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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:

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

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

Latest 25 Questions:

 Q2980 Southern Railway System Map  I need more information on this Southern Railway System Map. I believe it is fairly common, but any information on this type of map or rarity (nothing on value please) would be greatly appreciated. Please excuse the quality of the pictures. Was in a hurry. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, June 28, 2015 by TP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Common - yes, but rare today. Railroads liked maps! They liked people (especially shippers) to know where all they went and what other lines they connected with. Railroads would give this style of map to shippers (for business) and to schools (for good public relations). Many railroad offices also had maps like this for employees to reference, especially freight and passenger sales offices. -- Not many of them survived though, making them rare finds today! Yours appears to be in especially good condition, with little or no damage to the edges; which frequently gathered lots of small tears. It truly appears to be in near mint condition! --- I would guess to be 1950s or early 1960s as it shows either an "F" unit or "E" unit in the upper corners, which were respectable power in those years. As railroads wanted to present a "modern", up to date, cutting edge public appearance, they always used "state of the art" equipment on anything the public or shippers saw. Past the early 1960s, other, newer power would likely have been chosen. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Sunday, June 28, 2015 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. I'd have that professionally framed with acid free back board and UV glass to preserve it for future generations. Posted Monday, June 29, 2015 by PF

A. Red Beard - thanks for your response! Your guess of it being from the 1950s is very good as after I posted the question I found it dated "PRINTED NOVEMBER 1948" on the lower right hand corner. Because it was stored in a mailing tube in a secured and water tight shipping container, it has no damage - the only defect is a tiny hole by the middle "S" in System. Thats it. It still has its original mounting rings tied to string which is stapled to the WOOD strip at the top. Wood on bottom too. ADDITIONAL POSTS ARE WELCOMED!! :) Posted Monday, June 29, 2015 by TP

 Q2979 Book on RR Lamps?  I am just amazed at the depth of information displayed here by certain individuals on train lamps, etc. Does anyone know of any good books, with plenty of photos, that I may purchase on this subject? I went to my local public library and found nothing. Has anyone in this group considered writing such a book....Red Beard???  Posted Friday, June 26, 2015 by JPH   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. And the above books and others are listed in the "Book List" elsewhere here on the Railroadiana site, see the Link. Link 1  Posted Friday, June 26, 2015 by RJMc

A. You need to locate copies of "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Railroad Lighting" written by Richard Barrett with research assistance from Joseph Gross, published by Railroad Research Publications of Rochester, NY. Vol. I on railroad hand lanterns has 389 full-size heavily illustrated pages on the history and products of every North American lantern manufacturer and type that the authors could locate, and they worked very hard at it, going directly to the surviving manufacturers, to historical catalogs, and to many collectors for info. Vol. I saw at least three reprintings between 1994 and 2003. Vol. II is of similar size and comprehensiveness to cover railroad lamps, including markers, classification lights, etc. Vol II is harder to locate but we refer to it very often. These have also been reproduced soft-bound. Unfortunately Vol. III, which was intended to cover headlights, was never completed. Another useful reference is the book "Lanterns That Lit Our World." by Anthony Hobson. It is far smaller and less comprehensive than the Barrett volumes, but often provides a counterpoint of the non-railroad applications of many lamps and lanterns.  Posted Friday, June 26, 2015 by RJMc

A. JPH: thank you for the encouragement on that. At some point I'd like to publish what I've rambled on about here. Having grown up in a railroad town, I saw many lamps while they were still in use on the railroads. I was also fortunate enough to have acquired a few of them back then, so much of what I write about is the first hand knowledge of experience. --- Do know this though; I have probably tripled that knowledge base over the past few years by carefully studying the photos on eBay! Most sellers put multiple detailed photos on their eBay listing. Those detailed photos, at different angles, are an amazing resource for those of us doing ongoing research!! -- I suggest taking some time each week and pouring through the listings under both "Railroad Lamp" and "Railroad Lantern", as lamps and lanterns end up in both categories. -- Truth be told, ..if it weren't for the excellent questions you guys post on here, it wouldn't occur to me to write about any of that stuff! - If I did produce a book, what would you like to see in there? - Seriously; give me some ideas, Thanks again, ---- .... Red Beard Posted Friday, June 26, 2015 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. JPH; ..feel free to email me directly as well (and any other readers) at.. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Saturday, June 27, 2015 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Good suggestions, another one I like is David Dreimiller's Signal Lights book. If you're patient, you should be able pick up a copy on ebay for less (sometimes much less) than $40.00. The link is for info only, price listed there is VERY "optimistic". ' . Link 1  Posted Monday, June 29, 2015 by JFR

