks were also marked with RR. Posted Thursday, March 15, 2018 by BobF

 Q3436 Tiffany Pin  I just purchased this lapel pin. It is gold plated sterling silver made by Tiffany. Since I can't see a company like Tiffany making run of the mill railfan pins, I am taking an educated guess that this is a UP service pin? Having 5 stars and being gold colored makes me think along the lines of a 50 year service pin. Can anyone confirm this and take a guess as to vintage? Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, March 7, 2018 by JN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. You are wise to realize that "Tiffany & Co" on a run of the mill piece is a huge red flag. At least one scammer has been documented fraudulently marking belt buckles (among other things) as Tiffany produced. See Link 1 ; and the discussion about it on this website Link 2. If this was genuine Tiffany it should be real gold - not gold color. Also, service pins almost always have the actual year number on them - not stars. I hope someone more familiar with UP itself will respond here ?  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Wednesday, March 7, 2018 by JMS

A. Total Fake ! -- Look first at the quality of the stars and the design of the shield. Any company service pin would have much sharper, more precise detail. The stars are not crisp geometric shapes, the bars on the shield and the lettering have rounded edges. Any piece used by a railroad would be very carefully detailed with sharp edges and angles, as would any non-official piece from a quality jewelry manufacturer. Also, having worked for the UP, this looks like no official piece I've ever seen. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Wednesday, March 7, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Tiffany would have the Union Pacific letters much more detailed and not smooth like a well worn out coin. Posted Thursday, March 8, 2018 by LC

A. I was given a twenty year pin (2 stars) like this when I worked for Union Pacific. It is marked Tiffany. This is genuine railroad issue. Posted Saturday, March 10, 2018 by rrsignalman

A. Correction to my reply. I just found my pin and it also has 5 stars at the top. Mine also has 2 blue stones on the lower portion. I am certain that mine is a twenty year pin as indicated by the 2 stones. Yours must be a 5 year pin and definitely Union Pacific issued. Posted Saturday, March 10, 2018 by rrsignalman

A. Failed to mention vintage. Mine would have been issued in 2002. Posted Saturday, March 10, 2018 by rrsignalman

A. rrsignalman; - take a look at the pin in -LINK 1- below. I'm guessing your pin looks more like the one in the LINK -- I still maintain that the one shown in this question is a knock-off, a cheap hat pin, and that the Tiffany stamp is fake and it has no connection to the U.P. ---- .... Red Beard Link 1  Posted Friday, March 16, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Red Beard - My pin is very detailed like the one in the link you provided. It is possible that the pin on this post is a reproduction. We'll have to see if more show up...  Posted Saturday, March 17, 2018 by rrsignalman

A. rrsignalman; What part of the system did you work on? I was a clerk in Council Bluffs back in the '70s. Unfortunately, I never got to know any of the maintainers, as I always had an interest in signals; collect old insulators too, and picked up quite a few as the open wire was taken down on branch lines. Also had an uncle who was an AT&T Long Lines man for years; climbed a lot of poles in his day. Did get to know some of the special agents, as their office was right next door to the yard office. ---- .... Red Beard  Posted Saturday, March 17, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Red Beard - Started out for Mopac in Austin, TX. Worked there for several years then to Missouri. Spent many years in the System Signal Shops in Sedalia, MO. until retirement in 2016. I have also climbed a few poles! Not my favorite thing to do... Posted Sunday, March 18, 2018 by rrsignalman

 Q3435 B&O Teapot  I have B&O teapot that I purchased from an antique dealer years ago; it has a Shenango backstamp and 1952 date code. After comparing to pictures of the same teapot Iím not sure mine has the proper lid on it. Would appreciate any help or comments, thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, March 5, 2018 by Gary H.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Does the lid have a tab on it? Notice that the rim of the teapot has a notch in it. The teapot lid should have a tab on it that fits in that notch.Inserting the tab and then twisting the lid 1/4 turn keeps the lid from falling off during pouring. Also, be very careful cleaning the teapot. The gold will come off if scrubbed with a Brillo pad or scraped. Gold has to be put on top of the glaze. That makes it vulnerable to coming off. That is a very pretty teapot. That is one of my favorite patterns. Posted Tuesday, March 6, 2018 by JN

A. No, there is no tab on the bottom.From other pics of the teapot I've seen they don't have a round knob on top like mine, it is kind of a flat tab with dimples on each side of the tab to grab. Looks like someone may have replaced the lid on this one that goes on another piece "Capitol". Posted Tuesday, March 6, 2018 by GHyde

A. Go to this website here Click on Baltimore & Ohio Railroad china and look at Capitol Pattern. You will see a hot chocolate pot that has a lid that looks like yours. Posted Tuesday, March 6, 2018 by JN

