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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:

 Q3480 Lamp Info Needed  I have the lantern pictured in the image Ė minus the globes Ė 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 Iím 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 Ė Chicago 1890 May 6. Iíd 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

 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

 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

 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

 Q3476 Adlake Marker Lenses  I recently purchased an Adlake cannonball marker lamp (not a class lamp Ė 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 Ĺ 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. Ė 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. Ė 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. Ė Ė 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! Ė Ė 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. Ė Ė 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! Ė Ė 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. ---- Ö. 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. Iíll just swap the lenses out with a switch marker I have with smooth lenses. Thanks Joe Posted Wednesday, June 20, 2018 by Joseph Cich

 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. Iím guessing it is about 12Ē 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 Iíve recently acquired and many look like they may be switch keys because on the back they have an ďSĒ but they donít 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 donít 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 ďReissued.Ē 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 ďno 39 GlobeĒ 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

 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

 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 donít want to damage it. Is there a reference of these somewhere where I can compare mine? I donít 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 itís accumulated smoke and tar, but if it is paint or a coating I donít want to damage it trying to clean it off. I can say definitively that 409 didnít make any difference at all on it. Thanks.  Posted Tuesday, May 29, 2018 by Daniel   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Daniel; Ė A photo would really help. Ė 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. Ė 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. ďliveĒ 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. ---- Ö. 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 1860ís-1880ís. 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 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. Itís 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. Iím new to the hobby (like only a few days), and Iím 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 Iíve come to realize its rarity and to some degree its value. Also iíve 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 Iím mistaken about the GR and Iy being a Grand Trunk line, my mistake. Hereís 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 ďSONORA RYĒ. Itís only visible with light behind the globe. I believe that may be Mexican line? Iím so confused haha  Posted Wednesday, May 16, 2018 by JO

A. Here is more information about the GR&IRy - 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 .  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. Hereís 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? Itís nearly impossible to see the internal embossing without back light. I could be way off, I really donít 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 didnít release that railroadaina cut about half of my original post off. Hereís 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 ďThe Adams and Westlake Company/ Chicago New York/ G.T.R / Patented May 28, 1895Ē -Blue 5 3/8Ē Corning globe, etched on the outside ďG.R.&I.Ry.Ē Also it has the patent date embossed at the top outside reading ďPAT DEC 30 1902 NO 717 501Ē -Also its embossed on the inside very faintly ďSONORA RYĒ 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. Iíve 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 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 havenít 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 itís 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 itís 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 thereís something that has me puzzled. Thereís 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, itís really tough, but it can be chipped off. And underneath, thereís 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 paintís 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. Iíve 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 it something that coated the whole lantern? Posted Monday, May 14, 2018 by RJMc

 Q3457 What Is This Tool?  I found this at a garage sale, seller told me it's a very old railroad tool. My son works for a railroad track company in Dallas, I wanted to give it to him, but not without an explanation of what the heck it is. Can anyone help identify it? I saw it in a photograph of a museum display with no explanation, and the display was of antique railroad tools, so I'm pretty sure I'm on the right 'track'.  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, May 13, 2018 by Mark M   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. These are to a sickle bar style mower, the moving bar would slide over a row of these bolted to a fixed bar to cut grass/hay. The serrated pads should be riveted to these and are replaceable, the pads are the other half of the cutting mechanism. The RR's may have used these to cut weeds but I cut a lot of hay on the farm with a mower that these were part of.  Posted Sunday, May 13, 2018 by COD

 Q3456 B&O China Question  I saw a 9 inch (actually 8.75 inch) plate, Harper's Ferry, Horse Drawn Car - Lord Baltimore. The back has Scammell's Lamberton, Patent Applied For and Shield with milestones 1828-1874. The question is: It does not have the years next to the Capitol Dome at the top of shield. No evidence of fading. Did they wear completely off OR were some plates made without the date? Also, rough time frame for this plate? Thanks. Posted Sunday, May 6, 2018 by Steve   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. If it says "Patent Applied For" That would make it from the very first batch from 1927. Looking at other pieces of that I see they did not have the years on them in that batch. You have one of the first pieces. Very hard to find. Enjoy it! Posted Monday, May 7, 2018 by JN

A. Thanks! Posted Monday, May 7, 2018 by Steve

A. I have the same plate, patent applied for, but it does have the 1827-1927 dates on either side of the Capitol Dome ? Any thoughts on that ?  Posted Monday, May 21, 2018 by COD

 Q3455 Key Info?  I recently acquired two keys that are not traditional switch keys. One is marked NY&OMRR with a C near the barrel. Believe this is from New York and Oswego Midland Railroad. Cannot make out the makers name but can read Newark NJ. The other is marked S&MRR with an S by the barrel. Double bit and no maker's mark. I hope someone can help me out with any info about these keys.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, May 6, 2018 by TML   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I have an early double bit key from an 1860's RR line that looks like your key, double ring, etc. It was made by PYES, known for their double-bit brass lever locks. No maker's mark on my key either.  Posted Monday, May 7, 2018 by DA

