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

  • No questions about what something is worth -- see About Values. Also, no questions or replies selling or looking for items, parts or services. This includes offers. We've been advised that questions about current internet auctions may pose a liability issue, so we have to be careful here also.

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Latest 50 Questions:

 Q3312 Bell  Can anyone identify this bell? I have been contacted to install it on a fire house. I think it needs to go on a locomotive. Maybe some history will help? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, April 24, 2017 by Bob S   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3311 Ingersoll Rand Aftercooler Number Plates  I found these plates along the old abandoned CNJ tracks in Easton, Pa. I've searched and cannot connect them to any engine. I'm a novice but, do know it was most likely a turbocharged diesel. I thought the years, 1965 and 66 would have been a great starting point...nothing. I hope you can ease my frustration with any information. Thanks again.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, April 23, 2017 by Steve P.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3310 SP Lock Marking  The marking on this lock and key is 'JNHFW' -- Anyone know what this marking is for?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, April 21, 2017 by Dennis M.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Probably the keying. Posted Friday, April 21, 2017 by BobF

A. Most of the RR brass padlocks like this have five tumblers (a few had 6). So your code would be one letter, designating the length, and order of each of the five tumblers. A well-equipped locksmith can make the key , or re-key more padlocks to work with the keys you already have, just by having the letter code, key blanks and/or padlock bodies, and a supply of the various length tumblers plus the tech. info of how deep to cut the key blank at each position to suit the designating letter.  Posted Friday, April 21, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3309 Brass Plate  This artifact was recovered while metal detecting the former rail yard of the Campbell's Creek Railroad 1865-1962 near Charleston, WV. I was hoping you might could tell me the origin of this relic. Thank you very much.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, April 14, 2017 by Todd H.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3308 Cast Iron Plaque  I recently purchased this cast iron railway sign, and would like more information about its purpose and what it means. The sign measures 7 3/4 inches high and 6 5/16 wide at the top. The only markings are those of the face. There is no markings on the back to identify its origin or manufacturer. What does 'SHD' stand for? What was the purpose of the plaque? Is the plaque particular to one railroad or did they all use them?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, April 12, 2017 by RM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I have never seen one of these before. But purely as a guess, "State Highway Department Right of Way" property line marker makes a lot of sense. This particular sign might be unique to just one state. Similar signs are used in many situations to mark the limits of one jurisdiction's property line and responsibilities for maintenance. As such, these might be placed along a RR to show where RR maintenance responsibility ends, and state responsibility begins. On older RR lines, concrete posts were used for the same function.  Posted Thursday, April 13, 2017 by RJMc

A. Missouri state highway department uses this right of way marker. Posted Thursday, April 13, 2017 by dc

A. A 'word to the wise': property line and right-of-way markers have legal significance. Even many years after a railroad ceases operations, and even after the track may be gone for some time, the property lines are still very important, and the State would probably be VERY interested in keeping their markers in place. There are quite likely stiff penalties for disturbing markers like this; terms apply such as 'vandalizing state property'.  Posted Friday, April 14, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3307 Orient Express Lanterns  Hello, I would love any information about these beautiful lanterns. What is the estimated date? Are they originals or replicas? They have a sticker on the bottom that says solid brass and the other says made in India. I polished the one on the left. I have searched online and have not found one like it. Any information would be appreciated. Thank you!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, April 6, 2017 by Kim M   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. fakes these were never used on the OE Posted Friday, April 7, 2017 by Ex Sou Ry

A. They appear to be brass patio candle lanterns that are sold in places like Pier One and the Pottery Barn. Probably made in India or China.  Posted Friday, April 7, 2017 by LF

A. The 'Made in India' sticker (mentioned) is probably a clue. At least they acknowledge their work. Posted Friday, April 7, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3306 What is this RR Thing?  What is this? It seems to have something to do with telling us whether the tracks are open or not. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, April 6, 2017 by Robert   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Its the British who refer to northbound track as the 'up line' and the southbound track as the 'down line.' This would be used in a signalling tower (so called here) or a signal box (as called there) to keep track of which tracks are occupied and to clear trains into unoccupied tracks. Many other RR's in the world followed Britain's lead and practices, so it might also have come from one of them.  Posted Friday, April 7, 2017 by RJMc

A. This is a British 3 position Block Telegraph Instrument, made by Tyers & Company of London in the first quarter of the 20th century, probably for the North Staffordshire Railway. It is one of many types of instruments made by different manufacturers for various railways in the UK and abroad. As RJMc says, this instrument, with another similar, would be used in a signal box (tower). The instruments would be connected by telegraph with corresponding instruments in the adjoining signal boxes and would be used to control the entry and exit of trains to and from the "block section" controlled by the signal box. The block instruments were interlocked with the lever frame controlling the points and signals and also track circuits. The use of the interlocked block system became a legal requirement on British main passenger carrying lines in 1889. "Up" and "Down" do not necessarily refer to north and south. The "Up" line is usually the line leading to London, or on the minority of lines that do not connect directly with London, towards the town which contains the railway's headquarters.  Posted Sunday, April 9, 2017 by JAJ

 Q3305 RR Jacks?  I have two large, old screw style jacks. I often hear them referred to as railroad jacks. Were these types of jacks used for the railroad at all? Also, do you happen to know who the maker was? They have a 6 pointed start and the size on the side but no maker listed. Thank you,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, April 6, 2017 by Shane G   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Jacks like this were (and are) commonly used to support car or locomotive bodies during shop repairs, when necessary to raide the car off the trucks. They are also used in many kinds of industrial operations; construction, house moving, installing and moving large machines. etc etc. Usually a more flexible type of jack (hydraulic, for example) is used to lift the item and then this jack is pre-set (which is kind of a nuisance, to turn it all those times) and placed under the item to support it during the work, releasing the other jack to move over to another location. Posted Friday, April 7, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3304 All Amber Lenses  Thank you for your excellent article I saw online about railroad lamps. I had a question that I can't seem to figure out. I saw a railroad lamp with 4 lenses that were ALL amber. I can't figure out whey a lamp would have all 4 colors the same, or was there a purpose for that? Thanks.  Posted Thursday, April 6, 2017 by Dan   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hi Dan; You ask an excellent question. The first thing to remember is that we are now over 40 years past the end of kerosene lamps on railroads.(early to mid 1970s) Many lamps that show up for sale have replacement lenses, and in non-standard color configurations; the seller often times slapping in anything they can come up with, just to complete the lamp.. There would have not been an application for switch lamps or marker lamps with all the same color lenses in a lamp. However, that doesn't mean that a railroad didn't use a lamp body with 4 yellow (not amber) lenses as a way of marking an obstacle in or near a surface road on the property. Railroads used what they had on hand in very creative ways. The other possibility is that a previous post-railroad owner of the lamp put those in there for decorative purposes. Yellow lights are supposed to attract far fewer flying insects than a white light, and it could have been used as an outdoor lighting fixture, ..or any of a dozen other uses. ---- ....Red Beard  Posted Thursday, April 6, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Hello Dan,As a re-inforcement to Red Beard's comments about how railroad's were creative and at the same time frugal,I can relate an actual story relating to your lamps with all yellow lenses in them.I grew up in central Wisconsin near the Green Bay and Western Railroad and in the city of Wisconsin Rapids,which was their middle terminal,they had a shop facility and an actual operating turntable.Around the outside edge of the pit,they had a series of kerosene switchlamps,on steel posts,spaced evenly around,and all were equipped with only yellow lenses,as a safety warning to those working in the area at night.These lamps were maintained just as if they were along the line on track switches,and received regular maintenance. This was a simple,effective,way to warn of the possible danger and this method never failed in a power failure.There you have it re the railroad's creativity.Before I go,hello Red ! DJB Posted Tuesday, April 11, 2017 by DJB

