Question & Answer Board

Main
Q&A Page
Email a QuestionRailroadiana Home

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

  • No questions about what something is worth -- see About Values. Also, no questions or replies selling or looking for items, parts or services. This includes offers. We've been advised that questions about current internet auctions may pose a liability issue, so we have to be careful here also. Finally we reserve the right to remove responses that are discourteous or inappropriate.

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

Latest 50 Questions:

 Q3693 Info on Old RR Line?  I'm seeking information in my research about a logging RR in northern WI ca late 1800's to around 1930, called The Roddis Line. It had a geared Heisler locomotive No. 5 with its road name initials on its tender: R L & V C O (Roddis Line & Veneer Company). I'd greatly appreciate whatever you might give me!  Posted Wednesday, November 13, 2019 by Jim C  Link 1     Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Bill Edson's RR Names book says Roddis LUMBER and Veneer railroad ran from 1908 to 1938, then abandoned. Looking on the web for Roddis Lumber turns up lots of info; apparently after starting with doing their own logging (and railroading) in Wisconsin the co. moved its furniture-building and construction supply business to Texas. (See Link)  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, November 13, 2019 by RJMc

A. If you don't already have it, a copy of "The Roddis Line" by Harvey Huston may help your research. The book was published by the author himself and is copyrighted 1972; Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 78-184838; ISBN 0-9600048-2-3 The book is smaller and has about 140 pages with numerous photos, including at least two of engine #5. I also have a second book by Huston titled "Thunder Lake Narrow Gauge", the story of the last narrow gauge logging railroad in the Midwest, called the Robbins Railroad. This one is copyright 1982.  Posted Wednesday, November 13, 2019 by JEM

 Q3692 'BR' Kero Marking  I have come into possession of a Adlake Kero lantern that seems to identify its original railroad owner as 'BR.' While I am fairly sure this does not stand for 'British Railways' or 'Burlington Route,' I don't know what it means. Someone has speculated it's the Bamberger Railroad, an electric line that operated between Salt Lake City and Ogden, but I'm not sure. If anyone has a clue as to the attribution, kindly share your hypothesis with me.  Posted Tuesday, November 12, 2019 by LRB   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I'd say with virtual certainty it is Burlington Route. That is a common marking they used in later years. The first lantern I had marked BR made me wonder too....till our family took a vacation around Galena, IL in about 1969. We went near the Mississippi River and crossed the then CB&Q tracks. On some fixture was an Adlake switch lock marked BR that cinched it. Burlington Route. Posted Wednesday, November 13, 2019 by BobF

 Q3691 Lantern Marking?  I am having difficulties determining what RY line this was. Canít find any information for M&I C RY, just M&I. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, November 11, 2019 by Fran    Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Muscatine & Iowa City RY...a very short lived line that became part of the Rock Island in the 'teens. Posted Monday, November 11, 2019 by BobF

A. A very short lived railroad line indeed - 7 1/2 months. I looked for an M & IC railroad in Edson's Railroad Names book, but nothing like it is listed. Wikipedia has an article about the Muscatine and Iowa City - see Link 1. It leased some Rock Island lines effective Jan 1, 1916 and ceased operation August 11, 1916, returning the lines to the Rock Island.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, November 12, 2019 by JEM

 Q3690 Dates on Bottom of Handlan Lantern  I have a lantern probably pre-1930. Do you know which number on the bottom plate of the lantern represents the date? Not knowing how to get to the globe, the visible part is roughly 3 1/2 to 4 inches. From the base to the top of the lantern is about 12 inches. The visible part of the globe shows ICRR on the globe. It is believed that this was my grandfather's. My dad worked with ICRR from 1949-1983. His dad registered for the draft on June 5, 1917. His registration shows he was living at that time in Carbondale, Illinois and was a laborer for ICRR. Not sure when he got the lantern.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, November 7, 2019 by ER   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. They're just patent dates, not the date the Lantern was manufactured. To get the globe out just lift the top lid up. Posted Friday, November 8, 2019 by LC

A. This type of lantern is called a "short globe" because of the glass height. It's almost impossible to date an individual lantern like this. I can't say for sure because I'm not well enough versed in Handlan, but Shorty Globe lanterns were invented around the 1930s so it's very possible your grandpa got it and passed it on to your dad. You can Google the patent dates if you want, but most are for parts and pieces not the lantern itself. Patent dates at least give firm information about the earliest possible date a lantern could have been made.  Posted Friday, November 8, 2019 by JMS

A. As LC says to get the globe out, lift the lid - look for the little catch on the underside and squeeze that. Another trick is that when you replace the globe after taking it out, if the lid does not want to shut, try wiggling the glass and make sure the top goes into the inside of the lid when you are closing it. These can be tight fits.  Posted Friday, November 8, 2019 by JMS

 Q3689 Strange Badge  I recently came across an odd looking badge and was wondering if you could point me in the right direction to find some history on it. The guy I got it from said he was told it was a 'shop badge' made by the railroad. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, November 5, 2019 by KR   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  Look at the pages in the Railroadiana Library regarding Fakes and Reproductions, Badges. A similar egg shaped hand hammered, poorly lettered badge that says "Tombstone Chief Marshall" is shown in the first photo. My opinion is that this is a fantasy item and was never made or used by a railroad. Most of the railroad shop people that I have known over the years would have been ashamed of the quality if this item.  Posted Tuesday, November 5, 2019 by KM

A.  Here is the link to that information about fake badges.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, November 5, 2019 by KM

A. KM makes a good point about quality. In order to move up, shop workers had to complete projects that demonstrated their level of skill accomplishments...just like taking shops in school and being graded on your completed work. It is unlikely that a shop foreman would let such a sloppy job go by and actually be used...it would have to be one hell of an emergency situation going on. Most fakers have some pride in their work, so maybe it was a training project gone awry or a very lazy faker? When I come across claims that are a bit "amazing" now, I suggest the seller might want to get that thing authenticated on this site or another, but I don't buy an item with a puffed-up price propped up on a "may be" provenance. I've been stung myself. But if it comes out of a "junk pile" from someone who never bothered to ask questions about it or jack-up the price, then it hurts no one if you take it and start your own line of reasoned conjecture. And some days you'll turn out to be right. Posted Wednesday, November 6, 2019 by ShastaRoute

 Q3688 B&O Marker Lamps  Recently I and a friend procured some B&O Handlan marker lamps with a four bracket, bracket. We bought these over the last year. The design is similar to the B&O Adlake markers with four cast iron brackets on the lamp. Thus, these markers do not turn in a bracket to adjust them. The whole lamp goes into a different bracket. I would like to hear from others who have seen and/or own these Handlan markers. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, November 2, 2019 by Jeff   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3687 Info on Number Plate?  I picked this up from an estate. any info on the locomotive it came from would be much appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, November 2, 2019 by SD   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3686 Plate Authenticity?  Just wondering if anyone was aware of this particular plate being reproduced? I have had one for 30+ years. Saw one recently on an auction site and another recently showed up on e__y.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, October 28, 2019 by GJ   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. What about the idea that the person who bought it at the auction is reselling it now , hoping to make a few bucks ?  Posted Wednesday, October 30, 2019 by COD

A. Seller has had their plate for a while and nicks and dings are different... Posted Thursday, October 31, 2019 by gj

A. every engine had two. One on each side. Posted Sunday, November 3, 2019 by Ex Sou Ry

A. That part of it I understand. That is why I was inquiring if anyone knew of these being reproduced somewhere along the way... Posted Tuesday, November 5, 2019 by GJ

A. GJ asked a simple Yes or No question and he as well as I are still waiting for an answer from anyone who knows. Possible answers = Yes it's being reproduced, No its not being reproduced". Posted Wednesday, November 6, 2019 by LC

A. I hope I can provide a workable response - If the one GJ saw on the auction site is different than the one he saw recently on e_y, and he still has the one he's had for 30+ years, then indeed they ARE being reproduced because, as ExSouRy pointed out, only two per engine were made. With a third one shyowing up, one of them has to be a repro! Sometimes auction buyers will resell on e_y but if the nicks, dings and other things were different in the e_y listing than the one in the auction pictures, then clearly there ARE three of them.  Posted Friday, November 8, 2019 by JMS

A. No one so far has identified what locomotive rec'd this plate. Altho the records exist, I don't have them. The builder's plate is far more likely to have been reproduced if the engine survived and/or ended up 'famous' in museum or excursion service. Of course no guarantees either way, but an indicator.  Posted Friday, November 8, 2019 by RJMc

A. NYC 0-8-0 #678 Posted Saturday, November 9, 2019 by gj

 Q3685 RR Lock?  I have an Adlake lock Pat#2040482 marked NNG...Is this a RR Lock?? If yes what is the name of the railroad??? Many thanks in advance.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, October 24, 2019 by MH   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Sorry - I don't believe it is railroad. The patent (see link 1)has nothing to do with railroads, as it is was awarded to Adlake for this new type of padlock "with shackles hinged on the case with devices for securing both ends of the shackle." I see the vast majority of these locks carrying that same patent, regardless of RR markings. Also, utility companies bought many of this type of lock. I am wondering if the stamping might be N____ Natural Gas as these locks can date into the 1950s-1960s (Correct me, someone if that's not right).  Link 1  Posted Saturday, October 26, 2019 by JMS

A. There are several web sites where you can enter any set of initials and get listings of what they MIGHT mean. As JMS suggests, NNG among many other non-railroad things comes up with Northern Natural Gas of Omaha, NE. Sometimes the utility companies also had in-house railroads and/or rail terminal facilities; the legacy of the interurbans and the electric companies have many, many examples.  Posted Saturday, October 26, 2019 by RJMc

A.  Note that patent number 2040482 was issued in 1935. It was displayed on Adlake locks all the way up into the 1980's or later. I have seen a Conrail switch lock that has that patent number on it.  Posted Sunday, October 27, 2019 by KM

