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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:

 Q3405 Lock Question  I bought this lock a few months ago… don't have much in it. Wondering if it is Baltimore and Annapolis RR or Bangor and Aroostook… or if it is fake all together? Very clean, shows some basic wear but nothing much. No manufacturer stamp. Thanks   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, December 12, 2017 by TP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3404 LE&DRR Key  A friend recently purchased a Lake Erie and Detroit River RR key, and we can not find out any information on this railroad except the fact that it did exist. Do you have any information on this railroad. Mainly looking for dates, but more information would be appreciated. Thanks.  Posted Monday, December 11, 2017 by Steve   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Running a web search turned up the 20 minute YouTube video in Link 1, all about the LE&D which is related to the London and Port Stanley in Ontario. The video gives the dates as 1894 to 1903 for the LE&D company name. Link 1  Posted Monday, December 11, 2017 by RJMc

A. Once again, the Link above may not work. Try: or as it is re-entered in the Link below. Link 1  Posted Monday, December 11, 2017 by RJMc

A. The YouTube video above is a very professionally made historical documentary. It is not only a GREAT reference work, with plenty of facts, figures and photographs of people, trains,and ships (including RR car ferries) but very entertaining to watch. I recommend it highly to anyone interested in the the history of the Great Lakes area and Lake Erie in particular. Thanks very much for the question that helps us to find it. (One of the reasons info on the LE&DR seems hard to find: the references we usually check, such as Bill Edson's RR Names book, are all based on US Interstate Commerce Commission data, which does not include Canadian roads. I am not aware of a similar reference for Canada, which would be handy.)  Posted Tuesday, December 12, 2017 by RJMc

A. The Link is to another good historical reference article all about the LE&D RR printed in the Canadian RR Historical Assoc. bulletin for 1972. If the Link doesn't work, try: The article clarifies that prior to 1894, the company was the Lake Erie, Essex, and Detroit River. After 1904 it was leased and then absorbed by the Pere Marquette which went into C&O. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, December 12, 2017 by RJMc

A. A much more direct link to the Canadian Railroad Historical Assoc. magazine is below. The article on the LE&DR starts on page 12; the link downloads the entire magazine as a .pdf so it is quite large and slow to download..... Link 1  Posted Tuesday, December 12, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3403 Locomotive Plate?  I came across this plate at the estate of a Santa Fe employee. It looks like a smaller builders plate maybe about 7 inches. Was this maybe a plate off of the actual motor of the locomotive or some other piece of small equipment in the railyard? Thanks for any help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, December 10, 2017 by Nick G   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I believe that it is off a EMD 710 diesel locomotive. Posted Monday, December 11, 2017 by Ex Sou Ry

A. Off locomotive or just the engine? 710 engines were also used on tug boats. Posted Tuesday, December 12, 2017 by DC

 Q3402 Monon Key?  I believe this key marked with an 'M' may be a Monon signal key that fits the cast Slaymaker type locks, but don't have the lock to test. Can any one confirm or identify? Thanks in advance.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, December 10, 2017 by RO   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3401 Reproduction Badge?  I have a badge which I am almost positive is a novelty type conductor badge. A friend of mine purchased it at a public auction and it was presented as authentic. The badge appears to be a production, die cut piece. I would appreciate any feedback on whether or not this is a reproduction, as I am no expert.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, December 10, 2017 by David   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. You are correct............. Posted Monday, December 11, 2017 by JM

A. Badge is indeed a souvenir shop fake. It is most likely not a reproduction, but a fantasy badge design not based on any real badge. These type of badges show up on that world famous auction web site all the time - often listed as "new".  Posted Tuesday, December 12, 2017 by JEM

 Q3400 Adlake Switch Lamp Information Needed  I have what I think is a very old Adlake switch lamp. On the outside of the door is a brass oval tag reading 'THE ADAMS & WESTLAKE COMPANY MAKERS CHICAGO'. There are two green and two red lenses, and they are held in by the soldered in shields - they are not removable. Each lens is about 6-1/4 inches in diameter and the red ones are flashed(!) on the outside and clear on the inside. Most of the lamp weight is in the glass, as the metal gauge is somewhat thin compared to more modern switch lamps. The lamp body is 8-1/4 inch square and about 9 inches tall. The round top has no markings. To fit properly, the kerosene tank should be about 5 inches in diameter. The lamp has a wood base I added as it is really tippy. I have never seen anything quite like this, including in 'The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Railroad Lighting', so any information would be appreciated. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, December 8, 2017 by JM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This might be for nautical use; when permanently mounted to a pier or bridge the environment would not be as rough as on a switch stand. And I think the nautical side continued to use the square bodies much later than the RR's did, which might account for the more modern round top. Is there any kind of mounting base/fixture underneath the lamp? Posted Sunday, December 10, 2017 by RJMc

A. Hi - thanks for the insight. The mounting base post underneath is about 2" x 1-3/4", and it is about 2-1/2" long; it has a slight taper. The post is hollow, so it could fit over an appropriate sized rod, or into a tapered hole, which would give it much more stability. Actually the mounting base "top" is 5 x 5 inches and held by six rivets to the underside of the body. The body sheet metal is so thin it flexes and "pops" when the base moves. I hope this helps.  Posted Monday, December 11, 2017 by JM

A. Lamp mystery probably solved! The 1907 A & W catalog on this web site has a page showing Bridge Lamps - see Link 1. The No. 101 Bridge Lamp has a tapered mounting base post just like my lamp. A & W brags about a heavy steel body on their lamp, which mine most certainly does not have, so mine might be earlier(?). I found my lamp in Duluth, MN so perhaps it was used on a Northern Pacific Railroad bridge there. Thanks again to RJMc for pointing me in the right direction.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, December 12, 2017 by JM

 Q3399 Button Info?  I found a button, backmark is 'rosenfeld bros balt', front is 'C & S'. I’m trying to find some background information on it. Any help would be appreciated. It was found in a warehouse in Baltimore. Thanks.  Posted Thursday, December 7, 2017 by Shane   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The largest RR using "C&S" initials, by far, was the Colorado and Southern. It has a long history, was several hundred miles long and is now part of BNSF. The much less-common C&S and much closer to B"Mo was the Chambersburg and Shippensburg Interurban RR (see link)in southern Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, there is almost no way to tell which "C&S" it is, unless you have the exact history of an item.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, December 7, 2017 by RJMc

A. A photo of the front would really help. Posted Friday, December 8, 2017 by da

A. Further checking in the Trolley and Interban Directory shows the City and Suburban Railway ran 97 miles(almost 100 miles!!) of streetcar lines in the Baltimore metro area between 1890 and 1900. That C&S was absorbed into the United Railways which ran the B'Mo streetcar network in the 1900's. They must have had quite a few crews, and lots of uniform buttons, to run a network that big. There were also City and Suburban (street) RR's in other cities and states, such as Georgia, which also probably used 'C&S' buttons.  Posted Sunday, December 10, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3398 Switch Lantern Door  How to open the door on a four sided switch lantern? It seems to slide up.  Posted Thursday, December 7, 2017 by Noellacluney   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The switch lantern doors do stick. For my stickers, I would oil the sliding parts - not with WD-40, which is not really a lubricating oil, but use something like motor oil or 3 in 1 oil. Let it soak a bit. Then I would gently tap with my plastic hammer on the door lip from underneath. If it doesn't move the door, tap harder. If you don't have a plastic non-marring hammer, use a piece of wood between the door lip and your steel hammer.  Posted Thursday, December 7, 2017 by JEM

A. I like to use a product called PB BLASTER which is both a penetrant and lubricant. It widely available at most all hardware and automotive stores. It works quite fast at room temperature and then you can go to the next step of gently tapping on the door ledge or grip. This product works really great on your railroad locks as well.Give it a try. DJB Posted Friday, December 8, 2017 by DJB

A. The above are good idea -- I do -Strongly Suggest- that you take the lens out of the door first. Lenses break easily during these "projects" ---- .... Red Beard Posted Friday, December 8, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

 Q3397 Cast Iron Signs  I’ve been collecting railroadiana for a couple of years now, but recently came across a handful of cast iron signs that I haven't come across before. They are pictured on the image. I was hoping that someone may be able to enlighten me as to their possible age and what exactly the 'Begin CTC' one and the 'A' one were used for. Thanks in advance for any and all insight. Take care.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, December 7, 2017 by Jeff   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. CTC stands for Centralized Traffic Control. Under CTC, a dispatcher or control operator (who may be quite far away)operates the switches and signals and authorizes trains to move by remote control. The signal indications and the operating rules are different when CTC is in force, so the sign notifies the operating crews they are entering CTC territory, to use the appropriate rules, and to communicate with the appropriate control operator regarding any issues. CTC became fairly common beginning in the late 1940's and is now widespread around North America. The "A" sign was probably used on a signal mast; having the A plate changes the response the crews must make at that signal. The 'Impaired Clearance' sign is interesting in that most U.S. RR's say 'Close Clearance' in those circumstances.  Posted Thursday, December 7, 2017 by RJMc

