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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:

 Q3507 Locomotive/RR ID?  Could you please identify this locomotive and the railroad? Thanx.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, August 14, 2018 by Ed R.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Could be the Sierra Rail Road. "The Sierra Railroad Corporation is a privately owned common carrier. Its Sierra Northern Railway freight division handles all freight operations for all branches owned by the Sierra Railroad". (Wikipedia)  Posted Wednesday, August 15, 2018 by LC

A. The locomotive type is a 2-4-4T tank engine. This type was apparently fairly widely used in commuter-type service (for example by New York Central, Illinois Central, the narrow gauge Revere Beach and Lynn in Boston, and others, see Link to images) then possibly handed down to branch lines, which the No. 2 on the engine would tend to indicate. The pilot on the tank end of this pic tends to indicate it started in that kind of service, where the engines weren't turned at the ends of runs. This engine has both air brakes and an air bell ringer; but still large oil-style headlights, indicating probably the 1920's era. Most distinctive is the building in the background. It has a tapered cupola on what appears to be a shop building, which tends to suggest New England to me. Hopefully these hints will cause somebody to recognize the railroad for this particular engine.  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, August 15, 2018 by RJMc

A. This is also called a 'Forney' type locomotive, after the guy who patented the style with the trailing truck under the built-in tank on the back (see Link). Turns out there were LOTS of these running in commuter-type or elevated service; the Illinois Central alone had over 60 of them and many were sold to other services (without having already been worn out) when they became surplus when the commuter lines all over the country were electrified. I can't quite tell whether the one in the pic is standard or narrow gage, can anybody tell? Link 1  Posted Thursday, August 16, 2018 by RJMc

A. Some further interesting features about the loco in the pic: the trailing truck has inboard bearings, so you can clearly see the whole wheel plate. Almost all the images of other engines on the web have a trailing truck with an outside archbar-style truck frame. The main driver counterweights seem to be bolted or rivetted onto the wheel spokes; almost all others are cast integral with the wheel. And of course the balloon stack, but those are readily changeable without too much trouble.  Posted Thursday, August 16, 2018 by RJMc

 Q3506 Piper Lamp Question  The lamp on the left is marked 'Patented 1904 PIPER Toronto' and was found in the Queens Wharf Lighthouse which originally stood at the western gap of the Toronto Ontario Harbour. The light house was built in 1861, decommissioned in 1919 and subsequently moved in 1929 to its present location east of the CNE south of Fleet street. The galvanized steel lamp is 23 1/2 inches tall and has a square receiver similar to the Piper switch lamp on the right. This lamp has two 3 1/4 inch lenses, one clear, one painted green. The tray for the font inside is 6 1/2 inches x 3 inches with the height to the center of the lens from the font bottom 5 inches. This lamp would not be suitable to be the light house lamp. It has been suggested that it might have been a wharf maker lamp. However the shore line was filled to permit the expansion of the railway yards near the Union Station so it may well be rail road related. Any suggestions?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, August 13, 2018 by Dave S   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Something is strangely missing in these galvanized lamps in that there are plenty of air holes with no apparent wind baffling material. As they stand now, even a light breeze on your patio would blow out a flame, let alone any gust coming off a body of water. In short, I'm not sure what these would be unless baffling material has been gutted at some point.  Posted Monday, August 13, 2018 by TE

A. Interesting observation relating to wind baffling. Had not considered that issue. An examination shows nothing appears to have been removed. The four holes on the side (back and front) are baffled on the inside but certainly not the ring of big holes on the bottom, The top exhaust has protection. The ring that holds the font has a notch where the wick raiser would presumably extend beyond the ring but it is not accessible from the outside. Any trimming would require the removal of the font/burner from the lamp, a finger burning exercise. Perhaps the burner used a large chimney and was one of the “new-improved “ (were they not all ‘improved’?) and designed to cope with wind issues. Posted Wednesday, August 15, 2018 by Dave S

A. Let's look at a couple of other things that are, let's say, unusual here. The lenses are by all means small for a lamp this size and, they are set very low. I'm not sure then as to why you would need so much height for the body and top venting. Note too that the lenses are not held in place by draw bands. I would be real curious to see if there is any focal point/diameter/manufacturer's info stamped or molded into the rim of at least the lenses. This may be difficult to ascertain without removing the lens. By now, I'm sure you sense my suspicion on this piece. The patent tag looks real enough but that is not a complex thing to replicate. Still, I'm certainly open to anyone who's seen something like this and can verify more. Posted Wednesday, August 15, 2018 by TE

A. Having pondered this a while, and agreeing with the prior observations, I suspect this is a 'lamp holder' rather than a lamp. By that I mean you put a hand lantern inside this fixture, and the light of the complete lantern inside came out thru those low-mounted lenses. Some railroad cabooses (ex. Nickel Plate) had tin-box lamp holders for markers on the sides of cupolas, and you put a complete smaller kerosense lamp with its own chimney inside the box for illumination. The hand lantern provided its own wind protection, etc. And then those fairly large side holes would allow someone to make sure the lantern was lit. Another note: there is no significant corrosion, but then, the Toronto Harbor in Lake Huron is all fresh water. (Consequence of THAT: ice. Maybe this fixture provided protection from ice buildup?) I have tried to make sense of the opposed white and green color indications in terms of bouys or other 'marine' markers, or railroad usage, but so far no luck on that.  Posted Thursday, August 16, 2018 by RJMc

A. Sorry, sorry, sorry, Toronto is on LAKE ONTARIO. But still fresh water! And still lots of ice, from somebody who grew up along Lake Erie. Posted Thursday, August 16, 2018 by RJMc

A. Thank you all for your additional comments. I have examined the lenses for any markings. The metal rim which is soldered to the can is rotting away so I am reluctant to dig out the lens. But I can see almost half the rim and edge, and the parts visible have no markings. In comparing the black switch lamp I note that the square receiver on the bottom is slightly less than 1” square. The lamp in question has a receiver that is 2” x 1 ¾”. Does this receiver size provide and other clues? Posted Thursday, August 16, 2018 by Dave S

A. What RJMc says makes a lot of sense. – Dave S; do you have a hand lantern available that you could light and place inside this “mystery piece”? Given the item's patent date you'd want a tall globe lantern; but even a short globe one would give you a good idea. If the bail on a short globe lantern had extra clearance in there with this lamps top, that would further support this line of thought. – Regarding the lenses; as the green one is painted, thus originally white (clear), my first thought is that originally you could change the color of the signal by inserting lanterns with different color globes, and a focused light beam from a lens is more visible than a hand lantern. (better visibility in fog?) – The receiver does indicate that this lamp was placed on some sort of fixed post and that it was intended to shine its light in a specific fixed direction; most likely up and down something's direction of travel (tracks?). The size and shape of the receiver, or actually the post it sat on, also prevents a switch lamp from being placed on that same post, as the switch lamp's receiver would be too small to fit on this lamp's larger post. (fool proof is always good practice on the railroad.) thinking out loud here. ---- …. Red Beard Posted Thursday, August 16, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

 Q3505 Button Info?  I'm trying to find out what railroad was S.O. & CO.? I've seen suggestions online it might be Southern New York Railway but I haven’t seen any confirmation. I've also seen buttons on eBay with the same logo and letters but with New York on the bottom so that somewhat hints at it being Southern New York Railroad. Part two of question is why would a uniform button (assumption) have a city yet another would not like this one?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, August 10, 2018 by Scott L   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Sweet-Orr Company, a manufacturer of work clothes. Not a railroad uniform button but many railroaders wore their denim coats. Posted Friday, August 10, 2018 by DC

A. Sweet-Orr made many variations of their buttons. Posted Friday, August 10, 2018 by DC

 Q3504 RR Lantern??  Any ideas if this is an old railroad lantern? No markings on it.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, August 8, 2018 by JB   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This looks like mabe an acetylene-fueled lamp. Does the burner have a wick, or just a tube (which would bring up the gas to burn if it is acetylene.) Posted Wednesday, August 8, 2018 by RJMc

A. The lens to intensely focus the light, along with the chimney arrangement, makes me think this might be the light source for a projector, such as for lantern slides. It does not look like a RR item.  Posted Thursday, August 9, 2018 by RJMc

A. The photos might be misleading. Is the fairly large, oval gray part on the bottom connected to the light? Or maybe just a can, or something else, you set the light on to take the pic? Posted Thursday, August 9, 2018 by RJMc

A. Here is the description of ONE PATENT that was patented on April 24 1883, does this match the smoke dome?  Link 1  Posted Thursday, August 9, 2018 by JMS

A. SORRY - I meant to post the above reply in the next question down.  Posted Friday, August 10, 2018 by JMS

 Q3503 CVRR Armspear Lantern??  I have this CVRR but no makers mark, only patent dates. Is it an Armspear? Those dates shown and CVRR are not in the database. Any info would be great. Add this marking to the Armspear data if you agree.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, August 7, 2018 by GS   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. There are two possibilities for CVRR: (1) Cumberland Valley which existed 1837-1919 and (2) Central Vermont RailROAD which existed 1848-1899, after which it was the Central Vermont RailWAY which lasted until 1995. Your frame appears to be an Armspear "Double Guard" a/k/a "Steel Guard" lantern, similar to the one shown on page 75 of "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Railroad Lighting, Vol. 1, The Railroad Lantern" by Richard Barrett. Barrett says these lanterns were introduced about 1891. Just an observation and I may be wrong, but the etching on the globe does not look like a pre-1900 job to me.  Posted Wednesday, August 8, 2018 by JMS

A.  I also looked at Armspear lanterns in Barrett and there are some differences between this lantern and the one shown on page 75. This lantern has a brass top and a flat bar stock base at the bottom. The one in the photo is a steel top with wire at the bottom. I tried to check that patent date in Barrett's list of "Selected Lantern Patents" and the April 24 1893 date is not shown, see page 335. I am not surprised though, all US patents are issued on Tuesdays, 4/24/1893 was a Monday. And that makes me wonder if this is a Canadian manufactured lantern and could that be a Canadian patent date? Posted Thursday, August 9, 2018 by KM

A.  Oops, I misread that patent date several times! It is April 24, 1883, not 1893, and that was a Tuesday. Still no help though in Barrett or from a US patent search by date. Given the Canadian influence on Central Vermont I still wonder if this was a Canadian manufacturer. Posted Thursday, August 9, 2018 by KM

A. KM you are correct on the little differences - I did notice the pictured lantern is a BT but should have seen that in the p.75 picture. Thank you for further info. I had no idea about the Mondays and Tuesdays patents - THANKS !! if only they would have printed the numbers.  Posted Thursday, August 9, 2018 by JMS

