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

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Latest 50 Questions:

 Q3814 More key IDs?  Here are the next 3 keys I'm hoping someone can identify The KCL Bohannon I can find nothing with these initials next the MRL the only possibility I can find on this site's data base is Midland Railway Limited in Canada does anyone know for sure? Last is an old A&W MRY There are many many railroads with just 'M' in their name possibly some one knows? Thanks for any help you can give me.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, November 25, 2020 by Jim   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Try Montana Rail Link, which took over operating a couple of hundred miles from BNSF. so a BN, GN, or GN pattern would make sense.  Posted Thursday, November 26, 2020 by RJMc

A. Correct that second 'GN' to 'NP'. Posted Thursday, November 26, 2020 by RJMc

 Q3813 RR Shovel Use?  I recently got this shovel marked for the Pennsylvania Railroad. It is approximately 3ft 4in tall and one foot across. It is marked '4 7 7 4 Heat Treated 4 True Temper Corp' on the front, with the PRR keystone on the side.The True Temper Corporation has been around since 1808, so it is not out of the question for them to have made it for the railroad. I have seen similarly marked shovels, however those usually only include the keystone logo and size stamped on the front, while this one has multiple other markings. I believe it is legitimate from what the seller told me, but second opinions are always welcome. Mainly though, could it have been used as a coal shovel, or would it have been used for other things? Also, if you have any thoughts about what the numbers on the front might mean I would be happy to hear them. Thanks in advance for your help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, November 12, 2020 by Charlie    Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Without seeing it in person I would suggest your shovel is legit! From the shape, it looks like it was made as a coal shovel. With its beautiful, split oak handle it definitely is not a new one, but it looks like there is metal on the ends of the handle(?) Link 1 is to Wikipedia history of the True Temper company, whose ancestry did in fact begin in 1808, but the name "TRUE TEMPER" began in 1949. No matter, plenty of time for this to have been made for the PRR! and it sounds like an early one of those. We have handled a few shovels and can say that Railroad marks often were made at the shops, so they varied. We have seen them branded/burned in, stamped in, painted on - shovels are not the highest things on fakers' lists because of limited markets and not enough profit to be made faking them. Your shovel looks fantastic! I hope you may think about conditioning the wood (which looks like it is in wonderful condition for its age with no cracks).  Link 1  Posted Saturday, November 14, 2020 by JMS

A. "Heat treating" is a procedure to harden steel and make it stronger - exactly what's needed for a shovel intended to take a lot of abuse scraping up coal over an iron floor. I can't help with the numbers on your shovel, but would bet they include a model number, and I am not sure what else. Tue Temper has a website with a contact function (Link 1) - with any luck they may be able to help. I wish I had more time to research, but I just do not.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, November 14, 2020 by JMS

A. Shovels had probably 100's of uses on RR's, and most of them loked pretty much alike. However, for firing steam locomotives -- particularly ones without stokers -- the shovels (scoops) usually had considerably longer handles than the others, maybe one foot longer. That was to be able to reach back to the front of the tender and then reach forward to the firebox door without having to step back and forth to do it. PRR kept many hand-fired locos around much longer than many other RR's but by 1947 the ICC required all bigger locos to have stokers and diesels were beginning to take the yard jobs. So its quite likely that your PRR shovel did one of those many other jobs.  Posted Sunday, November 15, 2020 by RJMc

A. Among other uses many old coal scoops were used to fry eggs and bacon in the fire box. Posted Sunday, November 15, 2020 by DC

 Q3812 L.I.R.R. Armspear Lantern   I recently acquired this Armspear 1925 lantern for the Long Island Rail Road, but I cannot figure out a date within a decade of when it was made. All I can tell is that it was made by Adlake after 1931. The copyright date on the bottom is barely legible but says Feb 2 26. The handle is covered with wood. Is there a way to tell what decade it is from?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, November 9, 2020 by Kyle S   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. First, Feb 2 26 is a patent date, not a copyright date - which as you know means that is the earliest possible date of manufacture. The "Illustrated Encyclopedia of Railroad Lighting Vol. 1" (Barrett and Gross) includes information and a number of pictures of 1925s, but nothing about when Armspear discontinued this model. Barret DOES state that the No. 25 was included in an undated Armspear catalog that "We would guess that it is probably circa 1948. It includes three pages on the 'No.25' hand lantern." I do not have a suggestion as to where else to look, to determine when this model was discontinued. Per Barrett, it was a popular alternative to the Vesta and several Adlake models. Good luck, I hope you can get your question answered, but it is a real challenge.  Posted Saturday, November 14, 2020 by JMS

 Q3811 Correct Tail Marker Lenses?  A few months back, the community helped me out on a question of whether or not a font/burner from an old Adlake lamp should have a long-time burning chimney or not. Through that conversation I was able to identify the lamp as likely a No. 168 Steel Marker/Tail Lamp (it's very heavy gauge steel). I romanticized a bit the possibility of it having ran on the PERy, but to be honest it has no markings whatsoever - not even manufacturer (the font has an Adams & Westlake circular stamp on it). Perhaps it had some ID on the mounting arm, but it is not present and if anything is buried in the paint/japanning. I won’t find out as I have no intention of stripping it. There were several other electric/interurban railways operating on the West Coast (I found the lamp in Seattle) and I was able to find images of the lamp in use on the Oregon Electric Railway and the Spokane and Inland Empire Railroad in addition to the PERy. The lamp has four lenses, but only three are present (2 lunar white and 1 red; all three are Corning 4D x 2-3/4 FSO 1935) and I'd like to complete the lamp as true to its 'in use' form as possible. I found this great article regarding the use of marker lamps on the old Chicago 'L' lines [see link] illustrating they were set to any combination of Red, Amber, Green, or Lunar White. Although these were mostly integrated into the clerestory, it seems the No. 168s could have been used in the same capacity? Qs 1464 and 2714 offered some good insight, but nothing on interurbans. Can anyone provide guidance on color combos of lenses and their orientations that would have been in use on any West Coast electric/interurban lines (assuming No. 168 is a positive ID)? Thanks!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, November 7, 2020 by Jake  Link 1     Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Link 1 from the Archives has a lamp very similar to yours from a Pennsylvania interurban, labelled as a Model 78 or 83. Link 1  Posted Saturday, November 7, 2020 by RJMc

