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

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Latest 50 Questions:

 Q3343 Eug Halard Lamp  I have a Eug Halard lamp per the brass tag. It is 25.5 inches high. Has a white reflector. Unfortunately it was electrified. I converted it to a clock. My question regards the tags welded on the right side. First one is: 23 A 662. Second tag reads: 5 DOLE. The name plate on the front is also dated 1947. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks in advance…….   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, July 21, 2017 by JR   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3342 Vesta Globe Question  Does anyone know why this Dietz Vista lantern marked 'Wabash R.R.' has a clear pear shaped globe with 'U.S.A.' in raised letters on it? Thanks for your time any attention. Best Regards,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, July 21, 2017 by Ed   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. See Prior Q 2572, which lists others as well, explaining how the US Government purchased many thousands of Vesta's for wartime service, many marked with 'USA'.The parts were fully interchangeable with the lanterns being sold to RR's. Posted Friday, July 21, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3341 Tag Info?  I found this tag while scuba diving in the Appomattox River in Virginia. It's does not seem to be brass. A railroad came down to the river. During the civil war the track was melted down for cannons. Have you seen this type before? Any info would be appreciated. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, July 16, 2017 by Tim   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It appears to be a baggage tag. One of the best sources of info on these tags is Scott Czaja's Tag Town website (see Link). The maker's mark in your pic is hard to make out, but might be J.C. Robbins of Boston, one of the makers listed on the Tag Town site, where only one example is listed as known and they don't have a photo (yet) of that mark.  Link 1  Posted Monday, July 17, 2017 by RJMc

A. Glad you posted here - this is clearly from a railroad, but which one is the N&RRR, is the puzzle. It's also possible it is not a baggage tag, as railroads used tags to keep tabs on all kinds of property. I could find nothing for N&RRR from a brief search, it would be terrific to know which road this is from. It may be a small local.  Posted Monday, July 17, 2017 by JMS

A. Three searches of sources so far come up with no good prospects for "N&R" as RR initials. One is Bill Edson's "RR Names", second is Joseph Gross' "Trolley and Interurban Directory", third is David Bright's 'Confederate RR's' website (see Link). From Edson, based only on the initials there is Nashua and Rochester, operating in Massachusetts only less than two years in 1874 and 75, then merged thru various iterations ending up as part of Boston & Maine. This could be a possible source, given the Boston source of the tag; but no guarantees.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, July 18, 2017 by RJMc

A. There was also a Newark & Roselle RR, taken over by the Lehigh Valley. I got this from 1907 Official Guide old and new names section. Posted Tuesday, July 18, 2017 by BobF

A. Possible Newport & Richford. Part of Canadian Pacific lines in Vermont. Could coincide with Boston tag maker. Posted Tuesday, July 18, 2017 by DC

A. Interesting, as always. The Edson listing primarily contains references from documents at the ICC, of U.S. RR's that were common carriers. Many other varieties of RR's existed that would not make that list (intrastate-only carriers, during-construction-only co's, trolley lines, and Canadian RR's in Canada for some examples. The Newark and Roselle didn't get into Edson (my copies, anyway) but I had overlooked the Newport and Richford, which IS in there, shown as part of CPR lines in VT. from 1908 to 1926. With the 'part of CPR' status, not clear whether that N&R would have issued separate tags, but possible.  Posted Tuesday, July 18, 2017 by RJMc

A. Interestingly, I got curious and looked into a couple old Official Guides I have...November, 1889 doesn't list the Newark & Roselle as either a current or superseded RR, while August, 1895 shows it as an old RR superseded by the Lehigh Valley. Maybe it was just a "paper" RR for a track extension or relocation, not a "real" operating RR. That could be why Edson didn't pick it up?? If that's the case then the tag would be from one of the other lines mentioned as answers, not the Newark & Roselle. Posted Tuesday, July 18, 2017 by BobF

A. In searching N.R.R.R. came up with The Official Guide North American Freight Service Edition 1895. An article on Baltimore Steam Packet Line says they made connections with all railways to principal cities. Schedule shows Charleston via N.R.R.R. I did not go any further. Posted Thursday, July 20, 2017 by DC

 Q3340 Age of Reading Badge?  I have this badge and would like to get an idea of it's age please. There are no markings on it that I can see. It is actually silver in color. Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, July 10, 2017 by Nell   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It would be from the middle thirties on, as that's about when they went from P&R Ry to the Reading Company! RLN Posted Wednesday, July 12, 2017 by RLN

A. The type of pin also helps date it - this simple style was early 1900s - so it sounds like 1930s or thereabouts is right on. I also asked a RR police badge specialist friend and he confirmed it's 100% legit. Enjoy !  Posted Monday, July 17, 2017 by JMS

 Q3339 Chicago Milwaukee & Puget Sound Name Train?  I have seen any number of 'Olympian' fine china sets by the Chicago Milwaukee & St. Paul, including the 'Puget Sound' box logo, but I have never seen one like this before. Can anybody help? Inside the cup instead of a logo is 'Chicago Milwaukee & Puget Sound Railway' (does not mention St. Paul). On the saucer is 'Pioneer Pacific Special.' Was the Pioneer Pacific Special a name train ? I can’t believe this can be a repo – the gold in calligraphy is too well applied, and it is a Haviland Limoges set, similar in shape to the more readily found Olympian pieces. Thank you!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, July 9, 2017 by JS   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. According to The Official Guide to Railroad Dining Car China these sets were reportedly given as a gift to the woman selected to pour afternoon tea in the parlor car. Posted Sunday, July 9, 2017 by DC