A. You're correct about New York & Oswego Midland. As to the S&MRR....there were quite a few lines with those initials. Any idea what geographical area it came from? That may help to narrow it down. Posted Friday, May 11, 2018 by BobF

 Q3454 SP Sunset Pattern China  I have been collecting this pattern for several years. I have never seen a cup saucer with the Top Logo on it. Do they exist? Thanks.  Posted Friday, May 4, 2018 by Doug   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3453 Conductor's Lantern ID?  Can anyone help me identify this lantern? Solid brass. Has (what I assume to be) a whale oil burner. Also has a screw-in globe retainer. Looks like a conductor's lantern, but I'd love to know the manufacturer and/or model. Iíve been told it could be a Parmalee & Bonnell. There is a patent date of 1871 on the bottom. Any help is appreciated!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, May 4, 2018 by AD   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I believe this lantern is a CT ham model either number 1 or 3. This lantern is considered to be a conductor lantern, sometimes given to conductors for retirement gifts. This lantern should polish up nice with some care and patience. Nice find! Posted Friday, May 4, 2018 by RR Gal

A. Thanks for the response RR Gal! But, I have both of the lanterns you mention (CT Ham #1 and #3) in my collection, and while it shares some similarities, it's definitely not either. Quite a bit smaller than a #1 with a different bell, and with a very different profile than a #3. Posted Friday, May 4, 2018 by AD

A. This is an early Steam Gauge & Lantern Co. product, possibly their No. 3. See Barrett, p. 216. Artistís rendition shows step in the base, but not made that way. The patent stamp is Parmelee & Bonnell, also seen on early successor SG&L products. This lantern dates to mid- to late-1870s. Posted Monday, May 7, 2018 by ASwoyer

 Q3452 Lantern Marking  I have an old railroad lantern with the markings 'P. S. & C. N.Y'. on the top. It also says 'Porter'. Do you know what railroad this is from? It has a red globe, 5 3/8Ē high. Thank you,  Posted Monday, April 30, 2018 by Andy N   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The marking stands for the maker which is Porter Sons & Company New York not a RR marking Posted Monday, April 30, 2018 by COD

 Q3451 Locomotive bell stand/cradle casting date  I am overhauling a 14.5 in. - 15 in. brass/bronze B&O loco bell. The steel stand/cradle has 2 different sets of numbers cast in it. One number is 200369 (or maybe 2Q0369) and is cast on the outside edge and on the bottom. The other number is 104?0 (or maybe 104 0. Can you tell me what the numbers mean, and if they are casting dates, what the date is?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, April 30, 2018 by JT   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. In most foundries, these were pattern and/or part numbers which would seldom change over many years. For sand casting, making up the 3-D wooden pattern is a significant portion of the labor to make any casting; after forming the cavity in the sand in the mold, and before pouring the metal, the numbered wooden pattern is removed and saved to use over and over again. A foundry kept the wood patterns on hand for all kinds of parts and the pattern numbers helped to keep them organized, and matched them to the blue prints and part numbers. But there was no reason (except maybe on builder's plates or service-time-limited items such as brake hoses) to change the numbers for various dates.  Posted Tuesday, May 1, 2018 by RJMc

A. One useful aspect of the numbers might be to confirm what foundry made your castings. Although there is no catalog anywhere, you may be able to match the part numbers you have with other similar parts which have a known history. Many major, and not-so-major RR companies had their own in-house foundries; I am fairly certain the B&O shops in Baltimore did their own castings and I know the PRR in Altoona had a huge foundry complex. The major locomotive builders also probably cast many of their own parts, and all of these organizations also bought many parts from outside suppliers which probably used their own part numbers.  Posted Wednesday, May 9, 2018 by RJMc

 Q3450 Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen Service Pins  Help? I have been trying to find information on Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen member service pins. Does anyone know where I can find information of types and the years when the service pins were issued? My internet searches have been fruitless. Attached is a scan of the ones I have been able to find so far.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, April 30, 2018 by TC   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I have never found any dates for when these were used, just know that these are the early ones (Screw Backs) and I was told that the different regions were able to design their own. For example, I have 8 different 25 year pins and from there on, I have anywhere from 2 to 4 variations of each five year pin. later they switched to a common pin that has a shield shape with a large number and a different color. The last ones (UTU) are in a oval (Foot Ball)shape and have the number at the top. Good luck on finding out what you are looking for! RLN Posted Friday, May 4, 2018 by RLN

