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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:

 Q3987 Monon Button Die?  Is this a Monon Railroad button die?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, January 30, 2023 by ME   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. What is the size? Something in the pic for size comparison would (always)be very helpful.  Posted Monday, January 30, 2023 by RJMc

A. For reference, the Waterbury Button Co. of CT made several designs of buttons for the Monon RR (see Link to Waterbury's excellent website for illustrations.) None of the Waterbury styles matches your design. In their section on "craftsmanship" there is a pic which shows some of their dies, which seem to be deeper and more robust that your pieces, but obvously different manufacturers would have used different tooling. I am wondering what other objects might have been embossed in the way your dies would do it; imprinting both sides of the material. Possibly business cards; stock or bond certificates, and maybe annual passes where elaborate designs were sometimes used. As a practical matter I am wondering how the two pieces of your die set were aligned in use, to make sure the "positive" imprint side correctly mated into the "negative" receiving side. You might try using the dies on some aluminum foil as an interesting experiment. Link 1  Posted Monday, January 30, 2023 by RJMc

 Q3986 Lantern Marking  I'm hoping to get a solid identity on a tall globe A&W 'ADLAKE' lantern clearly marked 'I.R. Co' on the top (the globe is plain). This marking does not appear in your known listings as far as I can tell! I collect items from the International Railway Company (traction, western NY state), that generally marks their wares 'IRC' or 'INT RY CO'. I think we can rule out that company in this case. That leaves two main options as far as I can tell: the Interstate Railroad of Virginia, or the Indiana Railroad (traction). Any other ideas? Can anyone help confirm? Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, January 22, 2023 by Tom   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I have locks and keys here marked IRCO for the Ironton Railroad Co. They did not use the second R for Road like most railroads did. While I've never seen a lantern for them that has positively been identified for Ironton, this is a possibility. Hopefully, readers who live in the area of Allentown, PA will weigh in.  Posted Sunday, January 22, 2023 by N

 Q3985 Union Pacific Sign  Could you help me identify this Union Pacific sign? It measures 7ft. 6in. x 23in. It looks like it would have been a nose badge on a 1940's locomotive. Regards,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, January 22, 2023 by Steve   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Yes, it appears to be a nose logo but it is impossible to determine which engine it is off of with out more information. Posted Monday, January 23, 2023 by Ex Sou Ry

A. Perhaps an Alco FA-1?  Posted Tuesday, January 24, 2023 by ShastaRoute

A. Some info here (Link 1) under "Winged Medallion Useage". Of course, not so sure about that three piece info in every application as photos might tell otherwise. In any case, there's a changeover to including RAILROAD on the third line at a time around 1950.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, January 24, 2023 by ShastaRoute

 Q3984 RR Tag?  Is this a tag from the Chicago, Indiana & Southern RR; or does it come from a non-railroad company? The use of 'CO' and the lack of 'RR', after 'C.I. & S.' has stumped me.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, January 22, 2023 by ME   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I & S markings in almost all cases, stand for Iron & Steel. Consider where the tag was found and then research any Iron & steel companies nearby to determine what the C stands for.  Posted Sunday, January 22, 2023 by N

A. The old “rule of thumb” applies here: If its not marked railroad its not railroad.  Posted Monday, January 23, 2023 by Ex Sou Ry

 Q3983 Key ID?  Does anyone know if the cut of this key matches any known railroad key cut? I wanted to know if this key could possibly be a railroad key. Thank you in advance for all answers.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, January 22, 2023 by DBN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3982 Loco Photo Info?  Can anyone help me find out which railroad owned this locomotive named 'Centennial'? This old photo dates from (guessing) the mid- to late 1800s. Thank you!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, January 8, 2023 by JMS   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Probably the most common reference to "Centennial" is to the 1876 Centennial Exposition of Arts and Industries at Philadelphia, helping to celebrate the 100th birthday of the U.S. That was reported to be the first World's Fair held in the U.S. and had thousands of exhibits by all kinds of manufacturers. The engine in the pic looks like it is new and "dressed up" for that kind of show, and hence no RR markings, but so far I have not found any direct connection between your loco and the 1876 events. Note that your loco has link-and-pin couplers, no air brakes, and no dynamo (not to mention no headlight at all)so consistent with mid-1870's time frame and set up for display rather than going to work. A greater enlargement might allow reading some of the apparent badge plate on the smoke box which might provide further clues but the shadowing is eliminating most of the detail. In the Link, scroll down to the last image of "Memorial Hall" where a PRR loco almost identical to yours is switching in the foreground. Link 1  Posted Sunday, January 8, 2023 by RJMc

A. Here at the big scrapbook (Link 1) is a shot with an engine that might be related, shunting freight. There was an internal "Passenger Railway" at the exhibition. The guy in your cab is dressed a bit fancy for yard work, and the engine is too nicely decorated for regular rail work. Perhaps yours is a page from an has some numbers there. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, January 10, 2023 by ShastaRoute

A. Yes, the engine in the center of the 'scrapbook' pic is closer to the mystery engine; the three-dome arrangement and the balloon stack in particular. Its interesting to note the RR track going inside the building in the scrapbook pic; maybe the reason for the balloon stack, where the PRR engine in the other pic has a straight stack. The mystery pic has the look of a builder's photo, so it could have gone either to work or to display afterward. But clearly the 1870's time period is close.  Posted Thursday, January 12, 2023 by RJMc

A. RJMc, the builder plate says Badwin Locomotive Works / Burnham Parry Williamson; I can't read the number, but that's the maker.  Posted Sunday, January 15, 2023 by JMS

A. That the maker was Baldwin is very helpful. The association with Burnham, Parry etc. began in 1873 and went to 1891, further confirming the likely association with the Centennial Exposition. The Link is to the MASSIVE collection of Baldwin business and engineering data (beginning from 1832 and covering their entire history of steam loco production) in the DeGolyer Library of the Southern Methodist University, which has digitized much of the material and generously makes most of it available online. Unfortunately the material went thru several hands before getting to DeGolyer, so there are gaps. So the one document I downloaded and studied so far shows an engine-by-engine list of loco type, wheel arrangement, buyer, name if any, and other info. It shows many 0-4-0's but the very earliest one in the list is 1878. There are various types of documents and drawings in the collection and the "Centennial" may well show up with further searching. Since Baldwin was in the Philadelphia area and very civic minded, it would not surprise me to find out they built the loco for the Exposition and may have donated it for service there.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, January 15, 2023 by RJMc

A. Just a little further searching in the Baldwin records at the DeGolyer Library (on page 22 of an 880-page list!) shows that loco "Centennial" was built in 1876 to be road number 14 of the New York Elevated. New York Elevated ("Centennial","Westchester")7 255 14, 15 1876 04-10 C 11, 12 29 There is probably quite a bit more engineering detail in the remainder of the records.  Posted Sunday, January 15, 2023 by RJMc

A. RJMc, THANK YOU so much!! Besides this one, I have two other antique photos with identifiable locos, but I was totally lost trying to figure this one out. I'm so glad to have the history on this. They are beautiful old original crystal clear focus builder photographs (crystal clear focus), not pages out of books, adhered to a lightweight "mat" with a printed red line/scrolling for decoration. This is light weight stock but it appears to be photo paper (like what is adhered to "cabinet cards" except cabinet cards have a board backing.) The red decorated "mats" are original, and I've seen them with other non-RR photos dated in the later 1800s. I never noticed the man in the cab before I enlarged the picture - but all this info surely points to these locomotives being at the Exposition, likely why the matted photos are still together.  Posted Thursday, January 19, 2023 by JMS

A. There are some possible sources around Philadelphia, but so far I have not found any kind of comprehensive listing of the exhibits from the Centennial Exposition. There is a somewhat larger loco "Jupiter" which definitely was there, and still remains in the Smithsonian in Washington. It would be interesting to know what was in what must have been a fairly large "railroad exhibit" at that event, when the typewriter was one of the celebrated new technologies of the day. Posted Thursday, January 19, 2023 by RJMc

 Q3981 Unusual MK&T Key  I recently obtained this unusual MK&T switch key not the usual fat barrel key. I have one other with the MOPAC cut from the Jay Gould era and I'm aware of one other cut with a straight drop bit. But this is the first I've seen with this bit plus it's steel. No maker's mark; only S on the back. Can anyone shed any light one when or where it was used? Possibly one of the many small lines they absorbed in their formation years cut to fit existing locks. Any help with my mystery key would be most welcomed and appreciated thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, January 1, 2023 by Jim   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It is a good bet this switch key was made and issued for general distribution during the period of unpleasantness of the early 1940’s. Brass is made out of copper and zink commodities in short supply during World War Two. You will recall locomotive builders plates and even one cent coins were made of steel during this time period.  Posted Friday, January 13, 2023 by Ex Sou Ry

 Q3980 Caring for B&O China  I have a set of B&O china purchased by my parents over the years starting in the 1960s, including dinner plates, small bowls, coffee cups and saucers, a creamer and a platter. I have never put any of the china in the microwave oven, and I am wondering if it is safe to do so? I realize that much of the china was manufactured before the advent of the microwave oven. When I google this question, I get answers that relate to ‘bone’ china, and I don’t think this is bone china. What type of china is it? The pieces are either Lamberton or Shenango, depending on when they were purchased. Thanks for any advice on this question.  Posted Friday, December 30, 2022 by Lucy   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. "Vitrified" or fully vitreous china, aka Restaurantware or Hotel Grade china. It has more resistance to intrusion of fluids/oils into the body than the more common semi-vitreous household wares of old. Some may try to call this stuff Ironstone or even Stoneware, but it does differ. Porcelain would not be an accurate description either as that should be equated to fine china. (Bone China is a specific fine type.) You should never subject any valued clay based products of any sort to either micro-wave or dishwashers...they might be built to withstand abuse but only so far as they would eventually be discarded. Micro-fractures in the body or crazing of the glaze would set in...heat, even as direct sun, is your enemy here. If someone selling you something says it is safe to beat on it, they're probably engaged in selling you replacements too. Reproduction wares, copies of original, may not always be constructed in the same way but there's often still a secondary market for good condition pieces, so why take a chance on destroying those...runs could be limited. Other than that, feel free to bounce it off the walls...pretty tough stuff, but not indestructable. Posted Friday, December 30, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. Excellent reply, ShastaRoute but if I could add to it I would be grateful. First, Lucy, read the article right here in about this china! (Link 1) The bottom marks are important as you know. Link 2 is the current list of ended eBay auctions of B&O china that has sold, so you can get some sort of values. Remember that no matter how humble, every piece of authentic railroad china is a piece of history and CANNOT be "replaced." If it's gone that little part of history is gone forever. I'm sure you must be caring for the china as a legacy from your parents, with the added historical benefit. As ShastaRoute says, please do NOT dishwasher or microwave them! The Lamberton (actually, made by Scammell China, in their "Lamberton" grade of ware) pieces date from the 1930s-40s and are most valuable. Pieces marked Shenango were made at the end of B&O passenger service; what was left when dining car service ended was sent to the B&O Museum in Baltimore MD for sale through the Gift Shop. It was so popular the Museum ordered more but sadly never changed the bottom marking, so it is impossible to know whether a Shenango piece actually rode the rails, or was a Gift Shop order; this unfortunate situation means it has significantly less collector value. Finally a black stamp was added to the Shenango mark; pieces so marked were strictly Gift Shop sales. I hope you'll treasures these pieces as heirlooms and relics of transportation history. I have a similar story about a set of Noritake china I bought for my mother while I was in college; it was the first SET she had ever owned,and she used it for years. When she passed away we auctioned it at an auction about 50 miles away; lo and behold it appeared years later at another auction house only 15 miles away, and I could not help myself, I had to buy it. It was like it was meant to be mine and she got it back to me. At this point, no amount of money could buy it from me. I wish you the best of luck with your pieces !!  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Saturday, December 31, 2022 by JMS