A. Thanks RJMc. I had seen those models in the 1907 catalog from the articles & library page and considered them as well. Both models 78 and 83 seem to have a hinged top though and this particular lamp does not. All three of these models look very similar and I'd bet they were pressed from the same pattern. They're all marker / tail lamps so I suppose narrowing it down to that group of three is close enough. Still begs the question of lens color though. The catalog specifies red / green for one particular No. 83; would Red, Lunar, Green, Lunar be inappropriate on these lamps? Posted Saturday, November 7, 2020 by Jake

A. Link 1 with the original Q is very interesting. I had not recognized that rail transit lines and some interurbans use(d) the term 'markers' to refer to 'route designator lights' on the front of trains, not just to mark the rear ends. That Link shows the many combinations of lights that were used to indicate routings for trains in the Chicago elevated transit system; not only to inform prospective passengers but so that towermen knew how to route oncoming trains. The route designator use also explains why lunar white was included as a color choice on transit lines while seldom used for rear-end markers on RR's. Link 1 below shows the white, red, yellow and green combinations used fairly recently in the New York City subway system, with blue used only on PATH trains. Link 2 shows a PE car circa 1942 with what appears to be a lamp similar to yours; but with the prominent metal route sign, it does not appear that the lamp was serving as a route designator. Sorry that this does not shed light on your direct question, but maybe the discussion will trigger someone's memory about West Coast operations.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Tuesday, November 10, 2020 by RJMc

A. All railroads used signals to assist in controlling trains. There were different signal suppliers , with different types of signals, The railroads also had different meanings for these signals depending on which railroad you were operating on. There was little uniformity. The tail markers were also a signal , only for the end of the train. They also varied as to what railroad they were on, by both shape and colors used. If a railroad had joint use of a section of track with another railroad , the crews had to know the signals of both railroads.  Posted Sunday, November 15, 2020 by hv coll

 Q3810 Painting Railroad Lamps  Is it generally frowned upon to paint a railroad lamp any color other than the original color? I have seen some 4 way lamps where the outer ring (don't know correct term) is painted bronze or gold). I like how it adds color to an otherwise plain black lamp. Also, would it be considered 'acceptable' to repaint using semi glossy enamel? Or would that be tacky? Were these lamps painted originally in a flat black? Thank you.  Posted Friday, November 6, 2020 by Susan S   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hello. We can't tell what kind of lamp you may have. Take a look at the two Links below which are to the archives here on the RRiana site to see illustrations of several of the various kinds, and there are several other informative pages in the same area of the site. I found the first Link interesting because at the bottom of the page it shows a switch lamp with the lens retaining rings colored bronze or gold -- something I had never seen before. You may also be referring to the much larger switch lamp 'day targets' shown in a red color on the lower right of the second Link. The colors of those served particular purposes to signal oncoming trains so the colors were set by rule and matched to the lens colors (although not always identical; green lenses may have had white day targets, for example. As to painting, there really were no universal standards. Every RR was free to order lamps to whatever finish they desired and to repaint them later as they came in for maintenance. No doubt the vast majority were black, as indicated in Link 2 most probably started out with gloss and then weathered toward flat black. Some RR's did paint their four-sided marker lamps yellow. And when Handlan was in the final stages of kerosene light production, they sold bright brass lamps to the public for souvenir purposes.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Saturday, November 7, 2020 by RJMc

 Q3809 Torch Question  Does anyone know exactly what this is? Thanks in advance for your help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, November 2, 2020 by Nate   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The Link shows a 'hand lighting torch' as part of the equipment for an asphalt paving machine. The 'lighting' here refers to 'igniting' rather than supplying light. The one in the link is being used to ignite (large) propane burners. Yours looks to be an older model, where the heaters might also have run on fuel oil rather than propane, and it might have been needed around any kind of equipment that required high-capacity heaters. On the RR, one such application might be pre-heating welded rail which is done if the outside temperature is to low.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, November 3, 2020 by RJMc

A. One reason though that a 'hand lighting torch' is/was less likely to be used on a RR: fusees (flares) were always around, commonly available, and very easy to use whenever anything needed to be ignited or heated. They would be used for everything from lighting steam locomotive fires to thawing pipes, so no extra hardware was required.  Posted Tuesday, November 3, 2020 by RJMc

A. I would have had no way of knowing how long the railway fuzees as we know them , had been around , except for the time when my grandfather passed in the late 50`s. In cleaning out an old cabinet in his garage, my dad and I came across dozens of them , some dating back to WW1. NO , we did not try to light them !  Posted Friday, November 13, 2020 by hv coll

 Q3808 Bumps on Keys  Can you tell me why brass railroad keys have bumps on the sides? Is it true that in the dark a railroad trainman can tell he has the right key for certain locks by the bumps? Thanks for any assistance.  Posted Monday, November 2, 2020 by Ed   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I am not aware of any railroad keys with bumps other than the Pennsylvania "Knobby" style keys that have a series of "bumps" along the edge of the bow on both sides(Links show two examples, please scroll ALL THE WAY DOWN for photos of them.) On these keys I have seen, the bumps are all identical size and placement, so there is no way to tell one key from the other using only feel. I am not sure if this is what you are referencing by "bumps," and these are the only examples I can think of. We may be talking about different things, if so, my apology.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Tuesday, November 3, 2020 by jms

A. I have and have seen other Cumberland Valley keys with a single "bump" on the flat of the hilt/bow near the lettering of CVRR Posted Tuesday, November 3, 2020 by COD

A. Pennsylvania Reading Seashore Lines used same exact knobby as PRR, key cut and all but marked PRSL. Posted Wednesday, November 4, 2020 by DC

A. Thank you for your replies. Yes I'm referring to a series of bumps all around the top of key. Was this just a certain look prr wanted on their keys or was there a purpose for the bumps. Thank you all, ed Posted Wednesday, November 4, 2020 by ed

A. Thank you for your replies. Yes I'm referring to a series of bumps all around the top of key. Was this just a certain look prr wanted on their keys or was there a purpose for the bumps. Thank you all, ed Posted Wednesday, November 4, 2020 by ed

