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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:

 Q3786 Penn Central Lamp or Torch?  Could you please tell Me what this is? It has a Penn Central stamp on the top and is marked Johnson Urbana. The spout is about 28 in. long. I thought that maybe this had something to do with inspecting journals, but this is really a guess. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, September 17, 2020 by RG   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is more like a weed sprayer, or almost a flamethrower. In the winter it was filled with a flammable liquid which was then dispensed onto places like switch points and ignited, to melt out ice and snow so that the points could continue to be moved as needed to route trains. See Link where the man cetered in the pic is carrying one of these. The PRR also deployed thousands of rectangular metal burner cans, like smudge pots, under the rails at switch points in interlockings to keep the railroad open during snowstorms. They were manually lit or extinguished by track workers. This practice continued up thru PC, but has long since been replaced with propane or electric heaters and blowers to keep the points open, since there are no longer hundreds or thousands of employees to tend all this directly, and petroleum products are way too expensive to squirt on the ground and burn in the open.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, September 17, 2020 by RJMc

A. In the pic in the Link above, the man third from the left is actually using one.  Posted Thursday, September 17, 2020 by RJMc

A. Older style can than most of what I used , but I used them in the winter through the 80`s to thaw and clean out switches. Heaters were few and far between even on the main lines, except at major interlockings , and there were very few in the yards. I have heard of , but never seen , these used years ago to thaw out a frozen old style journal box. They were also used around lever operated towers.  Posted Friday, September 18, 2020 by hv coll

 Q3785 Union Pacific Cast Globes  I have three different Union Pacific cast globes. (1)Overland shield; (2)Union Pacific in a straight line enclosed in rectangle; (3)Union over Pacific in square. What year was each one made? They are 5 3/8 inch globes and are not extended-base. Thanks,  Posted Saturday, September 12, 2020 by Troy   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3784 WPRR Pry Bar  Full size (~2.5 feet) appears to be Western Pacific Railroad stamped. Included on opposite side is word 'SEMINOLE' before number '5'. Additional mark on bar is '8'. Have not been able to find any maker or supplier with this name to date the item. Any help is welcome.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, September 10, 2020 by ShastaRoute   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3783 Handlan 150 Switch Lamp  I just recently purchased what I believe to be a Handlan 150 Switch lamp, which I plan to restore. The burner/fuel pot assembly is missing, and I was wondering if anyone could give me the dimensions and possibly a photograph of the burner/tank so that I could pursue a replacement? I am also curious if it uses a chimney as do the Adlakes? I can find almost no information on the lamp (age, etc - believe made between 1920-1940). It looks like it would take a rectangular tank roughly 4 in. W x 6 in. L x 3 in. H. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, September 6, 2020 by Steve   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The Archives here on the RRiana website have a complete 1956 Handlan catalog, including the No. 150 Switch Lamp. Link 1 is to the page illustrating the various types of lamps available in 1956, and Link 2 has an exploded view of all the various replacement parts which rr's used to refurbish the lamps. It shows the rectangular font which was common in switchlamps and markers. It shows a burner and chimney, but as discussed in another recent Q, that may have been a 'long burning' option not used in all the lamps. There are many other earlier Q's here on the site; just put Handlan Switch Lamp in the 'by word or phrase' query box. Link 1  Link 2  Posted Sunday, September 6, 2020 by RJMc

 Q3782 Tool Check  I just acquired this C&O tool check. It is made from a plastic like material. The seller said it was probably made during WWI or WWII, when brass was restricted to military use. Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, September 6, 2020 by JN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Its hard to tell the properties of the material from just the photo. Is it a ceramic, or a more flexible type of material? The reddish color of your tag is very similar to the insulating materials used in passenger car electrical cabinets and on diesel locomotives. It is interesting that the letters and numbers on your tag seem to have been stamped, just as they would be with a brass tag, implying the material was fairly soft at the time the tag was produced. Bakelite and other plastics were widely available shortly after the invention of Bakelite in 1907 and were certainly in wide use during WWII, including for direct substitutes for scarce metals (see Link) but the tags would have had to be cured after stamping. Bakelite and its cousins are fairly brittle under impacts -- and that would make sequential numbering of mass-produced tags somewhat awkward.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, September 6, 2020 by RJMc

 Q3781 1880-1890 Dressel Lamp  I have this triangle Dressel lamp, I would like some information on it as I am looking for a catalog pic of it or someone with one. I have been collecting railroad for a very long time. I have never seen one of these as no one else either I have been talking to online. I'm needing to see what the reflector and font looks like as I need to find them. I would like to know any info on this lamp. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, August 29, 2020 by JH   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. There is an excellent (huge -- over 1100 pages) well-illustrated 1902 catalog of RR-related stuff available online, having been scanned as part of the Google project to scan historical documents wherever they could find them. The company was Manning, Maxwell and Moore, a distributor supplying all kinds of equipment to the RR industry. The Link is to the entire catalog which is over 300 MB (!!) as a .pdf. I have pulled out and will send along part of page 1000 which shows lamps, including two 'Triangular Station Lamps' one of which is very similar to yours. Unfortunately the catalog does not list the original manufacturers of the small items being sold such as lamps and other hardware. The illustrations are clear enough to show that the burner and reflector in your lamp are likely how it was delivered.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, August 29, 2020 by RJMc

A. A copy of the 1894 Manning, Maxwell catalog (also 1118 pgs long) is available from the Internet Archive, a different source which is much more usable (see Link) to be connected directly to the lamp pages. The information seems to be the same for the 1894 and 1902 versions of the catalog.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, August 29, 2020 by RJMc

A. Here is the piece I clipped out of the 1902 Manning, Maxwell & Moore catalog (see above). Link 1  Posted Sunday, August 30, 2020 by RJMc

 Q3780 Lamp Oil Question  I have a 1930 Adams & Westlake S.P. railroad lantern and would like to light use it in the backyard during family gatherings. The oil reservoir says 'use long time burning oil only No 300'. My question is: can I use lamp oil in the lantern? Thank you for your time and assistance.  Posted Saturday, August 22, 2020 by Connie   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Yes you can use lamp oil or common kerosene. Not all gas stations/mini marts have a kero pump so you might have to search a little. The instruction to use a long time burning oil only, dates to the days when gasoline was first showing up as a fuel and people were not aware of the highly volatile danger of lighting it with an open flame. So, a long time burning oil at that time could be kerosene or modestly refined animal fat. I tried diesel fuel in a lamp once but the oily nature of that fuel clogged the wick and it crusted up quickly and went out. There was no danger from using it though. Recently, in an old barn lantern,I tried used cooking oil from a deli which I got for free. Same problem with the wick crusting up and going out in a hour or less. An internet discussion suggested soaking the wick in a heavily concentrated salt solution, as the salt wouldn't burn and thus keep the end of the wick in tact. That didn't work either. I think it would work if I could find a synthetic material that would still wick up the fuel but not burn. Or, I could just spend $4 A gallon for kerosene.  Posted Sunday, August 23, 2020 by TE

A. Using the "By Question No." search box: prior Q's 1390, 1350, and others that are listed in their answers address the questions about long burning oil and the general considerations about what to burn in an Adlake No.300 lantern (300 is the model no. of the lantern). Searching in the 'By Word or Phrase' box will turn up many more Q's and A's on this topic. Posted Tuesday, August 25, 2020 by RJMc

A. Been decades since I bought kerosene in cans from hardware stores. This got me to check Fred Meyer's (Kroger owned) where they have plastic containers of "1K" heater fuel kerosene which is supposedly good for lanterns (by the labeling). It indicates it is better than "2K" kero. Could not find any disclaimer about "long burning" on it. Comes in three different quantities. Anyone have more info on such products? Posted Monday, August 31, 2020 by ShastaRoute

A. Most of the kerosene sold today at hardware stores and fuel pumps at mini marts is pretty much k-1. It is a purer fuel and has far less sulfur content than K2 and thus is why it's used in portable heater and such. I don't even know if you could find K-2, unless someone out there can tell me where and how. K-2 would definitely burn well enough in a lamp or lantern but would have a stronger acidic odor.  Posted Monday, August 31, 2020 by TE

 Q3779 EMD Plate ID?  I am trying to determine what Locomotive this plate was on and what Railroad owned it. Can you help me please? Regards,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, August 21, 2020 by 5IM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. the Unofficial EMD homepage says this plate is from NYC/P&LE SW9 8938 to P&LE 1246 to BAR 34 to BSCX 14 Posted Friday, August 21, 2020 by COD

 Q3778 Lantern/Lamp Info?  I've attached a picture of a lantern. I'm unable to match it to any images on the Internet and was hoping you could provide me with any information about its age, origin, metal composite or railway? history usage…basically any information at all would be wonderful!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, August 17, 2020 by Todd   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  It is hard to tell what size this is from the picture. I think that it is a bicycle lamp and not railroad at all. If it is larger than it looks it might be a carriage lamp. Is there a mounting bracket on the side of the lamp that is not shown in the photos? Here is a link to The Lampworks site which has a short history of bicycle lamps.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, September 6, 2020 by KM