A. Hi Lucy, We have been eating off of B&O china (Shenango) for many years. It has been in both the dishwasher (daily) and microwave (occasionally) without adverse affect. We also have a substantial collection of P.A.F. Lamberton that stays in the corner cupboard for display only. That said a “Gaithersburg chilidog” (or two) have been served on particularly hard to find pieces when purchased at the show. The point I am making is: Yes treasure it but be sure to enjoy it as well.  Posted Tuesday, January 10, 2023 by Ex Sou Ry

 Q3979 Lock ID?  Can anyone help me identify the railroad that this switch lock is marked for? It is stamped S.H.R.R. on the back panel and is marked Adams & Westlake in TINY letters on the shackle.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, December 25, 2022 by JMS   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. As a start, purely based on the initials, the only likely match on a run thru the 'S' section of Bill Edson's 'Railroad Names' book is "Stone Harbor Railroad" which was reported from 1921 to 1932 in the Atlantic City, New Jersey area. It was part of the Reading and became part of the Pennsylvania Reading Seashore Lines. As a side note, I have now seen for sale many vintage and rare locks similarly marked with small stamped initials. I suspect that some very major prior collector(s) marked their prize finds this way, themselves, no doubt as a way to keep track of the items in the collection. And their collections may have now been broken up and become spread widely. Steel stamp sets are readily available, of course both to lock manufacturers and the general public. Can anyone substantiate that lock mfrs.(or collectors?) used this form of marking?  Posted Wednesday, December 28, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3978 Lamp Info?  I have had this for a while, it is a large lamp with a slide door to the burner access. Looks like original silver paint inside and out, although inside is blackened with soot. Bottom is yellow and a Dietz pattern, with burner and tank attached. It seems shop built - everything is soldered, it is solid, but the shape seems to be made to accommodate the base. Four way lenses. Have you ever seen anything like this? Thanks for any help,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, December 9, 2022 by HH   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I am terribly sorry to suggest this, but this lamp appears to me to be one of the fairly recent imports from India that were "shop made" over there. "'Railroad' anything" seems to be holding its value better than many other collecting areas, so fakers and scammers focus on "railroad" items to make the most profit. Some of the more honest ones call them "decorator items" and sell them to that market and unwary RR buyers.Dishonest scammers sell them as authentic railroad pieces. Link 1 is somewhat similar lamp selling on eBay (at least the listing is honest). There is a "look" you begin to spot if you see enough of these - very poor quality workmanship, and artificially made to seem old. You have a good eye and spotted red flags with your lamp: painted INSIDE (American makers never did this) and artificially coated with soot, except if it was "that" sooty any paint inside should have burned off (the soot was probably created from a dirty candle); tank/burner apparently permanently attached to the bottom, again never done here by American makers. I surely hope you didn't pay much for this. If I am mistaken about any of this I would welcome correction.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, December 10, 2022 by JMS

 Q3977 Pullman Blanket  About a year ago I purchased a Pullman blanket with markings that I had never seen before, online or elsewhere. I am including a picture of the blanket. My apologies as it is the only photo I have and the blanket is stored away at the moment. As you can see, it is similar and color and design as many of the other blankets, with the only difference being its slightly smaller size (48x72), the much simpler PULLMAN block name, and the lack of any numbering. I am looking for any information about when this blanket was made and where it was used on the trains.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, December 4, 2022 by Andy   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I have been watching Pullman blankets for quite a few years and have never seen one like this. As far as I know, Pullman always included a number representing the year of production in addition to the name PULLMAN. Link 1 is to this Board's Q&A section about questionably authentic Pullman blankets. The size of your blanket seems suspicious to me: 48 x 72 seems too "even," these old blankets tended to stretch or shrink into odd dimensions. Another offbeat thought is I wonder if this was made for a movie prop? Maybe someone had this one made up with a distinctly different style of PULLMAN letter and no numbers so it was impossible to confuse with a genuine blanket, and how many movie goers would know?! I have an online store and have been approached numerous times by prop people wanting to buy items for movies. When they can't find what they want, they often have them made. I thought I had a sale once (a genuine Pullman blanket), but the movie guy waffled and said they were too leery about copyright/trademark infringement - I suggested they fold the blanket so some of the design would not show - but still no dice. Your blanket has a GREAT look overall, but the decoration is so dramatically different - I wonder if this was the purpose for which it was made.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, December 10, 2022 by JMS

A. JMS - Thanks for your reply! I took the blanket out of storage and measured it again and it is 48 x 76, so a few inches longer than I stated in my original question. I was also able to get more info on the blanket from a curator at the Illinois Railway Museum. He stated that he had seen a blanket like mine several years ago on display as a part of a history of unions exhibit and it is a porter's blanket. I was surprised to hear this as my understanding was that the porter's used repurposed passenger blankets that were died blue, but he stated that these were made as well. The slightly smaller size and simple block letter design distinguished them from the passenger blankets, as well as the lack of a number. He thought the blanket was very rare as there would only be one or two of these per car versus 30 of the passenger blankets, and they would likely not get replaced as often as the passenger blankets did. He said I might be able to get more info from the Smithsonian, so that is what I am planning to do next. I hope he is right, but I am also prepared to hear that he wasn't. Posted Thursday, December 22, 2022 by Andy

A. Andy, thanks for the great followup. I'm glad you are pursuing this. Yes, Pullman dyed blankets blue (it's hard to even see the name on most) for porters (and other workers) to use, once they were too worn for passengers. I've rather "watched" Pullman blankets for some time now, but have never seen another like yours; didn't know what to make of it. Most fakes I've come across seem to try to duplicate the originals rather than make a dramatically different design. So I hope you can get reliable information.  Posted Sunday, December 25, 2022 by JMS

 Q3976 ETW Lantern Info?  I bought this E T Wright & Co lantern yesterday. It’s marked GTR on top and globe along with ETW&Co on globe. It says patented 1908 also and where it was made. I cannot find another example of this lantern or what model or year it is. The bail doesn’t fold down and it has a strange clip. Any information would be appreciated!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, December 4, 2022 by Ron S   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Barrett's Vol. 1 of the Encyc. of RR Lighting, in their Canadian section, has 4 or 5 pages on E.T. Wright of Hamilton, ON. with pix of several of their lanterns which were widely sold to Canadian RR's. Wright started business in 1908 and went at least thru 1927 and then the co. was bought out but continued to make lanterns. From the several pix, yours looks to be their Model 13, which Barrett saw in both a 1913 catalog and a 1927 price list. There is a particular note that Wright ordered their own globes cast with their name integral, as you see.  Posted Friday, December 9, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3975 Lantern ID?  Came across this Lantern and could not resist as I liked the look of it. It has a wheel cut globe that's B & A. And I have never seen a lantern like this before. So if it's real if you know what type of lantern and what it dates to I would appreciate it. If it's fake you can all make fun of me. Thanks for your help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, December 4, 2022 by BB   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Your lantern is a scarce model made by the Excelsior Lantern Co. of New York and dates to the early 1870s. Posted Sunday, December 4, 2022 by ASwoyer

 Q3974 Keen Kutter Lock  I have a Keen Kutter lock which has T&BV RR on the back. Has been in my family about 100 years. I can’t find if they made any Keen Kutter locks except [for the] Santa Fe.  Posted Thursday, December 1, 2022 by George   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Keen Kutter made numerous signal locks like yours, which is the Trinity & Brazos Valley. One of these just sold two weeks ago by a well-known catalog sales place out of the Georgetown, Colo area. This is one of the harder ones to come by, so you have a good heirloom. Keen Kutter locks were not a quality item and I've seen more broken-open ones than functioning ones. The internal mechanisms were just not well made. Metal detectors have found them along rights of ways when frustrated signal employees broke them off and tossed them besides the tracks decades ago. Arnall's Reference guides over the six editions he put out, have illustrated some of the other railroads you find in KK style. Nice to look at but the insides are as I said- junk.  Posted Thursday, December 1, 2022 by N

A. Here is the auction for the Keen Kutter lock with the same Railroad markings as George's (Link 1) Click on the green VIEW THE AUCTION button at top center, and the lock is Lot 426. I wouldn't name people, but I don't see any reason not to provide prices realized at an auction; learning about places to research for determining the value especially of a family heirloom can only help the RR collecting hobby.  Link 1  Posted Friday, December 2, 2022 by JMS

A. Here are pics of the lock. Link 1  Posted Sunday, December 4, 2022 by George

A. George, sadly your lock was at some point taken apart- perhaps for repair, or by a locksmith with less talent than a true professional- who would know how to make a key without taking the lock apart to expose the levers. I've seen the work of "locksmiths" who would have been better suited to being butchers. The area surrounding the rivets tells me it's been disturbed and there are grinding marks seen on what is called the case cover. It's still a good lock and a nice heirloom.  Posted Sunday, December 4, 2022 by N

 Q3973 Dressel Lantern Tag  This is a short globe Dressel lantern seen at a local auction. Has anyone ever seen one of these- with an embossed tag READING CO soldered to the rim rather than being pressed into the rim from the underside, as was standard practice? I have seen photos of tall-globe Dressel lanterns with soldered tags, but those are found on the chimney, not the rim. Your help is appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, December 1, 2022 by N   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Fellas, please realize this is not a car seal applied to an unmarked lantern. The curved ends are machine cut, not cut with tin snips, so it is authentic.  Posted Thursday, December 1, 2022 by N

A. I have seen a few examples of these tags on lanterns but if you look closely, these tags are also spot welded on the brim and sometimes soldered as well.I have had a couple lanterns marked OMAHA RY with tags like these and always thought that these may have been part of a rush order or maybe a small order to the factory. DJB  Posted Friday, December 2, 2022 by DJB

A. This kind of tag is also found on the sliding doors of marker lamps, for example. So the technique would have been ready-to-hand in the factory and as DJB notes might have been used on any kind of small order, maybe if the other tooling got lost or broken, or if the mfr. was trying to market a new customer RR. Out of curiosity I would also check the underside, beneath the tag, to see if maybe the tag was used to cover up something else!  Posted Monday, December 5, 2022 by RJMc