A. I am only aware of the PRR doing this with their keys, but then, they often did things 'quite their own way.' Remember, the PRR was a huge system, Lines East, Lines West, and many subsidiary companies (such as Cumberland Valley) each bigger than many other RR's. There were different key cuts for the different segments, as well as for different purposes (switch key vs. rip track, for just one example.) There were places such as Pittsburgh where the various piece parts of the PRR system connected to each other, as well as needing keys for other RR's for trackage rights,etc, and it was places like that where they may have felt the need to be able to quickly identify the PRR keys and the ones for different purposes. I have seen employee key rings with as many as 10 keys, and picking the right one in the dark with blowing snow would be quite a challenge.  Posted Wednesday, November 4, 2020 by RJMc

A. The single bump CV keys apparently open the fancy castback locks, if I am not mistaken. Either is a hard find. Posted Thursday, November 5, 2020 by JMS

 Q3807 Inspector Lantern Globe Colors?  I have a question about inspector lanterns. Did they ever have blue, red, or amber globes, or did they only have clear ones? Thanks for your time. Hope someone can answer my question.  Posted Sunday, November 1, 2020 by Greg   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Clear for the inspection lantern , blue for marking the end of the train or string of cars they were inspecting , to mark it from being moved or connected onto.  Posted Monday, November 2, 2020 by h v coll

A. There was more than one kind of 'inspector lantern,' A 'car inspector lantern' has a reflector and hood assy; the whole purpose was to throw as much light as possible on the items to be inspected. That can only be accomplished with a clear globe. While all kinds of globes would probably fit, it would not make sense to block most of the light with a colored globe. The purpose of 'blue flagging' a track would be defeated by the limited viewing angle of the inspection light, not to mention the inspector would have no light to do his job while the lantern sat on the far end of the track to protect him. It raises the question of whether car inspectors carried more than one lantern. There are also 'Track Inspector' lanterns,some in North American practice and many in overseas RR practice. The track inspectors also had the need to flag trains if they found defects, so those lanterns often had changeable color provisions by switching lens covers or rotating part of the lantern.  Posted Monday, November 2, 2020 by RJMc

A. In order to get as much light as needed to inspect the inspectors lantern also had a mercury glass reflector behind the globe. Posted Monday, November 2, 2020 by DC

A. I did not clarify my previous answer as to "inspection". There were multiple jobs that were inspection of some sort but there were two "main" jobs on a railroad that were inspection. There were car inspectors , whose normal job was to inspect and prepare a cut of cars about to leave a yard , and there were track inspectors whose normal job was to inspect an area of track assigned to them , as to condition. Both used somewhat the same style of lantern , but with differences. The car inspector used two styles , a lantern for viewing the car for defects and to assist in attaching air hoses , etc. , plus two lanterns with blue globes, one for each end , for night work , to mark the cut of cars he was to be inspecting. The track inspector needed only an illumination lantern. Sometimes his lantern had a hole in the reflector to illuminate a small red lens in the back , for his safety. Almost all the inspection lanterns had a polished steel or mercury filled reflector in them to increase the light. The very early ones did not have any reflector. As to inspection, just some were locomotive , signal, structure, Book of Rules , and many others. Posted Wednesday, November 4, 2020 by hv coll

 Q3806 Embroidered Railroad Patches  What can you tell me about embroidered railroad patches (i.e. Nevada County Railroad; Pine Creek Railroad; Sante Fe Super Chief)? On what were they used? When were they used? Thank you.  Posted Wednesday, October 28, 2020 by Steven   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Genuine RR issues usually refer to divisions, districts, yards, plants, operating departments, promotional slogans, and safety programs. The other kind, railfan type patches tend to celebrate logos, route names, train identities, or locomotives. These have been around in varying qualities since the days of Lionel and American Flyer model railroad clubs (c.1940's). The best and greatest quantity was available through (William K.) Walther's, a model railroad distributor which used to list them in their annual catalogues (c.1960's-80's). Some foreign makers were good, others totally were skunky. Most rail enthusiasts, photographers, and modelers once collected at least some for their gear or decorating. It was kind of replaced by pins from firms like Sundance of Portland OR. The railfan types are interesting and collectable, but do usually exist in surviving numbers. Some are even dead-on copies of real uniform patches used in passenger operations (Pullman, S.P waiters, etc.). The genuine issues are far harder to obtain these days...often only in the hands of collectors who attend local "train shows" or in lost articles of clothing which held them (hats, coats, jackets). Direct embroidery did not ovewhelm patches until the 1990's. Posted Wednesday, October 28, 2020 by ShastaRoute

A. BTW-Each Walther's patch had a stock number and an associated image in those catalog pages...makes for handy identification. Old copies turn up in thrift store book sections or at train shows. They were just being dumped up until recently, but may become valuable reference guides in time as has happened with old phone books. Posted Thursday, October 29, 2020 by ShastaRoute

A. More-RR's did have additional ones for those "off duty" type things like ball teams or bands, and some small size versions may have gone to family members like "junior"...some would be hard to tell apart from the non kosher kuts which also came in large and small sizes. Posted Thursday, October 29, 2020 by ShastaRoute

 Q3805 Builder Plate Info?  I am looking for any information about the New Jersey Railroad and Transportation Works, Jersey City - circa 1865-1875. I have produced a complete CAD Model of the No.44 with 10 wheel tender built there sometime between 1868-1871 by Master Mechanic John Headden from the drawings by Mr. Weissenborn. I am looking for the following to complete this project to the degree of accuracy the model is at - which is almost 95% accurate to the drawings. Builder Plate Markings for Cab, Tender, and line the No.44 was used on. I know this is a tall order - but I haven't the resources to locate this information - and was hoping someone out there may have a builder plate example - and information on the New Jersey Railroad from this time period. Shown is a rendering of the CAD model. Best Regards   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, October 25, 2020 by Anthony   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I think I found a really good page of history on Wikipedia, see Link 1. The formal name was the New Jersey Rail Road, scroll down to the section about it and Jersey City. Best of luck !  Link 1  Posted Friday, October 30, 2020 by JMS

