Question & Answer Board

Main
Q&A Page
Email a QuestionRailroadiana Home

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

  • No questions about what something is worth -- see About Values. Also, no questions or replies selling or looking for items or services. This includes offers or contact information looking to buy items or services.

NOTE: On 3/20/25 our ISP made unexpected changes that required extensive modifications in our software. If you encounter any unusual problems or bugs, please email us at the address below. Thanks.

Email questions to qa@railroadiana.org. Most questions are actually posted within a day or so. While an image to go along with the question is optional, it is strongly recommended and will help others find an answer. Email the image(s) as an attachment, but it must be YOUR OWN IMAGE. Stealing it from Ebay is a copyright violation! Also see our Frequently Asked Questions or FAQs page and our Contact Us page for questions that we cannot reply to.

Latest 25 Questions:

 Q2964 Lamp Info Needed  Can you please provide type, i.e., railroad and date range of use of this lamp? It is about 5.5 wide X 4.5 deep X 9.5 tall to top of chimney and 12.75 to top of bail. The name plate on the fuel vessel is: Romer & Co, Newark NJ. The burner is marked: Pat March 1864 on one side, the other marked CONVEX. Sheet metal painted black body, black painted brass glass bezel/frame, tinned reflector within. Back has a wide belt hook attached. Yes, the original (I think) glass is cracked. Thank you for your time and help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, May 22, 2015 by JM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q2963 Case Iron Base  Does anyone have any ideas as to where this may of came from? I found it in an estate of a man who worked for Santa fe and brought home a lot of parts and pieces of passenger cars, several of which I have posted here for identification. I have one more. It's some sort of base about a foot wide and has R1630 embossed on it. From the font it looks older to me. The pipe sitting next to it screws in to the center. Any ideas or help on this obscure piece would be appreciated. Thanks   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, May 15, 2015 by Nick    Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q2962 Car Lights?  I was told these came off of a passenger car and were overhead lighting. The white tubes are milk glass white. Just curious if anyone has seen these before and know about what years they might of been in use if they are actually from a train car? Thanks for any help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, May 15, 2015 by Nick   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. A quick look says 'Yes,' from a passenger car. Probably from alongside or above a bathroom mirror in a sleeping car. I will look further for more detailed info.  Posted Sunday, May 17, 2015 by RJMc

 Q2961 Whistle Sign  Can anyone tell me about this cast-iron whistle sign and how old it may be?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, May 12, 2015 by MS   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q2960 RR Key?  Got this key at an auction today. Was wondering if it is railroad or not? Someone suggested it might be. Only mark is 958 stamped on it. Thanks for any help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, May 10, 2015 by NG   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. What is the size of the key? It is very difficult to judge from the pic. with nothing for comparison. Looking at the background the key may actually be very small, and if so is much less likely to be RR.  Posted Monday, May 11, 2015 by RJMc

A. Thanks for the reply. The key is a barrel key and the same heigth as a standard railroad barrel key. Only thing different is the oval shape of the handle versus all my other keys being round. Thanks  Posted Monday, May 11, 2015 by nick

A. This actually looks like a police or fire dept "call box key". Same shape and they are usually numbered. Posted Monday, May 11, 2015 by DA

A. I think you are right on the money with it being a call box key. Thanks for the help. Nick  Posted Tuesday, May 12, 2015 by nick

 Q2959 Pyle Marker Light Marking  Does anybody know what the marking MLM-2X means on the small cannonball style Pyle caboose marker lights? Thanks.  Posted Saturday, May 9, 2015 by RT   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. from pyle national company bulletin no 1254-e date may, 10 1958 mlm stands for midget marker lights. this is in one of there catlogs Posted Monday, May 11, 2015 by mj

 Q2958 Lantern Marking  I have a railroad Lantern with the letters LRY&NCO on the top edge. I cannot find the railroad information. Can you send me in the right direction and how rare the Lantern is?  Posted Thursday, May 7, 2015 by RO   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Louisiana Railway & Navigation Company Posted Thursday, May 7, 2015 by MG

A. In operation 1903 - 1929 Posted Saturday, May 9, 2015 by DA

 Q2957 1918 Baldwin Builders Plate  I'm trying to research a 1918 Baldwin Builders plate #48352 dated April 1918. Could you tell me what locomotive this is from? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, May 7, 2015 by Jennifer   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. My records indicate 48352 was from a UP 0-6-0 road # 4444 which seems to be chalked on the back Posted Monday, May 11, 2015 by CD