A. Hey DJB! - Turntable pits always posed a number of safety hazards. When Doyle McCormack and the 4449 crew were stranded in Omaha back in 1975 (Freedom Train), due to the locomotive having been determined to have sharp flanges, and being bad ordered by the FRA until the tires could be machined down to create an acceptable flange profile, I got to spend a fair amount of time with Doyle and the crew. They had countless stories to relate; some personal and some they acquired from other railroaders. They related one from the GN in the Dakotas: A hostler managed to put a steamer in the pit, so the terminal superintendent wired the division super for a wrecking crane. In their attempt of retrieve the engine, the crane crew managed to topple the crane into the pit as well. The terminal superintendent again wired the division superintendent, advising him of the now compounded situation. The division super wired back asking if a second crane was needed. The terminal superintendent replied -ďThank you, no. Pit already fullĒ-, then proceeded to use jacks and timber cribbing to rectify the situation. ---- .... Red Beard  Posted Wednesday, April 19, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

 Q3303 Peter Gray Lamp  This photo depicts the lamp style which was carried by Maine Central steam locomotives. We are trying to replace those which were carried by MEC #470, a Pacific in restoration. The originals have deteriorated beyond successful repair, so we are making replicas to take their place. Apparently the original replacements are scarce items. Specifically, we need an idea of the colors carried in service, and how the internal mechanism worked to change colors. Photos or drawings of the interior of the lamps are highly desired. The lamps are marked 'Peter Gray & Sons' and stamped for the Maine Central. Similar lamps were found on SRRL locos and B&M locos. Many lasted in use into the Diesel era.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, April 4, 2017 by Richard G   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hi, I am very familiar with Peter Gray lamps but have never seen this version before it is very a early design. Your best bet is to see if the archive in the city of Cambridge MA where the factory was has any info on these I believe they have a Peter Gray reference material saved from the area.  Posted Thursday, April 6, 2017 by Brian D

A. Richard, the lamp pictured has the look of a kerosene lamp that has been converted to electric. Many railroads converted oil burning markers and class lamps to electric, and in the process removed the vent stack on the top of the lamp, then covering the open top of the body with a metal plate. -- Guessing that is a class lamp in the photo ?? It would help if you sent in a few photos of the rusted out lamps that you have. -- Old, originally oil burning class lamps would have had clear (called white) glass lenses, often with manually inserted green glass panes that fit into slots behind the clear lenses when a green aspect was required; so, no complex mechanism to flip a color filter up and down behind the clear lens as in more "modern" lamps that came from the factory as electric and some late model oil lamps. -- Again, several photos of the bodies you have would help. ---- ....Red Beard Posted Thursday, April 6, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Having now scoured the net for photos of MEC steam engines, I retract the idea of a rebuilt kerosene lamp. The lamp pictured in this question is identical to the ones I've seen in many MEC steam engine photos, and the body of this lamp and those of unaltered oil class lamps are different. In the photos I've found, I can see no exterior leavers or small handles to activate a color changing mechanism, as are found on other brands of lamps. My guess still is that these Gray lamps may have used a colored glass slide for color change, that had to be changed out by hand from inside of the lamp. -- Please do send in photos of what's left of the lamps you have. ---- ....Red Beard  Posted Friday, April 7, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Dear Sir, I have one of these classification lamps that has been consigned to me to sell at public auction. I have sold over 1,000 railroad lanterns and lamps at auction and before that I think I have sold 2,000 at shows and mail order. I attempted to contact you directly via this list but that failed for some MS Outlook issue. Please contact me and I can provide details about the lamp. I can offer in my next auction in September 2017. It is truly an unusual design. I only have one but that's 1/2 way there! Regards - Scott Czaja  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, April 19, 2017 by scott czaja

A. Scott; Can you Please take some detail photos, including of the inside of the lamp and send those in? Also ; by what means do you change the display from clear to green?? Thanks. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Wednesday, April 19, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

 Q3302 Tag Info Needed  I'm trying to learn more about this tag that I dug up with my metal detector in Upstate NY. The maker of the tag is AM.RY.S.Co (American Railway Supply Co. from what I understand). I'm trying to identify the use of the tag, was 'House 54' a sleeping accommodation on the train or would this have been a key tag a railway worker would have carried to access a certain building? I would also love to know what W.A.T. would have stood for. Thanks!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, April 4, 2017 by SMP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  I think it is a valve identification tag. They are attached to the valve handle with a small key chain. If it was valve number 54 it must have been a large pipe system that it came from. House could mean something like power house or maybe roundhouse. Valves on pipe system blue prints or drawings are numbered so that maintenance people can look at what valve needs to be replaced or shut down during repairs. American Railway Supply made tags that were used by many customers other than railroads. Posted Wednesday, April 5, 2017 by KM

A.  Boiler house would be another possibility. It could be a key tag also, but key tags and keys get worn out due to pocket wear and the constant motion of pulling the keys from your pocket and this tag does not show any of that. A valve may not be opened or closed frequently so the tag may hang from the valve for many years and because there is nothing rubbing against it there is no wear.  Posted Wednesday, April 5, 2017 by KM

A. Thanks for the replies. One more thing, this was found in the backyard of my parent's farmhouse not too far from a creek. I'm almost guessing it might have fallen out of a pocket when someone went to do the laundry in the creek or something like that.  Posted Wednesday, April 5, 2017 by SMP

 Q3301 Switch Stand  Asking for any assistance in finding a manufacturer's name or patent number for this particular style of switch. Found on site of an abandoned railroad line. I believe it to be a Y - switch. The only identifying marks on the castings is Y-5-0-. Any help would be greatly appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, April 2, 2017 by Marci   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3300 Use of Tag?  Hi Everyone, I recently purchased this brass tag from the Wiscasset & Quebec RR. Can anyone say what it was used for? I don't think it was a baggage tag since the tag has no destinations on it. It is a rather large item (see the quarter for size comparison), too large to be a key tag or tool check. Can anyone provide some possible uses? Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, March 27, 2017 by JN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Watch fob? Pretty plain for a fob, but may be off of a watch assigned by the RR and they wanted a serial # (like tool checks) or employee ID #. Looks about the right size. Not sure, just an idea to get people's minds rolling. Posted Monday, March 27, 2017 by KO

A. It's a baggage tag used on the W&Q RR. See my web site for types and uses of this sort of commercial baggage tag.  Link 1  Posted Friday, March 31, 2017 by scott czaja

 Q3299 NYC Gizmo?  We have a New York Central gizmo. It is flat steel with round holes and a slot on the end. It looks like a gauge of some sort to check the diameter of something(s). Can anyone ID this for us ? It's about 5 inches long. There is a fraction number stamped beside each hole. There is no mark at the end slot. There no markings on the other side. Thank you for any help!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, March 27, 2017 by J&H   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hi, It could be a size gauge for measuring bolt diameters. Posted Monday, March 27, 2017 by JN

