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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:

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Email a question to us.. 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:

 Q2748 Restoring Diesel Loco Builder Plates  I have a small diesel locomotive builder plate collection. Although I generally like to keep the plates in their 'as used' condition, I have a couple EMD stainless steel plates that have pretty much lost all their paint and I'd like to restore them to as close to new as reasonably possible. I think it will be nice to display them alongside their road/rail worn counterparts. Unfortunately, although I'm mechanically inclined, I'm not artistically inclined. Accordingly, I'm wondering if there is a technique that isn't as hard as I image for restoring the color to these plates - For instance, someone suggested there were special ink pens/magic markers that could be purchased to replicate the coloring on the EMD plates. However, I've never seen them. I'm open to any suggestions and thoughts. Thanks!  Posted Wednesday, April 16, 2014 by DB in La Grange, IL   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q2747 Locomotive Headlight?  I picked this up, but am unsure if it is a locomotive headlight or not. It is 'portable' in the sense it has a handle, but it very heavy. It has a hook on the back to hang it with two additional safety chains. It is about 28 in. tall and the glass is about 14 in. wide. The insides appear original. I don't see any name on it, but the rear bracket to hang it has SAF-E90 or something similar on it. Any help is appreciated! Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, April 15, 2014 by John   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This looks to be the kind of light the Europeans had sitting on their steam locomotive pilot decks. Each different country had a somewhat different style; sometimes they used only one, sometimes two, and sometimes also had a high-mounted or centered headlight also. The links show models with similar lights, if not identical, on German and French locos. Other places in the world followed European practices, which considerably widens where yours might have come from.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Wednesday, April 16, 2014 by RJMc

A. It's a French "fanal" or loco headlamp. They were used in pairs, attached to either side of the front of the locomotive, above the "buffers". As RJMc says, it may also have been used in a country which followed French railway practice, such as one of the former French colonies in Africa or South-East Asia. Posted Wednesday, April 16, 2014 by JAJ

 Q2746 Railroad Marked Wrench  I'd like to know if the wrench is marked with a railroad company name? Its a verona-woodings manufactured wrench with these letters, A S H R R R. I suspect it's connected to the Ashland by the research i've been doing. Thank u 4 any help.  Posted Sunday, April 13, 2014 by wrenchguy   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q2745 Bell ID Needed  I have a bell from steam locomotive, brass portion is 13 in. tall, 161/2 in. across bottom. Stamped in top of brass 8 42 E28. Top iron yoke 24199 Iron base L6959 and 211908. Has evidence of having had automatic ringer. Has manual arm for ringing. Any information greatly appreciated.  Posted Saturday, April 12, 2014 by DC   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q2744 UP Locks  I am wondering if anyone can tell me how the following UP RR locks were used on that railroad. The names of the locks speak for themselves, but were these switch locks and applied to switch stands or were they used in some other way? (1) UP RR road and bridge department; (2) UP RR motive power and car; (3) UP RR tool rack. Thanks, any info you can provide is appreciated.  Posted Friday, April 11, 2014 by Steve B.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. These were not used as switch locks. I never saw the Motive Power & Car Locks nor the Tool Rack ones in service, so I've wondered about their exact use too. The Road and Bridge ones were used by that department to secure tool sheds, hand car sheds and to chain hand car trailers to the rail on those little short perpendicular parking tracks next to sheds. --- I really wish this had been posted a week and a half ago so I could have gone on at length about how they used to chain up and lock the river bridges at night to keep iron mongers from stealing them; ...ahem ;) ---- .... Red Beard Posted Friday, April 11, 2014 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

 Q2743 Lamp ID Needed  We just recently receive an old railroad lamp donation for our future museum in Puerto Rico and need help identifying it. Any help will be welcome, Thanks!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, April 8, 2014 by JC   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  This is not a railroad lantern, it is a buggy or wagon lantern. And it might not be very old, Dietz made lanterns similar to this up into the 1950's or 60's. See the link for photos of a Dietz Little Wizard Wagon lantern. My grandparents lived in Geauga County, OH and there is a large Amish community there. When we visited we saw lanterns like this on the Amish horse drawn buggies up into the 1960's. Eventually state laws forced them to update their lighting to protect them from the high speed auto traffic.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, April 8, 2014 by KM

A. Thank you very much for the information. I found that they were made from 1938 to 1950 by different companies with different classes. I will start my research in the company who made this one. Thanks again! you guys are great. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, April 8, 2014 by juliocolon1