 Q3804 Vintage of Caboose Lamp?  I'm hoping you can tell me the approximate vintage of this unusual Adlake Caboose lamp. It has manual levers for changing the color of illuminated markers in the windows. All the patent dates are in the 00 to teens range, but that probably isn't accurate for a manufacture date. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, October 25, 2020 by Tim W   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Barrett and Gross's Encyclopedia of RR Lighting Vol. 2 shows this as a Model 187 Automatic Locomotive Classificaton Lamp. The 'automatic' refers to the quickly selectable color changing; the green lens filters confirm use as a classification lamp rather than a caboose marker. The lamp could also be used as a marker on the rear of the locomotive tender. They state that this model of lamp was first in Adlake catalogs in 1907. After 1916 or so most lamps were made with square tops and modified ventilation, but its possible the older style might still have been supplied if someone chose to order it. The Model 187 shipped with the standard ribbed glass lenses; your lamp looks to have been modified later to have the flat glass panes and the white targets -- much less effective than the lenses.  Posted Sunday, October 25, 2020 by RJMc

 Q3803 St Louis Iron Mountain & Southern RR Branch  I'm conducting some genealogy research on an ancestor of mine that lived briefly in the town of Williams Arkansas. It appears that Williams was a small town on the St Louis Iron Mountain & Southern Railroad, approx. 4 miles southwest of the present day town of Moark AR. I found a map from 1898 which shows a branch line coming west from Williams. On the map it’s identified as the 'W.C.R&W'. Searching your Railroad Names Database did not yield anything useful. Does anyone have any idea as to the name or history of this branch? A copy of the 1898 map can be found at the link below. Related maps from 1895 and 1915 don’t show this branch line. Posted Saturday, October 24, 2020 by Dave K  Link 1     Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Apparently Hix's Ferry crossing of the Current River at Pitman (the end of your alleged line) once made that area an important gateway toward the southwest, but is now lone forgotten. Perhaps "Williams, Current River & Western" might have made sense to some dreamers or boosters of a phantom road that never existed? What's on the map does not match up to any known logging, narrow guage, or standard lines between 1889 & 1921 from what I could check. [BTW-This was once serious Klan territory by the accounts.] Posted Saturday, October 24, 2020 by ShastaRoute

A. The Link is to a Wikipedia listing of Arkansas railroads with basic info about each listed line, including a very robust listing of defunct lines as well as current lines. It has nothing that would fit this, either. (It seems they have a simliar listing for all states, very handy for future reference.) Many references only list interstate lines under ICC jurisdiction; there is a chance the Arkansas Railroad Commission might have some info but no luck so far. The 1890 and 1910 Guides do not list the indicated towns as having RR stations except Williams on the Iron Mtn./Missouri Pacific line. The Trolley and Interurban Directory does not show any interurban lines in this area. Link 1  Posted Sunday, October 25, 2020 by RJMc

A. The Link below is to the US Geological Survey's outstanding online collection of historical topo maps. The database underlying this website appears to have almost every ever-named location in the US in it. (!!!) Go to the link and enter and select 'Pitman, AR, US" or "Williams AR US" to see 1935 or 1941 very detailed topographic maps that you can zoom in on, or print and/or overlay with more recent maps. There are no earlier maps listed in this area. The landmarks named on these maps show where Williams station was, although it was no longer a named location by 1941. These don't show any signs of a prior RR right of way west from Williams toward Pitman, but they may assist you otherwise in your search.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, October 25, 2020 by RJMc

A. Not trying to go too far afield, but it occurs to me that the region became the West Clay Irrigation District having three subdistricts, somehow related to waterways/canals. Not sure how they built this or when, but "W.C. R.&W." could be West Clay Rail(?) & Water (?) of some related? Temporary lines were used elsewhere to access and build dam sites. Might explain why it seems to apear and vanish so fast. Posted Monday, October 26, 2020 by ShastaRoute

A. It was actually the West Clay Drainage District, first officially formed in 1909, covering the area between the Black River and the Current River but not beyond. However, the state had recognized the Clay drainage area as of 1887. It is not clear who may have done earlier work in those West Clay subdistricts before 1909, if any really was. There is a lot of general info. on clearing trees in sectors of the state, and sending the wood out to central towns for processing. It may be possible that wood harvests were used as part of the incentives for contractors in dealing with the drainage needs. If this ghost line or projection is tied-in to such work, then perhaps it was as a project of the Iron Mountain itself. Posted Tuesday, October 27, 2020 by ShastaRoute

A. The Link is to the Library of Congress website which has several very detailed maps of Arkansas RR's. The cited one is a Rand McNally map from 1898; it shows all of the locations but no RR between Williams and Pitman. Another map in their file from 1895 also shows no RR. Vols. 2 and 3 (Link 2) of the Arkansas Railroad Commission's Annual Reports are available online from Google books. A thorough look thru Vol. 3 (1903) has no reference to anything close, and it specifically lists separate RR co's leased by the Iron Mtn. Link 1  Link 2  Posted Wednesday, October 28, 2020 by RJMc

A. There is a case where a projected line remained on maps for many years. The Southern Pacific extension from Eugene to Corvallis showed a grade or embankment to the west side of Eugene arcing northward. No rails were ever laid, but the feature was noted on maps with the associated name dropped over time. So W.C. R.&W. might just be West Clay Right & Way for a feature never completed. It may be the map company did not actually do a field check on a report, and then later just dropped it. One thing that did exist in that era was a "train" based on a steam tractor which pulled log cars on wheels with no rails...just needed a dirt roadway. These did see useage in Oregon (Josephine County), but I have no idea if they were employed in Arkansas logging. If a grade or lane existed, it could have disappeared in flooding of the area after abandonment..there might be no traces left. All said, something gave a cartographer reason enough to actually letter this ghost feature...that implies more than a print error. Posted Thursday, October 29, 2020 by ShastaRoute

 Q3802 Railroad Tooling Model?  I'm curious to hear what you think this wooden gear was used for. Measures 5-1/2-inches in diameter and 2-inches thick. Stamping seems to indicate that is came from the Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley RR, which was part of the Chicago & North Western (also appears on block). Thanks in advance for any help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, October 13, 2020 by Tim W   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Casting mold for part of a hand brake assembly ?? Posted Tuesday, October 13, 2020 by hv coll