 Q3684 Purpose of Sign?  What purpose would this sign have been for and what does the A stand for? Within the cutout is reflectorizing material.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, October 23, 2019 by DK   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is an 'A Plate' which would be mounted along with other signal heads. See the Link (its section no. 4 of a multi-section website) which is a really thorough, extensive discussion of RR signals and signalling practices, with lots of good illustrations. It also has some very useful references to where you can read rulebooks where various signal practices are described. To cut to the chase,the Link notes "Some railroads would also employ an "A Plate" to signify an absolute signal." As explained at length in the Link, "Absolute signals" are used at interlockings where 'stop and stay' is the required response to an all-red signal. Many other signals, such as typical block signals, "(First) stop and (then)proceed" is permitted for a red signal. Most RR's apply a number plate to make this distinction whereas absolute signals do not have number plates. As the Link explains, "G Plates" and "D Plates" were also commonly used.  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, October 23, 2019 by RJMc

 Q3683 Freight Dept Tag  Found this in my yard today and can't find any info about it. There's a WKN stamped on the bottom, nothing on the back. Anybody know roughly what time frame it could be from?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, October 18, 2019 by Kate   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is marked for the New York Central Railroad Company. It looks like a tool tag - would have been used to keep track of an individual tool, using a "library" type checkout system. The New York Central emerged in 1914 from a merger of the NYC&Hudson River RR, and it lasted until the merger with the Pennsylvania RR in 1968 forming the Penn Central RR. Between 1914 and 1935 the NYC was also known as New York Central Lines. Between 1935 - 1968, it was also known as the New York Central System. With neither "Lines" nor "System" on this it's not easy to pinpoint a date, but it "probably" is mid-century, we have not found anything further about these either.  Posted Saturday, October 19, 2019 by JMS

A. I do not know what WKN refers to - guessing something specific, that the tag was normally kept with, or a location. Maybe someone else can help further.  Posted Saturday, October 19, 2019 by JMS

A. Tags such as this were also used as employee ID badges. WKN might have been the employee's initials. "Freight Dept." is not one we would expect to have a lot of tools, but would have a lot of employees. NYC was a huge system; where was this found? Posted Saturday, October 19, 2019 by RJMc

A. If you live on the west side of the Hudson River, WKN could be Weehawken, NJ, the terminal of the New York, West Shore and Buffalo, which was part of the New York Central. Knowing what town you live in would make it easy to confirm my suspicions. Posted Wednesday, October 23, 2019 by JN

A. Thanks everyone! I live in Wurtsoro, NY and found his in my backyard. Posted Sunday, October 27, 2019 by Kate

A. With Wurfsboro's location in the southeast of NY State, and with Weehawken being a quite possible reference, another interesting possibility is that this tag was related to the milk business. The Link describes how NYC ran an incredibly extensive daily milk train network to service the huge New York City dairy demand, up until the 1920's or so when trucks took over the business. Just one milk car could hold as many as 600 cans and each train sometimes had more than 20 such cars; an almost incredible number of items to track and account for on a daily basis. See Prior Q 2815 about milk can tags and it lists several other prior Q's. Some of those daily NYCRR trains originated as far away as Utica and Rome. The Link has some fascinating insight about how the NYC milk operation worked, including that the milk cars had to be loaded and iced by their train crews. Unfortunately the Link just talks about the milk being taken to 'New York' without describing how things worked at that end, but I don't think milk was handled in the limited space at Grand Central so Weehawken remains a good possibility.  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, October 30, 2019 by RJMc

 Q3682 Tag Info/ID Needed  I was out with my metal detector in rural Kansas and found a railroad brass baggage tag. I can't positively figure out what the railroad line was. The tag is oval shaped and says 'M.C.R.RD'. The D in RD is smaller and underlined. Beneath the letters is the tag number and it has a slot at top for a presumably leather strap. I appreciate any help with an ID. Thanks!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, October 14, 2019 by TS   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3681 Time Period of D&RGW Globe?  I have a CC tall globe D&RGWRR in a square panel. At the top in very small letters is M E G Co 2 (Macbeth Evens Glass Co). SAFETY FIRST is etched on the reverse. Any idea what time period this globe is from? TIA,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, October 14, 2019 by Ex Sou Ry   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. For a starting point MacBeth -Evans Glass was formed in 1899 Posted Monday, October 21, 2019 by COD

A. Looks like D&RG became D&RGW after WW1 about 1920 Posted Monday, October 21, 2019 by COD

A. Wikipedia says: "the D&RG went into receivership in July 1884 with court appointed receiver William S. Jackson in control. Eventual foreclosure and sale of the original Denver & Rio Grande Railway resulted within two years and the new Denver & Rio Grande Railroad took formal control of the property and holdings on July 14, 1886 with Jackson appointed as president." The full Wikipedia article is Link 1. I have found Wikipedia to be a tremendous resource for historical aspects. Thank goodness for the railfans who author those articles.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, October 26, 2019 by JMS

A. OOps, I left out the more important quote: "The United States Railroad Administration took over the D&RG during World War I. In 1918 the D&RG fell into receivership after the bankruptcy of Western Pacific. The Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad (D&RGW or DRGW) was incorporated in 1920, and formally emerged as the new re-organization of the old Denver & Rio Grande Railroad on July 31, 1921." Posted Saturday, October 26, 2019 by JMS

 Q3680 Station Lights?  Need help identifying what kind of lights these are.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, October 11, 2019 by Andy E   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. These are kerosene-fueled 'platform lamps' and were very common at stations before electricity was available, including at some very large union-station type operations. These lamps were also used as city streetlights and at commercial establishments such as hotels, etc. until electric lighting became common. There was a large market for these so most of the major lantern manufacturers made some version of this kind of lamp, and the lamps and parts such as globes turn up fairly frequently on the antiques market. Put 'platform lamp' in the search by word or phrase box to see a lot of our prior discussion of these. Q 3579 is an alternate way to get to the discussion string. And thank you for the excellent pic of them in use in a very typical way! Posted Friday, October 11, 2019 by RJMc

 Q3679 Bell ID and Advice Needed  This bell was mounted on a post in my grandparents yard for generations. I used to go out with my grandfather and ring it when I was a little fellow. He told me that it came off of a train. Iíve always admired this bell. Yesterday was my birthday and my aunt gave it to me! The bell has been outside and neglected for years. Do I need to have it restored? I was thinking about placing it on a post in my yard too. Iím open to suggestions and advice. I would like help in identifying this bell if anyone has any ideas. What is the bell made of? I was told by my aunt that the bell has some deck stain that accidentally got on it as you can see in the pictures. The bell measures just under 10 inches across at the base. Height of the bell 8 inches. Help appreciated,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, October 7, 2019 by John S   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  Put a magnet on the bell, if it is magnetic it is iron or steel, if not then it is brass or bronze. It appears to be nickel plated and showing rust around the rim and in the area where the clapper hits it so it is probably cast iron. The mount does not look like it came from a locomotive and the bell is also smaller than most locomotive bells. If you want to polish the bell try using some silver polish like Wright's or Weiman polish. They are not very abrasive and will not scratch or remove much of the nickel plating. The green oxidation which is inside of the bell looks like normal oxidized nickel, and if the bell is cast iron one step of the plating process might be to apply a thin copper strike on the bell before applying the nickel. I suspect that this is a very nice version of a farm bell.  Posted Tuesday, October 8, 2019 by KM

A. KM is right - this is too small for most railroad bells. I think its family history is much more important than what it was produced for. Another really great product for cleaning/restoring metal like this is BarKeepers Friend (see link 1) It's been around a long time and can't hurt the metal and it's readily available in stores and online. Wright's and Weiman are also good brands. If you bring the bell inside it won't deteriorate any farther. A professional restoration would be a huge expense - as KM suggests, work on it yourself first, you may be surprised. The recommended products won't hurt the metal. Just ALWAYS make sure that whatever you do will not cause damage. One thought - I would use bronze wool (or brass wool) on this rather than steel wool, which likely may leave scratches (Link 2). Best of luck and how fortunate to have such a wonderful remembrance of Grandpa!! Link 1  Link 2  Posted Tuesday, October 8, 2019 by JMS

 Q3678 White Coating on a PRR Casey  I am cleaning a dirty PRR Casey lantern with WD-40 and steel wool. The 'green' paint easily gave way to what appears to be a very durable white coating. What is going on? I certainly was not expecting the white coating.  Posted Saturday, October 5, 2019 by SB   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. There is no way to know what that might be, without at least a picture. Posted Saturday, October 5, 2019 by RJMc

A. Here are some pictures. Link 1  Posted Monday, October 7, 2019 by SB

A. This has the look of metal which has been thru a rathre intense fire. The white would be the remains of the original zinc or tin coating which was oxidized (unevenly) during the heat of the fire and subsequent cooling exposed to air. Were there any other parts with the lantern -- such as a globe or brass parts such as the burner -- which either would not have survived a fire and/or would show other effects which might confirm having been in a fire?  Posted Monday, October 7, 2019 by RJMc

A. The original brass burner is in fine shape. The frame shows no sign of heat damage. While cleaning I noticed the white coating is missing up in the smoke dome and around the font all the way to the bottom where it joins with the lantern frame. I still believe the 'white' is a coating applied with the globe retainer and font installed, but with the top of the font opening closed to keep paint off the font. The original green paint is visible at the bottom of the font. I believe the black is/was generic black rattle can spray paint from the hardware store. Because the white coating is so hard and durable I was wondering if it was possible the lantern had been painted by the railroad to identify it as being reserved for some specific use. Posted Monday, October 7, 2019 by SB

A. It looks like white paint to me. Have you tried paint remover on it? WD40 and steel wool will remove some thin coat paint but old lead paint that's been on for year then paint remover is really the way to go. Once the paint is gone then you can clean it up with your WD and fine steel wool.  Posted Tuesday, October 8, 2019 by LC

A. I agree with LC - just a guess but maybe it is a primer coat of something. WD40 is not paint remover. We encountered a couple of lanterns like this years ago except with silver color - we decided it may have been an aircraft or special purpose stuff (like the "white" on yours?). It was impossible to get off, and trust me we tried everything. I do agree with the guess about the black being something a prior owner did, but is the "original green" paint really original? Lanterns left the factory in just metal and not painted; I suppose the RR could have painted this green upon receiving it. It sounds like a prior owner who took the lantern that may have had green on it, he removed most of the green, primed it with this white stuff and then spray painted it black. If this lantern was ours it probably would go into the paint remover dip bucket and see what happens.  Posted Tuesday, October 8, 2019 by JMS