 Q3777 More Key IDs  Thanks to all who responded to my last request. I was disappointed no one had any input on the D&M and the DPRR keys but so be it. Here are the next 3 I'm hoping for someone to identify. The first adlake is simply stamped EMR. When I first bought it I thought it was Eagle Mountain but have since obtained a known cut EM RR switch key. Next is an early curved ADLAKE S. GSRY. There are several possibilities with these initials. Next is a G W R R Bohannon S. the first thing that comes to mind is Genesse and Wyoming but the bit doesn't match their known bit unless it was an early bit cut for Genesse and Wyoming? Any help would be appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, August 13, 2020 by Jim   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3776 Please Identfy  Can someone please help me identify this particular lantern? It is a Tubular lantern. How rare is it? Thanks very much.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, August 13, 2020 by Igor   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Steam Gauge and Lantern Company. According to information found in Hobson's book "Lanterns That Lit Our World", the Tubular Square Lamps were bridge signal lamps. Hobson shows the No. 2 and No. 3, but not the No.1 lamp. Designed to be attached to a pole for visibility on the bridge, and also to bridge abutments. Various colors of glass such as red or green went on the sides and front to provide the wanted signal. Hobson lists these as "Rare".  Posted Friday, August 14, 2020 by JEM

 Q3775 Info on Keys?  I found this key [larger two images] and was wondering if anyone recognizes the keycut and if they think it was railroad? Also I'm curious if anyone has any ideas about what that other key (smaller, longer key) was used for? Thanks for any help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, August 8, 2020 by Nick   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The brass key could be RR, as well as many other possibilities. Knowing the area it came from might help someone to recognize the cut. The steel skeleton key is typical of many, many kinds of door keys. They were used in buildings of all kinds, but also in places such as RR coach and caboose end doors. Without markings or history for the specific key there is no way to tell.  Posted Saturday, August 8, 2020 by RJMc

A. A brass key with a cut very similar to this marked 'FRISCO' (for St. Louis and San Francisco RR) showed up lately at online auction. Since some online sites are refusing to advertisee RR keys, the description they used in the ad is so obscure -- it doesn't mention 'railroad' or 'key'-- that I can't even find that listing again.  Posted Thursday, August 27, 2020 by RJMc

 Q3774 Lamp Font Question  I have an early 'round top' A&W switch lamp. The font and burner are present, but there is no chimney glass, and it doesn’t seem like the burner is made to accept one. Would the small prongs that hold the chimney have been a separate apparatus that fits on the burner? Or did some of the early lamps operate without the internal glass chimney?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, August 6, 2020 by Jake   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. There are a lot of useful scans of historical lamp mfrs. catalogs in the Archives here on the RRiana site (see Link.) And going thru the reference material on burners and fonts in Barrett's Illustrated Encyc. of RR Lighting Vol. 2 on RR Signal Lamps, it appears the glass chimneys were part of a 'Long Burning' option provided by all the major manufacturers on many types of lamps including markers and class lights, as well as switch and semaphore lamps. A 1907 Armspear catalog had a choice of 6 or 8 burner types of which only one is the long-burning variety and the others do not use chimneys. The long-burning feature was a factory option that no doubt cost the RR more money to purchase. So while most lamps bought after 1920 or so came that way, no doubt some RR's chose the plain version for many years thereafter, and there is one ad shown in Barrett where the mfr. is touting a 'non-chimney' burner no doubt to highlight the cost saving. There are no adapters shown to convert a lamp to 'long burning' from regualr. Apparently that would have required changing out the whole burner assembly. Dreimiller's book Signal Lights confirms that chimneys were added only to the Long Burning lamps, to increase the light output. Link 1  Posted Friday, August 7, 2020 by RJMc

A. RJMc, thank you for the detailed response! It's great to know that burner could be period correct and the link you provided helped me positively ID the lamp. It seems identical to the A&W No. 168 Steel Marker / Tail Lamp (assuming that had no hinged top). Living and finding it in Washington, it's fun to think it possibly served time on the Pacific Electric Railway. I found it with a red lens and two Lunar Whites; couldn't find any reference to that particular combo, but it’'ll look cool cleaned up and hanging in the shop nonetheless. Thanks again! Posted Sunday, August 9, 2020 by Jake

A. I'm going to assume you identified it correctly as PERy, so for a funky fact you should know that several people noted the old PE lantern that turned up in the film Emperor of the North Pole. Since this was filmed on the then operating Oregon, Pacific & Eastern Ry. out of Cottage Grove, one might say that PE equipment got around beyond SoCal. Just as Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper declared "Elvis is everywhere", apparently so too was the Pacific Electric. Lucky you! Posted Tuesday, August 25, 2020 by ShastaRoute

 Q3773 Lock ID?  Can anyone date and or identify the maker of this railroad padlock? The markings that I can see are very faint but thought someone might recognize the lockmakers stamp. Oddly enough its iron. I thought all from this era was brass, still new to this so maybe they are more common than what I usually see. Any help would be appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, August 6, 2020 by Nick   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. If this lock isn't marked in some way with a railroad name or initials, it isn't a railroad lock.  Posted Friday, August 7, 2020 by JEM

A. Its marked with the railroad name on the opposite side. The railroad abbreviation places it pre 1900. I was just wondering if anyone could recognize the maker or the makers stamp. and give an idea of its general possible manufacture date. I believe I see "78" as a possible patent year. Thanks Posted Friday, August 7, 2020 by Nick

A. In looking for info on this question, I came across the Wilson Bohannan Co. website (See Link 1). Wilson Bohannan has been in the padlock and key business since 1860 and is still a going concern in Marion, OH. They are clearly (and justifiably) proud of their history and have provided access as .pdf files to 14 of their historic and current catalogs covering their entire company history. These historical documents have outstanding and detailed info about all aspects of padlocks. Looking at the 1890 catalog (See Link 2)on page 35, (page 21 of 68 in the pdf file, which has two catalog pages per pdf page)you see the No. 116 lock, as I think you can still see "116" stamped in the hasp of your lock. The No. 116 is the malleable iron version of the No. 115 brass or bronze lock. The catalog shows the No. 115/6 supplied with the twisted style of chain as on your lock. Looking thru the catalogs shows that many of the lock models were available either in bronze or malleable iron models. It is interesting to note that in 1890 one dozen (12!!) of the No. 115 lock cost $13.50. By selecting the iron case the customer saved $3.25 per dozen, making each lock with one key less than $1.00 each. The model or catalog numbers on Bohannan locks are a separate number series from the patent dates, but the No. 115 lock in the catalog is showing a patent date of 1878. Another page in the catalogs lists the various patents that Bohannan held.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Saturday, August 8, 2020 by RJMc

A. Having all of the markings available makes it a lot easier to identify. Many railroads lasted for years using the same markings , while some only lasted for a few years. With this information , a beginning and ending date can be determined , which can eliminate many other options. Posted Monday, August 10, 2020 by hvcoll

 Q3772 Dietz and Dressel 'Copper Clad' Lanterns  I have these lanterns and they are copper finished. The finish shows normal wear. All metal surfaces are copper including the inside and fount but not the burners. Both have Dressel founts. I have found information on lamps that were larter copper finished but not lanterns. I was wondering if anyone knows of any reason this would have been done? Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, August 6, 2020 by Doug   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Copper and its alloys are used in tools to reduce the risk of sparks being struck when impacts occur (see Link 1). It is possible the lanterns were copper-coated for use in hazardous locations (ammunition factories, or chemical plants where explosive vapors might be present, for example) The New York Central System served Nitro, WVA, and many chemical plants in that vicinity, where the special protection might have been warranted. NOTE that for this purpose beryllium metal was sometimes alloyed with the copper, which helped reduce electrical sparking as well as mechanical sparking. Beryllium is poisonous if ingested, which might occur if any machining was done on the parts which created dust which could be inhaled -- such as any kind of abrasive polishing. Link 2 which was produced by the successor to the Brush Beryllium Co. indicates that merely handling a copper-beyllium alloy should not be of major concern. I do not know of any easy test to check for the presence of beryllium in items such as your lanterns.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Thursday, August 6, 2020 by RJMc

 Q3771 Cast Iron Crossing Sign  I have acquired a large collection of cast iron steam era signs and signals over the years. I have one that I need some info on. It is a STOP LOOK and LISTEN RAILROAD CROSSING sign shaped like a protractor [top image]. What I'd like to know is what timeline was it used, what railroads used it, who made it and would it have been used in metropolitan areas or country side? Plus, any sites that you could direct me to research my collection would be appreciated. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, July 31, 2020 by Doug   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3770 Photo on Espee Lines  This photo was found photo in 2017. It appears to document the site of some major yard destruction. I am trying to determine the location and date. The only hint is that the standby engine appears to be Southern Pacific #2478, the seeming shy-boy of his P-10 Pacific class. Built in 1923 and died in 1954. (I had to loupe the print to clearly read the number which does not appear as well here.) Any help appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, July 29, 2020 by ShastaRoute   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Was able to find, in 1950, #2478 was assigned to the Coast Division from this blog (Link 1) article. Of course the small size of the numbers at the tender rear are raising serious doubts about this tentative and likely dubious identification. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, July 29, 2020 by ShastaRoute

A. It would appear possible that SP Vanderbilt tenders did carry smaller size numbers before circa-1939 when the large SOUTHERN PACIFIC name came to replace the Southern Pacific Lines lettering along the sides. Some photographs do seem to bear this out on other tender types. A modeler's article on the P-10 class (Link 1) has some drawings but neglects the rear numbers. 2478 was the first to be cut-up in 1954, but fortunately unlucky sister 2479 did survive as the only example of the class. This photo does not seem match up to any known wrecks I could find so far, but it likely is pre-war from the evidence. Link 1  Posted Sunday, August 9, 2020 by ShastaRoute

