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Welcome to our Question & Answer Bulletin Board -- a bulletin board for collectors and anyone else to post questions about railroadiana. It 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:

  • PULEEZE! No questions about what something is worth -- see About Values.
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Latest 25 Questions:

 Q2858 Ticket Punch Questioms  I bought a couple ticket punches recently as holiday gifts for my kids, and one of them has the stickies, and doesn't punch all the way through paper. The punch has a strap that curves up and out from the lower handle and then back in, and the strap might normally connect to the upper part of the punch, to provide the spring that pushes it back up. Does anybody know how I might repair this punch? And what's the best way to clean it? Both punches have some old dried grime on them that ought to come off -- how do I do that without damaging the finish? Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, December 16, 2014 by Robb   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hi, I would start by soaking both in WD-40 for a while, try a few hours, then take an old toothbrush and hit the gunk with it. That spring looks in the right place to me. JN Posted Thursday, December 18, 2014 by JN

 Q2857 Number Boards  I got these number boards from a person who said they came off a EMD locomotive. They have glued on numbers. The board is 30 1/2 inches long and 11 inches wide. The numbers are 8 inches tall. They think they are from the 1950s or 1960s. Does anybody know the history of number boards with glued on numbers and what railroad used them? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, December 13, 2014 by RT   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. From my personal memory, the white boards with glued on numbers started showing up in the very late 1960's or so. Prior to that black background with white numbers was the norm. Posted Tuesday, December 16, 2014 by rf

A. My recollection was these showed up during major merger re-numberings -- for example when the 'Greater N&W' was formed by taking over the NKP and the Wabash in the mid-60's. The link is to; you can rapidly sort thru most of the RR's in North America to get a more comprehensive view of who did what and when. The second link is to a 1973 pic of 3 N&W consists; two ex-Wabash F units have been repainted to N&W, still with old white on black boards, and one ex-NKP ALCO has the N&W number in the black on white.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Thursday, December 18, 2014 by RJMc

 Q2856 U.S.A. Army Lantern  Were US army Adlake Reliables originally painted olive drab or just tinned or galvanized? If they were painted olive drab, was it the usual WWI U.S. olive drab or something Adlake made up? Also, can someone tell me what these lanterns were actually used for in the army? Thank you all very much.  Posted Friday, December 12, 2014 by KO   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. See prior Q's 2690, 2402, 1946, and 740 for some of the earlier discussions about US Army lanterns. Just put the Q no. in the "By Question Number" search box, on the left of the text box, and hit 'Go' to see the extensive prior info. Posted Friday, December 12, 2014 by RJMc

 Q2855 P&LE Station Signal  Here is an old image of the P&LE station in Coraopolis, Pa. Could you please tell me what kind of signal this is and what it was used for? Also what time period would this type of signal be used? I am trying to get an idea of the age of this image. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, December 10, 2014 by DN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. A signal mounted like this one, directly in front of a station is almost certainly either a train order signal or a 'manual block' signal; either one would be directly controlled by the station operator. As a starting point, the link is to a web site where a group is trying to rehabilitate that station building; they confirm it wsa built in 1894. There are also a (very) large number of postcards on the web showing the "T.F. Watson" residence; they are stated to be from the 1910's, and the Pennsylvania corporate records office says that in 1923 'The Watson Co.' of Coraopolis had been in business 91 years already(!!!). All that, and the clothing style, is consistent with a picture date close to 1900, the turn of the 20th century. Link 1  Posted Thursday, December 11, 2014 by RJMc

A. Thank you for answering all my questions in such a professionally researched manner. You have answered all my questions and even given me more information than I ever expected . Posted Friday, December 12, 2014 by D.N.

A. The trees on the hill in the background are bare, so it's a winter picture. But is that a Christmas "tree" on the hill?  Posted Tuesday, December 16, 2014 by JP

A. I also stared at that item on the hillside for a while. Looking very closely it is triangular girderwork; I suspect it might be an oil well or drilling tower. In later decades it might have been an antenna tower but this pic is too early for that.  Posted Tuesday, December 16, 2014 by RJM

 Q2854 RR Schedule Board  Does this board appear to be authentic? Just curious whether the abbreviation I.C.R.R. is legitimate. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, December 2, 2014 by David   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. IC is Illinois Central. Posted Tuesday, December 2, 2014 by BK

 Q2853 1944 Prr S2 6200 Builders Plate  I'm looking for a picture of the builders plate--oval, Baldwin #70900, PRR #6200--from 1944, when the locomotive was built.  Posted Saturday, November 29, 2014 by Dennis B   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q2852 P&LE RR Lantern  I have what appears to be a standard Defiance Lantern and STPG.Co Perfect No. 0 barn lantern except the clear glass globe is etched P&LERR. Has anyone seen this before? Is it a globe from something else substituted into the lantern? (It sure seems to fit like it was made for this style lantern.) Or even a total fake? Thanks for your help.  Posted Saturday, November 29, 2014 by MP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  Is there any other marking on the globe that might indicate the age like a Corning CNX mark? The Defiance No. 0 lantern was made from 1901 to 1930. It is possible that the P&LE used the lantern at grade crossing construction projects for traffic safety protection. Or the globe came from a Dietz Acme Inspectors lamp and was put into the lantern as a replacement when the original globe was broken. It is hard to know without knowing the age of the globe and the lantern.  Posted Monday, December 1, 2014 by mccown