 Q3449 Lantern Info Needed  Can you give me any information on this lantern? It was in my great aunt's basement in Iowa. There are no markings other than what is noted on the bottom and no globe (although I'd like to know what kind of globe this takes). It appears to be all brass. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, April 19, 2018 by Pam   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  Chicago Manufacturing Company was in existence from 1850? to 1874, located at 43 and 45 Franklin Street, Chicago. At the time that it was sold the company was owned by Joseph Dennis and Henry Wheeler and they sold it to Adams and Westlake. The October 24, 1865 patent may be referring to James Irwin's patent number 50591. Chicago Manufacturing held the rights to that patent starting in 1868. This may be a #7 Champion conductors lantern. See pages 42 and 45 in "The Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Railroad Lighting, Volume 1-The Railroad Lantern" by Richard C. Barrett. Also see page 124 and 125 in "Lanterns That Lit Our World" by Anthony Hobson. It is hard to say what globe this lantern uses, start by measuring the height, see if it might be 5 and 3/8 inches tall. That would probably be a common #39 globe which is readily available. If that is the wrong height than give us the correct height along with the diameter of the top and bottom openings and the widest width of the bulge and we can determine what globe will fit.  Posted Friday, April 20, 2018 by KM

 Q3448 Lantern ID Needed  Can anyone help identify this lantern? I am wanting to restore it. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, April 18, 2018 by MB   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  This is what's left of a New England Glass Company fixed globe lantern that was made around 1855 to 1875. Good luck with the restoration because you are missing the globe, burner and tank. See pages 22 and 23 in "The Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Railroad Lighting, Volume 1-The Railroad Lantern" by Richard C. Barrett.  Posted Friday, April 20, 2018 by KM

 Q3447 Locomotive Bell?  My father in law had this bell, however we do not know much about it. It has been sitting in front of my barn for 15 or so years. I recently started researching this bell and from what I can tell it may be a locomotive bell? The pull arm has been cut off with a torch, not sure what else is missing? Just looking for any info and history on this type of bell. Thanks in advance for any information.  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2018 by Mark   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. What size is it? The form is consistent with bells that were used on steam locomotives for many decades or on some early diesels, and also on many fire trucks and some ships. What size is it? The mounting holes appear small for locomotive service. Does it have a clapper? On locomotives the mechanical ringing arrangement was often eliminated and an air-operated piston was substituted to eliminate the requirement to pull the bell cord all the time. The numbers visible in the pic are casting part numbers. Are there any numbers or letters steel-stamped into the top of the bell itself? If so, they might indicate what RR or locomotive the bell was used on. For a lot more info and description, go the Railroadiana Home selection on this site and select "Bells" as the topic in the right hand column.  Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2018 by RJMc

A. Another source of excellent and wide-ranging info on all kinds of bells, including railroad bells, is the Brosamer website (see Link). Look at their bell RR95 for one very similar to yours which they say came from a narrow-gage RR locomotive. Their section on "Post Bells" used around farms and residences also shows one similar to yours, and in that section they also list replacement parts (which are usually NOT easy to find) if you are interested in restoring your bell. Link 1  Posted Friday, April 13, 2018 by RJMc

 Q3446 Lantern ID?  What kind of lantern is this? I found this lantern in a market in the South of France. The fresnels are plastic.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2018 by EW, Sweden   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The lantern appears to be a traffic warning lantern - used at road construction sites and the like. It is not a railroad lantern. See Link 1 for a picture of a similar lantern.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, April 12, 2018 by JEM

 Q3445 Lantern Age?  I found this lantern and trying to find out the year it was made. Think it says defense lantern spd co. Then it says n.y and on the front it says no.0 perfect.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, April 5, 2018 by DR   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is a "barn" style tubular lantern, and not a railroad lantern. It looks nothing at all like any railroad lantern. It may be a Defiance Lantern and Stamping Company product. If so, it may be similar or the same as a Defiance No. 0 Regular Tubular Lantern - made from 1901 to the 1930s, according to information in Hobson's book, "Lanterns That Lit Our World".  Posted Saturday, April 7, 2018 by JEM