 Q2742 Lamp ID Needed  I recently found a stash of interesting old railroad lanterns at the Salvation Army, and I brought home the one with the most interesting markings. After looking around online, I haven't been able to find any pictures of a lantern quite like it, so I was hoping you might be able to give me a little more information about it. It has a label that's been painted over, and I can't make out anything useful. There's a B, and maybe a 5... I can't find any other manufacturers marks. The handwritten lettering around the top reads L.C. No. 21B and C.PWI.BG,SBT. From that, I've come up with a theory that it might be a British-made lantern used on the Indian Railway, but that's a guess. (PWI being Permanent Way Inspector, LC being level crossing--that's in one of their manuals, but not sure how common that lingo is.) There are two little wooden handles, painted red and green, that slide curved, colored glass panels across the front. The innards and base are missing, so no actual lamp, just the body. It's fairly rusty, but all the moving parts work. Someone recently replaced the front glass with new, and secured it with a strip of crimped metal. So any info on what it was used for, and by whom, and when, and where it was made, would be greatly appreciated! Or any leads would be great. Thank you so much!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, April 8, 2014 by LB   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I think that your detective work is generally correct. This type of lamp was used for lighting and hand-signalling purposes in Britain, the colonies and other countries which used British railway practice. In most cases the central drum, fitted with red, green and clear aspects, is turned by twisting the top handle, but two British railway companies, the Great Eastern and, to a lesser extent the Great Central, used a design, similar to your example, where the aspects are changed by moving side handles. The other area where this arrangement was used was India and, interestingly, lamps of the same type as your's appear fairly frequently on Ebay, the sellers usually being from India. I suspect that your lamp was actually made in India, where there has always been a thriving sheet-metal industry. The terms "Permanent Way Inspector" (Track Inspector) and "Level Crossing" (Grade Crossing) are the normal terms used on British and Indian railways.  Posted Thursday, April 10, 2014 by JAJ

 Q2741 Loco Headlight Info Needed  What ever I can find out about this locomotive head light will be much appreciated. The only markings that I can find saying Chicago & Syracuse. I think it could be made by the Steam Gauge & Lantern Co. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, April 7, 2014 by RHB   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. In "Lanterns That Lit Our World" (book one) on page 120 Anthony Hobson shows some Dietz trolley and locomotive headlights. The No.560 streetcar light looks just like yours, but Hobson says it was only 8" or 10" high. He also notes that the Dietz headlights came in many sizes with 14",16",18",20" or 23" lenses. While Dietz was located in Syracuse they also maintained a Chicago office. Steam Gauge was located In Rochester until 1888 when they had a catastrophic fire in their plant. They relocated to Syracuse and Dietz bought them out in 1897(after the disastrous fire destroyed the Dietz plant in NYC). I have also seen an ad from 1892 that lists Steam Gauge in Syracuse and Chicago. Is there any marking on the burner or the wick knob? If it is a Plume and Atwood you may be able to date that by the style of the wick knob. Remember that he burner may have been updated at some point in the life of this lamp. Dietz used some of Steam Gauge's patterns after they bought out the company in 1897 so this could resemble a Steam Gauge lamp or it may be a Dietz original. Hobson does not show any Steam Gauge headlights to compare it to.  Posted Monday, April 7, 2014 by KM

A. The book Lake Shore Electric Railway Story by Harwood and Korach has 5 or 6 clear photos showing headlights very similar to this in use in Ohio on LSE and its predecessors between about 1900 and 1910. In these pix it is clear the headlights were quite large, probably two or three feet high, consistent with the much larger lens sizes listed above. It is likely similar practices occurred on many trolley lines. The way your headlight is hung with hooks over a metal strap was also characteristic of interurban and streetcar use, where the headlights were portable and often added and removed, sometimes every day, possibly only added for night running and otherwise not used, and often moved from one end of the car to the other. The strap hanging method was practical for the interurbans because the car front had a broad flat surface to hang them against, unlike most steam locomotive front ends where a shelf had to be installed for a headlight to sit on. The LSE pix show them on both passenger trolleys and work equipment (see link.)  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, April 9, 2014 by RJMc

A.  See Q2076 in the Archives for information on a Star or Glazier oli fired headlight. Posted Wednesday, April 9, 2014 by KM