A. I would agree with GHyde. The pot has a "slot" and is made for a lid that would have a "tab" or an "ear" on one rim edge. When you put this type of lid on, the tab goes first through the rim opening. Then you set the rest of the lid down, and turn it so the tab won't come back up out of the rim hole. This arrangement keeps the lid on the pot no matter how far you tip it to pour. As JN points out it's possible your lid was made for a chocolate pot, because a "true" tea pot lid will have at least one little tab on the inside rim. THAT SAID - not a huge problem -- it fits your tea pot, it displays beautifully and both pieces are in LOVELY condition! but if it was mine I would be looking at any lids I might come across whether on a tea pot like yours or a chocolate pot! just to see if I could find the 100% correct one.  Posted Tuesday, March 6, 2018 by JMS

A. See the link - Here is what the lid on your tea pot should look like, indeed it is a tall flat triangular shape tab. JN appears to be right - the fat, short knob type belongs on a chocolate pot. Apparently this is a "pin" of Pinterest - lifted from one of Sue Knous' Railroad Memories photos in a prior auction.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, March 6, 2018 by JMS

A. I meant also to reinforce JN's caveat about cleaning this! The value in this pattern is how close to mint the decoration is. The slightest wear on the gold means value will PLUMMET. Never EVER use any kind of hard scrubber to clean it, and NEVER EVER EVER wash in a dishwasher!!  Posted Tuesday, March 6, 2018 by JMS

A. GHyde-- I think someone nailed it, believe the lid I have on my teapot is for the chocolate pot. That's the way I purchased the piece and I wasn't aware at the time it was wrong. I will check out the website, maybe someday I can find the correct lid. Thank you very much for the help! Posted Tuesday, March 6, 2018 by GHyde

A. I call this situation an ITLLDOO - it will do until a more appropriate piece comes along. In the meantime, enjoy it ! Beautiful pot and a lid that works (until the appropriate one comes along). I would check with the Railroad Commissary, as one of the posters above provided - send him an email, let him know you have a choc pot lid and looking for a tea pot lid. Check and see if there are any shows you could attend, vendors may be able to help. You need to get into a loop to improve your hunting chances. This is not an impossibly rare pattern and with luck you'll succeed !  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, March 7, 2018 by jms

 Q3434 Handlan Item  I picked this up the other day. The guy said it was for a semaphore light or a switch lamp with a slide-open door. He said that when the railroads started to switch from kero to electric they converted to this type of electric. It's made by Handlan. On the front it says Pat Apld for. On the other end it says Handlan St Louis USA. The glass is about 4 3/4 inches; the base is 4 inches wide and about 6 inches long. It's made of aluminum. Can anybody tell me what they really used it for? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, March 4, 2018 by RT   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hello RT,This light unit was used by railroads to convert their kerosene/oil burning lamps into slightly more modern electric lamps,yet used the original lamp body and mounting hardware.It probably was cost effective for them to do this as railroads were notoriously cheap by nature.If you look closely at the footprint of the unit's base,it will conform exactly to an AAR standard 31 ounce rectangular oil fount which Handlan,Dressel and Adlake all used in certain versions of their signal lamps.By making it an exact fit,the focus of the light unit was still correct in relation to the lense center.Some of these conversion units had a feature whereby the height of the electric lamp socket could be raised up or down for exact focus.This particular lamp socket would most likely have had a screw-in signal bulb adapter to accommodate a signal standard SC base style bulb which was a low voltage bulb with precision focused filament, but not all lines used these bulbs in these old lamp conversions.I don't want to overload you with info but I speak from 40 years of experience in the signal dep't of a class 1 railroad and am now retired. DJB Posted Tuesday, March 6, 2018 by DJB

A. thank you djb for the info what year did they use these Posted Wednesday, March 7, 2018 by rt

A. Hi RT,Its hard to say when these conversions first started to be used but its safe to say that it was when the rural areas of the country started to get electricity,so my guess would be the 40's and later.Some of these conversions could go back much earlier and used low voltage lamps lit by DC from what we called primary batteries,or those that were activated chemically with caustic soda,lasted approx. 1 year and didn't need to be charged by electricity.Railroads started to send electricity down to signal locations via line wire once it was available and were able to save considerable maintenance costs by not having to fill,clean and maintain kerosene burners every week.As time went on,these old converted kerosene signal lamps were replaced by modern electric signal lamps specifically designed for this purpose with better optics and a more intense illumination. DJB Posted Wednesday, March 7, 2018 by DJB