 Q3444 Bell Restoration Question  We have an old B&O locomotive bell with base as pictured on your web-site front page in the second row down, far left. Listed as on your web page as: 'it is 14 1/2' in diameter, mounted on a mahogany base, and believed to be a Baltimore & Ohio Railroad bell due to the fact that a very similar one is pictured in a circa 1950 B&O gift shop catalog. Ours has the same cradle (with oval bottom) and yoke design. Our bell is larger than 14 1/2 in. (about 18-20 in., but have not measured it...) and has a internal air passage through the pin and up through the yoke for the air operated clapper. It also has a moisture separator screwed into the end of the air supply pin. Took 3 men to carry and remove the assembled bell from the garage. We at an American Legion Post are rebuilding/overhauling this after it was stored in a dusty/dirty garage for over 50 years. It will be in our museum for your 100th anniversary of the legion in 2019. We have gotten the bell, brass ball nut and clapper (with threaded stud) off the yoke but are not sure if the 2 steel pins that attach the yoke to the cradle have tapered ends fitting into tapered holes in the cradle. Were the pins installed from the inside going outward, or from the outside going inward? The steel pins in the cast steel cradle are rusted and if we have the use a sludge hammer to drive the pins out, we hope the pins are straight so it won't matter which direction we drive the pins. We are hoping to drive the pins from the outside, inward. Can you help us? New steel pins and brass cradle bearings/bushings will be machined for the overhaul.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, April 4, 2018 by JT   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Assure that you rigidly support any of the cast components to isolate them from the force of impact; they may fracture. I have had success saturating stubborn steel pins, screws, etc. by soaking with a penetrating oil (WD-40) or kerosene for several days and using a punch with an outside diameter slightly smaller than the pin OD to distribute the impact force. Good luck!  Posted Thursday, April 5, 2018 by JSM

A. Heat just the pin as hot as you can get it. (do not heat the area around it) Let it set and cool while you take a break and it should drive out. The hot pin will expand and cause the material around the pin to expand, because that outer area was not heated it will stay expanded and not contract like the pin will. Never had this not work Posted Thursday, April 5, 2018 by LF

 Q3443 NYCS Tool  Can anyone suggest what this NYCS 'tool' was used for? It clearly should have a handle, but itís definitely different than the high-window opener poles we have seen. The hook would have been to pull on something at a distance, but why the slot down the middle? Thank you for ideas!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2018 by JMS   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Just a guess, but, the slot may be a manufacturing feature, i.e., core, to reduce weight and cost (less material), insure consistent wall thickness and deformation of the part and reduce casting/cooling time. Use, well, how about a hook on a shaft to retrieve mail pouches?  Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2018 by JSM

A. This looks very much like the center piece of a small brush or broom. I don't see any means by which bristles or broom straws could have been fastened into the head, but that may have been only by compressing the bundle of them into the slot in the head. The 'NYCS' stamp marks this as later than 1920. The use of brass or bronze for this item says to me it was for some 'higher class' function, probably on a passenger, sleeper, or dining car. An office building might also be a possibility. I am guessing the hook may have been to hang it up when it was not in use; the hook does not appear to be worn by a lot of use. For very similar shapes, see theimage of brushes and brooms [See link] which were for sale to RR's around 1895. This pic comes from the Illustrated Catalogue of Ry and Machinists' Tools and Supplies of the distributors Manning, Maxwell & Moore, Inc. The catalog was scanned and made available (free) online by Google books.  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, April 4, 2018 by RJMc

A. Thanks so much for the ideas. It is brass. NYCS operated between August 1935 and 1968 - we hadn't thought about a brush/broom holder base, indeed it could be, if the bristles could be forced in tight enough. Thank you especially for the lead to the Google Books listing, we'll definitely check that one out ! Posted Friday, April 6, 2018 by JMS

 Q3442 Eagle Tallow Pots  Were Eagle tallow pots (steam cylinder/valve oil cans) painted originally or galvanized? If they were painted, what color should they be? Thinking of the ones made from 1900-1940ish.  Posted Monday, March 26, 2018 by KO   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. All Eagle products I have seen were blue unless very old and rusty. Google "Eagle tallow pots" and you will see current line of of tallow pots. Posted Saturday, March 31, 2018 by DC

 Q3441 RR Button?  Can you identify this? It has a back mark but unreadable. Thanks for your help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, March 23, 2018 by Wayne   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3440 Lantern Info Needed  I picked this up for $10 at estate sale. Canít find any history for lettering on top D & R.G RR . It looks like it might be missing a ring around the globe area. I canít find one like it on internet to compare to.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, March 17, 2018 by Don D   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The D&RGRR is for the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad. You did very well in your find for $10. Maybe post a photo of "the ring around the globe area". Nice work on your find! Posted Saturday, March 17, 2018 by LN

A. Wow, you are so lucky. Lucky that you found this mint condition Star headlight lantern for 10 bucks. Lucky that it also had a MM Buck fount in mint condition!! Lucky that you found this website!! Lucky that you took wonderful sharp & detailed pictures that all the western collectors can drool over!! Lucky that you were so ignorant of the internet that simply typing in D&RG would gain you a wealth of info on the Denver and Rio Grande railroad. But you found this website and were able to post a message and download pics!! And lucky that you posted it on St. Patrick's Day!!! The only thing better would be if you posted this on April one!!! Mr Lucky!!! I found a Union Pacific Big Boy one time, just sitting on a siding, but I could not carry it home on my skateboard. But hey, thanks, we all need a good laugh from time to time.  Posted Sunday, March 18, 2018 by GWS