A. I assume that if that is the case, then the locomotive would have looked very much like sister UP #4466 which is preserved at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento. See attached Link Link 1  Posted Tuesday, May 12, 2015 by JN

 Q2956   I purchased a lantern, marked 'The Adams', made by The Adams & Westlake Company - Chicago today. N.&W.R.R. is embossed on the top of the ventilator and in the glass globe. Also embossed further down the ventilator is the following (of what I think I can identify): June 21 '82 Aug 16 '92 Sept 2 '97 Nov 30 '97. There seem to be more dates beginning with EST, but they are very hard to read. I was wondering if you could positively date this? I'm thinking 1897, as that is the last year shown (to the best of my eyesight). Also, is there any way to open this up so I can clean the inside of the globe and burner? I have been able to soak some of the 'trash' out of it, but not all. The metal is rusted. My mother's father (my grandfather) worked on the N&W until 1945, when he had a stroke and had to stop working. I'd be very grateful for any information you could provide. Thank you in advance!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, May 3, 2015 by skibear42   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. There should be a mall wire latch under the lid. Push it and the lid will release and open for globe removal. Tall globe lantern were generally made up util about 1917. Pat dates only show when pat. not when made, Posted Sunday, May 3, 2015 by BK

A. The Link below will take you to the Archives part of this website, which reproduces part of the 1907 Adams and Westlake catalog. It shows the "No. 11 Adams Steel Guard, Inside Wick Raiser" lantern, which looks to be pretty close to your lantern. There are two ways to open up the lantern: the small wire loop mentioned by BK shows up very well in the illustration in the Link; it hangs just below the brim at the front of the lantern in the illustration. Pushing that wire loop will allow the top to flip up so that you can lift the globe out. The bottom comes off by twisting it off. To release it, you have to pulling out on the spring steel latch which is about 1/2" high and wraps most of the way around the bottom. It locks over a peg. Usually (if things aren't too stuck together with rust, crud, etc) pulling out on the latch will allow you to twist the bottom part, moving the peg to a slot that will let the bottom -- including the whole burner assembly -- drop out of the bottom of the lantern. This operation will likely be somewhat tricky with a rusted old lantern; it is likely to be all stuck together and very uncooperative. I would advise finding somebody familiar with lanterns to help you with it the first time you try it.....good luck with it.  Link 1  Posted Monday, May 4, 2015 by RJMc

 Q2955 Dressel Railroad Lantern  Hello, I am looking to find out about a RR lantern. I checked with another website and was given the following info and suggestion to contact your website. Thanks for any info you can provide.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, May 2, 2015 by RL   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is a crossing gate lantern that had 2 red lenses. The extended shades are so the engineer of an approaching train does not see a red light and have to stop. Posted Sunday, May 3, 2015 by BK

A. this is not a crossing gate lamp its a train order lamp crossing gate lamps have 4 lenses 2 red and 2 clear  Posted Tuesday, May 19, 2015 by mj

 Q2954 Pyle Marker Lights  Does anybody know when Pyle started making these cannonball style caboose lights? Were they every used on passenger cars? How can you tell how old these are? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, April 29, 2015 by RT   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hello. These are usually called 'Cat's Eye' markers. They were used beginning about the 1960's, and were definitely used on passenger cars as well as cabooses and locomotives until Federal law required brighter markers in 1977. Enter Q no's 2704, 2668, and 2355 in the 'By Q No.' box to see lots more description on these.  Posted Thursday, April 30, 2015 by RJMc

A. In the early 1970's Westerm Maryland RR had only one coach, for company service and excursions, but it always looked very distinguished with the cat's eye markers as clearly shown in the Link. Link 1  Posted Thursday, April 30, 2015 by RJMc

A. See the Link for another nice pic, this one in 1977 of the (original) Auto Train office car AT1, also with the cat's eye markers. By the 1960's and 1970's on most RR's there were no longer any requirements to change marker colors (just red) and there were onbobard electrical systems with inside switches to turn them on and off, so on most cabooses and psgr cars these were mounted and seldom removed from the car.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, April 30, 2015 by RJMc

A. these marker lights were made in the 1950s and vary early 1960s by pyle national company they had patends on the gyralite warning light for locomotives, cab light fixturs. classification lamps,marker lamps.and locomotive backup lamps. they were all being produced during this era 1950s. trans-lite purchased the pyle national company line of railroad lighting products in 1963 and still made this light but it did not say pyle on the top of the light it was blank. pyle did not incluaed the gyralite in the take over. Posted Thursday, April 30, 2015 by mj