A. The only thing I can see is embossed in the glass near the top of the globe. It is C 4 and under that is what looks like M - E G Co. Does that mean anything to you> Thanks. Posted Thursday, December 4, 2014 by MP

A. MEG Co refers to the Macbeth Evans Glass Company, a globe manufacturer in Charleroi, PA. They made exceptionally nice globes. Posted Friday, December 5, 2014 by PEK

A. Thanks! I would still appreciate if anyone knows if this was a true P&LE RR lantern or if this might be a globe stuck into a barn lantern. Posted Friday, December 5, 2014 by MP

 Q2851 RR Lock Problem  I have a Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific railroad padlock and key. The key opens the padlock about a 1/4 of an inch and then it stops. I have used WD 40 on it but to no avail. Is it possible there is another key I should try to find or do you think the inner parts of the lock are broken? If I keep turning the key back and forth it eventually pops open! Help.  Posted Thursday, November 27, 2014 by JV   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It is possible that the springs inside the lock have become weakened or completely broken and the working levers are not getting into their correct positions. In this case you may here rattling inside the lock from parts that should not be loose. First try putting the lock in different positions to let gravity help you move the levers inside the lock, and then try the key. If the springs in the lock are weak, there will no point in meddling with the key itself. If that doesn't help, then likely you have 'almost, but not quite the right' key. The keys are supposed to turn all the way around in the lock to free up the shackle. Something is blocking the key from turning all the way. I would first take a close look at the key bit. Usually whatever inside the lock is blocking the full turn will mark the face of the key bit; you can see from the marks whether there is a lot of obstruction, or just a little. Note that the key bit must hit SOMETHING inside the lock to work the mechanism, so there will always be slight marks, but an obstruction keeping the lock from opening will make much more definite marks. You can also increase the visibility of the marks by coating the key bit with machine shop 'bluing' compound (which is designed to show marks like this), or lacking that, with felt-tip marker ink. Depending on how valuable the key itself is, you can then decide whether to remove a little bit (no pun intended) of the key surface to get it to turn all the way around. Be very careful not to remove too much material, or the key will no longer open the lock. Hope this helps, and good luck with the lock.  Posted Friday, November 28, 2014 by RJMc

A. There could also be something inside of the lock. It's common to have spider and insect material in these locks that WD-40 wouldn't budge. Many spiders build a ball of web material around their eggs and many insects create cocoon like structures. The inside of a switchlock body makes a nice secure place for spiders and bugs, and that material will really clog up a lock. I've seen some that had mud caked in them as well. I'd try flushing it out with a stream of water. If there's a lot of organic material in there, you might have to burn it out with a torch or set it in the barbeque for a while and then flush out the ash. Burning the lock will discolor a silver colored lock, but a brass one will survive pretty well if you clean it up and let it re-oxidize for a few years. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Monday, December 1, 2014 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Guys, A burned lock is true to RR practice in cold climates. A fusee was often used to thaw out a frozen lock, thus a big burned spot!!!! When the N&W switched to the American lock with a "soda machine" key, things did not go so well as there is plastic parts in those locks. A lot of switches and call boxes didn't get relocked till crews learned they could't "burn" a lock. GaryP Posted Monday, December 1, 2014 by GaryP

A. Gary: I wonder how many brass locks met their demise that way too. Growing up, on the farm across the road, we cut soft steel rods with fusees just to see if we could do it. They burn at close to 3000°! ..though it only takes a few seconds to thaw a lock, and it took a little time to cut through that rebar; but it did melt them. - Knowing switchmen, I'm sure a few overdid the thaw just to see if the lock would turn cherry red!-- PS, dropped a little of that white-hot dribble they produce down my shoe once; still have a scar on my ankle from that one!!---- .... Red Beard Posted Monday, December 1, 2014 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. I have a B&O signal lock, a Yale padlock style. I took it to a locksmith to see if they had a blank that would fit. The blank would not go in so the locksmith started banging it on the counter. Dirt started pouring out and just coming & coming. I don't know if the lock had been buried at one time but it was truly amazing what was inside that thing! After the cleaning was done a blank did go in, but some of the tumblers were out of alignment. It still makes a great display piece. Posted Tuesday, December 2, 2014 by JN

A. Before you start burning the lock, just try flushing it with high pressure water (a garden hose will do)particularly if you can get the lock open. Compressed air is also good for shoving out obstructions -- but be careful of trash blowing back out into your face or eyes. Water or air should flow thru the shackle openings right on thru the works and out the keyhole if there are no foreign objects or obstructions inside the lock. Also, check the inside of the key barrel to make sure it is not plugged with something that keeps the key from going all the way into the lock; things also get stuck in the keys.  Posted Tuesday, December 2, 2014 by RJMc

A. Hi JV, After reading all the info and advise by the other informed and respected collectors,I am pondering one possible defect that may be a cause of your lock problem. I have had locks over the years that wouldn't open properly because the body of the lock was dented down in slightly on either the front or back side.Does your lock show these symptoms ? If it was,it literally squeezes the key and forces it to work harder to lift the tumblers.The top of the key bit would show a heavy,shiny wear area on it.Just thought I would mention this possible defect. DJB Posted Friday, December 5, 2014 by DJB

