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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:

 Q3870 Small B&O Dish  I found this small dish, looks like it could be for soap ? I would like to find out the approximate date it was made/used. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, September 20, 2021 by John K   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is a "Derby" pattern dish from the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. it was not a soap dish; this shape is a "baker" that got its name from use in the oven baking potatoes (although I'm not sure I would do that with china). Another use is a side dish for vegetables. It would be a huge help dating your dish if you could show a picture of the manufacturer mark on the bottom. Several companies made "Derby" - having a picture of the maker mark would help dating it. My information from the B&O Museum in Baltimore is that Derby was the standard chinaware used in dining cars before "Centenary" was introduced in 1927. It was used on "The Sportsman" train. In 1932 the B&O removed Derby's dining car use and sent it to the employee cafeteria in the B&O Central Building, Charles Street, Baltimore MD. Another interesting note from McIntyre is that there are stories about "Derby" being used on special trains that ran to the Kentucky Derby horse race - total fantasy! The name "Derby" comes from the original maker, John Maddock & Sons, which named the design/pattern Derby and included the word in the mark they printed on the bottom of pieces. Please show a picture of the china company maker on the bottom and I'll do my best to help you further with a more specific date.  Posted Monday, September 20, 2021 by JMS

A. John, sorry I didn't edit my response very well. It would be extremely helpful to have a picture of the entire bottom of the dish. ALSO - is anything IMPRESSED into the bottom? One of my books shows dates that specific company marks were used. In my response, I meant that Derby was the standard service used on B&O trains including the train named Sportsman, until 1932, when the B&O removed all of the Derby pieces from its trains and sent them to the employee cafeteria for use there.  Posted Tuesday, September 21, 2021 by JMS

A. Correspondence from Stine to Galloway (pg. 387 Luckin 4th ed.) puts DERBY still in circulation but being used-up in "small cars" to get rid of it as of 06/1935. Earlier, Dec. 1932, forward orders for the lunch room would be in this pattern...implying it wasn't used alone but would be henceforth. Who they would get it from is not stated. Luckin gave the original source as MAD (Thomas Maddock & Sons, i.e. the Maddock Pottery Co. at Lamberton N.J. with Chandlee-Baltimore as the supplier), so might be a helpful go to site. Scammell controlled the Lamberton Works during the later era. [Luckin's pitcher image on the pattern is not very large, but it seems to have differences in the central design feature from this sample.] Posted Tuesday, September 21, 2021 by ShastaRoute

 Q3869 Deitz Tall Glass #39 Lantern Info?  I have this lantern in a nickel finish over brass. I am trying to find information on the specifics of this one. I have found similar ones but not this exact one. The handle is attached to the side of the dome, it has 2 angled rows of holes above the bell and it says RE DIETZ COMPANY NEW YORK USA 39 underneath. No other markings found. I am looking for years of manufacturer and any other information. Thanks   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, September 16, 2021 by DM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Being as it is nickle finish and from what I can see it appears to have a conductors bail (handle] to fit over his arm while working tickets. Believe it to be a conductor's lantern. Posted Saturday, September 18, 2021 by DC

A. DC: Thank you for the info. Taking that and looking around I agree it is a conductor's lantern. I still haven't found this exact one but I will keep looking. Thanks Posted Monday, September 20, 2021 by DM

 Q3868 Age of Lamp?  I have acquired my dad's old RR lamp that he received from his sister in Michigan. I am wanting to know how old the lantern is? Thank you so much!!!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, September 16, 2021 by DJH   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3867 Lock Getting Super Tight  I obtained an E.T. Fraim lock a couple years ago and have been using it for my motorcycle shop exterior door ever since. It initially worked fine but over time it had gotten tighter to the point that I needed to pull down really hard on the shackle while turning the key to get it unlatched. I tried cleaning it in an Ultrasonic Cleaner, drying it out with a heat gun, and dropping some graphite powder into the latch port. This did not help. The shackle is misaligned with the port going into the latch (tight on the inside). There is nothing I can see that is causing this because the other side of the shackle is clean. Could it be that the shackle has changed shape? Thank you,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, September 13, 2021 by Craig   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It may be that the lock has changed shape from use. I just fixed a very old (and very worn) lock similar to yours. It drove me nuts trying to decipher why and how the tolerances changed. The good news is that I was able to fix the problem by securing tightly in a vice sandwiched in between two pieces of plywood (for protection not to leave vice marks). With some gentle coaxing with a pry bar I was able to regain the proper clearance and restore operation, no heat or rough treatment needed. Just don't pry against the rivet holding the shackle to the body of the lock or the end of the shackle where the levers lock it and take your time. With the lock in the open position and upside down you can also try prying gently on the shackle with a small piece of steel pipe or tool of your choice. I am glad it worked for me! Good luck! Posted Monday, September 13, 2021 by SteveB

A. Just a guess - I'm not a locksmith, but this is an old lock and I wonder if a tumbler(s) inside just plain gave up the ghost after such a long amount of use and wear (I'm talking about from the time it was brand new until now). Being exposed to the elements outdoors certainly could not have helped, either.  Posted Tuesday, September 14, 2021 by JMS

A. The shackle appears to be bronze or possibly brass metal. Both are copper-based alloys containing other metals such as zinc, tin, lead and possibly many other alloying elements. These alloys are known to possibly shrink over time due to either the gradual relief of internal stresses or possibly changes in the internal crystal structure. These changes can occur spontaneously over time, but generally quite slowly. Such changes can be accelerated (such as during part manufacture) by heating the parts to fairly high temperatures, or by physically deforming the parts such as in forging. But even without such intentional treatments, the parts can change more slowly over very long time periods. The 'U' shape of the shackle will magnify the results of a small change in the length of the part. Shrinkage would cause the free end of the shackle to pull inward, which is what you appear to have observed. Larger shrinkage amounts might even twist the shackle out of parallel. Because there is essentially an infinite number of possible alloy combinations, each with different properties, determining or specifying likely shrinkage (or in rarer cases growth) percentages is almost impossible. This all falls under the general category of 'metallurgy' which is a very complicated, but very useful and essential, subject. I have yet to find any references that might give us an idea of how much shrinkage to expect (over decades) in a part such as your shackle, but I will keep looking.  Posted Tuesday, September 14, 2021 by RJMc

 Q3866 What is it?  I just came across this item in my grandfather's basement. It's brass, about 4.5 inches long, marked 'The Adams&Westlake Company Chicago'. It opens on both ends. Can you tell me what this is please? I'm very curious. Thanks for any help that you can give. We live in the suburbs of Chicago north along Lake Michigan.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, August 30, 2021 by Matthew   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Your item appears to be the body of a 'candle lamp.' If there is a fairly large (about 1" in diameter) spring inside the tube, that would confirm it. Just put the words 'candle lamp' --without the quotes -- in the search by word or phrase box to see much discussion and lots of pix of this type of lamps, which were used as emergency lighting in various passenger and mail cars. Yours is a little unusual in that most of these had sice brackets to hang in wall receptacles, but some of the designs used slip-in holders instead of the hard-mounted brackets, or the brackets might have been broken off the one you have.  Posted Monday, August 30, 2021 by RJMc

A. That should read 'side brackets.' Posted Monday, August 30, 2021 by RJMc

 Q3865 B&MR Key ID?  I recently picked up this key I hope someone can hep me with. I believe it to be Boston & Maine. But there is an extra R at the end. Also not the typical cut for a switch key. Key is marked Fraim on reverse. Repair track maybe?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, August 30, 2021 by TomL   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. TomL This is a Burlington and Missouri River RR Tool house key Jim Posted Tuesday, August 31, 2021 by JIm

A. For background, Bill Edson's Railroad Names book shows two listings for Burlington & Missouri River, one operating from 1856 to 1872 and the second one labelled "(Nebraska)" from 1872 to 1880. All absorbed into the Chicago Burlington & Quincy. Posted Tuesday, August 31, 2021 by RJMc

A. Thanks for the information. I picked it up with a sandard B&M key and a Hoosac Tunnel & Wilmington key in B&M territory so I assumed that was its origin Posted Wednesday, September 1, 2021 by TomL

 Q3864 Inspector Lantern Marking  Can you tell me which railroad this is? Pennsylvania? The 'MO St.' Is throwing me off. Thanks   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, August 19, 2021 by ME   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It looks like CMStP to me, not OMStP. Is the "O" really a "C" (it's hard to tell in the picture)? Given the space available and the letter size, I wonder if this mark is for the Chicago, Milwaukee & St Paul RR, with the & left out. See Link 1 for a history. The CM&StP apparently existed between 1874 and 1928.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, August 19, 2021 by JMS