A. Most railroads operated their own foundries to cast parts for their various equipment. The foundries were usually located at the heavy-repair backshop facilities. For example at one time the Pennsylvania RR ran a huge foundry complex employing hundreds at Altoona. Sand casting used wooden patterns such as yours. The sand was hard-packed around the pattern in a mold box to create a void duplicating the pattern. The mold was then split apart to allow removal of the pattern. Passages were also molded into the sand so that molten metal (steel, cast iron, bronze, brass, or somemaking times aluminum alloys)could be poured into the cavity. When things cooled down the surrounding sand could be knocked away leaving the metal part. The pattern ID also showed on the part, becoming an inventory part number. "Coal crane 2547" probably refers to a crane used to fuel steam locomotives. That kind of crane was in constant heavy use; the gears probably wore out often and your pattern was used to make the replacement parts. Search "sand casting" on the web to see many, many interesting videos of people now doing sand casting in their basements and backyards, including gears, if you want to try out your pattern at home (but be CAREFUL!!)  Posted Tuesday, October 13, 2020 by RJMc

A. The railroad initials stamped into the pattern may indicate that an outside foundry, possibly the original crane mfr., was making the castings, not a shop belonging to the RR itself. Making the first wood pattern was a lot of very skilled work and relatively expensive compared to doing the actual castings. The wood patterns could be reused many times, so any of the foundries warehoused many patterns like this against future orders for the part.  Posted Friday, October 16, 2020 by RJMc

 Q3801 Pullman Vesta Lantern  I have a Dietz Vesta Pullman lantern that I found with a red globe. I swapped the red for a clear globe (the red was cracked) but was wondering if Pullman also would have used either amber, blue or green in their lanterns?  Posted Tuesday, October 13, 2020 by RA   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I am guessing your globes are not marked with the name Pullman. I do not know enough about Pullman to know if they used anything except clear in any of their lanterns. The reliable organization Key Lock & Lantern includes Pullman in their list of companies that are documented as having used 5-3/8 inch tall globes (this size of course doesn't fit a Vesta): Clear Cast and Clear Etched Pullman globes have been reported, but there is no mention of "Pullman" in any of the other sizes. See Link 1 to the lantern surveys on the KL&L site.  Link 1  Posted Friday, October 16, 2020 by JMS

 Q3800 Pere Marquette Lantern  I have acquired a Pere Marquette (P.M.R.R. stamped) N.L. Piper tall globe lantern. Unfortunately it's all intact except the globe. Could you please tell me if it would have just a plain clear globe or a globe embossed with Pere Marquette? Thanks, hoping this can answer some questions for me.  Posted Monday, October 12, 2020 by boxcarwingy   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. On the Home Page there is a Lantern Survey (left side, click on) which has Pere Marquette in the 5 3/8" (tall) globe listings with code explanations if that helps start you out on getting a solution. Posted Monday, October 12, 2020 by ShastaRoute

A. Query # 1060 does have a sample marked globe if you have any interest. Posted Monday, October 12, 2020 by ShastaRoute

A. And plugging "Piper lantern" into the phrase box will pull up four prior lines of query related this firm's history and products...quite a read there. Posted Monday, October 12, 2020 by ShastaRoute

A. Whether the globe is marked or not makes absolutely no difference in how the lantern worked out on the RR, so there were no standards regarding any markings. The lantern survey mentioned above indicates that the PM RR at one time or another had cast clear, red, green and blue globes marked 'Pere Marquette.' But there is no way to know whether they also may have used unmarked globes, which would have been a little cheaper to purchase. For display purposes, its obviously more attractive to have a marked globe, but having an unmarked globe is hardly 'unauthentic.' And the lantern bodies that used the various colors were identical, so you have your choice of what color of globe to use in the lantern, whether marked or not.  Posted Tuesday, October 13, 2020 by RJMc

 Q3799 Lamp Enquiry  Just wondering if you might have an update on a lamp similar to this one? We've found one in my grandfathers things that he left to us but we don't know anything about it. Thanks in advance.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, October 11, 2020 by Michael O, Australia   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Common in the 40`s and 50`s. Some railroads did use them , but they were mostly sold out of hardware stores. They used a 6 volt battery which did not last long , and if left in the unit would eat out the bottom quickly, so you do not see as many of these in good condition, compared to flashlights. Posted Sunday, October 11, 2020 by h v coll

A. Basically an inspection lantern, designed to aid in looking under the rolling stock and could be set for angles allowing hands free when working on fixes. By the time Japan was kicking out lightweight knock-offs, people carried them for automobiles/trucks/trailers. Those ones often replace the big battery with a block of "D" or "C" cells. Posted Sunday, October 11, 2020 by ShastaRoute

A. Another potential use for these lamps may have been aboard ships as focused lighting during wartime blackout conditions or emergencies. One can see a similar lamp used for a medical procedure in the 1943 film "Action in the North Atlantic"...Hollywood, yes..but they weren't always way off base. The grey paint might be consistent with such production. Posted Monday, October 12, 2020 by ShastaRoute

A. I think this is a terrific piece of family history - it might be the start of a collection of this type of lantern, which is wide and varied. Early models can be a lot of fun! Please check out Link 1, I realize this is eBay U.S.A. but it shows some of the variety. Of course this type of lantern is not as "romantic" as its predecessors, but they are in fact a real collecting interest.  Link 1  Posted Friday, October 16, 2020 by JMS

A. This appears to be more heavy duty (?) than the Delta brand for which I could find an ad in Country Gentleman October 1940. That version, dubbed the POWERlite listed at $3.35 less battery (6v. dry). Adjusting for inflation in the post-war climb, that would have been almost about a day's wages for a starting worker in 1940! Here's the details: "Two lights on a double action switch. 800 ft. spot beam from front reflector; broad floodlight from top. Handle reverses. Unbreakable lens. 6 1/2" high. At sport, hardware, electrical dealers or write for literature. DELTA ELECTRIC COMPANY 250 W. 33rd St., Marion, Ind." They alleged 80-100 hours light on one battery. Posted Tuesday, October 20, 2020 by ShastaRoute

 Q3798 Kero Font Make?  I recently picked up an Adlake No. 250 marked for the Southern Pacific (S.P. Co.). It had a 300 burner in it and a fount with a red star on the bottom. I've not come across this star before and am curious if anyone knows the significance (if any at all). Is it possibly a replacement made by 'Star Lantern and Headlight Co'? I could not find any reference to it on the web or searching previous Qs on the site. Thanks for any info!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, October 9, 2020 by Jake   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Probably a previous owner or user painted the star on fount, for who knows what reason. The fount was made by Adlake.  Posted Saturday, October 10, 2020 by JEM