A. thank you djb for your help Posted Wednesday, March 7, 2018 by rt

 Q3433 CPR Item  Can you assist in Identifying this Canadian Pacific Railroad item? It appears to be a Pullman Sleeping Car window curtain(?) . . but the size is small (33 in. x 27 in.) and it only has two grommet holes. I have over exposed the photo to show the pattern on the blanket. It is 100% wool with a canvas border. I bought this directly from the CP Rail 'Bygones Shop' back on the mid 1970's. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, March 1, 2018 by Craig M   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Many railroads used cloth head rest covers on their coach seats. The two grommets probably fit over 2 studs on the back of the chairs to keep them in place. That would be my educated guess.  Posted Friday, March 2, 2018 by JN

A. Also known as an antimaccassar. Macassar was an oil formerly used, especially by men, to make one's hair shiny and lay flat. Posted Friday, March 2, 2018 by DC

A. JN nailed it exactly. In the mid 1900s, men used quite a bit of "hair dressing", such as Brylcreem, to hold their hair neatly in place (LINK 1). The major problem with this practice was that the oily hair dressing would seep into anything your hair came into contact with, leaving a visible stain on upholstered surfaces. At home, most people had a nice looking doily or decorative towel draped over the top of high-backed chairs or sofas to keep hair dressing off the fabric. Likewise, expensive hats, such as a passenger conductor's uniform hat would have a clear plastic liner in the hat to prevent the oil from staining the outside surface of the hat. Earlier hats had a loose silk liner for the same purpose. Head rest covers, such as the one in this question were used by all railroads to keep the seats clean. -- Additionally, prior to the development of DDT during WWII, and other modern pediculicides, head lice were quite common in the US. When an infected person would rest their head on the back of the seat, lice would cling to the seat fabric and attach themselves to subsequent passengers who likewise leaned their head back on the seat. By changing the covers daily at the end of every run, the risk of spreading lice from one passenger to another was reduced, thereby making the traveling public rest more easily when traveling by train. ---- ....Red Beard Link 1  Posted Friday, March 2, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

 Q3432 Hiram Piper Lanterns  I have a question about a Hiram Piper railway lantern. The lantern is the larger black colour, 4 lens caboose style stamped H.L.P. on very top lid ,and also stamped C.N.R. on the side. It has 3 blue plastic lens and 1 red lens. The person says it was never used and was made in Kingston Ontario, being sold as new old stock. My question is: Were these lanterns ever made in Kingston Ontario as per sheet of paper that comes with lantern? There are no markings of 'Montreal' at all on this lantern. Thank you.  Posted Thursday, March 1, 2018 by Jim L.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3431 Mystery William Westlake Tall Lantern Base  Can anyone advise what type of lantern this base was made for ? (Or point me to a picture?) It is stamped W WESTLAKE PATD with one 1864 patent date and two from 1865. It has a small sliding door on the side and there are two bent wire 'clips' that work with what amounts to thumb latches (hidden below the rolled rim). You squeeze the 'mushroom' parts and the wire loops go back under the rim; then released they come back out (as shown). Guessing that a globe (?) is placed on the outer flat rim and the clips hold it in place Ė they are there to hold something (maybe another metal part with slots they go into?) We are able to find information about William Westlake but nothing about the type of lantern this would have been made for. Thank you for any ideas !   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, February 28, 2018 by JS   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Your lantern part is a bottom section of a domestic lantern and the photo shown is of a very similar lantern. Normally these type of lanterns had a fixed glass globe that was cemented into the top and bottom metal sections of the lantern. However because yours has the spring loaded tabs I suspect that this part is for a removable (replaceable) glass globe which was patented by William Westlake at the dates shown on your part. The other photo shown shows a spring loaded Sangster font that would have been similar to one that would have clipped underneath the part you have. It would have contained the fuel and wick and could be easily removed to add fuel and trim the wick. The sliding tab you have on your part would open to light & extinguish the flame.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, March 4, 2018 by D.M.

 Q3430 Gaithersburg Show Date  Does anyone happened to know the 2018 Gaithersburg fall show date? Thank you.  Posted Thursday, February 22, 2018 by RR Gal   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. GBurg ia always the 1st Sunday in November, this year the 4th Posted Thursday, February 22, 2018 by COD

A. Thank you so much!!! Posted Friday, February 23, 2018 by -RR Gal :)

A. is the website where you can find their show calendar among other information and listings. I've included a live link, as well. Bookmark/Favorite it for future use !  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, February 27, 2018 by JMS