A. Looks like a drill bit gauge to me.  Posted Monday, March 27, 2017 by KO

A. In trying to make sense of the kind of strange fractions, and agreeing it looks like a drill bit gage, it turns out that 29/32 is the right drill size for a hole that will be tapped to fit a 1" x 12 threads per inch bolt, a very common size on steam locomotive boilers. Similarly, 11/16 is listed as the size drill for a 3/4" bolt. 19/32 is just under 5/8", but is not listed for that application (in the one list consulted so far. See Link.) Pre-drilling holes to be tapped is one situation where having too large a drill bit destroys the work, because there is not enough material left in the walls of the hole for the tap to properly form the threads. Having a drill bit fail to pass thru the proper hole on this gage (too large) would condemn it from use as a tap drill.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, March 28, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3298 Plate ID Needed  I have a Baldwin Locomotive Builder Plate Ė Burnham Williams Philadelphia dated March 1902 #20237. I am trying to determine what this plate is off of? Can you help or steer me to someone who would know? Thanks.  Posted Monday, March 27, 2017 by Larry J.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Turn the plate over. If you look very carefully, there should be a class number (ex. 8-16-D-59). If you find this number, I can find the Baldwin specs sheet for the engine. If possible, find this number without cleaning the plate. Some collectors view these plates as worth more as-is with little cleaning I believe.  Posted Monday, March 27, 2017 by KO

A. My Baldwin records indicate this was a 2-8-0 built for the A&SM as their # 19 with 51" drivers and 21 1/2 x 28 cylinders went to EP&SW # 217 and then to SP 2510 Posted Tuesday, March 28, 2017 by CD

A. Hard to make out the class number. It appears to be 10-L (or E) 451 R (or P) Posted Tuesday, March 28, 2017 by LJ

A. Thnank you for your assistance. Very much appreciated. Posted Wednesday, March 29, 2017 by LJ

 Q3297 RR Speed Limit Sign?  I picked this sign up at a local antique mall in Duncannon, Pa a while ago. Not sure if its railroad or road or even it's genuine....appears real to me and it weighs a lot. Love to know anything you all might know about it.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, March 26, 2017 by Jan B   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. How big is this sign? Are there any ID marks or numbers, possibly cast in the back? The shape and style appear identical to the cast iron grade crossing warning signs used on many RR's (such as the Western Maryland, for example) and signs were posted to warn of approaching permanent speed restrictions. Speed restrictions were often posted for sharp curves, yards, and approaching tunnels or long viaducts. The Link has a wealth of information about several RR's including the WM, and track charts which show multiple places where speed restriction signs were posted. 35 mph was not an unusual speed limit on a mountain RR such as WM.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, March 26, 2017 by RJMc

A. Thank you for the info. Its 30 inches wide x 21 high. No markings unfortunately. Posted Sunday, March 26, 2017 by Jtb

A. agree with RJMc this is most likely WM Posted Monday, March 27, 2017 by Ex Sou Ry

A. In my opinion this is a Reading Company sign. I had one in my collection in the past and it's a perfect match. Posted Monday, March 27, 2017 by DLS

A. There will probably be no way to tell for sure. It could have been either. This style of sign seems to have been popular on many RR's before reflectorized Scotchlite became available; they show up in the 1950's O. Winston Link night pix of steam engines on the N&W as well. I don't know if PRR used them, but its certainly possible. And we all need to watch: reproductions of similar signs ARE being made, in both cast iron and aluminum, and even weathered to look old.  Posted Tuesday, March 28, 2017 by RJMc

A. One last question: is there any sign of paint on the back of the sign?? For a while, the Western Maryland painted almost everything out on RR with silver-colored aluminum paint. But if that were the case, some of it would almost certainly have gotten around onto the front of this sign.  Posted Tuesday, March 28, 2017 by RJMc

A. Thanks for all the great info. Mich appreciated. Glad its railroad and genuine. It goes well with my other railroad signs.jtb Posted Saturday, April 1, 2017 by Jtb

 Q3296 Engine Plate Info?  Any ideas on this engine plate? Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, March 25, 2017 by Don   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It kind of looks like an N&W number plate. N&W had a Y3A 2-8-8-2 with that road number. The locomotive was built arund 1920. This just a guess. The Illinois Railroad Museum in Union Illinois has one of these locomotives preserved. Send them a picture of your plate. Maybe they can compare it. Posted Saturday, March 25, 2017 by JN

A. The N&W 2075 was a freight locomotive, Y3a Class, 2-8-8-2 built in Richmond Va. 1923 Construction number 64095. The engine was scrapped April 1958. Although not particularly rare, the front number plates are prized by collectors. That said a lot of N&W hardware was reproduced (FAKED). It would be helpful to know the exact dimensions.  Posted Monday, March 27, 2017 by Ex Sou Ry

A. The Link has a very nice photo of N&W 2075, with a good clear look at the front number plate. That said, having just acquired the book Pennsy Power by Alvin Stauffer, the PRR originally also used round front plates on all their engines. Only later did they go to the keystone plates, and then primarily on passenger engines. Unfortunately, PRR did NOT number new engines in much of any kind of sequence, making it very difficult to find out what kind of engine 2075 might have been. The second link is to a PRR engine where you can see the round front plate; looks like PRR might have used a different font style than N&W.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Thursday, April 6, 2017 by RJMc

A. The Links in the answer above don't seem to be working. Link 1 tries to go to: Link 2 tries to go to: wikipedia-commons-local-public.ed/e/ed/Pennsylvania Railroad Steam Locomotive-4483 _%28 Hope this works better; I think the link URL's were too long, but I couldn't find a shorter route to get to the pix.  Posted Thursday, April 6, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3295 A&W Conductors Lantern w/#39 GLobe  I picked this brass top, nickel plated lantern I believe to be a conductor's lantern. Now here's what I know: The newest patent date that I can read on the bottom of the bell ​is August 22, 1882. I believe the bottom of the bell says Adams & Westlake Co., Chicago. It is about 11.25 inches tall, and has a standard No. 39 Corning unmarked globe in it. It has a brass top, but a magnet sticks to everything else very strongly, so I'm assuming everything else is sheet steel or iron. This doesn't seem to be any close variation of any common Adlake conductor's lanterns; I cannot seem to find it in a catalog anywhere (though there is a similar Steam Gauge & Lantern Co. one in the Conductor Lantern section of this website). Now here's the problem. The spring wire latch is missing (I can fix this easily) and the globe is loose. As seen from the pictures, at first sight it looks like it has a globe retainer, as there is a wind deflector piece in the inside of the top vent section of the lid. However, from closer inspection this seems to actually be part of the top vent section of the lid, which brought up a thought in my mind...perhaps this lantern isn't even meant to have a globe retainer?? There are no slots or tabs inside of the lid like you usually see to hold the retainer in place, and usually the wind deflector is part of the retainer. Also, the top conical vent section of the lid is slightly loose on the lid, but if pulled upwards, taper locks against the hood section of the lid, almost giving the effect of what a spring does in a normal globe retainer. There is no evidence of these two pieces ever being soldered or stamped/beaded together. So, I guess my question is this: does anyone know what's up with the globe/retainer/lid in this lantern? Is it supposed to have a retainer? If so, how does it stay in place in the lid without popping out when the lid is opened? Or is this the globe wrong; should it have a slightly taller globe, therefore fitting tight up against the top vent section of the lid? P.S. I suspect the globe is about 1/4 inch away form fitting tight up against the top vent section of the lid. Thanks in advance everyone!!!!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, March 25, 2017 by KO   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I suggest you contact Adlake, still in business and may be able to help you out. Posted Monday, March 27, 2017 by LC