A. When it comes to Espee I don't think you can jump to any conclusions. It was by necessity a very independent organization from the get go. Stars have been used as designator marks on rolling stock, so this would not automatically be inconsistent. Shops can do all sorts of things. Maybe they just marked some new items in order to catch a thief at work and have a way to prove it. We'll probably never know, but I would leave it just as it was found. Posted Tuesday, October 13, 2020 by ShastaRoute

A. Thank you both for the insightful perspectives! The star struck me as unique and given its weathered condition I would estimate its application sometime around the fonts original period of use. I enjoy most the old lamps and lanterns with character and will certainly keep it as is! Posted Friday, October 16, 2020 by Jake

 Q3797 Lamp IDs?  I have had these two lanterns/lamps for 45 years. I'm not sure what they are. One was converted to electric. It hung on our old summer cottage. The other was left original. Thank you for any help and time in identifying them.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, October 9, 2020 by DG   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. These are 'station lamps' used for interior lighting before electricity became available. Putting 'station lamp' in the 'By word or phrase' query box will bring up several prior Q's about these. Link 1 below is added again here for your convenience from Q 3781; its a page out of a 1902 RR supply company catalog showing several different kinds of station lamps. Identical or similar lamps were probably used in all kinds of businesses; similar lamps were made by all of the various lantern manufacturers.  Link 1  Posted Friday, October 9, 2020 by RJMc

A. I believe many sources of photo documentarianists have in the past refered to them as station "hurricane lamps". ( I pass no judgement on the accuracy of their chosen words.) Might help in finding images. Posted Saturday, October 10, 2020 by ShastaRoute

A. "Storm lamp" might be an alternate name. Posted Saturday, October 10, 2020 by ShastaRoute

A. I suspect many of these lamps got installed before electic lighting was available, and then just left in place as emergency ("hurricane, storm") lights for when the electricity went out. And that made perfect sense long before everyone was willing to put rechargeable batteries, chargers, and wire connections in every emergency light.  Posted Wednesday, October 14, 2020 by RJMc

 Q3796 Train Bell Drawing?  I am trying to restore a train bell to working order that has a Viloco BR 83 bell ringer in it. The internal piston of the bell ringer is missing, and all I have to go by are a few pictures. Are there any drawings that I could use to make the piston? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks. [Email to the website and we will post it - Ed.]  Posted Monday, October 5, 2020 by Rich   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Putting 'VILOCO' into the 'Word or Phrase' search box will take you to several prior questions dealing with exactly this subject. They mention Curran Castings as a great source of both info and parts to refurbish all kinds of bells; Link 1 below will take you to their website.  Link 1  Posted Monday, October 5, 2020 by RJMc

 Q3795 Dietz Acme Inspector Lamp  I am wondering about the age of a Dietz ACME INSPECTOR LAMP NEW YORK, USA that belonged to my great grandfather. In his death notice it mentioned that he’d been a railroad man almost from it's inception. The stamp on the air tube says 'patented JULY 11-99'. I think the last stamp is 1913. The reflector appears to be mercury glass. The globe says FITALL NEW YORK USA. On the top back of the globe is R15. I'm wondering if you can provide any information on the age of this lantern as his son (my grandfather) was also a railroad man. Any info would be helpful, thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, October 3, 2020 by Frannie   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Always remember, if it shows "Pat Appl for", that is an approximate date. If it shows a "patent" date , it has to be made after that date , as the maker would not know the date until approved. Then go by the last date shown for dating purposes . Posted Saturday, October 3, 2020 by hv coll

A. Barrett and Gross's Encyclopedia of RR Lighting Vol. 1 in the section on Dietz products says the Acme Inspector Lantern was sold by them from around 1900 to 1954. The term 'Fitall' on the globe indicates a lamp made earlier in the production; later it was modified to "Fitzall." The patent dates indicate no earlier than 1913. If there is a wire guard around the globe it would indicate manufacture "beginning late in the 1920's." There were some changes of materials and surface finishes later in the production which would not have affected your lamp. Otherwise the lamps of this series were remarkably identical for a very long time.  Posted Wednesday, October 7, 2020 by RJMc

 Q3794 Pink Globe Lantern  I'm new at this and bought this one because it was different. I was told this color was made during the color change from blue to red. The globe is marked with a K with a circle around it as well as a keystone Penn logo. Is this a fact? Real? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, October 3, 2020 by Sam   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Just to start, the encircled "K" is for Kopp authentic manufacturer of safety glass items used in traffic related industries. Still online. Posted Saturday, October 3, 2020 by ShastaRoute

A. Try question 2712 in the lower left box and hit Go there...leave off the Q. It mentions "Kerosene Pink" being a Kopp color. Pink in the middle box will yield several threads. Lantern Survey on the home page left side may help. Posted Saturday, October 3, 2020 by ShastaRoute

 Q3793 Bracket Question  I believe these are a pair of old RR lamp mounting brackets but not sure. Heavy brass, about 3 1/2 across the top by 2 3/4 tall x 5/8 thick. I saw an illustration from a lantern catalog reprint showing a lamp which had strap iron mount that fit into a slotted bracket like these. Maybe some kind of a a station lamp or signal, etc? The most detailed answers here are usually about RR lamps, so I figured someone here would know.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, October 3, 2020 by DA   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Brackets such as these were/are used in RR dining cars and sleeping cars to hook portable tables and possibly other portable accessories such as ashtrays or cupholders to the walls. The sleeping car passenger could request that the porter bring such a portable table -- usually with a fold-down support foot at the outer end -- for activities such as playing cards or writing letters.  Posted Saturday, October 3, 2020 by RJMc

 Q3792 Mismatched PRR/B&O Globe/Lantern Set  I recently received an adlake lantern with B&O RR on the top rim. I'm not concerned about the lantern itself as being authentic but the globe. The globe is red with Pennsylvania Lines embossed on the glass. I have no idea if the globe is the original but it is a solid red and not painted or clear and red glass pressed together. My question is: did B&O RR sell to Pennsylvania lines or vice versa? Any info is appreciated and thank you so much. Posted Saturday, October 3, 2020 by Chuck   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. In What you've got is known in the collecting sphere as "Pieced together"....two distinct components brought together to work but not part of a created item which would be "hobbled together" from a variety of parts. There is no question of merger mania that far back, and both roads moved into separate groupings over time (ie Conrail versus Chessie/CSX) well after lanterns went electric. However, big roads and their subsidiaries often crossed, it would be easy for a person buying in the secondary markets (junking) to find two pieces that can work together. Also, "boomers" are employees who move on to the new opportunities with the shifting economy, often carrying items with them and presenting more opportunity for mix-and-match where they go. You can authenticate the globe here, but they are still of distinct origins. Posted Saturday, October 3, 2020 by ShastaRoute