A. Great! Thanks!! 😁 Posted Thursday, March 8, 2018 by RR Gal

 Q3429 Santa Fe Clock Question  I saw a Santa fe railroad clock go up for auction the other day. Upon arriving at the auction and looking closely at it I was starting to question its authenticity. On it it says 'colored passenger agent' 'atlas life building' 'Tulsa Ok'. After looking at its face I thought it looked kinda like a single printed graphic. Looking inside the clock I did not see any evidence of a Santa fe time inspector label. My question is: has anyone seen these clocks before? Were ticket agents segregated? Was there an agent in the atlas life building in Tulsa? I'm sorry this is the only picture I have. When I saw it in person I didn't think to take any more. It was smaller than the common Seth Thomas regulators I see on occasion and the bottom came to a point rather than the flat bottom of the regulators I usually see. It was by another maker as well but I can't remember who. Thank you for any info.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, February 19, 2018 by Nick   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The fakers never rest.................always trying to come up with that "new".... "just discovered" piece that makes even the experienced collector stop for a moment and scratch their heads........although this is a pretty blatant fantasy. The question about these phonies has already been answered on this very website under Railroad Fakes & Reproductions - "Fake SP Clocks. From a member of the Southern Pacific Historical & Technical Society: Two different fake Southern Pacific Railroad "Colored Passenger Agent Station Clocks" are being offered for sale, one on the "world's greatest internet auction site". He states, "The obvious giveaway is the copied SP logo whch is that of the refrigerator magnet/sign logo being sold by the Ande Rooney Co. The SP rails to sunset logo was never like this. The fake aged clock dial is done very well. A lot of collectors might be burned by this no good person making these" Posted Monday, February 19, 2018 by DA

A. Any time there is a reference to "Whites" or "Coloreds" it should raise a red flag. I have no idea whether this clock is legit or not, but I have to suggest that fake "railroad" clocks may well be like fake "railroad" china. Enterprising scammers take a 50-cent plate from the flea market, re-fire it with a railroad decal and try to pass it off for $big bucks onto unsuspecting buyers.  Posted Monday, February 19, 2018 by JMS

A. PS, the fake SP Clocks were discussed on a Clock & Watch Collector's website and the comments were dated 2013 Posted Monday, February 19, 2018 by DA

A. Thank you for the info and confirming what I feared. This was the one reason I made the hour drive was to get this clock but upon arriving and looking at it I wasn't excited at all and just had that gut feeling that this was most likely a fake. It ended up going for 900 dollars. If I was excited about it I would of made a play for it but I can sleep better now knowing that I made the right choice. thanks for the help.  Posted Monday, February 19, 2018 by Nick

A. RAILROAD CLOCKS --I decided to do a little looking around regarding RR Clocks, and I went on the "Live Auctioneers" Website, which is one of the biggest internet auction bidding sites in the country, where you can enter a bid at a Live auction. I did a search for the term "railroad clock", and didn't come up with too many current listings, but when I searched SOLD items, I was astounded. There is one auction house in Denver, that in the last five years, has sold several different versions of a large pendulum clock with "Railway Certified Time" in gold on the glass. Three of these clocks are marked with the Santa Fe logo, and say Denver. One large ornate clock that had the same Santa Fe logo sold for $4000. This same auction house has sold about 10-20 "Railroad" clocks with different gold leaf markings on the glass, and just about all of them went in the $1000 + range. And unfortunately, just about EVERY railroad "marked" clock on the Live Auctioneers website was a PHONY!!!!! Several different railroads were represented. I invite anyone interested in this subject to check it out. You have to register to see the Sold items, but the education is well worth you time.......................... Link 1  Link 2  Posted Wednesday, February 21, 2018 by DA

A. To clarify DA's response above - not to be picky, but please don't blame "Live Auctioneers" for fakes and phonies. It is not an internet bidding site, rather it is simply a "venue" that individual auction houses use to host their online internet auctions. Whether fake or legit, it is the individual auction houses that are responsible for their listings - not Live Auctioneers, which only supplies the software for running the sale. And indeed, clocks seem to be one of the easiest areas to fake, with buyers seemingly unable to tell the difference and spending big bucks!  Posted Tuesday, February 27, 2018 by JMS

A. I didn't "blame" Live Auctioneers" at all. Just like I would not blame Ebay for someone who sold a fake there. It is simply a tool......a service. Posted Friday, March 2, 2018 by DA

A. Thank you for clarifying, DA. I was sure you were not, but did want to absolutely clarify 110% for Q&A readers who may never have heard of Live Auctioneers. Also thanks for pointing out that their website includes catalogs from past auctions, terrific for reference or comparisons. This is a very useful tool, since they seemingly keep them "forever".  Posted Tuesday, March 6, 2018 by JMS

 Q3428 Steam Whistle Info Needed  I was wondering if you can give me any info on this steam whistle. Much Appreciated,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, February 14, 2018 by Donna   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Steam whistles came in many shapes and sizes, and such whistles were also used on compressed air. This one appears to be about 12 or 14 inches tall, altho it is hard to be sure from just these pix. If this guess is correct, this whistle is too small for most locomotive service, but these were commonly used on steam farm traction engines and other uses such as around boiler rooms in factories. On compressed air, they were used on some interurban cars before air horns became more popular. But they all looked pretty much alike.  Posted Monday, February 19, 2018 by RJMc