A. Awesome. Much obliged for the insight. I'm also somewhat curious about the railroad crossing sign. You can see the embossing on the bottom that reads WC 2722. I could be wrong, but I was thinking that it may be a fairly early version. All of these signs came from a man who worked on the Southern Pacific Lines as a caboose conductor for over 40 years, including the impaired clearance sign. He collected some in the yards on the job and the others were found at various Railroadiana shows. All have various markings on the backside as well. Once again, thank you for taking the time to respond. Posted Friday, December 8, 2017 by jberry

A. The "A" was indeed on a signal mast and indicates an Absolute signal. Posted Sunday, December 10, 2017 by rrsignalman

 Q3396 Number Plate ID?  A fake is a fake, but.... I picked up what I'm 199% sure is a steam number plate that's a fake, but once up on the man cave wall, it won't matter. What I seek assistance with is what is it a fake of? Foremost, the construction is ALUMINUM; on the back is an artist mark of intertwined letters 'VAP' and in Sharpie the date Dec. 6, 1996; and most important of all it cost me a big ole 5 BUCKS. The front is a red field with a gold border and the road number #1087. I had actually hoped to back into it with a preserved locomotive but alas no luck. I was misunderstanding when I got it that it was Louisville and Nashville. I am also relatively sure that the seller had clue one. Since I picked it up in Louisville, Kentucky I started searching roads of the region (Southern, C&O, B&O, PM, NYC). Nothing seemed to fit. I tried a blind web search by road number and on E-bay past sells and also a web search on preserved locomotives, hoping against hope that this was someone's x-x-x in their local city park. Besides someone (person or club) went to great care to reproduce this), so due diligence on my part is a wonderful way to pay homage. Can anyone offer assistance?  Posted Friday, November 24, 2017 by GM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Can you post a picture? Sometimes these items are made as fund raisers to help with a restoration. You can also go to and look up preserved steam locomotives in Kentucky to see if any locomotive preserved in that state has that number. (I checked and did not see any with that number preserved in KY) You could go state by state to look for that number. Usually there won't be too many of a give road number (other than #1) so you may find only 1 or 2 with that number. Then you can research each locomotive with that number. Link 1  Posted Friday, November 24, 2017 by JN

A. If someone will confirm, I seem to have stumbled into the answer with thanks to Richard Prince's book on Southern Railway Locomotives: 4-6-0 Baldwin class of 1903 drawing (22-F-B). No data on retirement or scrapping. Maybe your group can illuminate and add to this discovery. Or perhaps offer a completely different option as I don't claim to be a subject expert. I can safely guess, I hope by the location found that it NOT a copy from the Russian Imperial Railway or such, so something local to Louisville is reasonably close. However close ONLY counts in horseshoes and Hand Grenades.  Posted Monday, November 27, 2017 by GM

A. Here's a picture. I hope this helps (1 1/4 in. x 8 in. x 21 in.) Link 1  Posted Tuesday, November 28, 2017 by GM

A. Hi, I think I found your answer. Queensland Railroad (Australia) just restored British built(1950) 4-6-0 1089. The video here shows the locomotive with the number plate on the smokebox side that looks exactly like yours.The locomotive is gorgeous and there are several videos on YouTube. It would not surprise me if repro number boards were made as a fund raiser or souvenir. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, November 29, 2017 by JN

A. Hi, I just realized I checked engine for an engine 1089, not 1087. My mistake. There are models of Southern 1087 in HO scale. I don't find any record of any 4-6-0 #1087 being preserved. Sorry for the mix up.  Posted Wednesday, November 29, 2017 by JN

 Q3395 Caboose Lamp?   Many years ago I acquired the attached lamp that was sold as a 'caboose lamp'. There is a red lens which would be facing rearward. The back side has a 5 in. clear lens. What would it be used for and where would it be mounted? Holes in the back side would appear to be for mounting on a flat surface.  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, November 24, 2017 by TC   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. These fixtures were used and re-used in many different applications (and even in different industries), but so far I can't see a place on a caboose that would make use of all the features on this light. Your light could have been mounted on the rear of a steam locomotive tender on a flat plate projecting above the top of the tender deck. If mounted that way, the red main lens facing rear would serve as a marker for when the engine was running light -- without a train; the larger white lens would shine to the front (through a hole in the mounting plate) to light the deck where the water hatches open; the smaller white lens facing down would light the ladder on the back of the tender, and the smaller red lens remains unexplained -- it might have been clear originally?? Although the smaller red lens doesn't look like it was replaced. This is all guessing so far; hopefully someone has seen these in use and can advise. The Links are to pix of engines with lights mounted much as described above, but without some of the features.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Friday, November 24, 2017 by RJMc

A. I didn't mention that the lamp was "new - old stock" i.e. unused. I don't think anything has been changed. I think the tender light might be reasonable. e-bay has a similar lamp w/ red and no back or bottom lights. This lamp was similar to the UP 844 tender lamp link. Thank you for the response. Posted Saturday, November 25, 2017 by TC

A. Fixtures similar to this, but with a single red lens, were used on the front of steam locomotives on RR's such as the DL&W, apparently as markers for when the engine was backing up. That application had no need for the pass-thru or down-facing lenses.  Posted Sunday, November 26, 2017 by RJMc

A. A further check: if the bulb is the one which came with the fixture, see if it is a 32 Volt bulb ( and DON'T try to light it with 120 Volts!!). The bulb should be labelled on the top. Despite the unusual voltage, the bulbs were generally the same size and had the same, interchangeable screw bases (this is called the Edison base) as regular building or household bulbs. Most steam locomotive electrical systems were 32 Volt and ran off steam-driven generators, with no batteries; they only needed power when the engine was operating. Most cabooses, when they had electrical systems at all, were 12 volt systems and ran off wheel-driven generators backed up with storage batteries, since work continued in the caboose whether it was rolling or not. This also allowed some use of automotive technology.  Posted Friday, December 1, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3394 N&W Name Change  When did the N&W (Norfolk & Western) go from 'RR' to 'Ry'?  Posted Wednesday, November 22, 2017 by Ex Sou Ry   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. According to the Link, which has a lot more detailed history, "The Norfolk & Western Railway was established through a reorganization of the bankrupt Norfolk and Western Railroad in 1896..."  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, November 22, 2017 by RJMc

A. The Link above doesn't seem to work; here is the URL:  Posted Wednesday, November 22, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3393 RR Locks?  Can you tell me if either of these two locks are RR locks? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, November 13, 2017 by Mark   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. No,they are not. Not even RR type. Posted Monday, November 13, 2017 by DC

A. A railroad worker may have used one or both of your locks personally, but without actual railroad markings on them or other documentable provenance, there is no way to claim they are "railroad locks" (were used by a railroad). Check out the link I am posting, it is a tremendous resource on almost every kind of antique padlock.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, November 19, 2017 by jms

 Q3392 Headlight Reflector?  I was told this was a reflector for a Train front light .. I can't find anything like this anywhere . Hopefully you can help me . Its stamped Matisse Bros. I do know the made reflectors in the 1920's for headlights , but this is all I know .. Its 14.5 inches in diameter and made of uranium glass & copper. Thank you so much for any information.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, November 13, 2017 by RP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is an appropriate size for a RR headlight reflector, and the shape is about right. RR's did use "Golden Glow" (a trade name) reflectors which would have performed very much as this one would. The Link is to an article about the use of uranium glass and other similar types of glass in Japan and Asia. However, we have to note that in the early 20th century many kinds of vehicles and ships used large reflector headlamps and spotlights, prior to the adoption of sealed beam lamps, so its difficult to confirm specifically RR use.  Link 1  Posted Monday, November 13, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3391 L&N Lock  A friend of mine has a L&N lock that has the number 136 on the top. The place for the key is on the bottom and is flat. I was wondering if you had any information regarding this lock and if possible a picture of key for it?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, November 8, 2017 by Rita H   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. That world renowned auction site has a similar L&N lock for sale (made by Miller) even as we speak (11/11/2017). See Link 1. The seller describes it as "pancake" lock and others describe it as a push key lock, because the key needs to be pushed in against levers to open the lock. The key would be obviously flat and have "fingers" of various lengths on the end. If six fingers it would be a six lever type lock - five fingers, a five lever lock, etc. See Link 2 for a picture of a six lever pancake lock with a key.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Saturday, November 11, 2017 by JEM