A. To redeem myself I decided to try to find the patent number - and think I have. Link 1 is for Google Books, a US Patent Office showing patents issued on April 24 1883. This starts on page 1531. On page 1539 a patent shows for #276,182 describing a new arrangement involving band(s), globe holders and bail handle. Please realize, this patent number applies to only a feature(s) on the lantern - this particular patent is not for the entire lantern. I MAY have missed another patent that is in fact the one referenced on GS's lantern, it is a bit to scroll through, and there may be another book (?). Link 2 is helpful instructions on how to conduct a search for a particular patent.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Thursday, August 9, 2018 by JMS

A. I checked the Patent link and it matches the globe holding mechanism present in my lantern. There is another Patent date on the base of the lantern above where the "Armspear" latch is located. MCH 19, '89. The lantern came from Chambersburg PA, the HQ for the CVRR. Years ago at an estate sale in a nearby town. Globe is maker unmarked, only the etching of CVRR, Macbeth perhaps, however no Macbeth or Corning mark. GS Posted Saturday, August 11, 2018 by GS

A.  Barrett lists March 19,1889 patent # 399944 to Furman D. Spears.  Posted Sunday, August 12, 2018 by KM

A. From your history it does sound 99.44% certain this lantern is from the Cumberland Valley. And KM, good catch on the 1889 patent. I finally figured out (on one of my locks some time ago) that multiple patent dates on a piece usually refer to different parts of it - not the entire item as a whole. I originally had thought the patents referred to the entire piece, I was wrong. Patent dates are a huge help identifying age - the latest one is the earliest year the piece can have been made; but it could be newer because a patent date is not a manufacturing date.  Posted Sunday, August 12, 2018 by JMS

A. This lantern is a product of the Railroad Signal Lamp & Lantern Co., of New York. RRSL&L Co. is an Armspear predecessor. This model with all flat members dates to the mid/late 1880s. Posted Monday, August 13, 2018 by ASwoyer

 Q3502 Lantern Marking  I have a question about a railroad lantern. It has the RR letters on it but they are not showing up on your database. Just wondering what that means. The letters are: C. ST P. N. & O. It is an A&W with a red Adlake Kero globe. Is that an original combination? It is a short globe lantern. Any info you can give me would be great. Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, August 7, 2018 by Jeff   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hi; Hard to tell from your photo but possibly one letter, the "M", might not be correct or was mis-stamped. The lantern is from the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railroad. (C ST.P M & O) This railroad was and still is commonly called "The Omaha". The globe and frame might be original, but there is really no way of knowing as a replacement globe could have been added if the original broke, or another globe color was needed.  Posted Tuesday, August 7, 2018 by JEM

 Q3501 Non-Magnetic Handlan Lamp  I came across this interesting lamp a few weeks ago on eBay. I thought it was just a regular Handlan marker but once I received it I realized it is not made from steel. It is made from some other lightweight metal that is non magnetic. My friends at the Colorado Railroad Museum and I believe it to be made of tin. One of my friends is going to run a Spectrum analysis on it Monday and let me know for sure what it is. The entire lamp minus the hinge, the lens buckets, and bail ears is made out of this lightweight metal. I was just trying to see if you have seen or heard of a lamp like this? Any info would be appreciated. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, August 6, 2018 by Dusty   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Did you consider aluminum, or aluminum alloy? Some of the corrosion spots on the inside suggest that possibility. I note that the door says 'Rock Island Lines' to possibly help others who may have seen others like it.  Posted Monday, August 6, 2018 by RJMc

A. Just got the Spectrum analysis back and it is in fact aluminium. We all kinda ruled aluminium out as we figured the door and other parts would be more flimsy than they are if it were aluminium. There were trace amounts of zinc and copper as well. Please let me know if any of you have seen one like this. Thanks  Posted Monday, August 6, 2018 by Dusty

A. These lamps and most lanterns were produced by stamping out the parts and assembling them. The same dies used for stamping out the steel sheet could also stamp out brass, silver, or even gold sheet and occasionally they did so for special orders(and they formerly advertised this capability.) So of course they could also stamp out aluminum alloy sheet. All of the lamp manufacturers were well familiar with aluminum because they were making cast aluminum electric markers, class lights, and switch lights from very early on. But I think the key difference was that they were electric-lit and/or very thick parts. I suspect the reason your marker is so unusual is that the thin aluminum sheet would corrode away very rapidly under the influence of the hot, moist,sulfurous fumes from burning kerosene and the lamp would have a very short life in service. It is possible you have a test or prototype object, one of few made in a 'model shop' mode, maybe at the RR's request. Does your lamp show signs of being used? Posted Tuesday, August 7, 2018 by RJMc

A. There are signs of use. There is a light coating of soot but not much. Someone may have cleaned it as well though. Even the inner removable chimney is made from aluminium. There is a nice dent/ mark from the inside out from the burner pot being slammed into the back wall that shows age like it happened more than once. There are a few other dings here and there but being that it's aluminium it's not bad overall. Worse part is the top part that says Handlan is fairly wavy but seeing how I can flex that area by hand it's understandable. Im starting to lean towards it being prototype or a trial piece that they found out didn't hold up myself now. Posted Tuesday, August 7, 2018 by Dusty

 Q3500 Help with Key ID?  I have an old key that I presume to be a railroad signal key. However I can't identify the letters 'JRH' on one side as a railroad abbreviation. The word 'signal' is on the other. So I assume railroad related. Could the RH be roundhouse?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, July 28, 2018 by Chris S   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. JRH likely is the initials of the man assigned the key. Such a terrific old key!! Many keys, unfortunately, escaped being marked for the railroads that ordered them, and this seems to be one. It looks like the gentleman had a blank key that must have operated a signal lock, and he likely did all the stamping himself (all the letters appear to be from the same set of dies) to help identify it on his ring.  Posted Sunday, July 29, 2018 by JMS

A. I agree that the 'JRH' are likely the owner's initials. The term 'Signal' is used by some other services, not just RR's; examples include traffic signals (control boxes for stoplights), and fire and police department telephone boxes (used before radios were common)used keys like this. What also strikes me about this key is its 'homemade' look, as if somebody cast it themselves (having done this myself). One indication of this possibility is the lack of any mfr's mark; another is that the ring is not aligned with the barrel in a way that would be difficult for wear to produce. Another indication is the obviously one-time stamping, including using an upside-down 'F' to make the 'L'; somebody lost or broke the 'L' stamp from the kit that was used to do the stamping.  Posted Wednesday, August 1, 2018 by RJMc

 Q3499 Lantern/Lamp ID Needed  I recently bought this lantern but can't find one exactly like it. Was wondering if you know if it's old or just a replica? It is oil and there's no markers mark on it anywhere. Thanks .   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, July 26, 2018 by CW   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This appears to me to be a newly made decorator item. Maybe one of the India imports (?). The curlicue feet don't appear to be stable enough to hold an oil fire above them, and certainly the handle is too close to the heat that will be coming out the top when lit. Sorry!  Posted Thursday, July 26, 2018 by JMS

 Q3498 Keline Lock  I have several Conrail locks made by KELINE. Does anyone know if other manufactures of keys will work on these locks?  Posted Tuesday, July 24, 2018 by Tom W   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. See Prior Q 3356. If the locks you have are the 'standard' Conrail switch locks, using the large barrel-type key with a right-angle bend in the bit shown in the pic with Q 3356, that key was also a standard for the Penn Central and for the Pennsylvania RR for decades before that. The PRR keys from decades ago were to the same pattern but slightly smaller, but all having that same bit pattern will work in the more recent locks regardless of the key mfr. or whether marked PRR, PC RR, Portugal, CR or even ATK.  Posted Tuesday, July 24, 2018 by RJMc

 Q3497 Porcelain Railroad Crossbuck Restoration  I am trying to help someone get information on restoring a railroad crossbuck that he believes is porcelain. It was hit by a truck in his driveway and the porcelain body of the sign was damaged. The lights are still operational. I have not seen a picture of it, so I’m not exactly sure what was damaged and what needs to be fixed. Do you have any information on restoring crossbucks or have any idea what kind of businesses might have the expertise to repair one of these signs? Thank you,  Posted Tuesday, July 24, 2018 by JGR, National Toy Train Library   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. JGR : As always, this is a situation where PHOTOS are going to be a huge help; in fact, without photos it is going to be pretty much impossible to point you in the right direction. Photos of the item can be sent to the same address you sent your initial question to. – Cross bucks were made out of many materials, if this set is coated in porcelain it would be pretty hard to actually repair. Photos are really going to be needed to asses the situation. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Tuesday, July 24, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. I am working on getting pictures and will follow up with you after I get them. Posted Wednesday, July 25, 2018 by JGR

A. There is a huge hobby interest in porcelain signs (think gas stations to start) - if you can get into that loop there may be some serious assistance, if the crossbuck is in fact porcelain. Just remember, porcelain is GLASS - never try to clean it with any kind of metal. Even the finest steel wool will leave scratches - undetectable to the eye but over time they will discolor.  Posted Wednesday, July 25, 2018 by JMS

 Q3496 Dietz Empire Lantern  I would appreciate any history or knowledge you have of my grandfather's Dietz Empire lantern. He used it as a railroad surveyor prior to the depression. Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, July 22, 2018 by Mark   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. According to Woody Kirkman's Lantern net website the Dietz Empire lantern was "Made especially for the New York Central from about 1915 into the 1920's, unknown if they produced for any other Railroad". See Link and scroll down to "Dead flame lanterns". Link 1  Posted Monday, July 23, 2018 by LC

 Q3495 AM RY EX Box  I cannot find anything on line about this piece. The lettering reads: 'AM RY EX'. Other than being in business from 1918-1929, I see nothing like it. I love it, and would just like to know more about it. Thank you!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, July 22, 2018 by Doug B   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. See prior Q's 2590 amd 123 about similar boxes. Just enter the Q numbr in the 'Question Number' box to go directly to a prior Q. There is something of a debate over whether a box like this served an express messenger as a 'portable office' to carry forms, seals, sealing tool, etc, or whether the express co. put shipped items into the box and sealed it for shipment (the way the US Post Office now provides Rxpress and Priority Mail boxes and envelopes to shippers, but the wood box was fully re-usable.) I recall some discussion of express shipment methods in stories of 'Robbing Trains,' where the express car (or compartment separate from the regular baggage space) would have the highest value shipments and be a primary target of train robbers. Always a key issue for the robbers: the onboard express co. agent ('messenger')was armed and the currency and valuables were often in locked safes and/or possibly boxes like yours. So whether the robbers could convince the agent to provide access largely determined the success of a robbery. I will try to look those stories up and provide references to ones with more historical validity. Much earlier, stage coaches could not have had safes, and would have needed locked and sealed express boxes for high value shipments. Unfortunately, a lot of the info refers to Wells Fargo, and so many kinds of WF materials including boxes similar to yours have been recently faked and even 'weathered' to look old, that we avoid talking about Wells Fargo.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, July 24, 2018 by RJMc