 Q3863 Railroad Chimney?  I don't know if this is a railroad piece or not. Hoping for expertise from this group. Obviously because of the size I don't think this glass chimney is for home use. It is 14 in. high and has a 5 1/2 in. diameter base. (Both top and bottom are ground.) I'd think it must be for commercial or industrial use. Might it have be used in the headlamp of an engine? I've included two photos. The second, just to give a sense of size, shows a full size bottle of wine sitting inside the chimney.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, August 17, 2021 by DB   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I think you are correct about industrial/commercial use, rather than railrod. IMHO it almost certainly is not from a railroad engine, if only because it should be clear glass; I am not sure if this type of globe was even used as a headlight, in the first place. Someone more knowledgeable please ?  Posted Wednesday, August 18, 2021 by JMS

A. Among the largest kerosene lamps commonly used on RR's were 'platform lamps' which were over two feet tall. The same type of lamp was widely used as a street lamp and for other area lighting. See prior Q's 3680 and the answer to Q 2676 for discussion and good pix of this type of lamp in use. Note that there is an internal glass chimney inside the very large outside globe; your chimney might work for that internal chimney in that kind of lamp.  Posted Wednesday, August 18, 2021 by RJMc

A. Note the size of the upper portion of the lamps in the related question numbers to the latest photo. This size would not fit into any station lamp or headlight that I have seen.  Posted Friday, August 20, 2021 by h v coll

 Q3862 Builders Plate Info?  I have a builders plate that I need info on if y'all can provide any. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, August 14, 2021 by Mark F   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3861 B&O Car #98 Lantern  I've been handed down this lantern from my great grandfather who was an executive at B&O and traveled around in Pullman business car #98 that is currently at the Chattanooga railroad museum with a different color and name. I was hoping to get some sort of documentation on the lantern or compare to old pictures inside #98 to help prove our family theory that it did indeed come from #98. I reached out to Chattanooga railroad museum but they didn’t have much info about the car under the B&O umbrella. Any help or input would be greatly appreciated. Also I believe the current state of the lantern is kind of misconfigured so I want to also restore it to the original state if possible. Thanks in advance for any help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, August 14, 2021 by Phil   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. What a lovely piece! and best of luck to you. Regardless of whether you can find out more, this lamp is a wonderful family heirloom. Indeed, this is a "lamp," not a "lantern." Lanterns were/are portable, designed to be carried around. A "lamp" is meant to stay in place, whether mounted permanently on a wall or ceiling, or made to be carried to a spot where it's put down and left. Here are a couple of resources that may be helpful: Link 1 is to the B&O Historical Society; Link 2 is to a Pullman historical society site - I would try the phone number shown at top right. They apparently have a great variety of information.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Tuesday, August 17, 2021 by JMS

 Q3860 Help Identifying Light?  I was wondering if anyone could help identify the purpose and origin of this unusual light? I was told it was a railroad item, and would appreciate any information you can provide. Thank you!  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, August 11, 2021 by JW   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. See prior Q 3759. We didn't ever figure out what that one was, either, but it looks almost exactly like yours, although the reflector on yours is much better silvered, making it more appropriate to reflect light rather than heat. And I now suspect the hole thru the reflector is for aiming the light, leading me to now suspect a theater spotlight application. But the seeming lack of provision for a chimney is still puzzling.  Posted Thursday, August 12, 2021 by RJMc

A. Thank you for the link to the previous question. It appears I have only added to the mystery with the silvered reflector! Any further idea would be much appreciated. Posted Thursday, August 12, 2021 by JW

A. Could this be a part of the old interior access caboose markers ? Posted Thursday, August 12, 2021 by h v coll

A. Does your unit have the holes/passages up thru the bottom of the tank? And a size reference would help. I am assuming this is fairly large (maybe over a foot to 18" tall) and the large double wicks would burn a lot of kerosene and produce relatively a lot of light and heat. The inside-access cupola-side caboose marker lamps I have seen are usually smaller and single-wick, looking more like traditional kerosene hand lamps, and with no reflectors. Another possibility where a focussed beam is desired would be a lighthouse light source.  Posted Thursday, August 12, 2021 by RJMc

A. Yes, there are three openings in the bottom of the tank, two round ones and one rectangular one. I will try to post a picture of the bottom. Total height of this lamp is just 6-1/2" tall. Posted Friday, August 13, 2021 by JW

A. Here's a picture of the bottom. Link 1  Posted Friday, August 13, 2021 by JW

A. The "WWII Ship Navigation Light" (See link 1) with burner shown outside of the lamp is the closest I have seen to your item, and very suggestive of a similar application for yours, as well. Link 1  Posted Saturday, August 14, 2021 by RJMc

A. And now the real answer: its the burner as used as a masthead light on ocean-going British ships in World War II, manufactured by Birmingham (England) Engineering Co. See the Link for full description of the lamp and burner, with several pix including the burner installed in the copper lamp.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, August 14, 2021 by RJMc

A. According to the Link, the colors, functions, and performance requirements for various ship navigation lights were internationally standardized as early as 1889, and various nations including the US and Britain had standardizing agreements well before that. So it is quite likely that masthead burner arrangements similar to those we see here got manufactured almost world-wide, in order to meet the performance standards on visibility. There is an outside chance that such lights may have railroad heritage, in cases such as the Canadian Pacific ferries, various car float operations, and the various railroad harbor tug boat operations. But the high likelihood is that the units we are seeing are not of railroad-related origin. Link 1  Posted Sunday, August 15, 2021 by RJMc

A. Thank you all for the insight! Great forum of knowledge here. As an aside, the collection I got this from was a railroad collector who happed to have a lot of Canadian Pacific stuff. Maybe coincidence, maybe more yet to the story. Thanks again! Posted Monday, August 16, 2021 by JW

 Q3859 Howard Clock  We have a donated clock believed to be from an old railroad building in Weldon, NC. It stands approximately 5 feet tall. Looking for any information. Also, it needs some TLC - any suggestions? Wilmington Railroad Museum, Wilmington NC   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, August 5, 2021 by Wilmington Railroad Museum   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Congratulations! a Howard clock is a great piece. See Link 1 for company history. You can probably find more searching online. FIRST - DO NOT CLEAN THE FACE! It is painted tin and any attempts to clean it will harm it. I don't know much about Wilmington, but I'm guessing it's a large enough city that there must be some capable antique clock repair/restoral people. You just need to find someone who is experienced working with this brand or type of clock. Ask at higher end antique shops. The wood case looks beautiful. What a wonderful acquisition (railroad or otherwise)! I wonder if there are any old interior photos of the Weldon building you suspect it may have come from. It might show up in the background of a photo of some other subject.  Link 1  Posted Monday, August 9, 2021 by JMS

 Q3858 Any ideas what this is?  I found this odd little brass bauble while exploring a long abandoned baby/narrow gauge road bed in Clifton, AZ. My guess is it was attached to some larger structure such as a light fixture or some such, on a passenger car perhaps. Height is 1.75 inches and base is .75 inches across. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, August 1, 2021 by Chris   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. To get discussion started, and as speculation: the flat mounting base and the head with what appears to be two 90-degree offset holes, or sockets, causes me to think of the end corners or stanchions that would support something like a towel or washcloth rack, or maybe a curtain rod. The very small size, less than 2" tall, would really limit how much any such rack would support. If the item were much larger it would make sense as the corner fitting on a railing (possibly on top of a bar, to keep glasses and/or bottles from falling off) or maybe the end piece on a toilet paper roll holder.  Posted Wednesday, August 4, 2021 by RJMc

A. Actually, that's one hole with a divider down the middle. I can imagine a chain or some such running through a row of these guys blocking something off or whatever... But at least semi ornate. Posted Saturday, August 14, 2021 by Chris

 Q3857 Loco Headlight?  A small town museum was selling out. I bought this item which looks like a cast iron headlight housing. Is there a chance this could be from a steam locomotive? Marked on the front RSI-L2001 and on the back RSI-L103. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, July 21, 2021 by LB   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I suspect this is the lamp housing for an early model highway grade crossing flasher. Posted Wednesday, July 21, 2021 by RJMc

A. The link below is to a news story about a grade crossing accident in Arkansas. The lamp housing on the back of the flasher facing away from the camera looks very much like your lamp housing. The reason I suspect yours is a much older one is modern flasher housings have small side lenses to confirm to the train that the lights are flashing; plus over time the housings and lenses have grown much larger and the lamps much brighter. Link 1  Posted Thursday, July 22, 2021 by RJMc