 Q3677 Green Finish on Lanterns  What is the green colored finish that I find on some lanterns and parts. Is it tin or zinc or something else?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, September 27, 2019 by Lynn C.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. That is usually some variety of lacquer, shellac, or varnish coating applied--by painting it on or even by dipping into it--by some collectors, often on lanterns that have lost their original protective finishes from weathering and/or 'cleaning'. It usually does not contain any zinc or other metallic component but acts a sealer and changes the surface appearance. It is nominally supposed to be clear but tends to weather to the brownish color seen in your pix especially in very thick layers of the coating. Whether to, and how to, 'preserve' lanterns is a HOTLY (pun somewhat intended) debated topic with highly partisan opinions across a very wide spectrum of possible approaches and desired results. Just put the word 'lacquer' in the search by word box to see many, many prior Q's on this subject, and look at the Archives article in the Link. Although some will argue that this (do or don't)rises to a moral integrity issue, my own opinion is this is very much an 'eye of the beholder' area. But I would note that lanterns in regualar RR service were not coated this way, significantly because it would have cost the RR's a lot of money they were not willing to spend on their thousands of lanterns which frequently got damaged and thrown away.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, September 28, 2019 by RJMc

A. I would absolutely agree with RJMc. We see this occasionally, and what we have seen is on frames someone has attempted to "clean"/"restore." I don't know about shellac or varnish, which really aren't for metal, but "lacquer" a/k/a "clear coat" is easy to use and comes in spray cans. I think your pictures are an example of someone not knowing how to work with lacquer. In the first place, it looks like too many coats, to the point it looks gunky. The off color (intensified by multiple layers) has yellowed. Clear coating a frame is one of those "you get what you pay for" situations. If you use cheap clearcoat, it will yellow. Buy ONLY a high end brand that guarantees it will never yellow and buy a matte (not shiny/high gloss) finish - think "artist supply store" instead of "hardware store" to find it. The matte will be "just shiny enough" when it dries. Clear coat on a lantern wants to be like make-up on a woman: there, but not at all obvious. It is CRITICAL to spray it EXTREMELY LIGHTLY. Two or maybe three very lightest coats, at most - not one thick one. We agree with RJMc about "eye of the beholder" but clearcoating helps protect from rust and prolong the life of a valued antique without harming anything (because it can be removed). The finished frame should look as close as can be replicated to how it looked when it left the factory, except it's got this essentially invisible coating that will keep the tin from rusting. As in everything else, it's a shame when it's messed up by someone "cheaping out" or not knowing how to apply the product.  Posted Sunday, September 29, 2019 by JMS

A. Just to be clear, are you both saying that the appearance of apple green colors in the cavities of the surface (exploded view) are not in fact remnants of removed paint but rather are just a photographic illusion? Posted Monday, September 30, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. Even looking on a very large monitor I don't see anything that looks like paint. But if there was any green paint, NYC would have been one that used it; 'Perlman green' was big for a while on the New York Central circa the 1960's, much later than this lantern. Posted Monday, September 30, 2019 by RJMc

A. I'm the person who posted this question. The green is not paint. It is something that can only be removed with acid or abrasion. The second photo was after the lantern had been immersed in lye and stripped of paint. I have found the green color on burners, founts, even bails. I have seen traces of this on approximately 15% of the 100 lanterns that I have cleaned. I'm surprised that no one else has any experience with this. Posted Tuesday, October 1, 2019 by MLC

A.  There are several metals that are used as plating coatings that oxidize to a green or gray/green color. They are nickel, copper, and tin. Perhaps you are seeing an effort on the part of lantern manufacturers to stop the rust of steel lantern parts by plating them. Also, when something is nickel plated it is common to plate it with copper first. Sulfer fumes in the air may cause or accelerate the corrosion process so an older lantern that was around coal smoke may show more of the corroded color. Sometimes when an item is galvanized by hot dipping it into molten zinc they may copper plate it first. This is known as a copper strike and it is almost always used when an item is decorative plated and a shiny surface is desired. There are several reasons for this, it is easier to polish out small defects in the surface and get a very shiny appearance because the copper is softer. It also does not take away from the thickness of the remaining structural metal. The electrolytic nickel coating adheres better to copper than it does to steel. So your lanterns may have been plated, or they might have used a different alloy in the sheet steel which contains more of those metals. Zinc from galvanizing will dissolve with hydrochloric or muriatic acid. Nickel, copper or tin will not dissolve, but the tarnish may be removed and that brings up a new layer of activated metal which will tarnish and corrode quickly.  Posted Tuesday, October 1, 2019 by KM

A.  The link is for a Canadian Government article about preservation of museum artifacts.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, October 1, 2019 by KM

A. I guessed at my answer from only seeing the photos. The weird color and finish looked to me just like lanterns we come across that have been clear coated (either by an amateur or with a brand that turns yellow with age). NO, I would not say this is remnants of removed paint, to me the photo looked like it is poor aging of a clearcoat that is still there on the metal -- especially since it seems to be all over, and can't be removed (I would ask an art specialty shop how to remove spray-on clear coat.) If in fact you have removed any kind of clear coating, then I have no clue what it is. An afterthought - where are you getting lye? It has been banned in the US for years, we have been unable to purchase it for years (not having any way to work through a government contract). Today's "lye" Is a joke and we have much better results with something else, but it sure is not the same performance as good old Red Devil was.  Posted Tuesday, October 8, 2019 by JMS

A. That 'good old Red Devil lye' is just a commercial grade of pure Sodium Hydroxide (chemical formula NaOH) flakes or powder. 100% Sodium Hydroxide powder, flakes, or very concentrated water solution (almost syrup) is commonly available very inexpensively by the pound as toilet bowl cleaner in most 'Big Box' home supply stores and in most supermarkets, at least in my neighborhood (Maryland)..WARNING: although it may be commonly available, it is still EXTREMELY corrosive to skin and aluminum metal, and must be handled with due respect or severe chemical burns can result.  Posted Wednesday, October 9, 2019 by RJMc

 Q3676 Flagman's Kit  Does anyone know approximately how old this flagman's kit is? I have only ever seen one other canvas kit, which was marked for the Milwaukee Road. I was also told that this came off of the Milwaukee Road. Were canvas flagman's kits perhaps just a Milwaukee Road thing, or has anyone else seen them from other railroads?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, September 23, 2019 by KO   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I had never seen one in canvas before. The metal cases would be a lot better for protecting torpedoes against accidental detonation which could be catastrophic. I suspect also its because railroad fusees, unlike many highway flares, are not usually coated with wax and are therefore are less waterproof. That's probably OK because the fusees were/are always protected inside a vehicle until within a few minutes of use, they get used up and the supply gets renewed at a fairly rapid rate, and that way they probably cost a little less.  Posted Tuesday, September 24, 2019 by RJMc

A. Maybe using the ultra-violet light test to check for synthetic materials content could help? Supposedly this would give you a not before date if there are man-made elements. I recently aquired an Olin fusee specifically because it was marked S.P. Co. for Southern Pacific. (Not sure how often marked ones surface, but expect they are not that common.) It was dated Oct. 70, and maybe thus was the practice around that time? Your kit makes me think about the decline of domestic metalware manufacturers while on-shore produced cotton canvas remained quite viable just right past the Viet Nam era. (Fakey green canvas knockoffs of boy scout type day-packs begin to surface around late 1970's, right as the book-bag craze is about to jump-up with copies of Kelty day-packs. Japan or Hong Kong were sending these canvass bags...they had already long done canteens and kero-lamps.) Perhaps there was a small window for domestic canvass flagman's kits...doubtful that foreign makers were the source, but anything's possible after WWII ended. Any remnants of where manufacturer tags might have been attached inside? Posted Tuesday, September 24, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. One other thought comes to mind: From about 1914 to the 1970's, the Milwaukee had that seven hundred or so miles of electrified territory under 3,000 Volt DC catenary, at a time when freight cars all had top walkways. And that was almost all single track in mountains where there was not a lot of wide right of way to walk on the ground around the train. The canvas flagging kit is probably an electrical safety measure, similar to the wood or fiber-insulated lantern handles used on many electrified railroads and interurbans, intended to reduce the chances of getting electocuted if/when it became necessary to go on top of the cars.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, September 24, 2019 by RJMc

A. Thanks everyone for the comments. I have not tested with a UV light yet, need to get one and do that. It is most definitely original and not a foreign product, as it is still loaded with spike-bottom fusees, torpedoes (these will soon get disposed of), a deck of playing cards, and a flag. The fusees all have a date of 1965 on them. It came from Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin. The only other cloth kit I have seen was in a store near the Dells. So, maybe it is a local thing. The idea that it is for insulation of electric subdivisions would make sense, however there were no nearby electric subdivisions around that area that I am aware of. Of course, there is a chance that it has been displaced from its original location. Posted Wednesday, September 25, 2019 by KHO

A. I have an NPRR canvas flagmans bag. I have no idea the age on it, but I do know its real as I have seen another since I acquired mine and they were identical. Posted Monday, October 14, 2019 by DPR

 Q3675 Need help identifying Racor 112 'D'model  Can you please help me identify this Racor signal stand? I have looked everywhere on the Internet and only came up with an ad in a magazine from 1946. I'm looking to find out if it is a signal or Derail. Is the right top? plate correct? What year it is? Any other info. The 112 'D' literally is nowhere to be found. Wonder if that's a good thing. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, September 21, 2019 by KL   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hi, First off, I have one. Iíve had it for almost 50 years. It had been part of the leftovers from a train wreck where a train of ore cars (Taconite) had apparently gone through a switch that was not properly aligned. There were Taconite pellets ďeverywhereĒ (I still have a handful of them as well). The wreck had occurred several years before and the all of the torn-up track had just been bull-dozed off of the right of way with all of the pieces still bolted together. A friend and I used a lot of WD-40 and some big wrenches to get it out of the jumbled mess. Unfortunately, we didnít even think to take any ďbeforeĒ pictures but the actuating ďexcentricĒ at the bottom was still attached to the rod attached to the switch points. Iím in complete agreement that information is/has been really hard to find. But then folks that need a switch stand know where to shop. This is not an item of mass appeal. Our Racor has been mounted by the front door (to call the kids in from evening play viewed from up and down the street. Green - Keep playing, Red - Come in) in some locations and at the foot of the driveway other times. It was acquired in Michigan and has traveled to Washington State, North Dakota, Denver, back to Washington State, San Diego, Huntsville AL, Wichita KS and North Pole AK where itís still visible on Google Earth Street View. Currently located North if Ft. Worth TX and cleaned up, painted and mounted once again just yesterday. Itís definitely a conversation piece and at 300 lbs + nobody has every tried to make off with it. Posted Friday, October 25, 2019 by Mark