 Q2850 Cupper Lamp  Hello I am from the Netherlands and I've found your site while searching possibilities to attempt to identify this great lamp that I bought at local antique shop. Is there any assistance your organization can provide? Its an outstanding piece.. I think its a signal lamp, but I really have no clue.. Its is a Cupper lamp. the diameter is about 30 cm and the depth is about 18 cm. With best regards,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, November 25, 2014 by RM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q2849 Bullseye Lantern  Could anyone who has any model of a bullseye railroad lantern post a picture of the front of it? Preferably showing close detail of what held the bullseye glass piece onto the lantern. Thanks, it'd be much appriciated.  Posted Monday, November 24, 2014 by KO   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Look up "Dietz No. 30 Train Railroad Beacon" Item No. 171570308109 on our favorite(?)auction web site for an inspection lamp that has the bullseye on the front of the globe and its prominently pictured with very good detail. There is nothing obvious holding the bullseye onto the globe mechanically, so either adhesive was applied or some form of melt-on welding was used to fuse the two pieces of glass together.  Posted Saturday, December 6, 2014 by RJMc

A. If you just search for the words above, looking at the photos of the several other items that come up, shows another lantern (Item No. 361012806635 ) , with the bullseye mounted on a bracket inside the globe rather than fastened to the globe surface. That second listing also has very good detailed photos, including the lever arrangement that apparently switched the bulleye in and out of the light path. (These references for your info only; I am not a party on any of these listings.)  Posted Sunday, December 7, 2014 by RJMc

 Q2848 Boston and Albany RR track Boards  Looking for more information on some 'track boards' I saw at an auction a few months ago for someone. Apparently they were used in towers and yards in Boston. Boards I saw were Allston Interlocking, Riverside Interlocking, Berkeley Street, and Huntington Ave. Thanks!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, November 23, 2014 by Joe   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. These are 'model boards' used in interlocking towers; the track diagram shows how the various tracks connect; the track, switch, and signal numbers guided the tower operator to which lever to throw or which handle to pull to accomplish train movements. On these particular model boards, it appears that many of the usual indicator lights were salvaged (no doubt when the board was taken out of service), although a few remain; these showed showed the position of trains and when signals were cleared. The Link is to one of the large number of videos on the web of interlocking towers; this one goes thru a good explanation of the model board and how it was used. (Bypass the first minute or two; the sound of a passing train blocks out most of the audio; the later part is worth it.) All of these functions are still performed today; but over time everything got miniaturized, and finally consolidated into computer screens, even down to touch screen controls to throw switches and clear signals, and often remote-controlled from hundreds of miles away from the actual interlocking.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, November 23, 2014 by RJMc

A. Regarding the indicator lights, what colors were used ? The person who has the boards intends on restoring them with new color indicator lights. Posted Sunday, November 23, 2014 by JoeF

A. As shown in the Marion OH tower video (link in ans. above) the lights centered in the track segment traces were probably white, and were lit (only) when their track segment was occupied by a train. So they lit up in sequence showing the route taken as a train moved thru the interlocking. The lights beside the traces were usually associated with signals, and were lit up green when their signal was cleared to pass a train, then went back to dark as the train passed and the signal went back to stop. As a guess, it looks like someone put just a few of the indicators (the colored lens part is called a 'jewel') back in these boards just for show; they are probably not what was originally in those positions. Looking up 'pilot light indicator jewels' on the web turned up 142 listings. Just be aware that a 'jewel' by itself does not have a light source, although many pilot lights do; and they come in many different sizes and voltages of light bulbs or LED's when they ARE included. In general, older boards used larger indicators; most things got smaller over time. Hobby shops often have these items for modelling use, and they may apply here as well.  Posted Monday, November 24, 2014 by RJMc

 Q2847 Bell ID Needed  Attached please find [see link] a sketch of a steam locomotive train bell my Grandfather collected from a long line of locomotives going into Todd shipyard for scrap in southeast Houston, post war (1947-1950). The bell has been in the family yard ever since. I believe but not sure that the train was a Southern Pacific. How can I find the name and photo of the train this bell came from with the info provided? I hear the 398 drilled into the top of bell might be the engine number.  Posted Saturday, November 22, 2014 by JL  Link 1     Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. There is no guarantee that the numbers are engine numbers. However, checking for SP steam locomotive info on the web shows a number 398 as a 'Ten Wheeler' type owned by SP subsidiary Texas and New Orleans (TNO) (see link). That site does not have any photos of this type of engine.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, November 22, 2014 by RJMc