 Q3427 Switch Lock Info Needed  I am a historical fiction writer. I am asking for helping in understanding what a switch lock was used for in the period of 1920s to 1930s. I am assuming the locks secured the switches. To what were the locks attached? Every time a switch was changed, did it require a switchman to unlock it? Did multiple crewmen on a train have access to the switch lock keys? Thanks,  Posted Wednesday, February 14, 2018 by Laurie L.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. A switch stand has a lever that is connected to the rails. When the lever is moved the track switch changes direction. To prevent unauthorized people from changing the switch and possibly causing a wreck, the lever on the switch stand is locked in place by a switch lock. To throw the switch the lock has to be unlocked and removed. Theoretically, the switch stand is supposed to be locked after it is thrown. However,if a switch is going to be thrown several times within a few minutes the trainman may just put the lock back on but not lock it. (That prevents the switch from changing due to the weight of the train.) The switch lock is usually attached to the switch stand by a chain to prevent the lock from being removed and getting lost. Most railroad workers on train duty carried switch keys if their job called for it. The key was the property of the worker, who was responsible for it. A lost key could mean serious consequences for both the railroad and the employee. Switch locks are very much still in use today in various forms. As a side note, most switch locks on any railroad or division uses the same key. This way an employee only has to carry one key even though he may encounter dozens of locks during the day. That is another reason losing a key was a serious issue. Posted Thursday, February 15, 2018 by JN

A. Yes, all of the above. But one note, the switch key is 'ALWAYS' the property of the RR, but may be assigned to a specific employee. That way the RR always has the ability to demand the return of the key when the employee leaves the service of the company. Since all operating employees were equipped with the keys, switch padlocks were also used on lineside telephone boxes, manually-thrown derails, industry plant gates, and things like electrical switch boxes to control grade crossing signals or controls at interlockings where tracks crossed an employees in the field needed to control them. As to whether a switch had to be unlocked every time, the answer is 'sometimes'. Main line switches, beginning early in the 20th century, could be remote-controlled from a lineside tower using air power, mechanical power, or electric motors. Such remote-controlled switches were usually electrically locked and could be thrown without manual intervention on the ground, although they were often also secured with a switchlock in case the automation didn't work right. In yards and terminals where many persons were present and many hand-thrown switches were being operated all the time, each switch was usually not padlocked, but the levers were latched down to secure the switch points in position for trains to pass.  Posted Thursday, February 15, 2018 by RJM

A. Thank you both. This information is so helpful. The community of railroaders is amazing.  Posted Thursday, February 15, 2018 by Laurie L.

A. You're welcome...To be more clear about one detail: a "switchman" usually worked in a yard or terminal. In the 1920's a train moving over the RR between those places would usually be crewed with an engineer, a fireman, a head brakeman riding the engine, and a conductor and rear brakeman (also called 'flagman')riding the caboose or the passenger cars. Each of those employees would usually be issued and carry one or more switchkeys. Usually it would be the head or rear brakeman who would leave the train to throw any switches needed in the course of the trip to accomplish entering sidings to meet other trains or for switching of industries, etc, enroute.  Posted Thursday, February 15, 2018 by RJMc

 Q3426 Dressel Lamp Info Wanted  I'm looking for help identifying what this lamp came off of. Iím thinking tail lamp? One red lens with two clear. Only markings on the lamp is a brass badge that says Dressel Arlington NJ USA. The only thing I can find similar in design comes up on the internet if you search for 'Belson Chicago Square Railroad Lantern Lamp'. Thank you for any help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, February 11, 2018 by TB   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3425 Lamp Info Needed  I would like to know just exactly what I have here. I've looked around and can't seem to find one exactly like this, and I have two of them. It has Armstrong [Armspear?] writing on it and it has the number 120 on the stand. It also has a tag that has a lot of date's on it but it's very hard to read. Can you help me with this issue? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, February 6, 2018 by Mike A   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The bases, which have the tapered socket to receive the top of a switch stand rod, give them away immediately as switch target lamps.  Posted Wednesday, February 7, 2018 by RJMc