A. This is an early model Dressel short globe and the tag marking shows up on them fairly often. This model has the catch for the globe retainer attached with a screw and nut rather than a rivet. These have a unique globe retainer and a smooth bottom, no circular ridge as on the later model. Examples I've seen were Omaha Ry, WT Co., Erie RR and DT&I. I'm sure there are others. Posted Monday, December 12, 2022 by JFR

 Q3972 Baggage Tag?  Is this a baggage tag? It seems different than examples I’ve found on your site. I recently found it in an Arkansas hay field. Thanks for any info you can share.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, December 1, 2022 by Mark   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Indeed it is a baggage tag from the Baltimore & Ohio Southwestern and it traveled a long ways from the home area to get to where you found it. While you may not have seen plentiful examples of your style of tag on here, it is a typical one. A good reference for all sorts of rail tags is the site which is a real education. Exposure to soil and water has turned it green and the finish is called verdigris, which is brass "rust". If I were the owner, I would soak it in an old glass of 25% ammonia and 75% water for four days with saran wrap stretched over the top of the glass, to get the unnatural green color off. It is supposed to be yellow brass. Do not buff the thing or wirebrush it.  Posted Thursday, December 1, 2022 by travelrobbbbbbb

 Q3971 Dressel caboose lamp  I picked up a 4 lens Dressel caboose lamp, and it has plastic red and green lenses and a burner inside. Are the plastic lenses original? Would they melt from the heat? Thanks for any help.  Posted Sunday, November 27, 2022 by Nick G   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The short answer is that plastic lenses were widely used by RR's beginning some time around World War II, for all types of lamps with all kinds of illumination. Just put the words ' plastic lens ' (no quote marks) into the word or phrase search box to see many, many prior Q & A's all about this topic.  Posted Sunday, November 27, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3970 1923 Adlake Lantern  My question is what paint is used on inside of globe? The one I have is flaking, and I would like to restore it. The globe is etched ERIE R.R. on outside. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thank You.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, November 27, 2022 by JD   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Lantern globes were almost never painted; in all recent years the RR's ordered glass of whatever color they wanted. It appears that your globe is a home-made one. Its hard to tell from the pic whether the light was supposed to show thru the red, or be blocked by it. Either way, the kind of paint known as "bulb dye" should work for you. In the past, bulb dye was often used to turn a clear bulb into red or yellow, typically for automotive use. The electric bulbs get quite hot, particularly when painted over, so the bulb dye is made to withstand heat. You can commonly find bulb dye at automotive stores and truck stops, and as noted in the Link (which explains all about how to do it) at craft stores, as well. Be prepared for a higher price than most other kinds of paint.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, November 27, 2022 by RJMc

A. Looking at the picture, it's obvious that this is an ADLAKE KERO globe (it's marked), meaning it is an authentic RR globe, and it is new enough that it falls into RJMc's comment"the RRs ordered glass of whatever color they wanted." So it was originally completely clear. With the kind of paint that is on it, it sure looks like someone (NOT the railroad) decided to make it a "pretty" red over clear like a two-color globe and used probably an enamel type paint. To correctly "RESTORE" this globe means removing the paint - NOT replacing it.  Posted Saturday, December 10, 2022 by JMS

 Q3969 DIETZ #39 Brasstop ID  I have this lantern and I am looking for some information to further identify it. I cannot find this exact variation anywhere. All of the metal is magnetic except for the brass top. What makes this stand out, is the brass top with concentric circles. I have not found this exact top, even in steel, anywhere. Another detail that stands out is how the bail connects to the frame and how the frame is shaped in that area. Otherwise, in my opinion, it looks the same frame-wise as another model that is all steel. The burner dial is also shorter compared to others I have seen in a NO 39. It is an E. Miller Meriden CT . Any information would be appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, November 13, 2022 by DM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Barrett in Vol. 1 of the comprehensive Encyclopedia of Railroad Lighting mentions Edward Miller twice. Once to say that "Edward Miller & Connecticut manufactured lamps, but we have been unable to confirm ... any railroad lamps." (hence no helpful pix) and the second quote lists Edward Miller & Co. as someone the Dietz Co. or predecessors sued for patent infringement. However, the section of the book immediately ahead of the Dietz section is for the F.O. Dewey Co. There are three pix in that section of "brass top lanterns" apparently identical to yours. Armspear also made very similar "brass top" lanterns, shown in Barrett, after taking over Dewey. Posted Thursday, November 17, 2022 by RJMc

A. To confirm and add to RJMc's response, the Edward Miller Company sold lamps and parts. I have seen any number of railroad lanterns with wick raiser knobs (I assume this is what you mean by "burner dials") made by "non-railroad" lamp companies; another common find is Plume & Atwood. See Link 1 for a good Wikipedia writeup of the Miller company.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, November 19, 2022 by JMS

 Q3968 Distinguishing Real from Fake  I grew up in W. Central MN (Wadena) within 30-50 yards for the GN RR (and NP about 200 Yds away) and have several RR Kerosene lanterns. As a kid we played on and around the tracks routinely and in my HS years I found a Signal lamp which at the time I didn’t make much of it and put in my dads barn. After 2 years of college and 3 years in the Army I came home and it was gone and I have been trying fill that craving for years. I see GN RR Signal lamps on line but want to know the real thing from a fake. Can somebody help me sort this out? Thank you.  Posted Sunday, November 6, 2022 by Dan   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The best way to start on this is in the Archives here on the RRiana site. The first link is to the "Lamps" page where you can see many examples of various lamps used for various purposes to give yourself a good grounding in what the authentic lamps look like, as well as pick out what kind of lamp you are trying to replace. The second link is to the "Fakes and Repros" section which has a paragraph about lamps. Note that the latter-day Handlan lamps are not really 'fakes' since they were made by the original mfr. with original equipment, but few if any of them ever were on a working railroad.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Monday, November 7, 2022 by RJMc

A. I live in the Twin Cities area and have been collecting at on line sites and at local railroad shows for over 25 years and I can't ever recall seeing any fake GN or NP lamps or lanterns. They might exist, but if so no one has said anything to me about it. But recently there was a facebook discussion where someone took a SOO LINE tag off a Handlan switch lamp and put it on an Adlake switch lamp. The Handlan font is distinctive and it didn't look right on the Adlake. If you have concerns either this Q&A Board or a Facebook Railroad Lantern page can provide information.  Posted Tuesday, November 22, 2022 by JEM

 Q3967 Flagging Kit  Can you tell me approximately what year this flagging kit was made? Also, we have looked closely for a manufacture name, and found nothing. Do you know? Item was picked up at the Tucson RR roundhouse by a retiring engineer in 1998. Thank You,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, October 29, 2022 by DR   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Thing laying next to it at bottom looks like a torpedoe. Read prior posts, could be dangerous. Posted Sunday, October 30, 2022 by DC

A. Once again CAUTION. The small red packet with lead straps is definitely a torpedo. See immediately prior Q 3966. Posted Sunday, October 30, 2022 by RJMc

A. Flagging kits were made to bundle all flagging equipment like caps, flag, fussee’s (or flairs) together for easy transport. They were used from steam days until present. The age is pretty much impossible to tell but yours looks pretty new. Posted Monday, October 31, 2022 by Ex Siy RY

A. To add a bit to the torpedo warnings. You may well find the small red torpedos, usually plainly marked "DANGER", but without the lead straps. This is because railroaders are very creative people. When riding a freight train, and needing to throw off some kind of paper message to someone on the wayside (usually a tower operator or station agent), they would slide those thin lead straps out of a torpedo and wrap them around their paper message. Thus tightly wrapped and weighted, the message (but not the torpedo!!) was thrown off the moving train at the feet of the person standing on the wayside, with much less risk of it flying away in the slipstream or being dragged under the train and destroyed. Of course, this left that torpedo basically useless since it could no longer be fastened to a rail. I do not know how those leftover torpedos were disposed of.... Posted Sunday, November 20, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3966 What is this?  This looks like a two piece seal that is closed over lead ribbon. The round seal is about 1.5 inches in diameter and about .25 inches thick. It does not open. It was in a box of railroad things my father collected. I was able to identify some rail tie date nails but other than thinking these looked like some kind of seal, I wasn't sure. I can't find a matching image.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, October 25, 2022 by JH   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Just put Lead Seal into the phrase seach box on left top and you'll get a number of entries explaining the use of the Lead Seal Press tool (pliers like crimper). This would be the seal itself, probably unused if there are no marks impressed. Posted Tuesday, October 25, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. CAUTION: Those flat lead straps look suspiciously like the ones used on track torpedos, and the item itself is about the right size. For more discussion put the word 'torpedo' (without the quotes) to see several prior Q's, going all the way back to Q129 which inquired about what was probably a foreign-made metal shell torpedo looking pretty similar to what you have. The powder mixture used in torpedos always remains dangerously explosive (although very stable over time) and should be disposed of very carefully.  Posted Tuesday, October 25, 2022 by RJMc

A. Again, CAUTION!! If there is any chance at all that this is a torpedo, DO NOT try squeezing it with any kind of pliers!! You could lose all or part of your hand. (Most common lead car seals were much smaller in diameter than 1 inch and usually had wires, not straps.) Posted Tuesday, October 25, 2022 by RJMc

A. If this one is an older version torpedo, DO NOT HANDLE IT AT ALL. Here's a link to an article (Link 1) where just rubbing the surface may have set one off in the hands of an El Paso boy in 1946. No mention of pressure, just heat from friction apparently? (Military blasting caps, aka primers, provide both heat and pressure to set off C-4. You need both, but this stuff seems to go off with either.) There seems to be little certainty over what this stuff was made of, but an antique wood case on Worthpoint indicates the maker was a Powder in Blasting Powder. Put a metal bucket over it and make the call for professional disposal. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, October 26, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. I opened one tin. I still have no clue even after being with a museum curator and collectors in person. [Webmaster Note: This was sent before the above cautionary responses were posted. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, October 26, 2022 by JH

A. I've emailed JH to alert her to read the responses posted above. Thanks to RJMc and ShastaRoute for the cautionary posts!! She may have dodged a serious incident. Posted Wednesday, October 26, 2022 by Web Editor

A. I appreciate the heads up! The small canister was opened while I was at a museum last evening and no one there knew of the possible risk. I will check with someone at my local fire department.  Posted Wednesday, October 26, 2022 by J H

A. We did a lot of 'chemistry' in the basement years ago. Research then in the junior high school library revealed that torpedo material is typically made of potassium chlorate, sulfur, and glass powder mixed and made into a form of yellow cake or pellet. The friction and heat generated by a rail vehicle running over it and smashing it detonates it. It is designed not to cause damage, but to make enough noise to provide a warning of danger ahead to an engineer on a VERY noisy steam locomotive. Other, much lesser friction and heat, and possibly a static electric spark, can also detonate it. Separately the component materials are not particularly dangerous. It is only the combination of the potent chlorate oxidizer, the combustible sulfur, and the friction of things sliding over the glass powder that causes the explosive result. Yes, we did make our own in the basement. And yes, under a train they DID explode with quite a bit of noise. No damage resulted. At that time on the railroad torpedos were in fairly common use and sometimes got left out on the track when some work was completed. So one going off unexpectedly was not too rare an occurrence and caused no great comment.  Posted Wednesday, October 26, 2022 by RJMc