 Q2953 Souvenir Shovel?  I just purchased a small (4.5 inches) cast iron shovel. It is lettered in blue P.R.R. '36 with a larger red Y in background. My thoughts are that it is a memento from a ground breaking ceremony for a P.R.R. YMCA in 1936. Any other info appreciated.  Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2015 by JC   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q2952 Sign  Can anybody tell me what railroad this whistle sign is from and how old it is? Thanks   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, April 26, 2015 by RT   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. RT, The whistle sighn you have is from the Norfolk and Western. It dates back at least into the 1920's. Hope this helps. O. Winston Links" books on the N&W has several photos showing this type of sign. GaryP Posted Monday, April 27, 2015 by GaryP

A. thank you garyP Posted Monday, April 27, 2015 by rt

 Q2951 Photo ID Needed  Received this cool old photograph yesterday. Was wondering if there is enough information on it to know what railroad it came from? I figured there would be some detectives here that might be up for the task. Only thing I can see is its number is visible in two places. Thank any help is much appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, April 26, 2015 by Nick   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I'm thinking it's a AT&SF Pacific, based on the class lamp placement, centered visor-less head lamp, style of numbers on the tender, shape of the cab and upper forward corner of the tender. -- anybody else?? ---- .... Red Beard Posted Monday, April 27, 2015 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Awesome. Thanks for your reply amd expertise. I was hoping it was atsf as that is what i focus my collection on being from topeka. Thanks nick  Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2015 by nick

 Q2950 'Pennsylvania System' Era?  Does anyone have any information on what time era was the Pennsylvania System? Was it before PRR, Lines West of Pittsburgh??? Any information that anyone could provide would be great!!! Thank you!  Posted Thursday, April 23, 2015 by RR Girl   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. After, about 1917. Posted Thursday, April 23, 2015 by BK

A. Enter prior Q. nos. 2551, 1778, and 1331 in the "By Question Number..." Box to see more discussion of the 'Lines' vs. 'System' designations on PRR and other roads. Posted Thursday, April 23, 2015 by RJMc

 Q2949 Pullman Silver Palace Car Lantern  I just bought a small lantern brass w/copper name plate saying property of Pullman silver palace car company. The base stands 5&1/4 inches high, the globe stands another 5&1/4 inches. Together it stands 9&3/4 inches tall. The globe is clear and has many bubbles. Could you give me any information on the reality of this piece?  Posted Tuesday, April 21, 2015 by JC   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Sorry, but there never was a "Pullman Silver Palace Car Co." Somebody (or multiple somebodies, and likely overseas) invented it, and then mass produced those copper tags and soldered them on literally THOUSANDS of whatever old, or old-looking, object they could find. In some cases they may have 'weathered' relatively cheap new items to make them look old enough. Any item with that kind of tag is considered a fake, or at best a 'fantasy item' depending on the history of the original item before the tag was applied. Also see the 'Fakes and Repros' pages elsewhere on this site.  Posted Tuesday, April 21, 2015 by RJMc

 Q2948 PRR Conductor Uniform Information  I am putting together a visual presentation and also a historical impression I wish to bring to the Sesqucentennial reenactment of Abraham Lincoln's funeral and funeral train. I am also a regular conductor at Hesston Steam Museum. I am looking for any kind of information regarding late Civil War to late Victorian era railroad conductors that worked on the Pennsylvania Railroad. Original photographs and information regarding ticket punches, button designs, and clothing colors/patterns...it would be much appreciated. I have perused hundreds of sources: libraries, other museums, archives, and websites-- unfortunately, none have yielded any information so far. This sort of information just doesn't seem at all documented. Much thanks.  Posted Thursday, April 16, 2015 by CR   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. See Link 1 for a photo which is directly relevant to your topic. If you hadn't already found it, that Dickenson Univ. website is specially dedicated to the Lincoln anniversary events. Its photos are really useful because some of them are 'zoomable' and you can get really close in to look over the details. The gentleman in the foreground of the pic in the Link would probably be an excellent model for you to duplicate that era. See also Prior Q's 1945 and 2710 on this Board about uniforms of that period and early PRR uniforms. 'Early' in this case means 1905. You will NOT find much 'PRR' info for the 1860's because the huge PRR System was then still well in the future, and you may have better luck looking up the subsidiary companies by name, such as Cumberland Valley and Northern Central, rather than 'PRR'. The Wikipedia article in Link 2 lists just some of HUGE number of companies which ended up in the PRR family, with dates. To illustrate how late the 'PRR System' formed, 'PRR' did not operate a through passenger train from New York City to Chicago under its own name all the way until 1887 -- before that several different operating companies were involved and sometimes required changing trains.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Saturday, April 18, 2015 by RJMc