A. Not real sure what that (Mr. Lucky)is all about but, what color Globe would this Lantern normally have. Thinking about buying a replica to display it. Posted Tuesday, March 20, 2018 by Don D

A. Some people aren't happy to see others find nice things I guess. Jealousy does funny things to people. Anyway, most typically it would have had a clear or "white" globe in it for standard use. If you are looking for any color in particular or a nice original marked or unmarked globe instead of a re-pop that you'll typically find on a particular 4 letter internet auction site, there are several website based dealers you can probably find a nice globe at a reasonable price with a simple google search. You might also be able to find an original font for it. It is a very nice find and congrats. Posted Tuesday, March 20, 2018 by FC

A. Don D; W.T.Kirkman (LINK 1) is your one stop source for many parts for old lanterns, including a globe for your fine piece. Look at the Replacement Glass link on the left side of Kirkman's page -- One reason for confusion over the initials "D&RG" is that the Rio Grand reorganized in 1920-1921 and became the "D&RGW". You, being a wise collector (not a wise-@$$ with a keyboard) were likely searching for the exact letters"D&RG", and not finding much. Glad you found this site. Please know that MOST collectors who respond to questions on this site are happy to share legit information, not sarcastic drivel. ---- .... Red Bread Link 1  Posted Wednesday, March 21, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. From your photo it appears the lower horizontal wire guard is missing. Replacing this piece is a fairly easy restoration / fabrication. Finding the replacement clips however is going to be the tough part (note the clips where the upper horizontal and vertical wires come together). Your best bet is to attend a railroadiana show where you will find boxes of lantern parts. It will take some hunting but you may be able to find a frame like yours and salvage both the lower horizontal wire and clips. While you are at the show be sure to keep an eye out for an original globe too. Having your lantern complete, right and tight will make a nice find even better. Good luck. Posted Friday, March 23, 2018 by Ex Sou Ry

 Q3439 Lamp Info Needed  Would anyone happen to know anything about this lamp/lantern? There are no markings on it. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, March 15, 2018 by Jerry M.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. What do you think folks ? I am guessing a Hiram Piper switch light with a bunch of modifications over the years. Posted Thursday, March 15, 2018 by HVT

A. I'm wondering about it being a Peter Gray lamp but modified. That lens opening is pretty small and similar to my Peter Gray Maine Central lamp. This is a WAG though. Posted Thursday, March 15, 2018 by PK

A. That deep edged "Portobello Mushroom" cap on the lamp is a dead giveaway. This lamp is from INDIA. I don't know much about them, but many of them have shown up on the Net in recent years. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Thursday, March 15, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Jerry M. , could you please take one red and one green of the lenses off and write back and let us know what the lettering around the edge of the lens says? That would be a BIG research help! Thanks, ---- .... Red Beard Posted Thursday, March 15, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Assuming the lens is original to the Lamp. Posted Friday, March 16, 2018 by LC

A. Likewise Red Beard.......I'm sure that's an INDIA product from that site that's mentioned in the FAKE category on this site. I have a matching pair of platform lamps that I purposely bought off of Ebay (real cheap)a couple years back, just out of curiosity. Visually, from a distance, they actually look good but there is no wind baffling of any kind and the doors don't fit tight. You couldn't even use a candle in them and keep it lit. There was a cheap little tin font like you'd use in a craft product for looks only. I put a little kerosene in the one and it leaked immediately. The lens is a standard clear fresnel but it's hammered on with a strip of metal and not a drawband with a screw. AS i said, at a distance, it could pass for real. Up close, to those of us familiar with these.....No way! Posted Friday, March 16, 2018 by TE

A. Here ya' go. check out this site to see what i was talking about in the previous post. It's called Infiniti India Posted Friday, March 16, 2018 by TE

A. Hey TE, good to hear from you; been a while -- What does it say on the rim of the lenses in your lamps? How is the quality of the color in those lenses? ---- .... Red Beard Posted Saturday, March 17, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. YES....It has been awhile but I regularly check the site. The lenses in both, along the rim, have the following molded in: F89 MM 5 3/8 136 MMDIA There are no manufacturer marks on the lens or the lamp. After pulling them out and looking at them again, they aren't junk by any means. There's some heft to the metal and some craftsmenship in the overall construction. There's even a peep hole in the lower third of the body. They seem to have copied a really old pre 1900. There's just no wind proofing in the works. And as mentioned, the font is a cheap non-railroad item. These could easily fool a novice or non collector. TE  Posted Sunday, March 18, 2018 by TE

A. Forgot to answer your other question. The single lens is clear and of standard quality for typical modern fresnel lenses.  Posted Sunday, March 18, 2018 by TE