A. Well, I too have been looking (off and on) for info on the Racor that Iíve had since 1975. I posted the above response and thought I'd post a picture as well. Moved from Alaska to Haslet TX a couple of years ago and finally got around to getting it cleaned up, repainted and mounted just yesterday. We have this small 'flower bed' and didnít really want to plant anything there so ....... It still needs 'ballast' around the ties. The red aspect has been replaced. The original was lost in a move sometime in the past. The green aspect is rectangular and is only displayed on the one side. 'RACOR' is cast into the right leg at the bottom and '112 D' is immediately below the top plate. Link 1  Posted Monday, October 28, 2019 by Mark

 Q3674 RR Signal ID?  Here are pictures of a railroad signal light that I have had collecting dust in my garage for decades. I'd appreciate any help in identifying it. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, September 17, 2019 by Dale H   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is one form of 'dwarf' signal. If the 6 lenses in the round part, when lit inline two at a time from behind, would show 3 different colors it would be a 'color position light dwarf signal.' These were used by several different RR's, among them the B&O and related lines, among others. The rectangular box added on top, with the star-shaped cutouts, is unusual and probably served a special function. It is particularly unusual to have the one star-shaped indication pointing the opposite direction from the main signal. Someone may well recognize which RR used this kind of indication and maybe even where they used it.  Posted Tuesday, September 17, 2019 by RJMc

A. I would take it this is Union Switch & Signal? Posted Wednesday, September 18, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. Some 1600 viewable c.1960 images held by Cornell (Link 1) that might yield a match somewhere in there. Link 1  Posted Friday, September 20, 2019 by ShastaRoute

 Q3673 1921 Teapot: An Alton Logo?  Designed in 1918 and produced with 1921 date box, the letters in the logo match a Chicago & Alton uniform button (Scovill), but without the ampersand here. Though the unusual horned 'A' was also used by the Arlington Club of Portland Oregon, the design is not a match. Could this be from the great post-war shuffle to get passenger services re-built as McAdoo released his grip?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, September 17, 2019 by ShastaRoute   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. An additional entwined "CA" monogram (no ampersand) was found contained in the center of a Chicago & Alton logo on the Chicagology site (Link 1)...must scroll down a ways. The letters are plain but the set-up is the same. The old Alton Union Depot (lost in 1956) apparently held a hotel for which little can be traced. It looks to be above the station and possibly connected to the adjoining tower structure. Doesn't seem to be listed in 1917 Hotel Redbook, when the city already had more accomodations in operation. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, September 17, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. The logo mentioned was also found in the 1893 O.G. Here is (Link 1) a like monogrammed button with the legs crossing as in the early versions. Other buttons on Worthpoint show a reversing of the legs as on the teapot (left leg forward, right backward). Why the change and when is unknown. The road changed ownership and control a few times. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, September 17, 2019 by ShastaRoute

 Q3672 Passenger Car Lighting  Recently it came to me regarding early train history, that there came a point that early US railroads expanded their route schedules to include night time schedules. Freight routes always could run at night since pigs, bars of soap, bottles of whiskey or barrels of glass never needed light to make the trip. However I suspect paying passengers required & possibly even demanded passenger coach lighting! I was totally unable to find any info on the Internet on the chronological use of passenger car lighting types, until passenger cars were equipped with passenger car generators for electric lighting. Might you have or know where to find the evolution of passenger car lighting up until electric car generators were installed? Thanks a BUNCH for any offerings you may have.  Posted Saturday, September 7, 2019 by JRS   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The best place to start would be the book "The American Railroad Passenger Car" by John H. White, Jr. John White for many years was a curator in the American History Museum of the Smithsonian. In hard cover this is a large-format book about 2.5" thick which answrs in incredible detail exactly the kind of question you pose, with many drawings and photographs. But it covers not only lighting, but heating, ventilation, windows, seats, wheels, truck assemblies, body structural issues, etc etc to cover almost everything about the American passenger car. The hardbound book is so large, expensive, and fairly hard to use that they reprinted it in soft cover, but split it into two parts to make each half more manageable (When you look on the web, note you need both Pars I and II to get the whole content.) He produced a similar book on freight cars. Also put "car light" into the search box to see prior Q's on this subject here at the Q&A Site. And I am sure there are other answers here but it takes some creative searching to find them.  Posted Sunday, September 8, 2019 by RJMc

A.  John White's book is a great resource, see pages 414 to around page 429. A library that has on line service may be able to provide you with those pages. Another good resource is Lucius Beebe's book "Mr. Pullman's Elegant Palace Car" published in 1961. Beebe's book has many official Pullman photos in it that show the interiors of the cars and the lighting. Prior to electric lighting, kerosene lamps, candles and gas systems like Pintsch gas or Frost Carburetter, (that is the correct spelling), gasoline vapor systems were used. See Q 809 and Q 2326 for more information about those. Some Pintsch gas fixtures were made to use both the gas and electric bulbs in the same device. Posted Monday, September 9, 2019 by KM

A.  The Cleveland Public Library has John H. White's Book "The American Railroad Passenger Car" available in their catalog and on line so that you can Google preview it. Many of the other books by John White are also available. I did not see Lucius Beebe's book, "Mr.Pullman's Elegant Palace Car" listed at the Cleveland Library.  Posted Saturday, September 14, 2019 by KM

 Q3671 Adlake Office Stand Lamp  I received a lamp from someone that I believe may be an Adlake product. I found a lamp in the Adlake 1907 catalog showing the exact same cast iron base. The 1907 lamp is listed as having a polished brass bowl. This lamp has a steel bowl or font. It may be nickel plated as there is no sign of rust or other degradation. Does anyone have a later Adlake catalog that may have this Office Stand Lamp listed in it? If not are there any thoughts as to whether it may be an Adlake item? I realize they may have bought it from someone else and then retailed it.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, September 6, 2019 by Drew   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3670 Key Marking?  I have found this old brass key and I can't figure out what the markings mean. One side has S.RY.-ES; on the other side it's marked Chicago on the left and a S on the right. I've attached a few pictures hopefully you can help. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, September 6, 2019 by JM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Southern Railway, Eastern Section Posted Friday, September 6, 2019 by BobF

A. The A and Chicago are part of the makers mark Adams & Westlake was a poor stamping. S indicates key is for a switch lock.  Posted Saturday, September 7, 2019 by DC

 Q3669 Dressel Arlington Lantern  I recently purchased a Dressel Arlington NJ lantern. It has a cracked Handlan Fresnel globe. I am replacing it with a Dressel Fresnel globe that appears to be correct for the lantern. I have some questions about the lantern and the oil tank. My first concern is the material inside the tank. Is it likely to be asbestos? Whatever it is, I donít want it in there unless there is a good reason to keep it. It is spongy, dry, and smooth to the touch. Assuming it is not asbestos, is it OK to take it out or should I just get a replacement tank? I have noticed that some of these lanterns have smooth globes and others have Fresnel. What was the Fresnel used for? Do you have any idea of the age of the lantern? Do you have any idea where it would have been used? Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, September 6, 2019 by Mark   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Usually the fonts for lanterns like this were stuffed with cotton waste. It belongs there, as it it helped keep the kerosene in place. Posted Friday, September 6, 2019 by BobF

A. I don't burn my lanterns, just display them so I always remove the cotton waste from the fonts with a tweezers. The only asbestos I have seen in RR lanterns is the ring gasket that sits between the bottom of the globe and the body of the lantern in the Armspear 1925 lanterns. There maybe others I'm not aware of though. Posted Saturday, September 7, 2019 by LC

A. Per "Illustrated Encyclopedia of Railroad Lighting Vol. 1: The Railroad Lantern" (Barrett) : The Fresnel (pronounced Fray-nell) globe is named after Augustin Jean Fresnel (1788-1827). Fresnel was a French physicist and engineer who did much research on the light conditions governing interference phenomena on polarized light and on double refraction. He developed a method of producing circulatory polarized light. [Fresnel globes] were used in railroad applications because they reduced globe breakage and, under many conditions, gave better light. They were ideally suited for some railroad applications because they produced a beam of high intensity light with limited vertical spread. This made them ideal for use in crossing gate lanterns and rip track lanterns. Posted Saturday, September 7, 2019 by JMS

A. The NJC initials may stand for New Jersey Central. The Central RR of New Jersey also went by CNJ as well as several other abbreviations over their long history which ended in 1976 with absorbtion into Conrail. One piece of the former CNJ became the State of NJ's North Jersey Coast Line commuter service, which is another possibility. There are likely many other possibilities.  Posted Monday, September 9, 2019 by RJMc

 Q3668 Pullman Table Lamp?  I was wondering if anyone could ID this lamp base as railroad or not. I assume its a lamp base. It looks a lot like Pullman table lamps I have seen but not the same. It came from an estate in Topeka, Kansas and a locomotive gauge was found in the estate as well so I thought that the owner may have worked at the railroad and brought it home. There aren't any markings other than some numbers stamped into the bottom. Any help would be appreciated,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, September 6, 2019 by Nick   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3667 Official Issue Hat?  Yet another lost engine builder begging the usual Rail Real or Rail Fan? Cardinal dates back to 1974 producing customs for many group types so I'm not sure if this is official issue.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, August 22, 2019 by ShastaRoute   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I did locate another version (sold) with this patch. Maker listed as unknown, but if it was Cardinal, the name may have been cast-in to the plastic of the adjustable headband. This one has that and the original inside tag. Posted Thursday, August 22, 2019 by ShastaRoute