A. Here is a good clear illustration of how torpedos looked in 1894 (there are probably some of these STILL around, somewhere!!). This is extracted from the massive Manning, Maxwell, and Moore 1894 railway supply catalog. I was hoping maybe they showed flagging cases to answer the other part of Q3967, but no luck on that score. The case in that Q is a very complex piece of tinwork. I don't know if any of the RR in-house shops made anything quite that fancy, but they may have.  Link 1  Posted Monday, October 31, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3965 Baggage Tag  I am trying to narrow down a 'more approximate'date for a tag I found metal detecting. The maker's name l believe may be the clue:( F.T. Foster Philada ). Does anyone know when he was making these tags for the Western Atlantic R.R.? I have emailed Scott Czaja @Tag town, and he put it in the 1860 -1870 range, give or take 5 years. I tried researching it for many hours, but couldn't find any name to go with 'Foster' that had an occupation which could have produced the tags. Any and all help would be very much appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, October 25, 2022 by JDL   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. You might be able to find when the company was in business, by looking in Philadelphia city directories.  Posted Tuesday, November 1, 2022 by JMS

 Q3964 Time Check Tag  Would you have any information on how this tag was used? I found the maker but not sure if it is a RR tag. Thanks.  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, October 25, 2022 by John   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Employees presented these checks to identify themselves for timekeeping/payroll purposes when they entered or left many industries. That was the system widely used before 'stamp in' time clocks and time cards became commonly available.  Posted Tuesday, October 25, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3963 Lantern Paint Removal  I recently purchased a model 250 lantern in great shape but the previous owner painted in with a heavy coat of semigloss paint. Can I simply use paint stripper but will this harm the metals finish? I want restore it to its original bare metal appearance.  Posted Sunday, October 23, 2022 by Walt   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is actually a highly contentious question among the various fraternities of lantern owners, users, sellers and collectors. It often seems that any 4 of these folks will have 6 or 7 opinions on this subject. "Best Practices" are NOT agreed upon and may well/should depend on which of the many possible materials the item is made of and coated with. To start, the Link is to the Restoration page in the Archives here on the RRiana Site and many, many prior questions have thrashed this topic. Putting the words 'paint remover' (without the quotes) in the By word or Phrase Box will bring up just the first 10. Link 1  Posted Monday, October 24, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3962 Plate Location?  Would you have any idea where this piece would have been located on a train? Thanks for any help you can give. It's cast steel, about 10 inches wide, 6 inches high, 1 inch thick.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, October 13, 2022 by Karl   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Journal box cover, allowing access to axel when needing oiled. Posted Thursday, October 13, 2022 by h v coll

A. Just to aid the site's search engine, are we concluding this M.C.R.R. sample mark is from the Michigan Central Railroad? Posted Friday, October 14, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. Maine Central ? Posted Friday, October 14, 2022 by jms

A. I'm the owner and it's Maine Central Railroad. Thanks  Posted Friday, October 14, 2022 by jms

A. To allow interchange service across all of North America, the railroads (on their own initiative) standardized almost everything about interchange cars beginning in the 1800's. So the numbers 4 1/4 and 8 on this box cover designate that the axle it was on was an AAR Standard Type B. Just saying that specifies all of the axle, bearing and truck frame dimensions and performance requirements, and immediately informed anyone making field repairs what parts they might need. The friction bearing surface itself was 8 inches wide on a 4 1/4 inch diameter axle seat. By the 1970's, when this type of bearing was still permissible in interchange, the AAR Manual of Standards and Recommended Practices permitted 4 axles of this size to carry a nominally 50-ton freight car at 24,000 lbs. per axle, or a passenger car for up to 85 mph service at 20,500 lbs per axle. For a passenger car rated for service at 86 to 100 mph the axle capacity had to be derated to only 19,000 lbs per axle. This is why the heavyweight Pullmans and the very heavy RR office cars rode on 6-wheel 3 axle trucks. The A842 is probably the casting pattern number (in this case probably at the RR's own foundry) and would not have a wider meaning off the owning RR. The Link is to a fairly current version of the standards for passenger cars but size B is no longer in use.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, October 15, 2022 by RJMc

A. What all that detail means is that your journal box cover could have been on any kind of car; freight, passenger, or steam locomotive tender. However, as fancy as it is, I would guess passenger car or steam loco tender. You may even be able to spot them on the axle ends in historic photos.  Posted Monday, October 17, 2022 by RJMc

A. MCRR is tough to define, as from the earliest railroads to present time, there were 20 lines using these initials. Probably half could be eliminated by dates of not being old enough for this type of cover, but that still leaves a lot of choices. Posted Wednesday, October 19, 2022 by h v coll

A. Probably overkill but I want to clarify that apparently there are two of us with "jms" initiasl ... I'm the "jms" who asked "Maine Central ?" (posted Friday, October 14) - I am NOT the "jms" who posted that they're the owner. How coincidental having the same initials. I'll sign with JMS in all caps.  Posted Sunday, October 23, 2022 by JMS

 Q3961 Doubletree Rig  I believe I have a doubletree rig, circa 1876, used to move railroad freight cars on the siding tracks. I believe it was hooked up to move the freight cars left on the siding tracks by the R.R., by oxen. It measures 8 feet 4 inches end to end! Distance between oxen butts when hooked up is 4 inches 8 inches, same as distance between 2 tracks. Any opinions welcome. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, October 10, 2022 by George S   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The distance I think you refer to is four feet eight (and one half) inches, the so called "standard gauge" between the two rails on most railroad tracks around the world (see link). But as noted in the link that same distance was used on many horse-drawn vehicles well before railroads of any kind even existed. So while it is possible that your piece of "draft gear" might have been used to move RR cars, the spacing alone is not a good indicator of how it may have been used.  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, October 12, 2022 by RJMc

A. I'm pleading total ignorance on this one, but the OldOregonPhotos site has some logging shots with two images of an oxen team pulling a log car or bunker over wooden rails. The spacing looks wide (to carry those fat logs) and I expect the team walked between the rails. Looked like a dual yoke set-up but didn't see any kind of equalizer equipment in that. (Was this something to go behind the animals, separate from the main yoke?). We know from images that the South Pacific Coast Newark branch used a lone horse directly tied to the car and traversing the roadbed in the center. Also, there are a number of shots of mixed teams, but couldn't find anything like this doubletree in useage. Were they uncommon or just out of view? Posted Friday, October 14, 2022 by ShastaRoute

 Q3960 Lantern Problem  I've got a 1912 Adlake lantern. I'm not a collector and don't know anything about it . . . I just enjoy it and light it occasionally. I had an issue with it last night. The flame seemed to get away. After I extinguished it, I removed the burner from the fount and could see that the upper 'chamber' that I used to see when filling it was gone. Just a ring remained. The image shows a collar that used to be fastened (soldered?) just below the opening. After my flame-up, it's now just loose inside the pot. (I'm holding it up with a pick for the photo.) Does it matter that it's now loose down in there? I don't know what function it served. Other questions: (1). Why did it flame up to begin with? Wick too low? (2). What is recommended flame/wick height Thanks so much for your help! I really appreciate it.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, October 7, 2022 by Revgrid   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Prior Q 2043 has photos and a lot of discussion about runaway flame in an Adlake marker lamp. It talks about similar phenomena to what you observed. Did you refuel the lantern recently? If so, there has been considerable debate (also referenced in that prior Q) about how some products now sold as "kerosene" may meet recent technical specs but have MUCH lower flash points than traditional products and can produce runaway flames and sometimes explosions. Woody Kirkman's website (see Link) discusses satisfactory fuels for inside or outside lantern use with the reasons for recommending them.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, October 8, 2022 by RJM

A. The loose piece is a slosh baffle that was added to the standard signal oil pots so they could use kerosene, a much lower viscosity fuel. The burner should be a kerosene burner with the draft cowl (usually marked Adlake, Simplex, etc.) It does not matter if the baffle is loose. It helped prevent sloshing against the wick which can cause a flame to leap a bit when the lantern is swung, moved etc. If the wick is trimmed clean & straight across the top the normal burn height of the flame is about the size of a nickel. Anything bigger it'll usually start to smoke etc. Use K1 kerosene, Medallion clear lamp oil, or Kleen Heet. Posted Tuesday, October 11, 2022 by James

 Q3959 Late 19th Century Passenger Car Numbers  I'm researching late 19th century passenger cars in the North Eastern and Southern United States. I have read that railroads numbered passenger cars according to acquisition, but I am curious if the numbers could also have regional meanings, mechanical indications, etc.? From what I can tell, passenger cars from this era have three digit numbers. Any information as to how passenger cars in the United States were numbered circa 1880 would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!  Posted Tuesday, October 4, 2022 by Leanne   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It is first important to note that there was no universal numbering or ID system for passenger cars in the US in 1880. Each passenger car was a piece of property belonging to a private railroad company and each company decided separately how to paint, letter, and number and/or name its cars. A unique ID was very important for maintaining maintenance records. Most coaches (chair cars)and baggage cars had numbers; most sleeping, lounge, or parlor cars were named. A unique name and/or number was created by adding the RR's name or initials, so for example, there may have been multiple cars named "New York" or numbered 102. It was adding the initals PRR to make car "PRR New York" that distinguished that one car from other, possibly very similar cars when they were next to each other, or even coupled together, at some terminals. Pullman Company owned many cars, most named and some numbered. It was adding the Pullman Co. name, rather than a RR name, that made the car ID's unique. Today, Amtrak acts as a separate RR and assigns its own names and numbers in a similar manner that Pullman formerly did. Many small RR's had numbering systems that looked like a "shotgun approach" in which the numbering was not even consecutive, with many names and numbers just carried over from a larger RR which had previously owned the car. Large RR's often had coach numbers into the four digits; on the later New York Central, Southern Pacific and some others even five digit numbers were applied, in many cases along with names, to passenger cars. The publication "Official Railway Equipment Register" since about 1885 has served as a comprehensive directory of the various freight, and often passener, cars owned by each railroad and private car company. The Link is to a copy from 1908 which you can look at on the web. In that edition, on page 369 you can see the passenger cars listed for the Seaboard Air Line; on page 379 for Southern Railway. Note that named first class cars are not included in those listings; at that time they would have been supplied by the Pullman Co. which apparently published a separate guide for its cars. Earlier versions of the Register are also available online or at libraries.  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, October 5, 2022 by RJM