A. The Link is to a much longer story of train robbery in the 1860's; it makes very clear that in this case, the Adams Express Co. played a very key role in these affairs from start to finish. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, July 24, 2018 by RJMc

A. The words to look up on the web are "Express Strong Box" and many items come up, many very similar to yours. As to the debate about how the boxes were used, I think a strong clue is the hardware that allows the box to be both padlocked AND sealed. I suspect that in earlier decades that was to put valuables inside the box for secure shipment. Later on, when the facilities (safes) on the trains got much better, the boxes probably got re-purposed as mobile offices.  Posted Tuesday, July 24, 2018 by RJMc

A. Here is some really good historical background about the express service, it mentions but does not say much about American Railway Express (Link 1) and what terrific information about the Adams Express (go past the stock market info and see where it started!) (Link 2)  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Wednesday, July 25, 2018 by JMS

 Q3494 Lantern Info Needed  If you could please help me identify this lantern, I would really appreciate it. Thank you very much!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, July 22, 2018 by Doug B   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Offhand I'd say Central of Georgia Ry....where they forgot the G. I've seen Nickel Plate lanterns factory marked NPK and Duluth Mesabi & Iron Range lanterns marked DM&IRR, also from the factory. I know there's more, but those are examples. Posted Sunday, July 22, 2018 by BobF

A. I once had a B&O 'RY' (Not 'RR') lantern. This was just one of many misprints from the factory. Posted Sunday, July 22, 2018 by PK

 Q3493 Signal Lantern Lenses  Hello! Wondering if you would be able to answer a question I have about an Adlake railroad signal lantern I had come across - it is in great shape, but on one side it has a red lens which was larger than the others - it seemed like it was OK, but I was wondering if any of the lanterns made, had that as a standard option, or could it possibly be an aftermarket lens? Retrofitted to the lantern itself? Are all of the lenses supposed to be of equal size on the 4 sides? Any help would be great! I have a chance to purchase it, but really don’t know much about the options of these vintage lanterns. Thank you!  Posted Tuesday, July 17, 2018 by James   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. James: This is where a PHOTO would be really helpful. - Minus that, it sounds like that you have a Marker Lamp. Many marker lamps had an oversize red lens; usually 6&3/8 inch. The other three would be either all green or all yellow; and with the oversize red lens, the other three will usually be 5&3/8 inch. Switch lamps frequently have two different size lenses, paired 180° opposite each other; Examples would be 4&1/2 inch and 5&3/8 inch;or 5 inch and 5&3/8 inch; or 4&1/2 inch and 4&1/8 inch as mentioned towards the end of Q3489. The green lens would always be the smaller size and the two green lenses would be 180° opposite each other. This was done primarily to keep the lamp tender from spacing out and putting the wrong color lens in an opening. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Tuesday, July 17, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. See the Link for a page in the archives on this site showing and describing many of the lamps we discuss often here, and there are supply co. catalog pages as well. In general, the bodies of kerosene switch lamps, marker lamps, and classification lamps are very similar. The main difference between a switch lamp and the others is they are base-mounted and the whole lamp turned along with the switch (or derail) mechanism to indicate the various positions by showing the lenses in different directions. Markers and classification lamps were hung on one (or sometimes one of two) feet which were inserted in brackets on the side of the car or loco. Sometimes they are marked 'Left' and 'Right' Only the lamp body would rotate in its mounting bracket to change the indications, usually with some kind of mechanical latch and lever. Markers showed to the rear; classification lamps showed to the front and sides. After being hung on the bracket, classification lamps often had a small mechanical lever on the side to easily change internal lenses to go from white to green, or sometimes red to use if the engine backed up. That allowed changing the color on all sides of the lamp without rotating the body. The units with two mounting feet at 90 degrees allowed hanging the lamp on either an end bracket or a side bracket on a car or loco, since both were commonly used. Intended to be portable, and fairly expensive, markers and classification lights are more likely to be marked with the RR's initials. But switch lamps may be marked depending on the RR's practices. The lamp bodies and parts are so similar that often parts might get swapped, either during the RR service or by others afterward.  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, July 18, 2018 by RJMc

 Q3492 Engine Headlight Database?  I recently acquired several steam engine headlights and was wondering if there is a way to track it to a particular railroad by the railroad record number on the tag? Is there a database for these numbers and if so where would I find it? Thanks.  Posted Tuesday, July 17, 2018 by Jerry M.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. You acquired several steam engine headlights = WOW lucky you! I’ve owned a few over the years and believe that the engine number would be you best clue or starting point. The brass tags on headlights that I’ve owned seem only refer to patent numbers. I could be wrong on this as I am sure there are others out there who may know more than I do.  Posted Tuesday, July 17, 2018 by ex sou ry

A. Jerry M : as always, the very best thing you could do is to send in PHOTOS of the headlights and let us point out some things from those pictures. Many railroads had distinctive enough headlights that they can be ID'd from a picture. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Wednesday, July 18, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. There are ID numbers on some of the mfrs. tags that I am guessing might be mfr's lot or order numbers which potentially could be related to the RR that ordered the headlights. I have NOT had the sense that the 'record numbers' were individual unit serial numbers for each headlight. Unfortunately, I am not aware of any records, cross references, or data bases available today to match up those numbers now, with the ordering RR, then. But photos might still be helpful and provide clues.  Posted Wednesday, July 18, 2018 by RJMc

A. Just send your photos to this website via email (like you sent the question) and we'll post them to the question as a response. We don't allow direct posting of photos to questions and responses for security and storage management reasons. Posted Sunday, July 22, 2018 by Web Editor

 Q3491 Lamp Question  I have what I think is a adlake #1112 non sweating marker lamp. The base is rotted out. I was wondering if the base can be fixed? I can soldier a new piece of tin on the bottom. I was wondering if this is advisable but the base I see on others similar to this one have a base with a foot on it. I was wondering if I could get one? The brackets and shades are pitted and worn. Can these be replaced also? Any information would be appreciated. Thank you for your time.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, July 17, 2018 by SP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. My best happy hunting grounds for lantern parts is the Gaithersburg Show held the first weekend in November. Guys often show up with boxes of parts and pieces that are too esoteric for internet auction sites.  Posted Tuesday, July 17, 2018 by Ex Sou Ry

A. If the lenses, burner/fount etc are missing as well I would say you could probably buy a good condition and complete 1112 lamp on that well known auction site for about the same money you'd put into trying to find and buying parts for your lamp. The 1112 is a common switch lamp so rarity is not an issue. Posted Wednesday, July 18, 2018 by LC

A. SP : Yes, it is an ADLAKE 1112. You have a Switch Lamp from the Pennsylvania Railroad; not a marker lamp. Even though the bottom has rusted away, it is a salvageable and desireable piece; and actually the body looks to be in pretty good shape. You can certainly solder a sheet metal disk into the bottom of the lamp and do a fairly good restoration job. I'd be tempted to find a good sheet metal or custom auto body shop and have them assist you in cutting that disk or even forming a cup with some low sides for that replacement bottom. When you say the “brackets and shades are pitted and worn”, you can fill in some of the pits usually with several coats of paint primer, sanding between coats. Or you can look on eBay for replacements. Lamp parts show up on there frequently. – As to the base; See LINK 1 for a good depiction of the ADLAKE cast switch lamp base. The LINK is actually to the #169 lamp, but the base is the same as the #1112, and that link is a clearer illustration of the cast base. NOTE, however, that the PRR practice was to turn the base 45° on the bottom of the lamp. - What do I mean by that? ..note that in the illustration of the #169 lamp, the flat sides of the cast base are lined up parallel to the lenses. The Pennsy rotated the base 45° so that the corner of the base was facing the lens. They are they only railroad that I know of that did this. – You have some options here; over the years, many lamps have had their cast base removed by collectors and home decorators as doing so makes the lamp shorter and easier to put on a shelf as well as making them more stable; those bases are of a pretty small footprint and make the lamp easy to tip over. By not replacing the cast base you would still have a nice display item. You can search at shows and on eBay for a replacement base, -OR- you can try to make a reasonable facsimile; of all the parts on your lamp, the cast base is the one piece that you could make a pretty good replacement for out of some sort of modeling compound, depending on how artistic you are. – As to lens and day target color; the lenses for your lamp would be Yellow and Lunar White, the day targets would be chrome yellow for the yellow lenses and white for the lunar lenses. If the lamp takes two different size lenses (and I think they did) the larger lens is the yellow one. Those show up on eBay as well, but you have to search constantly. ---- …. Red Beard Link 1  Posted Wednesday, July 18, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. As the LINK is not working this morning, copy and paste this: - http://www.railroadiana.org/library/cat_AW191216/(B-11)%20No.%20175%20Switch%20Lamp%20with%2028-oz.%20Oil%20Fount.pdf Posted Wednesday, July 18, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Well, we're continuing to tweak the code to allow longer links. The link field from Red Beard has now been posted from this form and it seems to be working. Apologies for this annoying problem. Link 1  Posted Thursday, July 19, 2018 by Webmaster

 Q3490 Removing Inspector Lantern Globe  I recently acquired two inspector lanterns. They seem like they are in fair condition, some rust, nothing seems broken. The globes seem original. Problem is: I want to clean them up but have no idea how to remove the globes! Is there anywhere on the web that gives instructions for this because I can’t seem to find it? Thanks in advance.  Posted Tuesday, July 17, 2018 by Karen D   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. We can probably help with this here on this site. But there are many different types of inspector lanterns, so a pic would be very helpful to make sure we give good advice. Posted Saturday, July 21, 2018 by RJMc