 Q2846 RR Marking on Table/Sign  I was stripping an 'oddly shaped vintage table', that was in two pieces in a neighbors garage and was being thrown away. I could tell the table top itself was of excellent wood and older than the silly vintage cheap table legs that had been slapped on it. What I was rather amazed to find as shadow mark on the original wood, under six or more layers of paint were the words. R.R Railroad, not PRR. Clearly R.R. And 'above that', the words Congress St as the 'second iteration' of it's life. At least one other word shows in other paint, the word station. Since I found it in Virginia near DC, it was obviously in DC at some point. It's a pity at least six or more times someone redid this old sign. The old hanging holes were filled with very old old plaster maybe, its white grainy and fragile. It's a large oval center with corner edge details. I think both the early signs were black letters, there is an upper and lower black line detail. Partial or complete other words may be Aine Center in all caps, there is a shadow before AINE that might be a letter but I doubt it. It's too close to the edge and would be very off center for the 'balance' of the lettering. It's got no fine or modern joinery. Wood old glue that's dead and screws that look like old handmades. No biscuits, dadoes or even mortise. I don't think but I'll know more after I strip a billion years of dust and oil and schmutz off the back. If anyone can figure out where it came from I'd just like to know. I'm going to leave the shadow marks as I reseal it but there was too much damage in interim years to save the paint. I still live in the DC region so it will be nice to have. Thanks for any information. PS. Congress St. is now Congress ST NW or Southeast. it hasn't been plain old Congress St. for a long time. Thanks.  Posted Saturday, November 22, 2014 by Walkswdog   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It is very difficult to consider this without a photograph; there is a chance someone will recognize this sign or a similar one from old postcards, books,etc. Please include something identifiable in the pic(s) as a size reference. And I am sure that a "Congress Street" existed in many American cities (10 came up in just a 30-second web search, including both Richmond, VA, and Annapolis, MD for just 2 nearby examples) so a DC connection is not certain.  Posted Saturday, November 22, 2014 by RJMc

 Q2845 Unusual Globe Base  Has anyone seen a globe base like this? Is it a reproduction? It looks poorly made, you can see waves in the glass. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, November 20, 2014 by KO   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hi KO,Your globe sure looks like a Canadian tall globe because of its base.I have globes from the CPR,CNR,CGR and GTR and they all have that unique extended base flange.Lets see what other collectors have to say about my hunch. DJB Posted Friday, November 21, 2014 by DJB

 Q2844 No. 1 R.R. Lantern  I have a brasstop, bell bottom lantern that is embossed 'No. 1 R.R.' on the brass top. No other markings are found. The globe, fount, and burner are missing. I am very curious who may have been the maker? It is about 10 inches tall. Any ideas? Thanks,  Posted Thursday, November 20, 2014 by RR   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  It might be Rogers or Howard & Morse, they both made No.1 lanterns but their catalog names are not exactly "No.1 RR". Try to give us an estimate of the height of the globe,it may have been a six inch or a 5&3/8 one. Does it have one or two guard wires? Photos will really help us out here, someone may recognize the profile of the brass top and the pattern of the vent holes. Posted Sunday, November 23, 2014 by KM

A. Hi RR, I have a lantern in my collection from the Dietz Co. and the model is a A-#1,embossed on top of the ventilator dome along with the Dietz circular logo and has double cage wires. This lantern takes a 6-1/4 inch globe which I believe is referred to as a tubular style and also has a Sangster or pinch-type fount with a burner that uses a 15/16ths wick. This was a street railway/interurban lamp that has a red embossed globe with large TMER&LCO lettering. This was a large Milwaukee area electric line. The frame is not RR marked but the pair were obviously together for a long time when purchased at a local auction about 30 years ago. This suggests that your lamp may be an early-model Dietz with its mfrs. markings only present on the globe and fount, which you mention were missing. DJB Posted Thursday, November 27, 2014 by DJB

A. I have sent 3 pictures of the lantern in today [see link]. I estimate the lantern globe would need to be 6 1/4 to 6 1/2 inches tall, with a 3 inch top and 3 1/2 inch base, and a max width of 4 3/8 inches. A dietz 6 inch, 5 3/8, and 6 5/8 inch tuberlar globe were tried and all are too wide to drop into the cage. The lantern has 2 horizontal guard wires, plus top wire. The bail attachment to the frame is rather unusual, as will be seen in the pictures. The base has a 3 inch opening for a font, but may not be original. A bit rough, but a 3 inch pinch pot fits OK. I do have two Dietz 'A No 1' lanterns, which are taller than this lantern, and use a 6 5/8 inch globe. The bell on this lantern is 6 1/4 inches wide. It stands 10 1/4 inches tall. It has a flat steel lid latch soldered to the top, which is 5 1/2 inches wide. Link 1  Posted Sunday, November 30, 2014 by RR

A. I have finally found the globe and fount that came with this lantern when I acquired it in 2011. The globe is tubular and is embossed "Pat May 4, 1869". (Same date as John Irwin's hot blast lantern patent, 89,770) The globe measures 6.5" tall, 3" top fitter, and 3.5" bottom fitter.The globe just fits down inside the wire cage. The fount was a rusty 3" pinch pot, full of candle wax, no markings visible, but is same measuremwnts and fit as a marked Dietz 3" fount with a patent date of "Nov 25, 1890". The bail attachment shown in the pictures, (see link) may be the clue to who made this lantern, if anyone can recognize it.  Posted Saturday, December 6, 2014 by RR