 Q2947 Steel Switch Locks  I was wondering if anyone knows about what year railroads started using steel switch locks instead of brass locks? Thanks.  Posted Wednesday, April 15, 2015 by vandswry   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I have a steel switch lock for New Haven and Northhampton that ended in 1887; also a Copper Range Moon lock Pat'd 1905. Have Penn Central in brass, and there are many in steel. Norfolk & Western was still making locks in cast brass in the 50's; I have one dated 1955. I guess your basic question was when did Adlake start? Posted Thursday, April 16, 2015 by JC

A. I have steel locks in my collection made by adlake which date as far back as 1916. The early adlake locks were marked with the date of manufacture near the key way under the dust cover. One particular early lock I have was made for the Michigan Central Railroad and it is dated 1916. I also have another adlake made for the Southern Railway which is dated the same way from 1919, and on the back it is marked "No 48 lock pat sept 24 1912". I can't say that these examples are the earliest steel locks, but they are quite old. I've been collecting for 26 years now so my collection spans many years, and many different railroads. I'm not an expert, but if I were to guess, the patent date of 1912 likely coincides with WWI and a shortage of brass and copper needed to make ammunition and artillery shells. It would have been at that time that railroads and other industries were asked by the government to cut back on these essential metals needed for war, hence the introduction of the steel locks.  Posted Thursday, April 16, 2015 by Steve B.

A.  Iron cased switch and car locks date back at least to the 1880s produced in numbers by companies such as Wilson Bohannan and Speckmann of Louisville, Kentucky. The earliest steel switch locks I've encountered seem to be the A&W model number 12, shown in their 1907 catalog. I feel they actually date to the late 1890s as I have seen one of this type marked for the KCP&G that would have to predate the change in name to KCS in 1900. This model lock is rather scarce. I have three, all basically alike but for the marking, from four decades of collecting. I can make out a large A&W hexagonal mark on the shackle of two of them and all three have the machine made chains that began to replace the more expensive to manufacture forged iron in the 1890s. It would be interesting to document exactly when Adlake introduced this model lock. At this point I feel it may be just prior to 1900. Posted Thursday, April 16, 2015 by MG

A. I also think ADLAKE started producing steel switch locks as early as the very late 1890's. Those earliest locks have the A&W Hex logo stamped on the back side of the hasp, no date and no "ADLAKE". These early examples also have a laminated hasp instead of a one piece casting. Either way, it's my opinion that A&W started production of steel switch locks before the 1912 date on early #48 locks. Posted Saturday, April 18, 2015 by rf

 Q2946 Small Marker Lights?  I found these lights in my dads barn 15 years ago. I'm having difficulty finding anything close to them. Could you please help me? No name. 'KD27'.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, April 13, 2015 by NK   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. These may also be automotive. Perhaps this was the manufacturer:  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, April 15, 2015 by JFR

A.  KD Lamp Company from Cincinnatti still makes a line of vintage truck clearance lights that are reproductions of their old models. I have not seen this particular model yet, but it is possible that these are not as old as you might think. Posted Friday, April 17, 2015 by KM

 Q2945 Dietz #3 Lantern  I recently acquired this conductors lantern. Sadly there is no globe. Any suggestions on measurements so I can find one? Also, any suggestions on cleaning it up? Products that work? Thank you so much.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, April 12, 2015 by Hope   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hello: I'm not sure what the measurements may be, but as far as cleaning, click the link. Link 1  Posted Monday, April 13, 2015 by XX

A.  I think that the globe size is (Ht.) 4.75" X (top) 2.25" X (Btm) 2.5" X (Bulge) 3.75". A replacement globe is available from W.T. Kirkman Co. at lanternnet.com. Give them a call and make sure of this info. The replacement globe which is their number WT 203 is not cheap, but you will have a hard time finding an original globe for this somewhat rare lantern. Kirkman also has the globe retainer available if you need it. For some reason I can't copy the direct links to their page right now.  Posted Monday, April 13, 2015 by KM