 Q3489 Lamp Questions  I recently purchased an 'Adlake Non-Sweating Lamp Chicago' and have some questions. It has 2 red lenses and 2 green lenses. The red lenses have red targets and the green lenses have a small hood rather than a target. Age – From what I have read, my understanding is that Adlake produced square top lamps in Chicago between the mid-1920s and 1927. Lamps produced there were stamped with 'Chicago'. After that period of time (1927), the company moved to Elkhart, Indiana and lamps no longer carried the 'Chicago'stamp. I am guessing that this lamp is from that time period. Is that correct?'The base has 4 feet on it and has the number 86025 cast into it. I am guessing that this is a switch lamp. Is that correct?'What does non-sweating mean and how does that make it different from other lamps? Thanks!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, July 12, 2018 by Oreo97   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Oreo97: Yes, this is a switch lamp. I've seen many, many ADLAKE lamps over the past 50 years. Thinking that all the square top lamps I've ever seen said CHICAGO on the cap; some of which I know for a fact as having been produced in the 1960s. From material recently uploaded on this site, it appears that the square top vent system was introduced in the "teens", as bulletin B-31 (LINK 1) mentions the square top system and that bulletin is dated January 1916 (far bottom right, last page)- Not all lamps had day targets; many had none. It's quite common to see lamps with day targets only on the red or yellow lenses, and with hoods, or nothing at all, on the green lens. Some lamps had day targets all around. This was purely by the preference of the railroad. The number cast onto the base is a part number. - The little port hole / peep hole had a flat, clear glass disk in it when new. The rubber gasket made the glass disk air-tight. The peep hole was so that the lamp tender could look in and adjust the flame up or down after refilling and relighting so that it didn't smoke. Lamps needed to be closed and warm back up to operating temperature after being re-lit before the final adjustment of the flame. The "Non-Sweating" feature of the vent system is explained in LINK 1 as well. the vent system drew outside air down over the back of the lenses so as to keep the front and back of the lens nearly the same temperature to prevent condensation and fogging of the back side of the lens, which would significantly reduce the visibility of the light from the lens. By the early 1900s, most lamp manufacturers had similar venting features. ---- .... Red Beard Link 1  Posted Thursday, July 12, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Well, as unfortunately happens on this site, the LINK feature isn't working. Copy and paste this - http://www.railroadiana.org/library/cat_AW191216/(B-31)%20Square%20Top%20Ventilation%20and%20Wind-Proof%20Door.pdf Posted Thursday, July 12, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. ALSO: It is almost impossible at this point in time to date square top ADLAKE lamps. They all look just alike, and apparently there were NO manufacturing changes to the original design from inception until the last kerosene lamps were produced and used in the '70s. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Thursday, July 12, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Thanks for the fast reply! Your information was really helpful and I learned a lot. I will keep your response with the lamp so my grandchildren can know about it when they are a little older. I have downloaded the bulletin and will also keep it with my lamp. Age doesn't make a difference to me. I'm just glad to have the lamp and it looks great with my grandfather's O gauge Lionel trains. In case you couldn't tell, I have hung a light bulb down the vent to illuminate the lenses. One of the red ones is broken but still in the housing. I have ordered a new one (with gasket) and will install it upon arrival. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge. It made my day! Posted Thursday, July 12, 2018 by Oreo97

A. With that arrangement of red targets and hoods over the green lenses (all 4-1/2" diameter it appears), there's a very good chance that the lantern came from the Burlington. I've also seen BN, INC (stamped in the base) lanterns with this arrangement. Posted Friday, July 13, 2018 by BobF

A. In very old lamps, the peephole window was made of natural mica ("isinglass")which is transparent enough, but somewhat brittle, when thin slices are used. Glass has been in use for quite a while and is much more transparent and durable. As to 'non-sweating', one of the unavoidable byproducts of burning kerosene is water vapor. Without the 'anti-sweating' air flow design, in cool or cold weather the water vapor would build up in the lamp and as indicated above, condense and sometimes freeze on the insides of the lenses. Initially that destroys their ability to focus the light and eventually, with picking up soot, dirt, etc, blanks out the light completely. And it is a real chore to attempt the clean the interior of a switch lamp caked with moist soot and kerosene, without totally dis-assembling the lamp and lenses. One of the key features of the design, often missing in souvenir lamps, is the small Pyrex glass chimney (about 1" in diameter and 3" tall.) It conducted the incoming air to the flame to properly mix for combustion, and directed the burned gases and water vapor into the 'non-sweating design flow pattern.  Posted Friday, July 13, 2018 by RJMc

A. RJMc : Thanks for mentioning "isinglass", that's an important piece of history to pass along to readers, one that is rarely mentioned anymore. My experience is that Pyle National liked mica and used it in late production of their round, two lens class lamps. Those class lamps had a large "peep hole" window on the opposite side of the body from each of the lenses; which were 90° apart. I've always assumed that was so that the crew could see from the cab if the lamp was lit or not. All Pyle class lamps I've seen had thin isinglass disks in those peep holes. - Also, in the late days of lamp use (mid 1960s onward), and as many railroads were running out of money, quite a few lamps in service went without proper replacement of that very important Pyrex chimney. A "Non-Sweating" lamp without the chimney didn't perform; and as you mention they would soot up their interior something awful. I've seen some where, in addition to no chimney the wick was turned up too far, creating smoke and poor enough combustion that besides the soot, there was a tar like substance inside the lamp and even up in the perforated cone in the metal chimney baffle, so bad that the perforations were almost entirely blocked. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Friday, July 13, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Folks, I've lengthened the link field to accept a higher number of characters so the problem of bad links should get better. There's still a limit of 255 characters owing to the structure that was established 20 years ago when URLS tended to be smaller. I fixed the link field in Red Beard's original response. Sorry for the problem. Posted Friday, July 13, 2018 by Web Editor

A. BobF : A question for you. Do you have actual marked BR/CB&Q lamps with 4&1/2 inch green lenses? And if so, do you know where they were last in use? -- I have several of the lamps, and saw many more in service back in the day. All of the BR/CB&Q marked lamps I've seen actually had 4&1/8 inch green lenses. The unusual goggle in the lamp body for the green lenses had a step down shelf formed into it so it could accommodate either size, though I never found any in the Omaha/Council Bluffs area with 4&1/2 in. green lenses. Additionally; instead of a lens hood, as pictured in this question, they employed a unique full circle ring hood; the lens sat in the smaller step down I mentioned and the ring sat in the 4&1/2" step and the two pieces were held in place by a standard 4&1/2 inch lens coupling ring. The lamp would not accommodate the green lens without the full circle ring hood to hold it in place, though 4&1/2 in. lenses will fit directly in them. The litmus test for unmarked Burlington lamps is the 4&1/8 green lens, OR to take out the replacement 4.5 inch lens and see if that step down shelf to 4&1/8" is built into the goggle. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Friday, July 13, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Red Beard, I stand corrected. It's been so long since I messed with a BR/CB&Q lantern that I forgot that they had those 4-1/8" green lenses. I just instinctively see a lantern like that and think Burlington. Posted Tuesday, July 17, 2018 by BobF

A. BobF : drop me an email sometime, it would be fun to trade stories. RailroadRaider@Gmail.com Posted Wednesday, July 18, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Gentlemen, This lamp that is pictured and is being discussed is a Milw Road lamp and is probably one of the last orders from Adlake.I can tell its Milw by the inside shape of the lamp tip casting and the new hole that was drilled thru both sides of the base casting to add the large pop rivet they were famous for using for theft deterence.The Milw ordered and used the green/red/red targets version on their low boy switches on crossovers.The green/yellow/yellow target version was used on yard lead switches.Some of these late Adlakes had a CMSTP&PRY letter stamping on the edge of the top cap. The CB&Q/BN did use 4-1/8 green lenses with that 4-1/2 inch reducer ring.The CB&Q's lamp tip was very small and their initials were often cast in the lamp tip socket casting. DJB Posted Thursday, July 19, 2018 by DJB

A. DJB ; Thanks for that info. I do remember seeing MILW shop made lamps and Dressels on the Milwaukee that had been drilled through like that. The ones I saw in Council Bluffs and Sioux City had a piece of soft steel rod stuck through that hole and then bent 90° on each end. On the shop made lamps, they took the spring loaded knob out of the base, and using that same hole that the spring loaded plunger went in, they'd drill right through the target rod and run the steel rod through it. In Omaha, the UP had some industry sidings out west that had the lamps actually welded onto the target rod. ..those blasted souvenir collectors kept the lamp makers pretty busy in the last years of lamp use. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Friday, July 20, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

 Q3488 Good SIgn?  Can you tell me does this sign look right to you? I just bought it. I did some research and the IRT never ran in Queens. It's a porcelain sign but not as good quality as some of my other old porcelain RR signs. I’m just not sure. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, July 8, 2018 by Michael   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The IRT Flushing Line did in fact run in Queens - "The IRT Flushing Line is a rapid transit route of the New York City Subway system, named for its eastern terminal in Flushing, Queens. It is operated as part of the A Division. The Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT), a private operator, had constructed the section of the line from Flushing, Queens, to Times Square, Manhattan between 1915 and 1928. A western extension was opened to Hudson Yards in western Manhattan in 2015, and the line now stretches from Flushing to Chelsea, Manhattan. It carries trains of the 7 local service, as well as the express during rush hours in the peak direction.[2] It is the only A Division line to serve Queens" (Wikipedia). I think the sign is probably legit. Posted Monday, July 9, 2018 by LC

A. Michael: Another clue to the authenticity of your piece is that your sign is a three dimensional box. Almost all reproduction porcelain signs are on flat stock, though often in various shapes. Additionally, it's a pretty arcane piece. Reproduction pieces take a good deal of work to set up and produce, and are geared to being able to sell numbers of them a wider audience. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Friday, July 13, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

 Q3487 Another Handlan but not a Lamp...  This may not be a railroad item at all, but perhaps something for the construction industry. I can find no image of a similar item with a Handlan image search. Cap unscrews exposing the wick which has some residual kerosene smell. What gets me wondering is there is no wind protection for the flame, so it was not likely used long term or unattended. Anyone have an idea?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, June 28, 2018 by Bryan J   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Looks like an engineer's torch. Cast iron ones are usually marked with RR letters but brass ones were likely his own property. Have one with a lot of engraving similar to scrimshaw on a whale tooth. Has engineman's name etc. have never seen one with screw on cap, could easily be lost when in use.  Posted Friday, June 29, 2018 by DC

A. The screw-on cap was so you -- the locomotive engineer -- could carry the torch lying down in your grip (small suitcase) when on the road, so the kerosene wouldn't leak out all over your clothes, your lunch, your timetables and other paperwork, etc. Having the kerosene not leak was obviously fairly important, is there any sign of an 'O' ring or other means to seal the threaded joint? The cast iron torches were usually bulkier, with handles and wide bases, and were usually based in shops where they could be kept upright between uses. They were more likely to be marked with the RR initials and just issued as general-use equipment rather than assigned to individuals.  Posted Friday, June 29, 2018 by RJMc

A. I know very little about most railroad items, although I did work as a "gandy dancer" for several months after graduating from college. (In retrospect one of the best learning experiences in my 68 year life to date.) Anyway, the knurl on the cap looks typical to that I've seen on mid to late 19th century items of various types. At the bottom of the thread there appears to be smooth slightly concave surface or "gland" when associated with 0-rings. It would also function effectively as a sealing surface for a leather gasket which would be more likely.  Posted Monday, July 2, 2018 by JSM