 Q2740 Dietz Vesta Questions  Do you know why Dietz Vesta's bail wire has an indentation? Some say it is for the thumb during signaling, others for a wall hook. Also do you know why the wire cage at the bottom of the Vesta is off center, one leg is short the other side long? Many Thanks!  Posted Saturday, April 5, 2014 by DB   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It's for the thumb. Can't be for hanging as its not centered and it's also indented the wrong way for hanging. Posted Saturday, April 5, 2014 by JL

 Q2739 Switch Lamp Wiring  I recently purchased a pair of A&W SW-35 switch lamps. Upon reading page 90 of THE ENCYCLOPEDIA it seems these lamps had a sensor that would shut the lamp off during daylight hours to conserve the battery...can anyone look at the picture and tell me where the 3 wires coming from the sensor should be hooked? There is a white , red, and black wire....the 2 wires already attached come from the positive and negative on the battery..I appreciate any help...thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, April 4, 2014 by JM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hi JM,Regardless if this other component is a light sensor or a resistor-which I believe it is-both items would be broke thru one of the 2 leads coming from the battery source.Just take one of the leads off the lamp socket post,either one OK,connect it to one of the leads from the component,and take the other wire from the component and re-connect it to the lamp socket terminal.In other words,in series with one of the lamp battery feed wires.If that mystery component is bad or electrically open,and the lamp won't light,its either that component or a bad bulb.Do you follow my tips ? DJB Sig.Dep't retired. Posted Sunday, April 6, 2014 by DJB

A. Hello JM and DJB: DJB's comments on the wires from the component refer to the red and black wires. The white wire from the component (likely a sensor, since it does have three wires) needs to be connected to the second wire feeding the bulb, to provide the second side of the circuit powering the sensor itself. I do not know if this type of three-lead photocell sensor will work on DC; they are more usually seen on AC circuits such as household stuff. If this sensor is/was set up for DC, polarity may be important. Also, based on household experience with my switchlight in the front yard, these sensors are among the first things to fail (other than the bulbs themselves) and they may fail open (bulb never lights) or shorted (bulb always lights.) And if you got the sensor with the light, with the leads cut off like that, its probably because the sensor failed and somebody just bypassed it to leave the lamp always lit. If you refit the lamp to run on household current (120 AC) anyway, the photo sensors are commonly available at the home repair stores for a few bucks, and come with a circuit diagram, but most of those will not intended for DC and the lower voltages usually used on switchlights. Also you will likely have to change the bulb socket if you want to use house current.  Posted Sunday, April 6, 2014 by RJMc

A. After reading RJMc's reply,I had to look really hard to see the third wire which was black and in the shaded area of the pix.Its hard to say if the light sensor was used on AC or DC but the vast majority of Railroad signal equipment used DC.Adding to what he said,try hooking the white wire to the left post of the lamp socket,along with the existing incoming wire and remove the existing wire off the right post of the lamp socket,connect it to the black wire of the sensor and take the red wire from the sensor and connect it back onto the right post of the lamp socket. This may or may not work but give it a try.The RR may have disconnected the sensor to burn the lamp continuously for some reason.As for the bulb,you can readily find a bayonet- based 120 volt bulb commonly used in sewing machine lights,which will fit exactly and allow you to use the original heavy-duty socket.It will light your lamp nicely and save you considerable work and some expense.I do agree with RJMc when he said that the sensor may be faulty but give it a try.If you still need to buy a new 120 v light sensor,then the bulb I mentioned will work with the same socket.Be sure to match the bulb voltages to whatever incoming voltage you choose to use.I have those sewing machine bulbs in a couple of my former battery operated lamps and they work well.DJB Posted Sunday, April 6, 2014 by DJB

A. That hint about using 120V sewing machine bulbs is a very good one--I had never run across that type of bulb before. Another 'gotcha' in wiring these things: those nuts and studs on the socket connections may LOOK like 1/4" x 20 (standard coarse thread) or 1/4" x 28 (standard fine thread) but they are probably 1/4" x 24, which happens to be an AAR standard thread used by almost nobody else in US industry today....and regular nuts will not work on those studs. The RR's standardized on 1/4 x 24 around 1920 or so, when it was more commonly used, and have used it ever since for electrical studs in all kinds of RR applications. I first ran into the thread issue when trying to rewire a locomotive Mars light for example.  Posted Sunday, April 6, 2014 by RJMc

A. Thanks for all the tips...I will give them a try and let you guys know what happens...thanks Posted Sunday, April 6, 2014 by jerry