A. Yes, a big and complex subject...glad RJM decided to try and tackle it first. Just to be clear, prior to 1900 it was the "Pullman Palace Car Company" in name which was both a builder and an operator. Each car manufactured would carry a production number as well as a reference to a floor plan from which it was designed...these are internal records. Externally, a name was taken from history, myth, or literature to identify the car...that system gave over to the series names in the 20th century but was in place during your selected era. [Names could be very fancy sounding, but some could be uniquely tagged for a particular personage (homage style) just as was done with locomotives back then.]The actual ownership or control of Pullmans was by contractual arrangement twixt the railroad company and George Pullman's organization. And there are other companies that compete with Pullman in that era. Posted Wednesday, October 5, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. To raise another complication, there is the ticketing system. They don't know in advance exactly which car (with a physical number identity) will be used. So a card is created with a car number (a boarding number) and seats are sold to fill that imaginary car...this is what the passenger sees..and this information is transmitted to the different places selling space. (Centralized clearing control developed along with this.) That other number may be posted in a car window during operation even though the car has a separate physical identity. Whether this system was already being used in the 1880's in some crude fashion is a good question. Cars like common coaches were probably handled as general sales on a get it when available basis. Parlor cars might have advance reservations back then, similar to sleepers, and might then have this created "line number". Posted Wednesday, October 5, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. I failed to mention probably the most important reason for unique car names and/or numbers. Somebody had to tell the switch crews which particular cars to go get from a storage yard to assemble into each train, and which cars to switch in and out at intermediate points. In North America, until fairly recently, both passenger and freight trains got made up on a daily basis and seldom stayed in one consist for long. Having each car uniquely numbered was critical to tracking where everything was located to be able to control the flow of all the rolling stock. In other parts of the world it is more typical to build up a trainset and leave it together as a unit for weeks or months at time, making the individual car numbers still needed, but less important. Posted Wednesday, October 5, 2022 by RJMc

A. Might look at Q3672 for a two volume standard reference on passenger car development by White (of Smithsonian).  Posted Thursday, October 6, 2022 by ShastaRoute

 Q3958 Lamp Wick not Moving  I have an Adams and Westlake oil lamp. Comparing it to other pictures it was a mail room lamp. My Dad restored it over 50 years ago for my mom. I would love to use it but cant figure out how to replace the wick. I'm not sure if in his restoration effort it was permanently soldered together where it shouldn't be. I've dug and dug and have gotten all but a little of the old wick out. When I turn the wick adjuster, it does not turn it up or down. I can see some small metal cogs down in there but they don't move either. Any information is appreciated.  Posted Sunday, October 2, 2022 by PP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The metal (usually brass) cog wheels have to turn with the adjuster shaft to cause the wick to move up or down. The fit holding the brass cogs to the adjuster shaft is fairly delicate and is often broken loose when someone tries to force an aged stiff wick to move. The most practical suggestion is to replace the burner since the inside of the wick shaft makes the cogs almost inaccessible to attempt any kind of repair. Parts such as burners for this type of lamp are commonly available. Posted Sunday, October 2, 2022 by RJMc

A. Thank you for more wise advice and suggestions, RJMc! Without a photo, I'm trying to envision PP's lamp and would like to add a Link 1 that PP can hopefully use for replacement parts. PP, these people are terrific and should be glad to help you get what you need. That said, another thing I might try is to soak the stuck parts in penetrating oil or mineral spirits (for at least several days) and see if anything loosens up. I agree with RJMc that too often, people will force fragile parts and break them (including wick raisers, which are notoriously fragile), but it may be worth a try to "unfreeze" a stuck part before laying out money. If loosening efforts don't work, well, the worst case scenario is still the same, having to buy a replacement part.  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, October 5, 2022 by JMS

 Q3957 C&A RR Register  We recently came across this item while cleaning out a family home. It is a ledger of some sort dated from September 25, 1911 - December 31,1911. It is bound in a canvas(?) binding and measures approximately 12 in. x 15 in. The information is written in pencil and records the date, train, signals, arrival, departure, engineman, conductor, freight cars, and passenger cars for each train that came thru. We've tried to research the history of what this is online, but since we really don't even know what to call it, we don't really know where to begin. Can you give us some information on what this is, and any suggestions on where to begin our research?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, September 19, 2022 by Steve A   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I cannot read the print, but it appears to be a tower or dispatchers record of train movements. There are certain collectors that look for these items. Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2022 by h v coll

A. Yes, a train register. The fact that numbers of cars, both passenger and freight, are being recorded suggests this was a record for a place such as the tower for a crossing or diamond or where somethiing like joint track was in use, and charges were apportioned between two or more railroads according to which RR used the tracks more. And all the timing information played into debates about who did or did not get delayed or given priority.  Posted Saturday, September 24, 2022 by RJMc

A. Try this Historical Society (Link 1) - best of luck !  Link 1  Posted Saturday, September 24, 2022 by JMS

A. From what info. is readily available, the mechanical interlocking at Girard was installed in 1900. Maps of 1892 show one line crossing this Chicago-St. Louis main of the Alton, but elsewhere is noted three total railroads having Girard as a primary station.  Posted Saturday, September 24, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. At this time, Illinois Traction System ran through Girard. ITS was meant to be an interurban running hourly trains, but freight became an ever growing factor on their lines. Looking at another interlocking plant on ICRR and another steam road, ITS crossed both lines on a curvature just beyond the main crossing. If this situation also existed in Girard, then there may have been some extra concern with movements and train orders for this tower? Unfortunately, there's very little online info. about operations in this town. Why would the engineman and conductor have to sign (for TO's?)this book when they could be getting orders on the fly? Was it necessary to verify they had recieved clearance from the tower? And one of those listed trains was arriving and departing in only 60 seconds...not much time to get down and do paperwork. So what was so important about Jerkwater Illinois? Posted Sunday, September 25, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. Finally located an RPPC image (Link 1) of a Girard station claimed to be Illinois showing the T.O. semaphore there but no crossing can be seen in this tight view. It was a one level affair with no visible way to be watching another line, but that doesn't preclude a crossing just out of this scene. Link 1  Posted Sunday, September 25, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. @ShastaRoute, I looked at the entries too and it does look like some very short times between arrival and departure. Just a question, I don't know, but I wonder if these were trains that simply passed through and did not stop? Especially if this was a small enough station there may have been no reason to stop, but the time of a train passing through should have been recorded. Just a guess. RE: pictures - I found a 1950s photo claiming to be Girard IL (Link 1) and another page with two pictures (Link 2) but only a partial view of the station. I hope this is helpful.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Wednesday, September 28, 2022 by JMS

A. I am trying to find it but I saw in one of the references I found that apparently Girard was on the C&A's main line. The station pictures I found are quite different than the RPPC - wonder if this one was a replacement.  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, September 28, 2022 by JMS

A. Not to be a troublemaker, but because the photos I found were a brick structure instead of wood (the only explanation being the newer station is a replacement?), I had to wonder if the seller of the Girard real photo postcard mixed up the state. There are towns named Girard also in Ohio and Pennsylvania. I found a book about Girard, PA that shows a picture of the rail station (Link 1). It looks suspiciously like the other end of the station in the RPPC. I couldn't find a picture of the Ohio Girard station. We collect some postcards and I have to say sellers mixing up states does happen. ShastaRoute, good catch with no crossing showing in the postcard image!  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, September 28, 2022 by JMS

A. Brick structure is the Illinois Traction/Illinois Terminal station. The 'lectrik line meanders off, possibly toward a crossing, and a two-story white structure can be spotted peeking along behind the left side of the station...but I found no mention at all of any tower at a junction of lines. Being as the C&A was running fast trains over the route, I'd expect they would be looking early for a way to eliminate crossings that would bring a crew to a halt in order to actually have to sign for orders. This was a mining town, so there might be some facilities for car storage or switching work if that had any effect on passing traffic. Posted Wednesday, September 28, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. History pdf (Link 1) of Girard IL up to 1955. Second RR built from Virden in 1880...maps (1881 township) show this westside paralleling line crossing above Girard northside. In 1884, old C&A station burns..reportedly had a siding when built. So, new station must date around that time. (It's a soggy town so that RPPC of station built on mound might be correct.) Coal mines were added traffic but they played out circa 1922..might be why we find no new facilities after the traction station. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, September 28, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. The second road, Jacksonville & SouthEastern (aka Jacksonville SE Line) ends up in CB&Q in 1904 by aquisition of J. N.W. & S.E.. Variances in maps of alignment & crossing, but here (Link 1) leads to listing of interlock plants and control by road, etc.. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, September 28, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. Tracing that second line, we find it was ultimately held in the Jacksonville & St. Louis Railway Company put under control of CB&Q about 1905 (Link 1) but possibly not absorbed until that company was dissolved. The J.S.E. system had been broken up with this part renamed Jacksonville, Louisville & St. Louis Railway. [We have some evidence here of three total railroad stations around Girard, but it might be possible that there also was a tower installation controlling a crossing of two mains and maybe the traction line in the 1910 era.] At Richard Leonard's G&MO Gallery at, go to "Freight Train at Iles Tower, Springfield" for a shot of G&MO F-3 800B leading a drag past an old two-story white tower circa 1970. If one of these was in fact at Girard, then this book could have been employed at the tower rather than the station?? At any rate, it might be historically important for the lost road that brought us Pullmans and more, and a real snapshot in that time. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, September 28, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. Perhaps some answer here (Link 1) 574 approved application for changes to Girard interlocking to allow C&A to add second main track in 1911. Traffic must be booming at flatlands junction. (I don't know why that plant was listed by Chicagorailfan as Burlington. It seem to be Alton run.) Link 1  Posted Wednesday, September 28, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. Interesting location. There were 2 n/s RR tracks, along with the IT, plus the UP just to the west, plus a nearby mine. I doubt if the operator had many breaks!  Posted Monday, October 3, 2022 by h v coll

A. While this is mainly a modeler's blog site (Link 1), the section on Alton's freight cars in the 1920's gives a great explanation of what happened on these lines from the early century. Indeed, almost a rolling museum trapped in time. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, October 18, 2022 by ShastaRoute

 Q3956 Lantern Maintenance and Restoration  I would greatly appreciate any information you have about this lantern and would love to get it up and running! It takes a normal lantern battery and I’ve found new bulbs for it. I was able to turn it on one time after replacing the battery but that has been it. I've gently cleaned a few areas with no luck getting it to turn on again. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, September 13, 2022 by Shanda   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Q721 & Q971 (search box at bottom) have some general insight on the electric lanterns. WD-40 is waxy and leaves coating..not good for electro junctions or locks in low temperatures. PBlaster (an auto section product) is much better where juice is a concern..even inside a distributor cap. Busts rust but permits contacts to work. But it can't produce miracles where the parts deterioration problem is too severe. I'm sure you'll get more answers as folks drop by. Posted Wednesday, September 14, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. Kinda dumb suggestion but I wonder, did the first turn-on blow the bulb? Or maybe the bulb was defective. Try a different bulb?  Posted Wednesday, September 14, 2022 by JMS