A. See also prior Q's 2693 which also lists other earlier Q's including 2510. Unfortunately the video listed in 2510, which was shot for the NYC RR and explicitly showed and discussed torches in use in a New York Central roundhouse, is no longer available. The film may still be available elsewhere. It makes the point that a critical use for the torch is for finding air leaks in air brake systems; providing light is almost secondary since lanterns were always available for that. Posted Tuesday, July 3, 2018 by RJMc

A. The New York Central film is now available at the Link. See just after 10 minutes into the film for the section about using torches in the roundhouse. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, July 3, 2018 by RJMc

 Q3486 Adlake No. 250 Question  I recently was given my grandfather's Adlake No. 250 kero lantern. I've read multiple posts about mfg date stamped on bottom. Mine does not have that ... only a metal stamped flower design on the bottom. Where does that place its mfg timewise (approx year). Just curious, as it's never going to be sold for sentimental reasons. Thank you!  Posted Thursday, June 28, 2018 by Ron V   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The Kero 250 never had any dates stamped on the bottom, but the later Kero 300 /400 had manufacturing dates on the bottom. This web site discusses the various Adlake Kero models and provides the following information about the age of the Kero 250- see Link 1. "This model (Kero 250) was manufactured from around 1926 to around 1930 and was succeeded by the "Kero"." Cunningham in his book "The Railroad Lantern" states the Kero 250 was made as a standard type of lantern from about 1925 to 1931.  Link 1  Posted Friday, June 29, 2018 by JEM

A. Thank you for the info! :)  Posted Friday, June 29, 2018 by Ron V.

 Q3485 12 Inch Bell with Letters  I researched a 17 inch bell a few years ago (posted on youtube) and remembered seeing some bells with lettering, I acquired a 12 inch bronze bell with yoke recently with lettering (removed) and wondered the meaning. Thank you,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, June 26, 2018 by Robert   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Looks like the word "weight" was there. Could this have come from a scrapper??  Posted Wednesday, June 27, 2018 by BobF

A. It looks more like Wright than weight. But good guess... Do you scrap yard Scrapper or Locomotive Scrapper?  Posted Wednesday, June 27, 2018 by Robert

A. Most ship bells were lettered with the ship name, but usually the lettering was etched rather than painted. But this certainly looks like a RR mount.  Posted Wednesday, June 27, 2018 by RJMc

A. There is some black coloration under the remaining white paint. Is the bell surface etched (sandblasted) under each letter, the better to retain the paint? The stencilling is done with care in a way that a scrap yard would not bother with. If weight was the issue, the number would likely be daubed on with a paint marker or brush, not carefully stencilled. If that last set of letters is 'Eight', as in 'Engine Co. 8', that could refer to either a piece of fire apparatus or even to a 'Public School 8'; both of those things had bells like this. The school bells often were 'hand-me-downs' from the local RR. It could also be 'Light' -- maybe as in 'Lighthouse?' The preceding characters still make no sense to me.  Posted Thursday, June 28, 2018 by RJMc

A. Bridgetenders also have bells...see Link for the bell on the Wells Street Bridge in Chicago, in an arrangement (although this one is very fancy) and size very similar to a locomotive bell. Railroad bridge tenders no doubt also had bells. Link 1  Posted Thursday, June 28, 2018 by RJMc

A.  The bells and yokes on fire apparatus are usually chrome or nickel plated not painted. The finial nut would also be more decorative. The yoke has both white and washed out red paint on it. If that paint is latex based I would suspect it was on a building. Also I have never seen a bell on fire or railroad equipment with a chain being used as a pull rope, that was probably added to it when the bell was repurposed. On fire trucks the bell is stationary and only the clapper moves. If you mount a bell on the sheet metal of the cowl or fender and let the total weight of the bell move it won't take very long for it to loosen up the mounting bolts and have damage occur. In the 1920's the Seagrave Fire Apparatus Parts Catalog lists "12 inch locomotive bell" as standard equipment while the yoke is a custom cast or fabricated part from Seagrave. Posted Thursday, June 28, 2018 by KM

A. Heavy black,fairly thick paint and probably stenciled. Could be OM Wright or O M P.IGHT. Could say any number of things. I can see some clean areas were the paint was to get an idea of lettering, but still difficult to read for sure. Looks similar to a Howard yoke and cradle, the location wear the raised letters would be on the yoke looks ground off. Heavy nut for balance I suppose. There is a 12 on the yoke side arm. 10"H to the flat top, 12" diameter, 19.25"H, 19.5" wide. Posted Thursday, June 28, 2018 by Robert

A.  Based on the O M Wright lettering I was going to guess Orville Wright. But the "M" is wrong, Milton Wright did not give middle names to any of his children. There are schools in the Dayton,OH area named for Orville Wright. Posted Sunday, July 1, 2018 by KM

A. Nice idea. Thanks.  Posted Monday, July 2, 2018 by Robert

A. There have been several US Navy ships "USS Wright," all with Orville Wright or both Wright brothers as namesakes. The first one was commissioned in the 1920's and had a hugely diverse career as an aircraft and/or lighter-then-air craft support ship until being scrapped in 1946 or so (Link 2). But it was never officially the O. or O. M. Wright. Link 1 has an unusually clear pic of the ship in 1927. Zoom in and look closely under the crow's nest at the forward mast to see the ship's bell, hung vertically, and quite large in comparison with the people in the pic; clearly much bigger than a 12" bell.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Thursday, July 5, 2018 by RJMc

A. Sold this one. Thanks again.  Posted Wednesday, August 8, 2018 by Robert

 Q3484 RR Key?  I came across this key in a shadow box that was made by a Santa fe employee and in the box was 6 of your standard barrel keys and a brass heart shaped lock most all marked. I'm fairly confident this was railroad as well because it was included but I would like to know for sure or to see if anyone has seen these or known what they were used for. Thanks for any insight.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, June 24, 2018 by Nick G.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Older hotels and many ship cabin doors had this type of key; each of those places needed a lot of different key cuts to give each of many doors its own key. The groove on the side of the bit provided a whole additional dimension to the pattern. (Pullman car passengers didn't need their own different door keys; passengers came and went too frequently to bother issuing keys which the RR would not get back when they departed the train quickly, plus the Porter was always there to let them in....and he had a single, much simpler skeleton or barrel-type key that worked all the doors.)  Posted Sunday, June 24, 2018 by RJMc

A. Since the shadow box was made up by a Santa Fe employee it must have had some connection. Maybe a ATSF owned hotel, the Greenbrier in West Virginia was owned by Santa Fe railroad for 99 years, there were others. Posted Wednesday, June 27, 2018 by DC

A. I think you mean the Greenbriar Hotel was owned by the Chesapeake and Ohio RR (C&O)?? Many kinds of connections are possible; the Canadian Pacific RR owned many ships and resort hotels, also, and unlike C&O, they used the RR Co. name to identify them. And they owned an airline, too!  Posted Wednesday, June 27, 2018 by RJMc

A. Most Railroad-marked keys of this type I have come across are shorter than this one - the usual I've found is about 4 inches. The extra length is suspicious for being some other purpose, but without any markings it is anyone's guess. Regardless, it's a terrific key and a real beauty.  Posted Wednesday, June 27, 2018 by JMS

A. The hotels associated with the Santa Fe were the Fred Harvey hotels and restaurants (See Link). By 1885 there were already 17 Harvey Houses along the Santa Fe, and somewhat later there were 84 (!!) Some of those were just restaurants next to depots, but some of them were VERY large and grand hotels and excursion destinations in their own right-- there are still about 10 Harvey facilities at the Grand Canyon, for example. Santa Fe crews were probably lodged in these hotels , but I am sure they didn't get the luxury rooms. Any of these could have been a source for your key. These keys are often seen with some kind of tag or fob with a hotel room or ship cabin number since so many were used in one location. Enter "Fred Harvey hotel key" in a Google search to see hundreds of keys--some even with fobs marking them specifically as Fred Harvey hotel skeleton keys, but a simpler style than yours. One key with a fob from a hotel in Akron, OH, with a brass fob, even has the side groove.  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, June 27, 2018 by RJMc

A. The size & style of this door key would indicate Pre-Civil War manufacture..............  Posted Thursday, June 28, 2018 by DA

 Q3483 Burner Question  Were Dietz Convex burners used in Armspear 1925 lanterns?  Posted Friday, June 22, 2018 by Marvin E   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. No,similar but not a Dietz although they seem to be interchangable. An unmarked brass convex burner with a wheel at he end of the stem was used in the Armsphere 1925.  Posted Saturday, June 23, 2018 by LC

A. Burners were interchangeable so who can tell if a burner is original to the lantern. One of my two Armspear 1925 lanterns has a large wheel marked ARMSPEAR NY. The other one has a Dietz Convex burner. The later 1925 Armspear lanterns made by Adlake (under contract to Armspear), and that look like Adlake Keros may well have had Adlake burners. Posted Sunday, June 24, 2018 by JEM

A. Your one marked "Dietz" isn't original to your lantern and was replaced at some later date. Posted Monday, June 25, 2018 by LC

 Q3482 Tag ID Needed  I'm the curator at the Lehnis Railroad Museum in Brownwood, TX. This luggage tag was donated in a large collection of items found in the 70s by a gentleman who was part of a metal detector club. We can't seem to find what H.H.&Y.T.Co stands for. We'd appreciate any information we could get, as we are updating an exhibit on the man and this interesting collection of tags, keys, coins, buttons, and other items. Thank you for your time.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, June 22, 2018 by CS   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The most interesting result so far, accounting for most of the initials, is the narrow gage Hetch Hetchy and Yosemite Valley RR which began operatons in 1898 in the vicinity of what is now Yosemite National Park, CA. (See Link). The HH & YV became part of the West Side Lumber Co. operations. Nothing turned up so far would account for the "T Co." but often that would stand for Transportation, Transfer, or even Taxi Co. Transfer Co.'s moved people around between hotels, train stations, boat piers, etc, and often had baggage tags. A steam loco lettered 'HH&YV' is operating on tourist RR at the Cover's Apple Farm.  Link 1  Posted Friday, June 22, 2018 by RJMc

A. Since HH&YV became part of West Side Lumber could T be for timber ? There is a Silver falls Timber Co.RR in Oregon. Posted Friday, June 22, 2018 by DC

A. I might not have thought a 'lumber co. RR' was into passenger service....but look at picture #16 of 17 in the link above, to see a 1902 excursion train absolutely PACKED with tourists...Must be a thousand or so folks packed onto that train. So the Yosemite area has always been a tourist target, and no doubt supported some pasenger trains.  Posted Sunday, June 24, 2018 by RJMc