A. Thanks for the reply. Never thought to email Adlake, didn't figure they'd bother with antique collectors. I'll give it a shot. Posted Monday, March 27, 2017 by KO

 Q3294 A&B RR A&W Lantern  I recently acquired an Adams & Westlake short globe lantern marked A&B RR in small letters on the brim and dated on the bottom 3-39. Anyone know which line this would represent? Have search on the internet without much success. Thanks for your help.  Posted Saturday, March 25, 2017 by BS   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3293 ID Tag Please  Please help me ID this brass tag I dug in Montgomery, AL. Is it from a steamship or railroad company? Is it very old? Thanks!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, March 23, 2017 by Jerry DeL   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3292 Tag Info Needed  What can you tell me about this tag? Thanks for your kind assistance.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, March 22, 2017 by Plez   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Ashokan Reservoir was built in upstate New York in 1909. Believe this to be a souvenier watch fob for the workers or some sort of ID. A railroad was constructed to aid in construction on site. Not a baggage tag. Posted Thursday, March 23, 2017 by dc

A. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge regarding this item. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, March 28, 2017 by Plez

 Q3291 EL Signal Locks  Can anyone tell me the key or keyway number that will fit either of these locks and or have a picture of what the key cut looks like? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, March 22, 2017 by Joe   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Many railroad locks like these had proprietary keys. The railroads owned all of the blanks. Good luck with your search. Maybe someone has one to show or even sell, but I doubt you can get a key made.  Posted Thursday, March 23, 2017 by JN

A. Enter the words 'signal lock' in the 'word or phrase' search box to see LOTS of prior Q&A's about this type of lock. My experience has been that 'old line' full-service lock shops will usually either have or be able to get the key blanks, but these places are getting harder to find. Many industries used this type of lock, not just RR's, such as warehouses, military, utilities,even department stores, among many others which made the blanks much more common. As to the correct key for these particular locks, are there any numbers or other ID, since as explained in the earlier Q's each major RR often had many different cuts to be able to limit just who could open which lock, or series of locks.  Posted Friday, March 24, 2017 by RJMc

A. There are no numbers or ID's on these locks.  Posted Saturday, March 25, 2017 by JB

 Q3290 Caboose Stove  I have an S.P. Co caboose stove that I am restoring. It was painted green, what paint that didnít burn off. I have been looking for pictures to help me get this right. I canít find any. Do you have any ideas where I can find any? General description? Smokeconsumer, wheel and wings on feed door,'S.P. Co.' in 3 different areas areas on front! Thank You for any help!  Posted Tuesday, March 21, 2017 by Rick H.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. If you run a search on "SP Caboose interior images" several different sites with several different photos come up. Many show the stoves; the one in the Link seems to definitely have the green paint in the interior, and has the icebox, but it looks like the stove was already removed.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, March 21, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3289 Baggage Tag  What can you tell me about this?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, March 19, 2017 by JRL   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. PW&B was the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore, under that name from 1837 to 1902 according to Bill Edson's Railroad Names. C&A was the Camden and Amboy under that name from 1832 to 1867. PW&B would have started the trip in Baltimore and carried the bag to Philadelphia, where it would have transferred (likely by ferry boat) across the river to Camden, N.J. for the remainder of the trip toward New York City. PW&B, after many years a PRR subsidiary, is part of the Amtrak Northeast Corridor main line today. Parts of C&A, also a PRR subsidiary, still exist but not as a through intercity route.  Posted Monday, March 20, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3288 Type of Lamp?  Iím not even sure this is a railroad lantern, but if anyone has any information on it, please share. Galvanized metal construction. 8.5 inches high, 5 inches wide. Lenses are 3 inches in diameter. The 'front' lens is green, the 'left' lens is clear, the 'right' lens is red. The 'right' panel slides up for access to the burner. The 'back' has a mounting bracket. It has a double canopy for exhaust and a Ĺ inch hole in the bottom for air to enter to feed the burner. It has NO markings or stampings to identify it. Thanks for any help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, March 19, 2017 by TY   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Do you have the fount (fuel tank & wick assembly} any markings on it? Maybe on the brass part wick passes through or on the brass wheel to turn wick up? Posted Monday, March 20, 2017 by dc

A. I do have the fount. It's brass with no markings or stampings. Posted Tuesday, March 21, 2017 by TY

A. The exhaust canopy gives it the resemblance of an old German RR lantern but they were always well marked by the manufacturer and equipped with a handle (bail). This one looks like it might be a well done home or shop made job. Posted Tuesday, March 21, 2017 by LC

A. I agree with LC. As a sheet metal worker I would say this was custom made in a sheet metal shop. If it was made in a RailRoad Company sheet metal shop it would be marked with the name of their RR. Posted Friday, March 31, 2017 by Dave F

 Q3287 Pullman Step  Asking do you have a web address that clearly shows step by Pullman built for C&O? I would really like to see it.  Posted Thursday, March 16, 2017 by Mark M   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. If you are referring to the picture I mentioned in Q 3282, it is on pg. 44 in the book "The Original Pullman-Standard Library, Volume 11 Mid-Atlantic Railroads" by W. David Randall and William M. Ross. This multi-volume (something like 15 or 16 volumes by now) set of books contains very high quality prints from original large negatives taken by the Pullman Co. photographers when the cars were being built, and detailed floor plans. These books are still for sale on the web and at various hobby stores. To my knowledge their contents are not available on the web, but copies of the books are available at some libraries.  Posted Friday, March 17, 2017 by RJMc

A. I found this handle in the same pile as the Adams and Westlake Pullman step. RJMC was very helpful with that. Link 1  Posted Thursday, March 23, 2017 by Mark M

 Q3286 ORR&N Lantern Marking  I have an Adams & Westlake 'ADAMS' Embossed Lantern Frame - O.R.R.& N. Co with the globe embossed O. R. & N. Could someone identify the railroad? Thank You.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, March 14, 2017 by Gary L   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Oregon Rail Road & Navigation Co Posted Tuesday, March 14, 2017 by CD

A. Oregon Railroad & Navigation Co Posted Wednesday, March 15, 2017 by BobF

A. Per Bill Edson's Railroad Names, and the Link, this company started out in the late 1800's as the Oregon Railway & Navigation Co., which might account for the OR&N on the globe. After 20 years or so it morphed into the Oregon Railroad & Navigation Co., per the stamping, for a couple of decades in the 20th Century. The 'Navigation' refers to steamboats on the Columbia River, one of the origins of the company. Link 1  Posted Thursday, March 16, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3285 Fork ID?  Trying to ID the rail line or Pullman. Was found by the Franconia, AZ section house, circa 1900-1945.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, March 14, 2017 by Donald P   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I read NC&StL which would be Nashville, Chattanooga & St Louis looks like it did some traveling ! Posted Tuesday, March 14, 2017 by CD

A. This is the Saxony Pattern, first designed in 1891y Gorham. Four railroads including NC&StL. It is a fancy pattern. Posted Wednesday, March 15, 2017 by JN