 Q3769 PRR Plate  I live in Logansport IN. I found this brass plate in the Wabash River around a place called Biddles Island with my metal detecter. Need help with an ID if possible. Thanks for any help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, July 26, 2020 by JF   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. ID plate for a piece of equipment like a rail drill , motor car trailer etc. Posted Sunday, July 26, 2020 by hvcoll

A. Definitely a Pennsylvania Railroad ID tag. Sometimes used on equipment, as mentioned. Also used to identify signal connection cabinets out along the right-of-way to direct the maintenance personnel to the correct wiring diagrams.  Posted Monday, July 27, 2020 by RJMc

A. I was told they were placed on anything that had a motor, for inventory and valuation purposes. Posted Saturday, August 1, 2020 by DA

 Q3768 Restoring a RR Brass Bell  I have a solid brass bell that my granddaddy salvaged from his steam engine when everything went to diesel. It's mounted on a sheet of stainless steel and the legs and fittings are the brass nobs from the front of the boiler. It was beautiful and shined so bright you could shave on its surface. Due to my spending a long stay in the hospital the bell became tarnished and the platform has little rust pits on it. It has never been outside since it was given to me in 1952. I'm sick that it has tarnished. I have no fancy equipment except for a hand held electric drill that I've attached a buffer cover. I've been working on it now with 'brasso' and other types of compounds and am not having much luck. I attempted to use caustic tarnish removal and made it worse by streaking. Can you suggest how I can get the gleam back? Can a very fine sand paper be used to bring it back?  Posted Sunday, July 26, 2020 by FN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I am guessing that sandpaper will scratch brass ... Anyone else (please)? Maybe use brass wool? or even a very fine brass wire brush (on an electric drill) for just a little more than buffing? Try checking the Q&A archives for earlier discussions about how to clean restore polish a bell. Just as an aside, many supposedly solid brass bells are in fact what is called "bell metal" see Link 1. It is an alloy related to brass - higher tin content to increase rigidity and improve resonance.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, July 26, 2020 by JMS

 Q3767 Date of Etched Lantern Globes?  I just picked up a Deitz Vesta [with an etched RR globe]. I want to know when they started etching glass globes?  Posted Sunday, July 26, 2020 by Sean   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Glass can be etched by fairly straightforward mechanical or chemical means. The Web (see link 1) refers to chemical means being commonly available since the mid-1800's. Mechanical means with abrasives -- as basic as a metal file, a grinding wheel, or now done with sandblasting -- have been around as long as glass has been in use. So I suspect that globes have been etched as long as globes have been in use. As explained in more detail in Link 2, in the Archives here on this site, the oldest very fancy ones used the etching process to ID the globe and lantern to their individual user, often for ceremonial or award purposes. The relative ease of etching using a readily-available air compressor, sandblasting kit, and masking tape as the stencil means that almost anyone can etch lettering into a globe, causing great difficulty in determining whether etched pieces are originals.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Monday, July 27, 2020 by RJMc

 Q3766 Mining Rail  A friend of mine just picked up a couple feet of mining RR track. It may be cast as the letters and numbers are raised on the side of the rail. It says P.S.Co. 88. Could this possibly mean Pennsylvania Steel Company 1888 ? Thank you.  Posted Sunday, July 26, 2020 by CWD   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The Link is to a fairly long discussion of the markings on North American rail, which is produced by rolling, not casting, but requires that ID info be rolled into the web as every length of rail is produced. "PS" does refer to Pennsylvania but there is some confusion since Pennsylvania Standard (sections made to PRR standards) and Pennsylvania System (railroad name) and Pennsylvania Steel Co. (a rail mill -- itself a subsidiary of the PRR) all could generate a PS marking. There should be more numbers or letters which would help to clear up whether the 88 is the year of mfg. (possible) or the rail section size (80 or 90 would be common, but 88 would be very unusual as a rail size.) The Wabtec web site at Link 2 has a very good listing and discussion of rail sections and markings, including PS, but is somewhat limited to more modern markings relevant to use today. Link 1  Link 2  Posted Monday, July 27, 2020 by RJMc

A. Thank you ! I will check out both links. Posted Monday, July 27, 2020 by RJMc

A. I recall coming across a loose section of rail left up on the Box Springs grade in Riverside CA (servicing March Field and south towards Perris) which carried "1887" dating on it (and the A.T. & S.F. name if my memory don't suck and the river don't rise). This is back around 1979-80. It dissapeared when some grade work was done later. I wouldn't be surprised if this is a date here. Posted Monday, August 31, 2020 by ShastaRoute

 Q3765 Wabash Badge  I'm hoping you can provide some info on this badge I picked up at a flea market last October. I tried the Wabash Historical Society but they never replied to my email. I've found others like it on other sites like Worthpoint, but I can't find any actual information about what these badges were for. I've found another one I might be able to buy for a different railroad, so I'd like to know what the actual functional purpose of these badges were for. Thanks.  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, July 25, 2020 by Ben   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Most likely just an employee ID badge for gate access at large facilities such as shops, or a major passenger terminal or freight yard. The number also often served as timekeeping and payroll ID. These were used before computers and printers made it easy and cheap to produce photo ID cards. Some big industries such as steel mills used this kind of button and some even added photos of the holder.  Posted Saturday, July 25, 2020 by RJMc

A. The postal code of "2" predates the use of five digit zips, placing the button somewhere between late '40's to very early '60's. Posted Sunday, July 26, 2020 by ShastaRoute

A. I found a good page about the St. Louis Button Company, see Link 1. The information says the company was in business "well into the 1950s" so I would suggest using that as a last possible manufacture date on your badge, rather than 1960s. Be proud of this, it's authentic and in fabulous condition!! Great find !  Link 1  Posted Sunday, July 26, 2020 by JMS

A. Just an added note on factory badge buttons. I recently found a snapshot of a woman in civvies with such a badge in her left coat lapel. She is next to what turns out to be a famous B-17 that came back from the Pacific zone and was held at a plant in the midwest, used for training the Rosies. One known photo is of an identified female welder working on this plane at the plant, and she might be the same one in my photo, but she is in her work outfit...can't see if she was wearing the badge then. So I suspect these may have only been for gate access to the plant and not needed while actually on the job in uniform. Might explain why they survive in such good condition if not used on the plant floor. (Some days you just get lucky with photo evidence surfacing. Most days you wait in vain.) Posted Monday, August 31, 2020 by ShastaRoute

 Q3764 'TR 7' Sign  I recently found this heavy cast iron embossed TR. 7 sign. Most likely it is Railroad. The measurements are 15 in. width and the height is 10 in. not including the bracket on the bottom. With the bracket included it measures 15 in. It does have some markings or a makers mark on the bottom. It has the four holes where it most likely was mounted, and it also was most likely mounted on the bottom possibly to a pole. Possibly Track 7 or Tomahawk Railway? Any idea of how old it is or any other information would be great. Thank You.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, July 25, 2020 by D   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Almost certainly "Track 7" Likely from a major passenger terminal, some of which had as many as 20 or 30 designated tracks; or possibly a major freight classification yard which could have had 40 or 50 tracks. The type of base mount also was typical for mounting signal equipment to masts. It might have been mounted with a signal to make clear what track the signal applied to, for example controlling when trains were permitted to depart from a major terminal. See also prior Q;s 3728 and 3684 Posted Saturday, July 25, 2020 by RJMc

A. Very cool..could become the centerpiece for starting a restaurant named Track 7. Can you record here the small letters you read at the bottom? Posted Sunday, July 26, 2020 by ShastaRoute

A. Any idea where this sign originated -- geographically? The paint colors on your sign may provide some clue to what RR or transit system used it, so don't be too quick to remove the paint. Knowing the area would be a help to guessing who used it. The Link below shows the lower platform level at the Washington (DC) Union Station. Note the signs hanging from the overhead showing "Track 24" and 35. Such signs were very common in major passenger terminals, and also even in rail transit or subway stations that were large enough to have multiple tracks at platforms and in shops (NYC Subway comes to mind.) After the mid-1950's or so almost all such signs were made of reflectorized thinner metal for better visibility. The 4 holes in your sign may be where somebody bolted a new sign over the old one, so as not to have to keep repainting the cast metal one, and maybe because the track numbering changed, a common result as the major facilities shrank in size.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, July 28, 2020 by RJMc

 Q3763 Globe/Frame Question  I have a question. I have an old globe M.E.G - Mac Beth Evans 21 embossed and with a RR insignia globe. 5 1/2 tall; top opening - 2 1/4 in.; bottom opening 3 in. I also have a Vulcan 39 frame w/ same RR insignia. The globe seems to fit fine in the frame, but is this correct? Appreciate any insight.  Posted Monday, July 20, 2020 by CL   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3762 What is it?  My 11 year old grandson and a buddy found this piece of heavy steel in a nearby lake. I suspect it's some sort of narrow gauge rail coupler since a small line ran through that area a hundred or years ago. Can anyone confirm or identify. Thanks!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, July 20, 2020 by RF   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Got any dimensions? Posted Saturday, July 25, 2020 by ShastaRoute

 Q3761 Railroad track/piece/part of some sort?  We live in North Central Florida and found this today while diving in the river, a few yards from where the old railroad track use to be. It's definitely old and extremely rusted. It's solid metal and very heavy. I'd say 15 to 20lbs. On one end, I can read the letters 'G 4 0 K'. The letters are spaced apart. I’ve looked at old railroad pictures, to see if I could find a part that looked similar with no luck so it might possibly be a piece to the old bridge that the tracks ran over. While looking, I came across your site and thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, July 14, 2020 by Becca   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Appears to be an early brake shoe. Posted Tuesday, July 14, 2020 by hvcoll