 Q3481 Fake Badge?  I found this in a box of stuff I purchased at an auction. I've had several people look at it and no one can give me a conclusive answer: Is it real or fake?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, June 21, 2018 by Parker   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I would say it is a fake. You find many of these on Ebay as well as ones from "other railroads". Posted Thursday, June 21, 2018 by JN

A. No doubt whatsoever....................Fantasy piece. Posted Thursday, June 21, 2018 by DA

A. Two identical badges are on that world renowned auction site now (6/23/2018). One is listed as "new", and the other as a "reproduction", which it isn't.  Posted Saturday, June 23, 2018 by JEM

 Q3480 Lamp Info Needed  I have the lantern pictured in the image – minus the globes – and I'm looking for more information on it. I reached out to Adams & Westlake directly and they said that due to the age and some merging / ownership changes in their company, they would have to go back to their archives to try and find information on it, which I’m still waiting to hear back from them. Any idea where I could learn more about it? I believe it was a lantern in a rail car based on what my Dad told me (he had limited info as well), but I can't track any info down based on my search using the maker and date: dams & Westlake – Chicago 1890 May 6. I’d greatly appreciate any pointers. Thank you,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, June 20, 2018 by Brian   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Try Lampguild.org (link 1). They may help you. Link 1  Posted Thursday, June 21, 2018 by LC

A. Thank you for the pointer to the LampGuild site - i have reached out to them as well. Hoping to find more info to help further identify the Adams & Westlake piece. Thank you, Brian Posted Thursday, June 21, 2018 by Brian

A. Hello - does anyone else have any advice on this? No response back from LampGuild and a lot of the links on their page are broken.  Posted Tuesday, July 10, 2018 by brian

 Q3479 Authentic Locks?  I have two Milwaukee Road locks. I am not real familiar with the hardware from this line and would like input as to their authenticity. They almost look 'too good'.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, June 17, 2018 by WCC   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Does U S Mail Lock have a double bit keyway and indentations on both sides of drop (dust cover). Absence of any patina is strange but maybe they were never exposed to the elements. Posted Monday, June 18, 2018 by DC

A. Yes, the mail lock has the indents on the hole cover and would take a double sided key... Posted Monday, June 18, 2018 by WCC

A. Those locks are both most definitely legit. The mail car is quite rare. It appears someone cleaned them up some time ago, and the patina will appear in time. Two very fine locks.  Posted Thursday, June 21, 2018 by Jim G

A. When mail car lock had its steel chain there was a fitting at the end that was brass to fasten it to car. Key is brass hollow barrel marked CM&STPRR on one side and MC on other side. Posted Friday, June 22, 2018 by DC

A. Many thanks for all of the replies! WCC Posted Saturday, June 23, 2018 by WCC

 Q3478 EMD Bell  Can anyone give me information on an EMD bell with the number 8004168. It is a 12 in. bell that appears to be bronze. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, June 17, 2018 by CC   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Just put " EMD Bell " (no quotes) in the search box for word or phrase, (let it search for a while) to see many prior Q's and A's about EMD bells.  Posted Monday, June 18, 2018 by RJMc

A. EMD bells were mounted on post WWII GM diesel locomotives produced by the Electro Motive Division hence the EMD designation. They were air operated and mounted to the frame hence no yoke or rocker was ever used. The chain on the one pictured was added after the fact. Posted Tuesday, July 17, 2018 by Ex Sou Ry

 Q3477 Lantern Marking  I bought a lantern with markings CO. & ST. RR or CO.8c ST.RR Could you help me? Thanks.  Posted Wednesday, June 13, 2018 by Jim   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. A photo would be very helpful. Posted Monday, June 18, 2018 by BobF

A. Here's a photo of the marking. Link 1  Posted Saturday, June 23, 2018 by Jim

A. The style of this lantern makes it similar to the "Heritage Kero" style -- see the link to our page on these. However, it's been many years since this page was posted, and there have probably been new markings from the Adlake Company. This letter combination does not show up in our list of heritage Kero markings, so it may be fairly recent.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, June 23, 2018 by Web Editor

 Q3476 Adlake Marker Lenses  I recently purchased an Adlake cannonball marker lamp (not a class lamp – no internal baffles), and would like to make sure it has the correct lenses installed. The lamp came with 2 red and 2 green lenses, all 4 are Kopp Glass RL 4364, 5 3/8 D. 3 ½ F. 30 degree SPR. 10 degree DEFL. I thought all caboose markers were either RGGG or RYYY. Was there an application for which this lens arrangement, RGRG, was correct on a marker lamp? Are these the correct lenses for this lamp? I thought lenses with SPR and DEFL were used in switch lamps. Or was this used in a different application? Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, June 13, 2018 by Joseph C.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. See prior Q 2881 for a discussion of marker light colors, and also enter 'Marker Lamp' (no quotes) in the 'word or phrase' search box to see many, many earlier Q's & A's on this topic. (Let the search work for a while.) Bottom line, each RR determined its own color use and it was usually specified in the rule book or timetable special instructions, which might vary from area to area on the same RR.  Posted Thursday, June 14, 2018 by RJMc

A. Joseph: Your suspicions are correct; those are NOT the correct lenses for your marker lamp. – The vast majority of markers had 3 green and 1 red, OR 3 yellow and 1 red. I know of no markers that used a GRGR arrangement. – Some eastern railroads that ran four track main lines used combinations with red, yellow and green in the same lamp, but I won't go into those here. RJMc is correct in that there are many marker lamp questions you can search for on this site. – – The thing to always remember is that we are now more than 40 years past the use of markers on American railroads and almost that long since switch lamps were used as well (switch lamps lasted in use later than markers). Many markers and switch lamps show up for sale that have been cobbled together from parts. Glass lenses, being the most fragile part of the lamp, are often replaced with what ever is available; that combined with the fact that many sellers have absolutely no idea of what they are doing, accounts for many lamps turning up with non-realistic combinations of lenses and lens colors in them. Your fine lamp is one of those! – – You are also correct in that the Spreadlight ribs and Deflector prisms were not used in markers. Do note though that some railroads, including the D&RGW used Spreadlight ribbed lenses in Classification Lamps. Class Lamps needed to be seen at shorter distances and on curvy track. Spreadlight lenses helped to make the class lamp light more easily distinguishable by station operators and crews on other trains sitting in sidings as the engine passed. Almost all diesel class lamps had ribbed lenses to spread the beam out in a wider pattern. Markers however needed to be seen brightly at as great a distance as possible, and the Spreadlight ribs diminished visibility of the lamp light at distance. – – Your lenses are intended for a low mount electric switch lamp, and are fairly late production (1950s or 1960s). The Sreadlight ribs make the lamp easier to see where tracks curve, as the light is focused into a horizontally wider beam, and the deflector prisms, in the top of the very center Fresnel ring, deflect the light upwards so that the lamp can be viewed not only at a distance, but by an engine crew up in the cab sitting very near the lamp. People who haven't seen lit lamps in a very dark situation don't realize that the forward focus of the lenses is so effective that in the dark it is very hard to see the colored light from a lamp if you are very close to the lamp and several feet above it, as you are in an engine cab. The deflector prisms made for a small dot of visible color from that position up in the engine cab. If it weren't for those deflector prisms, a crewman would have to leave the cab and climb down closer to ground level to see the light from the lamp to determine what color it was! – – Deflector prisms are also used in block signal lenses for the same reason. An engine crew sitting very close to a lit signal cannot see the lit lenses, they look completely dark, again because the forward focus of the lens is so effective. Downward deflector prisms need to be added to the center of the signal lens to diffuse enough light so that the crew can see the colored light from the signal while sitting in the engine cab close to the signal. This is especially true while sitting stopped at a red signal waiting for it to change color. ---- …. Red Beard Posted Thursday, June 14, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. The New York Central used the outside-ribbed lenses on kerosene markers. This was mostly in the time period-- probably 1930's and earlier -- when they were operating multi-track main lines which already had signals. In that kind of territory the ability to see the markers at long distances was considerably reduced.  Posted Friday, June 15, 2018 by RJMc

A. For clarification and ease in future searches, ribbed lenses are trade named Spredlite (actual trade name spelling), and marked as such on the outer face of many lenses ---- .... Red Beard Posted Saturday, June 16, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Thank you all for the informative answers. I suspected that the lenses were not correct. However, I know that Spredlite/Deflector lenses are relatively rare, and to find a matched set of them in the marker lamp suggested that they were original equipment. The odds of someone cobbling the lamp together with such a matched set seems highly unlikely, but of course not impossible. I’ll just swap the lenses out with a switch marker I have with smooth lenses. Thanks Joe Posted Wednesday, June 20, 2018 by Joseph Cich

A. Joseph: for clarification; when you say “However, I know that Spredlite/Deflector lenses are relatively rare, and to find a matched set of them in the marker lamp suggested that they were original equipment. The odds of someone cobbling the lamp together with such a matched set seems highly unlikely, but of course not impossible.”, consider this; WRRS (now Western-Cullen-Hayes Inc.) is one of the last manufacturers still offering switch lamps and replacement lenses for sale to railroads and industries. Link 1 is to their catalog sheet for such. (LINK 1) – – The 5&3/8” Spredlite/Deflector is now, and has been for decades, their standard lens. Looking back over the past century and a half, hundreds of thousands (and probably literally millions) of Fresnel lenses have been made, some still in their original lamps, many broken and replaced. Given that vast number of lenses, the Spredlite/Deflector lens is likely a small percentage of the total number of lenses ever produced, (see last paragraph) however; over the last four decades, I would guess that the -majority- of lamps produced came with those same lenses (that current 'majority' being very small in number compared to the lamps produced in the 1950s & 1960s). So, in the “real world” (not the collectors world) those lenses are now the most common still being produced for industry. – – Those same lenses show up on eBay every now and then still wrapped in the red, green or yellow tissue paper they came from the factory in, and apparently are still available from Western-Cullen-Hayes themselves (though, pricey the last time I checked). Additionally, the erroneous R-G-R-G arrangement is probably the most blatant clue to some post-railroad owner having slapped them in there, as they were the first thing he could find in the 5&3/8” size; ...or, maybe he just liked the way they looked and he selected those lenses from an assortment of lenses available to him. If you search the web on a weekly basis, lots and lots of glass lenses come up for sale over a year's time. – – Again, the biggest thing to remember in this hobby is that almost half a century has passed since Fresnel lensed lamps (electric or kerosene) were in general, widespread use on American railroads, ..that's very long time. Lots and lots of the lamps you see for sale really are “cobbled together” from the parts someone can find at any given point in time. – – Another thing I stress on here is that today, it is almost impossible to grasp how extensive the rail network was in the U.S. up through the 1960s (just by coincidence, about the time lamps were discontinued) Almost every tiny town (of a few hundred people) had a few siding tracks. Towns of just a few thousand people had one or more small yards. Large cities had immense networks of yards. Each of those sidings or yard tracks usually had a switch lamp at each end. That's an astounding number of switch lamps in use, just fifty years ago (Viet Nam War era). World War II era, it was even larger yet. ---- .... Red Beard  Link 1  Posted Thursday, June 21, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