 Q3284 Info on Engine?  I have what is most likely a Cooke Locomotive Works builder's photograph which shows the builder's plate on the side of the boiler. As best I can make out the number is 1622. Can someone point me to a Cooke builder's plate cross reference so I can find out more about the engine? Web searches have turned up nothing. The engine is an 0-4-0 and the railroad name on the tender is M & N W RR, which I believe is the Minnesota & North Western Railroad. The M & NW RR started laying rail in 1886 and in 1887 it became part of the Chicago St. Paul & Kansas City Railroad. Any help is appreciated. Thanks.  Posted Saturday, March 11, 2017 by JEM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. My limited Cooke records show much of what you already know, that Const # 1622 was an 0-4-0 for the Minnesota & NorthWestern, road # 11 with 48" drivers, 16 x 24 " cylinders built in May of 1885. Looks like the M&NW also bought const #'s 1612-1621 but they were 4-4-0's numbered 1-10. The M&NW seems to have purchased #1640 a 2-8-0 which was numbered 12 also in 1885.  Posted Sunday, March 12, 2017 by CD

A. Thanks so much, CD, for the Cooke locomotive information. It is very helpful. Construction number 1622 does indeed have road number 11 on the sand dome and the cab. A switch engine for sure, given its wheel configuration and slope back tender. Thanks again.  Posted Monday, March 13, 2017 by JEM

A. Interesting - This Cooke engine photo shows the engine without a headlight, although there is a platform in front of the smoke stack for one. Any guesses from anyone as to why? My thought- either the railroad would supply a headlight or it was felt one was not immediately needed because this little switcher would only operate during the day. Thanks.  Posted Tuesday, March 14, 2017 by JEM

A. I think a lot of times, the headlight was attached after delivery, instead of risking damage while in transit. Posted Tuesday, March 14, 2017 by BobF

A. BobF - Thanks. Headlight shipped separately to prevent damage during transit is most likely.  Posted Tuesday, March 14, 2017 by JEM

A. Not only that, but as we have mentioned before, RR's are VERY ECONOMICAL (cheeeep!) and often would supply a headlight, bell, and other accessories they already had on hand, sometimes from the 'trade in.' Why splurge on a new one, if you have a perfectly serviceable one on the shelf?  Posted Thursday, March 16, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3283 RR Key?  I found this metal detecting, I was told it was some type of railroad lamp key. Any help verifying the type of key and possibly how old would be very helpful.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, March 8, 2017 by JB   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It is a Pintsch gas key for turning on and adjusting railroad car lighting. 1800's Link 1  Posted Wednesday, March 8, 2017 by DC

A. Pintsch gas lights were used on other kinds of vehicles, as well. This key was used to turn the gas valves on and off. Using the key provided somewhat more security than just having plain valve handles. The link mentioned above didn't seem to 'take'; hopefully the one below will get you a lot of info and drawings on Pintsch systems used on RR passenger cars. If the link doesn't work, go to: Link 1  Posted Wednesday, March 8, 2017 by RJMc

A. While the Pintsch system was invented in the 1800's, as explained in the Link above, it worked well enough that RR's such as Union Pacific used it on some cars into at least the 1940's. And in Australia, cars were built with it as late as 1920 and ran into the 1970's and 80's, so it must have been reliable for RR's to keep using it that long (which also shows how much of a maintenance nuisance electric batteries and generators can be, which the Pintsch system avoids!). Posted Wednesday, March 8, 2017 by RJMc

A. The Pintsch system was reliable, but also potentially dangerous. The worst rail disaster in British history, a collision between three trains at Quintinshill, on the English/Scottish border, in 1915, was caused by mistakes by two signalmen, but the death toll of about 227 (the precise total is uncertain) was made much worse by the resulting fire, for which the use of Pinsch gas lighting in wooden coaches was blamed. As a result, Pinsch lighting was replaced by electric on main line trains and had virtually disappeared from Britain by World War 2. Posted Sunday, March 12, 2017 by JAJ

 Q3282 A&W Hardware Piece ID?   Can you ID this brass piece? It has a Adams and Westlake stamp.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, March 6, 2017 by CTH   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The easiest thing to do would be to send the picture to Adlake (Adams & Westlake). They are still very much in business and they are very helpful in historic research. I have linked their website to this answer. Good luck! Link 1  Posted Tuesday, March 7, 2017 by JN

A. This is a step, which would be bolted to the side or end of a RR car or loco. The diamond-pattern surface was to reduce slipping off. It would be used for maintenance workers to reach the roof, or to service items such as headlights, number boards, or maybe trolley poles or pantagraphs which would be out of reach from the ground and when a ladder wasn't handy. This one might also have been on the running board or pilot beam of a steam loco, where the change in height of the running board (usually as it went back from the very front of the loco) was too high for a man to make without an intermediate step. There are folding versions, also, where the horizontal step is hinged and only flipped down when needed, to minimize clearances. Similar steps can be seen on the back of larger recreational highway vehicles today.  Posted Tuesday, March 7, 2017 by RJMc

A. There are a huge possible number of uses for a step like this. It looks to me that it is intended to be screwed onto a wood surface. For example, inside a caboose, to climb to the cupola seats or up to a Pullman upper berth; or possibly on the wood pole of a signal requiring daily lamp servicing. Not to mention fire trucks, yachts, and ships, all of which used very substantial cast brass or bronze fittings such as this.  Posted Wednesday, March 8, 2017 by RJMc

A. Would make a nice shelf to display a piece of railroadiana, perhaps an engineer's torch. Posted Thursday, March 9, 2017 by dc

A. Did you ever find out what the step was for? I have a friend with the same item and the same questions. Posted Saturday, March 11, 2017 by Matt M

A. Thanks to all for their help! The co records did not extend past 1927 but they were very nice trying to help! I just could not find anyone to confirm what I suspected. I wish I knew how it came to be where I found it. If anyone finds a picture of one mounted in its original location I would love to see it. Posted Saturday, March 11, 2017 by CTH

A. Builder's photos of sleeping cars built by Pullman for C&O in 1950 clearly show two very similar, but not quite identical, steps used by the Pullman porter to get up into his berth, which was elevated above the floor level. Those particular steps were mounted in a corner and had a triangular back, but the mounting was basically identical.  Posted Tuesday, March 14, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3281 China Info Needed  I'm trying to learn more about my plate. Any info would be greatly appreciated! I also have a specific question. On the back, there is a number. I believe it's 39. Any idea what it means? Thank you very much for any info!!!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, March 6, 2017 by Angie D.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is a piece of B&O Centenary China. The B&O first produced this china in 1927 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the railroad. The pattern was used in their dining cars right up until April 30, 1971 when the very last B&O passenger train ran. This china is very beautiful and is collected by railfans and the general public. After passenger service ended the B&O kept producing this pattern and it was sold through the B&O Museum gift shop in Baltimore, MD. This particular plate was made in 1977 (note the 1927 - 1977 dates) and sold trough the gift shop to honor the B&O's 150th Anniversary. This piece never saw a dining car. It was made strictly as a souvenir. While it is a beautiful piece of B&O china, the museum pieces are not as collectible as the older pieces that were used on actual trains. As for the "39" it may be a batch or production number. I have this same plate with a "41" on the back. There is a huge section on B&O china elsewhere on this website. Posted Monday, March 6, 2017 by JN