A. I did find out that the sensor was mentioned in an adlake bulletin and it was called "SOLARITE"...don't know if this jogs anyone's memory or not...I just got a battery in so will be trying all of the suggestions given here soon. Posted Tuesday, April 15, 2014 by jerry

A. Hi Jerry, Did that light sensor you refer to from the Adlake bulletin,mention the operating voltage and if AC or DC ? I would guess it required a voltage below 24 volts because railroad's were also cautious about shock hazards not only to the trainmen but to the signal maintenance people and the public to a lesser extent.Almost all of their signal equipment was backed up by standby batteries and rectifiers and that's why I suspect it was low voltage.If these lamps were in a yard they were probably fed by underground cable to a central power supply but if out in an obscure location,probably battery powered. A good source of DC low voltage for testing or operating these lamps and old signal equipment is right out in your garage,on the shelf,in the form of your portable automobile battery charger...they usually provide either 6 or 12 volts DC and up to 30 amps.Plenty for your purposes,so a battery is really unnecessary. DJB Posted Wednesday, April 16, 2014 by DJB

 Q2738 Speaking of Ballast....  Besides being a RR enthusiast, Iím also a rockhound. The Norfolk Southern through northern Indiana, uses a rather colorful stone that is loaded with mica of various shades. I know itís a long shot but does anyone know the region where this is coming from?  Posted Monday, March 31, 2014 by TE   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. TE,I live in western VA. and for years the N&W used a local blue limestone from the Mosheim Formation. In the 80's they began using a metamorphic stone as you describe loaded with mica, either a schist or gneiss. This ballast varies in shades of green to almost black. The piedmont regions of VA and NC are loaded with this type of stone.(just east of Roanoke, VA.) I suspect the stone is from this area. I am only guessing. I am a rock hound too, so I noticed the change over when it occurred. Also the "mica" ballast stones are usually somewhat oblong almost layered while the previous limestone was roughly rounded. Hope this helps. GaryP Posted Tuesday, April 1, 2014 by GaryP

A. TE, Gary again, I find it odd that the NS would ship ballast that far. Who knows? RR companies do strang now. GaryP Posted Tuesday, April 1, 2014 by GaryP

A. Gary....you hit everything right on the head in your descriptions. Thanx a bunch. I have not been in that particular area collecting so I am not familiar with the nature of that geology. Thanx again. te Posted Tuesday, April 1, 2014 by TE

 Q2737 Restored Lamp --#2701 Follow-Up  Hello everyone...Just finished restoration of my Adams and Westlake 1166 1/2 'WINGED' switch lamp. Sorry Red Beard but when I tried cleaning, it didnít clean up to my liking!!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, March 30, 2014 by JM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Looks really good! ..Please send in several MORE photos showing how it comes apart; that is a very interesting piece. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Sunday, March 30, 2014 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. It will be on ebay at 9 pm est this evening where I have detailed pictures...I don't know how to put the link to it here but auction is titled A&W 1166 1/2 winged lantern. Posted Sunday, March 30, 2014 by jerry

A. can refer to question 2701 to see the unrestored version. Posted Sunday, March 30, 2014 by jerry

A. Jerry, what paint did you use? That yellow & green look pretty accurate. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Sunday, March 30, 2014 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Jerry, regarding that oil pot that has to be taken out through the bottom of the lamp: Couple of ideas; It may have started out with a removeable fount and have been retro fitted with the larger round one for use out in some more remote area so the lamp tender didn't have to make his rounds as often. Labor was cheap back then too, the railroad may have wanted a large capacity pot and didn't care about the labor cost for the occasional removal vs. economy of having to fill less often. - or - Some post-railroad owner may have needed a pot and that's all he could find so he modified the lamp. Remember, before eBay, lamp parts were very hard to find. Back in the '70s I tried to cast my own lenses out of hobby resin as I could find none for sale. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Sunday, March 30, 2014 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. The paint I used on the day targets is: YELLOW...Valspar gloss gold abundance # 85010 GREEN... Rustoleum spruce green # 7737 Got both from Lowe's. Posted Monday, March 31, 2014 by jerry

A. You are not supposed to list items for sale on this site - either directly or through ebay Posted Tuesday, April 1, 2014 by BK

A. Someone has bid 19 times on it...lol.....Nothing like bidding once and only the max amount your willing to pay for it. Posted Thursday, April 3, 2014 by JL