A. Yes, one half of a cast iron brake shoe. (See Link for many pix,)From its thickness, looks like it was almost new when it broke in half about across the middle -- either because it might have been defective, or got 'whacked' in some kind of mishap such as a derailment or a wreck. Each car and locomotive had/has these riding next to the wheels. Each shoe was/is held on to its 'brake head' lever with a long, flat key down thru the slot, and clamped hard against the wheel by air pressure to cause the braking action. The shoes usually wear out gradually during each braking, getting progressively thinner, and so must be easily replaceable by pulling out the key and substituting a new shoe. But yours broke and fell off long before it was worn out, for whatever reason. Almost all brake shoes today are made of advanced composite materials, rather than cast iron, but the basics are still the same.  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, July 15, 2020 by RJMc

A. From the wear in the loop, also looks like somebody used it for a boat (or bouy) anchor for quite some time in tha river! Its almost perfect for that job. Posted Thursday, July 16, 2020 by RJMc

A. The posible use as a boat anchor is not the old days around more rural areas, railroaders did often have their own fishing spots. Some would hitch a ride when off duty and get dropped off for some quality food shopping (and took their kids along). I have it on first hand identification that a homemade iron spearing fork I aquired was exactly like what one young boy remembered going out with his conductor father (and he became an engineer in time). Posted Monday, August 31, 2020 by ShastaRoute

 Q3760 Age of Handlan Lantern?  I was trying to find the year of this Handlan PRR fresnel globe lantern. If you can help it would be greatly appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, July 6, 2020 by Sean   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The Handlan 2000 RR Lantern received patent number 1959128 in 1934 and appears to have been invented for railroad, not traffic, use.) Later the 2000 was constructed as a traffic/utility lantern using the same globe you have but a different body style. Google "Handlan 2000" for more information and pictures. Posted Tuesday, July 7, 2020 by LC

A. Just a quick reminder that the date the patent was granted is not the date of manufacture of an individual item. Patent dates do help by giving the earliest possible date the item could have been made, but without any further documentation, this lantern could have been made between 1934 and whenever Handlan stopped making this particular model. It is a nice lantern, do enjoy it !  Posted Wednesday, July 8, 2020 by JMS

 Q3759 What Do I Have?  Dad has a note on this that is a railroad lantern insert but I can't find anything like it online. Can you help me with identification? Thank you so much for your time & help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, July 6, 2020 by LB   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This very unusual item is too large to be used in any kind of railroad hand lantern. Next possibilities are headlights, but the curved plate behind the double wicks does not seem to be (or ever have been) reflectorized; I suspect it was to focus the heat from the flames rather than the light. The link shows a portable kerosene heater with a similar but larger concentrator assembly behind the heat source (a mantle in that case rather than wicks) but what looks like a similar idea. Other possibilities as a light source might be marine beacons, theater lighting, or maybe even a magic lantern projector, but none of those showed up with any burner assemblies looking even close to your item and all of them would have needed a mirrored surface on the concentrator.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, July 7, 2020 by RJMc

A. Thanks so much for giving me possibilities! Lynn B Posted Tuesday, July 7, 2020 by LB

A. Something to consider is this unit may not be of US or North American manufacture, since kerosene lights and heaters were/are used worldwide. I am puzzled by the square slots on either side of the oblong wick tubes, and the round and rectangular holes in the BOTTOM of what appears to be a kerosene tank. Do the holes in the bottom connect up to the slots in the top? If so, that might have provided forced air to the flame to increase the heat and/or light. But that is just speculation; an arrangement like that would be kind of unusual for a unit using a small tank of fuel. And the wick adjuster knobs seemt be arranged to set very precisely, with locking nuts on their shafts -- also an unusual feature. THe hole in the back of the concentrator seems to provide a 'peephole' thru the back plate. That would be so the wicks could be adjusted without pullng the unit out of whatever larger device it was mounted in. And there does not appear to be provision for any kind of chimney or globe to enclose the flame.  Posted Tuesday, July 7, 2020 by RJMc

A. @ RJMc, the Link1 you included in your first answer paragraph does not work ... not sure why.  Posted Wednesday, July 8, 2020 by JMS

A. Apparently there are restrictions on using the image. It worked as a link when I first found it. The following two links are to different kerosene heaters that also have a reflector; maybe they will work better. Otherwise just search on "reflector kerosene heater" to see other examples -- but note that none of them still look quite like the item in question.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Wednesday, July 8, 2020 by RJMc

A. I contacted Miles Stair at his WickShoppe website (see Link) hoping that he might recognize this mystery unit. We compared notes about the strange features, but he also was able to identify it, despite having voluminous info on all kinds of wicks and devices that use them. He does have all kinds of wicks available suitable for restoring all kinds of kerosene lamps, lanterns, and heaters to operation.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, July 9, 2020 by RJMc

A. I mis-spoke above: Miles was also NOT able to identify it. RJMc Posted Friday, July 10, 2020 by RJMc

A. Thanks for everyone's help. It seems that this item has stirred up some interest & I appreciate all of the responses. Still don't know what it is, but going with some kind if heater insert for now. Posted Saturday, July 11, 2020 by LB

A. Does this have a patent date on it? Randy Posted Monday, July 13, 2020 by rj

A. There aren't any marks on it that I can find. Sorry Posted Tuesday, July 14, 2020 by LB

 Q3758 Railroad Passes  Did all passes have print on the back? I found this beauty; it looks 100% legit but there is not print of any kind on the back. It was found in a period scrapbook among many items of this era. Thoughts?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, June 29, 2020 by Kevin   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Did you hold it up to a light source and look for a printer's watermark in the paper? Is it very thin gauge or heavier stock? Any ink bleed through to the back? Signs of uneven trimming along sides? Posted Tuesday, June 30, 2020 by ShastaRoute

A. It looks good to us! Being a complimentary pass and that old, we would think it is OK. "Paper" is extremely hard to date but especially if it was with contemporary pieces it is probably legit. Can you find a "paper" authority, does not have to be a railroad person, possibly a museum conservator or book dealer (?) We also wonder if back in that day all the railroads may not have printed info on all the backs of passes because they weren't experiencing the reasons for doing it ... just a thought. I don't know if it will be helpful but Link 1 is a book about antique printing processes and paper, and even dating the paper. Best wishes and good luck !  Link 1  Posted Saturday, July 4, 2020 by JMS

A. The book I just mentioned is for sale on Amazon - Link 1. It discusses all kinds of printing procedures and how to date them as well as paper. It's "art" oriented but the advice is good. Just a thought, get a good magnifying glass or jeweler loupe and look at the word PASS, and the decoration/design behind the word COMPLIMENTARY. If you see round dots or squares, even the tiniest ever, the printing likely is "screen printed" (Link 2). If you see lines it is engraving. Screen printing visible to the naked eye is modern. Link 1  Link 2  Posted Saturday, July 4, 2020 by JMS

A. Noted above, there are 'reasons' for printing on the backs of later passes. That has to do with restrictions imposed by the Interstate Commerce Commission under later Federal laws to prevent the RR's from using free transportation for political lobbying. Noting that your pass is written to give free and unlimited transportation to the "Hon(orable) ...McLaine AND family" of the House of Representatives it is easy to see how that might get favorable treatment when legislation affecting the RR got considered. RR pass issuance (lobbying) became a hot national scandal to the point that whole books were written about "The "Railroad Problem" -- entirely focussed on the practices of pass issuance to various groups for free transportation. So the writing on the back of a lot of more modern passes is where the pass user must certify that they ARE eligible under law to receive the pass and use it (i.e. that they are NOT a politician) In later practice RR's could issue passes only to personnel of RR companies and some related contractors such as Western Union. Posted Sunday, July 5, 2020 by RJMc

A. See the Link for the full text of the 1917 book "The Railroad Problem." Page 244 discusses the pass scandals where not only politicians but newspapermen and others were issued free passes. The other chapters of the book cover other interesting issues such as competition, economics, etc. of the RR industry in 1917. Link 1  Posted Sunday, July 5, 2020 by RJMc

A. Still, be aware of the Xerox Picasso (scroll down in Link 1) problem. So good and hard to tell. The number was not filled in on the pass, but some passes never actually ended up going to the intended party and the number was probably added only when finally issued. And yes, passes that did not go out to the intended recipient did survive to be recovered...I have one with it's envelopes as well as one of those Owl copies. The answer to authentication may be in the ink used for the signatures. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, July 7, 2020 by ShastaRoute

 Q3757 First Generation Dietz Vesta  This lantern is seen how often? Patent date 12-15-96. Hi-Top, Bellbottom, sliding brass door to light wick. Dietz Driving gear for wick rising. Takes 6 inch globe. Stamped on top of dome is R.R. LANTERN Dietz Vesta. Google 'VESTA VALHALLA' Carl Ellerman. I would think this model is seldom seen, being 124 years old. Thank you for more information.  Posted Friday, June 19, 2020 by Bruce   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. As stated by Dietz: This model was the first RR Lantern produced by Dietz. It may never be seen by collectors. Not even once. Posted Wednesday, July 1, 2020 by dinnertrain46