 Q3475 Dietz Vesta GM&O RR lanterns  I recently purchased a pair of Dietz Vesta GM&O railroad lanterns. I cannot find a patent date or manufacturing date code. Did they put a patent date and/or date code on all their lanterns? Is it possible I purchased a 'fake'?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, June 13, 2018 by Marvin E.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Is there an "S" number, such as S-39? The letter is the plant and the 2 digit number is the date manufactured. It would be on the lid near any patent dates. Posted Wednesday, June 13, 2018 by JN

A. JN...No patent dates, no date codes. Posted Wednesday, June 13, 2018 by Marvin E.

A. We have a web page about Vestas [See link], compiled with information from a variety of sources. According to the page, Vestas after 1956 did not have date codes. We have never heard of a Vesta with a railroad marking being reproduced/counterfeited. Your lanterns are very likely legit but newer than the mid-50's. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, June 13, 2018 by Web Editor

 Q3474 Lubricator or Oiler  Our museum was given the item shown in the photo. Can anyone provide any detailed information on what appears to be a lubricator used on a steam locomotive? I found no identifying labeling on the unit.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, June 13, 2018 by Steve S   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. What size is this? These came in a huge variety of sizes and were used on various locomotives, steam traction engines, steam boats and ships, and many other kinds of machinery. What appears to be a hanging mount is unusual. Posted Wednesday, June 13, 2018 by RJMc

A. I’m guessing it is about 12” high.  Posted Wednesday, June 13, 2018 by Steve

A. Several factors cause me to think this was for some kind of stationary use. First, the fixed mount, apparently set up to hang from a wall. In the late 1800's where this technology was in use on RR's, locomotives and their lubricators were smaller and lubricators were mounted directly on the fitting on the bottom. Second, the sheer quantity of liquid this would hold is more than any locomotive application would need between fillings, and the large weight/inertia of the unit and the liquid would have VERY serious consequences in the banging and hauling of any kind of mobile service (train, tractor OR ship). That mount would not survive impacts. Third, what appears to be a filter on top to let air in as the liquid was metered out. That would indicate to me that this was intended for some very dusty environment such as a mill, grain elevator, or maybe a mine or coal-handling facility. Steam-based heating or electric power plants are another possibility, and most RR facilities had them, so it might indeed have come from a RR, but very unlikely a locomotive. For example, in the early 1970's the Western Maryland roundhouse complex at Hagerstown had its own fully-self-contained coal-fired power plant for electricity and steam heating of the whole complex. Posted Thursday, June 14, 2018 by RJMc

A. What appears to be a black "filter" on top is most likely a solenoid. I had a similar looking oiler with a black solenoid on the top with wires coming out of a threaded hole on the side for an electrical connection. This solenoid indicates the oiler was used on a factory machine and a controller would periodically activate the solenoid for bearing oiling.  Posted Friday, June 15, 2018 by JEM

A. The solenoid makes sense....But one of the striking things about this is that it is OLDER technology. Even mentioning the 1970 power plant, I don't think I saw anything like this there in the 1970's. The idea of just dripping the lube out onto some machine has been out of vogue for quite some time. On locomotives, first there were hydrostatic (steam pressurized), then force-pumped mechanical lubricators. In the power plants and factories there are now sealed roller bearings and anti-friction permanent surfaces such as Teflon. So a drip-feed, even solenoid-operated, lubricator is really a 'vintage' item. Posted Friday, June 15, 2018 by RJMc

 Q3473 Hollow Brass Key Origin  I am curious about what the origin of this key may be. On one side it has a 'C' and on the other side it looks the first 3 letters are 'j.h.w.' But I cant make out the rest. I know that employee numbers would be placed on the backs of these. Could this be a name of an employee or is it a location? Thanks in advance!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, June 11, 2018 by Michael   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. J.H.W.Climax Co. Newark NJ lock manufacturer. If key were marked with railroad letters it could indicate car lock. Posted Tuesday, June 12, 2018 by DC

A. See also Q 3463 about how various barrel keys and key blanks got used and marked. Posted Tuesday, June 12, 2018 by RJMc

A. This is a very nice key but unfortunately there is no way to document that it was used by a railroad. Climax (and other key/lock makers) sold to MANY types of customers, and this type of key/lock was popular with those needing heavy duty, quality padlocks. Because thousands of them were sold for non-railroad uses, the only way to authenticate that a key is from a railroad, is that it has a railroad marking on it, which this one does not. In this case, the letter C could mean anything its owner wanted -- "Building C", "Gate C," "Door C" etc. With the C being centered, obviously no other marks were intended.  Posted Wednesday, June 13, 2018 by JMS

A. Thanks JMS. So are you saying that only keys with RR stamped on them are from a railroad or that that is the only way to know for sure? I have a large collection I’ve recently acquired and many look like they may be switch keys because on the back they have an “S” but they don’t have RR stamped on them. Thanks! Posted Friday, June 15, 2018 by JMS

A. I do have some unmarked keys that do work railroad locks. I have a blank Reading, an unmarked Santa Fe and 2 unmarked Conrail. These all came with marked locks when I purchased them. That is why I know they are railroad keys. Keys like yours may be railroad keys, but to be certain they really have to have some form of "proof". In my cases, the marked locks were the evidence to verify the keys. Posted Saturday, June 16, 2018 by JN

 Q3472 Railroad Telegraph  I have what I was told was a railroad telegraph. This was taken from a freight house in Weedsport, N.Y. in the 50's. I would like to know what it is, and a brand name if possible. Instead of a coil, it has a large spring, which confuses me. Thank you for looking,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, June 11, 2018 by Ivan J    Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It looks more like some kind of thermostatic or pressure-operated steam heat control device, than a telegraph instrument. Both buildings and RR passenger cars used steam heat. Is there a pipe fitting on the bottom (in the pic) of what looks like a diaphragm? Posted Tuesday, June 12, 2018 by RJMc

A. Continuing to speculate, it might also be a pressure-driven control switch for an air compressor. The several springs, each with adjustable tensioning, look a lot like compressor control switches that use springs like that to adjust on, off and 'blowback' settings. The heavy insulating washers on the electrical connections say 'high voltage.' A lot of interlocking signal plants were pneumatically operated, and needed large air compressors, which might explain air-related hardware in buildings.  Posted Monday, June 18, 2018 by RJMc

 Q3471 Wm Westlake Brass Lantern Authenticity Confirmation  Is this from the 1800's? The REIS number is a mystery. I'd like to know if anyone has seen one like this. This all brass lantern is marked on the bottom with Wm Westlakes Pat Aug. 8 64, Sept. 12,65 & Dec. 12 65. The shoulder lid says PAT APR 26 64 & REIS.No. 236_ last number may be 9. The patent dates match some other Wm Westlake lanterns seen on-line. The twist off bellbottom says No. 39 GLOBE on the band. The burner knob says E. Miller & Co. Meriden, Conn. Globe is unmarked clear with a purple tint and I don’t care how old the globe is, just the frame. This lantern is very similar to the No.2 'Railway King' lantern on p.44 of 'The Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Railroad Lighting, Volume 1-The Railroad Lantern' by Richard C. Barrett. It looks and feels old.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, June 10, 2018 by WB   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Your lantern was made in the early 1870s. Reis means that a noted patent was “Reissued.” This could occur for many reasons, but Is usually related to a prior art claim by someone who was issued an earlier patent with similar novelty claims. The diamond filigree in the chimney was used on several A&W models including no. 2 and no. 39. You have noted no. 2 Railway King , which was a wire bottom model that used a no. 2 globe. The no. 2 globe has a smaller diameter bottom fitter extension diameter and wider girth than a no. 39 globe. Noted on your lantern is “no 39 Globe” which advises the correct replacement required. This was specified for a short time in the early 1870s because there were a number of models in service that required different globe types before standardization was well along with no. 39 models. Posted Monday, June 11, 2018 by ABSwoyer

 Q3470 RR Light Info?  I was told this is an old Railroad light. It has been mounted on a wood base. I believe it is solid brass, quite heavy too. The light itself (without base) is approximately 9-10 inches tall. I was hoping you could tell me more about it? I really appreciate your efforts on my behalf.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, June 3, 2018 by DF   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. L.L.Rowe Co. of Woburn Ma. is a manufacturer of marine lighting. Posted Monday, June 4, 2018 by DC

A. I have a similar ships light (but older) of US Navy WWII vintage. To quote from a letter I received from the US Navy Historical Center: "Your cobalt blue Fresnel light is almost certainly a specialty light. Unlike the usual red and green running lights, the blue light was only used in towing operations. Posted Monday, June 4, 2018 by LC

A. bridge marker light Posted Tuesday, July 17, 2018 by Ex Sou Ry

A. DF: - See LINK 1 for a PDF of the U.S. Coast Guard bulletin on Bridge Lighting. – If the lens is actually blue, LC may have the answer. If it is a teal, blue green color (signal green), much like a highway traffic stop light, then it could be a bridge lamp. The Coast Guard PDF shows where red and green lights were placed on bridges. – Remember, railroads had thousands of bridges over navigable waterways; so if your lamp is a bridge lamp, it could certainly be a rail related piece. – The question I would have is that all of the railroad lamp manufacturers (Adlake, Dressel, Handlan, etc.) also made these types of bridge lamps, and railroads tended to buy bridge lamps from people they already had high volume business relationships with rather than turning to marine equipment suppliers; not impossible though. ---- …. Red Beard  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, August 14, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

 Q3469 Paper Origin?  Can anyone tell me what this paper may have been from? I believe I got it from my great grandma when she passed away. The measurements of the paper itself are 4 in. x 9 in.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, June 3, 2018 by Charlie V   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. If you google "Old Union Pacific ads" and click on "images", your see a ton of UP ads just like it wooing potential businesses/customers and the same size of yours. 4x9 or 4x10 would be half a magazine page ad. Probably cut from various trade/industrial magazines and newspapers. Posted Tuesday, June 5, 2018 by LC

A. LC, thanks for your info, however, to see if there were any additional markings on the back, I flipped it over a found a note stating that she got it on the last transcontinental passenger trip "after which the train was retired". Posted Wednesday, June 6, 2018 by Charlie V