A. A nice pair of Armspear Railroad switch lamps. Posted Wednesday, February 7, 2018 by LF

 Q3424 Help with Keys  I found these keys in a box among my husbandís items and am wondering. There are several keys that look like they could be railroad keys, but they are unmarked. Also, there are several SP Co. keys. Four of them are all CS-4S, but a couple of them look a little different. One has a number on it, and one looks like it could be fake, as it is rough and the color seems off. Can you help? Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, February 6, 2018 by MW   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The SP keys are basic Southern Pacific switch keys. The lower two have more of what switch collectors call pocket wear from use. The SP did serial number their keys for a while when issued out to employees but later ones weren't numbered. The upper two keys are basically unused but legit. The left row of unmarked keys are basically just keys for old padlocks from who knows where. Although some people who list unmarked keys on the 'largest online auction' claim many unmarked hollow barrel keys to be switch keys, don't believe them. Hope this helps. Posted Monday, February 12, 2018 by Jim

A. Thank you! That helps a lot. Posted Monday, February 12, 2018 by Mary

 Q3423 Marta Torino Lamp  What a wonderful website! This was exactly what I have been searching for recently.....though sadly, I still am unable to locate ANY information about this 'Marta Torino' oil lamp. The person that I acquired it from wasn't able to tell me anything about it. The name sounds Italian - the style is quite similar to WWII German Carbide Railroad Lamps. I would very much appreciate any information that you might be able to provide! Thank you,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, February 6, 2018 by Gil   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I searched around and found several ebay listings for Marta Torino lamps and lanterns, but not an exact match. The listings say they are from Italy and paint is usually military green, from WWI - WWII era. Good luck - hope that will be enough of a lead to pursue to find out more about this company.  Posted Saturday, February 17, 2018 by JMS

 Q3422 B.& M. Item  I came across something that I have not encountered before. Furthermore, for RR items, my reference library is essentially non-existent and I couldn't really find anything on the internet about it. I was hoping that some of those that participate in your site might be able to shed some light. The item is marked 'B.&M.R.R. (Boston and Maine) Limit Gauge'. I'm pretty sure it was basically a measure to ensure that rails were properly distanced from each other. It appears to be made of ash. It clearly has a place to hold it. It was clearly used. It was found in NH. As a trade sign collector, I must admit I was attracted to the graphics though I have over the years owned a number of RR related items as well. Thanks in advance for any additional information which anyone can provide.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, January 31, 2018 by Bob   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The dimensions don't look right for track (although maybe for guard rail spacing....). It may also be for wheel sets, to make sure that the wheels are properly spaced after they are pressed onto the axle. The contours look about right for wheel flanges. Since the back-to-back spacing of wheels is set purely by how far they are pressed on, it is important to check that spacing before a wheelset leaves the wheel shop.  Posted Wednesday, January 31, 2018 by RJMc

A. Thanks! Points well taken. Bob  Posted Wednesday, January 31, 2018 by Bob

A. If I were to take an educated guess, I would say a wheel gauge would be the correct assumption. It is a really cool item. Posted Friday, February 2, 2018 by JN

A. Thanks! Bob. Posted Monday, February 5, 2018 by Bob

 Q3421 Michigan Midland Railroad  I am trying to find information on the Michigan Midland railroad. I do know that it operated from 1870 until 1873 when it became the Michigan Midland and Canada railroad, but other then that I am striking out. Does anyone out there have any information on this railroad?  Posted Tuesday, January 30, 2018 by Specor3333   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The book "Michigan Railroads & Railroad Companies" By Graydon M. Meints which is available for purchase on the web as an E-Book says the Michigan Midland Rail Road (note space) was incorporated May 19, 1870 chartered to own 102 miles of line from St. Clair to Lansing. The charter was amended Dec. 28, 1971, to Michigan Midland Railroad (no space) to own 200 miles, St. Clair to mouth of Black Lake, Holland. Sold Nov. 12, 1873, to Michigan Midland and Canada, which up to that time had been in business only one year and had only 15 miles of track in the St. Clair area. By 1873 the line was completed St. Clair to Ridgeway. In 1882 the MM&C line was leased to and operated by Canada Southern until being sold at foreclosure to the St. Clair and Western. (end of material from the book.) The Canada Southern was a New York Central subsidiary.  Posted Tuesday, January 30, 2018 by RJMc

A. Of course the above needs correction to: "charter was amended Dec. 28, EIGHTEEN 71"; not 1971. The above info is almost everything in the listed reference book about that MMRR.  Posted Tuesday, January 30, 2018 by RJMc

A. As a side note, I notice that there are 2 Michigan Midland & Canada Railroad stock certificates available on Ebay Posted Tuesday, January 30, 2018 by JN

A. Thanks - You gave me a little bit more to add to the puzzle, mainly a good starting point and a good ending point. Something I could not find on my own.  Posted Tuesday, January 30, 2018 by S.P.