A. I’m not sure what the comment “It may never be seen by collectors. Not even once” means, but there are many known examples of the earliest Dietz Vesta bellbottom RR lantern in collections. It takes a no. 39 globe, same as other no. 39 models of the era. Posted Monday, July 6, 2020 by A Swoyer

A. This model is not a"39". Yes, a 39 is found all the day long. Also, 39's do not have a sliding brass door to lite the wick. This one does. Also,this model has the gear drive to raise the wick. Dietz is right, people will not see this model, that is 124 years old. Collectors all have the "39", This model is pre model 39. When did anyone ever see this model ? Posted Tuesday, July 7, 2020 by Dinnertrain46

A. The earliest Dietz Vesta bellbottom takes a no. 39 globe, 5-3/8” tall, same as most other tall globe RR models of the era. My example has the sliding brass door just above the left tube entry into the bottom cylinder, as well as the gear-driven wick raiser. See photo link. Mine appears to be identical to Carl Ellerman’s as photographed and described in his work “Vesta Valhalla.” I would characterize this large, first Dietz Vesta RR model as scarce, but not rare. Several examples are known to exist in collections. I’ve never seen one of these factory-embossed with RR initials. All known examples are unmarked. Link 1  Link 2  Posted Wednesday, July 8, 2020 by A Swoyer

 Q3756 Bell Display Help?  I just purchased a Graham White double action bell and was wondering if anybody has any pictures of a display holder that you’ve made for this type of bell.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, June 16, 2020 by JM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The Link is to a pic of a similar bell mounted the very basic way these bells were/are mounted both on the fronts of later-model steam locomotives and under the running boards of diesels. If the bell is to be operated with air, I am not sure even the fairly robust feet shown in the pic would be enough to keep it from tipping over from the momentum of the clapper, unless the whole mount is secured to a wall or floor.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, June 16, 2020 by RJMc

A. For additional VERY comprehensive info about bells, air ringers and various mounting methods, in particular see the Link to Larry Curran's "Bells and Birmans" website.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, June 28, 2020 by RJMc

 Q3755 Globe Removal Problem  I recently found this old lantern marked Armspear MFG CO., New York '1925' and have been cleaning it up. I've spent quite a bit of time trying to get the globe out but it is not cooperating. I was wondering how I can get the globe out, if I can at all.  Posted Saturday, June 13, 2020 by Izzy   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The '1925' is the lantern model no. The Link below is to the Archives here on the RRiana site to a 1933 Armspear catalog that shows the 1925 model lantern in great detail, with some exploded views which will let you be sure that it is SUPPOSED to come apart. A major question needs to be "Is the globe marked in any way?" If not, globes are easily replaced and you may want to be more vigorous about trying to get it out. If the globe has cast lettering of RR initials or etched lettering you should be much more gentle with it. That said, the standard tricks for this are soaking in penetrant oil, such as WD40 or PB Blaster, and/or fairly gentle applications of heat and cold so as to avoid breaking the globe. You might try 'cold soaking' the whole lantern in the refrigerator, then immersing only the metal bottom part in warm water to see if that helps break things loose.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, June 13, 2020 by RJMc

A. The Link below is to that same Armspear catalog but shows you several pages all about the 1925 model lantern. It also explains why you will probably find 'wadding' or 'packing' material which soaked up the kerosene inside the font (when you are hopefully able to extract the globe, and then the font.) Link 1  Posted Saturday, June 13, 2020 by RJMc

 Q3754 More Key IDs  Here are the next 3 keys I'm hoping to get IDs for. The D&H T Slaight key I'm wondering if it is an early cut Delaware and Hudson or possibly another road listed on this site's data base? Next a JL Howard D&M. Is it an early cut Detroit and Mackinac or one of many D&M road names also on the data base? Finally the A&W hex DP RR. About the only possibility I can find is Denver Pacific, but considering it was merged into UP and KP in 1870 I don't think it is old enough to be Denver Pacific. In fact I had two of the DP RR keys at one time, both identical. The seller said Dakota Pacific but I have found nothing from that road. I'm hoping for good responses to these particular keys. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, June 8, 2020 by Jim   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. My experience with Delaware & Hudson keys seems to show they used the same cut from early when they still called themselves a canal company until the end. Good luck in your she arch for info Posted Tuesday, June 9, 2020 by tml

A. The D&H key is a very different cut than the "usual" one the D&H used on their standard switch locks for essentially their entire existence. The standard dog-leg cut is what is shown in the AmRys switch key guide. Dave Stewart's book shows that cut and a second one (with a dog-leg the opposite way) and Johnson's book shows a couple, but nothing like Jim's pictured key. I wonder if there was a castback or other uncommon lock it was made for... the only other situation would be if there was another line with the same D&H initials ... this is an old one !! Posted Thursday, June 11, 2020 by JMS

A. I wonder if the D&H key had anything to do with their gravity railroad - it certainly appears to be old enough. See Link 1. Unfortunately the history books never seem to be able to include information about tools and hardware.  Link 1  Posted Friday, June 12, 2020 by JMS

 Q3753 UP Anvil  I believe this is an anvil used by maintenance of way on the main line of Union Pacific at North Plate in the 1860s thru early 1880s. The hole at the bottom is exactly the size of 56 lb rail which was the original rail used when UP was built. Do you think this is what it is? I can not find anything on it. What do you think? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, June 2, 2020 by Gib L   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. My guess is that it did not begin life as an anvil, but may have gotten 'repurposed' for that use. I suspect its original use may have been as one part of a counterweight. The bottom slot would fit onto a rectangular beam and the curled top edge would engage another member to keep it in place in a row of weights, and also serve as a lifting point for moving it. Counterweights come in a million or so shapes and sizes (see link), and have been used on things ranging from war machines in the Middle Ages, windows, elevators, tractors, cranes, to movable bridges. So there are a lot of possibilities, some on the RR and many not. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, June 3, 2020 by RJMc

A. I saw a picture of an old crane with a caption on its use of old civil war solid shot cannon balls used as a counter weight in a basket on the rear end. Posted Thursday, June 4, 2020 by LC

 Q3752 N&W J Cylinder Plate  I recently acquired this repro N&W J cylinder plate. It is 6.75 in. wide, of cast aluminum. The seller knew only that it belonged to a gentleman who worked in the Roanoke steam shop, as had his father and grandfather. The seller believed that it may have been a commemorative gift of some sort. I find the inclusion of '611' interesting, and I also wonder what 'CJHA' stands for? Any information you can share will be much appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, May 23, 2020 by David   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Wild guess...the "C" is offset, so it be a copyright symbol. JHA could be the name for a historical association, a foundry name, or ?. Posted Sunday, May 24, 2020 by ShastaRoute

 Q3751 PRR Glasses  Hi Everyone, I post this every couple years to see if I can find out anything from anyone. I bought these 6 PRR glasses as a set from a flea market. The seller said they came from a railroader's estate. The 6 glasses are in a fitted but unmarked cardboard box, probably the original. Each glass has a Northeast Corridor city on them. I can find nothing about these glasses and have never seen another set like them. Are they PRR glasses? Real or fantasy? Were they sold in PRR lounge cars? Given out to ticket agents or employees? Were they a shipper's premium given to good customers? I have been trying to find out for about 5 years. They are great for serving guests, since each glass has a different station you can 'assign' a station to each guest so the drinks don't get mixed up! Thank you   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, May 18, 2020 by JN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Could possibly relate to PRR-GW-8 logo on glass plate in Sparkling Crystal by Larry Paul. That one footnoted as unconfirmed report of RR usage with no maker. Does not include those destinations you have for PRR Main Line stops. That might raise eyebrows as sytem wares would be expected to be more general, unless there was proof of dedicated services. Also, five different stops in one box, rather than five boxes each having the same logo....but maybe if they shipped only as sets each time. Lack of shipper info on box suggests several of each could have come in a bulk box. Posted Tuesday, May 19, 2020 by ShastaRoute

A. Meant 6, not 5. Posted Tuesday, May 19, 2020 by ShastaRoute

A. JN - do these glasses have a bottom marker mark ? I am guessing there may be a scrolling, loopy, script letter "L" raised on the bottom, which would mean they were made by Libbey Glass. Maybe they are not marked. My immediate thought was a safety award, but I have never seen these designs either. That red logo is shown in several of Paul's illustrations for PRR glassware.  Posted Thursday, May 21, 2020 by JMS

A. As mentioned, that cardboard box of glasses is the kind of 'premium' or souvenir often provided at conventions as well as to shippers; maybe a souvenir of a gathering of one of the major unions based on the PRR, or even a fan organization such as NRHS. (And often taken home from there, put on a shelf, and never seen again until estate sales). For those purposes it would have been the sponsoring organization that ordered the glasses, not the PRR. These are also very similar to items seen in RR museum gift shops. In thinking about possible promotional uses, maybe for the PRR Congressional trains or for the Metroliner original startup which began under PRR, I found it interesting that Trenton is included but Wilmington, DE, is not. But after checking, Wilmington is NOT the capital of Delaware, Dover is. And Trenton is the capital of NJ.  Posted Thursday, May 21, 2020 by RJMc

A. The border width (shadow lines) would not match most of the samples in Sparkling Crystal, but is very close to that lone plate. Of course, it is difficult to make judgements without both book and item in the same hand, and not even easy then. Lack of a maker mark would be consistent with the plate. If it is an unoffial issue, I would expect to see more surfacing. (And some glass makers like Libbey actually sold stuff at plant sites too.) At the same time, items specific to dedicated service or samples from mock-ups used to get contracts are in much shorter supply, and few known samples ever do show up (almost one of a kind). Survival rates approach zero over the long. Posted Saturday, May 23, 2020 by ShastaRoute