 Q3856 China Pattern ID?  Can you tell me what railroad used the pattern pictured on the cup and saucer in this picture? It is magnolia flowers. What railroad and when used? It is Syracuse China with letters B-NN on bottom of cup and saucer. Thanks kindly,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, July 17, 2021 by Jim H   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is a pattern that was called "New Dogwood", reverting simply to "Dogwood" as documented by Barbara Conroy on page 480 of Restaurant China volume 2. Basically a mid-century stock design rather commonly found but not officially reserved to any one user. It may turn up mixed in with Northern Dogwood pieces, causing people to think it is somehow railroad related due to the belief that N.D. was used in some capacity by the Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway...I don't believe that this got to the level of acceptance as authoritatively conclusive and it may never reach a resolution like so many other pieces kicking around. Conroy's sample date codes ran from '52 to '60, and you're NN would correspond to the year '59 but the month prefix should be a number (not the letter "B") with 1 through 12 matching calendar months in order. (I have heard claims like this pattern being used at the Multnomah Lodge along the Union Pacific line in the Columbia River Gorge, but none of it is substantiated by "smoking gun" evidence.) You might refer to the Restaurant Ware Collectors Network (RWCN) or check their old and new IDwiki listings to see if it was put up with more info. And they do have some Syracuse catalogs to work from. Posted Saturday, July 17, 2021 by ShastaRoute

A. Great answer Shastaroute, with a tremendous lot of background, but I would like to add. Indeed, the flowers are not magnolias. This set is "New Dogwood," and indeed 8-NN is August 1959, too new for the original. The two versions are very much alike, but once you see both it's easy to tell the difference. The main thing is the new version looks significantly "browner" with more strong brown in stems/leaves; and the flowers are drawn differently. The original is what is accepted railroad related. NOW TO ADD - Per "Dining On Rails" by Luckin (the McIntyre book doesn't get into hotels): Dogwood was used by the Norfolk & Western at the Hotel Roanoake that it owned (Luckin says the Norfolk Southern sold the hotel in 1990). See Link 1 for a comprehensive history of the hotel. There is a wonderful but quite scarce service plate on which the "Legend of the Dogwood" is printed in full, taking up most of the center, with endearing sprays of dogwood blossoms encircling the plate. This service plate is top marked Hotel Roanoke under the "Legend". None of the other pieces had the "Legend" on them, they only had the florals and none of the other pieces had any hotel markings on them, either.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, July 18, 2021 by JMS

A. Just further - Luckin simply calls this pattern "Dogwood," not referring to New or Northern; regardless, the hotel china was the older version. The "Legend" is that dogwood tree wood was used to make the cross on which Jesus was crucified and afterwards, the tree was both cursed and blessed by God. See Link 1 for a full account. It is truly heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, July 18, 2021 by JMS

A. Prior inquiry at Q696 displays the Shenango "Northern Dogwood" design. It is darker and fuller/heavier and easily separated from the Syracuse ones. Posted Thursday, September 9, 2021 by ShastaRoute

 Q3855 Lamp Use?  My antique collecting mother passed away four years ago. She left a barn full of interesting items, but unfortunately the information about the items went with her. I am enamored with this Handlan, St Louis, Railroad Switch Stand Lamp. I teach history and would like to properly explain this lamp / lantern to students. Can you tell me how railroad personnel used it?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, July 17, 2021 by DC   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Enter "switch lamp" (no quotes) in the word or phrase search box to see many Q's and A's about these lamps. If there is any problem with the search, start with Q 3837 and that answer will route you to much more info and pix of lamps as they were in service. These lamps were very standardized across RR's and mfrs. so if you chose, it would be possible to restore this one without too much difficulty -- they were VERY robust pieces of equipment and parts are commonly available. I see what appears to be a tag on the door beneath the lens opening: check that for RR Co. initials; that is often where and how these lamps were marked to show the co. ownership. Also check up inside the hollow mounting base casting -- RR ID letters were sometimes cast into the base during mfr. Having the RR ID and any other info about the source of the lamp can add considerable sentimental value. Link 1  Posted Sunday, July 18, 2021 by RJMc

A. This lamp would have been placed on a post at a switch or on a derail device etc with different colored lenses indicating whether the switch was open or closed or, if the derail device was on the track siding. A fuel pot inside with kerosene as the fuel would provide the light. Very common on all railroads as a standard piece of lighting equipment for the time Posted Sunday, July 25, 2021 by TE

 Q3854 Spurious UP Coach Key Marking  These two keys are being paraded around rail collectors sites by a gentleman who said that he also '...heard the Union Pacific marked their hangers with this mark.' Has anyone EVER seen such a stamp on a genuine key? I surely haven't. Union Pacific never forged their own keys in any shop that I am aware of.  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, July 17, 2021 by Patrick   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Timely question as last night I saw three listings of flatwares stamped SPRR with claims of authenticity but not a single established reference source mentioned (though one did throw out a name of a museum). Not saying they are definetly wrong, but always odd when they can't cite some real documentation somewhere or at least explain about conjecture. Posted Saturday, July 17, 2021 by ShastaRoute

A. Hmmm... red flags IMHO!! Looks like somebody copied the idea of Adams & Westlake's hex mark which of course is turn of the century (implying "old"). I would be concerned that the word COACH is there. Since this type of key was so drastically different from other types, and in fact "everybody" knew they were coach keys, there should be no reason to stamp COACH on them. We've collected keys for about 40 years and never seen one like these. How interesting that more than one have suddenly appeared... wonder if they are from the same area as well... from where the stamper lives ? just a guess. (And don't necessarily believe a general interest museum - most of which haven't direct knowledge about most of the intricacies of most RR relics.)  Posted Sunday, July 18, 2021 by JMS

 Q3853 Cleaning Brass Baggage Tags  I have some dug baggage tags that are heavy tarnished and dirty. The lettering on some are very hard to read. I would like to clean them up just enough to read the lettering . Any information on the best way to clean them with out damageing any further would be helpful. Thanks Dave  Posted Monday, July 5, 2021 by DHK   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I have used white vinegar to clean brass tags that were dug. Put the item in a cup, submerge it with vinegar and monitor; obviously the longer the item is in the vinegar the more cleaning action will take place. A soft toothbrush can be used to dislodge corrosion and dirt. Change out the vinegar when it turns green and if you need to clean the item more. Since it works relatively slowly you can control the amount of cleaning to what you want. Heavily corroded items may be better off just left alone as the metal may have deteriorated to a point where cleaning might reveal holes or cause the item to break apart.  Posted Tuesday, July 6, 2021 by DG

A. Just wanted to let you know I tried the white vinegar to clean the baggage tags. Works great. Thanks for your help. Posted Thursday, July 8, 2021 by DHK

 Q3852 Baggage Tag  My grandfather was a conductor on the Delaware & Lackawanna Railroad. I have his pocket watch from his days as a conductor. I also have a baggage tag that was attached. I am trying to find some information on the baggage tag. Any answers or websites that may be helpful would be appreciated. Thanks for your help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, May 31, 2021 by Charles   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. As described in Link 1, Manunka Chunk is a location in New Jersey on the east bank of the Delaware River, just southeast of the Delaware Water Gap. The original main line of the DL&W from the New York City metro area arrived in Manunka Chunk via two tunnels. Beginning in 1876 the Pennsylvania RR opened a line from the Philadelphia/Trenton area along the east bank of the Delaware and made arrangements to use the DL&W line on thru the Water Gap, rather than extending their own line. Link 2 is a bird's eye view of the junction, probably from about 1890. For example, your baggage tag would have been used on the thru (or possibly connecting) train(s) for someone boarding at Philadelphia on the PRR, and going to Scranton, PA on the DL&W. Those services lost their attractiveness in 1911 when the DL&W opened their new more direct, higher speed main line cutoff which bypassed Manunka Chunk and downgraded the service on the old route. Further, in 1913 (as pictured in the Link) floods destroyed much of the facilities in and around Manunka Chunk and the passenger service was further downgraded. So from 1876 to 1911 is the likely time period for when your tag was issued and used. There is no RR track left at all in Manunka Chunk today.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Thursday, June 3, 2021 by RJMc

A. The area served by the Lackawanna beyond the Water Gap is the world-renowned Pocono Mountains resort area. So the trains through Manunka Chunk carried heavy passenger traffic from the Philadelphia area to and from those resorts.  Posted Friday, June 4, 2021 by RJMc