 Q3666 REA Box?  I found a box that I thought was nothing... Probably isn't. However after I started to refurbish it, I noticed a tag inside. If you could please help me find out anything about the box itself that would be cool. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, August 22, 2019 by BT   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It would appear that someone had something valuable they wanted to ship and either built a box for it or had someone else build it. We don't know much about the REA but Link 1 gives a good history. If this belonged to me I would slip an acid free "sheet protector" (get them at any office or photography supply store) over the label to keep it from touching the wood. Wood is very acidic and over time destroy any kind of paper that is left touching it. (That's why so many "brown stripes" in old framed photos and other artwork - it's the acid in the wooden back boards of the frame causing the damage.) Link 1  Posted Friday, August 30, 2019 by JMS

A. What are the Form codes in the lower right? Any dating in there? Front box might be military related opening possibilty of war related agent services such as bases, troop trains, etc. (I've had this type of box in longer form about 30 years ago.) Posted Friday, August 30, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. Great catch Shasta Route - indeed the small printing codes on the label may help date it. (BT, please understand that there almost certainly won't be any "actual" dates, it will be a bunch of what just numbers and possibly letters printing companies use as date codes.) I can't believe this is military, based on the quality of construction. Please understand I am not being critical, but observant: it is not a cabinet maker quality, it looks strictly utilitarian. It is plywood. The hinges look to me to be strangely applied with the screw heads correctly on the outside of the bottom but backwards on the lid (they should be screwing in from the outside/top?). The screws are far too long for the thickness of the wood with the points penetrating through into the inside. My thought is that it is a neat piece, but without any sentimental connections any value is in the label.  Posted Saturday, August 31, 2019 by JMS

 Q3665 RR Marker/Signal?  Would you please tell me what kind of a railroad marker/signal this is and perhaps how it was used? Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, August 21, 2019 by Shanna   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. These are 'day markers' that were used by some RR's to mark the rear of a train. The shoes fit the standard marker brackets on the rear of almost every car and locomotive. See Prior Q 3115 for related discussion. These were adequate daytime markers and were acceptable for use by some RR's until the late 1970's when the Federal RR Administration issued a national rule requiring illuminated rear end devices with a required minimum brightness that essentially mandated electrically-lit markers on the rear of every train.  Posted Thursday, August 22, 2019 by RJMc

 Q3664 OPCo Syracuse Ardsley pattern  Was OPCo Syracuse Ardsley pattern a Hudson RR exclusive pattern???   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, August 17, 2019 by Marc   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I am sorry but Ardsley was not used as a railroad pattern. You are thinking of "Violet Border" which includes some similar flowers. Violet Border was a stock pattern (sold to all comers) and was not an exclusive pattern. The design was used by the New York Central & Hudson River RR as the basis for their "Poughkeepsie" pattern, and also in the "Ravinia Park" pattern. Both of these were customized by adding a name/logo to the stock floral decoration. "Violet Border" cannot be railroad without a railroad marking on it.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, August 20, 2019 by JMS

A. I meant to note that Link 1 is to a website that shows a Violet Border platter. Scroll down when the page opens. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, August 20, 2019 by jms

 Q3663 Willamette Shay-types?  From a small cache w/two background colors, the best sample based on richness of blue and lack of stains. They did built war-export locos later, but does his look like strictly 1922-29?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, August 12, 2019 by ShastaRoute   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I have no clue, but would hope if you can get into Portland city directories for the years you need, you could find when the company was located at the address, and probably the phone. Link 1 is to a Wikipedia article about how telephone numbers were developed. With any luck you can figure out the approximate dates this particular exchange and number was used. There is information out there about how to date a phone number by the way it was presented - exchange and number - I came across it a couple of years ago and at the moment can't find it again. Link 2 is info that is probably too new but still is interesting.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Wednesday, August 21, 2019 by JMS

A. A fuller history of C&OC RR and predecessors (Link 1) revealing a hidden earlier intention (thwarted) to connect a coastal line to Marshfield Oregon, the point where SP began dropping contractor equipment (and soon a McKeen car) for construction of the southern end of W-P in 1911. [The threat to build up Merlin as a focal point may be the stimulus that pushed Grants Pass to commence work from that city.] BTW-The 1926 Ames catalogue is available on-line. They did have a grading system with "A" designating top line shovels. However, the construction of this shovel has re-inforcing bar in the lower neck and a very different type of grip (maybe older?). Missing paper lables for Ames seems possible. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, August 28, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. Sorry, this last bit should have been entered in Q3662 about Willamette Pacific. Posted Wednesday, August 28, 2019 by ShastaRoute

 Q3662 Shovels : Western Pacific RailRoad  Small capitol 'A' proceeds the '2'. Does this point to Ames or other? A light water-only wipedown of the pan brought off the fine top rust layer first, then again the pure fine black below with no soil or cement colors. Could it be an indication of coal usage in the Eastern District or is the shovel too late for this? Found in lower Willamette Valley far from WP lines.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, August 12, 2019 by ShastaRoute   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. What terrific condition! Today, the find location seems to have far less importance then in the past. I am not a hardware expert, but I would guess A2 may relate to the type or size or shape of the shovel (?). Ames is so important it should have a name or logo, at least I would think. Another possibility is a company other than Western Pacific that also had WP initials... but regardless, what a great find !  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, August 20, 2019 by JMS

A. Just to cover a few "letters concerns"..the original Western Pacific Railroad (1865-) was absorbed into Central Pacific (later S.P. Co.), but perhaps retained legal rights to "W.P.R.R." forcing Western Pacific Railway (later Railroad) to keep the "WP" spaced away. Western Pennsylvania Railroad Company was absorbed into Pennsy in 1903, the same year Western Pacific Railway was born. Either way, the shovel is probably too young for these earlier roads. 1911 brings about the Willamette Pacific Railroad Company (coincidentally extending from here to the coast) which becomes an Espee branch before it gets kicked out of the house to join the new shortlines. I have no examples of markings used by this road. 1916 sees WP Ry. reorganized into WP RR Co. (there are both Corporation and Company, and Company sometimes includes a following state name like California). "Railroad Company" may be subordinated to the Western Pacific identity...a pass sample shows the words placed below and smaller than the name. The stampings are clean so we should be able to rule out faulty marks for things like A&WP or WP&Y. While non-rail ventures are always possible, "RR" with no ampersand tends to cut down the possibles. For search reasons, I'll call this a suspected track shovel having pan dimensions of 11 1/2"(L) x 9 3/4"(W). Posted Wednesday, August 21, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. 1917 engineering background (Link 1) on Willamette Pacific R.R. suggesting more than a paper construction company as they note it had their own "organization & equipment" separate from the subcontractors and Southern Pacific (building this to be run as the Coos Bay branch). Trains were being operated as the line was extended, but not clear if this was Espee itself before the final completion. Link 1  Posted Thursday, August 22, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. Apparently backed at first by the Wendling-Johnson Lumber Company, and later turned over to Espee, the Willamette Pacific is cited in 1916 (Link 1) when Elmira Lumber Company carrying logs to Veneta ships over it. Not mentioned as Southern Pacific branch yet. Oregon Historical Society apparently covered some history in 1956 referring to the "Shoestring Railroad"...I have not read this yet. Link 1  Posted Thursday, August 22, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. And a standard summary of this road (Link 1) leaving an operating gap 1914-16 about exactly who owned what equipment traversing the line. Link 1  Posted Thursday, August 22, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. The slight possibilty that this may be a historical remnant of the early Willamette Pacific leads me to reveal this...it was found in Coburg. Wendling-Johnson had built a large mill in Springfield, so there were rail connections over Southern Pacific from Eugene to Springfield, and then Springfield to Coburg where more mills were operating. If not Western Pacific, and if old enough for the 1911-16 era, the tool may have been preserved somewhere within this tree-cuttin' triangle. And then again, I might just be crazy! Posted Thursday, August 22, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. A correction: The link regarding Elmira Lumber also shows that Wendling-Johnson was shipping Siuslaw logs to Boothe-Kelly's Springfield mill. [There's an old relationship in there involving the Wendling-Mohawk branch.] W-J itself controlled a mill at Acme in the Siuslaw Valley where they held vast timber lands. The entire mess was sold in 1917 at foreclosure, and a 1922 source states that mill was sold/dismantled/moved during the war, then replaced later by a new mill while the location was renamed Cushman. At any rate, I found no evidence that W-J ever owned or operated steam equipment as WP RR on this standard guage line. It was being referred to as a Southern Pacific subsidiary as early as 1912, even if the legal filings deny this. Posted Thursday, August 22, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. Possibly the earliest accounting of a trip (Link 1) on the WIllamette Pacific dates to 1914 and notes some 50 photographs taken on the journey. The photographer from Portland went to Springfield via Espee, and later started from Eugene (at the Espee station?) for this surveying adventure while the line was being constructed. Perhaps there may be surviving shots of the train somewhere that could reveal if the equipment was lettered for Willamette Pacific. Link 1  Posted Friday, August 23, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. The twisted history of building an expensive and difficult rail branch to this coastal region (the first start of grading out of Roseburg was aborted) needs some deep research. The possibility that Wendling-Johnson was set up as a straw-man company to ensure that Espee aquired complete control of the line before busting out the firm (after the rail assets were transferrred free of any further property claims by outside raiders) raises questions. It is also possible that W-P could have purchased or leased SP equipment for the short life of the "independent" operations. Given this, I would suggest all items with the "WP RR Co" mark that have been ascribed as early Western Pacific should be carefully scrutinized to see if something is not right. Just my opinion. Posted Monday, August 26, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. The W-J Lumber Co. was based in San Francisco but incorporated in Nevada in 1911. It was reportedly not operating during 1913. And no mention of the railroad as an asset. (Link 1) In 1913, the US Corps of Engineers stated that the W-P RR Co. project was under the control of Southern Pacific. A "railroad station" named Wendson near Cushman was a contraction of the lumber company's name. In 1917, W-J changed it's name (to Oregon Fir & ...) and officers (Nevada Amendment records). Mr. Wendling owned several western mill operations that could have had a close relationship to Southern Pacific. ICC records in 1934 continue to refer to old Willamette Pacific obligations. One source indicates Espee struck a deal with Hill for access on another line in order to be able to build W-P. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, August 28, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. More bits: 24-25 May 1911, at 9th annual convention of National Lumber Manufacturers Association in Chicago, George X. Wendling speaks on topic of The Railroads and The Lumber Industry (pg. 239-) and lays out his own relationship with Southern Pacific. 15 January 1915 is actual filing date for W-J name/officer change in Nevada. 18 February 1915 has Michigan Trust Co. sueing W-J to foreclose on three trust deeds securing bonds. It is noted at that time that W-J had already turned the W-P rail project over to Espee. Paul Merril of Eugene noted as attorney-in-fact for W-J. 23 January 1916 has S.O. Johnson visiting Eugene mentioning his losses and separation from various firms while noting W-J is in the hands of the bondholders. Year 1923 has Nevada listing all those deadbeat foreign corporations (Link 1-long list) filed in the state and subject to new fees/taxes being implemented...still included are W-J Lumber and the California and Oregon Coast Rail Road [At the same time as the W-P project in 1911, SP claimed they would build a terminal facility at Merlin north of Grants Pass for a projected coast line. Ultimately, the Grants Pass Municipal Railway built along the earlier route planned from that city. A second hand 4-4-0 engine from Central Pacific (C&OC 2nd #1) was originally re-named "Grants Pass" on the cab-my photo files.The line only reached Waters Creek and operated under another name-C&OC RR. WWI stopped all extension plans.] Link 1  Posted Wednesday, August 28, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. A report noting Wendling built four railroads (Link 1) all relating to Southern Pacific. He's tied in to so many ventures and financial institutions that you have to wonder who he really worked for. For a short while after the W-J debacle, he is in the east with an adding machine manufacturer but is soon back in the west.  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, August 28, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. At least a good part of the life of Wendling's cohort, right arm, or dupe (you decide) Samuel Oramel "Orie" Johnson (Link 1). Link 1  Posted Wednesday, August 28, 2019 by Shasta Route