 Q2978 Tool Info Needed  I'm involved with the history museum in Waterloo, Illinois. We have a tool that is marked M. M. Buck Mfg. No. 3 1/8 in. to 1 1/2 Cochrans Pat. Oct. 6-94. It's a wrench a little over a foot long. When I enter the above information I come to your website. Can you give me any help identifying this tool? Thank You,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, June 22, 2015 by GW   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Your piece is a Cochran Universal Pipe Wrench. I found it on page 143 of my 1900 MM Buck catalogue. Depending on the size, it sold for $2, $3 or $4. It was advertised as works well in corners and flat places, close to ceilings and partitions. Posted Monday, June 22, 2015 by Bob F

A. This is a fairly fancy form of 'Alligator Wrench', sometimes also called a 'Goat Wrench.' The 'alligator' resemblance is obvious. The Link discussion explains the 'Goat' may be because goats only have teeth on one side - just like this wrench.  Link 1  Posted Monday, June 22, 2015 by RJMc

A. There are several references to these wrenches being used on the railroads, for example on locomotives to remove and install brake hoses and other hardware. They would have been attractive for that kind of service because a single wrench could deal not only with multiple pipe sizes, but also nut and bolt sizes, avoiding the need for lots of different tools which would tend to 'wander off' and not be available when really needed.  Posted Tuesday, June 23, 2015 by RJMc

 Q2977 BLW Plate ID Needed  Was wondering if anyone could tell me what railroad(s) these Baldwin builders plates come from and what type of locomotive? They are numbered 64734 and 70831. Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks.  Posted Monday, June 15, 2015 by NG   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. BLW #64734 is off ATSF #2208, listed as DE 1000HP Diesel BLW #70831 is off ATSF #5025 a 2-10-4 with 30x34 cylinders and 74" drivers. Posted Tuesday, June 16, 2015 by railroadcollectibles

A. I appreciate the information. These two plate came up at a local estate auction and i was trying to get an idea if they were atsf or not. Anyway I was outbid at 425 each even tho im sure they are worth more than that a little expensive for my personal collection but was still able to acquire other items for for collection there. Thanks for the help with the information. Posted Thursday, June 18, 2015 by ng

 Q2976 CPR Lamp  I recently acquired a Canadian Pacific railway Aladdin model B brass caboose interior lantern with wall bracket in mint condition and would like as much info on the lamp as you could give. Thanks .  Posted Wednesday, June 10, 2015 by AP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. need a picture Posted Thursday, June 11, 2015 by mj

 Q2975 Railroad Cats Eye Crossing Sign  I am considering a purchase of a cat’s eye glass marble crossing sign. The pictures included are of the back and the other is of the front. Is it real and has it been restored or not? I need any information you can provide as I have no experience with these type of Grade Crossing Signs. Thanks a lot!!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, June 9, 2015 by TP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. it docent look like its been restored the back covers our there looks like someone cut the brackets off the back and its missing some cats eyes other then that it looks good for its age Posted Tuesday, June 9, 2015 by mj

A. Cats eyes glass (originals) you can use for replacements do come along on eBay. You will need a specific type, they are usually identified on the back. if you buy the sign you can pull one out and see what it says then look for that type on ebay. They are N-O-T cheap, BTW.  Posted Friday, June 26, 2015 by JMS

 Q2974 Baldwin Plates  How or where can you look up Baldwin locomotive plates to see what railroad they came from? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.  Posted Sunday, June 7, 2015 by Nicholas   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. If you post the const numbers on on here, most of the time they will be ID'd for you. The R&LHS used to offer copies of the records, which is where I got mine. Not sure of an on line search for Baldwin, like there is for EMD.  Posted Tuesday, June 9, 2015 by CD

A. Thanks for the advice cd i will look for and post the numbers in a seperate question. Thanks  Posted Sunday, June 14, 2015 by ng

A. For future reference, The DeGolyer Library at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX has a very large collection of parts of the official Baldwin Locomotive Works company records (see Link). There are some very detailed specification sheets and engineering drawings, as well as sales information and customer listings. Much of this info has been scanned or microfilmed, and is now available online and can be downloaded. Somewhat unfortunately, these records mostly deal with earlier Baldwin products (mostly before 1931) but there is some later material, on BLH diesels for example. I have not yet found a single listing or index of builder's numbers cross-referenced to purchasers in these records, but one may be in there. The DeGolyer Library has undergone a major renovation over several recent years and this material only became accessible again quite recently.  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, June 17, 2015 by RJMc