 Q3438 Marine Lantern?  I have a lantern that I cleaned up and clear coated. It looks like a marine style lantern with no makers mark. I found a picture similar to it in Anthony Hobsonís book 'Lanterns That Lit Our World' Book Two, similar to Helvig lanterns. The burner is marked BB&C Co. Maybe Bristol Brass Co.? It accepts a common barn size globe 6- 5/8 tall. The cold blast globes seem to fit better than the hot blast style. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, March 11, 2018 by Nick   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Might be Bridgeport Brass.... Posted Monday, March 26, 2018 by BobF

 Q3437 C&NW RR vs RY?  I have an early tall globe Adams & Westlake lantern that is marked C & NW RR on the rim. The globe is marked C&NW Ry. Most of the Chicago & Northwestern lanterns Iíve seen are marked 'Railway' instead of 'Railroad' Were earlier lanterns marked in this matter?  Posted Sunday, March 11, 2018 by NSG   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Before the "Adams" and "Reliable" lanterns, Chicago & Northwestern lanterns were routinely marked "RR" instead of "RY". Older keys and locks were also marked with RR. Posted Thursday, March 15, 2018 by BobF

 Q3436 Tiffany Pin  I just purchased this lapel pin. It is gold plated sterling silver made by Tiffany. Since I can't see a company like Tiffany making run of the mill railfan pins, I am taking an educated guess that this is a UP service pin? Having 5 stars and being gold colored makes me think along the lines of a 50 year service pin. Can anyone confirm this and take a guess as to vintage? Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, March 7, 2018 by JN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. You are wise to realize that "Tiffany & Co" on a run of the mill piece is a huge red flag. At least one scammer has been documented fraudulently marking belt buckles (among other things) as Tiffany produced. See Link 1 ; and the discussion about it on this website Link 2. If this was genuine Tiffany it should be real gold - not gold color. Also, service pins almost always have the actual year number on them - not stars. I hope someone more familiar with UP itself will respond here ?  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Wednesday, March 7, 2018 by JMS

A. Total Fake ! -- Look first at the quality of the stars and the design of the shield. Any company service pin would have much sharper, more precise detail. The stars are not crisp geometric shapes, the bars on the shield and the lettering have rounded edges. Any piece used by a railroad would be very carefully detailed with sharp edges and angles, as would any non-official piece from a quality jewelry manufacturer. Also, having worked for the UP, this looks like no official piece I've ever seen. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Wednesday, March 7, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Tiffany would have the Union Pacific letters much more detailed and not smooth like a well worn out coin. Posted Thursday, March 8, 2018 by LC

A. I was given a twenty year pin (2 stars) like this when I worked for Union Pacific. It is marked Tiffany. This is genuine railroad issue. Posted Saturday, March 10, 2018 by rrsignalman

A. Correction to my reply. I just found my pin and it also has 5 stars at the top. Mine also has 2 blue stones on the lower portion. I am certain that mine is a twenty year pin as indicated by the 2 stones. Yours must be a 5 year pin and definitely Union Pacific issued. Posted Saturday, March 10, 2018 by rrsignalman

A. Failed to mention vintage. Mine would have been issued in 2002. Posted Saturday, March 10, 2018 by rrsignalman

A. rrsignalman; - take a look at the pin in -LINK 1- below. I'm guessing your pin looks more like the one in the LINK -- I still maintain that the one shown in this question is a knock-off, a cheap hat pin, and that the Tiffany stamp is fake and it has no connection to the U.P. ---- .... Red Beard Link 1  Posted Friday, March 16, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Red Beard - My pin is very detailed like the one in the link you provided. It is possible that the pin on this post is a reproduction. We'll have to see if more show up...  Posted Saturday, March 17, 2018 by rrsignalman

A. rrsignalman; What part of the system did you work on? I was a clerk in Council Bluffs back in the '70s. Unfortunately, I never got to know any of the maintainers, as I always had an interest in signals; collect old insulators too, and picked up quite a few as the open wire was taken down on branch lines. Also had an uncle who was an AT&T Long Lines man for years; climbed a lot of poles in his day. Did get to know some of the special agents, as their office was right next door to the yard office. ---- .... Red Beard  Posted Saturday, March 17, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Red Beard - Started out for Mopac in Austin, TX. Worked there for several years then to Missouri. Spent many years in the System Signal Shops in Sedalia, MO. until retirement in 2016. I have also climbed a few poles! Not my favorite thing to do... Posted Sunday, March 18, 2018 by rrsignalman