A. The actual details, published in Albany Oregon in 1911, of how Southern Pacific set up the W-P with Wendling, Johnson, and the other officers including financial information (Link 1). Four separate railroad companies would transfer their holdings and rights to W-P prior to the full SP acquisition in 1915. Control was entirely by stock holdings which seems to have prevented the problems of claims against the road by outside bondholders. Southern Pacific is apparently doing the financing. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, August 28, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. Keep stumbling over this guy--Page 39 of this document puts an E. X. Wendling as vice-president of the Klamath Development company in 1906. If it was really G. X. Wendling (researchers may have got this wrong from microfilm), this suggests even more about his close ties to railroads and insider information (Southern Pacific is still in the Harriman Lines at this time, shortly before E. H. himself ventures to Klamath Falls for new planning). [A bonus..SP Engine #2251 appears in 1909 photo at Klamath Falls.] Link 1  Posted Sunday, September 1, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. Checking the KD company, in a lawsuit article, not only is G.X. an officer but so is S. O. Johnson (incorrectly listed as S.C. Johnson). Additionally, as an officer of Weed Lumber, G.X. is found (Link 1) in the company of Espee officials on an inspection of Klamath Falls for more development plans in 1912 (notice the bankers going along). In the same source, Pacific Great Western has been sold to Southern Pacific...in reality it was transferred to W-P which we know to be held by W-J Lumber. They're not hiding this very well, but SP seems to be tucking everything it can into W-P as a free standing entity which can be absorbed with the stroke of a pen that transfers all that hidden shareholder stock. All of which seems to support the idea that the previously mentioned equipment may well have been bought in the name of W-P and could carry this WP RR Co. mark that began this search. Link 1  Posted Monday, September 2, 2019 by ShastaRoute

 Q3661 Handlan Light  I recently attended an auction which included both railroad & nautical items from the same estate. One of the items was this unused Handlan cast aluminum light that was factory set up with a flashing mode red bulb. Has anyone ever seen a similar light? or have any information on this item? Thank You!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, August 7, 2019 by Dave F.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Some kind of size reference would help in identifying the intended uses of this - this kind of thing came in a very wide variety of sizes. Also, what working voltage is the bulb set up for? Was there a plug or connector on the cord, or just a 'pigtail' end? Posted Thursday, August 8, 2019 by RJMc

A. The overall diameter is 12", The voltage is 110 & it has a connection for 3/4" electrical conduit. Someone installed a short cord but this is not original to this light Posted Thursday, August 8, 2019 by Dave F.

A. This kind of fixture was often used as the backup light on the rear of steam locomotive tenders as well as early diesel units. See prior Q 3395 (also see Link), including a light that seems to have the same kind of open back as yours, but on a clear white light. The flashing red bulb implies use as a marker, but the 110 V bulb makes me think somebody wanted this for a ground-based application since most steam locos were 32 VDC and most diesels were in the range of 64 to 72 VDC.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, August 8, 2019 by RJMc

A. The Link is to a similar light (but clear, not red, for lighting backup moves) on the rear of a newly-delivered B unit diesel in 1954. Note the conduit connection.  Link 1  Posted Friday, August 9, 2019 by RJMc

A. Could they be used on the back of a passenger car where those scissor type gates closed off the open vestibule? Hung on the gate, the clear lens outward for tail marker, with the red spot forward for crew to monitor operation without casting excess light into the car. Maybe a photo can be found? Seem to recall last run of a city train (Los Angeles?) with a simple marker hung out? (Not by any of my resources right now.) Posted Saturday, August 10, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. I am still puzzled by the 'red spot' as to whether it is a lens allowing light out the backside, or an image of the red bulb in a mirror-type reflector. While the light could be hung on a gate, I don't see any signs of hooks or clamps needed to use it that way -- just the usual cast feet which would be used to bolt it to a flat surface. Also its my impression that flashing type markers came into fashion much later than when this type of fixture was popular. (Not to be confused with oscillating tail end lights such as Mars and Gyralight, which were popular much earlier and usually used with constantly-lit marker lamps.) That said, it would make sense for this light to be used on the front of a locomotive to indicate when the train was in emergency, the way current Amtrak units have red flashing strobes to indicate emergency. That would have been something that SP might have done.  Posted Monday, August 12, 2019 by RJMc

A. The Link shows a DL&W electric MU car with a single red marker lamp mounted under the regular headlight. The red light on the MU car is similar in style but not identical to yours, snd apparently was constantly lit when in use and not flashing. Some of the steam locomotives from that same area abd era also had a single red light on the front, but I haven't been able to come up with a good enough pic to see what kind of lamp was used.  Link 1  Posted Monday, August 12, 2019 by RJMc

A. The Link below shows a Lackawanna steam locomotive with the single red marker light beneath the regular headlight. Although the lamp fixture is somewhat different, the size is very similar to yours when compared with the approx. 14" headlight diameter.  Link 1  Posted Monday, August 12, 2019 by RJMc

A. I'd be inclined to 5"-6" red lens, possible rings seen upper right, sun passing through bulb on right and drowned out on the thick glass to left. If it was a mounted reflector, would you really need an adjustable lens ring? Also, the depth looks somewhat flat rather than a "deep can" for a permanent fixture out front. Reminds me of the Highway Patrol problem of red light in back window that drunks would drive straight into. A red flash out back would separate the source from all those other solid reds encroaching around rail lines. Posted Tuesday, August 13, 2019 by ShastaRoute

 Q3660 Switch Key  Does anyone have a similar key with these markings?? It appears to be original. FT WAYNE,JACKSON & SAGINAW. Made by DETROIT BRASS WORKS. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, August 7, 2019 by DS   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Nice pocket wear  Posted Wednesday, August 7, 2019 by Ex Sou Ry

A. What a terrific key - congratulations! I haven't run across one, but Link 1 is a fabulous old tapered barrel key made by Ritchie & Boyden, that was sold in 2008 - long enough ago that the prices realized list isn't published on the website.  Link 1  Posted Friday, August 9, 2019 by JMS

 Q3659 BN Lock  I recently acquired this lock and key set and Iíam wondering if you could tell me more about it like how old it is and what it would have been used for. Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, August 1, 2019 by JH   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is from the Burlington Northern (See Link 1). I believe it is a Telephone Box lock - I'm not well versed in those but have had several of the keys (other railroads, not BN). The conversation forum in Link 2 discusses telephone boxes - check out the links "Mudchicken" provided.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Thursday, August 1, 2019 by JMS

A. Burlington Northern was created in 1970. The oldest your lock can be is 49 years old. Posted Friday, August 2, 2019 by JN

A. Thank you JN. I dont know much about the BN. I have had numerous of these keys, but they are not of much interest to collectors without the locks! JH - WHAT A NICE SET!!  Posted Friday, August 2, 2019 by JMS

 Q3658 Adlake Font Lens Holder  Has anyone ever seen one of these before? This lens holder (?) soldered to the top of an Adlake font is a first for me. This came out of a recently purchased Adlake square top semaphore lamp with one clear lens. When the font is correctly installed the lens holder sits directly between the flame and the semaphore 5-3/8 inch lens. I assume that the semaphore color can be quickly changed by installing a colored lens in this holder, rather than changing out the semaphore lens itself, a slower process. A 3 to 3-1/2 inch lens will fit this holder. Any information greatly appreciated. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, July 30, 2019 by JEM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hello JEM, This holder that is soldered to your oil fount out of your semaphore lamp is actually there to hold a polished glass reflector.This was an option and did help to intensify/concentrate the light from the flame.There are illustrations of this piece in the various railroad lamp books so you will soon see how this piece worked.I don't have this info to share at this time. DJB Posted Tuesday, July 30, 2019 by DJB

A. DJB- thanks for the info. In the one lens semaphore lamp this apparatus came in, a reflector (mirror) would block the light from the flame to the lens. Given how stuff like fonts and burners moved around, this is probably not original to the semaphore. In my quick look through the "Encyclopedia of RR Lighting" and Hobson's "Lanterns That Lit Our World", I did not see anything like this lens / mirror holder.  Posted Tuesday, July 30, 2019 by JEM