 Q2843 Fixed Globe Lantern Info?  Hi all. I wonder if you would be so kind as to examine these pictures. I have been trying to identify this old girl without success. All searches for fixed globe lanterns lead me to the RR sites. There are no RR markings on the lantern or glass and it's got a Holmes Booth & Hayden Burner. Any help greatly appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, November 19, 2014 by DK   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q2842 Modern Switch Lamp  I picked up this switch mechanism and lamp this weekend. It's going to look great in my model train room. I'm curious as to what railroads use today on switches for nighttime traffic? The small yard in my town has the targets on their switches, but no lamps. I'm assuming the targets are reflective and that's what is used at night. But are there any modern switch lamps used today? If so, I would love to see an image so I can compare 'back then' with 'right now'. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, November 17, 2014 by JP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. For the most part sheet metal flags / targets coated in retroreflective material are all that is used today. Modern locomotive head lights are very bright and the highly reflective coatings on the targets are visible at considerable distance, so in most situations reflective flags are sufficient. Remotely controlled / automatic switches usually have an electric dwarf-style fixed signal that changes color as the switch moves, but the signal does not rotate with the movement of the switch; it simply switches color. There are a rare, few electric switch lamps of the classic spherical or “Diver’s Helmet” style; such as the WRRS No.1880 lamps (see; LINK 1 under Maintenance of Way / Derails { }) still in use in industrial plants where there is no public access (and much less chance of ‘souvenir hunters’ walking off with them). I hear occasional reports of a few electric switch lamps still in railroad service, but have seen no recent photos; ..anyone?? – You have a really fine lamp and switch stand there! That’s quite a find. The round cap and conical stack would date that lamp to between the early 1900s to mid 1920s; so, it’s about a hundred years old! ..wish they still made stuff that would last 100 years! ---- …. Red Beard  Link 1  Posted Monday, November 17, 2014 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. ...when you click on the above LINK, you then need to click on the "Catalog" button on the left side of the home page. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Monday, November 17, 2014 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Thanks for info, Red Beard. I'll have to venture out to some bigger rail yards to see what I can find. I'd like to contrast the past and the present. Unfortunately the lamp on the switch has been electrified. Fount is missing, as well as the wick adjuster, and the peep hole glass. But it does display well. I'm thinking about using stop motion animation to show the switch in action on my webpage.  Posted Tuesday, November 18, 2014 by JP

 Q2841 Adlake Electric Lantern with Kerosene Body?  Did Adlake ever make a lantern like lantern #113 in the attached picture, a regular lantern body with a dry cell and small light bulb? Does anyone have a picture/catalog picture of said lantern if one existed? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, November 16, 2014 by KO   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Going thru all the extensive info and pix in "The RR Lantern - Vol 1" by Barrett shows no such electric lantern by Adlake; there is one by Star Lantern. It is such a simple conversion to make, however, there is nothing to guarantee that it was not done at some time.  Posted Friday, December 12, 2014 by RJMc

A. Some further research shows that both the Handlan and Star "Electric Lantern" conversions of kerosene models were in the 1915 to 1918 time period (but still no Adlakes). Star said they made 'several models' like this but only one is illustrated in Barrett. Embury also made several models that looked like hybrids beteen kerosene types and electrics, with batteries in the bottom, and msde them for quite some time later. But the limit on these was the battery capacity; only a couple of cells could fit in the kerosene-type fount. By the mid-1920's the much larger 4-cell 6-volt square batteries were already becoming RR industry standard (they still are) and were put into the now-standard electric lantern style with the bulbs on one end and the handle on the other. So there was a very limited period in which the kerosene-conversion style would have been made, and probably very few were sold, at least to railroads.  Posted Sunday, December 14, 2014 by RJMc

 Q2840 'CS' Designation on Keys and Locks  I've been collecting locks and keys for over 25 years now, and am wondering about the 'CS' designation that Adlake stamps on some locks and keys. For example on an SP key, some are marked SP CS-4, on a UP roadway and bridge lock it has cast marks which include CS-21. I've seen a CS cast mark on old NP locks as well, and each road has a different number following the 'CS'. What does it stand for? Thanks for any help you can provide.  Posted Saturday, November 15, 2014 by Steve B.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. "Common Standard" An effort to standardize switch bit usage among various departments of the UP and SP during, and for many decades after, E. H. Harriman's control of those entities. The system was used by many of the lines affiliated with those railroads and evidently some that were not. Posted Saturday, November 15, 2014 by MG

A. Thank you MG for answering has always been a mystery to me. I thought it had to do more with a casting number or ??? Thanks for answering! I sure appreciate this website as well, it has assisted me greatly. Steve B. Posted Saturday, November 15, 2014 by Steve B.