A. Does the inside of the battery compartment show evidence of heavy corrosion, as discussed in Q721 and 971? If so, it is quite possible that the internal switch levers might be corroded away and broke after just the one use. But JMS is quite right. There are many, many different bulbs with the screw base that will fit into the lantern. But they have different voltage ratings, some as low as 1.5 volts or 3 volts. The very strong 6 volts available from the square-type battery will blow one of those lower-rated bulbs almost instantly, although they might glow very brightly for a brief time. The only way to tell is to read the specs on each bulb type very carefully. Another note: the blue lens on your lantern means it was used to mark places or tracks where work was being conducted, rather than to provide working light. It was and is strictly forbidden to move a train, cars, or engines marked with such a blue light, for the safety of the people working on the equipment. To make them more obvious, some of the lanterns like yours had flashers built in, or used bulbs that had an internal flasher right inside the bulb. So if the lantern comes on, but the bulb flashes, that might be entirely proper.  Posted Wednesday, September 14, 2022 by RJMc

A. I have a feeling that battery did blow the bulbs. I did not have the globe off so I’m not sure if one or both were working. The only bulbs I’ve found so far in this size are led. There isn’t any corrosion in the battery compartment. It’s a little tacky but clean. I’ll try the first suggestion with the cleaner to see if I can get the residue off. I would have to start removing rivets to see under the copper plate but it doesn’t look like it would be corroded. The base came off easily and everything is intact. Very simple structure with the lights moving across rails. Im still on the search for the bulbs to give it one more try. Thank you for all the help, information and suggestions!  Posted Thursday, September 15, 2022 by Shanda

A. Is there any kind of a brand name here. The round globe bulbs in a metal can Conger reads 502 and that might be the originals (from an AT&SF stamped one) node at base of filaments. These are screw base types. (A plastic Starlight 292 uses a pointy globe with flange neck PR13 with clear node and these are not screw base versions.) The best way to deal with an electrical or electro-mechanical component is to bench test with an equal power source...if it works, then the problem lies in the delivery system between it and the power source (the battery here). There is no point in repeatedly putting new components into a system that is bad only to find out you've wasted something that was not needed to begin with. Posted Thursday, September 15, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. I would wonder if the new LED type bulbs will work with the kind of lantern battery that may not be intended for LED bulbs? Just a guess but RJMc said it well: "There are many, many different bulbs with the screw base that will fit into the lantern. But they have different voltage ratings, some as low as 1.5 volts or 3 volts. The very strong 6 volts available from the square-type battery will blow one of those lower-rated bulbs almost instantly." Is there an electrician you can ask about this, without having to pay a substantial fee?  Posted Friday, September 16, 2022 by JMS

A. We tried a voltage meter and it’s definitely getting power to the right places. No name in the original bulbs and they both have yellow below the filament. I definitely think your right and the problem is with the bulbs.  Posted Saturday, September 17, 2022 by shanda

 Q3955 Cleaning the Haze off of a Globe  How should a lantern globe with a dried on haze be properly cleaned to remove the haze from the surface? I am not finding this specific information on this website nor on the Internet. (I am sorry if I missed it on this website). Thanks.  Posted Thursday, September 8, 2022 by TB   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Great point, so I checked Kirkman's site and under Lantern Care & Terminology section scrolled down to image of printed #40 Traffic Gard Instructions which reads "Wash Globe"...not much help. Putting Vinegar into the word search yields a lot on metal cleaning, but nyet for glass. But it is vinegar for ashtrays, glass shower doors, and window that may be it for globes and chimneys...nothing with volatile residual vapors that may go boom. Anyone ever use CLR on glass? Lighter fluid might be useful, but you'd want to wash it off afterwards. Ammonia, like Windex, may remove light smudge. Not sure about that whole Coca Cola soaking thing. Newspaper polishing is often touted for a finishing shine by collector glass hounds..guess it has something to do with lead and crystal and all that. Of course, this is all said for clear glass only...might need more info. for color and/or marked globes. Haven't even mentioned brake fluid or acetone, but one should never mix their drinks. Posted Thursday, September 8, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. BTW..The naysayers claimed hard water deposits on glass are doom, but I've used softscrub (like Comet with bleach) on ancient Anchor-Hocking and others with results of "sometimes she will and sometimes she won't, sometimes she does and sometimes she don't". It can get slippery with the glass, so make sure to rest it on thick toweling et al...damp cloth gives some resistance to that tendency to slide off. Never put pressure toward the glass, but only back and forth or it might bust. Small circular motions to get the stubborn spots....finger action, sponges, or fine dish pads, but no heavy scrubbers that might scratch. Posted Thursday, September 8, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. Found a number of discussions on the net. This one site (Link 1) for a lantern collection mentions oven cleaner, but not specifically related to your 'haze" problem. Note that the problem of exploding glass is often raised as an aside to cleaning. No one seems to be completely certain of the cause but be alert to temperature differentials between glass, ambient air, and any surface the globe is resting on. (If you've never seen a glass object shatter like this, it's a rather amazing event.) Link 1  Posted Thursday, September 8, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. The "bottle people" refer to this condition as "sick glass," and it is usually the kiss of death because it can't be removed. We have tried every method in the book with no success, but that said, you should at least try. I attached two links, one from a high end auction house and the other from the National Cambridgeglass collectors. A couple of possibles not mentioned above include denture cleaner and there is a recipe for using vinegar.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Saturday, September 10, 2022 by JMS

A. All of the answers so far seem to assume that the haze is something that has been added to the surface of the glass. The Link is to the Wikipedia article on "Glass Disease." It explains in great detail that glass is a very complicated material chemically, and it is not permanent or inert. Glass Disease is how the glass itself deteriorates and loses transparency. This is unfortunately similar to what happens to Lexan plastic (such as was used on the first generation of Amtrak cars when 'bulletproof' windows were required, and also is used on a lot of automobile headlight covers); sunlight penetrates the plastic and turns it translucent, sometimes all the way thru the pane of glazing material. There is no way to correct the Lexan problem other than to prevent it by coating the material before it is installed. As described in the Link for Stage 2, the haze you see on glass may actually be a network of very fine cracks down into the surface, as if the material had been wirebrushed. If this is the case, it is irreversible. Wetting the item may fill the cracks with water and cause clarity to return, but the haze will reappear as soon as the item dries out. If this is the case, there is nothing which any solvent could remove.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, September 10, 2022 by RJMc

A. Thank you all for the information. It appears I may need to add some clarity. I sometimes see railroad globes with a haze on them. It is definitely something on the surface, such as maybe dried kerosene or some other chemical that globes come in contact with. Much of the time, it appears that it could be scratched off but that would likely damage the surface of the globe. My guess is to soak the globe in something that would slowly dissolve the dried "haze" on the glass.  Posted Sunday, September 11, 2022 by DM

A. The above is why you never put fine glassware in a dishwasher! The chemical "detergent" eventually destroys the surface.  Posted Wednesday, September 14, 2022 by JMS

A. If the haze is on the inside of a lantern globe which has been used in service, the haze probably consists of a layer of baked-on soot mixed with leftover waxy material from the partial burning and evaporation of the kerosene (or other fuel, if a much older lantern.) Soot is a form of carbon, as are graphite and diamonds. Pure carbon is notoriously difficult to dissolve but there are some very strong organic solvents which will do it. The solvents tend to be highly volatile, flammable, and poisonous, so I hesitate to recommend them here. If someone has a globe they are willing to test, we should arrange an offline discussion as to what you can try.  Posted Sunday, September 18, 2022 by RJMc

A. All that said, there are commercially available "soot remover" compounds which can probably be found either as spray cans or liquidds. These are likely to be found in the sections of the big box stores where supplies for wood burning stoves are found. One note on the web desciibes using one of them very successfully to clean the heavily-sooted glass window of their wood stove, service fairly similar to the inside of a kerosene lantern globe. Be sure to read and follow any directions when using these chemicals. Posted Monday, September 19, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3954 Key ID Wanted  I recently picked up this key at a Midwest flea market. I'm wondering if anyone can identify it? There are so many CV keys on this site's database that it might be impossible to positively ID it. Also I've never seen or heard of C F HESSER as a maker, and I'm wondering if anyone knows anything about them? Thanks in advance for anyone's help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, September 3, 2022 by Jim   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Noting the "Cin. O", a Mr. C.F. Hesser of Cincinnati, OH and environs shows him in several different patent documents in the 1880-1890 time period. He is not listed as the inventor but as a witness and/or having the rights to the issued patents assigned to him. One of the patents was for a lever-operated arrangement to indicate whether or not a railroad car toilet closet was occupied, based on the weight of the occupant. He was also active in various technically-oriented organizations such as the Electric Light Association, and he may have been affiliated with the Cincinnati Electric Light Co. He seems to have been one of the first residents of the newly-formed Cincinnati suburb of Norwood. However so far I have seen no reference to the kind of company that would manufacture or supply locks and keys, although there is a reference to a C.F. Hesser Electric Light Co. in Cincinnati at 4th and Plum Sts. in the 1890's. Posted Sunday, September 4, 2022 by RJMc

A. The style of blank to make this key was commonly sold in locksmith shops over many decades -- even into the 1970's and in a few places still today -- and then stamped in almost any way a buyer wanted. So "Hesser" had no need to actually manufacture the keys. One of the more prominent "CVRY"'s was the Cumberland Valley which ran between Harrisburg, PA thru Hagerstown, MD and on into West Virginia. From very early on (1850's)it was a subsidiary of the Pennsylvania RR, but ran under its own name and reporting marks. I note that the bit pattern of your key -- with the right angle bend in the bit -- is essentially the same as the pattern of the key which became the PRR system standard and then the Penn Central and Conrail system standards. But the Cumberland Valley ran nowhere near Ohio and I can find no relationship between "Hesser" and the Cumberland Valley. There was also the Cuyahoga Valley Ry in the 1890's, in northern Ohio, but again not near Cincinnati and no apparent connection with "Hesser". That early CV in Ohio became part of B&O. Mr. C.F. Hesser in the early 1900's became a VP of the Cinci Electric Light Co., the kind of utility that often owned electric railways in addition to selling electric power to the public. But the Trolley and Interurban Directory shows no likely CVRy's for that kind of operation anywhere near Cincinnati.  Posted Monday, September 5, 2022 by RJMc

A. I know nothing about Mr Hesser - but (with repect) was not the Cumberland Valley a RailROAD not a RailWAY? (I get this all the time from lantern dealers at the Gaithersburg show in Maryland discussing how to tell a Cumberland Valley from a Central Vermont ...) See Link 1 and Link 2 . The Vermont operation is easier: CVRR until 1899 when it reorganized as CVRY. All that said, we've found that keys seemed to be marked RR or RY "regardless," depending on what the person ordering them specified or what the factory stamped on them. I may be wrong, but it seems the terms road and way apparently were a little more interchangeably used back in the day.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Saturday, September 10, 2022 by JMS

A. There likely are other CV lines, maybe even small ones... I looked on Google Books (which is distinct from "just" Google) and found references to another Ohio CV, the Connotton Valley Railway (CVRY)that was more in the Cleveland area (Link 1)... Another thought might be an electric railway; streetcars or trolleys.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, September 10, 2022 by JMS