 Q3435 B&O Teapot  I have B&O teapot that I purchased from an antique dealer years ago; it has a Shenango backstamp and 1952 date code. After comparing to pictures of the same teapot Iím not sure mine has the proper lid on it. Would appreciate any help or comments, thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, March 5, 2018 by Gary H.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Does the lid have a tab on it? Notice that the rim of the teapot has a notch in it. The teapot lid should have a tab on it that fits in that notch.Inserting the tab and then twisting the lid 1/4 turn keeps the lid from falling off during pouring. Also, be very careful cleaning the teapot. The gold will come off if scrubbed with a Brillo pad or scraped. Gold has to be put on top of the glaze. That makes it vulnerable to coming off. That is a very pretty teapot. That is one of my favorite patterns. Posted Tuesday, March 6, 2018 by JN

A. No, there is no tab on the bottom.From other pics of the teapot I've seen they don't have a round knob on top like mine, it is kind of a flat tab with dimples on each side of the tab to grab. Looks like someone may have replaced the lid on this one that goes on another piece "Capitol". Posted Tuesday, March 6, 2018 by GHyde

A. Go to this website here Click on Baltimore & Ohio Railroad china and look at Capitol Pattern. You will see a hot chocolate pot that has a lid that looks like yours. Posted Tuesday, March 6, 2018 by JN

A. I would agree with GHyde. The pot has a "slot" and is made for a lid that would have a "tab" or an "ear" on one rim edge. When you put this type of lid on, the tab goes first through the rim opening. Then you set the rest of the lid down, and turn it so the tab won't come back up out of the rim hole. This arrangement keeps the lid on the pot no matter how far you tip it to pour. As JN points out it's possible your lid was made for a chocolate pot, because a "true" tea pot lid will have at least one little tab on the inside rim. THAT SAID - not a huge problem -- it fits your tea pot, it displays beautifully and both pieces are in LOVELY condition! but if it was mine I would be looking at any lids I might come across whether on a tea pot like yours or a chocolate pot! just to see if I could find the 100% correct one.  Posted Tuesday, March 6, 2018 by JMS

A. See the link - Here is what the lid on your tea pot should look like, indeed it is a tall flat triangular shape tab. JN appears to be right - the fat, short knob type belongs on a chocolate pot. Apparently this is a "pin" of Pinterest - lifted from one of Sue Knous' Railroad Memories photos in a prior auction.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, March 6, 2018 by JMS

A. I meant also to reinforce JN's caveat about cleaning this! The value in this pattern is how close to mint the decoration is. The slightest wear on the gold means value will PLUMMET. Never EVER use any kind of hard scrubber to clean it, and NEVER EVER EVER wash in a dishwasher!!  Posted Tuesday, March 6, 2018 by JMS

A. GHyde-- I think someone nailed it, believe the lid I have on my teapot is for the chocolate pot. That's the way I purchased the piece and I wasn't aware at the time it was wrong. I will check out the website, maybe someday I can find the correct lid. Thank you very much for the help! Posted Tuesday, March 6, 2018 by GHyde

A. I call this situation an ITLLDOO - it will do until a more appropriate piece comes along. In the meantime, enjoy it ! Beautiful pot and a lid that works (until the appropriate one comes along). I would check with the Railroad Commissary, as one of the posters above provided - send him an email, let him know you have a choc pot lid and looking for a tea pot lid. Check and see if there are any shows you could attend, vendors may be able to help. You need to get into a loop to improve your hunting chances. This is not an impossibly rare pattern and with luck you'll succeed !  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, March 7, 2018 by jms

 Q3434 Handlan Item  I picked this up the other day. The guy said it was for a semaphore light or a switch lamp with a slide-open door. He said that when the railroads started to switch from kero to electric they converted to this type of electric. It's made by Handlan. On the front it says Pat Apld for. On the other end it says Handlan St Louis USA. The glass is about 4 3/4 inches; the base is 4 inches wide and about 6 inches long. It's made of aluminum. Can anybody tell me what they really used it for? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, March 4, 2018 by RT   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hello RT,This light unit was used by railroads to convert their kerosene/oil burning lamps into slightly more modern electric lamps,yet used the original lamp body and mounting hardware.It probably was cost effective for them to do this as railroads were notoriously cheap by nature.If you look closely at the footprint of the unit's base,it will conform exactly to an AAR standard 31 ounce rectangular oil fount which Handlan,Dressel and Adlake all used in certain versions of their signal lamps.By making it an exact fit,the focus of the light unit was still correct in relation to the lense center.Some of these conversion units had a feature whereby the height of the electric lamp socket could be raised up or down for exact focus.This particular lamp socket would most likely have had a screw-in signal bulb adapter to accommodate a signal standard SC base style bulb which was a low voltage bulb with precision focused filament, but not all lines used these bulbs in these old lamp conversions.I don't want to overload you with info but I speak from 40 years of experience in the signal dep't of a class 1 railroad and am now retired. DJB Posted Tuesday, March 6, 2018 by DJB

