Adams & Westlake "Reliable" Lanterns

The most popular and common of the tall lantern models, Adams & Westlake's Reliable lantern was manufactured from around 1912 to sometime in the mid 1920's, although precise dates when production ceased are uncertain. Many railroads are known to have bought Reliables, ranging from the big Class I's like the Pennsylvania Railroad to smaller interurbans.

Reliables are found in numerous variations. Probably the most common variation is the type of top or smoke dome. A "one piece" top or smoke dome (formed of one piece of stamped metal - shown at right) was the earlier type, being manufactured exclusively up to about 1920. After that according to Cunningham, Reliables were made with either a "one-piece" or a "three-piece" top (formed of three joined pieces - shown at bottom right). Why the manufacturer would offer both styles at the same time is unknown. However, the "three-piece" top was later incorporated into the design of the #200 and #250 short globe models which were effectively the successors to the Reliable in the A&W line of railroad lanterns. Examples can be seen on the "A&W Short Lantern" page.

Many other variations in Reliables can be found, including the number of horizontals (one or two), shape of the verticals (flat plate "steel guard" or round wire), the type of base (wire bottom or bellbottom), and other features such as the type of bail and the use of a metal band to hold the verticals to the bottom of the frame. Some examples of these variations are shown below.

See new pictures of a variation at the bottom of the page.

Above Left: A&W #11 Wire Guard "Reliable" (Model 1913) lantern marked "P.& L.E. R.R." (Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad) with a "one piece top" and a blue etched globe. This example dates to the late "teens" or early 1920's. Above Right: A&W #11 Wire Guard" Reliable" (Model 1913) lantern marked "B. & O. RR" (Baltimore & Ohio Railroad) with a "three piece top" and a red cast globe. This model was produced in the early 1920's.

Above Left: A&W #11 Wire Guard "Reliable" (Model 1913) lantern marked "K.V.Ry. " (Kettle Valley Railway) with a "one piece top" and a green cast globe marked "CPR" for the Canadian Pacific Railway, which purchased the Kettle Valley Railway. This model is unusual in a number of respects, including the flat verticals, bail stiffeners, and the fount-holder which uses an interwoven metal band to secure the fount holder to the verticals (Above Right, Top). The use of such metal bands is more common in Adams & Westlake's "The Adams" model, seen on another page. Above Right, Bottom: Another minor variation in the fount holder of a Reliable is this example which seems to be made of two pieces. Note the border where the two pieces are joined. Almost all fount holders on Reliables are made of a single formed piece of sheet metal but this one is an exception. The frame is marked "O.W.R.R.& N. Co." for the Oregon Washington Railroad & Navigation Company.
Above Left: This switchmen's lantern uses a Reliable top of the "one-piece top" variety. The frame is not marked for a specific railroad. It seems that Adams & Westlake used the same Reliable tooling to produce tops for their switchmen's lanterns. The general style of switchman lanterns is discussed on another page. Above Right: Reliables marked for the Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Railroad or "Santa Fe" can be found without any manufacturer's or model markings.  It seems that the Santa Fe ordered lanterns from the Adams & Westlake Company but specified that only the railroad marking should appear on the frame. This example -- a bellbottom lantern of Adams & Westlake lineage but with no marking other than "Santa Fe" on the bell -- has a "three-piece top."  Although not apparent in the picture, this lantern also has a clear cast Santa Fe "logo"  globe.  Compare this lantern with rightmost Reliable model shown in the first row of images, and the origin is obvious.
6" Reliable 6" Reliable 6" Reliable
6" Reliable 6" Reliable 6" Reliable
Above: Shown above is a very unusual Reliable variation marked for the Philadelphia & Reading Railway. It takes a 6-inch globe. From left to right, top row: The P&R Ry lantern next to a Pennsylvania Lines Reliable to illustrate the height difference; an exterior view of the oversized font-holder; a view of the smoke dome and shoulder to confirm that this is indeed a Reliable. From left to right, bottom row: a view of how the fount sits inside the fount holder; a view of the spring clips inside of the fount holder which centers and stabilize the fount; a view of the bottom of the lantern. All photos courtesy of Jack Wall.