A. From what I could find, there were at least 17 CVRR and 11 CVRY`s in existence. One could only guess as to which one this is from. Posted Sunday, September 11, 2022 by h v coll

 Q3953 A&W #250 Lantern  We recently acquired an amber globed Adams and Westlake # 250 kero lantern. The globe has the letters PN etched on one side, a small horseshoe with the letters NX Appears on the opposite side. I am thinking this one was from the mid 20’s. I have not been able to determine which railroad PN would represent. Can you help? Thank You.  Posted Sunday, August 28, 2022 by Sharen   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. "PN" was the official reporting mark for the Piedmont and Northern, a line with a very long and fascinating history of having been both an electric interurban passenger railroad and a heavy-duty freight carrier in the Carolinas. See the Link for the history. (Disclaimer: there is no guarantee that the letters might have stood for something else. Reporting marks were assigned and exclusive, but in general anyone could mark anything -- other than RR cars and locomotives -- with any combination they chose.)  Link 1  Posted Monday, August 29, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3952 PRR Recording  Can you give me information regarding this PRR record album with pamphlet? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, August 28, 2022 by Jim G.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3951 Lantern Maker?  In the attached photo is a W&OD Ry lantern. It's missing its top cap and has an unmarked globe. Can anyone identify the maker? A&W?, Armspear? I'm posting for a friend. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, August 28, 2022 by BK   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Congratulations on having a lantern from the Washington and Old Dominion; as a shortline their lanterns are not common. A run thru Barrett's Encyclopedia of RR Lighting shows that almost all of the major manufacturers made lanterns similar to this in terms of the flat steel guards rather than wires. But a really close match seems to be the "Double Guard Armspear" shown in a full-page pic on pg. 75. Some matching details: the flat tab closing latch for the lid (not formed wire); the 3-row hole pattern in the cap; the fact that the top guard ring is flat steel but the bottom guard is round wire; the arrangement of the bail attached to ears on the brim; the shape of the brim. The lantern in Barrett has a different font arrangement but that was very commonly changed to suit anything anyone ordered. It appears your lantern has been modified into a 'wax melter' if in fact that is a cup inserted into the removed top of the lantern. See prior Q's 1272 and 882 about how lanterns were used to melt beeswax to coat joints in tree branches being grafted, as was commonly done on many fruit trees.  Posted Monday, August 29, 2022 by RJMc

A. Looking back at Q1272, the lantern marked as a "Merribrooke Melter" made by Armspear (see Link, and scroll down to the bottom of the page) has all the characteristics of your lantern, including the font, other than the W&OD marking tending to confirm Armspear as the mfr.  Link 1  Posted Monday, August 29, 2022 by RJMc

A. Various sources list many possible uses for the melted wax from a melter like this: (1) grafting tree branches, (2) coating raw eggs to preserve them for months for later use (see Link), (3) sealing cans and jars of preserved foods, (4) hair removal, and (5) sealing documents. For most of these uses beeswax or paraffin are used. For 5, stick wax was often used and only a small tab had to be melted for each document, so the quantities from a modified lantern would not likely be needed. There are probably many other possible uses. Many of these household applications can be easily done with a hot water in a double boiler; only the plant grafting seems to need a portable melter such as the modified lantern.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, August 30, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3950 D.L.&W, NYS&W, NYO&W Lantern Markings  Questions regarding these 3 railroad lanterns: I see older, taller style D.L.&W. R.R lanterns with embossed lids and globes that match. For the Vesta and other short style lanterns, I see just the Kopp or Corning globes with no RR embossing on the globes. Is it correct to not have globe embossing/etching on the Vesta and short style globes for D.L. & W.? ALSO: For NYS&WRR, NYO&W RR lanterns, I see ones with embossing on the lid BUT never have I seen RR embossing on the globes, no matter what size lantern. Is this correct? Thanks  Posted Friday, August 19, 2022 by DM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. As with any business, sometimes you keep costs to the minimum, other times you spend additional funds to look good and advertise. Railroads were no different. Most marked their property in some way to help prevent theft, but there were lean times when many items were not marked, or purchased in bulk when an unexpected need arose. Any marking costs additional funds. Posted Saturday, August 20, 2022 by h v coll

A. h v coll is right -sometimes no mark is 100% correct. (If you find a NYO&W cast Vesta globe, for example, it is a FAKE. They never ordered them.) I hope checking Link1 - Key Lock & Lantern's "Lantern Surveys" (Scroll down on the page that appears) will be helpful. You can at least find out if any marked globes from a particular line have been documented; realize that if it's not in the list, it doesn't necessarily not exist -- some globes have to have escaped being seen, by these limited numbers of people who reported to KL&L. But at least you can tell what globes HAVE been seen. Another thing to watch for is that since glass breaks, globes got replaced. You may come across a lantern marked for a line with a "related line" globe in it - example, DL&W frame with a Lackawanna globe. Or New York Central with a Boston & Albany globe (the NYC controlled the B&A). Great question!!  Link 1  Posted Saturday, August 20, 2022 by JMS

A. Another thing to bear in mind is that across all North American railroads, when kerosene lanterns were in daily use they were functionally identical. Despite relatively minor differences between manufacturers and model numbers, a Canadian National lantern would work just as well on the National of Mexico, and everywhere in between. With things like employee timetables or switch keys, it was critical to the operation and mandatory for each employee to have exactly the right one. But the markings on lantern brims and globes did not affect the basic function at all, so as already indicated the markings were optional and decided more as a matter of taste, property protection, and the budget status of the purchasing agent when they were acquired. And the result is all kinds of combinations having been used and all "were correct" in that the needed functions were delivered.  Posted Saturday, August 20, 2022 by RJMc

A. Thank you to all that provided information. All information is logical and makes complete sense. I did find the Link1 - Key Lock & Lantern's "Lantern Surveys" to be a very valuable group of information and is worthy of printing out and taking along when the chance of lanterns for sale may arise.  Posted Monday, August 29, 2022 by DM

 Q3949 Reliable Lantern w/ Twist-off Bell?  I just saw a picture of an Adlake Reliable model lantern with a twist-off bell. Is it a real railroad lantern or a reproduction? All other Reliable bellbottoms I've ever seen have been with a fixed bellbottom. Thanks!  Posted Tuesday, August 16, 2022 by Larry   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. In the catalogs I have, none of the Reliable lanterns have a removeable bell. There could be one, but from what I could tell, this is probably a lid switch to another frame. Posted Friday, August 19, 2022 by h v coll

A. Yes there were A&W Reliable bell-bottom lanterns made with twist off bells. but from what I have observed very few railroads ordered them .The WABASH Ry is one that comes to mind. Posted Saturday, August 20, 2022 by JH

A. DSS&A RY also Posted Thursday, September 15, 2022 by BobF

 Q3948 Miniature RR Flags  Can you tell me about these miniature flags, one from PRR, the other from Conrail? They are about 10 inches or so. The PRR flag is embroidered. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, August 14, 2022 by Jim G.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Jim G.-Thanks for bringing sample items from an often overlooked array of oddities. Rail artifacts are often divided between things related to the big physical plant if the industry and items used in advertising/public relations. But this is the third part..the corporate history. Just like in the military, for every infantryman carrying a rifle there is an enormous support structure to make the work possible. To function efficienty, there must be gatherings and that's what this is likely related to. In short, conventions/conferences. The big flagmakers were capable of producing all sorts of printed and embroidered material from large banners down to table flags. These were displayed wherever a group met such as for a dinner in a hotel with large banquet rooms. There were shippers conventions, billing meetings, and what not which were held on a regular basis (annual, bi-annual etc.) all through the era before technology/consolidations (& Covid) have made these things somewhat antiquated by modernized standards. In some cases, custom glasswares were made. Commemorative plates with logos on semi-vitreous china might have been made in the long past, but highly unlikely than any special sets of dining services (vitreous china) were created. Not at all unlike some of what can be found in the railroad brotherhoods or old timers association gatherings. But it often included people outside the rail industry itself such as the shippers...I myself have one for American President Lines which was involved in container on railcar advances but had a long association with carriers even before that. So you can find all these things as survivors that someone carried back home or to the office to display there during their tenure. They may have been issued in lots, but hardly at the mass production level, so the survival rate isn't all that high over time. Unless a collector has grabbed them for the trainroom as decoration or held them in storage, they just got tossed out and their numbers grow shorter bit by bit. With a railroad logo, it's a piece of corporate/company history beyond the tracks. And looks good too. Posted Monday, August 15, 2022 by ShastaRoute

 Q3947 PRR Med Cabinet  I bought this Penn RR medical cabinet at a sale. It's from Newark NJ and has boxes of bandages etc. from the Pennsylvania RR. Can this be by a company for the station? Please let me know your thoughts on it. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, August 14, 2022 by Jim G   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Is that two whom and for where? As to an outside supply company, this looks like it could have been made in-house using stencils to paint the lettering. The contents could have been purchased in large bulk quantities, so why buy kits when you could have existing shop employees make these between other jobs. Where it was employed might require a search of photo evidence and there could be multiple locations needing these in any single city like Newark...a bit tougher to narrow down than a small town with just an agency structure. Posted Monday, August 15, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. An interesting bit (Link 1) on the history of First Aid Kits with a railroad emphasis. Included is a photo of a J&J "cabinet" version with a wire handle on the left. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, August 16, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. I like Shasta Route's suggestion that RR employees may have made cabinets. Especially because stencils were used (easy for unskilled painters - a commercial company likely would have meant professional lettering), and individual city names would be another expense. If they bought anything from an outside company I think it would have been UNDECORATED cabinets to add the markings to. Or indeed, as Shasta Route says, they could have made them in-house, it was a monster railroad and a woodworking shop would be no surprise. I certainly would call it a PRR relic, used in Newark, in either an office building or station. Most of the inner contents packages are fairly common, but I've never seen such a terrific cabinet like this !! Great find !  Posted Saturday, August 20, 2022 by JMS

A. I found some information regarding my first-aid cabinet, there was a similar first-aid cabinet on pinrest, with a different first-aid logo on the front, it was from the 1920s thanks for your input on my items. Link 1  Posted Sunday, August 28, 2022 by Jim G.