 Q3390 Lamp ID Needed  Can you help Identify this red and beveled clear glass signal lantern with badger oil wick inside?  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, November 8, 2017 by Martin   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3389 Keys  I have two keys I believe are railroad keys from my grandfather. Are these railroad keys and where could I find more info? They have numbers on the other side. thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, October 30, 2017 by Kathy   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hi! These are railroad switch keys. They opened the locks on track switches so trains could go into sidings. MO.P is Missouri Pacific. The STL & SW is St. Louis & Southwestern, otherwise known as "The Cotton Belt". The numbers could have been employee numbers, since a key was assigned to a worker who was responsible for it for their entire career. Posted Monday, October 30, 2017 by JN

A. I forget to mention that each of these keys would work many locks over many miles of track. In other words, 100 locks would work with the 1 key, rather than a worker having to carry 100 keys for 100 different locks. Posted Monday, October 30, 2017 by JN

A. Just curious, but does anyone know what type of key the brass/steel SSW key is on the right? Over the years, I've seen several of these made the same way, but in different railroad names.  Posted Wednesday, November 1, 2017 by BK

A. Its a switch key. The lock it fits takes a solid barrel key instead of the usual hollow barrel key. Posted Monday, November 6, 2017 by DA

A. There is an identical key shown on p.347 of the Knous "2011 and Beyond" price guide, confirming it is from the St Louis & Southwestern, and giving it a value of $50-$60 . NOTE this key, like the one in the book, has a steel bow and a brass barrel. Realize that "value" is a "price guide estimate." Depending on its worth to an individual it may sell for more or less. If these were my grandfather's keys with a family heritage I am not sure I would accept any price for them. The link I'm providing is to the Railroad Memories auction site, you can check there to find similar key auction results if you like.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, November 19, 2017 by jms

 Q3388 AT&SF Bell  This bell is 18 plus inches; weighs about 80 lbs. I believe it to be brass or bronze but cannot find any info on it. Please help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, October 29, 2017 by PN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Railroad companies would give away as presentation pieces bells, whistles, builders plates, number plates, lanterns and other artifacts to employees who were retiring. They also did this for churches, valued customers or enthusiastic boosters (railfans) along the line. When the railroads were phasing out steam locomotives this tradition accelerated to the point where surplus material was also sold to the public at events or thru museum gift shop catalogs. What you have here appears to be an old steam locomotive bell that was presented in 1961. This would fit the end of steam time period outlined above. The bell pictured has a nice age patina and if it were mine I would NOT clean or polish it. I guess we have all seen enough antiques TV programs were a piece is appraised for what seems to be a nice chunk of change. Then the appraiser says something along the lines of it would be worth ten times as much if you hadn’t refinished it. At that point the owner’s smile fades.  Posted Sunday, October 29, 2017 by Ex Sou Ry

A. Bells aren't furniture or coins. There more like silver tea sets. I think professional type polishing would probably enhance its appeal and value to perspective buyers. In the end it's owners choice. See Link 1 Link 1  Posted Monday, October 30, 2017 by LF

A. Locomotive numbers were often stamped into items such as bells, whistles, etc., and other removable parts down to siderods, for example, to keep track of the various pieces when engines were stripped down for major overhauls. (NOTE: This is never a GUARANTEE of where things came from, since things moved all around RR properties all the time, and things often got re-stamped.) But assuming the stamping refers to ATSF Steam Locomotive #4075, checking various ATSF rosters shows the 4060 series were 2-8-2 "Mikado" types built in the 1920's and scrapped in the mid 1950's See Link 1 for pic of 4100 and description. An even better pic, this one of the 4076, is at Link 2. Note the bell on these engines is on top of the boiler, directly behind the stack. I am intrigued by how the 'ceremonial' Santa Fe logo and lettering is attached to your bell. Are the brass letters individually brazed on, or was the whole logo and legend applied as a single piece? The RR having gone to all the trouble, this bell was obviously presented with a great deal of ceremony, as described in the other answers, and there are likely to be news accounts and possibly pix of that event if you can narrow down the locale where it resided.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Monday, October 30, 2017 by RJMc

A. The Santa Fe Historical Society (Link 1) may be able to give you more info. about the bell. And as to press accounts of donations, the Santa Fe RR employee magazine for 1961 would very likely have covered a donation event such as we are describing, likely with pix. Knowing the year of the donation should really help narrow the search quickly.  Link 1  Posted Monday, October 30, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3387 Polishing a Locomotive Bell?  I have what I think is a locomotive bell. Would it be worth the time to polish it or do collectors like it with patina? Thank you.  Posted Saturday, October 28, 2017 by HDK   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is almost entirely an 'owners preference' issue; it was that way when the bells were on the locomotives as well -- a matter of taste. If you don't plan to be the owner for very long, I would bear in mind that the patina can be made to go away fairly quickly, but is almost impossible to restore if someone wants it back. Posted Saturday, October 28, 2017 by RJMc

A. If it were mine I would NOT clean or polish it. I guess we have all seen enough antiques TV programs were a piece is appraised for what seems to be a nice chunk of change. Then the appraiser says something along the lines of it would be worth ten times as much if you hadn’t refinished it. At that point the owner’s smile fades. Posted Sunday, October 29, 2017 by Ex Sou Ry

 Q3386 Builders Plate Info?  If someone could help me identify what this plate came from, I would greatly appreciate it! I ran across this plate mounted with a old locomotive picture and can't seem to find anything about it online. It measures 8.5 inches by 6.5 inches and weighs about 4 lbs. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, October 26, 2017 by CA   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I don’t believe that this is a builders plate. More than likely just a house number. Posted Sunday, October 29, 2017 by Ex Sou Ry

A. Research on the web tells me that J. Drummond & Sons had a 7 acre fabric mill complex in Bradford U.K. They may have had their own locomotive to move freight around. Does the writing on train print give any clue? Four digits does seem more like an address than a single locomotive. Posted Sunday, October 29, 2017 by DC

A. J. Drummond's Mill, in Lumb Lane, Bradford, Yorkshire, England, was one of the largest cloth mills in the area. It contained hundreds of looms and other machines, each of which carried a numbered identity plate. I believe that this is such a plate. I don't think it is connected with the photograph, which is of a N.American train, not a British one. Drummond's Mill was burned down in 2016. Posted Friday, November 3, 2017 by JAJ

A. The above comments about machine number plates make sense. I could not locate anywhere about the Bradford, UK, area where '2291' would make sense as a address or building number. As to the photo, close study shows the station sign probably says "Sanford". The time period is probably 1900 - 1910. Looking at all the various Sanford Station pix on the web, the closest looks like maybe Sanford, Maine, on the Boston and Maine (See Link). I was unable to make out the caption which had been handwritten on the negative in the lower right of the photo, but if legible it would provide further clues. There is no apparent connection between the photo and the ID plate.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, November 5, 2017 by RJMc

A. Continuing study of the picture shows that the number plate on the engine front looks to be the characteristic "Frisco" shape (not B&M). The large lettering of the station name, where the ending "Ford" is almost all that is legible, is also notable. The time period is definitely around 1900, evidenced by the engine having air brake hoses, but also having a front coupler slotted to also take link and pin couplings. There is a Mannford, OK, near Tulsa, which might match the etched-in caption. No photo has turned up so far there, but see the Link for a definitely Frisco train and station at about the right time period, definitely similar to the pic in question. However, still no link to the "Branford" plate.  Link 1  Posted Friday, December 1, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3385 Highest Lantern Price?  I'm getting into lantern collecting and am realizing there are many many rare and super rare lanterns that exist as only a few known examples or maybe only one known. My question is out of personal curiosity: what is the most anyone has seen a lantern sell for? Not looking for a line or specific lantern just curious as to how much some of the rarest or most desirable have gone for in the past. I've seen some go 4 figures and would imagine some would go in the ten thousands but have any that anyone knows of gone in the 20s, 30s ...100 thousands? Again I'm not looking for specifics on individual lanterns; just curious as I'm looking at some of the rarest of my favorite railroad and seeing there are only one or a few of some lanterns and globes. Thanks for any input.  Posted Wednesday, October 25, 2017 by PM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. If memory serves, and it often doesn't, a few years ago at an auction a Santa Fe(?) lantern with an extended base blue cast globe sold for $25,000 or so. A year or two ago a Northern Pacific lantern with a green cast globe went for about $15,000. From what I am seeing, generally most railroad lanterns, lamps, and other items are seeing price drops as collectors age and downsize, and people become less interested in buying "stuff". I think this is also true in the railroad china collecting area. And today you can't give away Grandma's china either. The RR collecting area isn't in Beany Baby territory yet, but it may get there some day.  Posted Thursday, October 26, 2017 by JEM