A. Hello again,These oil founts had the slip collar arrangement so the burner could be rotated as needed to get the reflector behind the flame yet in line with the lense.The long burner shaft had to be rotated so as to pass out the slot near the inspection door as well.Many of Adlake's signal lamps took the large rectangular 31 ounce fount like yours and those founts could be rotated 180 or 90 degrees as needed and once in placwe,the slip collar on the burner bottom could be rotated so the shaft lined up with the slot in the body.The other possibility is that your lamp originally came with what was referred to as a "tall" semaphore oil fount,which was like a marker lamp fount only twice as high and held about 22 ounces of oil and these had a cage/holder so they could only slide in one way.Railroads were great for modifying lamps/parts to increase oil capacity and reduce trips by the signal maintainer having to fill the founts.I have 2 or 3 signal lamps that have been modified over their life and I was in fact a 40 year signal employee and saw much of this signal equipment modified as well to electric or put on a shelf only to be saved later or scrapped.When the old oil lamps were converted to electric,parts such as the oil fount,burners,reflectors,vents and baffles were discarded.DJB  Posted Wednesday, July 31, 2019 by DJB

A. Hi again- DJB. You are correct - I had the tank installed backwards; what was I thinking! But it was that way when I got it - a feeble excuse. But without a reflector either way works and when "backwards" the fill cap access is right there when the access panel is up. The burner / tank has the slip collar arrangement and the burner shaft lines up with the body slot when the reflector holder is towards the lift access panel. The only issue I see with this arrangement is the tank has to be pulled completely out in order to get to the tank fill cap, so there is a little extra maintenance time needed there. Thanks so much for your insight, DJB.  Posted Wednesday, July 31, 2019 by JEM

A. Hello DJB! Your answer above is perfect timing to raise a lamp-related question which came up while looking for the answer to #3663. You mention 'larger founts' and the catalogs show some signal and grade crossing lamps with huge 1-gallon (!!) or 31-day (!!)founts. My question: I understand not needing to refill the tank for 30 days, but how did the WICKS run lit for a whole month with no attention?? (Maybe they were asbestos rope?) Regards, RJMc Posted Wednesday, July 31, 2019 by RJMc

A. Hi RJMc. I have a Northern Pacific large tank semaphore lamp made for hard to access places, that supposedly will burn for 28 days on a tank full of kerosene. My understanding is that the wick's function is to wick up (pun intended) or transport fuel to the flame and if properly set up, will itself burn very little, and last at least 28 days. But they do slowly burn, so need adjustment and trimming periodically. A web site selling wicks says that an eight inch wick will last through 15 gallons of oil. JEM  Posted Thursday, August 1, 2019 by JEM

A. Hi RJMc and JEM,Re those distant signal lamps with the large 28-30 day oil founts and the wick maintenance needed,I had occasion to talk to one of our oldest retired signal maintainers and also an older retired section foreman about the subject of maintenance needed to the lamp wicks,burners and oil supply for these distant lamps as well as the switchlamps that were still in use when I started in the signal dept in 1971.They both said that the purity and standards for the oil used in these lamps was very high and the biggest warning re the wick maintenance was never to let the lamp flame run out of oil which caused it to burn and build up charred material on its end and in the burner/wick guide.If this was not allowed to happen,only minimal wick trimming was required during a year's time.When I speak of a distant signal lamp,that was signal speak for an approach signal to an interlocking,that was located about 1-2 miles out from the actual interlocking and since electricity wasn't available until later times,these lamps burned oil,had high capacity founts and later were converted to low voltage electric lamp lighting when electricity became available. DJB Posted Sunday, August 4, 2019 by DJB

 Q3657 What andWhere was This?  I picked up a lantern/headlamp on my travels and I was wondering if you knew anything about it. I can't find anything similar in my online searches and was curious what type of engine this was on and what years? It's a heavy lantern at 20lbs, and I was told it was once kerosene. The front glass measures 9 in. My goal is to try and find any missing parts or recreate them. Any help would be appreciated!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, July 30, 2019 by Eric   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Two immediate thoughts: (1) this is probably not of North American origin. The ID tag should provide some clues on that. (2) There doesn't seem to be any provision for the ventilation needed to burn kerosene -- either for inlet air or outlet exhaust air. Other possibilities: incandescent lamp -- no ventilation needed. Or electric arc? or acetylene gas? But both of those require SOME ventilation. The pix don't seem to show any carbon residue from any of the combustion processes.  Posted Tuesday, July 30, 2019 by RJMc

A. Also the very top comes off exposing a vent type system again it was mentioned it was from France. Posted Tuesday, July 30, 2019 by Eric

A. Here is a pic of the top vent. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, July 31, 2019 by Eric

A. This lamp reminds me of an auction I attended years ago. The auctioneer had called me to tell me of a lamp like he had never seen before. He was correct. On arrival, the lamp turned out to be a put together from four different makers. While your main body is original, I believe the top is from something else. I think I see a space for a font and a chimney, but without any exhaust draft. You need to start looking at photos of European locos , if you want to restore it.  Posted Saturday, August 3, 2019 by HVColl

A. Thank you Hvcoll. Can you help me understand exhaust draft? To me looking at the top it is a double walled ventilation it has a heat break or wind plate at bottom of copper stack then at the top bulbous part inner holes at the top that appear to vent out bottom edge.aka the bulb on top. I will move to looking at locoís In Europe I did find that the BRC could Stand for Boas, Rodrigues& co. A lamp maker out of Europe. Thanks again. Posted Monday, August 5, 2019 by HVcoll

A. It's a French locomotive headlamp from the Chemin de Fer de l'Est (Eastern Railway) which ran between Paris and the German border until the company was nationalised in 1938. Posted Wednesday, August 7, 2019 by JAJ

A. Thank you JAJ for the info! Itís great to finally have a locomotive and a time in history to help appreciate this lamp even more! Thanks to all that helped in search! Posted Saturday, August 10, 2019 by JAJ

 Q3656  SP CO with 'EH'  A handle-marked Southern Pacific Walworth 'Genuine Stillson' 18-inch pipe wrench. Marked on head back 'EH'. Would this certify this tool was assigned to the Engine House? (Surfaced in Eugene Oregon where all 'E's present a natural problem.)   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, July 30, 2019 by ShastaRoute   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Wanted to note...Western Pacific Headlight Issue 23 Spring 2004 had an article on Diesel Servicing reprinting BLW Magazine v.4 n.3 1948 with a photo on page 16 of a mechanic wielding a similar wrench. Obviously they remained in use beyond steam and Walworth continued to be listed as a military supplier into WWII era. Apparently they exist in the valve business. Posted Tuesday, July 30, 2019 by ShastaRoute

 Q3655 CNJ Plaque  Can anyone identify this CNJ plaque? The small plate below it says 6 - 24 - 13. Someone suggested it may be from a passenger car water cooler. Any information. Would be helpful. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, July 27, 2019 by JN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Almost seems like an early version of a retirement plaque. All I could find of any significance in 1913 was a claim that their initial steel coach came that year. But other reports indicate a first major order of steel cars occurred only in 1914. No other reported events would seem to call for a special commemoration of a specific day. Posted Monday, July 29, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. Looks like the brass plate from an old water cooler similar to what I have. The NJC logo is exactly the same. The car cleaners polished the heck out of it so that the writing at the top has disappeared. Other than the logo I can hardly make out the writing on mine. They have trimmed it at the sides and under the logo (mine is 5 x 6 square). My guess would be a shop made retirement gift showing the date that the person started work. Posted Tuesday, July 30, 2019 by DA

 Q3654 Button ID Needed  I found this button in Richmond, Virginia and was hoping someone could help me date it. A magnet picks it up if that helps and it is approximately 3/4 in. diameter. The front reads TEN WHEELER and has the image of the train   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, July 27, 2019 by LYS   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It is a work clothes button, not of a uniform. Posted Sunday, July 28, 2019 by DC

A. Appreciate knowing the button came from work clothes but I'm trying to determine an approximate age. Posted Monday, July 29, 2019 by SL

A. The 4-6-0, or "Ten Wheeler", locomotive came about well before 1900 and would have held serious significance from c.1890-1910. The depiction is often known as an "old timer"...an earlier version of engines before they were modernized. We wouldn't expect that design to last, but cutesy stuff is pretty hard to kill. So 1885-1915 would be a conservative range, but it can't pre-date the development of this wheel arrangement and that is something that can be looked up. Posted Monday, July 29, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. BTW...just type button in the search box for words and you'll find numerous versions of these buttons have been discussed. Posted Monday, July 29, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. Thank you all very much... I wish the back of the button wasnít in such horrible condition 😔 Posted Wednesday, July 31, 2019 by SL

 Q3653 Lamp ID Needed  I recently acquired this Adlake Caboose lamp from eBay. I've been trying to figure out what model this lamp is with a hinged door to access the fount.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, July 27, 2019 by JL   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Barrett and Gross's Illustrated Encyc. of RR Lighting, Vol. II, on RR Signal Lamps, has nothing under Adlake like yours. But it shows two essentially identical lamps by Dressel, with hinged doors but no model numbers. Both were markers for the PRR, one painted black and one yellow (which was a sometime PRR practice) and they note in the text that New Haven also used them. By coincidence, our favorite (??) online auction site just this morning lists one by Handlan, from the New Haven, also with the hinged door and no model number. As with many other things, the PRR considered themselves (modestly) 'The Standard RR of the World' and went their own way on almost everything. So this design of lamp was probably a PRR standard and ordered in sufficient quantities that all the mfgrs. ended up getting to make some of them. And they didn't NEED to assign their own model numbers, other than the specs tha PRR used to order them. And the mfgrs. were happy to supply the lamps to that design, to anybody else who wanted to order them, such as NH. [In retrospect, I am kind of surprised that the PRR used the same track gauge as everyone else, but then again, there were very compelling reasons that they couldn't go their own way on that!!]  Posted Tuesday, July 30, 2019 by RJMc