 Q3420 Adlake Lantern  I have had this lantern since about 1962 or so. It was given to me by a railroad man (I was about six years old at the time) at the depot in Sidney, MT. The depot served the Great Northern and the Northern Pacific. This is an N.P.R.Y lantern from 3-42. I used to hang around the stock yard and got to know a couple of the caboose guys. I have a couple of questions about it, but let me start by saying that I have no plans for the lantern other than to use it. Not selling or restoring. It works pretty well, even though the packing and wick are original, or at least circa 1962. I have used it infrequently over the years but plan on using it more for camping in the future. Since I have had it it has always been painted black. It may have been given a fresh coat of paint when I got it, who knows? Six year olds don't pay much attention to that sort of stuff. I notice that most of the lanterns pictured on your website are not painted. Were these lanterns used like that, or were they all painted? If they were painted, were they all black? Are these lanterns plated steel? If so, is that plating durable? Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, January 22, 2018 by Tom S.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Railroad lanterns belonged to railroaders. It was their responsibility. Some guys would mark their lanterns so they could identify theirs. Some guys may have painted the whole thing. Sometimes railroads painted them anyway. Most, however, were not painted. Lanterns are usually tin. They are very durable. Again, plating was an option. Since you use the lantern keep it as is. I will point out though, that if you do not use it, you should remove the packing (batting) from the tank. The material (cotton waste) absorbs moisture and rots out the tank. As I said though, since you use the lantern and keep it filled, that will not be an issue. You can still remove the batting if you wish, anyway, and it will not affect the operation of the lantern. Posted Monday, January 22, 2018 by JN

A. Thanks, JN, I appreciate the information. Fortunately the burner is in really good condition. Tom Posted Monday, January 22, 2018 by Tom

 Q3419 BR&P Lantern  Any info on this lantern would be greatly appreciated. Belonged to my Grandfather. Defiance Lantern with BR&P stamped on top. Globe is etched PRR and probably not original.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, January 22, 2018 by AC   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. BR&P is the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh. The line later became part of the B&O. The PRR also served Buffalo. Maybe someone raided a supply cabinet somewhere when they broke their lantern globe broke.  Posted Monday, January 22, 2018 by JN

A. The BR&P went southwest from Buffalo and Rochester to the Pittsburg area. The PRR also operated just about everywhere in that territory, so not at all unlikely that consumable parts like lantern globes would get traded around, either during employee's regular service on the RR's or afterward.  Posted Wednesday, January 24, 2018 by RJMc

A. Defiance is a fabulous maker to find ! The twisted wire models are scarce, as the wires tend to be very fragile. What a fine family heirloom to keep and treasure.  Posted Sunday, January 28, 2018 by JMS

 Q3418 S.J.S.Y.Co. Globe Marking   I recently purchased a lantern and canít find what the globe marking means. The frame is a Marked Frisco system frame, Handlan Buck. The globe is acid etched 'S.J.S.Y.Co.' Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.  Posted Sunday, January 21, 2018 by Jerry F   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. For starters, the ďS.Y.Ē in a marking like this often refers to Stock Yard, so one guess would be something like "St. Joseph Stock Yard Co.Ē. Someone may have a more definitive answer.  Posted Sunday, January 21, 2018 by Web Editor

 Q3417 Plate ID Needed  I am from Guatemala city. At the railroad museum we have a plate number 57710 Baldwin Locomotive Works April 1924, and we like to know the locomotive that used it. Many thanks if you can send us some information and pictures. Best Regards,  Posted Friday, January 19, 2018 by Mario N   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. My Baldwin records indicate 57710 was a 3' gauge 35 HP Gasoline 0-4-0 built for the United Fruit Co. perhaps unit marking was F6 Posted Friday, January 19, 2018 by COD

A. many thanks must be that one track gauge in guatemala is 3 feets Link 1  Link 2  Posted Saturday, January 20, 2018 by Mario

 Q3416 CPR Markers  I just bought a matching pair of CPR Piper marker lanterns. Iím wondering if you can help with two things: (1): What is the best way to strip and 'de-rust' the lanterns before a new coat of paint? Iíve read about a lye bath possibly working, but the lamps look tin to me, so I donít know how well that would work. (2): The lamps came with plastic lenses - are these original to the lamps? They are stamped 'HLP', but plastic seems odd. Thanks, I appreciate any advice you have to give!!! Thanks so much for your help! Iím really looking forward to getting these things back to their former glory!! Cheers,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, January 19, 2018 by Brett R   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This works for me although I'm sure some will violently disagree. Regular paint stripper to remove the paint. Then a good washing with soap and water to remove the stripper. Dry then "rust remover" (Naval Jelly) found in Lowes/Home Depot applied with a paint brush. Followed by a steel wool rub. Once the rust is gone, wash/dry again then primer and a spray can of Black satin paint. All my switch lamps have glass Kopp or Corning glass lens but they're not Piper lamps.. Posted Saturday, January 20, 2018 by LF