A. I also remember that $25,000+ figure reported on an internet forum some years ago -- which is the highest lantern/globe price that I've ever heard of. Regarding china, Richard Luckin (one of the major RR china experts) was quoted in Trains magazine a few years ago as saying that RR china values were declining. A lot of collectors seem to think this is the wave of the future. However, some people say that US Civil War artifacts have remained very popular among collectors, even though no one alive experienced that conflict personally. So it's possible that railroad stuff will not completely fade away. Ultimately it's anyone's guess. Posted Thursday, October 26, 2017 by PK

 Q3384 Syracuse China Cup  I have a Syracuse China Cup with large initials CM & O on the front and dated 9-MM (Sept 1958). I’m looking to find out if this cup is possibly Railroad China? Is there a Railroad with these initials? Possibly Chicago, Milwaukee & Omaha? or Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railway (which was reportedly having the initials CMO)? Thank you in advance for your help,  Posted Tuesday, October 24, 2017 by Donna E.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The initials are actually GM & O for Gulf Mobile & Ohio RR Posted Thursday, October 26, 2017 by DME

A. A picture would be nice !! Without it, it's hard to tell much, and with all due respect, we can't say with 100% accuracy if the first letter is a "C" or a "G" without any more description than that (such as the color). It IS possible that there may be china made with a CM&O marking, but not very likely, but more details would help remove any doubt. I am posting a picture of the Gulf Mobile & Ohio china that DME is referencing, the pattern name is "Rose." To be Gulf Mobile & Ohio railroad china your piece must be the same decoration. Good luck! Link 1  Posted Friday, October 27, 2017 by JMS

 Q3383 Lima Number Plate  This is at a local antique store and I'm trying to figure out if it's legit or not. I know Lima plates were cast bronze but the name Lima Locomotive Corporation was used between 1912-1916, during WW1, so maybe they used metal over bronze because of the war? Unfortunately I didn't get a close look, but close inspection of the photo where the paint has flaked off makes be believe it's galvanized. That seems like a lot of effort to do for a fake. What's your opinions on it? Cheers,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, October 24, 2017 by Drew   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. What does the back look like? Posted Friday, October 27, 2017 by JPN

 Q3382 Number Plate?  Hello. I was wanting to see if anyone knows about this engine plaque I just got. I'm wanting to see if anyone knows what railway it came from? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, October 24, 2017 by BR   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Cast iron signs in black and white are usually railroad, however it may not be an engine plaque. With two mounting holes in the center could have been made to mount on a pole, perhaps as a mileage marker. No clue as to what railroad. Posted Saturday, October 28, 2017 by DC

A. Yes, this is quite likely a milepost marker. Put 'milepost' in the 'Search by word or phrase' to see several prior Q's about cast iron mile marker signs. Many of the larger RR's had lines more than 350 miles long.  Posted Wednesday, November 1, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3381 B&O Strap  I came across several of these straps and have no idea as to what they were used for -- 4 3/4 in. long, 3/4 in. wide, looks to be made of a type of either plastic or hard fiber board. The back is unmarked and they all look somewhat faded. Very small arch so it's hard to think that it could be a handle of some sorts. Any help is welcome!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, October 8, 2017 by Bob N.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. No exact answer yet as to "What is this?" Some observations to start the discussion: The phrase 'compliments of' usually gets used on advertising material, something someone is handing out or making available to some part of the public they are trying to impress. Possibilities might include magazines or newspapers made available to passengers. To try to pin down the age of the item, searching shows that the B&O used "The Friendly RR" slogan at least in 1936; the B&O Magazine for 1936 in the Link uses the slogan several times thruout. And probably a coincidence, but the size, shape and curvature of the item almost perfectly match a conductor's hat badge, many of which were fastened onto the hat with two brass studs at either side of the badge, where the slots are on your item.  Link 1  Posted Monday, October 9, 2017 by RJMc

A. Could be a carry handle for a package bound in string. Department stores in Philadelphia used to give a carry handle of wood and wire with complements of printed on them. If you bought for instance a suit, it was folded, put in a box and bound with string. Maybe some passengers would be carrying something bound like this ?? Posted Friday, October 13, 2017 by DC

A. I thank you for the input to my question. The possibility of it being some sort of hat badge is about the closest. The material is too weak to be any sort of a handle so until someone can shed more light on this question, I'll go with that! Thanks again!!! Bob  Posted Sunday, October 15, 2017 by RLN

A. RLN: Let's revisit this for a moment. - A hat badge, it is not. A common mistake in this hobby is to apply the phrase “it looks like..” to an item. There is no hat that something like this would be applied to. Railroads did have Engineer and Conductor hats printed on heavy paper / light card stock, which were given to children on trains; (much like the Burger King Crowns of today) however, those had any lettering or badge printed on them. - A conductor's or trainman's dress uniform hat that a real brass badge would go on was a pretty esoteric and expensive item; not something a non-railroader would own. The last time I saw a new one from a top quality hat manufacturer, it was nearly $200, and would have been comparatively priced, adjusted down before inflation “back in the day”; so passengers or the general public would have no use for a novelty hat badge. - - Item, next; “bundles”. - A hundred years ago, good luggage was quite expensive. Many average people didn't have any. It wasn't until the American entrepreneur Sol Koffler started American Luggage Works (later, American Tourister) in 1933 in Providence, Rhode Island, that sturdy and affordable luggage became generally available; selling at the time for a dollar per suitcase. Remember too, 1933 was well into the Great Depression, if you could find work, a dollar a day was about all a man made then, if that much. Consequently, many people didn't have a dollar to spare for one of Koffler's new suitcases. - Actually, 'DC' (above) hit it right on the head. If you needed to travel, it was common to fold your clothing, stack the items and tie string around them to keep them together, which you then hand carried. If you were fortunate enough (depression, remember) to have wrapping paper, you could wrap the folded clothes in good brown wrapping paper to keep them clean, and not have your “BVDs” (..look it up) visible to the whole world. The next problem was that a weighty bundle of clothes, or a gift for grandma, would get pretty heavy and the string holding it together would seriously cut into your hand while carrying it. An advertising novelty “handle” like the one shown in this question was actually a cushion that slipped -under- the string, so it didn't have to be very strong, and was centered and held in place by the end notches. Its purpose was to spread the weight of the package out over a wider area on your skin than the string alone and make the bundle much easier (and less painful) to carry. - Oh, yes, Wrapping Paper: going back from the mid-twentieth century into the 1800s, stores would wrap your purchases in heavy weight, brown wrapping paper, and tie it up with string so you could carry it home (think of the 'Sound of Music' song). Wrapping paper then, and even as recently as fifty years ago, was much more substantial than what we have today. It was long fiber, 'virgin' paper, not this 'post-consumer' recycled junk we have now, and was actually quite strong and durable and could be reused a few times. - An advertising piece, such as this B&O package handle, in that day and age, would likely have been held onto for some time and used over and over to carry items on a day to day basis, giving the railroad lots of exposure from a small, inexpensive promo item. ---- …. Red Beard  Posted Tuesday, October 17, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

 Q3380 Union Pacific Railroad Lockbox  I hope someone can help me. What was the purpose of this box? What does T.A.B. stand for? Also, there is only one reference I can find to possibly explain the numbers 2054. The Union Pacific locomotive no. 1243 at Omaha Station I believe had a manufacturer's build number of 2054 from Cooke Manufacturing. Was this lockbox used on the no. 1243 locomotive? Thanks so much,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, October 4, 2017 by Dana   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. As a first guess, "T.A.B." could likely stand for "Ticket Accounting Bureau" which would be an agency very interested in having lock boxes. The various boxes would be numbered to be able to track back to which agent, ticket seller, conductor, or trainmen dealt with the contents -- tickets, ticket receipts, or cash -- when the box was turned in. See prior Q3000 about a very similar box used on the PRR and called a "conductor's cash box." Posted Wednesday, October 4, 2017 by RJM

 Q3379 Zion China  My great uncle (who worked for Pullman in Chicago) gave me a set of dishes with the word 'Zion' printed in the pattern. The dishes are over 50 years old and I presume railroad china. Can you tell me anything about them? The set of 6 is in perfect condition.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, October 2, 2017 by MS   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. They don't show up in any RR china guide that I have. There is a Union Pacific pattern called "Zion" but it is very different from the china you show. I would suggest the Facebook Group on "Restaurant Ware" When you join, you can ask the membership about unknown patterns............... Posted Tuesday, October 3, 2017 by GH