A. In the early years of the twentieth century, E. H. Harriman gained control of the Chicago & Alton Railroad, the Union Pacific, the Southern Pacific, the Illinois Central and the Central of Georgia. Harriman recognized that if all his railroads standardized numerous items, it would solve many problems. Shops and stores departments, as well as other departments, would only need to have one standard style of tools, car parts, car & locomotive designs, paint colors, line side building designs and, among other things, padlocks, system wide. This standardization also gave Harriman tremendous volume purchasing power. He could place orders with manufacturers for standardized materials for all of his railroads; this simplified things for Harriman and his suppliers and allowed him to purchase large quantities of standardized materials and thus obtain lower prices from his suppliers (think WalMart). The Harriman Common Standard system (“CS”) was a revolutionary innovation that worked quite well, and the SP and UP each maintained a strict Common Standard program for materials, building design and car and locomotive design after their Court forced separation in 1912. Though no longer tied together, the UP and SP maintained similar Common Standards for decades after their separation; an example would be their fork mount Adlake Switch Lamps with four 4.5 inch lenses. That “CS-21" lock is a classic with a beautifully cast front on the lock (send in a photo of that if you can). I can’t say anything specifically abut the NP item ---- .... Red Beard Posted Saturday, November 15, 2014 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. And thank you too Red Beard for your input! It all makes sense to me now. I've asked other fellas who have collected for years what 'CS' means, nobody could ever come close to answering. Thank you again and happy collecting! Steve B. Posted Saturday, November 15, 2014 by Steve B.

A. Does anybody know when the "Common Standard" period ran, especially when it began? I think the UP used CS-1 locks at least until the 1950s -- why? Posted Monday, December 15, 2014 by RobbM

 Q2839 Lantern ID Needed  I ran across your site recently and hoping you can help me. I have an old, and what was told to me to be a conductor's railroad lantern. The history as I know it, my uncle used this lantern while he worked for the railroad out of or near Lindsay California. He lived and worked out of Lindsay California all his life, retiring from the Lindsay Packing (Lindsay olives you buy today) plant in his 60's after 30-40 years there. He died recently at the age of 92 in 2014. All I know is he used this lamp in the 50's, perhaps 60's, and could have been earlier; 40's? The lantern does not have any markings that I can find. I know it is made of metal as it has some rust on it. I just want to know what it is and perhaps how it was used.... Can you help? I tried the internet and been on several sites.. no luck...   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, November 11, 2014 by JC   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  I checked several books to see if I could help you out on this with no success. The lamp looks to me like it might be a bridge or navigation light and not a trainman's lantern. Does the bail handle have a small loop right at the top of it which could be used to tie it with a rope? Tie down rings in the bail and on the base of a lamp are usually clues that it was meant for marine use. And it is hard to tell how tall the lamp is from the photo, but it looks too tall to be a trainman's lantern.  Posted Saturday, November 15, 2014 by KM

A. Guys, Really???? This is what is left of a cheap import made in the last 20 years and avaiable in every import and junk shop in America. Sorry. No relation to the RR at all. GaryP Posted Saturday, November 15, 2014 by GaryP

A. Cost Plus Imports sold these in the later 1970's. They were cheap and sort of modeled after a British Marine Lantern. Posted Tuesday, December 2, 2014 by GW

 Q2838 Dressel Trolley Marker  I got an unmarked Dressel lantern with a marker bracket wedge on it and a clear globe (I had the globe out in the picture) , and after looking through a Dressel catalog on this website, I found a model very close (had a couple very small differences). It said available with red and green globes. So, my first question is were there any other Dressel models like this this that had clear globes, like an classification lamp on the white lenses signifying 'extra' or something? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, November 11, 2014 by KO   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The marker foot itself was an option that could be added to almost any lantern model and was offered by several different manufacturers. The globes are fully and very easily interchangeable, so anything might have happened. The reason these were 'trolley markers' -- usually with red globes -- was usually for street running, where speeds were slow and visibility was fairly good, and train orders were not used. But the extra train classification light function is safety-critical when using train orders to know when scheduled (or unscheduled) trains have passed, and was usually used on much higher speed running on 'steam' RR's and some interurbans, and lives depended on getting the proper message across as the train passed. A hand lantern used for that purpose would hardly be bright enough to be effective, and would likely be very dangerous to rely on; so I doubt that practice would have been acceptable even tho the lantern was available to hang out there.  Posted Wednesday, November 12, 2014 by RJMc

 Q2837 B&O / GE Pictures  I was recently given three (3) framed pictures of Baltimore and Ohio Railroad GE class LE-1 (number 1), LE-2 (number 6 &7), and OE-1 (number 11). Number 1 was built in 1895, numbers 5 & 6 in 1903, and number 11 at around 1923. All three framed pictures have metal tags on the bottom that say 'GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY, SCHENECTADY, NY.' I have visited the B&O Railroad Historical Society and only have information on the locomotives, and not the whole frames and everything. They said they are probably very rare, and hard to find. I have attached photos:[upper right], [link1], [link2]. Please excuse the flash reflection. There are NO cracks in the glass. The paper on the back of the fames was peeling off (it’s so dry,) so we taped them closed. The interesting thing is that there are four holes in each frame. Two at the top, and two at the bottom. The historical society said that GE probably had them hung up in their offices, and bolted them that way so no one would steal them. Can anyone provide additional information regarding these items? ANY information is appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, November 11, 2014 by TP  Link 1   Link 2     Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q2836 Lock Cleaning  I recently attended the Golden Spike Enterprises Gaithersburg Artifact show and purchased several items including a Brass B&O heart shaped lock that says FRAIM MFG. It has a lot of dirt and grime on it. Normally I do not clean items in my collection, but this one is an exception as it is quite dirty. Would Brasso work or should I use something else? Also, I have a Western Maryland figure eight switch lock from Yale that is also rather dirty to the point of it almost hiding the Yale logo. It is not brass (see picture.) What might be the most safe and effective ways to clean both of them?? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, November 10, 2014 by Tommy   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I've been in the same situation myself. When I was young and foolish I took brass to an older brass lock to 'improve it's appearance'. I regretted it after removing all of the patina, as well as the value of the piece. For older brass locks I don't use brass, but use kerosene on an old rag or cloth. This removes the dirt, grease and grime but leaves the patina. You can scrub around where the railroad initials are stamped and make them more readable. For the steel locks, the same applies. You can use fine steel wool, kerosene or wf-40 and very LIGHTLY touch them up a bit removing rust and grime and being careful not to bring the steel up to a high polish. Don't use a wire wheel. Also don't use a buffing wheel on your brass locks, you have to do this by hand- carefully. Happy collecting! Steve B. Posted Thursday, November 13, 2014 by Steve B.