A. Union Pacific quit running passenger trains on April 30, 1971. On May 1, 1971 service started being operated by Amtrak. It is possible these were given out to passengers on-board the final runs of their trains as a farewell souvenir. Posted Friday, June 8, 2018 by JN

A. This is not something whose value would be hurt by opening the back of the frame and seeing what is actually on the back of the piece itself -- not just reading a note on the outside covering the back. It's very possible that the actual size is larger than 4x9, because the mat is covering the edges. Unless you open the frame there is no way to tell (for example) (1) how big the piece really is, or (2) whether there is printing information like dates currently covered up, or (3) if the mat is covering damaged edges, or (4) confirming this is NOT a magazine page, etc. Good luck - and congratulations on a very nice family item !!  Posted Monday, June 11, 2018 by JMS

A. JMS- I have removed the back and found no damaged edges but I did find an additional note that the date was around 1954 and that the train went to Denver Colorado, and was retired to a museum. Thanks for your help. Posted Thursday, June 21, 2018 by Charlie V

 Q3468 Observation Car Ashtray  I have an ATSF ashtray that I bought from an ATSF retiree who said it was from their observation or parlor car fleet. I am trying to clean it up and get rid of the tar and smell so it can be put in the house, but I don’t want to damage it. Is there a reference of these somewhere where I can compare mine? I don’t know if the black coating on the base is a paint job or finish, or is just years of built up filth and cigarette smoke remnants. The base/black finish is very sticky and feels like it’s accumulated smoke and tar, but if it is paint or a coating I don’t want to damage it trying to clean it off. I can say definitively that 409 didn’t make any difference at all on it. Thanks.  Posted Tuesday, May 29, 2018 by Daniel   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Daniel; – A photo would really help. – The fact that it is sticky is telling you that there is something foreign on that surface. Try some Simple Green, I get it at the auto parts store and have used it to degrease engine blocks; so it's pretty effective stuff. Try it on a small area and for just a short contact time before wiping it off. You will need to rinse it well also, but a quick spray and wipe should tell you if the Simple Green will remove it. It should work on the tobacco residue as well. On the chromed metal, soak it down pretty well and let it stand for 15 to 30 minutes. Lay it on its side, so it doesn't run down to the base. Drape the piece to be cleaned with paper towel that has been soaked in the Simple Green. That will keep it from running off the surface and give you a lengthened contact time. Once draped, you can respray the wet paper towel to keep a heavy coat of Simple Green on the dirty area. – Back to the base. If the original surface has become sticky, it is due to it having been exposed to some substance that softened the original coating. If you want to turn it into a display piece, you're going to have to clean the residue and or paint off and repaint it anyway. ..yes, I know, I'm the one on here always preaching against repainting items, but if the original coating has turned sticky it needs to be refinished. It may also be a surface deterioration of some sort of synthetic material the base is made of. In that case you should be able to clean down through the sticky layer to some un-oxidized. “live” material. It may also be old varnish, which can turn sticky over decades. If the Simple Green doesn't work, try rubbing alcohol, the some paint thinner grade alcohol, then some mineral spirits paint thinner. Something should eventually remove that sticky surface; thought you may end up needing to strip and repaint it when you're done. ---- …. Red Beard . Posted Tuesday, May 29, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Looking at a drink stand / ashtray here, the base and the three riser rods are coated with a thick layer of black 'wrinkle finish' coating. The Link is to a different ashtray, where the base is also flat black but looks like it may have been refinished. A wrinkle finish is very distinctive in appearance and feel and would be very hard to replicate if it is damaged or removed. I would try cleaning it with very soft bristle brushes and gentle cleansers first, before trying anything more drastic.  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, May 30, 2018 by RJMc

A. The wrinkle finish material is very similar to the vinyl on car dashboards, and similar cleaning methods should work. Simple Green is a great cleaner, but check when you buy it. It is sold both as a concentrate and as diluted cleaner. The concentrate is VERY strong and calls to be diluted quite a bit before use on anything delicate. Posted Wednesday, May 30, 2018 by RJMc

 Q3467 RR Item Identified?  Any idea what purpose this item would have served for a railroad? The railroad operated from the 1860’s-1880’s. Thanks for any information.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, May 29, 2018 by Jason C   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. See prior Q 3451; the actual item you have is the wooden pattern used to cast a metal part in a foundry. That said, the real question is 'OK, what did that metal part do?' RR's at that time used a lot of cast parts, for locos, cars, and even for track and signal appliances so there are a LOT of possibilities. The rounded seat, on top in the picture, suggests a holder for a round shaft or axle, just to start the discussion.  Posted Wednesday, May 30, 2018 by RJMc

 Q3466 JustRite Lantern  Can anyone tell me about JustRite Lanterns? Specifically JustRite Model 2150, 'The Trainman'? I just purchased one at a flea market in nice shape. I have never heard of this company. Can anyone give me history and possible date? The latest patent date on it is 1942 with others pending. Being shiny, almost chrome-like, to me it may have been for passenger service? Any information would be helpful Thank You,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, May 28, 2018 by JN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The Link is to the Justrite Co. website; they started in business in 1906 and are still in business today making mostly hazmat containers, apparently. It does not appear that they are still in the lantern business. Link 1  Posted Monday, May 28, 2018 by RJMc

A. That shiny bright surface is typical of electric lanterns. The Congers were the same bright finish. Sorry to say that it doesn't denote a passenger service lantern as they all came in a bright finish. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Tuesday, May 29, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

 Q3465 Train Bell  I am Rebuilding an old B&O RR Locomotive Bell... Main question....were the clappers that rang the bell ever steam powered? I ask this because on one of 2 yoke pins, boiler threaded on the end, (I took the item apart.) there is what looks like a vacuum breaker???? I have had a 1st. Grade Stationary Engineers license for many years and have never heard of steam driven RR Loco bells.  Posted Thursday, May 24, 2018 by Jim T   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. No, for some very good reasons; the biggest one in my mind being that the skinny pipe feeding steam to the bell ringer, which only operates occasionally, would be forever frozen in cold weather, making that critical safety device inoperable. (See prior Q 2562, which lists prior Q's also, all about bell ringers.) The earliest locomotives used the simple, cheap, and reliable expedient of the manual bell rope or cord. After George Westinghouse got his first air brake patent in 1868 lots of available compressed air became a good option so air ringers began to be used. By the 1920's higher speed, increasingly complex RR operations on multiple tracks with signals made needing to ring the bell a huge distraction from running the train....so various state and Federal regulators made it mandatory to have a bell with an 'automatic' ringer. As to other 'appliances' on steam engines, things like the turbogenerator(s) and the water pumps or injectors both needed more power (which would have consumed too much air,) typically ran most of the time, and/or were big enough and important enough to install steam freeze-protection tracer lines for winter operations. The steam-powered air pumps (compressors) were running almost continuously but also were freeze protected. Of course air pressure was not the perfect solution; I have personally had to go out and unfreeze the air line to the bell, when condensation accumulated in the line and froze....  Posted Thursday, May 24, 2018 by RJMc

 Q3464 Container  I came across this odd container in a collection from the family of a collector that was moving into a home. He mostly had Frisco items. This is about the size of a 2 quart oil can and looks crudely made and welded. It's heavy and has a brass tag that says 'return to electricians frisco r. House fort Scott kan'. We was stumped on what it might of been used for. Any help would be appreciated.  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, May 21, 2018 by Nick G   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Some questions: is the part on the other side also a hasp, or just a hinge? Two hasps would make the top removable. Is there anything inside the can such as padding or brackets? Or other cushioning? I can see something like this being used to ship the armature or commutator for an electric motor or generator. Those expensive parts are mostly copper, when new or renewed they are carefully machined to be almost perfectly round, with fairly soft surfaces which can be easily damaged by impacts. And the RR had a lot of fairly large electric motors, even more so after diesels came in. They might need to transport the parts from one shop to another, and would want the container back having gone to all the trouble to construct it!  Posted Thursday, May 24, 2018 by RJMc

A. Thank you for the response. The back side has a hinge and the inside is completely empty. It's a head scratcher. I do like the brass plate that is on it. Makes a cool display peice  Posted Sunday, May 27, 2018 by Nick

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

A. Unless they are marked with RR initials, they could have been used by anybody. Railroad type padlocks were used by all sorts of industries, utilities, factories, and even private individuals, etc etc. Posted Tuesday, May 22, 2018 by DA

A. If they were kept in a key cabinet The number would indicate where they were used, such as which gate etc. Posted Tuesday, May 22, 2018 by DC

A. The general kind of 'barrel' key was also commonly sold in locksmith shops and the bit could be cut to fit whatever lock you had. The numbers might be to ID the different blanks; single letters were also commonly used for that purpose, so a key marked 'K' just tells which pocket of the tray it started out in. The tray might have had 40 or more pockets, each with a different diameter, bit, handle, etc etc. Really 'veteran' lockshops, usually in older major downtown areas, sometimes still have the trays full of blanks even today but they are getting very scarce. It takes a special key cutting machine to duplicate these keys, and they too are getting scarce.  Posted Wednesday, May 23, 2018 by RJMc

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

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

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

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

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

A. Here’s a link to a clear globe with the same SONORA Ry marking minus the DEC 30 1902 patent date. The globe is embossed on the inside, you can run your fingers along it and feel it. My research says the SONORA RY ended in 1898. So it seems to me that possibly the GR and Iy purchased a used GTR ice spike bell bottom and then some how came across this odd Corning globe and strapped it together for a workmen? It’s nearly impossible to see the internal embossing without back light. I could be way off, I really don’t know. I know the GR and Iy was hard up and intersected the GTR in Grand Rapids, so possibly? Link 1  Posted Thursday, May 17, 2018 by JO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A. I can't thank you enough for all the help in solving my questions on this award. The information is greatly accepted! Thanks! Bob Posted Monday, May 21, 2018 by RLN

A. As a die-hard and lifelong Nickel Plate fan, I have to correct part of my first answer above. At the time of the 1964 merger into N&W, the NKP System had almost 2,700 miles of track with major terminals including Chicago, Toledo, Cleveland, Buffalo, Pittsburg, St. Louis, Peoria, and many many places in between. And many had excellent safety records, so there were many of these awards made.  Posted Monday, June 11, 2018 by RJMc

 Q3459 What Is This Device?  We have this item that we have no knowledge of. It appears to be either a mic/speaker or buzzer, wired to a knife switch. (The inside view shows it was a product of the 'Kellogg S and S Co'. There is no date on it. This is an item in our railroad museum, and I haven’t found anyone who has any info on it. I assume if it was donated to us it is RR related. Can anyone help identifying this piece and it’s function?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, May 13, 2018 by Steve S   Post a Reply  Email a reply

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

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

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

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

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

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