A. There is the possibility that "The Zion" was the name of a private car, railroad office car, or even a regular passenger car. Some searching turns up one Pullman car named 'Zion Canyon' (see link), in the late 1920's, but as a car with compartments and a drawing room it would not have needed china, and would have access to regular Pullman Company china had it needed any. 3 Compartment, 1 Drawing Room 6 Cars (6 UP) Car Name City Pair Assigned Train (5 other "Canyon" cars...) Zion Canyon KC-LA UP Pacific Coast Limited, 1929 to ca. 1933 More recently (about 2009) the former American Orient Express diner "Chicago" was renamed "Zion" by new owner American Railway Explorer and has gone thru several owners since, but this is likely too recent a series of events to relate to your china. Ships are another interesting possibility that used marked, custom china.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Tuesday, October 3, 2017 by RJMc

A. The Link discusses the history of the ZIM Lines ship "SS Zion" which was built and went into service in 1957, but doesn't indicate what the china might have looked like. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, October 3, 2017 by RJMc

A. This is not a railroad pattern shown in any of the books. If they are over 50 years old, the pattern almost certainly would have been known and shown. The above suggestions are good ideas, but to add another, this ware could also have come from a church or other religious affiliated organization with "Zion" as part of their name. Churches often ordered personalized china. Stretching a bit, it might be municipal china from a town or city named "Zion." If you post a picture of the back markings it may be possible to determine the actual production date which won't give user information but would nail down the age.  Posted Thursday, October 5, 2017 by js

 Q3378 Handlan Lantern Questions  I have a lantern that has no markings other than the wick adjuster handle which say Handlan, St. Louis Mo. The wick adjuster has a patent date of 5-9-08 and you can see that there are 4 prongs that appear to be for a secondary chimney of about 1 1/8th diameter. It uses a round wick. The font is part of the base and of course, is not removable. Is this a Handlan lamp? If so, is that the correct wick adjuster? If it is not, what is the correct wick adjuster?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, October 2, 2017 by GJE   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I see that loop in the vertical wire for the bail (handle) attachment in a picture of an MM Buck lantern on page 146 of Barrett's book - Encyclopedia of Railroad Lighting Vol I. AS MM Buck was a Handlan predecessor, you could consider this a Handlan lantern. This style of lantern is featured in an 1893 catalog as shown in Barrett's book. Hard to know about the burner - it may have come from a switch lamp or it may be original to your lantern.  Posted Wednesday, October 4, 2017 by JEM

 Q3377 Roberts Safety Lantern  How often do you see/find a 'Roberts Safety' lantern? I would think a collector would show more interest in this frame versus a frame made by Adlake, right? Also have a mellon globe embossed Pennsylvania Lines. Must have a higher level of interest versus Penn Central, right? Have you ever seen a globe embossed with just Pennsylvania Lines?? I am not asking for a value. How about a rating from 1-10, 10 being of higher interest. Frame an '8'? Globe a '10'? Thank you.  Posted Monday, October 2, 2017 by Bruce F.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3376 Early RR Lamp  I recently had someone give me a very old incomplete railway switch light (no markings. There is no door but it would probably have an amber lens in the center. Any information on this lamp would be really appreciated. Thanks.  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, September 29, 2017 by Dave   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. They appear to be switch markers possibly shop made. Green would indicate the switch is lined for the lead track or ladder. Amber would indicate the switch would be lined to that specific yard track. Posted Saturday, September 30, 2017 by Ex Sou Ry

A. I had hoped someone out here would have had a definitive answer. Page 327 of The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Railroad Lighting, Volume Two, has a couple of images of a lamp that looks very similar to yours. It's listed as unidentified. It's described as having red and blue lenses, though I wonder if they meant signal green instead of blue. The author said the only marking was "5094" on the door, but unfortunately your door is missing. The measurements for the body are 6 1/4" square by 8" high. Yours appears to have a longer body. But everything else looks the same, including the base and mounting socket. If these are shop made instead of being purchased from a lamp company, I would be thinking they came out of the same shop.  Posted Thursday, October 19, 2017 by JeffPo

 Q3375 REA Artifacts  Hello, I recently discovered a hidden store room in our building. We discovered this was an old Railway Express Agency Station from early 1900’s. I have come across a lot of the Parcel shipping tickets and some artifacts. How do I document and organize this for Historians? I am intrigued to see what was being shipped at those times and by who. Please let me know if you can direct me in the right direction. Sincerely,  Posted Thursday, September 28, 2017 by BW   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3374 Railroad Marking?  Can someone tell me which railroad this is?: TNOMW I think TNO is Texas & New Orleans, and the road is a subsidiary of the Southern Pacific. Thank you,  Posted Thursday, September 28, 2017 by Horton M   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Depending on where this marking was found, the MW may stand for "Maintenance of Way". I have a lantern with a "P&LE RR" marking (Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad) followed by "MW" which I was told stands for Maintenenace of Way, in other words, a lantern used by track repair and similar outfits. Posted Thursday, September 28, 2017 by PK

A. Have seen Western Maryland MOW Posted Thursday, September 28, 2017 by DC

A. I have a P&LE clear cast globe that's marked "P&LERRCoMW" in an oval panel that barely contains the letters. Posted Saturday, September 30, 2017 by GM

 Q3373 5-sided BLW Plate Info Needed  Does anyone have any info on this 5-sided BLW builders plate? Thanks for any insight.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, September 22, 2017 by Rob   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is from an early Baldwin Diesel locomotive. Some people on this site have access to Baldwin Construction Numbers. If they come on and reference the number they can give you further information on the locomotive, Posted Friday, September 22, 2017 by JN

A. As other collectors may have already explained, your Baldwin 73378A2 Builders Plate likely came from Pennsylvania RR #5825A2 - 1/2 of a semi-permanent linked pair of Baldwin Centipede Freight Locomotives (5825A1 and 5825A2). Baldwin 5825A1 was assigned Builders Plate 73378A1 and 5825A2 was assigned Builders Plate 73378A2. This Baldwin order for Qty 2 DR12-8-3000 (Centipede) set of locomotives (also called the DR12-8-1500/2) was originally delivered to the PRR in 6/47 and your 73378A2 Builders Plate has a construction date of 5/47. The provenance of your 73378A2 Builders Plate has not yet been verified. However, there may be a 1947 set of Baldwin Builders Plates that exists for each of these locomotives and a 2nd 1952 or later set of Baldwin Plates created after the Locomotives were decoupled, re-engined, and downgraded on horsepower rating. PRR Locomotive #5825A2 was later renumbered #5813 and rated at 3,000 HP in locomotive classification BP60 around 1949. In 1952, PRR 5813 was permanently detached from PRR 5812, rebuilt at the PRR Altoona Shops, re-engined by Baldwin and downgraded from 3000 hp to 2500 hp, and changed to helper service for assisting long freight trains in the Pennsylvania Mountains. PRR Crews found the DR-12-8-3000 Centipede sets were limited to large radius turns, wore out steel rails quickly due to their weight, were subject to frequent breakdowns, and were unable to compete with the lower ownership costs of ALCO or EMD Diesels. All PRR Baldwin Centipede Locomotives were scrapped in the late 1950s to early 1960s. The matching PRR #5825A1 / 73378A1 Builders Plate from 1947 for the other #5812 locomotive apparently still exists [See second link]. More background: The PRR Centipedes were originally delivered from the Baldwin factory in pairs, semi permanently coupled with a drawbar. Both units of the pair had the same road number, in this case 5825. Also both units of the pair had builders plates with the same construction number, in this case 73378. For unique identification there were small road numbers, with a suffix, on the rear of each unit, in this case 5825-A1 and 5825-A2. The PRR later decoupled the units and renumbered them. 5825-A1 became 5825 and 5825-A2 became 5813. The PRR had Baldwin make new builders plates for each decoupled unit. The 5825's new plate was number 73378A1 and the 5813's new plate was number 73378A2 [sources: Pennsylvania Railroad Diesel Locomotive Pictorial Volume Four - Baldwin Cab and Transfer Units, John D. Hahn, Jr. - 1998 Withers Publishing; other sources from internet]  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Saturday, September 30, 2017 by Steve