A. I said brass but should be 'BRASSO', stupid auto correct on these computers, how dare they think they are smarter than we are and to correct us! Steve B Posted Thursday, November 13, 2014 by Steve B.

A. Some folks say to leave the patina on brass locks. I personally like them shiny. And so far I haven't seen cleaning affect the value of a lock. If anything, it seems to generate more interest from potential buyers. I know with some stuff you're supposed to leave it alone, like coins and furniture. I don't think that's the case as much with railroad stuff.  Posted Thursday, November 13, 2014 by JP

 Q2835 C.T.H.& S. Tall globe Handlan  I got this lantern a while back, it is a tall globe Handlan made for the Chicago, Terre Haute & Southeastern Railroad (I believe). The question has to do with paint. It was painted flat black, and while stripping the black paint on the lantern hood/curved part that has railroad marking(dont know exactly what you call it) was painted green, as the picture shows. At first i figured the whole lantern might've been painted green, but found no other traces but on the hood. So my question is, did the cth&s possibly paint the hood the color of the globe similar to what nycs did with some of their red lanterns? Or is it more likely the railroader that used it just painted it that way to distinguish it from other people's lanterns? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, November 9, 2014   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I have seen and owned a number of CTH&SRy lanterns over the years and those that had paint were clearly painted after they left railroad property. It is interesting to note that the "Southeastern", as it was known after the Milwaukee Road acquired the line, ordered lanterns from both Handlan and Adams & Westlake. Handlan stamped its lanterns CTH&SRY while A.& W. stamped theirs CTH&SERy. CTH&SRY Handlans can be found with either drop in fonts or twist off fonts. Posted Sunday, November 9, 2014 by Albert

A. Yes, I know it could've been painted after it was sold for non railroad use, the thing is, I believe the green was painted by the railroad or railroad personnel because the green was only on that one spot, like New York Central did to some of their red lanterns.  Posted Sunday, November 9, 2014 by KO

A. Red paint on the brim of Handlan short globe New York Central lanterns was applied at the factory. It is conceivable that a brakeman or other employee with too much time on his hands and access to green paint decided to personalize his lantern. There is no operational reason for doing so. Posted Sunday, November 9, 2014 by Albert

A. I specialize in collecting memorabilia from the Milwaukee Road and its Indiana predecessors and am curious to know if the globe that came with your CTH&SRY is marked? Also, does your lantern have a drop in font or one that twists off? Thank you and best wishes.  Posted Sunday, November 9, 2014 by Joe

A. I actually have 2 C.T.H.&Se. lanterns that I got from the same person. They're both tall globe handlans with twist off founts and are pretty much identical, but the chimneys are different. The one not pictured has a flat topped chimney that says handlan st. Louis USA on the top. The one pictured has a blank globe, the one not pictured that has the flat top says C T H & SE Ry. (Exactly as typed). However, it says C.T.H.&S.Ry on the brim of the same lantern. Posted Sunday, November 9, 2014 by KHO

A. Albert, I guess I just figured NYCS's red paint was an in-shop modification, because my NYCS engine lantern's red paint definitely doesn't look factory, it looks very much brushed on without any sort of masking. Is there a reason for the red paint on NYCS lanterns? Was all of the colors? I thought I remembered seeing a picture of a nicely restored green globe lantern with a green brim/hood/whatever the proper name is before. Link 1  Posted Monday, November 10, 2014 by KO

A. Great find! The dome top lantern would be older than the one with a flat top and obviously the globes are interchangeable. Posted Monday, November 10, 2014 by Joe

A. Believe it or not Handlan applied the red paint to the brim of NYCS short globe lanterns, which was an available option published on later Handlan catalogs. As discussed in the previous Q&A below, Handlan 3 1/4" short globe lanterns were not well made and factory quality control was marginal at best. In theory the red paint on the brim of the lid indicated a red globe for flagging, but once they were placed into service any globe color have found its way into such a lantern frame. Posted Tuesday, November 11, 2014 by Albert

A. Yes,, Handalin short globe lanterns were painted silver unless requested differently by the customer. The tall globe lanterns were galvanized or in some cases tin was used. Back then only two colors of paints were heat proof, silver and black. Silver was used mainly on radiators, steam pipes and black for stoves. For a exact match use engine block spray paint in aluminium or cast aluminium color. I find the regular aluminium color is a exact match. These paints are good to 600 degrees and are very fast drying synthetic lacquers. Other colors were not heat proof. Back then, these paints were not available on the commercial market in the retail hardware stores. Keith Posted Friday, November 14, 2014 by Keith