 Q3750 Builders Plates  I just purchased this repro GG-1 Builder's Plate. Can anybody tell me which GG-1 this would have been from? If it is a preserved one chances are I have a photo. I want to put the photo with the plate and I cannot find any references correlating builders number to road number. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, May 18, 2020 by JN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Construction numbers and corresponding road numbers in this list (Link 1). The 4313 is in footnote #2 and it seems to transfer sequentially in order. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, May 19, 2020 by ShataRoute

 Q3749 Fake Lamps?  I just bought a matching set of these and was trying to find some information if they are real or if any remakes were made of them? Also about what years the originals were made? The man we bought them from is an antiques collector and got them at an estate auction. He said he took them out of the box and put them together. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, May 10, 2020 by PA   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. These appear to me to be original caboose lamps that were made by Adams and Westlake. They may have been restored and painted by someone at some point. One way that you can date lamps is by the burners and the thumb wheel that adjusts the wick. Here is a link to The Lampworks, which is Dan Edminster's business that sells antique lamp parts. This is a history of Plume and Atwood Manufacturing Company, aka P&A.  Link 1  Posted Monday, May 11, 2020 by KM

A. KM, the Link you posted is not working. Please check the address? thanks!  Posted Monday, May 11, 2020 by JMS

A. Sorry about the bad link. If you search Dan Edminster The Lampworks it will get you to his website. There is a lot of information there and if you check the site map you will find a very detailed history of the Plume and Atwood Company. Part pf P&A was taken over by the Risden Company in the late 1950's and the burner knob that is involved here says P&A Risden Co. so the burner is likely made after that date. At some point Adams and Westlake may have sold caboose lamps to the general public and it is possible that these lamps may have never seen railroad service particularly because the previous owner/antique collector said "he took them out of the box and assembled them." But they are not "fakes" and are made by Adlake even if they never were owned by a railroad.  Posted Friday, May 15, 2020 by KM

A. Although it is true that this same style of lamp was used in many places other than RR's (boats, for example, and buildings before electricity became widely available) the RR's did buy them new in the box. The collars on these, supporting the top of the globe and the shade, are particularly indicative of mobile use with occasional hard knocks from different directions. The RR's would have been buying them to equip newly-converted bunk cars, for example. or for when they built their own cabooses or rider cars, or for replacements after accidents. And like many things, they probably sat on shelves, new in the box and never opened, in store rooms long after everything went electric.  Posted Friday, May 15, 2020 by RJMc

A. The burner knob doesnt have ridden? on it. The last 4 letters are ston. Which looks more like the haston com. to me. Still working on a date.  Posted Sunday, May 24, 2020 by PA

 Q3748 More Key IDs?  Here are the next 3 keys I'm hoping to get IDs for. the first I'm told is Columbus and Greenville but I really question the extremely high serial number. Why would a relative shortline have a need for 25,000+ keys? I do have 2 other switch key cuts known (by me). So can anyone verify if it is indeed Columbus and Greenville? I have seen similar keys to mine pictured all with an extremely high serial number. Next an adlake CVRY and wondering if it's Central Vermont RIp Track or some other purpose? Hope someone knows. The Fraim CVRCO I was once told was from some interurban electric line from SE United States, possibly Georgia. But I honestly forgot, so does anyone know?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, May 8, 2020 by Jim   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The Switchkey Directory shows No. 2 and says 'Central Vermont.' A possibility for No. 3 would be the Cuyahoga Valley Railway, the in-house steel mill shortline which supported the Jones & Laughlin operations in Cleveland, OH. (nothing at all to do with the current Scenic RR operations.) Posted Friday, May 8, 2020 by RJMc

 Q3747 Milk Cans  Were the milk cans that railroads hauled all Galvanized /Stainless Steel in color or did a particular railroad paint any cans a certain color?  Posted Monday, May 4, 2020 by Tom   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Usually the farmer/supplier owned and maintained the cans, not the RR, making standardization much less likely. But contaminated milk has long been recognized as a major problem. So health department regulations in different cities and states may have required the bare metal finishes. See the Link for current extensive PA state regulations on dairy products. For handling milk, it was certainly easier to keep just the bare metal surfaces sanitized -- meaning thoroughly washed every day and with (hopefully) very hot soapy water that would be very hard on paint. Also enter 'milk can' in the search by word or phrase box to see a lot more prior discussion of milk cans. Link 1  Posted Monday, May 4, 2020 by RJMc

A. Thanks RJMc. I recently saw a milk can with a label marked PRREL. Would this stand for Pennsylvania Railroad Erie Lackawanna? Posted Saturday, May 9, 2020 by Tom

A. The 'Erie Lackawanna' part is unlikely, since it would be very unusual for trains from two different RR's to be working any given route to pick up milk and return the empty cans even in situations where two or more RR's operated over the same tracks. More likely it stands for some particular route of the PRR. And as to the paint on cans, looking at the many, many pix on the web, the wildly painted ones are all in flea markets and antique stores.  Posted Monday, May 11, 2020 by RJMc

A. Didn't Penn control some lines into East Liverpool OH? Could it be for a yard or terminal facility? Posted Thursday, May 14, 2020 by ShastaRoute

A. It is certainly interesting. I was thinking that maybe it could be PRR East Line. Although I never heard that before. I do agree with RJMc. I highly doubt it stands for Erie Lackawanna. I have several milk cans with labels but none marked with PRREL.  Posted Saturday, May 16, 2020 by Tom

A. S-gaugers Article (Link 1) shows PRR milksheds went out more than 500 miles of territory in early 1900's. Markings should probably be to show who owned cans for return purposes...even Fred Harvey had embossed ones for their operations. And Ohio was a milk source for some roads. Link 1  Posted Saturday, May 16, 2020 by ShastaRoute

A. EL Historical Society can definitely place PRR trains up to 1940's (Link 1). The maps locate a freight house off the station. Also found PRR bringing milk (with partner company) into NY City by reefer in 1912, and outbreaks of diseases in Beaver County affecting dairies in 1915. Probably a whole lot more if deeply searched flipping keywords. Link 1  Posted Saturday, May 16, 2020 by ShastaRoute

A. A more likely approach would be if there is an individual farmer or supplier named on the tag, for geographic context. Unfortunately, unlike Railway Post Offices (RPO's) the milk traffic was almost by definition all a local operation centered on the urban area where the milk went every day, and working with relatively few farmer/suppliers and just one RR on each route. For RPO's, the USPO organized and operated the whole nationwide network, so there are historical records available even now as to where all the different routes went. There was no such organizing body for the milk traffic, and hence almost no records. And very few RR's over the years -- thru depressions, mergers, etc etc -- have retained any of their own internal records that may have existed at the time.  Posted Sunday, May 17, 2020 by RJMc

A. The 1910 Guide to the Railways listings for the PRR show over 11,000 miles of track (!!) being operated to over 2300 listed stations. As stated in the excellent "S Gaugers" article in the Link above, many of those stations handled milk in one way or another, so there are a huge number of possibilities. It is somewhat surprising that the same 1910 Guide does not list any RR officials (for PRR or other RRs) by title who have direct responsibilities for all the massive volume of milk traffic --and presumably revenue -- being handled related to dairy products. It seems the general freight organization on each RR must have handled it in due course, again reflecting the basically local nature of the business. This raises the question of "Who paid the freight (bill)-- and how and when?" for what must have been tens of thousands of transactions every day, if you count individual cans. And those prices probably drove the economics of the entire dairy industry.  Posted Monday, May 18, 2020 by RJMc

 Q3746 Builders Plate ID?  I have a Baldwin round builder plate that I have been trying to determine who the locomotive was made for. The number is 40216 and was made in July 1913. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.  Posted Monday, May 4, 2020 by PB   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. My Baldwin records indicate that 40216 was built for W. Pensacola Creosote Works as their #1 an 0-4-0 in 2'6" gauge with 36" drivers, 14 x 18" cylinders, later went to the L&N as their Tie Plant #4  Posted Monday, May 4, 2020 by COD

 Q3745 Piper CPR Lamp  Greetings from the U.K. I purchased this lamp at an auction here last year. It is stamped NL Piper Toronto and is embossed CPR C. I'm in the process of stripping off the awful silver paint job and have discovered the base appears to be galvanized metal. The center section looks cast metal, with the top tin plate. Two crude additions of red and green glass had been added (not original?) over the clear convex ringed lenses. The oil reservoir is also stamped Piper. The lamp seems original and I was wondering if anyone has any details regarding it? I'm guessing it's a caboose lamp as it has the bracket on the base. Couple of questions: What colour would it have been painted? What colour lenses should it have? (Guessing clear may not be original either?) What is the little lidded box for on the rear? Kind regards,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, April 29, 2020 by Keith   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Barrett and Gross's Illustrated Encyc of RR Lighting Vol. 2 on RR Lamps has extensive info on the long history of the various Piper companies and the very wide range of lamps they made. The N.L. Piper Co. was in business in Toronto between about 1900 and 1930. They used the same basic body as your lamp for multiple purposes: markers, train order signals, and classification lamps -- all illustrated in Barrett. Your lamp best fits the class light description based on the type of mounting bracket, the changeable lens colors, and the hinged service door. The rectangular 'pocket' box held the colored filter lenses not in use at any given time. Class lamps typically needed 3 colors: clear/white for running extra, green for running in multiple sections of trains, and red for a marker when the engine was running in reverse. A description of a very similar station train order lamp mentions the brass font. And all of the Piper lamps pictured in Barrett are finished in black -- actually very important for safety to make the illuminated lenses stand out at night.  Posted Thursday, April 30, 2020 by RJMc