 Q3280 Protecting a Lantern in Use  I have read the pages on lantern cleaning and I have purchased a book on it written by Les Winn; however, all the steps lead to a lantern that it coated with a clear lacquer, hence my question. I love to light my lanterns and have them on my deck outside at night and in the garage (never in the house) and this would not be possible with a lacquer coating applied. So after the cleaning process is done, what is the proper way to protect the lantern from rust, while still allowing it to burn kerosene?? Thanks.  Posted Saturday, March 4, 2017 by Mike L.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Dear Mike: The best way to prevent your lantern from rusting is to store it where it never gets wet or damp. Never let come into contact with rain, snow, ice, dew or store it in a damp location. I suggest to thoroughly clean it with a detergent, remove all rust and scale and then paint it with a good grade of high temperature engine enamel, flat black color. I don't know why you hesitate to operate the lantern inside? If the lantern stinks like sulfur, just install a new wick and only use 1-K grade fresh "water clear"kerosene with a flash point between 124 to 150 deg.F and you should be fine. (You could wash the old wick in liquid detergent and then boil it in distilled vinegar to remove the odor when the lamp burns.) NEVER use the red tinted kerosene. It will gum-up the wick and stink. NEVER use paint thinner or anything with a flash point below 124 deg F. as fuel. (If any gasoline contaminates the fuel you will quickly have a fire bomb! Don't laugh, people have done more stupid things!) Be sure to carefully adjust the flame so there is a clean white light and no smoke. Never leave the lantern burning when you are away from it. Good luck - SEW  Posted Tuesday, March 14, 2017 by SEW

 Q3279 PRR Stamp  I recently acquired a PRR stamp and I was wondering if anyone knew roughly what years it was in use and what division in the Pennsylvania Railroad would have used such a stamp? Thanks in advance for the continued support!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, March 3, 2017 by Dave   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It looks like typeset, a printer's block, for making company letterhead, menus, etc. Posted Friday, March 3, 2017 by JN

A. Yes, a type block used to print the logo. Things like this were likely used system-wide on PRR. The long tail on the one "R" will help determine in what era this was used. My guess, having not found any further info yet, is pre-1900. There is a lot of info on the web, just search under "PRR logo"  Posted Saturday, March 4, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3278 Lamp Interior Pictures Needed  I have a Great Northern semaphore lamp, but I need to know what the interior looks like as I am missing parts. Does anyone have pictures of the interior which also includes the prismatic glass reflector in these lamps? A 1907 Adlake catalog refers this as a Number 9 model. Much later they were a #254 Adlake semaphore lamp. Thanks for your help!!  Posted Friday, March 3, 2017 by Jeff H.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3277 Oldest LIRR Lantern?  I've been collecting LIRR memorabilia for long time. I believe the LIRR began service about 1834? I believe I have probably the oldest one. It's a Steam Gauge & Lantern Co. It's a Brass Top and wire bottom lantern with a clear unmarked 5 3/4 inch globe. Right under the marking for Steam Gauge & Lantern Co. is marked Syracuse, NY. The Lid is embossed L.I.R.R. The Steam Gauge & Lantern Co. originally was located near Rochester, NY burnt down in 1888 with 35 employees dying. They also merged with the R.E. Dietz Co. in 1887. I'm guessing that it was produced about 1890's or so, once the Steam Gauge & Lantern Co. moved to Syracuse, NY. So there was about 60 years that no other LIRR lanterns were found. Have you heard of any LIRR lanterns earlier than mine? Please, advise? Thank you.  Posted Friday, March 3, 2017 by jrscpu   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I am not sure if you mean oldest LIRR lantern made, or the "earliest surviving" one. Since the LIRR existed from the 1830s it certainly would have had lanterns made during its entire existence. The question is what happened to them. Wikipedia confirms the 1834 date on the LIRR. According to "Illustrated Encyclopedia of Railroad Lighting Vol. 1" (Barrett), the Steam Gauge & Lantern Co. existed between 1881 and 1897. Barrett offers intricate detail about the partners and history, including predecessor firms. The immediate predecessor firm was the Buffalo Steam Gauge Company, Buffalo NY (1866-1875) which reorganized as the Buffalo Steam Gauge & Lantern Co., Buffalo NY (1875-1876) and moved to Rochester, NY in 1876. In 1881 it reincorporated as the Steam Gauge & Lantern Company in 1881, erecting a new factory in Rochester. Indeed, after the tragic 1888 fire, the company never resumed business in Rochester and moved to Syracuse where they had built a new plant. Barrett says that in 1897 the R.E.Dietz Company purchased the Steam Gauge & Lantern Co. and gives an "ending" date for Steam Gauge of 1898. If you want to try to find out more about LIRR lanterns you might check with Key Lock & Lantern (Link #2). The SG&L Rochester plant and even predecessor companies likely made lanterns for the LIRR, but indeed there seem to be only a very few, rare survivors from any manufacturer(s). Surviving lanterns could be going unrecognized (many Civil War and earlier lanterns were unmarked) or owned by collectors who do not want items in their collections made public. I would be incredibly thrilled to have one !  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Friday, March 3, 2017 by JS

 Q3276 PRR Employee Badge  Can you tell me the significance of the number 21000 on this ID badge? This was my father's, and payroll documents indicated he was employed in 1950. He was only with them a short time. Thank you for any information you can provide.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, March 3, 2017 by Steve H.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I think he just lucked out, and happened to be signed in as employee number 21,000. Check the payroll documents you have, and look for an employee number there to possibly confirm this theory. The Link is to another similar badge, where the employee number is 23,922.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, March 4, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3275 Armspear Lamp Question  I just acquired this Armspear switch lamp which has the spring loaded adapter. I would like to remove the spring loaded adapter to make it more stable when standing . Any advice would be appreciated on how I would be able to go about this or alternatively stabilize it if not too elaborate. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, March 3, 2017 by Alan B.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Alan: first of all, DON'T -- Piece by piece, we (railfans collectively) are destroying irreplaceable pieces of history by doing what you are suggesting! That "adapter" is formed very specifically to fit the uniquely angled tip of the switch stand target rod for the railroad your lamp came off of. Those blocks are becoming scarce as hen's teeth, and serious collectors are having to scour the earth to find ones to fit specific switch stands. -- Your photo is of little help; can you send in one, looking upwards at the base of the lamp? -- On an Adlake, the spring loaded block would have a threaded screw hole in it, and there would be a slot in the base to access that threaded hole. With your base design, there is no room for such a slot in the cast base. The best bet (without seeing the base via a better photo) is to invert the lamp, push the spring block up into the base as far as you can, and then jam something in there between the walls of the base and the side of the spring block to make the block stick up there. A Popsicle stick might work, or a length of solder that you've beaten flat on one end. -- What ever you use to jam up in there can be filed or block-sanded to be flat with the bottom of the base after the spring block is secured. You might even be able to use a slender wood screw of small size to jam between the block and the inner base wall. --- I really do encourage you NOT to remove that block, however. Some collector that inherits that lamp decades from now will be very grateful that you left it in place. ---- .... Red Beard  Posted Friday, March 3, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. An image was sent by Alan but left off the original question. Here it is: Link 1  Posted Saturday, March 4, 2017 by Web Editor