 Q2973 Dietz #6 Globe  Has anyone ever seen a globe cast DIETZ 6 RR around the top in smallish letters that is actually 5-3/8 inch tall? We know the standard/correct height for Dietz 6 frames is a 6 inch globe -- but this globe is definitely only 5-3/8 inch tall. Wondering if it is fake - ? Thank you for any assistance!  Posted Thursday, June 4, 2015 by JS   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. There are 5&3/8 versions of the Dietz #6, but they are very rare. I'd say your globe is legit. No reason for anyone to fake anything like that.  Posted Friday, June 5, 2015 by JFR

A. Have a 53/8 red cast Corning B&M with a small 6 at top. Also a Corning 53/8 clear cast U.P. with a small 5 at top. Many of my other globes have a small number at top. Could it be a code as to color or type of base ? Posted Friday, June 5, 2015 by Donald Cassaday DC

 Q2972 Lock Comparison  I would like to ask others' perspective regarding the attached pictures. The first picture from the left is my known WF 6 lever pancake lock. The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th pictures are all of a second lock. Does anyone see any problems with the second lock? I would be much obliged if anyone could offer their perspective. Thank you very much for your time.  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, June 1, 2015 by PV   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Thank you JM & JS. I appreciate your inputs. JS - are you a lock collector? If so, could you please email me directly? Posted Tuesday, June 2, 2015 by PV

A. First my disclaimer: I don't collect locks, although I like them. I do and have collected many things over the years and do not like the lock in thethree photos to the right of yours. I'd say a contemporary fake. Locks (as well as many other collector items) are being faked in great number by China, India and Pakistan. Assuming yours is a bonafide original the other's configuration to include body radii, embossed font and execution is very poor. I wouldn't touch it unless I was looking for a repro to compare and contrast with original examples for discussion and education. Let the buyer be aware and the seller honest. Posted Tuesday, June 2, 2015 by JM

A. Absolutely agree with JM! Steer clear! Look again at the photos that will pull up into enlargements, that you posted. The difference in casting quality is night and day! sometimes these tiny details don't become apparent without a computer's massive enlargement - even a good magnifying glass sometimes doesn't let you see everything. What a sloppy job on Lock#2 - ! Scuzzy edges on the lettering, poorly laid out lettering....the "pebbled" background looks like somebody using a punch and a hammer. It's a mess. Do not give it a second thought unless it's selling for hardware store prices and you can use it for comparison to your gorgeous real one. Wells Fargo pieces are among the hottest railroad/railroad collectibles. Accordingly there are tons of fakes flooding the market.  Posted Tuesday, June 2, 2015 by JS

A. DA...could you please email me directly? Posted Wednesday, June 3, 2015 by PV

A. Anybody that is knowledgeable about pancake locks I would appreciate to have them email me. Thank you...... Posted Wednesday, June 3, 2015 by PV

A. I'm curious. Is the second lock undersized as compared to the one on the left, or is that just how the photographs were taken? Posted Wednesday, June 3, 2015 by rf

A. Just a general comment about the seemingly fake WF & Co Round 6-lever. As a 30 year collector of RR'iana and padlocks, this is the first fake embossed round 6'lever I have seen. And if it does prove to be a repro. (and all the evidence points to that being a yes) it should send shivers through the hobby. While comparing it side by side with a real one is one thing, how many of us would honestly say that we would have passed on it for $100 - $200 or more if we encountered one at a flea market, antique show, RR show etc etc? And we all know that they don't make a few of these.......they will soon be hitting the market like those fake fancybacks did a few years ago. And even a few knowledgeable collectors got stung with those..................... The main thing to do now is to put out the word.................  Posted Wednesday, June 3, 2015 by DA

A. Weapons of various kinds are another example of fakes produced solely to deceive. I mention this only as another reference for you to look at examples, especially, fabrication skill levels and improper parts, fittings, fasteners, etc, to use as a tool for RR'iana, etc. Big market for Jap swords and other Jap items with many newly made antiques being marketed. Do a web search for Kyber Pass firearms, swords and knives for additional. With today's technology and understanding patina can be added to nearly all period materials. Posted Wednesday, June 3, 2015 by JM

A. is just how the photographs were taken. Posted Thursday, June 4, 2015 by PV

A. Well, I put the word out to a few padlock collectors (people more knowledgeable than me) and their consensus is that the lock is GOOD. Yes, a crude casting job, but apparently this type of lock is known (going back a few years). If they start turning up in high numbers, then we'll have to re-examine the situation, but for now I'll agree with them.  Posted Monday, June 8, 2015 by DA