A. Thanks RJMc for the comprehensive reply, most informative.  Posted Saturday, May 2, 2020 by KW

A. A key difference between marker lamps and class lamps: in actual use a class lamp had to display just one color to all directions. So you would need two or more green filters, etc to have a complete set for one class light. When they made so-called 'automatic' changing class lamps,the single selector lever switched the color on all sides. A single marker usually displayed a combination of colors: red and green, red and yellow and the combination and pointing direction changed the meaning, usually accomplished by rotating the whole lamp body or changing to a different mounting shoe so that add-on filters were not usually required for markers. Before everyone on the RR had a radio in his pocket, and before there was a telephone box at every siding switch, the indications provided by the class lights, switch lamps and markers were life-and-death critical to the operations to avoid collisions. This is why such intense design effort was used to produce such durable hardware by RR's that often preferred not to spend money.  Posted Monday, May 4, 2020 by RJMc

 Q3744 Armspear Lamp Questions  I purchased this Armspear lamp on-line and after cleaning all the dust off of it I have a few questions. I believe it to be a switch lamp. Is there a way to narrow down the year of production based on the design? There are two hard to read tags on it with several patent dates. The smaller blue glass lenses are marked Corning and the larger orange lenses are marked Kopp. Are they original, and if so, is it unusual the two colors are from different manufacturers on the lantern? What is the meaning of the raised S 120 on the base of the mounting bracket? There is a small raised circular area between two of the lenses on one side of the lantern, about the size of a quarter. Is it a knock-out for adding something? The burner is marked The Adams & Westlake Company. Is it most likely original to the lantern? I can not find any railroad company reference on it. Was Armspear common for any specific railroad line? Finally, how does the Armspear brand rank among the other railroad lantern brands as far as quality and popularity among collectors? Thank you!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, April 27, 2020 by Jeff   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. See the Link which takes you to the Archives on this RRiana site to an illustrated 1933 Armspear catalog. Armspear was heavily promoting your type of lamp at that time, as being very versatile, and the catalog shows exploded views and parts lists for your model of lamp. It is definitely set up to be a switch lamp, determined by the cast base. The S120 in the base is probably the casting/part no. for that exact base. Look up inside the hollow socket in the base: there may be cast RR initials on one of the side walls of the socket. If there is no ID tag or stamping, that's your best chance of possibly confirming which of many Armspear customer RR's that originally purchased it. The small circle between the lenses might have been for a 'peep hole' window to let a maintainer adjust the wick height/flame once servicing was complete and everything was closed up in normal operating position. As highlighted in the Armspear catalog, the various piece parts were widely standardized across the entire North American RR industry, and Armspear refers to 'reclamation'-- the process of lamps being brought in and overhauled many times to extend their often decades-long service life. During that process every imaginable combination of mix-and-match happened so there is no way to know which parts may have been original to the lamp. And if it didn't happen then, it often happened later as collectors changed everything around. Enter 'switch lamp' in the Search by Word' box to see lots of discussion about the various lens colors and combinations that were used.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2020 by RJMc

A. The 'peep hole' was usually in the top of the lamp body. If your small circle is in the bottom half, it might have been to allow using a longer external wick raiser shaft, since the burner you have has the short version. And congratulations on having the small glass chimney; many switch lamps ended up without them both before and after leaving RR service. Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2020 by RJMc

A. >>>>>>Gentlemen, just wanted to add upon examining the top circle I described closer you can see through parts of it where paint has worn off, it's actually a glass disc? Were they sometimes painted over to prevent any clear light from showing? Is it odd that the wick raiser thing you turn can not be turned in a full circle? It actually strikes the top of the base and can only be turned fully when the burner is unscrewed and seperated. There is a covered hole on the lower half of the lantern that is more in line for an extended wick raiser access. From the inside of the lantern the hole can be exposed by sliding over the piece of metal covering it. Thanks again! Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2020 by Jeff

A. The paint covering the peep hole window is just lazy or careless repainting of the whole lamp. Maybe by the RR, or a later owner who didn't have to maintain a bunch of lamps every day in the field. Posted Wednesday, April 29, 2020 by RJMc

 Q3743 Inspector Lantern  I have a Acme Inspector lamp (production date stamp S-11-26) that I want to clean up and have some questions I hope you can help with. It has the 'mercury' glass type reflector. On the back side of the reflector, there is a hole (which I assume was used when the glass was blown / molded) covered with a cloth backed piece of paper that has come loose. Can you tell me what type of adhesive I should use to re-attach this with. Also, the silvering solution on the front side directly across from the hole has worn away (about a dime sized spot) is there a way to restore the missing finish before I re-cover the hole. The flat braided wick is about 3 inches long and has a piece of cloth loosely stitched to it, hanging down into the fuel tank. Was this the original configuration, or just something someone added to use more of the wick when it became too short to reach the fuel? Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, April 26, 2020 by SR   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Regarding the mirrored reflector, there are many articles on the web about "DIY Re-Silvering Of Mirrors." And the silvering processes are also written up in various chemical laboratory 'how to' handbooks. But any process such as that, similar to electroplating, requires extremely careful preparation, cleaning and handling of the surface if the new coating is to stick and provide a smooth, presentable reflector. And in your case, with such a small bad spot, you would likely threaten the remaining original coating. Since the majority of your surface seems to be a beautiful mirror, I would be inclined to suggest accepting it as is --'wart' and all. To have much of a hope of a perfect (matched0 surface all the way across, you might have to remove the existing mirroring and start over. And that might well result in a total loss rather than a total restoration.  Posted Sunday, April 26, 2020 by RJMc

A. You can get a new wick from Woody Kirkman at Posted Monday, April 27, 2020 by LC

A. Don't see a filler cap there, you can get one at Woody Kirkman Posted Monday, April 27, 2020 by DC

A. If I'm not mistaken, these mirrored reflectors are standard equipment made in standard sizes to fit all kinds of lamps. If it was me I would take it along with me to antique shops and check out auctions for an identical twin in more perfect condition. Try to find antique lighting specialists. These are not the commonest thing but definitely are not rare. It is definitely good advice to not tamper with re-silvering, unless you know what you are doing and have experience. It's not like paint.  Posted Wednesday, April 29, 2020 by JMS

 Q3742 Adlake Kero #300 Lantern  My question relates to the article, 'Adams & Westlake Kero Lanterns: The Last Stand', in The article states that the month and year stamped on the bottom of this lantern was eliminated in 1964. The article also states that the manufacturer started drilling an oil drain hole in the bottom of the lantern in 1965 or 1966. Attached are two photos: a 1959 Adlake Kero lantern with a drain hole, and a 1961 Adlake Kero lantern with a drain hole. Since the article is clearly incorrect, does anyone know when Adams & Westlake started drilling drain holes in the bottom of their Adlake Kero lanterns? The company still makes these lanterns today and these subtle changes help me tell the age of the lanterns post 1964. Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, April 22, 2020 by John  Link 1     Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. As the holes go through the lettering, it looks like someone drilled the holes after the lantern left the factory without drain holes. I have one of the Adlake lanterns made post Rail Road era and it has the drain hole but no lettering on the bottom. The lid is stamped "RAILROAD". Posted Thursday, April 23, 2020 by LC

A. The drain hole was added in 1956. Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2020 by JFR

A. I would tend to agree with LC. A close up of the hole shows what appear to be less than perfectly smooth edges, somebody drilled it. Actually, that is a good idea because it prevents condensation/rust inside, but this does appear to be an "after market" hole. The original holes would have been stamped out of the flat sheet metal before it was cut into rounds that would be molded into fount holders. These have perfectly smooth edges from stamping, not drilling.  Posted Wednesday, April 29, 2020 by JMS

 Q3741 Polishing a Bell  This attached bell is from my great grandfather’s logging company and is dated 1878. It is outside and I want to polish it. I think it is brass, but I am not sure. Any recommendations on what to use?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, April 19, 2020 by Tom   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. In the "Search Archived Q&A's" box at left, in the "By Question Number" box, put in 2110 and/or 2063 to see questions about restoring/polishing bells. These big bells are almost never brass; higher quality bells tend to have been made of "bell metal" (an alloy of bronze, see Link 1). I would suggest getting a roof over it, or acid rain will damage it over time, and the weather is going to work against any polishing you may do. Congratulations on having it, what a fabulous family heirloom!!!  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Monday, April 20, 2020 by JMS

A. Good discussion right in this Railroadiana Online site, see Link 1.  Link 1  Posted Monday, April 20, 2020 by jms

A. Wow - That is a really beautiful bell! It is made even more special by the fact that your family has a direct connection to it. With some time, energy and basic tools you can restore it to a shiny "Like New" condition. I recently completed a full restoration of a PRR steam locomotive bell. You'll find the details on this site's home page ("A PRR Bell Restoration"). In that narrative is a link to a 14 minute YouTube video I made which includes a segment on how to restore a bell like yours. My guess is that once it is restored you'll want to display it indoors. Good luck with the project - I hope you'll post some photos of your restoration!  Link 1  Posted Thursday, April 30, 2020 by Pete In Orlando