A. Scott Czaha's excellent Tag Town website, all about baggage tags, shows that the Hoole Mfg. Co. hallmark as seen on this tag further closes in the dates from 1885 to about 1891 (see Link below).  Link 1  Posted Saturday, June 5, 2021 by RJMc

 Q3851 Desk Calendar Pad Holders  What company made the day desk calendar pad holders? I see a lot of Reading Company pads on Ebay right now. I purchased a couple and was surprised how high quality they are. These aren’t from just one seller because I thought maybe they bought a box of them at a sale. I just bought anther put out by a molasses company with tank car on it. I’d like to know the history of these unique pieces of advertising. I think I will start collecting them.  Posted Monday, May 31, 2021 by DEF   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I'm familiar with these calendars, but don't know much of anything about them as I never investigated buying any. My only suggestion would be to look everywhere on the base - under the paper sheets, everywhere. A maker name may be hidden somewhere. And if you happen to find the same TYPE of calendar in an antique shop or flea market, even though it's not a RR one, look it over closely for a maker name, because that may lead you to companies that made the ones for the railroad. Wish I could be more helpful! They should be companies that primarily manufactured office supplies, I would think, as opposed to making railroad equipment.  Posted Sunday, June 6, 2021 by JMS

 Q3850 Dayton Caboose Lamp Info?  I may have posted this before, but my interest was piqued rewatching 'Union Pacific'last night. In the 'mail car' that was on the train were several wall mount caboose lamps that are quite similar to one I have. This was acquired by my late father, who was a Santa Fe engineer from 1941 to 1974. I'm not sure where, when, or how he acquired it but it was sometime in the early fifties. If he told me anything about it I have forgotten it by now, and he isn't around to ask about it. I have been in contact with Dayton Manufacturing about this but they have no records on it. Dayton is still in the business of manufacturing railroad-related metal products, but not of this nature. Any information would be appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, May 2, 2021 by Paul B   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I would imagine these lamps and other models may appear in one of the Dayton catalogs. Of course it's incredibly difficult to find these old catalogs! but that is what I would look for. Without actual RR markings, your best course is to affix a label with its provenance, that your father, the AT&SF engineer, acquired it. LIKELY he got it from the railroad, but Dayton must have sold to all comers; a catalog might say specifically that this particular model was made for railroad use (or not). Best wishes; this is a beauty!  Posted Thursday, May 6, 2021 by JMS

A. From the Dayton Car Trimmings catalog # 200 , dated 7/1/16 it would appear to be their # 58 or 59 lamp. The burner has been changed for a newer model , and it is missing the chimney holder , and the smoke deflector. This lamp is similar to one sold under the Adams & Westlake brand.  Posted Saturday, May 8, 2021 by h v coll

 Q3849 Builders Plate Info?  I found your website while researching a builders plate that we have. I'm hoping someone can tell me what it is? ... something real, or a reproduction? I'm not asking for authentication or appraisal, to be clear — I've been researching online about these plates - real and reproductions - but I haven’t seen anything exactly like this example. The plate is very heavy, about 5 lbs I’m guessing, and about 9 in. in diameter. There are no markings on the back (other than some scratches), just the bumps for the holes. There are no holes punched through. The date on the plate (October 1925) and the number 58686 seem to fit with the Baldwin Works numbers? It was given to us by an acquaintance, back in 1993, who said it was real. We can’t recall if he said *where* he'd gotten it. I would appreciate any information or opinion you might have. Thank you so much.  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, April 25, 2021 by KR   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. With no signs of boiler scaling or debris on the back, and no mounting holes , I would have to guess from the photos it is a recast , or reproduction. If it is flat when laid on a table . it is not off a boiler which was round. Diesel or gasoline engines in 1925 were only in their infant stage. It would be interesting to find out what was scratched off the back of the plate. Posted Monday, April 26, 2021 by h v coll

A. This plate is a reproduction. There are no mounting holes and no curvature so there would be no Baldwin code on the back. I checked the construction number and it was built for - C. Brewer & Co. 2-4-2 #5 in 3 ft. gauge. I have no idea where it went after that. Posted Saturday, May 8, 2021 by RJM

 Q3848 Loco Bell?  I am trying to determine if this is a locomotive bell or something else. Any help appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, April 19, 2021 by Jerry   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. With that style of mounting , I would have to guess fire engine , not railroad.  Posted Tuesday, April 20, 2021 by h v coll

A. Doing a web search for "Fire Engine Bell" images turns up several with mounts identical to yours and fairly similar hand ringing arrangements. Other clues: the not-too-robust mounting feet, which would not survive the banging around things get on locomotives; the red paint on the bottom of the feet; and the ringer arrangement which has to be used by someone sitting right next to the bell -- a circumstance that never happened on locomotives. Interesting to note that the ones on the web that closely match yours all seem to have come from fire apparatus in London, England, which may explain the very unusual (for US fire truck practice) ringer arrangement..  Posted Tuesday, April 20, 2021 by RJMc

A.  I restore vintage and antique fire equipment and railroad equipment. This does not look like it came from a US fire truck, I agree it may be European. I have never seen an air ringer like this on a truck. There is another clue, the horizontal lines that go around the circumference of the bell are unusual for older fire apparatus. Check the bolts which are on the air ringer, are they metric thread? What is the size of the bell, fire truck bells are usually 12 inches or less. The Parts Manual for a 1925 Seagrave fire truck specifies "one twelve inch locomotive bell".  Posted Sunday, June 6, 2021 by KM

A.  Another thought, is there any patent or manufacturer information on that air ringer? The thread on the air tube may also be metric so be careful if you try to connect it to an air supply! Posted Sunday, June 6, 2021 by KM

 Q3847 Triangle Switch Light?  What can you tell me about this item? The three different colored glass panels are about 9 by 13. Overall it's about 22 in. tall. It looks weatherproof if it was in the rain but it is not that durable for the wind. Thinking it is railroad but maybe you can help? Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, April 13, 2021 by DA   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is probably a darkroom 'safe light.' Look closely to see if there was a way (some kind of shutters) to cover the glass panels so that only one, or none, would be exposed. The glass plates and early B&W films and printing papers were not sensitive in the red, and some may not have been sensitive to blue, so the photographer had the luxury of actually having some light in the darkroom to work by. Put 'darkroom' in the search by word or phrase box to see several prior Q's about very similar lamps. Q 1027 has a lamp very similar to yours. Note the light-duty flat tab feet for fastening the lamp down to a countertop. That suggests use in some kind of production arrangement where the selected color did not need to change, unlike some of the more portable darkroom lights.  Posted Tuesday, April 13, 2021 by RJMc

 Q3846 Baggage Check Questions  This baggage check was in a box of knickknacks that belonged to my father. The family history is a bit blurry due to divorces and small numbers of children in each generation. I believe my father's paternal grandfather worked on a railway (and lost his leg while at work). Given the tag's stamp of 'N.C.Ry' and 'Harrisburg' I'm guessing it's from the Northern Central line that ran from Baltimore to Sunbury, PA. I believe the line was taken over by Pennsylvania Railroad pretty quickly. Not sure how long they kept the Northern Central name. It seems the manufacturer (E.Hoole) was in business from 1860s to 1891. My understanding is these tags were usually made of brass. This one doesn't look like brass but could it be nickel plated? A few questions: 1. Any ideas on the metal? 2. Confirmation of railroad line? Any idea on age of tag? Any other info? Thanks for any help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, April 7, 2021 by TC   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Bill Edson's book Railroad Names shows Northern Central operating from 1854 to 1914. Available 1895 and 1910 Official Guides have extensive listings for the Northern Central Railway Company, but under the umbrella of the PRR System listings. PRR kept many subsidiaries as separate companies --at least for administrative and financial purposes -- much longer than other major RR systems, some right up to the creation of Penn Central. I note that your tag has only Harrisburg as the origin station and no destination station. See prior Q 3730 for a lot of discussion about how similar tags might be used to ID company mail shipments, maybe things like ticket records or receipts. But if entire carloads ir large batches of checked baggage moved, say from Harrisburg to Baltimore, the destination would not need to be marked on each individual piece of baggage. As to the metal, have you checked it with a magnet? The corrosion on the back looks like maybe the tag is plated steel.  Posted Monday, April 12, 2021 by RJMc