A. Hi, thanks very much for your advice. The web editor posted a photo of the bottom you asked for. However I agree with your suggestion to avoid altering a piece of history. The jamming idea is excellent and will allow me to stabilize the lamp while the lamp can be restored later on to its original state.  Posted Sunday, March 5, 2017 by Alan

A. I made a wooden base that has a block of wood on top that goes inside the mounting socket, providing stability for a lamp I have with a small base like yours. I have a lag bolt on the side that secures it even more, but you don't really need that if the socket is tight enough around the wood block. See attached links... Link 1  Link 2  Posted Tuesday, March 7, 2017 by JeffPo

A. Thanks Jeff. Your base looks very refined. Definitely something to consider. Unfortunately there are no holes in my base for any type of lag bolt or screw and I definitely want to avoid drilling a piece of railroad history. But the close fit approach may work well.  Posted Saturday, March 11, 2017 by Alan

 Q3274 Belt Buckle  I came across a belt buckle that I cant seem to find any information on. Is there any way you can help me with this?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, March 3, 2017 by William P.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. From your good photo, this was a safety award made by CSX for employees working in their Baltimore MD division. Neat items like this are given out as recognition by railroad companies to their employees for achievement in keeping workplaces safe. CSX came into existence in 1986 and is operating today along the eastern seaboard. Link 1 is Wikipedia history. You may be able to find similar buckles on eBay and other places where railroad collectibles are sold (Link 2). It's neat! Great find!  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Friday, March 3, 2017 by JS

 Q3273 Brass Top Lantern  I recently received this lantern from my wife as a gift and am looking for any information you might have as to the manufacturer and date. I have a few lantern books but they do not have anything similar. The marking is very faint and appears to say BEIS NOV.23.6. It appears to have been electrified some time in the past and has no burner. The globe is 5 3/8 tall. Thank You.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, March 3, 2017 by Eric K.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Eric, The top looks extremely similar to a William Westlake lantern circa 1865. I believe that the top has been added to a later (1890?) wire bottom lantern frame. The bottom (where the fuel pot would sit) looks like a modified tin can? that now would hold the electrical parts. I don't know if it is possible to post a photo in a reply? If there is a way I can send you a photo you will have an idea as to the style lantern that the top would have possibly been a part of. Posted Monday, March 6, 2017 by DaveF

A. Photos sent as attachments to this email address can be posted to questions as a response. Make sure to indicate in the email what question it's in response to -- helps me figure out where to post it. Posted Monday, March 6, 2017 by Web Editor

A. Here's William Westlake removable globe lantern Circa 1865.  Link 1  Posted Monday, March 6, 2017 by Dave F.

 Q3272 Heart-Shaped Lock  Hi! I found this lock yesterday and was trying to find out as much as I can about the lock. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, March 3, 2017 by Brian Y.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. S & Co stands for Sargent & Company, the maker. Prob late 1800's Posted Saturday, March 4, 2017 by DA

 Q3271 EMD Bell Markings  I have an early EMD bell in a Howard cradle which I believe came off of the B&Oís Engine 98. In addition to the bell and the yoke being stamped with the number '98', each part of the bell has the following alpha/numeric string scratched into the surface: '287-07-3147-OH.' I contacted the B&O Museum and their response was 'The random line of numbers was generally a parts code/serial number for the bell and its various parts put on when it was manufactured.' That makes sense, but I thought Iíd see if anyone here has another thought. Thanks for sharing any thoughts you may have.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, March 3, 2017 by Jay L.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Some more questions: Where was the Howard Foundry located? Did they also make the bell, or did they just make the cradle assembly? Is there a source of information on the Howard Foundry? Thanks. Posted Friday, March 3, 2017 by Jay L.

A. The James L. Howard Co. is still in the railroad hardware supply business, in the Chicago area (see Link). They are most frequently seen by rail enthusiasts as a "JLH" stamping on keys, which are often cast in brass or bronze. So it is quite possible that JLH supplied both the bell and bracket.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, March 4, 2017 by RJMc

A.  J.L. Howard made the bells and mounts for early EMD switch engines. See the link for a very detailed article about EMD bells written by James Curran about EMD bells. The Howard mount and bell looks much more like a steam locomotive mount and is sometimes incorrectly identified because of that.  Link 1  Posted Monday, March 6, 2017 by KM

 Q3270 Amtrak Silverware Patterns  Does anybody know how many patterns of silverware Amtrak has had during its history? I have 2, both marked with the current 'wing' logo (for lack of a better description). The book Silver At Your Service lists 2 unmarked patterns. If anyone has information it would be appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, February 24, 2017 by JN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3269 Use of E.T. Wright Lantern?  Curious about this trainman lantern. Produced by E.T Wright & Co. Hamilton Ontario with a Pat. Date of 1908. Branded C.N.R. It has a red bulls eye lens and a side bracket. How would this lantern been used? Was the side bracket just to assist in storage so they were not kicking around on the floor?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, February 23, 2017 by Dave S.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I have some Canadian lanterns with wire hooks/brackets, which were apparently used to hang the lanterns on the rear gates of passenger cars. The folding scissor-type gates (similar to wooden baby gates now, used to keep toddlers, or pets, from getting onto stairways) are stretched across the the walkway to prevent anyone from accidently walking off the otherwise-open rear end of a passenger train. Hanging the lantern(s) on the rear gate makes them ready-to-hand for a flagman leaving the back of the train to go back and flag, as well as getting them up off the floor and protecting them from damage, and keepting the smell of burning kerosene out of the car interior. The placement of the red lens on your lantern, and the fairly narrow solid bracket, makes it look to me like this one could have been used as a marker. That fairly narrow flat steel bracket looks like it would go into a conventional side-mounted marker bracket, pointing the red lens to the rear.  Posted Friday, February 24, 2017 by RJMc

A. Another possibility is use as a marker on a track speeder or motor car.  Posted Friday, February 24, 2017 by RJMc

A. I own one of these and know a few who also own these. We've always referred to them as Carriage lanterns because of the bracket, as it's the same as those used on carriages and those aren't railway related. Ones marked with a railroad like this one I would guess they used them as markers but I'm not totally sure.  Posted Saturday, March 4, 2017 by DrewG

 Q3268 Purpose of Lens?  I have a Corning Lens, Pat 1913. Could you tell me where or what this 10 inch lens was for? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, February 20, 2017 by Erich N.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This lens might have come off a trackside signal like a block signal. In my opinion (and I am not an expert) a lens that big would be impractical for anything considered "portable" like a switch or marker lamp. Hopefully the link will take you to an example. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, February 21, 2017 by JN

A. Erich: Take a look at LINK 1 in this answer for photos of similar lenses. What you have is an Inner Doublet lens from a color signal (not necessarily railroad), where the Fresnel steps are on the front side of the lens. The outer lens would be clear glass with the Fresnel steps on the back side of the glass. - - In the mid-1800s and trailing off in use up to about 1900, switch lamps and marker lamps had the Fresnel steps on the front surface or the lens. See; LINK 2 and look at the third lamp from the bottom of the page for an example. From what I've found, the switch from having the steps on the front of the lens to the rear surface began in the 1870s. ---- .... Red Beard Link 1  Link 2  Posted Monday, February 27, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

 Q3267 Purpose of LV Bucket?  I have the attached bucket which is marked LVRR(lehigh valley railroad). Is this for carrying water or for fuel or oil? Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, February 20, 2017 by JR   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I would think it is probably for water. If it were kerosene the spout would be different. Also if it were for any type of fuel it would probably have a screw on cap for safety reasons, not a flap type lid like your can has. It is a cool item regardless. Posted Tuesday, February 21, 2017 by JN