A. I have actively been collecting railroad locks for 35+ years, I attend both padlock and railroad shows nationwide, and would consider myself to be an expert on railroad locks. You do not see many of these Wells Fargo 6 lever (pancake locks) they are EXTREMELY rare. In my personal opinion both of the locks which appear in these photos are as real and genuine as they get. In the years I have been collecting I have seen numerous fakes and reproductions and usually they are quite easy to detect. If the Wells Fargo lock photographed in this post is a fake it is in MY opinion without a question the best fake - reproduction that I have EVER seen in my many years of collecting.  Posted Thursday, June 11, 2015 by Warren Nyerges

A.  There is a lock similar to but not quite the same as the lock in question on David Heuermann's padlock site. From the first online page you hit the push key padlock-pancakes tab, then the 6 lever brass tab, and finally the V thru Z listing. Two of three W.F. listed locks are pictured, the left pin variety, 195.2, being the one somewhat like yours. Note that the description says it is made by D. K. Miller. Looking closely at it there are letter casting differences. If you haven't already you might pursue this resource for further information. Posted Sunday, June 14, 2015 by MG

 Q2971 Switch Lamp Lens Colors  I have a question regarding switch stand lamps and the color of lenses used. I’ve seen the common lamps used on mainline switches with the 2 red and 2 green lenses, and the yard or siding ones with the 2 green and 2 yellow lenses. Did railroads sometimes use switch lamps with other color combinations than those mentioned above? I’ve recently seen switch lamps sold with 3 yellow lenses and one red lens, and another which looked like a mainline lamp with red and green lenses but there was also a blue lens substituted for one of the green lenses. I’m wondering if someone simply wanted to replace a broken lens to sell their lamp, or if the railroads actually used these different color combinations on their kerosene switch lamps?  Posted Monday, June 1, 2015 by Steve B.    Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. A partial reply to your question is that a lot of combinations will appear either in real working order or in what people have for sale that they merely have replaced with what they have. grew up in a town with a north/south spur line of the Nickle Plate (i.e., before that the LE&W). On the lamps that marked the track derail device, they use opposite side red lenses and opposite side yellow lenses. So I guess they were trying to say if it's a red lens showing don't go through and even if it's yellow...proceed with caution.  Posted Monday, June 1, 2015 by TE

A.  This could make for a long discussion. Many lamps up for sale have had replacement lenses put in them. - It has been over 40years now since Switch Lamps were in common use in the US. In actual service, switch lamps will always have just two colors and will be arranged with like colors opposite each other as TE mentions above. e.g.; red - green - red – green going around the lamp. Switch lamp colors I’m familiar with are Red & Green, Yellow & Green, Yellow & Lunar (“Lunar White” being a pale blue hue). Derails I’ve seen are Purple & Green, Purple & Yellow, and the Red & Yellow TE mentioned. -- Derail Lamps are Switch Lamps used on a Derail throw, which works much the same as a switch stand with a gear system that rotates the lamp 90°, back and forth. Frequently Marker Lamps show up on eBay minus the mounting bracket ring. Without that ring, they can be confused as being Switch Lamps. 3 Yellow and 1 Red is a common configuration for Marker Lamps on many roads: AT&SF, GN, PRR among them. – The Union Pacific and the CB&Q both used only Red & Green in their switch lamps; both in the yard and coming off the main line. The UP used Green & Purple in Derails and the CB&Q used Purple & Yellow. C&NW used Yellow & Lunar with day targets in their enormous Proviso yard in Chicago; but, in Omaha – Council Bluffs, only the engine shop yard on the Council Bluffs side had Yellow & Lunar, again with day targets. Somewhere I’ve read that lunar on some roads indicated a “Spring Switch”, which could be run through without having to open it. All other C&NW yards in the Omaha/C.B, area had Red & Green with no day targets, and an occasional Yellow & Green for no apparent reason. PRR and NYC both had Yellow & Lunar. The Pennsy liked day targets and most of their lamps had them. The NYC lamps I have and have seen photos of did not have day targets. Almost all Burlington lamps had two red day targets, but a few did not. Most UP lamps had no day targets, but a very few had just the two red ones. CB&Q lamps were generally marked “BR” for Burlington Route, but a few were marked “CB&Q”. Almost all switch lamps with the cast rectangular mounting base had the flat sides of the mounting socket parallel with the lens openings; Pennsylvania rotated the base on theirs 45° so the corners of the cast base lined up with the axis of the lens. – I’m having an offline discussion right now with DJB about lens colors. I claim that I’ve never seen an SP or an AT&SF switch lamp with red lenses! All of them I’ve ever seen have been Yellow & Green on both of those roads! …anyone with information on those roads?? ---- …. Red Beard  Posted Tuesday, June 2, 2015 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. In his "Illustrated Encyclopedia of Railroad Lighting" Richard Barrett was able to utilize many lamp manufacturing company catalogs, and in his descriptions of specific switch lamp models he often includes the original color(s) and how they were placed. If you can use the book to determine which model your lamp is, it's possible the book will tell you what the original color(s) the lenses would have been and their placement. Of course over the years, as is pointed out above, most of the original lenses have been replaced and not always in the "correct" colors.  Posted Tuesday, June 2, 2015 by JS