 Q3740 Conductor Lantern  I acquired this lantern a couple of months ago. I finally got some time to clean it up. Sold as a C T Ham lantern. During cleaning process I could not find a single mark on the lantern anywhere, not even the fuel cup holder. The only mark is on the burner thumb wheel. That is marked E Miller Meriden Conn. I looked at a Ham catalog online and found 3 lanterns that were close to this in construction. All had a different finial design/shape and all appeared to have holes in the finial. This finial is close to a ball in shape and has no holes. Ham wasn't the only one making these lanterns. Is there any clue that it is Ham or a clue that it is another manufacturer? Or is the best thing to say is it could be a Ham lantern?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, April 19, 2020 by Drew   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I simply have not had time to try to research this, but on page 72 of "Illustrated Encyclopedia of Railroad Lighting Vol. 1 The Railroad Lantern" (Barrett and Gross) there is a depiction of an Armspear No. 4 (ARM-4) that looks suspiciously like yours. I'm not saying this is it; I simply can't get through the rest of the book, and I hope you can figure it out. I looked through the Ham section and indeed, there is nothing that could be the same as yours. Good luck !  Posted Wednesday, April 22, 2020 by jms

A. Thank you very much. I had forgotten about Armspear. Looked at the 1907 Armspear catalog here at Railroadiana and the hood is definitely the same. The lower combustion air intake is different though, my lantern having one row of holes and the 1907 catalog lantern having two rows. A tantalizing similarity. I will look into getting a copy of "Illustrated Encyclopedia of Railroad Lighting Vol. 1" and keep looking around to see what I can find out. Would be nice if I could pin it down as Armspear. Adlake and Ham are automatically thought of when looking at Conductor's lanterns, but Armspear and Handlan-Buck are forgotten. Now I wonder if during its history Handlan-Buck also made them? Drew Posted Thursday, April 23, 2020 by DAM

A. Unfortunately, most of the antique catalogs no longer exist and Barrett only printed what he could find. I noticed the different air intake the same as you but nothing else I found in the book was even close. Maybe the air intake design changed and yours is either earlier or later, or a holdover design from before the 1907 catalog, or ... Best of luck -! These early lanterns are so wonderful and yours looks like it is in superb condition. Congratulations !!!  Posted Wednesday, April 29, 2020 by jms

 Q3739 RR Sign  What does the R stand for? Other side is a W.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, April 14, 2020 by FD   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hello. Is the lamp just in the background, or was it attached to the sign?  Posted Tuesday, April 14, 2020 by RJMc

A. R ring bell W whistle Posted Tuesday, April 14, 2020 by DC

A. I don't recall ever having seen an 'R' sign, but there were a lot of 'RS' signs, for 'Resume Speed' after permanent slow orders.  Posted Wednesday, April 15, 2020 by RJMc

A. I believe this R/W sign is from the DL&W.  Posted Wednesday, April 15, 2020 by COD

A. With that helpful hint from COD, there is a DL&W Rule Book from 1958 available complete on the web (see Link.) At page 18 following all the other definitions it says: Letter Symbols Used As Signs G -Grade signal O -Train orders R -Ring S -Take siding or yard SS -Spring switch T -Telephone W -Whistle Z -Instructions govern Under "Use of Signals" on page 49, it says: "30. The engine bell must be rung when an engine is about to move, when running through tunnels, while approaching and passing public crossings at grade, when passing trains on adjacent tracks, when passing passenger stations and along streets of towns and cities. 31. The whistle must be sounded at all places where required by rule or law, and to prevent accidents. 32. The unnecessary use of either the whistle or the bell is prohibited." There are no pix of the signs in the book, but this certainly supports DC's comment that this sign required the ringing of the bell (at least until the whole train passed the sign) for the trains going in one direction, and sounding the whistle as required for trains going the other direction. I suspect the combination of the two indications was just an artifact of the one particular location for this sign. The DL&W ran thru many heavily urbanized areas with both lots of grade crossings and lots of people who complained about train noise. So the signs helped the engineman figure out whether he was REQUIRED to make the noise, or FORBIDDEN to make the same noise at particular places.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, April 18, 2020 by RJMc

A. A couple of notes: it is a 1952 Rule Book in the link above, not 1958. The only significant difference that might make is that the 1952 version has all the steam-related rules still in it; they might already be gone from a 1958 version. Also, we can't be SURE the sign is from the DL&W. It might be, but other RR's might have the same procedures and it would be a RR-by-RR thing.  Posted Saturday, April 18, 2020 by RJMc

A. Part of the cast iron forms a large tongue at bottom that fits nicely into a slot in a wood or concrete post. This particular one has had a piece of pipe welded on to fit over that thin post that is beside it. Believe mine is from DL&W. Posted Sunday, April 19, 2020 by DC

A. Part of the cast iron forms a large tongue at bottom that fits nicely into a slot in a wood or concrete post. This particular one has had a piece of pipe welded on to fit over that thin post that is beside it. Believe mine is from DL&W. Posted Sunday, April 19, 2020 by DC

 Q3738 Some More Key IDs?  Thanks to all who responded to my last questions. Here are the next three keys, the CNR I assume to be Canadian National but the bit doesn't match their switch key cut. I do have a CNR C key and that cut is also unlike this key. Does anyone know the purpose of this CNR key? Next another CWRR Bohannon S on back. Finally the CNRY large serif letters on the front and large serif S on back. I have seen several of the identical key and each had a different name. Hope someone can help with these 3 keys. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, April 6, 2020 by Jim   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Sorry, just thoughts and not much help. CWRR could be California Western but I could not find a picture of an identified key to compare. CNRY: "RY" suggests electric, but if you've seen identical keys except with different road markings I wonder if this is a fake. CNR: This was such a huge railroad, they surely must have used any number of bit cuts. Maybe this is one you just haven't seen before. Link 1 is two different CNR switch locks/keys, unfortunately we can't see the bits. Mitchell made more of the later keys, apparently. C (car) key bits were made with different bit cuts, no matter which road.  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, April 8, 2020 by jms

A. The American Switch Keys Directory shows the exact pattern for No. 2 as C & W for Chesapeake and Western. Since the RR dropped the "&" in 1901, I suspect the key is for the more recent Chesapeake Western, altho it seems to have been a RailWAY ever since 1901.  Posted Wednesday, April 8, 2020 by RJMc

A. RJMc, Good find, and you are absolutely right - my copy of the book has the illustration at the top of page 5 and it's the same exact cut. I missed it somehow. With the cut as complicated as it is, this HAS to be Chesapeake Western. (Note there is a Chesapeake Western bit cut shown on page 8 - totally different.) Jim, Link 1 is some history about the CW, if you do not have it. Because of the style of the key (and this is just a GUESS) I am guessing it was made not very long after the & was dropped, and the attention was on THAT, so much so that changing the R to a Y slipped by whoever set up the dies (or maybe even by the railroad employee who did the ordering). This is an early 1900s key style.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, April 11, 2020 by jms

 Q3737 US&S Signal info?  I cannot find any information about this signal. When produced? Who used them? Even a photo in real life would be great. I cannot find anything. Any help would be great. Thank you   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, April 5, 2020 by Dave   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I think you have one form of a 'Switch Position Indicator Signal." It only needs the two lights to indicate whether the track switch position is normal or reversed. See Link 1 for a good description of the functions of various kinds with pix of both main line and yard uses. My first impression from your particular signal is it was probably to indicate the status of a main line spring switch -- this impression is based on the use of regular heavy-duty signal sizes and qualtiy. See Link 2 for a lot of discussion about spring switches. In the one I particularly recalled, in a mainly single-track route the RR had installed about 2 miles of double track with a spring switch at each end to create a passing track. A train entering from either end was routinely directed to the right-hand track (as viewed from its own engine) and did not have to stop to either line itself in, or close the seitch back after passing over it, or to exit from the other end because the 'spring' part of the switch there let it out. BUT as indicated in the link, once the train started passing over the other spring switch (at the far end) it could NEVER back up without manually throwing and locking the switch or a derailment resulted as different parts of the train tried to use both tracks at once.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Sunday, April 5, 2020 by RJMc

A. In Link 1 above, the sixth pic in the article looks like your model signal, installed on a main line spring switch, probably somewhere in the western U.S..  Posted Sunday, April 5, 2020 by RJMc

A. Looking at the 'image info' for that #6 pic shows "Atsf/Albuquerque/2ndDistrict/PintaSouthSprSw/". Signals in this style were used as early as the 1920's and are still in use today.  Posted Sunday, April 5, 2020 by RJMc

A. This does appear to be a switch indication light. While this US&S style is one I have never worked on , it is somewhat similar to the GRS ones we had in the yard . The GRS ones were double sides but did the same job. The longer hoods were different , as the ones I worked with had shorter hoods since the crews were close to the switches , and the longer hoods would have blocked their vision of its indication.  Posted Monday, April 6, 2020 by hvcoll

A. Just to fill in the details, the ATSF Historical Society has track charts for all, or almost all, of the Santa Fe system available online. So "Pinta" turns out to be Pinta, AZ, on the double-tracked Santa Fe Transcon main line between Gallup, NM, and Winslow, AZ. The track chart (for 1992) confirms there were spring switches there which let trains in and out of 'lap sidings' which were probably used to let faster trains overtake and pass slower trains, and the pic in Link 1 above confirms they used your type of signal there.  Posted Thursday, April 9, 2020 by RJMc