A. The flap-type lid and the back handle allow tipping the can almost all the way over to pour the contents out, where a top-mounted screw lid would likely leak. The very narrow spout says it had to be a fairly thin liquid, in order to get any out. So I see the can being used to reach in to fill some kind of reservoir, likely in a restricted space, with either water, fuel, hydraulic fluid, or the thinner kinds of lube oil. Hard to say beyond that. In the 'Articles and Info' section of this website is a description of many standardized types of RR tinware, titled "New! Extract (PDF) from Master Mechanics Assoc. 1916 Standards and Specifications for Tinware" but unfortunately this particular type of can is not listed in it.  Posted Wednesday, February 22, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3266 Kero Lantern Info Needed  Hello, looking for information on this lantern, any ideas on time (year) of production, use, etc. Would like to add to a display on lanterns in the Myrtle Beach Train Depot but want to have some good info before we do. Any help at all would be appreciated. Thank You   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, February 17, 2017 by Troy M   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Look on the very bottom of the lantern. It MIGHT have a date after Adlake Kero, such as 4-55. 4-55 would indicate the fourth quarter of 1955, and so on. If there is no date then it is probably after mid 1965. Posted Friday, February 17, 2017 by BobF

A. Dear Sir: Your lantern is an Adlake Kero M400 conductors/brakeman lantern. Note there is a clip that holds the top to the wire frame and secures the globe inside the lantern. With your finger, gently lift the clip and the top will swing up. This will allow removal of the globe and burner/oil font assemble. The wick raiser assembly is a "twist lock" type that turns approx. 1/8 turn and lifts out of the oil font or oil pot. Look down in the oil font and you will notice that it is stuffed full of cotton. There is a hole in the center where the wick extends into the oil. I think the cotton is in the font to prevent the oil from spilling out and causing a fire if the lantern is knocked over. - SEW  Posted Saturday, February 18, 2017 by SEW

A. Hi, I would like to add to SEWs reply. He mentions cotton inside the oil pot. If you are not going to use the lantern you may want to pull all of the cotton out. (You will probably be surprised as to how much is in there!) The reason you should pull it out is that the cotton will absorb moisture and can rust out the pot over time, especially in a humid climate. You can still fire the lantern without the cotton inside the pot should you so desire. Posted Saturday, February 18, 2017 by JN

A. Be advised that the comments the moderator made about removing the cotton from the oil pot, when not filled with kerosene, are exactly what happened to my Adlake. My oil pot was destroyed by rust! However, I would also like to state that another major reason the cotton was in the oil pot was to help contain the kerosene when the lantern was swung in a circle motion. This is the signal to the engineer to back-up. Without the cotton the kerosene could likely sling out of the lantern.- SEW Posted Thursday, February 23, 2017 by SEW

 Q3265 Builder Plates Info Needed  I have two builder plates from steam locomotives. I am trying to determine which railroad purchased these locomotives and any other info you may have. Both are ALCO plates. Schenectady Works 48859/Dec 1910. Brooksworks 52394/Dec 1912. I acquired these plates at an auction in northern Minnesota about 25 years ago.  Posted Saturday, February 11, 2017 by John M.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Both plates according to my Alco records are CM&StP. 48859 is from a 2-6-6-2C part of an order from 48838-48862 with road #s of 5000-5024 weighing 385,000 lbs with 57" drivers and 52394 is from a 2-8-0S part of an order from 52360 -52394 with road #s of 7205-7239 weighing 224,000lbs 24x30 cylinders and 63"drivers Posted Sunday, February 12, 2017 by CD

 Q3264 Info on NYNH&H Lamp?  Just acquired what I think is an older vintage NYNH&HRR Main Line switch lamp. If this prompts any particular interest, I would certainly appreciate any comments. I stumbled upon it at auction and found I just had to have it. It has two golf ball sized dents in the top housing but overall is in pretty nice condition otherwise. Lenses and burner are all intact. I donít believe it is a terribly common unit but am certainly no expert and could be wrong. Either way, I just really like it. Many thanks!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, February 11, 2017 by Brian   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Brian: Can the lenses be removed? If so, how? And what does it say on the back side outer rim of the lenses?, Thanks. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Monday, February 13, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Brian: additionally, on the inside of the door, under the lens, there is an oval emblem; what does it say inside of that oval? Can you send in a close-up photo of that emblem? Thanks, ---- .... Red Beard Posted Monday, February 13, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Red Beard, Lenses are installed to an outer lip and swaged in place from the inside. Do not appear to be easily removed. The oval emblem reads "Peter Gray and Sons, Makers, Boston. Engraving on lens at 12:00 location is "CORNING PAT 10-10-05; at 6:00 is "U"; at 10:00 is "312F" with the numbers being very light and not square in line, as they might have been manually stamped in the mold. Appreciate your responses, never would have found the lens engraving! Thanks, Brian Link 1  Posted Tuesday, February 21, 2017 by Brian

A. Hi Brian; That is a very old lamp design, likely from the late 1800s. -I was hoping RJMc would chime in on this, as he has an extensive library on old lamps- The lamp is in extraordinarily good condition for something of that age, indicting that it saw minimal use on the railroad before going into someone's collection. Square body switch lamps don't show up very often, as most of them haven't survived. The 1905 patent date on the lenses indicates that it was actually made in the early 1900s. Cylindrical body lamps were introduced around 1900 and quickly became the industry standard; so again, you have a very old piece, and in unusually good condition. - Peter Gray & Sons was a Boston based lamp manufacturer, selling mostly to northeastern railroads; New Haven (your lamp) and Maine Central were principle customers for Gray. ---- .... Red Beard  Posted Friday, February 24, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Brian, Peter Gray lamps such as this are uncommon but not particularly rare, however having the "MAIN LINE" marking on the bell is very rare. I have one of these also for the NYNH&H RR that is marked "YARD" and has standard NHRR lunar white and amber lenses. I have also seen a B&M RR version with "DERAIL" on the bell. Brian D Posted Monday, February 27, 2017 by BWD

A. Certainly appreciate the replies. I will continue checking. Posted Monday, February 27, 2017 by Brian

 Q3263 CPR Handlan Lantern  I bought this lantern recently. It's very clearly a Handlan (I think #176) and has a Handlan marked burner, but there are no other marks or patent dates on the lantern. The only markings on it are CPR. I'm wondering why this one lacks any makers marks, could this have been made by a Canadian manufacturer for Handlan so it could be sold in Canada? It's got thick green paint so I may be missing some small markings but I'm worried about the condition underneath so I'm debating removing it or not. Thanks a lot.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, February 7, 2017 by Drew G.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. If it has the snap off font (can't tell from the photo) might be a Handlan lantern with a Handlan-Buck snap off bottom font holder cup. Handlan never marked their name on the top of the lantern of this style but marked the bottom snap off font holder cup instead. In contrast, Handlan Buck always marked their name on the top of this style, but left the bottom snap off font holder cup blank. They're both the same maker, just slightly different dates of production of the same exact parts, with Handlan Buck the earlier. It might be a mix of parts using a Handlan Buck part on a Handlan lantern. Posted Wednesday, February 8, 2017 by BobF