 Q2736 Bell Info Needed  I have recently acquired a large brass bell with 6lc186 stamped in the cradle arm and was looking for some info on it.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, March 30, 2014 by Shady   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  We haven't been ignoring this question, it is just very hard to identify bells unless they were marked somehow when the railroad removed them during repairs. The base on this bell appears to be half round or is that just the angle of the photo? 61c186 is probably a casting number. How big is the bell measured at the mouth of it? Are there bolt holes in the base of the cradle?  Posted Friday, April 11, 2014 by KM

A. The bell 17" in diameter, it is 13" high, the base is round and has 2bolt holes in it, the bell is brass, the number on the cradle is 6lc 186, the piece that the clapper hooks to has viloco-Chicago stamped in it. Thanks for any info.  Posted Monday, April 14, 2014 by Bm

 Q2735 Mar Signal Light  I am wondering if anyone can tell me anything about this, if it was from a train etc. I have attached photos and also have a video of it in action [see link]. I know nothing about it other than what it says on the motor. Thanks!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, March 28, 2014 by CS  Link 1     Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  This light was probably used on cabooses or the rear car of a passenger train. There may have been a bracket that allowed it to hang over a railing that is missing from it now. The label on the motor in it looks more recent, it has orange printing on it. Mars Signal Light Co. was founded by a Chicago firefighter named Jerry Kennelly in the 1930's. He had financial support from Frank Mars and his wife Ethel, of Mars Candy Co. So the origin of "The Light From Mars" is related to the candy company. Kennelly noticed that when he drove fire trucks if he moved the cowl mounted spotlights it got the oncoming drivers attention. He developed mechanical motor driven lights that accomplished this. During development Frank Mars along with his mechanical folks had some of the parts made at the candy company. The link is from Trainweb, and has a short history of Mars Signal Light and Pyle National. Pyle National also made moving lights for railroad use under the name Gyralite. Mars Signal Light is still in business and was bought out by Trippe Light Co., they are now known as Tri Light Mars. They still sell warning lights for emergency vehicles that use the figure 8 pattern. Link 1  Posted Saturday, March 29, 2014 by KM

A. This style of single-light Mars light was often hung on the end doors of Budd Rail Diesel Cars (RDC's). Another possibility was it was set into the nose of a diesel to provide warning to oncoming trains if the train went into emergency braking. The link is a 15 minute video about the original introduction of RDC's; amount 10:55 into the video there are very clear views of a Western Pacific single RDC running as a train, with a Mars light hung on each end; the front one is almost certainly clear, for grade crossing warning, and the rear one is red. These are the older style, larger Mars lights, but I believe yours was probably used the same way. The yellow paint is a clue to where it was likely used; that particular yellow color looks to me like the way Via Rail Canada painted their RDC car ends. An additional clue to how this light was used will be the motor voltage; they were typically either 12 Volt DC (most often used on cabooses) or 32 VDC, 72 VDC, or possibly 110 VDC. What voltage is shown on the motor label? And the correct lamp bulb to be used in it is discussed in prior Q 978 here on the Q&A Board; it will be a PAR56 sealed beam lamp. You are missing the lamp retainer ring, which goes over the front face of the sealed-beam lamp and has two spring clips which go under the hooks to hold the lamp in place. Q 978 discusses several options for bulbs you could use in this light. Having a tightly focussed sealed beam bulb will make the flashing figure-8 effect even more striking.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, March 29, 2014 by RJMc

A. Thank you for all the information, I have posted a link below with more photos, the motor is a 12 volt. It does appear to be missing something in regards to the reflector which appears now to be a piece of cardboard with reflective sticky material like aluminum foil.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, March 30, 2014 by CS

 Q2734 Ballast Color  Does anyone know the color of ballast that the ATSF used west of Chicago in the 1950's / 1960's. Was it white, tan, gray, red, etc.??????  Posted Friday, March 28, 2014 by DCG   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. There will be no one answer to that question. Having good ballast is critical to many aspects of the track, including how hard it is to build originally; how hard it is to maintain; how often it has to be maintained, and accordingly, how much all that costs. So 'what is good ballast' is heatedly argued, and always has been, by RR track maintenance officials. RR's always try to acquire reasonable ballast as close to the point of installation as possible, to minimize their transport costs. All of this will mean that on a system the size of the Santa Fe, many different ballast sources were used, probably based on the preferences, prejudices, and decisions of different regional track engineers, and therefore many different colors would have shown in the track. For just one example, the Colorado Fuel & Iron (CF&I) steel mill at Pueblo, CO, produced a lot of slag which was readily and cheaply available to the RR's and was used a lot for ballast. Because of its mineral content, that slag is multi-colored....If you have a specific area of the ATSF in mind, I recommend going to Google Images and consulting historical ATSF pictures as the quickest way to get more relevant, specific info.  Posted Saturday, March 29, 2014 by RJMc