A. JS: Could you please write at length some of the color combination descriptions from the book? It would be helpful to document some of that here on this site. Many readers do not have access to a copy, thanks. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Wednesday, June 3, 2015 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Gentlemen,Regarding switchlamp lens colors,Red Beard mentioned in his last treatise about lunar white lens being used in spring switch lamps.This is true at least in the Soo Line special instructions timetables from the 60's and earlier.These lamps showed green for the mainline route and lunar when hand lined for into or out of the siding. The reasoning for this was because of the speed restriction into and out of the spring switch when entering or trailing out of it.Lunar = Restricting. DJB Posted Wednesday, June 3, 2015 by DJB

A. Thank you fellas for all the great information here. I'm lucky to own two switch stands in my collection and both are getting switch lamps added on to them. It's nice to be able to have questions answered here in order to enjoy the hobby- and restore these items as accurately as possible to how they once were used. Thanks again. Steve B. Posted Wednesday, June 3, 2015 by Steve B.

 Q2970 Steam Engine Model Use?  Would this steam engine demonstration model be used in the instruction of aspiring engineers? I was wondering if there was any railroad classroom education in the steam days or did the engineer apprentice receive all his education as a fireman? Also does it matter if I repaint this model or should it be left as it is? Thank you in advance for any help in this matter.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, May 31, 2015 by DBN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I strongly suggest that you -DO NOT- repaint it !! As an historical piece, it is much more valuable just as it is. The paint actually looks pretty good! ---- .... Red Beard Posted Sunday, May 31, 2015 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. From looking at the lower edge of the piston and the red speck of red paint on the front wheel, I'd say it was already repainted a long time ago. The glossy black paint on the wheel is suspect as well. Good luck. Posted Sunday, May 31, 2015 by CT

A. There has always been quite a lot of 'classroom' type education for enginemen, at least on the larger roads. There were a whole series of Q&A-type technical books containing info on basic technologies, such as propulsion and brake systems, as well as particular locomotive accessories such as injectors and water pumps. Railroads had (and still have) training cars with mobile classrooms which toured their systems. Railroads conducted exams of engineers and firemen on these technical subjects, as well as the operating rules and the characteristics of the territory, to determine qualifications for each job. One additional resource was the American Correspondence Schools ('ACS') series of books which published courses on all kinds of railroad technology including steam engines. So its entirely possible your model might have been used as part of that training.  Posted Sunday, May 31, 2015 by RJMc

A. I have a very similar model made by Chicago Apparatus Co. It is painted very much like yours mostly black with the inside of the cylinder and valve being red. The rod and valve gear are unfinished steel. My example also has a metal property tag attached for PSC which was Penn State College now Penn State University. I bought it a few years ago at Penn State Salvage. I would assume it was used in teaching at Penn State. I like the embossed makers mark on yours.  Posted Sunday, May 31, 2015 by CD

A. Correction to my answer above: the books are the International Correspondence School ("ICS Books"), many available today on the collectibles market and still very informative about all kinds of railroad and other subjects. Posted Monday, June 1, 2015 by RJMc

 Q2969 Alco Plate  Can anyone identify what type of locomotive and for what railroad this was built: American Locomotive Schenectady November 1928 '67674'?  Posted Sunday, May 31, 2015 by TL   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Alco 67674 according to my records was one of an order running from 67671-67678 built for the Vermont Central. These were 2-10-4's with road numbers of 700-707  Posted Sunday, May 31, 2015 by CD