 Q2834 Matching Handlan Silver Paint  Most, if not all, HANDLAN short globe lanterns were factory spray painted silver. Has anyone found anything close to the original finish that is available in a spray can today? Thanks,  Posted Friday, November 7, 2014 by Albert   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. They weren't spray painted silver. They were galvanized. If you want to shell out more money than you bought the lantern for, you can have them refinished. When I cleaned up both my Pennsylvania rr handlans, I just tried to save as much as the original finish as possible, then sprayed the inside of the chimney with high temp. paint. (I volunteer at a rr museum so I use my lanterns often, so wanted to protect them as much as I could). I've read about people cleaning all the rust off then clear coating them, and that works... if you dont fire them/dont fire them often. Hope that helps.  Posted Sunday, November 9, 2014 by KHO

A. I disagree. Handlan short globe lanterns were in fact painted silver and were not galvanized like ADLAKE KERO models. If you put a barn fresh Handlan short globe lantern into a hot bucket of lye the water turns silver. That does not happen with any other hand lantern.  Posted Sunday, November 9, 2014 by Albert

A. Interesting. My pennsylvania lanterns look exactly like adlake galvanizing. Do you have a picture? It'd be interesting to see. I don't have access to lye, but the finish sure didn't come off with my lacquer thinner process, like it should if it was painted.  Posted Sunday, November 9, 2014 by KHO

A. Don't have a photo handy to post, but you can find examples on eBay. Handlan 5 3/8" tall globe lanterns seem to have been better made than later short globe models and definitely were not factory painted. Compared to short globe lanterns of other major manufacturers Handlans do not hold up as well as a rule, which I suspect is attributable the use of lower quality metals and material in general.  Posted Sunday, November 9, 2014 by Albert

A. Lye will remove the zinc galvanizing from the lantern. Google "How to remove galvanizing" or "Will lye remove galvanizing"? and lye is mentioned among other methods if you read the answers etc.. I don't believe Handlan painted their short globe RR lanterns silver.  Posted Sunday, November 9, 2014 by JK

A. When I get home, I'll post a picture of my short globe handlans. I totally agree with you about how late handlans were made, they're good for a shelf, but wouldn't ever use one for very long, because of the quality, and inabilityto properly clean the globe retainer of build-up (on the fdiamond shaped globe ones at least). Posted Sunday, November 9, 2014 by KHO

A. The following is a link to an excellent example on eBay that has very clear pictures, which you may have to copy and paste in order to view: Posted Sunday, November 9, 2014 by Albert

A. As I examine my collection, it looks like the slightly taller, but still considered short, diamond shaped globes were (just an inference through my collection) galvanized, while the 3 1/4 in. globe lanterns were painted a silvery finish. Tomorrow I'll go out to the paint cabinet (we have many, many different colors) and try to find something that matches and where to buy it, if you haven't found a good replacement yet. Link 1  Posted Monday, November 10, 2014 by KO

A. KO, Any help you can lend matching the silver finish on Handlan # 1/4" lanterns will be very much appreciated. Posted Tuesday, November 11, 2014 by Albert

A. The different lantern manufacturers sold many different lines of lanterns over time. And barn lanterns were often painted at the factory; as were RR marker lamps. So the lantern factories usually had the in-house ability to use almost any finish a customer wanted, or that the factory chose to use for their own reasons (cheaper, more available.) And RR's are/were notorious for ordering things their own way, and that also changed over time, depending on who was ordering that week. And things such as material availability (WWII restrictions, for just one example) could change all of the specs almost overnite. Bottom line, regarding lanterns, and particularly regarding factory finishes: I would never say 'It NEVER happened' and I would also never say 'It ALWAYS happened....' because over time, and for different customers, things changed quite a bit. Posted Wednesday, November 12, 2014 by RJMc

A. Oops, read answer directly above your question. I used the wrong column. Keith Posted Friday, November 14, 2014 by Keith

A. Keith: Thank you for the sharing your information with us. Is Engine Block aluminum or cast aluminum available in a spray can? If so, can you recommend a make that you feel is best? I only have on lantern to restore.  Posted Friday, November 14, 2014 by Albert

A. Albert, Use Dupli-Color engine enamel, DE1615, Aluminium. This is available only in spray and is good to 500F degrees. This is a exact match to Handlan's silver. It is available at all auto parts stores or it can be ordered on line. I would also change the bail if the one that is on your lantern looks bad. Handlans bails were usually very shody and looked like a 10 year old made them out of coat hangers. (They used child labor). Clean the lantern completely before spraying. Stay away completely from any harsh chemicals. Soap and hot water with oooo furniture grade steel wool. Do not use hardware store steel wool! It scratches and scrapes the metal and is not a acceptable archive cleaning material. Thank you Keith.  Posted Sunday, November 16, 2014 by Keith

A. Keith: Thanks so much for the great information. Have you found Dupli-Color in black to be equally good for restoring switch & marker lamps?  Posted Sunday, November 16, 2014 by Albert