 Q3372 Car Movements  I have recently seen photos of a lone Union Pacific stock car in a yard on the east coast, one of a single Great Northern stock car in an eastern yard, and another of a loaded C&O coal hopper in a train on the UP in Nebraska or Wyoming; all circa mid 1950s. These surprised me as I had previously not seen photos of eastern coal or stock cars out west, nor western ones back east. This brought up the questions of how often did stock cars and coal loads wander well outside of their home roads states? Thanks for any insights.  Posted Friday, September 22, 2017 by Red Beard   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3371 M1B Builders Plate  I need some info on a Baldwin Locomotive Works builders plate M.1.B 1930 61864. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, September 21, 2017 by Rob   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. An M1B was a Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR)4-8-2 Mountain Type locomotive. They were essentially a stretched K-4s 4-6-2. They were very successful locomotives. One is preserved at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg, PA. Baldwin built 225 of them for the PRR, Lima built 50 and the PRR itself built 26. Posted Thursday, September 21, 2017 by JN

A. Thanks for the good lead JN. I double checked Edson’s book and builders number 61364 is listed as PRR engine # 6736 built 6-1930 scrapped September 1958. Posted Thursday, September 21, 2017 by Rob

 Q3370 Adlake 100s  There are several pages for various Adlake Kero’s and all the other tall globe models detailing frame and globe markings [assume on this website -ed.]; can we have one for the Adlake 100’s? The information on them seems rather elusive, so I’d like to see them better documented if possible. Could probably get away with one page with frame and globe info since the information is so limited. [Web Editor note: We'd post such info from a catalog if we had it, but we don't have anything like this. Does Anyone?]  Posted Wednesday, September 20, 2017 by MC   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3369 SP Conductor's Punch  I've recently begun collecting ticket punches and just acquired the one in the photo. It has a partial mark in a semi-circle 'Pt. Pleasant, NJ' which I understand indicates it was made by the P.J. Mieth Mfg. Co. The attached tag says that it belonged to a conductor named Art when he worked on the S.P.R.R. Is it possible that the S.P.R.R.'s Auditor of Passenger Receipts record of ticket punch designs still exists? I'd really like to know the last name of the mystery conductor to whom the punch belonged. Also, I'd love to hear from any other punch collectors who might be able to provide me with information about the different punches,manufacturers, etc. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, September 19, 2017 by Dave P.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I have a current catalog from Transquip, who manufactures railroad punches. Their catalog has over 1,600 stock punch designs and they can custom make any design you would like. As for records of who used what punch, railroad historical societies possess a wealth of information. Try the Southern Pacific Railway Historical & Technical Society Posted Tuesday, September 19, 2017 by JN

 Q3368 Lantern Info Needed  I was wondering if anyone has ever seen or heard of the tall globe Dressel lanterns that have the NYC&HRR marking on the frame and that are bellbottoms? If so, are these lanterns considered to be rare?  Posted Wednesday, September 13, 2017 by lanternlady   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3367 What is this?  Smells of burnt oil. Lid is removable. Handle is about 6 inches long. Please advise Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, September 13, 2017 by Bill   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. If you go to 'Railroadiana Home' and select the item 'Extract from Master Mechanics...' you will find a document describing how the RR industry early in the 20th Century standardized types of tinware such as this. Fig. 22 in that document shows a drawing of your item; the description of it says "A universal form of marking pot." (That said, marking what?? they don't say.) But the Master Mechanics ran the mechanical department: shops, roundhouses, and rolling stock maintenance in general -- not the track or signal side of things -- so that field is where we need to look for more info. It appears that the handle is made as a socket for a longer wooden handle. My guess is this acted as a 'smudge pot' that could be filled with waste and oil and ignited, then placed somewhere where either the heat or light of the flame was needed.  Posted Thursday, September 14, 2017 by RJMc

A. Several other references make clear that a marking pot was used to carry paint, ink, chalk powder or even lamp black and a brush, an arrangement suitable for marking bags of grain, cartons, or almost anything else, probably including the stenciling of data such as car numbers and inspection dates. Whoever used this one as a smudge pot was probably mis-using it.  Posted Thursday, September 14, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3366 Lamp Info Needed  I have this lantern that I can't find much information about, and I saw that this website might be able to help. It is a ADLAKE Lantern that has a total of 4 lenses, 2 being red and the other 2 clear, but when you shine a light through it, It shows purple. If I could find any info on it, age or anything, that would be great.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, September 13, 2017 by Harrison   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Harrison, can you please say more about "it shows purple"? Are you saying that all four lenses light up as purple or just the clear ones? When you open the sliding door, what is inside of the lamp? ..anything in there that would explain the purple color? Are you placing a light source inside the lamp or shining a light clear through the lamp from the outside; in one lens and out the other? Thanks. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Wednesday, September 13, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. The clear lences on the sides illuminate as a purple when a light sorce such as the whick is lit inside, behind the door is the burner with a round whick and stantions for what looks like another piece of glass. Posted Wednesday, September 13, 2017 by Harrison

A. In re looking at the lantern again the lences arnt actually a clear but a dark purple look to them but when light shined through them,it has a purple pink look to them Posted Wednesday, September 13, 2017 by Harrison

A. Harrison, that is a really nice looking little lamp. It's old too, as the cap support legs go down inside of the smoke stack, rather than being attached to the outside of the cone. Quite possibly a hundred plus years old! – I have to say that I'm stumped by the color combination. The loop at the top of the bail (wire handle) is usually used to hang a lamp on a peg; often times used on a crossing gate so the lamp is free to swing and rotate around the peg thereby staying vertical as the gate is raised and lowered. – Another question; do the purple lenses have steps on the back of them (guessing here that the red ones do), or are they flat on the back and fairly thick? - The reason I ask is that if they are flat on the back, they may have started out clear and have turned purple over many years of exposure to sunlight, as much old 'clear' glass did. A hundred plus years ago, glass makers used manganese dioxide as an additive to create clear, colorless glass. Many years of exposure to sunlight caused a reaction with the manganese dioxide giving the formerly clear glass a nice purple tint, known as sun colored purple or amethyst . This tint can range from very lite violet to a fairly robust purple, and often with a noticeable pink over tone. - Red and clear would have been appropriate colors for a crossing gate lamp; clear towards the approaching trains and red towards traffic on the road. – And, another issue in the twenty-first century is that it has been many years since lamps such as yours were in actual daily use and in that time nobody knows who might have switched out lenses in any given lamp, replacing them with new and meaningless colors. ---- …. Red Beard Posted Wednesday, September 13, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Hello Red, The purple lenses are stepped on the inside, and the bail is looped. Very interesting. The muffin like top supports like you said do go into the chimney and I though that at first it being very old glass that turned purple but then re looked and found them actually a dark purple. Iv seen in some other lanterns have the same type burner wirh a round whick and stantions for another glass witch I am missing on mine but it is a small little 100+ aye pretty cool if in fact it was  Posted Wednesday, September 13, 2017 by Harrison

A. Someone told me once it was a #52 but I could not find that anywhere  Posted Thursday, September 14, 2017 by Harrison

A. Sounds like your clear Lens is actually a "Lunar White" lens which does have a light blue/purple shade to it when lit up of viewed from an angle. It was used in many RR switch lamps. I have a RR yard Adlake switch lamp with two amber and two lunar white lens. Posted Thursday, September 14, 2017 by JE

A. Harrison, Could you send in a good clear photo of the bottom of the lamp? if looking up from underneath. Thanks. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Thursday, September 14, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. In looking at the lantern more I just found a plate inside with patent dates ranging from 18 something-1913. Adams and Westlake Chicago.The lenses tho defiantly looks like a purple lens and shows lunar white as it is lit so maybe it was a clear lens at one time and has seen many hours of sunlight it is 104 years old after all  Posted Thursday, September 14, 2017 by Harrison

A. Hi all. Thank you for all the posts. I've found some good info on my lantern but here are some more photos showing the details. Link 1  Posted Thursday, September 14, 2017 by Harrison

A. Harrison, Thanks so much for the additional photos, they are a big help! -- First of all , Please do not repaint that lamp. It's in excellent shape and appears to have the original finish on it. From an historical point, that makes it much more valuable than if it were to be ruined by repainting it! --- It is clearly not a switch lamp based on the appearance of the bottom of the lamp as there are no rivet holes in the floor or around the bottom edge of the body, so no sort of base has ever been fixed to the lamp, as would be required on a switch lamp -- Those small lenses look VERY much like "sun colored amethyst" glass, as I mention above. They certainly are not Lunar White. All the information points to the idea that it is a crossing gate lamp, though those small lenses could be some sort of purple signal glass (for what, I don't know though)-- Something to remember about patent dates is that an item can be No Older than the most recent patent date, and in fact could be a decade or more newer than the last patent date listed, as patented features tended to be used by a manufacturer for some time into the future after the patent was granted. The 19-Teens and Twenties were about the time railroads were beginning to standardize signal glass colors across all railroads, so without knowing more about what road it came off of, that purple/violet color could have been used to mean many different things (providing that the lenses started out that color, and aren't "sun colored" formerly clear lenses)..still thinking crossing gate lamp, though. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Friday, September 15, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