A. Hello and here is another PRR first aid cabinet exactly the same as yours including the metal mounting tabs which are not shown in the photo. Because of the slight crudeness of the overall materials, including the stencil, I would bet the ranch that these where PRR shop made. This one came from the Buffalo, New York area.  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, September 7, 2022 by VEN

 Q3946 PRR Conductor's Box?  Can you tell me something regarding this PRR box with key? What's the number mean? And is this a rare item? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, August 14, 2022 by Jim G   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. See prior Q's 3380 and 3000, which was about a very similar PRR lock box. The contents of yours seem to be very complete, with ticket stubs, etc which indicate it was a "Conductor's Cash Box". And it was probably assigned by the number to an individual conductor. Does any of the paperwork in your box give an emplyee's name? Although one of the prior answers talks about a dining car steward (also needing a cash box) a dining car steward would not need fusees. And while the dining car crews often went the whole length of a run (say LA to Chicago on the Santa Fe, or NYC to Chicago on the PRR) and could base their operations in the dining car itself, during those same trips the conductors and trainmen came and went multiple times at division points and had to take all of their business affairs with them. On an all-coach train particularly, the conductor had to "set up shop" by taking over a coach seat and working out of his cash box.  Posted Monday, August 15, 2022 by RJMc

A. Indeed seems to be the very same box 660 in the images for Q3000. The contents were shifted about? The paint colors should give general dating as they match up to PRR passenger car and engine scheme. Posted Monday, August 15, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. As of Dec. 5, 2022, see Ebay Item 234692134327 and related pix for another of these boxes, very similar, located in Indiana. That one is numbered 2965 and has a complete assortment of many,many different forms and reference pamphlets (circa 1951) needed by a conductor, along with two ticket punches. Clearly set up for a conductor and not a dining car.  Posted Monday, December 5, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3945 Possible RR Key Identification  I would like to know if anyone recognizes the cut of this brass barrel key and if it could possibly be railroad related? Thank you in advance to all those that respond in helping answer this mystery.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, August 6, 2022 by DBN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. As shown, this is a key made by Fraim. Appears to be unmarked, or the marking was thin and worn off. Railroads used these keys, but so did firms like utilities, factories, and many others. There were hundreds of railroads when this style of key was made, and many of them used multiple cuts for their various departments Posted Monday, August 8, 2022 by h v coll

A. See prior Q 3842, which seems to be discussing this exact same key. The advice there remains applicable.  Posted Tuesday, August 9, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3944 Strange Lantern Bail  I found this at a local antique shop and haven't been able to find anything about it. Have you ever seen a bail on a lantern like this?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, August 6, 2022 by David L   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The lantern is marked ccc&stl and a prr globe which I don't believe is original to the lantern. Posted Saturday, August 6, 2022 by David L.

A. See prior Q 3935 and the Link (also in that prior Q) about lanterns with insulated and/or cushioned bails. CCC & StL ("Big Four") was a New York Central subsidiary which like many big rr subsidiaries kept something of a separate identity for many years. Are there patent dates on the lantern? The Big Four was involved in the construction and operation of the electrified Cleveland Union Terminal projedt but it was under construction (including the catenary) thru the 1920's and did not begin full electric operations until 1929.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, August 7, 2022 by RJMc

A. I had a P&LE lantern with a wooden bail like this. I believe that sometimes such bails were a matter of preference rather than safety. The P&LE never had electrified trackage. I also have a B&O lantern with a metal bail like this, obviously not a safety issue re: electrification. So here it was likely what the employee preferred -- maybe easier on the hands. Posted Monday, August 8, 2022 by PK

A. Right....I can see that if you spent 12 or 14 (or even 16) hours out in a yard, swinging the lantern almost continuously to deliver movement signals to an engineer, the wire bails would really be chewing into your hands even with thick gloves.  Posted Monday, August 8, 2022 by RJMc

A. Another thought is areas with long winters, and cold weather. A larger bail that you could grip and would not freeze to your gloves could come in handy. Posted Monday, August 8, 2022 by h v coll

A. It's metal and when you flip up the top and you push in each side of the bail it comes right off. Posted Wednesday, August 24, 2022 by David L.

 Q3943 Builders Plate Location  Where would the builders plate, id plate and or manufacturing plates be located on 1940’s (about that year) Baldwin or Alcoa Diesel/Electric engine? Thank you,  Posted Friday, July 22, 2022 by SM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Although it may just be a typo in your question, the diesels were made by ALCO / GE, which stood for American Locomotive Co. / General Electric. Web searches will work a lot better under ALCO than Alcoa (which makes aluminum.) The link turned up on a prior Q about trust plates and shows a builder's plate on the cab side of a LIRR ALCo with a trust plate below it on the frame. Looking at a lot of Baldwin diesel old pix on the web (somewhat surprisingly) doesn't show any obvious builder's plates. I would have expected them to be on the sides of the frames, usually below the walkway so that someone walking on the ground could easily read them. On some equipment, such as coaches, the builder's plate was inside the vestibule, and that might have occurred also with diesel locomotives.  Link 1  Posted Friday, July 22, 2022 by RJMc

A. The Link below shows a 1949 Baldwin builder's plate mounted on the frame next to the steps as described above. Link 1  Posted Friday, July 22, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3942 CPR Print  I have a print from the Canadian Pacific railway. The frame says Canadian Pacific on the bottom and the print is of the Banff Hotel and Spa. My guess is it's from the 30's. Any help to better understand what I have is appreciated! Hard to get a decent pic but perhaps someone will be able to better identify it.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, July 22, 2022 by DB   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Originally railroad companies in the US had many subsidiaries such as hotel companies, etc etc. But Federal anti-trust regulation in the U.S. very early on required them to divest those activities so that the huge RR company treasuries, based on semi-monopoly transportation revenue, could not be used to unfairly compete in other industries. This type of regulation never occurred in Canada so the big railways, CP and CN, diversified widely and owned hotel companies, ferry boat lines, airlines, and many other subsidiaries. The first Link is a discussion of the long and varied history of the CPR Hotels subsidiary. The second link is a whole collection of Banff Hotel images sorted by decade which you can compare with your image to zero in on a date.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Friday, July 22, 2022 by RJMc

A. Whoa! At what point were U.S. railroads forced out of hotels by regulators? Not in anything I've ever encountered. There was an investigation of the relationship of UP to the Pacific Hotels Company concerning the supplies they carried for them, but that's not what ended the was pure economic factors and change. SP ran an entire group of hotels for many years. As to the art job, a name is sometimes found on frames for those who have a relationship to the could be a brass plate or cut into the frame. Not only booking agencies, ticket offices, and travel agents..but also credit unions and maybe a lot more with the name specified. This does appear to be official advertising display material, but it's also possible that the railroad may have "gifted" the picture to some special traveler or by way of the freight agency to a shipper. There's a whole lot of stuff floating about that has not been pinned down for the who and why. Even The Lionel Corporation made up special engine or car models given away to people who remain unknown or incompletely identified. I'd look into the company that framed it to see what their business relationship was to CP. Sun Valley had similar framed items done IIRC in Omaha...I had one...though there may not be anything on the frame as good as this. Posted Sunday, July 24, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. ShastaRoute is quite correct that US railroads continued to own subsidiaries such as hotels. See Link for several, still in use today but under other ownership. The Banff Hotel is covered. But there IS a distinct difference in how such subsidiaries were treated in the US vs. Canada; I think related to antitrust considerations in the US and involved with the sometimes Byzantine regulations of the Interstate Commerce Commission and subsequently by the Surface Transportation Board. I have been trying, so far unsuccessfully, to get a more explicit description of what those legal/regulatory isses were/are. I suspect that US railroad companies kept "arms length" from their subsidiaries because they did not want the ICC/STB to intensively regulate the non-railroad operations.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, September 1, 2022 by RJM

 Q3941 Brass Plated Lantern  I found this Adlake Reliable tall lantern in Duluth MN. I find it interesting that it is brass plated. Could it have been a presentation lantern? The brass plating seems old and original to the lamp. Could it have had a marine use? Any thoughts? Thanks   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, July 22, 2022 by Dave   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3940 Baggage Tag Info?  Found on our property Where the Western Railroad train station was, and then replaced by Boston & Albany railroad station in Huntington Massachusetts. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, July 2, 2022 by Paul   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The Western RR became part of the Boston & Albany in 1867, so this bag check dates before that. Posted Sunday, July 3, 2022 by DA

A. I would get in touch with the gentleman who owns (Link 1) as he is an authority on baggage tags, New England tags in particular. A manufacturer stamp, if there is one, would be on the narrow piece above the slot. Best of luck and congratulations on an absolutely super find !!!  Link 1  Posted Saturday, July 9, 2022 by JMS

 Q3939 Help Identifying Railroad Piece  I found this piece at my local flea market but I cannot figure out what it is from the research I’ve done. Can anyone identify what this is? Thank You.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, June 30, 2022 by ML   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It is a sawed-off chunk of regular railroad rail. Rail usually came (and still comes) in 39-foot lengths. Rail is often sawed to shorter lengths to fit needed spots in the track, so rail saws are quite common on RR's. People often saw off small lengths and use them as bookends. They are often polished, some may get chrome plated, or specially marked (such as yours) or mounted with wood blocks and given as awards. The size of your rail is fairly small; it is possibly from a subway or industrial railroad, but there is no way to really tell the source of the rail. Doing a quick web search shows just one person named "Reynold Deffer". That Reynold was born in 1884, married, shows up in a couple of census records, and died in 1936. It looks like he might have gotten drafted in 1917. It is quite possible he was a railroad or subway employee or official.  Posted Friday, July 1, 2022 by RJMc

A. Reynold's entire life was in and around the New York City area. Posted Friday, July 1, 2022 by RJMc

A. Pieces of rail like this we're often used as anvils. Posted Saturday, July 2, 2022 by Ex Sou Ry

A. Taking another look at the pic, (and thank you for the included scale) this rail section is only three inches high(!!) as well as three inches long. This is clearly too small for any regular RR use and more likely for an amusement park ride-on railroad or some industrial use. The sawed-off slice looks more suitable for a paperweight than a bookend. But the small size made it much easier to use hand stamp letters to inscribe Reynold's name and date and have all the letters so nicely aligned.  Posted Sunday, July 10, 2022 by RJMc

A. If this is 3" high, it would be around 30# rail, maybe from a mine, industrial plant, overhead crane, amusement park or numerous others. Posted Sunday, August 21, 2022 by h v coll

 Q3938 WPA Drill or Stake circa 1935-43  Bar stock 1 1/8 in. W x 16 in. L to tip. Works Progress Administration at more than 3 million strong undertook many types of projects including rail laying. Some required blasting of rock or other quarry work. This is much heavier than the normal one man tool, but it might be used in dual jacking? WPA had tool shops to fashion what they needed, much like railroads did. Could this have been worked into a tool to act like a star drill? If not, what was it more likely to have been used for? John Henry awaits the answer. Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, June 30, 2022 by ShastaRoute   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. WPA was involved in many very heavy construction projects. This could have been used as a 'drift pin' to force the initial alignment of the pre-drilled hole patterns in girders (such as in bridge or multi-story building construction, or possibly even boiler sections), prior to riveting. The mushrooming shows that this one got hammered very heavily however it was used.  Posted Thursday, June 30, 2022 by RJMc

A. Very interesting point, pun intended. Too bad there's no singular museum dedicated to the works of this program. However, NPR has a good image of Roosevelt visiting Grand Coulee Dam project (Link 1) in 1937. Might be part of one of his Presidential rail trips across the country (with day trips out by the limo) to inspect the work and attend the openings/dedications. Some shots of rail projects do turn up in searches. Link 1  Posted Friday, July 1, 2022 by ShastaRoute