A. Looking closer at the Northern Central Ry. operations (under PRR) in 1909 the line between Baltimore and Harrisburg carried more than 13 (thirteen!!) through passenger trains each way every day and many additional locals and commuters. They served almost 30 open stations in those 84 miles. Several of those trains were the thru PRR limiteds between Washington, Baltimore, and Chicago or St. Louis. All of those trains (except maybe the commuters) handled checked baggage. The huge PRR station at Harrisburg which served multiple PRR divisions would have had to stock tens of thousands of baggage tags if every one had to show a destination station. Clearly they had some system other than the stamped tags of letting the baggagemen know where to set out the checked bags at all of those rural destinations. (Bear in mind that in 1909 most roads in the US weren't paved yet, and automobiles and busses were still very rare. The whole country travelled by train when it travelled at all.)  Posted Tuesday, April 13, 2021 by RJMc

A. Advertising on cover of 1893 OG...American Railway Supply Co. (Successors to the Hoole Manufacturing Co.) }24 Park Place New York{ Manufacturers of BAGGAGE CHECKS And dealers of every description of RAILWAY SUPPLIES. [Did they change the base metals?] Posted Tuesday, April 13, 2021 by ShastaRoute

 Q3845 RR Station Vending Machine?  We recently found several of these vending machines and were looking for any information anyone may have on them? I haven't been able to find out much but I believe they were used in railway stations or on railway cars in the early 1900s. Any information is appreciated!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, March 25, 2021 by Megan   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It looks like Peter Gray & Sons made cases for the vending machines; the Peter Gray label is a newer one, made after they moved to Cambridge from Boston. Peter Gray is very well known as an important maker of railroad lanterns and metal equipment. Maybe that is why someone is making a railroad connection. The vending machine company was located near Peter Gray & Sons, so it's not a surprise the vending machine people turned to Gray for cases. If you look in Boston directories, history you should be able to date both companies. The AMI nameplate looks newer than circa 1900. Indeed these likely were used in railroad stations (I doubt on cars themselves) and anywhere else vending machines could be placed. It would be fun to find old photographs of depot interiors that showed them!!!  Posted Friday, April 2, 2021 by JMS

A. Close study of the pic shows the machines were 'leased solely for the sale of chocolate bars mfd. by Walter Baker & Co.' As explained in the Link, the Baker Chocolate Co. is the oldest chocolate maker in the US, going back into the 1700's and now absorbed into the Kraft-Heinz conglomerate. So that doesn't help date things much, but adds some interest. The RR station we frequented as kids was equipped with a Mills Vending Machine that sold pre-packaged Chiclets gum pieces for a penny each. The Mills machine was not as tall as yours, and had several columns of different types of gum including Dentyne as well as Chiclets. I have several of those gum machines which are operable, but pre-packaged Chiclets are no longer made (apparently anywhere in the world!) so they can't really be used. I am a little surprised that chocolate bars were put in this kind of machine. Chocolate does not tolerate high temperatures very well whereas Chiclets gum was almost indestructible and probably stayed in some of those machines for years. But the Link mentions that the Baker Chocolate Co. had very aggressive marketing campaigns and the archives at Kraft Foods might have some info on the machines. There are several vending machine collector societies which were helpful in finding the specialized keys to open the coin boxes if you were not lucky enough to axquire the keys along with the machines.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, April 3, 2021 by RJMc

 Q3844 EMD Cards  I have 35 or so General Motors EMD locomotive specification cards, data cards, builders cards, etc. that we found in my Dad’s stuff when he passed away last year. Dimensions are 7-1/2 in. x 3-1/4 in. but they seem too thin to be blotters, as I saw mentioned on your site. Seems like they were reproduced from full-size illustrations by in-house artists at GM. I have been trying to find more information on these cards, especially the years they may have been printed, and what they were used for, but it's hard to come by. Do you have any information? See attached. I would appreciate any help you can offer.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, March 25, 2021 by John   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3843 Engine Class Lamp ID?  I'm trying to determine the maker of this lamp. It has the smaller 4 inch lens. I put the red lens in it. I'm sure it was clear lens that was missing. It's marked P&R RR. The burner and globe were in it when it was found. The globe is heavy just like in RR Lanterns, and the burner screws in. It looks very close to an Underhill Osborne lamp, but I can't seem to figure it out.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, March 22, 2021 by RW   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3842 Switch Key ID?  I recently came across this unmarked key and I was wondering if it could possibly be a railroad switch key? Is anyone familiar with the cut of this key? Thank you in advance for any help in identifying this key.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, March 14, 2021 by DBN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hi, It could very well be a switch key but without railroad markings you may never know. The key is old judging from both the wear that is obvious along with the metal loss on the inside of the bow. It had been hanging on a key ring for quite some time because such a pronounced groove does not show up over night. I can see that the key was manufactured by the Fraim Co. who did manufacture brass keys for railroads. However, as previously stated, unless it was used by a short line whom did not mark their keys, you may never know if it saw actual railroad service. It is still a good find !!!!!!  Posted Monday, March 15, 2021 by DJY

A. First, as a general comment to all persons inquiring, it would be very helpful if you included some SIZE reference(s) in the pix. Keys looking exactly like this one were made in several different sizes, some quite small, and the probability of its being a RR key depends on which size it it is....Second, this is a very common bit pattern which WAS used by many different RR's, but as noted, without any lettering there is no way to tell. The same pattern was used by all kinds of organizations from department stores to police departments to farms. Third, if you really want to know, any stamped lettering now worn away may be made visible again by etching the stamped surface slightly. The stamping process changes the underlying metal crystal structure in a way that changes how fast it will etch. The surface in question is etched slightly using either dilute nitric acid or possibly ferric chloride, which is the chemical used to etch electronic circuit boards. The ferric chloride solution used to be available at Radio Shack, for example, but Radio Shacks are very hard to come by these days. As the top layer of metal is etched away, any lettering may reappear because the stamped metal does not etch as quickly as the base metal. I have used the nitric acid technique on keys and similar brass or bronze objects with good success. Of course, the technique can only reveal lettering if in fact it was stamped; its possible this key was never marked. There are many articles on the web discussing using this technique, but most of them are about trying to reclaim defaced serial numbers on steel parts of firearms for criminal investigations. Different etching chamicals may be used for steel than for brass or bronze.  Posted Thursday, March 18, 2021 by RJMc

 Q3841 Unusual Class Lamp  On the internet I recently came across an image of a very rare classification lamp and am curious to find out more information. There seems to be only one unusual lens, facing out to the side. Who was the manufacturer? Did it display more than one aspect? If so, how? The bracket looks like a marker lamp bracket, made to be able to rotate the lamp to be able to display different aspects, as opposed to a class lamp which is attached to the loco in a fixed position. This image is from the flickr page of the Center for Railroad Photography and Art, the J. Parker Lamb Group Five album, Mississippian Railway locomotive 76 photographed in 1955 [See link].  Posted Wednesday, March 3, 2021 by Joe  Link 1     Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hmmm. Enlarged it and looks like lens is on both sides of lamp on left. Lamp on right seem to have them facing forward and backward. (Kind of a slotted fresnel-with-ruffles) She was a Frisco hand-me-down...wonder if the answer lies there in her origins or that lone industry (mill?) she served. Posted Wednesday, March 3, 2021 by ShastaRoute

A. The Link is to an Adlake 1907 catalog pg. in the archives here on the RRiana site. See the No. 91 Classification Lamp illustration which shows "Cloud Lenses." I can't tell whether they were Fresnel at that time, but later they were. The Frisco and the D&RG(W) used the ones with Fresnel lenses. The second link is to a RR Pictures Archive photo of DRGW 2-8-0 # 1034 with a fairly clear view of the Fresnel-type class lights mounted. There are many other pix at that same site. A pic of a Frisco steam loco in service, with the same kind of class light, is at: I suspect the concept was to get a wider angle of view than the usual circular lenses would provide.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Thursday, March 4, 2021 by RJMc

A. Link 1 below is to a web post about restoring a set of "Handlan Radial Class Lamps" and using them on the ex-D&RG narrow gage steam locos. It has good closeup pix of the lamps. The Kirkman lamp site even sells replacement lenses for these. Link 2 is to a site where someone has modelled the later electrified version of these using 3D printing, apparently for O scale, but with good pix of their models. Many marine warning lamps also used the Fresnel style lenses for wide angle viewing.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Friday, March 5, 2021 by trnbob

A. Prior Q's 3572 amd 1177 here on the Q&A Board also discuss these in more detail. Use the 'Search By Wuestion No." box. The term "Handlan Radius Lens" is also used for these.  Posted Friday, March 5, 2021 by RJMc