 Q2968 Santa Fe Travel Posters  I got 4 travel posters ( Grand Canyon, Hopiland, Texas, New Mexico) the other day in a lot of paper items I purchased. Was wondering if there is any way to tell if they are authentic or reproduction? From what I've seen the new and old are both the same size. Thanks for any help or advice.  Posted Sunday, May 31, 2015 by Nick   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q2967 Glass Shades RR?  I was wondering if anyone has ever seen these type of glass shades? Any info would be greatly appreciated. I picked these up in the Pacific Northwest just because they were so unique. Thank you,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, May 27, 2015 by Richard    Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Those are porch light globes made to resemble a lantern. In the mid to late 1900s, I'd say up through the 1970s, there were numerous porch light globes made to look somewhat like railroad lanterns. Today it is hard to imagine the impact railroading had on day to day American life. Railroads employed thousands of people and tracks and yards were everywhere. Everyone knew multiple people who worked for the railroad and the railroad hand lantern was a well known image of railroading and an integral part of American life. -- Your globes are meant to go on a wall mounted fixture where the bulb would be horizontal rather than a ceiling mounted fixture. The globe on the right in the photo is shown upside down to how it would be fitted in a fixture; the large crown like portion of the globe would be positioned at the top when mounted. -- Though highly stylized, the cast bird cage frame around the globe suggests a strong railroad lantern influence in the design. ---- .... Red Beard  Posted Thursday, May 28, 2015 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

 Q2966 Adlake Square Top Switch Lamp  Is there a model number associated with the Adlake Square Top Round Bottom Fork Mount Switch Lamp? It has 2 amber and 2 green 4 1/2 inch lenses and 2 yellow targets. I've seen where the same switch lamp with a cast iron post mount is called a 1112 switch lamp but cannot find what the round bottom fork mount is labeled as. Thank you for taking the time to reply to my query.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, May 27, 2015 by RL   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. For comparison, in the 1907 Adlake catalog in the archives here on the site (see Link 1), the equivalent lamp is a "No. 169 Pressed Steel Switch Lamp" and they just add "arranged for fork" or "arranged for spring bottom socket base" to the No. 169 description. The "No. 169 1/2" adds the day targets. The No. 169 lamps have the flared base similar to yours. But the No. 169 has a round, not square top. By the 1940 catalog showing the No. 1112, and 1112.5 lamps,(in Link 2)there is no reference to fork mount lamps at all, and the lamps do not have the flared base. Also, in Barrett's Encyclopedia of RR Lighting, Vol. 2, there is no reference to Adlake switch lamps having fork mounts anytime after the No. 169. Things always got mixed and matched in the course of RR service; maybe somebody put a No. 1112 top section on a No. 169 body, or maybe Adlake adapted the No. 169 design sometime between 1907 and 1940 possibly for a special order. Link 1  Link 2  Posted Wednesday, May 27, 2015 by RJMc