 Q3365 Milwaukee Road China Pattern  I have not found the pattern shown in any of my reference books. This is a 9 inch bowl. Anyone have any information on it? Thank   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, September 7, 2017 by Paul   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is legitimate. The pattern name is "La Crosse" and it is on p.41 of Official Guide to RR Dining Car China (McIntyre) and p. 140 of Dining on Rails (Luckin). Luckin gives it 4 stars out of 5 and McIntyre gives it a 3+ out of 5 in their scarcity/rarity ratings. I've seen several pieces on eBay and had one myself but despite the good ratings this pattern doesn't seem to do well. Maybe that's because it is so plain and unassuming. HORRORS -- now I will go crazy having to look at the underside of every green stripe on white piece of china at tag sales and flea markets ......!!!!  Posted Thursday, September 7, 2017 by js

A. With only the single stripe, it's not the most noticeable entry in either of the china books. I had to read and re-read in the books myself, to find it when I got the platter that I had.  Posted Thursday, September 7, 2017 by js

 Q3364 PRR/NYC Key  Hi Everyone. I have a key marked for both PRR and NYC. The lettering is two different styles. I know that in certain areas there was joint trackage served by more than one railroad and that special keys were usually issued for those areas. Could this be from an area of joint trackage? Maybe even a common yard? Does anyone know any information on a key like this? Thank You,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, September 7, 2017 by JN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3363 Blue over Clear Presentation Lantern  I recently found this lantern in the Nashville Tennessee area. The man I purchased it from knew little to nothing about it. It belonged to his father's estate. He was an avid railroad collector. The globe is marked A.J. Berry M. D. It is a Dayton lantern. Is it possible that a railroad could have presented this lantern to Mr. Berry for his service with the railroad as a doctor? I have researched this name and found very little. Thank you for your help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, September 3, 2017 by Mike   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. If you look through employee timetables (not the train schedule ones that the railroads gave to the public) railroads usually listed doctors who served railroad employees for the company. It is very possible the railroad gave this lantern as a retirement gift, even though a doctor was not usually a railroad employee. Posted Sunday, September 3, 2017 by JN

A. In Omaha, the Union Pacific maintained an entire staff of Medical Doctors who worked for the railroad. Their sole practice was to care for railroad employees; other doctors were contracted with as well, and a significant portion of their practice was made up of railroad workers. In outlying areas, as JN mentions, there were doctors who were contracted with the railroad to provide medical services to employees. The railroads had very good medical care for their employees, thanks entirely to the various railroad labor unions and the tenacity of the working men who were willing to go without wages for months at a time during the long and bitter strikes that wrangled benefits like that out of management. ---- .... Red Beard  Posted Monday, September 4, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. So far web searches on the name, A.J. Berry, M.D., have turned up two. One in Brooklyn, NY, found in a search because his daughter married someone prominent, and the second one in Colorado endorsing a patent medicine product called Neurilla. Both of these look to be around the turn of the 20th Century, with no RR connection evident. JN is correct about listings of doctors in employee timetables. But without more to go on, it is an impossible task to search them because there is no single place they are all gathered where they can be searched, and they were frequently updated so there would be many copies for each RR. However, since the 1800's, there has been the publication "The Pocket List of RR Officials" printed quarterly, which is a directory of the officials in the entire North American RR industry. A pleasant surprise (see link) some of these volumes have been scanned, digitized, and made available both in total and searchable on the web. This makes looking up historical RR persons MUCH simpler!! One unfortunate part of your particular person of interest, however, is that the doctors were often not employees, as mentioned above, but contractors. So they may not have been listed in the Pocket List. It was probably at the discretion of each RR Co. whether to list them or not. A look thru the early 1900's issues at the Link showed many 'Berry's' but no A.J. Berry's. And of course, it is entirely possible that A.J. Berry himself was an avid lantern collector, and had no direct connection with a RR at all.  Link 1  Posted Monday, September 4, 2017 by RJMc

A. Try a GOOGLE BOOKS search - Not just GOOGLE search. They are separate and one will not lead to another. There is an A. J. Berry MD from Colorado Springs mentioned in the first result - from about the right time frame of this Dayton lantern. But others are correct - finding the right Dr. Berry will almost certainly be a horrifically difficult task.  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, September 6, 2017 by JMS

A. Thanks to all who have helped me with this search. The only other piece of information that I have uncovered is that the lantern was purchased in San Francisco in the 70s by the sellers father. He has some other items that I'm going to be looking at before too long. Hopefully there will be something in that collection that will give me a clue to who Dr. Berry was.  Posted Thursday, September 7, 2017 by MS

A. I wanted to post a picture regarding the blue over clear presentation lantern. We found this wonderful lantern in Pennsylvania. The glass is cut O.E. KIMBALL MANCHESTER NH amid the wreath, so I had significantly more to work with than most. As it turned out, Orrin Ezra Kimball was a firefighter/community leader who did a great deal for his city and apparently was recognized for it at some point. As one response suggested, Mike, Dr Berry may not have been involved with a railroad – although the explanations about railroads and their medical staffs were terrific! I sincerely hope you find out that he WAS. Thankfully his name is easier to research than John Smith, for example and having a title should help. Best wishes and good luck !  Link 1  Posted Thursday, September 7, 2017 by JMS

A. Regarding railroad doctors: As mentioned above - railroads did list doctors in towns along their lines. The Northern Pacific Railroad had doctors on retainer in towns all along its system, and they were listed in employee timetables under the heading "Authorized Surgeons". These were the doctors to be contacted in the event of accident or if there was an ill passenger or railroad employee. My grandfather was on retainer as an Authorized Surgeon for the NP and received payment for any medical treatment he provided to NP employees or passengers. I found him listed in timetables dating from 1925 through 1949. Unfortunately he never received a presentation lantern when he retired as an NP Authorized Surgeon.  Posted Thursday, September 7, 2017 by JEM

 Q3362 Green Glass Marbles  Do the green glass marbles found near railroad tracks in West Virginia contain Lead? Is there a way to test them for lead before adding them to aquariums? By the way...enjoyed reading about these marbles and how, when and why they were made. Super interesting. and I haven't lost my marbles :) Thanks,  Posted Wednesday, August 30, 2017 by Lisa   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  Lead is used in crystal glass because it makes the glass softer so that it can be cut and polished. Most glass that is used for food storage is soda lime glass that does not contain lead. That said glass is made from sand and lead does occur in some sand naturally. If you are really concerned you might be able to test the marbles with an X ray fluorescence gun (XRF) to determine the composition of the glass. This non-destructive method of testing is used by many manufacturers and also larger scrap yards to determine alloys of metals. XRF guns are also used to test for lead in paint samples so your local health department may have one. See the link for the Wikipedia article on XRF.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, August 31, 2017 by KM

 Q3361 Help on Old Builders Tags  I've come across 3 metal RR signs in a barn at auction today and one of them has me stumped. I'm wondering if you could share if the signs are indeed builders tags and who is the company that made the sign that has Southern Pacific company on it as well as Pennsylvania Company. Were they the same company? Also, I can't find any information/comparables about the GM 1946 tag. Any resources or links are greatly appreciated. Thank you!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, August 27, 2017 by Mike B   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The plate in question is a trust plate. Ever buy a car or house and have to make payments? The bank owns the property until they get their money. Same with railroad equipment. When orders for cars or locomotives were financed, these plates were attached to the equipment to show who owned it. Houses stay put. Rail equipment doesn't. These plates help the finance company keep track of their equipment as it travels around. Equipment orders can be for dozens of locomotives or hundreds of cars. Each piece of this particular trust carried one of these plates. Posted Monday, August 28, 2017 by JN

A. Forgot to refer to your other plates. Those are indeed builder's plates. The serial number is like the VIN number on your vehicle. It is a unique number for the locomotive. Each locomotive carries a pair of these plates. No other locomotive will have the same serial number. Each of your builder's plates would only have one other mate. There could be dozens or even hundreds of your trust plate floating around since the trust plate covers an entire order. If you can get a hold of EMD and GE construction records you can find out exactly what each locomotive was and who originally purchased it by looking up those serial numbers. Posted Monday, August 28, 2017 by JN

A. See Prior Q 3332 for a lot more discussion of trust plates. On your trust plate, SP is the railroad seeking financing to buy the equipment, and the Pennsylvania company mentioned is the banking institution handling the financing transactions (not necessarily connected in any way to the PRR.)  Posted Monday, August 28, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3360 Loco Key ID Needed  Need help identifying this locomotive key, thank you in advance for your help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, August 26, 2017 by Jim   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Greetings, this is not a key but rather a brake handle. Specifically, it is the independent brake handle, meaning it is the handle for the locomotive brakes only. It is removable from the engineer's control stand, as is the automatic brake handle on many locomotives. The handles are removed on trailing locomotives when several are coupled together to prevent anyone from tampering with the brake system. Engineers will have a spare handle like yours in their bag (know as their "grip"), along with rule books, spare reverser handles, forms etc. The independent brake handles are not commonly found, so congratulations!! The handles are now made of plastic in many cases, so your metal one is either an older one or the original that came with the locomotive when it was new. Happy collecting! Steve B. Posted Saturday, August 26, 2017 by Steve B.