A. The Link below is to another good web post about acquiring and using this type of class lamp on the ex-D&RG narrow gage steam locos and lists other RR's that used them, such as L&N. And the various discussions make clear that the original lamps were switchable between green and white indications. But as RR's got away from timetable and train order operations, that feature often got disabled as mechanisms or lenses failed in service and it became extremely unusual to run sections of scheduled trains which would need the green lights. That trend affected all kinds of classification lights.  Link 1  Posted Friday, March 5, 2021 by RJMc

 Q3840 White Cone Lens in Lamp  Can anyone explain why there is a white cone lens in this lamp? Thank you!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, February 28, 2021 by Tom   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It is often hard to tell in pictures whether the lenses are blue or green. When illuminated, does the lens in the pic show up as blue, or green? Blue lenses were used for worker protection and many other special functions other than switch lights, so often the lamps didn't require lenses on all four sides and your white cone might just be a filler, or provide an auxiliary indication that the lamp was lit to confirm that a person behind the lamp was protected by the blue light. If the lamp rotated, the white could also provide an indication to someone running an engine in shop tracks, such as a hostler, that the protection was NOT in effect, so they knew they could enter the track.  Posted Tuesday, March 2, 2021 by trnbob

A. Tom, This lamp is a caboose marker from the Northern Pacific Railroad. From the factory it would come with red and green lenses. It appears at some point the red lens was broken and for reasons unknown the owner of the lamp replaced it with the coned lens. Possibly he didn't have a red lens. If the lamp were mine I'd purchase a red lens to restore the lamp to original as delivered condition. They are available on eBay quite regularly in many sizes and styles and colors. Just measure the diameter and be sure you get an internal ribbed lens to match the green one pictured. Hope this helps. Posted Monday, March 8, 2021 by Jim

 Q3839 More Key IDs  Here are 3 more keys I'm hoping someone can identify for me. The first is a SR Slaymaker Car key. I've been told Maine Central and Michigan Central. Does anyone know for sure? Next is an old Fraim M&NRY. Last is an old tapered MV RR. As always thanks for any help I can get.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, February 17, 2021 by Jim   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3838 Dietz Lantern Paint  Hello! I have several Dietz lanterns and I cannot find paint that matches the original paint. Any ideas if or where you can get the same colors? Any information would be appreciated! Thank you,  Posted Monday, February 15, 2021 by Carl   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Without knowing what lantern model(s) you have -- are they in fact Railroad lanterns? Dietz made for all customers! See Link 1 for a list of models and note most were NOT made for railroads! It's my information that the "original" finish when railroad lanterns left the factory usually was no paint at all - bare metal. Subsequent owners often painted them, and old paint can look "original" but it almost always is not. Paint matching is difficult at best and nearly impossible at worst, especially since it usually is a different shade after it dries than it was when it was wet. We are extremely lucky to have a paint manufacturer in our area that will mix custom colors, but requires a minimum purchase of one gallon. Kinda hard to take the $$ price when all we needed was about 4 ounces, but the result was well worth it!!  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, February 16, 2021 by JMS

 Q3837 Lantern  What do I have? Can anyone tell me? Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, February 12, 2021 by Mark   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The most common use for these was as a railroad 'switch lamp' or 'switch light' which rotated to indicate the position of a track switch, to inform oncoming trains of how things were routed. The Link is to the Railroad Lamps page in the reference section here on the RRiana site to see a lot more description and discussion. You can also enter 'switch lamp' in the word or phrase search box to see many Q&A's about these.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, February 13, 2021 by RJMc

A. Question #3610 left side of photo should show a switch lamp next to a locomotive that has moved into a secondary track (probably a siding to allow for passing on the mainline). This would be one use. Posted Friday, February 26, 2021 by ShastaRoute

 Q3836 Fake or Real?  Had this more less drop in my lap, unsure if it is real or fake. Trying to determine what it is and if it is worth looking for the burner? I can’t find anything like online which makes me wonder about the authenticity. Any info would help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, February 12, 2021 by Caleb   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.'s real other than the base looks like it's missing a mounting post or bracket attachment. Is the underside solid or, does it look like a mounting bracket was attached at one time? Posted Friday, February 12, 2021 by TE

A. Lamps such as yours were widely used on various RR's. The most likely use was as a switch lamp, although the same housings were also used with a different mounting bracket for marker lights. The first Link is to the 'Railroad Lamps' page in the reference section here on the RRians site. The second row of photos shows lamps very similar to yours but made by Armspear. The various lamp designs were heavily standardized as required by the RR's. Lamps of a given design were made and licensed by different mfr's at different times, and the mfr'ing co's merged back and forth, so it is not unusual that you may find identical lamps from different mfr's. The second Link -- also to the Archives here on this site, is to an Adlake catalog from 1940 showing their model 1112 Seitch Light, which looks very much like yours. The wide colored 'day targets' shown around each lens in some of the pix were optional; each RR decided whether or not to use them and the practices varied widely even along each RR.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Saturday, February 13, 2021 by RJMc

A. The bottom is solid with a small hole dead center. So looks like missing the base. My other question is the patient dates on the top. The only comparison I have is below [link1]. It has the Great Britain Dec 16 date as well as the Aug 13 1907 date. The one I have has neither. Were there models made with different patient dates in them, or were mine removed? The base also has one groove not two as indicated in the manual?  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, February 16, 2021 by Caleb

A. Some of my lamps have the Great Britain patent date(s) so apparently they were covering their bases for overseas sales. Don't know if that materialized or not but I don't think there's anything unusual about it. Posted Friday, February 19, 2021 by TE

 Q3835 F.S.O. Meaning  What does 'F.S.O.' stand for on a Corning switch or signal lens?  Posted Sunday, February 7, 2021 by Gerald   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. According to the 'Signal Lenses' appendix in David Dreimiller's book 'Signal Lights', on the typical Corning lenses for switch lights and markers the diameter of 5 3/8 inches will be designated with a "D." and the 3 1/2 inch focal length will be designated with "F"ocal length measured by the same technique as a used to measure a "S"tandard "O"ptical lens (F.S.O.). Dreimiller implies that other lens manufacturers probably marked theirs differently. As a side note, the '1935' in lens markings is NOT the year of manufacture, it is the year that the specification was adopted. So lenses made decades later are still marked with the '1935' to be mis-interpreted time and again by resellers.  Posted Friday, February 12, 2021 by RJMc

A. Thank you. Gerald Posted Saturday, February 13, 2021 by GN

 Q3834 Lens ID?  What is this lens from? ID help please. Blue but different texture. I do not think this lens started out on this metal plate and pole... but I don't know really. I got it from the estate of an old man who lived right next to a railroad, and he collected railroad stuff. I thought it was from a Railroad lamp, but the texture is different than any I've seen or can find online. The lens is about 5.5 in. across and maybe and inch (or less) in depth. I'd just like to know what it was. It looks good hanging in my shop. Any ideas?? Thanks for your help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, February 7, 2021 by Tony   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Look up "Blue Flag" to possibly give you some background. Posted Monday, February 8, 2021 by h v coll

A. The Link is to an Adams and Westlake article in the archives here on the RRiana site about 'Signal Glass'. The article isn't dated but it looks like maybe 1950's. It identifies (and pictures) the center of your item as a 'Corning Doublet Reflector Lens' which was a forerunner of today's retroreflective materials. As mentioned above, the whole item looks to be a blue flag assembly with the center lens returning a bright blue indication from the beam of any approaching headlight to warn against moving the equipment. Yhe hook arrangment was to hang the item on a locomotive cab window or a handgrab while workmen performed maintenance or servicing. The Link is an excellent reference about the various lenses used on RR's but unfortunately does NOT answer Q 3835 above: still looking into that.  Link 1  Posted Monday, February 8, 2021 by RJMc

A. Dreimiller's book Signal Lights says Corning introduced this type of retroreflector lens in 1933. It uses a sandwich made up of a central silvered reflector surface between the two outer layers with the pebbled surface. The multiple reflections inside the sandwich cause a light beam to be returned back toward its source, rather than reflected off at some different angle or dissipated. These days the same effect is accomplished by tiny particles embedded in materials such as signs and fabrics so that no thick package is required.  Posted Saturday, February 13, 2021 by RJMc