A. Speaking of ballast....besides being a RR enthusiast, Iím also a rockhound. The Norfolk Southern through northern Indiana, uses a rather colorful stone that is loaded with mica of various shades. I know itís a long shot but does anyone know the region where this is coming from? Posted Sunday, March 30, 2014 by TE

A. Info: the NS Q & A is now Q 2738. As mentioned above many RR's used steel mill blast furnace slag because it was readily available,the RR lines already went right to the steel mills to pick it up, and it was cheap. So I do not know about the ATSF specifically. But close to Chicago, dark grey slag from the Gary, IN steel mills would have been one of their available choices.  Posted Friday, April 4, 2014 by RJMc

 Q2733 UP Plate  I have an 11 inch Buffalo China NY plate marked for the Union Pacific. Can you tell me anything about it? I cannot find any info.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, March 25, 2014 by PA   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q2732  NYCS Switch Key  i have had this key for ten years i can't find a anther key like it all the nycs keys i have seen the teeth are on the other side and are a different pattern i even asking a former nyc employ that lives near me he does not remember seeing a key like this that could mean it's before 1968 pictures are attach to email any information would be appreciated thanks   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, March 23, 2014   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is more hearsay than documented fact, but I remember having a similar key and being told it was for a cripple track lock. Also saw a few similar NOS keys and locks marked PC RR that a railroader had at a local flea market and he said the same thing about those as well. If true, I would guess these keys were pretty much just for car knockers. Hopefully someone here will know for sure. NYC also had keys with the additional stamping of TH. I heard those were for Tool Houses, but again, just hearsay. Posted Monday, March 24, 2014 by JFR

 Q2731 KCW&NW RR Brass M.M. Buck lock  Do you have anything identifying old brass locks like I have in the subject line? Thanks.  Posted Sunday, March 23, 2014 by Kristin   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  The Railroad Names Database shows this as Kansas City, Wyandotte and Northwestern. The database can be found elsewhere on the Railroadiana site, see the link. Link 1  Posted Monday, March 24, 2014 by KM

A. Bill Edson's Railroad Names book says KCW&NW (full name as listed in above A.) was around from 1886 to 1895 and ended up as part of Missouri Pacific.  Posted Monday, March 24, 2014 by RJMc

 Q2730 Dietz Champion Steel Railroad Lantern  Recently I bought this lantern. I believe it was once used on an automobile or a horse drawn carriage (I think). It is a Dietz Champion steel lantern side mount. My question is about its finish. Is it original or was it refinished? What would it have looked like new? Also, this type of lantern has a lot of similarities to a railroad lantern from that era. Any ideas from the group?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, March 20, 2014 by JPH   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This was an auto lamp and was originly black Posted Friday, March 21, 2014 by bk

A. WT Kirkman's web site about all things Dietz describes it as the Champion Side Light - "Largest and finest of Dietz Motor Truck Lamps." Link 1 goes to the Dietz Lantern Compendium.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, March 25, 2014 by JEM

 Q2729 RR Whiskey Miniature  Hi guys, I verify the authenticity of this miniature. I got it from a whiskey miniature bottles collectors and couple minutes after opening the package the label simply fell off the bottle, revealing this map (see picture). Also, the label is not the typical suede-feeling label, but more of a cardboard thicker label. It does have the front regular Old Forester label and the tax stamp on the cap says 1948. I do know that Old Forester came out with other colorful 'railroad miniatures' but for airline companies such as TWA and Eastern. Also, pay attention to the label's edges: almost feels like someone did a really bad cutting work here. Take another look at that map on the bottle: looks pretty incomplete to me. I've been collecting whiskey minis for almost 18 years and I have a bunch of Old Forester railroad miniatures but NEVER came across this one. Would love to hear your opinions about it. Thanks a million.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, March 20, 2014 by Ro   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  I have little experience with whiskey or with these miniatures but here is a theory anyway. Could someone have cut up a B&O timetable that had that emblem and map on it and glue them to the bottle? The B&O did use a very similar emblem for a long time during the 50's and sixties on their passenger schedules. I can't tell if that is the same size as the one from the schedules though. I am looking at one timetable cover from 1958 which has the same emblem, but the colors are reversed, it has a white background and blue lettering. That photo of the 1958 timetable is available at the National Association of Timetable Collectors website, see link one. Sorry I can't link directly to it, but you can look it up in their list.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, March 23, 2014 by KM