A. Somewhere I have found a model number for the Adlake Square Top, Round Base, Fork Mount lamps. ..possibly buried in one of the almost three thousand questions on this site. Due to several computer crashes over the years I’ve managed to lose it; But, there was a model number for these. – the lamp in this question is a standard S.P. switch lamp; and they had thousands of them. The Union Pacific used the same identical lamp as well; though the U.P. used red and green 4.5 inch lenses. (the U.P. never used any yellow lenses in switch lamps, whether mail line or yard, and to date I have never seen a verified as original configuration SP lamp with red lenses in it.) The Western Pacific and Northern Pacific used this style lamp as well, though they used 5 3/8 inch yellow lenses and 5 inch greens. WP & NP also had a majority of Round Top, Round Base lamps, however, as did the UP & SP – Square Top ventilation lamps were introduced in the mid-1920s and the Round Top lamps were discontinued in favor of the supposedly superior ventilation of the Square Top, four sided baffle box. The square baffle box was certainly more durable and much easier to remove and clean than the perforated cone in the old Round Top lamps, which were difficult to remove due to the tab & button locking mechanism on the cone. The cones were also easy to crush during removal. – However, for some reason, the U.P. and the S.P. Had a preference for the round top design. Up until the end of kerosene switch lamps on those roads in the early 1970s, U.P. and S.P. yards were loaded with the old Round Top lamps. In all the railfanning and photo searches I’ve done, I saw fewer than 10% Square Top lamps on those two roads. Many U.P. yards I saw in the 1960s had no Square Top lamps! This leads me to believe that Adlake continued to make the Round Top, Round Base lamps for the U.P. , and maybe the S.P. too, for some time past their general discontinuance in the catalogs; for just from attrition and replacement, there should have been a much larger percentage of the Square Top lamp out in the yards, considering it was introduced in the mid-‘20s, and over the next 40 years more of them would have been purchased to replace worn out and damaged Round Tops. Either way the Square Top, Round Base lamp was a stock item, and not cobbled together from parts. The one and only that I have was “acquired” in about 1969 and was in near mint, right out of the box, condition. Of interest; it was a Derail Lamp with Green and Purple lenses. I wish I could say more about the W.P and N.P. lamps, but all the knowledge I have of them is from photos. The N.P. did have large numbers of the older Round Top, Round Base, fork mount lamps late into the last years of lamps though. – Another oddity is the standard Great Northern switch lamp. It was a modified Adlake No. 1307 Square Top, cylindrical body lamp. (LINK 1 for standard 1307 lamp) It had no cast base, but rather had the Fork Mount tubes running up inside of the cylindrical body, …BUT, the preexisting dimensions of the fork mount were just wide enough that the body had to have slits cut into it to accommodate the needed wide spacing of the tubes, so about a third of the fork tube bulged out past the cylindrical wall of the body, creating a vertical ridge on either side of the lamp!! -- Additionally of interest; the fork prongs on the N.P. and G.N. switch stands were several inches longer than the S.P. and U.P. ones. As a result, the fork tubes on the G.N. and N.P. lamps are equivalently longer. On the N.P. lamps, the tubes are so long, that they protrude up into the spherical portion of the lamp body; whereas on the U.P. and S.P. lamps, the tubes stop well below the spherical section! ---- …. Red Beard Link 1  Posted Wednesday, May 27, 2015 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. SEE Q1402 for a good photo of a GN Fork Mount lamp Posted Thursday, May 28, 2015 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. -- Additional Note on the G.N. Lamps: a stock 1307 lamp has a sliding side door. The G.N. lamps did not, rather having a hinged lid. It's not possible to engineer a sliding side door with the fork tubes inside of the lamp body and still have clear access for the oil fount to slide in and out! The fount had to be removed through the top of the lamp. They still used the No. 28 oil fount, minus the guide wings that normally hold the fount in place. The fit between the rounded ends on the No. 28 fount and the sides of the lamp body are extremely close tolerance making it a very tight fit. This made for a real tough task of removing and replacing the fount when it needed to be refilled. You pretty much have to wiggle the fount the whole way up and out of the lamp; a real knuckle buster of a process!! ---- .... Red Beard Posted Thursday, May 28, 2015 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Hello Red ,in your nice switchlamp article you mention that you have not seen a verifiable SP switchlamp with red lenses in it.That begs the question of what color they used in these lamps to indicate when a mainline switch was open ? Being retired from the industry,my curiosity is up on this one.One more question...did the SP actually mark their switchlamps ? Their marker lamps were marked in most cases.Explain to us please.DJB Posted Friday, May 29, 2015 by DJB

 Q2965 Dressel Platform Lamp  I have what appears to be Dressel Platform or Caboose lamp. The lamp is 20 in. tall. It has 4 glass lenses: 3 yellow 1 red 5 in. diameter. It is electric as it has a sliding door that opens to the bulb and is marked Ul ESS. The glass has a Corning sticker on it that says AAR spec 69-40. Can you tell me anything about this lamp? Thank You,  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, May 26, 2015 by SL   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. yep thats a caboose marker lamp all right somebody took out the fuel font and burner and put a elec light in it.the railroad did not not use electric marker lamps back then in the good old days.  Posted Tuesday, May 26, 2015 by mj

A.  SL: Electric Marker Lamps date back to about the 1920s. Steam engines from that period onward had electric generators and some tenders began being equipped with electric sockets by the marker brackets so electrified markers could be used. By the 1930s, new streamlined and lighter weight passenger cars were being produced and they were built with internal electric systems powered by axle driven generators and sizable battery boxes to run the electric system when the cars weren’t moving. This made it possible to place outlets by the marker brackets on these cars too, so they could make use of electric markers as well. In the 1960s, many railroads began electrifying cabooses with axle driven generators and battery boxes; again making use of electric markers possible. In spite of these innovations over the years, many tenders and passenger cars never got electric sockets for markers; meaning that they still had to use kerosene markers. Electrified cabooses almost always were also wired for electric markers. Kerosene markers were manufactured and used up until the end of removable, externally mounted markers in the late 1960s or early 1970s. – Railroads were known for being very frugal. As electrified equipment became more prevalent, railroads converted many old kerosene marker lamps to electric by retro fitting the lamp with a porcelain or “Bakelite” (phenol formaldehyde resin) bulb socket, usually mounted to a homemade wooden base shaped to tightly fit where the original kerosene pot had been. – Your lamp has been repainted at some point, as the underside of the smoke cap is clean. That fact could indicate that the lamp might have been converted to electric by the railroad; as it would have been repainted by the railroad shop at the time of electrification! The cord that is showing in the photo is common modern lamp cord; that feature clearly indicates that a post railroad owner has at least replaced the cord. A railroad service cord would have been a thick black rubber coated cord nearly a half inch in diameter. – Look at the hole in the bottom of the lamp for the cord. If it is just barely large enough for the existing lamp cord, it was electrified by someone since it left the railroad. On the other hand; if the hole is a good, cleanly punched hole of at least a half inch in diameter, it may have been converted by the railroad. Other clues would be if there is any sort of heavy metal fitting in the bottom of the lamp that the cord passes through, and if the above mentioned wood base and industrial grade bulb socket are present. Those would indicate that the railroad did the conversion. Many eastern roads painted their markers yellow and also used the 3 yellow, 1 red lens arrangement. ---- …. Red Beard  Posted Wednesday, May 27, 2015 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