A. If you will enter the word "Stimsonite" into the 'search by word or phrase' box to the left of the text here, it will bring up many prior Q's discussing the use of plastic lenses, including specifically on Piper lamps on the Canadian roads. Plastic lenses seem to have been put on some lamps direct from the factory and as early as 1950, so yours may well be original.  Posted Saturday, January 20, 2018 by RJMc

A. Likewise, I've never had any ill effects from using regular paint striper along with techniques described above. Also, like LF, I am sure some people will shudder at the suggestion. Posted Saturday, January 20, 2018 by TE

A. Regular glass lenses in these lamps would be unlikely to be affected by the kinds of chemicals being discussed here. However,strong paint strippers (Strypeeze, etc.) which contain very strong solvents might fog or even dissolve plastic lenses, so I would be very careful and either remove the plastic lenses entirely, or possibly test a very small area before exposing the main surfaces of the plastic lenses to such strong chemical agents. Posted Sunday, January 21, 2018 by RJMc

A. Hi Brett, ..well I'm the one constant voice on here against repainting things; I think vehement might be a better term for my resistance to repainting though. Ė Those are in good shape, but have lost quite a bit of paint.-- LF has some good ideas on stripping it down. I certainly wouldn't use the lye bath. They are in too good of a shape for that. -- RJMc's caution about taking the lenses out is a MUST! Ė Those are original lenses. Most PIPER lamps that show up for sale have Original 'HLP' marked plastic lenses in them; so, keep those in as good a shape as you can. Alcohol is a good cleaner for plastic lenses. Many of the Piper markers I see still have a shiny finish to them. Try using gloss black on them. None of the satin or matte paints I've ever seen look authentic. All lamps started out with a gloss finish.--- Here's something I've never mentioned before: Start with a nice high gloss finish, like Rustolium, that has dried and cured for a few months. If you have access to an actual paint sprayer, not an air brush, give the painted parts (NOT those plastic lenses, though) a quick light dust with lacquer thinner only. You want the spray to be so light that it evaporates a half second after it hits the lamp. Give it one shot, and after that completely dries, maybe one more. (too much lacquer thinner or having it set wet on the lamp will curdle and peal the new paint, so you want just enough to etch the very surface) That will give your gloss finish a very accurate "fogged" look for a lamp that has been out in the elements for about a decade. Ė Do PRACTICE on a few painted tin cans first and see what results you can get. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Sunday, January 21, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Thank you very much for all the information you guys! I've gone ahead and chemically stripped them as suggested, and after some rust removal, they are starting to come along. Fortunately I have access to an automotive paint booth and corresponding high grade paint, so I have high hopes for the final product. I'll post some pictures when I'm done :) Thanks again!!! Cheers.  Posted Saturday, February 3, 2018 by Brett R

A. Hi Brett, please read the Link 1 article. -- It looks like those lamps are made of pre-galvanized sheet steel. Handlan, in the last years, did this too. Galvanized metal does not hold paint well, especially over time. -- older lamps were hot dipped in terne metal and painted with Gilsonite paint, which stuck to the terne for decades. -- The Link article addresses this. (I'm also pasting the URL here, as long links tend to fail in the Link feature on this page) (LINK: This is a case where you might want to lightly bead blast the lamp prior to painting it. ---- ....Red Beard Link 1  Posted Monday, February 5, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

 Q3415 Lantern/Lamp Info?  I found this lantern and can't find anything about it. It has a Adams & Westlake tage. I was wondering if you can help me?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, January 15, 2018 by MK   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Adams and Westlake used this basic square body with the 'cookie cutter' creased round top between 1880 and 1899 to serve many different purposes. Possibilities include semaphore lamps (does it have a smaller lens or opening to the rear?); tail end lights, station lights and marine-related lights such as drawbridge markers. Another possibility is a theater footlight. The formed wire hanger and the pedestal on your light are unusual, but it is hard to tell how they were used without some dimensions. More pix would help, particularly of the burner.  Posted Monday, January 15, 2018 by RJMc

A. It has the same lens on the back side. The burner slides in and out. I can email you more pictures  Link 1  Posted Monday, January 15, 2018 by Matthew

 Q3414 RR China?  I am trying to identify a piece of china that I have had for sometime. It was in with some railroadiana that my father-in law had. Thanks in advance for any help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, January 13, 2018 by David B   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is almost certainly from the Palmer House Hotel, a downtown Chicago, IL, landmark for decades. It is now operated as a part of the Hilton chain. What makes it "railroadiana" is the fact that the Palmer House meeting rooms and auditoriums have hosted thousands of RR-industry meetings over those same decades, such as stockholder and professional association meetings. The Link is an article about the hotel; in one of the pix showing deHavilland specialty china you can clearly see the logo.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, January 14, 2018 by RJMc