A. Because the curved lettering is centered around the same point on both the front and back sides of the "label", my guess is that it was cut down from a larger diameter circular drink coaster, which were often printed on both sides. As they were thrown away after one use, they were much thinner than what we think of bar coasters being today. Of interest is the amber colored glue; likely mucilage, which was widely used as a paper glue up through the 1960s; didn't stick well to glass though. Caveat Emptor ---- .... Red Beard Posted Monday, March 24, 2014 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

 Q2728 Lantern/Lamp ID Needed  I have a lantern with the following letters embossed thereon: N.C.B.R.R. Can you identify the railway name? There is no date I can see. Is there a particular name for this kind of lantern? I'm not a railroadiana collector; I am an automobilia collector. Thank you for your help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, March 19, 2014 by NS   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This looks pretty close but not quite identical to a #73 Adlake switch lamp. See Link 1 which is a page from a 1907 Adams&Westlake catalog that is available here in the Railroadiana Library. And NCB RR is probably Nevada Copper Belt Railroad which was around from 1910 until 1947. On page 79 of "The Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Railroad Lighting, Volume Two-The Railroad Signal Lamp" the number 73 is shown and there is a photo of one that is also marked N.C.B.R.R. That lamp may have a higher top on it than yours and it has two green and two red lenses that are 4.5 inches in diameter. What does the brass oval tag which is attached to your lamp say? It may have patent numbers on it which are issued to Adlake. Does it have the four prong cast iron base which is used on older switch lamps? As switch lamps go, this is a very nice example of a fairly rare older lamp from a well known but small railroad. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, March 19, 2014 by KM

A. Thank you for your valuable information. Looking at the pics in Link 1, my lantern is very similar to No 73 except the stack is slightly shorter and all the lenses are 4 1/4" recessed similar as in No 63. The brass plate says: The Adams & Westlake Company Makers Chicago . I can find no numbers anywhere.The base is same as No 73. Weight about 8 lbs. Posted Thursday, March 20, 2014 by NES

A. I just noticed something else: Although my lantern appears similar to No 73, it has a sliding door as seen on No 206. Posted Thursday, March 20, 2014 by NES

A.  This link shows another NCB switch lantern that was sold in 2012. It also has the higher chimney and NOTE it is painted RED like yours is. Most railroads used black paint on these, does anyone know if the MCB used or specified red paint? Whatever you do don't mess with the paint on this until you find out, and in my opinion it looks great the way it is anyway.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, March 20, 2014 by KM

A.  Sorry that link didn't work, just search "Holabird Kagin Americana Nevada Copperbelt Railroad Signal Lantern" and it should be the first hit. That lamp was restored by someone and it looks like they repainted it, replaced the bail with a brass wire instead of the wooden handle, and polished up the retaining rings that hold the lenses in.  Posted Thursday, March 20, 2014 by KM

 Q2727 Help in Identifying Lantern  I recently acquired a lantern that I have been trying to identify. Based on what I've been able to find online, I think it might be German, but it has no maker's marks or marks of any kind. I have found similar lanterns, but none with the same feature. It has a storage slot in the back for a red glass slide that can be placed in the front. This leads me to believe it is a railroad lantern. Would you say this is correct? Any information you can give me on this lantern would be greatly appreciated. Do you think the lantern might have had another colored slide that has since gone missing? Thank you in advance for your time.  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, March 19, 2014 by GA   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. See Q1396 in the Archives which is about a similar lantern. Does your lamp have clear glass panels on the sides?  Posted Wednesday, March 19, 2014 by KM

A. It has clear glass on the sides, but only because I put them there. There was no glass in it at all when I got it, except for the red glass slide that stores in the back. A Dark Room Lantern seems to make sense, assuming the sides were not clear glass originally. Looks like I might have to cut some new glass. Thank for the info so far. Posted Thursday, March 20, 2014 by GA

A. Do a Bing or Google search of "WWII German lanterns" and you'll see very similar lanterns if not the exact one. However, all the German WWII lanterns that I've seen are all are marked with maker codes and inspection marks. Maybe earlier german lanterns went unmarked. I don't know. Posted Thursday, March 20, 2014 by GL

A. My original thought was that is was a WWII era German lantern. I found similar ones, but none with the extra red glass slide or storage slot on the back for the slide, that this one has. Posted Friday, March 21, 2014 by GA