 Q2944 Torches  I have 2 different cast iron torches marked PRR. One is a Dayton. The other one is marked CMT. The CMT is cast like a logo or trademark. Looking for some info, especially who the manufacturer was. Thanks.  Posted Sunday, April 12, 2015 by Steve    Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q2943 Michigan Logging Railroads  I'm trying to find an information source regarding the 'rail roads' that cropped up during the latter of two lumber clear cutting operations in northern Michigan. My first thought is that many of these were constructed to follow the loggers and were simply abandoned after the rails were taken up. The Michigan Department of Conservation realized the damage done, many areas were almost barren, and pushed a program through the legislature to sell off large lots to people would promise to plant a minimum of 4,000 pine trees per year on the property. The price per acre was quite low and our property was crisscrossed with the remains of three roadbeds and two separate, large camps. Just a shot in the dark to see if anybody had any details. Thanks,  Posted Wednesday, April 8, 2015 by RM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hi, Go to www.trains.com and click on their Classic Trains website. Try posting your question there. This site is more for railroadiana collectors. The Classic Trains site is where the "older railroading" experts hang out. You will probably have much better results there. If you have any artifacts from those roads, this is the site where we would love to see those items! Also, try this link to Wikipedia. It has a whole list of these railroads and where they eventually ended up. Happy Hunting! JN Link 1  Posted Thursday, April 9, 2015 by JN

 Q2942 Railway SIgnal Lamp  Please can you help me identify this lamp i.e what country and what year you may think it may be? The lamp opens from the top and has a red lens and clear lens both glass. I bought this from a local charity shop in the UK so I am presuming it is British? Regards,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, April 8, 2015 by Tony in UK   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Your lamp is, indeed, British. It is a Southern Railway brake van (i.e. caboose) side lamp. These were similar to caboose marker lamps, but were only used on "unfitted" freight trains, that is, trains where the wagons (cars) were not fitted with vacuum or air brakes, an arrangement which survived in the UK until the 1980s. They would be attached to either side of the rear brake van, red lens facing to the rear, clear towards the locomotive. In addition, a similar lamp with a red lens only would be attached to the centre rear of the van. Posted Thursday, April 9, 2015 by JAJ

 Q2941 Lamp ID Needed  I was wondering if you had seen anything like this before and could tell me what it is. I got this from my father many years ago and have looked everywhere to find out what it is. I found lots of lanterns but none with the angled spout. I have sent these picture to many other railroad sites and they have never seen anything like it. They all recommended contacting you. Can you let me know what it is? Thank You   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, April 8, 2015 by Miles   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hello, I believe this to be one of a pair of marine binnacle lamps that lit a ships compass from underneath. An unusual arrangement due to the angle. Most cast light from the side or downward. The brass construction is another " marine" clue. Posted Thursday, April 9, 2015 by GaryP

 Q2940 A&S Key  I have enjoyed visiting your web site on collecting railroadiana, and hope you can help me, or at least point me in the right direction. I am a railfan and model railroader with a serious interest in the Texas & Pacific, and the history of railroads in the Abilene, Texas, area. I have recently acquired a brass switch key that seems to be from the Abilene & Southern. It is stamped 'A & S RY' on the front, and 'Wilson Bohannon, Brooklyn, NY' on the back. The gentleman who sold it to me was from the Chicago area, and said he was reasonably sure it was NOT from the Alton & Southern, and he believed it was from the Abilene road. My question - this key is smaller than other switch keys I own. It is only about 1 3/4 in. long, and the head is only 3/4 in. wide. This may seem a silly question, but did very many railroads use this smaller size key/lock? The others I have collected are all longer, with a larger barrel and wider head. If not a switch lock, what other applications would have used a key like this? There are no other markings that I can see. Thanks for any assistance you can provide!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, April 4, 2015 by DG, Abilene ,TX   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I have found smaller switch keys more common on interurban RR's, but not as small as the one you have. The smaller key blanks are fairly common in lock shops and were probably used on furniture or display cases, for example. The WB stamping on this key looks old and authentic. The bit shows wear from some use. However the "A&S" stamping seems unworn and the lettering style looks new and very modern. Also, the "&" stamping was apparently home-built, looks like by using a reversed "3" and the "I" of a medern stamp set, which has no serifs. Many of the steel stamp sets commonly available now at hardware stores do not include the "&" stamp; it has to be bought separately.  Posted Monday, April 6, 2015 by RJMc

A. There is a key pictured in the Johnson book on p. 38 under A&S, that looks like it resembles the bit cut. Hard to tell. I agree with everything in the above answer, and additionally that the A&SRY is not centered -- not professionally done. Bohannan moved to Ohio in 1923, so "Brooklyn" would mean this key must have been made before that time, and it doesn't have an "old look" to it. That said it is possible it is NOS.  Posted Friday, May 1, 2015 by JS