 Q3833 Armspear 1925 Short Globe  I'd like to pose two question in regards to an 'Armspear 1925' short globe RR lantern. It appears as a 'newer' model possibly made by Adlake. There is only one band of holes on the vent lid. The cage is round wire and has a weighted base, top center reads B&O RR ARMSPEAR M'F'G CO. NEW YORK '1925' There is a drain hole in the bottom of the font container! When did Adlake stop making Armspear short globe lanterns? Was this lantern I described made after 1965 or earlier? Thanks in advance to all of the knowledgeable people on the website for helping us railfans learn more about our RR memorabilia. Posted Monday, February 1, 2021 by Vin R   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Photos ?  Posted Thursday, February 4, 2021 by JMS

A. Here are some photos.. Link 1  Posted Sunday, February 7, 2021 by Vin R

 Q3832 Monarch Steam/Air Whistle?  Does anyone recognize this? It is stamped 'Monarch Pat.' And has an original leather case (which makes me think it might have been a sample). The length is 17 in., and it has 2 threaded ports on the middle chamber. Any assistance is very appreciated. Thanks…   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, February 1, 2021 by Randall   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. My guess is this is a test or calibration instrument of some sort. The closest thing I have found so far is lever-operated boiler pressure test pumps, but they are somewhat different from your piece. This same kind of thing could be used for compressed air, steam, or hydraulic fluid applications. The case indicates it would be carried around to various field locations == which might have been locomotives, power plants, manufacturing plants, or ships and installed to make tests. What appears to be a ball joint on the top would let it be connected to some form of machinery in a flexible manner. The bottom arrangement looks like maybe an adjustment. The threaded ports would have to be connected to local piping. Can any of the parts extend to make a piston/cylinder arrangement? Are there any patent numbers or dates listed, since the Monarch name has been very commonly used and any additional info would be very helpful to zero in on the use of the item (which by the way, might not be of US or North American origin.)  Posted Wednesday, February 3, 2021 by RJMc

 Q3831 More Key IDs Needed  These are the next three keys I'm hoping some can identify for me. All 3 are MCRR. The first 2 are Bohannons and the third has no makers marks. There are many MC keys so hopefully some will recognize which MC these keys are. Thanks in advance for any help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, January 21, 2021 by Jim   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Wilson Bohannon moved from Brooklyn,NY to Marion,Ohio in 1926. It looks like those 2 keys are marked for Brooklyn so that may help with the ID on them. WB has a very good company history on their website that includes catalogs from that era.  Posted Saturday, January 23, 2021 by KM

A. It would appear the key in the center is probably a Maine Central - it should have a DRAMATIC, very curved "COMMA" shape bit as this seems to (best way is to look at the END of the key -you should see a true comma shape with extremely curving, round "tail"). The other two likely are Michigan Central, per pictures in my Johnson book. The bit cuts do not appear to be for any of the other "MC" possibles, at least not that I can tell in Johnson.  Posted Thursday, February 4, 2021 by JMS

 Q3830 Books on RR Keys  Hope this finds everyone well at Railroadiana Online & at Home. I need some guidance. I have been interested in Don Stewart's books on RR Locks & Keys. I have not had either in my hands but have seen some pics online. I recently bought Railroad Locks & Keys by Barrett & Gross - nice book but the pics of the keys & bitting are terribly dark and hard for my old eyes to see. Because of my budget I have never been able to afford the older brass locks so I mostly have my collection of steel made RR locks & keys. Can you advise me as to which edition of Mr. Stewart's books on RR Locks & Keys should I look for? I see in your 'Books' section that Richard Chenovick has the 2nd edition. Does he have an email contact address? Thanks very much for the help & time.  Posted Monday, January 18, 2021 by Roy S   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. We do not have an email address for Mr. Chenovick, only the regular mail address, and even this has not been confirmed since 2015. People interested in the book may want to first send a SASE to confirm that the book is still available. Posted Monday, January 18, 2021 by Webmaster

A. There is a copy of Stewart's "Railroad Switch Keys & Padlocks"for sale on eBay as of 1/19 - see Link TWO below. It is the first listing in the result I got from doing an eBay search for "Railroad switch keys" "Don Stewart" . I have this book and it is great. Just keep looking on eBay if the one I mentioned is gone, they come along from time to time. I have another Stewart railroad key book, the Charles McQueen collection and find that one about useless as the illustrations are terrible. Best of luck!  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Tuesday, January 19, 2021 by JMS

A. Sorry, I meant to include - RE: link 1, this copy has been sold but you can look at the listing and see what the inside pages are like. I do not know how many editions there were, but usually newer editions contain updates and corrections so in this case a first edition is not as good. To clarify, Link 2 is the actual search result for Stewart key books in the Railroad section on eBay - you can bookmark and keep using it.  Posted Tuesday, January 19, 2021 by JMS

A. Another excellent key ID guide is the "American Railways Switch Keys Directory" - there are over 600 key cuts illustrated - Link 1 is a copy for sale on eBay. If this sale is over, contact the Seller as he has multiple copies listed. Link 2 is to the home page of the good collector group Key Lock & Lantern where a great many resources are available.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Tuesday, January 19, 2021 by JMS

A. For locks, I like "The Padlock Collector" Franklin Arnall , 6th edition. Watch the pricing on e-bay , as it goes up and down.  Posted Tuesday, January 19, 2021 by hv coll

 Q3829 Keystone Casey Fuel Pot Burner  How do you add fuel to a Keystone Casey fuel pot burner?  Posted Tuesday, January 5, 2021 by Norman   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. See prior Q 1593 on this exact topic. It is really an excellent question; it is easy to unclip and twist off the entire fount assy (very similar to the Dietz Vesta procedure discussed in a nearby Q) but after that, it is not at all obvious how to separate the burner assy from the tank without destroying it. It ends up unthreading... Posted Wednesday, January 6, 2021 by RJMc

A. The two excellent photos in the Links show two different Casey founts with the burners unscrewed to enable filling the tanks. These are the same pix originally sent in to Q 1593 by W.M., just brought forwared here for convenience.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Thursday, January 7, 2021 by RJMc

 Q3828 Lantern Marking  Here is an Adlake 250 kero. I don't see a manufacturing date on the bottom. This lantern is clearly marked LVRR on top and has a red globe with LVRR etched on it. Your survey list does not currently show LVRR using this lantern. I am curious about a raised area on the top with the letters JRM stamped on it. Any idea what that means?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, January 5, 2021 by Eric   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. That seems to be a tag stamped with the initials and then soldered onto the lantern after it left the factory. Most likely the initials of the person assigned and/or owning the lantern. Posted Wednesday, January 6, 2021 by RJMc

A. Indeed, this is an authentic Lehigh Valley A&W #250 - if you can get Employee Roster lists, you may be able to find the man who belonged to JRM (RJMc is right on target). Also, why not update the survey list ? Report it to Key Lock & Lantern to update the survey (Link 1 below) They are always looking for genuine documented additions to the lantern list. Use the CONTACT US (Link 2) to get in touch and include your pictures. Legitimate information is always greatly appreciated. BTW this globe is reported in the "3-1/4" Marked Globes" list, so adding the the information to the "Lantern" survey would round out some LV history very nicely. Great find!! Link 1  Link 2  Posted Wednesday, January 6, 2021 by JMS

A. I also note that the workmanship of stamping and placing the tag seems to be excellent and the finish on the lantern does not look like it was used much, if at all, in regular service on the RR. (Have you refinished the lantern?) In modern times in regular use the RR company owned the lanterns so it wasn't appropriate for individuals to mark them. This causes me to suspect that this lantern was set up and given as a special gift to JRM, on retirement or possibly on a service anniversary such as 25 or more years of service, or other special occasion. Such occasions were often covered in employee and/or union magazines, often with photos, and you might get verification there of the actual history of this lantern. Posted Friday, January 8, 2021 by RJMc

 Q3827 B&O China - New Castle, PA  I have several pieces of the set - and some serving dishes as well. My question is: Some of the pieces are stamped in blue on the back; some have a gray stamp and then some have both over-lapping onto of each other or slightly offset. Does this have any significant meaning or reason they are stamped in such a way? Is one more valuable than the other or is this just an oversight in the production? Also, the small numbers printed on these... I am assuming they are the quality checkers Would appreciate any insight you may provide. Happy New Year!  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, January 2, 2021 by Shawn    Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The number/letter combos under backstamps are date codings which you can look up here (Link 1) in the old RWCN IDwiki. They have an updated list and research material on their new site. The drifting numbers are just factory internals which are not significant...decorator marks, piecework idents, or whatever (not quality inspection codes). Link 1  Posted Sunday, January 3, 2021 by ShastaRoute