A. Jim, I had a look at the independent handle in my collection after typing this. The cast marks on yours are the exact same as on the one I have. Typically these cast marks indicate part numbers, not numbers for a specific locomotive. They could be EMD part numbers, or part numbers from the company that manufactured the air brake system (Westinghouse?). Have a great day! Steve B. Posted Saturday, August 26, 2017 by Steve B.

A. The mark on the handle that appears to be "XX" is really the trademark of the Westinghouse Air Brake Co., including a barely visible crossbar, to represent interlocking letters W A B. The first Link shows this trademark (already) in use on a publication in 1914. The second Link shows it still in use in 1953. It is VERY widely deployed, on lots of brake parts on RR's around the world. I think it has gone out of use after many rounds of company mergers, but I am not sure when it went out of use.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Saturday, August 26, 2017 by RJMc

A. There is what looks like a good article on Wikipedia, with recent history. See the Link .  Link 1  Posted Sunday, August 27, 2017 by js

 Q3359 Use of Wrench-Style Keys  Can someone tell me what these 'keys' were used for ? They are exactly like the triangle style signal box keys, except for the little 'additions' on one side (and of course they won’t go into the screw locks – but they would work with them, if they could!). Thanks in advance ! Kind regards,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, August 26, 2017 by Jane S   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Do you have any reason to think they are rail road related ? They may not be, could be for turning on/off or adjusting the flow of many things. Hope some one knows. Posted Tuesday, August 29, 2017 by DC

A. They have no markings and the only real clue if you could call it that is they came with a bunch of RR keys. Also, they would be usable with the triangle signal box screw locks if they didn't have the little "additions." Of course all kinds of non-RR keys come along with bunches of RR keys, but I was hoping someone might recognize the use for these, they are so unique. Thanks for the encouragement.  Posted Thursday, August 31, 2017 by js

A. When searching internet for railroad gas lamp keys some of these are pictured. Ones marked Pintch are more common. Posted Saturday, September 16, 2017 by DC

 Q3358 Lock Marking  I am trying to identify a railroad lock and am having great difficulty. I believe it is a Colorado rail lock, Miller brass lock marked on the shackle only C.ST.RM&O.RY.CO. I found it at a thrift store here in colorado. Must of been an old way to spell the line. I thought it was a Colorado Southern or Midland but I am not sure. sincerely,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, August 22, 2017 by Gavin   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It is Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha. CStPM&O Posted Tuesday, August 22, 2017 by JN

A. Chicago St Paul Minneapolis & Omaha Ry, a part of the Chicago & Northwestern Ry system. The railroad never made it to Colorado, although the lock itself did. Posted Wednesday, August 23, 2017 by BobF

A. This is the "Omaha Road" - see the link to specific information about it. The "other" famous Milwaukee line was the CMStP&P or "Milwaukee Road." NICE FIND !!  Link 1  Posted Thursday, August 24, 2017 by js

 Q3357 Key ID?  I'm stumped with this one. The key has the usual S on the back of the bow. The only thing I can come up with is St Louis Public Utilities?? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, August 21, 2017 by Joe   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Can not tell much by looking at this pile of keys. What I can tell you is Z is New York Zone,L is Long Island R.R. then serial number. Next key on ring appears to be same cut. S is for switch lock key. Posted Monday, August 21, 2017 by DC

A. Sorry, my reply was for next question. Posted Monday, August 21, 2017 by DC

A. It looks like a MM Buck or Handlan Buck key blank. Since they were located in St Louis...I'd go with St Louis as part of the name. The PU????? Posted Tuesday, August 22, 2017 by BobF

A. Yes it is a Handlan Buck St. Louis MO , it was with some well used Missouri Pacific keys that I acquired. So I do think it is a St Louis area key , just the P U is the unknown ! Thanks for the reply . Posted Tuesday, August 22, 2017 by Joe

A. This may not be a "railroad" key -- these older ones can be so hard to figure out identity!! "U" could stand for Union or University... Non-railroad customers bought and used "railroad" locks/keys (meaning "railroad quality, not railroad used"). A good example is NYCBOE - New York City Board of Education, which stamped their equipment. Being with a group of MP keys is a good clue that StL is very likely for St. Louis but there is also the possibility of St. Lawrence and other lesser known StL's . Good luck!! Hope you can solve this mystery, it's a great old key !! Posted Thursday, August 24, 2017 by js

A. Police and fire telephone call boxes also used very similar keys. Posted Thursday, August 24, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3356 Switch Keys  Here is a photo of what I believe are my grandfather's switch keys. Only one has any identification, being ZL9237. He worked for the LIRR from the 1930s - 1950s. I'd be grateful if you could assist me in identifying the keys. Many thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, August 21, 2017 by Janet S.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. (See also answer which got mis-placed with Q3356.) The key at the 5:00 position is the standard PRR switch key cut, which has since become a Penn Central, then Conrail, and now Amtrak standard on the Northeast Corridor. Many LIRR trains operated over PRR/PC/CR/Amtrak lines into Penn Station and the Sunnyside Yard area, and LIRR was a PRR subsidiary for many years, so it would make sense to use the same key rather than having to issue everyone two. The key at the 2:00 position looks to be that same cut, but as a guess, over time LIRR may have moved to a smaller key since the PC key was among the larger switch keys used by any RR. It is very unusual to have the bit at right angles to the ring; the key looks almost "home-made" which was sometimes done by individuals, and sometimes the RR's themselves. The key at the 10:00 position was/is used to 'key in' at the control panels for the electrically-operated sliding doors on the Multiple Unit (MU) cars running on LIRR and also on the other former Conrail commuter passenger lines now being run by public agencies. I don't recognize the other two keys.  Posted Monday, August 21, 2017 by RJMc

A. Can not tell much by looking at this pile of keys. What I can tell you is Z is New York zone L is Long Island RR then serial number. Next key looks like same cut. S is for switch lock key. Others could be for signal, general purpose, car or other locks. Any letters on them ? Posted Monday, August 21, 2017 by DC

A. The ZL key is a Pennsylvania Railroad "division key" made for use in a specific area of operation run by the PRR which operated in many areas in several states. The ZL denotes where it was used, i.e.: Z stands for the New York Zone; and L stands for the Long Island Railroad. During the time your grandfather was working there, the Pennsylvania RR was in control of the LIRR. According to Wikipedia: In 1900, the Pennsylvania Railroad bought a controlling interest as part of its plan for direct access to Manhattan, which began on September 8, 1910. The wealthy PRR subsidized the LIRR during the first half of the new century, allowing expansion and modernization. After World War II, the railroad industry's downturn and dwindling profits caused the PRR to stop subsidizing the LIRR, and the LIRR went into receivership in 1949. (See the link below to read the full Wikipedia page) I agree with the post about the key next to it with the same bit cut - the barrel of it has been soldered to a new top ring. Congratulations on having such a fabulous family heirloom that must have been a very important part of your grandfather's working life.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, August 24, 2017 by js

A. Sorry, one more thought - the 9237 is a serial number, stamped on to identify an individual key. Back in the day, keys were highly cared for and kept track of. Your grandfather likely may have had to sign for this one, and the company would have a record of which number key was his. If he lost it would have been in trouble! and probably would have had to pay for a duplicate. So ZL9237 likely was "HIS" key, not "just a key." The cobbed up one next to it, could be considered "just a key," a spare perhaps, it surely appears to have been two pieces welded together.  Posted Thursday, August 24, 2017 by js

A. Thank you so very much for the very helpful information. I am very grateful! Posted Wednesday, November 8, 2017 by Janet S