 Q3791 Ticket Punch Manufacturer?  We just received a Twin City Rapid Transit Company streetcar ticket punch with green leather holster. It was donated by the family of the motorman who owned it. It dates from 1946 and maybe before. Embossed on the holster, with the lettering partially worn away, it reads MF ??? Forging, ??? Equipment, ??? (maybe Kenmare) North Dakota. Does that company sound familiar?  Posted Thursday, October 1, 2020 by Aaron I., Minnesota Streetcar Museum   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Kenmare is almost a historical black hole. However, you will find (Link 1) that Soo Line built the "Wheat Branch" to Kenmare in 1905. Now Kenmare was the location of a brink plant, and in one set of historical interviews on tapes there is the titled mention of "Brick Foundry" for some reason. I would think forging and foundry might relate, but was this something occuring at the old brick plant site? There was a lot of economic turmoil and a sudden drop in the population (which was never very high ti begin with), but plants for war production popped up in all sorts of places...and closed down just as fast. Ticket punches are specialized items with a rather short list of well documented makers (railroadiana books include such names with their examples...Baker 4th ed. was one but now dated). The holster might have been made for some other implement? Link 1  Posted Saturday, October 3, 2020 by ShastaRoute

 Q3790 Lock Initials?  I am an auctioneer and have a huge collection of railroadiana that we are getting ready to auction and have found your website helpful. I am stumped by one lock I have. I can not figure out 'R W D & S C RR'. The first letter is hard to read but when I look with a loupe we all believe it is a R not a P, B or D. Regardless, I have not been able to identify it. If you have an answer and know this line that would be great if you would share.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, September 30, 2020 by Kendra   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Quick looks thru Bill Edson's Railroad Names and Gross's Trolley and Interurban directory don't show anything likely, considering B, P, or R for the first letter. Other possibilities to consider: Canadian or 'overseas' foreign or a construction company building railroads. The most intriguing but unlikely possibility is that in India under British rule a unit of the Public Works Dept (PWD) ran the railroads. No accounting under this theory for the 'SC.' Posted Thursday, October 1, 2020 by RJMc

 Q3789 Key IDs Needed  My last 3 keys must have been quite rare as there were no comments on them so on to the next 3. The first GN key I know positively is not Great Northern so that leaves 2 GN keys on this site's data base I'm leaning toward Georgia Northern. Does anyone know for sure? Next is a Fraim LIRR that I'm assuming is Long Island but not the 2 known (by me) switch cut bits. Can it be RTor Car dept? Last is Bohannon K&O. there are 3 roads listed with those initials. Does anyone know for sure? Any help is appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, September 30, 2020 by Jim   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is not a dig on your keys , but something to remember , at Penn Central , there were 21 different cuts to the keys. A lot of different uses for various departments. Posted Wednesday, September 30, 2020 by h v coll

A. Barrett and Gross's "Railroad Locks and Keys" Vol 1 reference book about Adlake locks and keys might throw some confusion or light on the Adlake GNRR CO. key. Page 89 lists a GNRR CO. marked switch key with "Ordering Co. Unavailable" and Adlake key #1789 notes. The #1789 key picture seems to show the same cut as Jim's key. Page 78 lists two Georgia-Northern RY CO #2015 keys with company initials either G.N or GN. Moving on to locks, page 121 shows Georgia-Northern RY CO ordered locks with either GNRY or G.N.RY. stamps. The lock # is 48-2015 which corresponds to the #2015 key. Note - the #2015 key might be the same cut as the #1789 key but the photos are murky and show only one key side.  Posted Saturday, October 3, 2020 by JEM

 Q3788 Chicago Burlington and Northern Key  My Chicago Burlington and Northern key has the marking 'OS' stamped on it. I always thought this might be a switch key but Railroad Memories now has a CB&Q key marked with just an 'S' that is an entirely different cut. Does anyone know what the 'OS' marking means on my key? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, September 24, 2020 by JEM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Oops -typo above. Railroad Memories now has a CB&N key, not CB&Q key.  Posted Thursday, September 24, 2020 by JEM

A. This one needs a better key collector than me , but with what appears to be little to no wear on a taper shank key , with what looks to be a filled in cut , I would have second thoughts on any markings , not just the OS. Posted Thursday, September 24, 2020 by hv coll

A. Yeah - thanks hv coll. I looked at the key under some magnification and the cut looks filled in with solder (but well done) and the bit edges have some sharpness, so little if any use. The ampersand stamping isn't the best either. Fake? I don't know. I bought this key years ago when I was young and foolish, and now that I'm old and foolish.......  Posted Thursday, September 24, 2020 by JEM

A. Here are two CB&N keys that sold on Railroad Memories in past auctions. I can't help with the OS; all I can find are simply S. You might at least compare the cuts with yours.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Friday, September 25, 2020 by JMS

A. Here is a third one - REALLY good markings and probably the best example of the three ... Take a look at the letter style -- the font / typeface - that on yours looks more modern, and the points mentioned by hv coll do concern me as well. I would not feel impossibly bad if yours turns out to be not authentic. Anyone who claims they never have bought at least one fake is either not very deeply invested or a fibber. Link 1  Posted Friday, September 25, 2020 by JMS

A. Thanks everyone. The three "real" keys are stamped RR - mine as you can see is not stamped with RR. It does not appear the hilt has been shaved or filed in any way to remove other letters so it may have been a blank at one time. I now have a tag on it indicating a possible fake key. I have another key stamped D & NE for the Duluth & North Eastern Railroad, where if you look close you can see the E is overstamped on a P; the key is actually a Northern Pacific key. It isn't some sort of an interchange key because the two railroads didn't interchange. Another local long time key collector has the same type key and we both most likely have fakes. Well - back to the drawing board!  Posted Friday, September 25, 2020 by JEM