 Q2726 SA&L Ry?  Every heard of the SA&L RW (assumed to be the San Antonio & Laredo Railway)? Rumors place this in the 1910s-1930s?  Posted Tuesday, March 18, 2014 by Ronnie   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  I checked three different books that list railroad and interurban trolley line names and can't see anything about a San Antonio & Laredo Railway. I also checked Coxrail.com Railroad Stock Watch site and Terry Cox does not list it either. An interesting side note though, there is a proposal right now to construct a high speed line that will run from San Antonio through Laredo and on into Monterrey, Mexico. Posted Wednesday, March 19, 2014 by KM

A. Assuming you know your reference is to south Texas, this sounds like a US Mail Railway Post Office (RPO) route designator, which would appear on cancelled envelopes as "San Antonio and Laredo RPO" in the circular postmark. The first Link is to a Postmaster General Annual Report (1884 seems to be the only one available quickly online) but it does list a San Antonio and Laredo RPO route in which the RPO cars apparently ran in trains of the International and Great Northern Railway. For end points as major as San Antonio and Laredo it is highly likely that the RPO route continued into the 1950's or even later. The I&GN was absorbed into Missouri Pacific in 1956 (Link 2) and the San Antonio - Laredo route is operated by MoPac-successor Union Pacific today.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Thursday, March 20, 2014 by RJMc

A. Because the postmarks were so small, they did sometimes abbreviate the end point names, or just use the initials, which might have generated the 'SA & L.' There are published historical guides to the RPO routes and designators, but I don't have access to one to check this out.  Posted Friday, March 21, 2014 by RJMc

A. The actual lettering is "S. A. L. Ry." over "352" over "Police". It is found on what appears to be a nickel plated shield badge. It shows a great deal of wear and the pin is damaged. One source tells me it is from the 1900s period. It was previous speculated that it was San Antonio & Laredo Railway. Any other thoughts? Photos available if deemed necessary. Posted Wednesday, March 26, 2014 by Ronnie

A. "S.A.L." is almost certainly Seaboard Air Line, a major southeastern US railroad system operating from 1900 to 1967 when it was merged into Seaboard Coast Line. See the link. SAL covered the territory between Richmond, VA, Atlanta, GA, Birmingham, AL, and Miami, FL, but never went to Texas.  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, March 26, 2014 by RJMc

 Q2725 UP Coin  My name is Matt and I have a coin that is labeled Union Pacific Railroad. It is about the size of a 50 cent piece and it says 'free second class ticket' and it is labeled 1890. I was wondering if anyone had any information on this item -- story, origin, background etc?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, March 18, 2014 by MB   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Pretty sure this is a fantasy item. If UP has issued a "ticket" token in 1890, as big as the RR was, there'd be hundred's around today. I think this came out in the 1960's - 70's from the same source as those phony Union Pacific "Good for One Buffalo Hide" (or what ever it says) token that turn up now and then. They even had a small makers mark too. Posted Friday, March 21, 2014 by DA

A. I looked up the UP Buffalo token and it is marked "LA Stamp" as well. Here is a link that tells all about the infamous "LA Stamp" fantasy tokens............ Link 1  Posted Friday, March 21, 2014 by DA

 Q2724 Old Key  Trying to get info on a key. This key is a folding key, similar to a pocket knife. The handle folds into a heavy brass key. The handle is marked M.W. & Co. on one side. Reverse side says Patented Mar. 23. 1869 The letters P.R.R. are stamped at the bass of the round end of the key. Any info would be greatly appreciated. Posted Monday, March 17, 2014 by TG   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I've seen a ton of these over the years........however I've never seen one that was RR marked. There is a possibility that it was shopmarked by the PRR. Or it just could have been stamped by someone wanting to increase its value by turning it into a railroad key. A photo of the marking, if possible, would be great............ Posted Tuesday, March 18, 2014 by DA

A. The end door keys for passenger cars and cabooses could sometimes get quite long and I vaguely recall having seen folding keys for those applications; it made the key a lot easier to carry around and get out to use (Picture trying to get into a caboose in the dark, for example, standing on the open platform.) However, the key part is flat, not round, on most of the folding keys I have seen, and they were not for RR use.  Posted Tuesday, March 18, 2014 by RJMc

A. M. W. & Co. is Mallory Wheeler & Co. A lot of old locks and keys were made by them. Posted Tuesday, March 18, 2014 by DC