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

A. This looks to small for rr,more likely steam tractor. Posted Sunday, May 24, 2015 by BK

A. Steam tractor, interesting; why not? My early searches seem to always reference Romer & Co associated with railroads. So, I assumed that this was the context for this lantern. Posted Sunday, May 24, 2015 by JM

A.  Charles Romer was a prolific manufacturer of railroad and express locks in Newark from the 1860s until after the turn of the century. He is listed for one year, 1861, in the Newark city directory as both a lock and lamp manufacturer under the company name Romer & Hover. As Romer & Company, his advertising in the Newark city directories reflects the manufacturer of various types of locks as well as brass trim and hardware until the mid 1880s when he again is listed as manufacturing both railroad and signal lanterns as well as dash, carriage and bicycle lamps. He was definitely a padlock manufacturer but whether his company truly made lanterns and lamps as he advertised is somewhat unclear. It's possible they were made by another manufacturer for resale by Romer.  Posted Monday, May 25, 2015 by MG

A. MG, great information. Makes much sense from a business perspective to "diversify". Potentially the Pat March 1864 could have been his or licensed for use in his lanterns or contracted. So, any info available as to when he offered a lantern of this type in his inventory? Posted Monday, May 25, 2015 by JM

A.  I have not seen a Romer catalog, probably rarer than the lanterns & lamps. Going by their advertisements in the Newark city directories it would seem that they sold lamps from about 1883 or so up through the 1891 directory.  Posted Monday, May 25, 2015 by MG

A. MG's reply above mentions "dash lamps". This refers to the original meaning of 'dashboard' which Merriam Webster explains as "a screen on the front of a usually horse-drawn vehicle to intercept water, mud, or snow"; term first used in 1842. It came to mean just the front board of vehicles. So dash lamps were used to light the way forward at night; they often had a spring clamp arrangement or what you have aptly called a 'belt hook' to clip onto the vehicle since there were no fixed brackets. The "dashboard" term migrated from wagons and carriages over to early automobiles, as well as horse cars and then electric street cars; usually keeping the same kinds of hangers. So I suspect you have a dash lamp -- possibly used on a wagon or carriage, or an early automobile, or maybe for a horsecar or a streetcar. Really no way to tell since the applications were so similar.  Posted Tuesday, May 26, 2015 by RJMc

A. RJMc, Thank you for the definitions and possibilities for use. So many times, myself included, we "want" to substantiate a given application, time period or use. I have collected Civil War things for decades, but, not so much anymore. Taking so many collecting "side trips" is invigorating in that I'll revisit my existing and suddenly see that a given item fits as well within other categories other than Civil War. I suddenly feel a bit stupid, embarrassed and enlightened to once again see the trees in the forest. Posted Wednesday, May 27, 2015 by JM

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

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

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

A. Thanks for the response. I could see them being by a bathroom mirror. Thanks  Posted Saturday, May 30, 2015 by nick

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

A. it does not look like a u s railroad whistle post sign i could be wrong if anybody out there knows anymore about these signs come foreword and speak your pice Posted Wednesday, June 3, 2015 by tl

A. May have been mounted on top of a pole. Notice the socket. Never seen a whistle post like this before, and I have seen them all. Could be U.S. or not, however the "W" sure does look very similar to U.S. one's I have seen but it may have been generic. Extensive research would be required to determine for sure. 1920's?? Posted Wednesday, June 10, 2015 by Maryland Rail Fan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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