A. I'd like to comment regarding JEM's CB&N key. First just because a key is an old and tapered key that has no wear doesn't make it a fake. It could have be someone's spare and never used. It could have been in a desk drawer and never issued etc. Also I have seen and have old keys from the same road that have RR or RY on just the road name like JEM's CB&N. His key in my mind is an old Union Brass key. The solder for whatever reason in the bit could be easily remedied with a butane torch. The OS designation I have no idea what it could be but I will ask our resident CB&N expert next time I see him and see if I can find out and will post it.  Posted Wednesday, September 30, 2020 by Jim

 Q3787 Reed & Barton Holloware for the Bar or Table?  I have a holloware item that I would like to identify the form or how it was used on the train and where, i.e. a shot glass in the bar car or a toothpick holder in the dinning car etc. It is made by Reed & Barton. Also, is it silver-plate or silver, scarify, year of manufacture? It is made for the New York Central & Hudson River RR, 1869 - 1914, Vanderbilt. Capacity - 1 oz. Dimensions: diameter top - 1 1/2 inches; dia. bot. - 1 3/8 inches; height - 1 15/16 inches; weight - 2.14 oz. (empty). This item tested for 0.500 grade of silver with the silver testing kit. The acid turned green. Would that be the silver grade or the silver plating or the grade of a solid silver piece? Note that the centered incised dot on the 'B' of Barton is presumably for holding the piece during its manufacture. During which process or stage of manufacturing is unknown. Any help with the identification will be appreciated. Thank you for your time in considering my information request.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, September 22, 2020 by Jeff   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is a toothpick holder made for the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad, as you noted. It is silver-plated over a nickel silver base. The silver used for plating was usually 92.5% pure (.925 silver). The mark "Silver Soldered" indicated that silver solder was used to assemble the piece. This was harder and much more durable than cheaper soft solder and was a mark of quality used by the major producers of commercial silverware. The number 764S is a pattern number, indicating the style family of the piece. This particular piece is shown in a Reed & Barton catalog page on page 206 of "Silver in the Diner," the definitive guide to railroad silver hollowware (if I do say so myself!). The photo is dated 1909 and shows that the piece was part of the road's general dining car tableware. Information on the book can be found at  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, September 22, 2020 by pemigewasset

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

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

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

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

A. Glad to hear from somebody who has used one of these, I never have. It looks like the rod going up the handle is to operate the valve. But was there some kind of 'pilot light' function, so you didn't have to repeatedly keep lighting the liquid that came out? How long would a tankful last before having to go back for more? Posted Friday, September 18, 2020 by RJMc

A. From what I can remember , this style weighed about 3 times what a newer style weighed when empty. Both styles had a thumb style valve. They did not "throw " flame buy kept an asbestos torch lit on the end to unthaw areas , let it be a switch , or the rods of a mechanical plant. They were lit by match , cigarette lighter or fuzee , whatever you had near. Very concentrated heating to one area at a time. During the 77/78 blizzard , I sometimes used 5 or 6 on one side of one switch , just to get enough heat to clean each side. Posted Monday, September 21, 2020 by h v coll

A. The Link is to the Wikipedia article on 'Driptorches' used to set backfires in forest fire fighting. Looks to be much the same thing as the RR's used.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, November 17, 2020 by RJMc

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

A. Since no one has responded , and I have never seen a list of dates when certain globes were made, try " Union Pacific logos " on the internet. This will not give you certain dates , but it may give you an era when things changed . Posted Saturday, September 26, 2020 by h v coll

A. There are several reasons this question is extremely difficult to try to answer. I am guessing you would like to use the globe patterns to try to date lanterns. The suggestion to look at when different logos were used is a good one. But the markings on globes and lanterns were not for advertising to the public; they were to mark the RR's property to keep it from 'wandering off' to every barn and farm house in the region, where kerosene lanterns were also in common use. Looking at the info in the Archives and in other catalogs, lanterns cost as little as one or two dollars each and were bought in cases holding a dozen or more lanterns. So when kerosene lanterns and globes were in daily use on the railroads, they were "consumable" items, not "collectibles." I think globes got replaced sort of like flashlight batteries do today. Lanterns often got destroyed in use and quickly replaced, including globes getting broken and thrown away, replaced by new ones, often likely of a different pattern. And there were many different locations and departments of a big RR like UP that would order lanterns and replacement globes. There was little need for them to standardize the markings, and the manufacturers would put on any markings the customer(s) ordered. And a last layer of complexity: the glass suppliers who produced the globes were mostly separate from the lantern manufacturers and it wsa the glass suppliers who had the dies and molds for the globes. It is entirely possible that two different glass suppliers could be sending the UPRR globes, with or without lanterns, with different markings all at the same time. So the best hope for even a general answer to your question will be from someone who has a large collection of UPRR lanterns and has information about when each lantern and globe was in use. The UPRR Museum might be able to help (see link).  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, September 29, 2020 by RJMc

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

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

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

A. Lantern Update 6 Layers of paint later, the lantern is down to bare metal. It was a New Haven Rail Road Lantern. Two of the reflectors were in white baked enamel (blue enamel back), and the other two were painted yellow. Discussion with Woody Kirkman of Kirkman lanterns informed me that I can use an Adlake No. 1221 & No. 1307 Marker Lamp Fount (#28), which he has both fuel fount and burner in stock. I will update fully restored. Thanks Steve Posted Wednesday, September 23, 2020 by Steve

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A. GS RY is Gary Street Ry.  Posted Tuesday, September 29, 2020 by BobF

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A. Referring to the chemical plants and explosive vapors: The lanterns would not be lit there, correct? The coating would just be use to keep them from sparking with metal to metal contact, correct?  Posted Saturday, November 21, 2020 by Doug

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A. Here is information from the Kaiser Co. Vancouver Shipyard WWII employee handbook for the Identification Badge page: "You will not be permitted to enter the yard without this badge. The badge must identify you and be with you at all times when transacting business at any of the stations, pay window, or tool rooms. It is impossible to obtain your pay check without this badge--remember your badge is your only proof of proper identification." (Work badges were a different item.) The I.D. badge had a photo, so I have to wonder if this one here is less war related but still for the same general useage. Posted Thursday, November 5, 2020 by ShastaRoute