A. The middle piece with the G 26 date code was made 2nd half of 1968. I think the left piece is p 31 which would make it 1st half of 1973 Posted Monday, January 4, 2021 by COD

A. Bear in mind that B&O china is among the most reproduced of any RR (ever) because it continued to be made and sold for the gift shop at the B&O Museum. Posted Tuesday, January 5, 2021 by RJMc

A. Per both RR china books, pieces with the "Black Indian" stamp are NOT railroad ordered. "Official Guide to RR Dining Car China"(McIntyre) says "Beginning in 1968 the Shenango mark was overstamped with the black Indian. Pieces so marked never saw dining car service and were made strictly for gift shop sale." CENTER PICTURE: would like to see a photo of the top - this mark was not used on the blue Centenary china. It is Shenango, indeed but may be a fake depending on what the top looks like. RIGHT PICTURE: This mark was the last used by the B&O for dining car service. At the end, the RR sold all the remaining china through the museum. Worse for collectors, the museum continued to order it with the exact same bottom marking. The verdict is that a piece marked this way MAY have been ordered by the B&O for dining car use, but just as likely MAY NOT have been and there is no way to tell for certain without provenance on individual pieces. As for the small numbers off on the sides, as Shasta Route says, they are of no collector importance.  Posted Wednesday, January 6, 2021 by JMS

A. I meant to say that although these three pieces are at the low end of the scale for collector value (the black Indian stamp "technically" is a repro that never rode the rails; and we really need to see the top of the center dish before making a judgment) a positive note about them is that collectors often use them on the table! It is fun to fully enjoy the pattern while the older, valuable pieces are safe in a display cabinet. These later productions are perfect for that and it is great fun to know you can enjoy it without harming any actual antiques. (Same with California Poppy, which Syracuse China produced in a light, household version that RR china folks call "thinware.")  Posted Wednesday, January 6, 2021 by JMS

 Q3826 Dietz Vesta Disassembly  I have a deitz vesta lantern which has bee sitting unloved, indoors for many years. I am trying to remove what I will call the bottom cover. I note the two lugs, and the slots indicating that the base turns a bit in order to remove it. I also note that the wick adjuster dial has a slot directly below it, suggesting that it does NOT turn. So these have to be two separate pieces, and the bottom should be easily removed, revealing the lamp wick assembly, which should then just drop out. On mine the bottom will not turn without (trying) to turn the wick dial, so I assume the bottom and the lamp assembly are rusted together.. How is my logic, and do you have any suggestions for separating the two? Right now they are soaking in rust penetrant, but no joy as yet.. Regards and Merry Christmas!  Posted Thursday, December 24, 2020 by Mike   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. You have it sort of right, but not quite. The ENTIRE tank and burner drop out of the lantern TOGETHER as a single assy. See the Link for an excellent pic of a Vesta replacement oil tank outside of the lantern. NOTE that the burner assy (not installed in the pic) has a slip fit, not threads. It is not only OK, but necessary, that the burner assy turn somewhat compared to the tank while the tank is being removed or replaced into the base of the lantern, so that the wick raiser shaft amd knob drop thru the T slot in the lantern base and out. Note the two lugs, or 'ears', short pins sticking out from the tank sides. Those hold the tank assy in the base of the lantern by a very short 'twist-lock' maneuver. Again a slip fit. BUT check on your lantern just below the wick raiser knob for a horizontal heavy wire spring clip -- about 3 inches long -- with a 'V' bent into the end. That V drops over one of those ears to make sure the burner assy does not turn and is locked into the lantern base. That spring clip must be raised up to let the burner assy. turn to reach the vertical slot that lets it drop out of the lantern base. (I just found that the flat handle of a teaspoon makes an ideal lever to hold that cllp up while turning the tank to release it.) There are a lot of helpful images on the web just by searching on 'Dietz Vesta'. And some final hints: the penetrant is a good start; moderate heat may help you release the rusted parts. An electric heat gun, or even a hair dryer (commonly available very inexpensively at local re-use shops) may help. And a strap wrench, such as used for auto oil filters, may be of use in getting the tank to begin to turn (once the retaining clip is raised.) Link 1  Posted Saturday, December 26, 2020 by RJMc

 Q3825 Sconce  Could you please tell me what is supposed to be used inside a spring loaded lamp like this? A standard candle? Thank you!!!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, December 22, 2020 by John   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. In general, these are called 'Candle Lamps' and use a common plain paraffin candle. See prior Q 3582 for more details and a list of many other prior Q's on these, including where to get parts such as the Pyrex chimneys and mounting brackets. Posted Tuesday, December 22, 2020 by RJMc

A.  I have been collecting these RPO candle lamps for about 45 years and I have several that have original new candles in them. I am measuring one of those right now and it is 4&3/4 inches long and 1 & 1/4 inches in diameter. I used to buy the candles from A. J. Root Company in Medina, Ohio but I am not sure if they have them still. Some hardware stores used to have plumbers candles which also worked, but again I am not sure if they are still available.  Posted Friday, December 25, 2020 by KM

A. Your lamp is the older style one and the correct mounting bracket for it has the foot on it which slides into the shoe on the lamp. The newer style lamps are reversed, the lamp has the foot and the bracket has the shoe so if you order the brackets make sure that you get the right one! Posted Friday, December 25, 2020 by KM

 Q3824 Non-Sweating lamps  I look on Ebay everyday for some items I like. I look at railroad lanterns and switch lights. I often see the phrase 'non sweating' used with the lights. What does that mean? Thanks.  Posted Sunday, December 20, 2020 by Mike   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Air flow within the lamp keeps the outside from sweating as the lamp warms in cool or cold weather. Posted Sunday, December 20, 2020 by h v coll

A. When the kerosene burns in the lamp, it makes water vapor along with the light of the flame. If the lamp was just a metal cylinder, in cold weather the vapor would condense on the inside walls and fog the inside of the lenses. In really cold weather it would turn to ice (inside the lamp) and possibly completely blank the light. The 'non-sweating' design feature keeps the warm, wetter air coming off the flame away from the outside lamp parts and lenses so they don't fog up or ice up and the lamp continues to work well and do its job. The Link is to an Adlake catalog page in the Archives here on this site which explains this more fully.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, December 20, 2020 by RJMc

 Q3823 A Question of Two Pipers  Both of these switch lanterns were made my HL Piper of Montreal Canada. Neither have railroad markings. The newer one claims to have been sold by CP Bygones which sold RR artifacts for CP Rail directly. The other has a Patent date of 1909 but not 1920 as some some later lanterns have appended. The lenses are quite a bit smaller than the other lamp. I don’t have the book which might enlighten the background of these items. I’m wondering if the knowledgeable members of this website could offer any suggestions? Regards   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, December 17, 2020 by CEG   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3822 Info on Lamps?  I have recently come across these pair of gas lamps. I was just wondering if the experts could help identify them and possibly give me some information on them? Hope you can help. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, December 17, 2020 by Chris   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  I may be way wrong here, but I wonder if these lamps are stage lighting? Here is a short description from Britannica about limelight theater lighting which is where the expression "in the limelight" came from. "Although Thomas Drummond, a British engineer, invented the limelight in 1816, it did not come into general use until some 30 years later. A limelight produces light by directing a sharp point of oxyhydrogen flame against a cylindrical block of lime. The tiny area of lime becomes incandescent and emits a brilliant white light that is soft and mellow. As the block of lime is slowly consumed by burning, it has to be slowly and constantly turned by an operator to supply the flame with a fresh surface. Since the brilliant area was very small, the addition of a mirrored reflector was necessary to give accurate control." Perhaps someone has direct knowledge about stage or theater lighting.  Posted Saturday, December 26, 2020 by KM

 Q3821 Baldwin Oval builders plate 1904?  I have a Baldwin oval builders plate from an SP consolidation (2-8-0) with 57-22/30 C cast into it. The Baldwin plates that I have prior to and since this year are the standard round 12 1/4 in Philadelphia plates. There is no location on this plate. What is the significance of the oval shaped plate?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, December 10, 2020 by MS   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. We call these plates "Harriman" ovals. You will only see these for a few years, mostly on SP steam locomotives. You will find Class A, P, C, and S. These plates are simply loaded with data with the driver diameter and the bore and stroke of the cylinder. Baldwin was still using the standard 12" and 16" plates during this time period for other orders. You will also see these ovals by American Locomotive Co. as well. Posted Monday, December 14, 2020 by RJM