A. thank you djb for the info what year did they use these Posted Wednesday, March 7, 2018 by rt

A. Hi RT,Its hard to say when these conversions first started to be used but its safe to say that it was when the rural areas of the country started to get electricity,so my guess would be the 40's and later.Some of these conversions could go back much earlier and used low voltage lamps lit by DC from what we called primary batteries,or those that were activated chemically with caustic soda,lasted approx. 1 year and didn't need to be charged by electricity.Railroads started to send electricity down to signal locations via line wire once it was available and were able to save considerable maintenance costs by not having to fill,clean and maintain kerosene burners every week.As time went on,these old converted kerosene signal lamps were replaced by modern electric signal lamps specifically designed for this purpose with better optics and a more intense illumination. DJB Posted Wednesday, March 7, 2018 by DJB

A. thank you djb for your help Posted Wednesday, March 7, 2018 by rt

 Q3433 CPR Item  Can you assist in Identifying this Canadian Pacific Railroad item? It appears to be a Pullman Sleeping Car window curtain(?) . . but the size is small (33 in. x 27 in.) and it only has two grommet holes. I have over exposed the photo to show the pattern on the blanket. It is 100% wool with a canvas border. I bought this directly from the CP Rail 'Bygones Shop' back on the mid 1970's. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, March 1, 2018 by Craig M   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Many railroads used cloth head rest covers on their coach seats. The two grommets probably fit over 2 studs on the back of the chairs to keep them in place. That would be my educated guess.  Posted Friday, March 2, 2018 by JN

A. Also known as an antimaccassar. Macassar was an oil formerly used, especially by men, to make one's hair shiny and lay flat. Posted Friday, March 2, 2018 by DC

A. JN nailed it exactly. In the mid 1900s, men used quite a bit of "hair dressing", such as Brylcreem, to hold their hair neatly in place (LINK 1). The major problem with this practice was that the oily hair dressing would seep into anything your hair came into contact with, leaving a visible stain on upholstered surfaces. At home, most people had a nice looking doily or decorative towel draped over the top of high-backed chairs or sofas to keep hair dressing off the fabric. Likewise, expensive hats, such as a passenger conductor's uniform hat would have a clear plastic liner in the hat to prevent the oil from staining the outside surface of the hat. Earlier hats had a loose silk liner for the same purpose. Head rest covers, such as the one in this question were used by all railroads to keep the seats clean. -- Additionally, prior to the development of DDT during WWII, and other modern pediculicides, head lice were quite common in the US. When an infected person would rest their head on the back of the seat, lice would cling to the seat fabric and attach themselves to subsequent passengers who likewise leaned their head back on the seat. By changing the covers daily at the end of every run, the risk of spreading lice from one passenger to another was reduced, thereby making the traveling public rest more easily when traveling by train. ---- ....Red Beard Link 1  Posted Friday, March 2, 2018 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

 Q3432 Hiram Piper Lanterns  I have a question about a Hiram Piper railway lantern. The lantern is the larger black colour, 4 lens caboose style stamped H.L.P. on very top lid ,and also stamped C.N.R. on the side. It has 3 blue plastic lens and 1 red lens. The person says it was never used and was made in Kingston Ontario, being sold as new old stock. My question is: Were these lanterns ever made in Kingston Ontario as per sheet of paper that comes with lantern? There are no markings of 'Montreal' at all on this lantern. Thank you.  Posted Thursday, March 1, 2018 by Jim L.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3431 Mystery William Westlake Tall Lantern Base  Can anyone advise what type of lantern this base was made for ? (Or point me to a picture?) It is stamped W WESTLAKE PATD with one 1864 patent date and two from 1865. It has a small sliding door on the side and there are two bent wire 'clips' that work with what amounts to thumb latches (hidden below the rolled rim). You squeeze the 'mushroom' parts and the wire loops go back under the rim; then released they come back out (as shown). Guessing that a globe (?) is placed on the outer flat rim and the clips hold it in place Ė they are there to hold something (maybe another metal part with slots they go into?) We are able to find information about William Westlake but nothing about the type of lantern this would have been made for. Thank you for any ideas !   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, February 28, 2018 by JS   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Your lantern part is a bottom section of a domestic lantern and the photo shown is of a very similar lantern. Normally these type of lanterns had a fixed glass globe that was cemented into the top and bottom metal sections of the lantern. However because yours has the spring loaded tabs I suspect that this part is for a removable (replaceable) glass globe which was patented by William Westlake at the dates shown on your part. The other photo shown shows a spring loaded Sangster font that would have been similar to one that would have clipped underneath the part you have. It would have contained the fuel and wick and could be easily removed to add fuel and trim the wick. The sliding tab you have on your part would open to light & extinguish the flame.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, March 4, 2018 by D.M.