A. Another reason that the New Haven might have shared a PRR design: Since 1917 the New Haven operated many passenger trains over the Hell Gate Bridge line (see Link) into PRR's New York Penn Station and freights as well. So NH would have needed to follow PRR (or jointly agreed) practices to do that. That operating arrangement lasted until both NH and PRR were absorbed into Penn Central and survives today under Amtrak and Metro North and the freight RR's serving NY City.  Link 1  Posted Friday, August 2, 2019 by RJMc

 Q3652 Double Contact Strap Key  I recently acquired a strap signal key, apparently used on the railroads. Could you tell me what role this strap key played in the past as a railroad signalling tool and how? Thank you and regards,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, July 23, 2019 by HW, Australia   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Some thoughts: This very basic type of key is obviously not designed for routine high speed sending of telegraph messages. I suspect it was used on some form of test board or panel where only occasional use was required. I note with some interest the number '440' on the tag on the front. 440 AC was the voltage used on North American RR pole lines to transmit power out to remote signals and grade crossing protection systems, so this key might have been at a test point for checking those circuits. Other possibilities crop up, along with Western Union whose systems were very similar to the RR's, and others involving the much more basic telegraph circuits such as the Gamewell Fire Alarm system, or the American District Telegragh (that's where the ADT security co. started) systems, where circuit continuity was an issue that sometimes needed to be tested but complex long messages were not being sent.  Posted Wednesday, July 24, 2019 by RJMc

A. Didn't those "old timers" in telegraphy have some conventions where they all sat around banging out electrical pulses in the dining room of big hotels? Maybe they numbered each key to match the participant seated there? Posted Monday, July 29, 2019 by ShastaRoute

 Q3651 Key IDs?  These keys belonged to my great-grandfather and while I know what the large key is for, I am wondering if anyone knows what the smaller keys are for, and also what the two metal rings with the pattern on them are for? Thank you!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, July 23, 2019 by Nicole    Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. My father had the same exact type of small keys for a cash box he kept. It wasn't exactly a high security container as it was made of thin sheet metal. Posted Friday, July 26, 2019 by LC

A.  Several of us have been discussing this question and we cannot come up with an answer for the use of the two metal rings. A clue that might help us is knowing what job your Great Grandfather did on the railroad. Was he in the Operating Department like an Engineer or Conductor, the Maintenance of Way Department, did he work in a Roundhouse or car shop, or did he work on signals or maybe he worked in a depot as a clerk or dispatcher? Let us know what he did and maybe we can help identify those rings. Posted Sunday, August 4, 2019 by KM

A. Hi, he worked in Plummer, Idaho and my grandma says he was a station agent. I appreciate any help you can provide! Thanks! Posted Friday, August 9, 2019 by Nicole

 Q3650 RR Seal?  Are you able to identify this? I enjoy metal detecting here in Transfer PA. Which got its name from the railroad transfer station.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, July 22, 2019 by DB   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. "P. Co." was a fairly common abbreviation for the Pennsylvania Railroad Co. Usually there would be more identifying info: is there any lettering or numbering on the other side of the seal? See prior Q 3601 for more info on how these were used in various functions around a RR. The Link goes to a separate page in the archives here on this website, all about RR lead seals and sealers.  Link 1  Posted Monday, July 22, 2019 by RJM

A. Yes on the back are the numbers 315. Thanks, I was hoping it stood for Pennsylvania Railroad. Posted Tuesday, July 23, 2019 by db

A. Just as a general note, the Pennsylvania Company was the holding corporation for the various rail components. Its' use as a mark was gradually supplanted by PRR, the Keystone logo, etc. Posted Wednesday, August 21, 2019 by ShastaRoute

 Q3649 Dietz 39 Brass Lantern  I recently picked up this all brass (except for the bail which is steel) Dietz 39 lantern. The only markings on this are on the bottom: RE DIETZ COMPANY US NEW YORK with the number '39' in the middle. Overall the metal seems rather thin to me. The bail attach point seems lower than that of some other lanterns Iíve seen in pics. Globe and baffle plates missing, along with the fount and the wick raiser. I wonder what other company's fount might be compatible with this model? Anybody know of the approximate age of this lantern? If it's railroad or a specific Fireman's lantern on a railroad, or just a city fire department lantern? Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, July 20, 2019 by James L.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hobson's "Lanterns That Lit Our World" shows both the Conductor's #39 and Fireman's #39 lanterns as being identical except the fireman's lantern has a ring or loop attached to the top. Hobson says the lanterns were made from 1888 to 1905. He states the "fireman" refers to a locomotive fireman. Kirkman (Link 1) says the ring or loop was for use with a truck hook - presumably a fire truck. Hobson's lantern picture shows the bail attached to the lantern top at the vent area, while pictures in the Encyclopedia of Railroad Lighting show the bail attached at the top wire of the globe cage. The bail attachment point surely move around during the years this lantern was manufactured. A brass Dietz #39 I once owned had the bail attached to the lantern top, and the top was smooth. Your lantern appears to have had the ring or loop attached to the top at one time, so maybe it is a fireman's lantern.  Link 1  Posted Monday, July 22, 2019 by JEM

 Q3648 PB Blaster Okay to Use on Lantern?  I want to clean a Dressel switch lantern and am having a difficult time getting the panel to slide up so I can take out the kerosene pot (see pic). I have used WD-40 with limited success. Would PB Blaster be okay to try, to unfreeze it? I donít want to immerse it with the pot inside. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, July 20, 2019 by Vicki   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. WD-40 isn't really designed to be a lubricant (WD = water displacement). Any kind of lubricating oil should help here, including silicon lube spray, 3 in 1, or motor oil. Sometimes I have had to turn to my trusty plastic "persuader" hammer to tap the bottom of the panel lip to get it to move.  Posted Monday, July 22, 2019 by JEM

A. On second thought, don't use a silicon spray, because it is very difficult to remove properly and paint doesn't stick to it. Use an oil based lubricant.  Posted Monday, July 22, 2019 by JEM

A. Thanks! I was able to get the slide panel up to get the pot out. Just one more question, I need to replace the 5 3/8Ē O-rings that were mounted behind the lenses. Does anyone know where I could find replacements? I tried contacting JerrysRR but get no reply. Posted Thursday, July 25, 2019 by Vicki

A. Try Larry and Doris Krise, they have a lot of lamp parts - Link 1! Good luck!  Link 1  Posted Thursday, July 25, 2019 by JMS

A. The seals behind the lenses were not O rings, but flat gaskets. You can easily cut your own out of bulk rubber or cork flat gasket material available at any auto parts store or Big Box lumber/home supply place. See the Link to one of the pages in the Archives on this site with an 'exploded view' of all the parts it took / you need to re-assemble your lamp. This kind of view is available many different places from the various mfrs., and most were very similar since the lamps were made to RR industry standards to be interchangeable. Adlake may still be selling some of these parts.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, July 25, 2019 by RJMc

 Q3647 Silverware: M.P.R. on Towle  Could it be an early Missouri Pacific pattern? Towle's an oddball for railroads, but it wouldn't be a first time for unexpected makers.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, July 20, 2019 by ShastaRoute   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3646 Lake & River Lantern  I hate to sound ignorant, but what does 'Lake and River' mean when referring to a railroad lantern? In the 1907 Adlake catalog shown on this site (see link) there is a reference Ė but I canít find any explanation. Is it as simple as a lantern/globe made for use on lake and river vessels ? Thanks! Posted Friday, July 12, 2019 by JMS  Link 1     Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Yes. If you note in the Link, the globe is for the "No. 7 Steamboat Lantern" obviously for use on lakes and rivers and canals. Waterways were a big market for lanterns, both for use on the vessels and at the land facilities. For just one example, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal between Washington, DC and Cumberland, MD, about 150 miles, in its heyday had 500 (five hundred!) mule-powered canal boats operating on it and 18 or more locks and dams, each with a locktender and each needing more than one lantern. So definitely a significant market for the lantern manufacturers. Often lanterns targeted at the marine market were made of brass, because salt water rapidly corroded the usual tin plate. But 'Lakes and Rivers' probably implied freshwater, so more steel could be used than for Navy equipment.  Posted Sunday, July 14, 2019 by RJMc

A. RJMc - thank you for a terrific and informative answer! Posted Tuesday, July 16, 2019 by JMS

 Q3645 Square Key Barrel  I found a brass square open barrel Bohannan key. I can't seem to find it online. Can you help? Thanks   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, July 8, 2019 by Mark K.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I think I may have seen the same key. It looks to me as though someone made it into a clock key (?). If you are talking about it disappearing from eBay, railroad keys are prohibited on ebay. They have been since the Bush administration after 9/11 demanded eBay stop allowing auctions that could be used by terrorists against transportation infrastructure. Although it appeared last fall that they were being allowed again (after years of prohibition) all of a sudden several weeks ago, eBay began killing listings in droves. This after even adding a "Railroad Key" and "Railroad Lock" attribute you could add to a listing to help bidders home in on it. (See Link 1). RR Locks ("switch" is specifically mentioned in the list of prohibited items) were/are also prohibited, but those have gradually returned and they have let those listings slide. See Link 2 for the full prohibitions/restrictions policy, RR items are in the "Government Transit and shipping" subhead. There is no way to second guess what eBay will do.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Monday, July 8, 2019 by JMS

A. See prior Q 3631 and the other Q's listed there about hollow square gas valve keys. The rough outside surface on the square end of your key is how things look after somebody modified an existing key to have the square end by adding more metal and machining it down. Although like many suppliers, the key and lock manufacturers would deliver almost anything a customer would pay for. So there is still the possibility it left the factory that way. Posted Monday, July 8, 2019 by RJMc

A. Thanks, RJMc, for the defining answer.  Posted Wednesday, July 10, 2019 by JMS

 Q3644 C&O Greenbrier Flatwares  Found as odd man out among a group of very early Hotel del Coronado ornate patterns. This is Raphael (1896-on) by Rogers & Hamilton which joined International Silver in 1898. The firm continues to 1920, well after the new Greenbrier opens. This matches the old style 'G'. Could it be from there?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, July 6, 2019 by ShastaRoute   Post a Reply  Email a reply