A. Yes, they apparently were, thank you for that additional information! But this particular decoration does not appear in either McIntyre or Luckin... I have seen many of the "usual" design, but never one like this before. The others all have had logos in the cup and on the saucer (as shown in the books). Never calligraphy in 22-24k gold, and I have been stumped trying to find out info about the Pioneer Pacific Special.  Posted Sunday, July 9, 2017 by jms

A. Ooops, sorry,the maker is Guerin (Limoges), better/more desirable than Haviland.  Posted Sunday, July 9, 2017 by jms

 Q3338 Correct Pot for A&W 200?  I was wondering what the correct burner and oil pot is for an Adams and Westlake 200 railroad lantern. I'm looking at one and the oil Pot says… Use kerosene oil only and the burner has adlake on one side and I believe 187 in the other.....any help is appreciated. Thank you,  Posted Saturday, July 8, 2017 by Janine   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Despite the number the number on the burner, that is the correct fount and burner. the later 250 went to a flat wick burner marked Adlake 250 and the fount changed to longtime burning oil with no model number. later keros have both the fount and burner marked for models 300 or 400.  Posted Monday, July 10, 2017 by JFR

 Q3337 Peter Gray Lamp  I have what I believe to be a Peter Grey & Sons switch lamp. It does not appear to have been converted to electric. Is this indeed a switch lamp? If so I've not seen a Peter Grey N&W switch lamp before.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, June 28, 2017 by Jamie N   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I believe it was converted to electric due to the added solid top. See link for a picture of what it originally looked like as a oil burner. Link 1  Posted Thursday, June 29, 2017 by LC

A. Jamie; First off, Yes, it is a switch lamp. - Next; it came from the factory with that solid lid on it, and was not converted from kerosene. If it had been converted from oil burning, the railroad would have simply used a sheet metal disk to seal off the top. Railroads were known for penny-pinching and would never purchase a retrofit conversion top from the original manufacturer as it would be too expensive and too cumbersome of a process to order retrofit lids when they could make a just as functional lid from plain sheet steel. - When you say that it doesn't appear to have been converted to electric, do you mean that there is no bulb socket in the lamp or no hole in the body for an electric cord? A photo of the interior of the lamp, especially the floor, could help tell if it had electric fittings in the past, which had been removed at some point. - It is possible that it came from the factory with reflector lenses and never was used as an illuminated lamp. - The railroad lamp business was highly competitive and manufacturers needed to control their costs. I have never seen a specifically reflector body from Peter Gray, with no side door or hinged lid, such as Adlake, Dressel and Handlan made specifically and exclusively for reflectors. I don't know if Gray made a specific sealed body just for reflectors or used an electric body with the side door, rather than go to the expense of creating an additional body style for use with reflectors. Even though your lamp has a sliding side door to access the inside of the lamp, it very well could have come from the factory with reflector lenses and no interior lighting hardware; OR, the electrical hardware may have been removed. N&W lamps from Peter Gray show up from time to time; so, Yes, N&W did use Peter Gray lamps. SEE, Q2818 for some discussion on another N&W lamp from Gray that may or may not have come originally with reflectors or factory electric hardware, ---- .... Red Beard Posted Thursday, June 29, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A.  Thank you for the replies, I couldn't find any information about the lamp. It will not let me upload the inside pics to the site for some reason. The side of the light slides off. It's open with no reflectors inside.  Posted Thursday, June 29, 2017 by Red Beard

A. I read and looked at the pictures on question 2818, it's the same lamp. Mine does not have the reflectors like his. Mine has the glass lenses on it. I also submitted pictures to be added of the inside.  Posted Thursday, June 29, 2017 by Red beard

A. First picture... Link 1  Posted Friday, June 30, 2017 by Red Beard

A. Second picture... Link 1  Posted Friday, June 30, 2017 by Red Beard

A. Jamie: are there any small holes for screws in the floor of the lamp? Holes would give a clue as to whether there had been an electric lamp socked inside the lamp at some point. Also, looking for a large hole, 3/8 to 1/2 inch for an electric cord. One hole in the center of the floor would be for water to drain out, so I'm asking for additional holes other than in the center. Minus any holes for screws to hold a socket in place and a hole for a cord, my guess would be that it came with reflectors and at some point, who ever had the lamp put lenses in it for a better appearance. Part of the fun of this hobby is that there are subtle mysteries that we'll never really figure out. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Saturday, July 1, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Your lamp apparently dates from between 1900 and 1907, the years that PETER GRAY AND SONS company name appeared on these brass plates. According to "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Railroad Lighting Vol. 1" by Richard Barrett. Between 1878 and 1900 the name was PETER GRAY. In 1906, Peter Gray, Sr., died and in 1907 the company was incorporated when all four of his sons took over.  Posted Saturday, July 1, 2017 by jms

A. Sorry, I meant to add that as of 1907, the company name stamped on the little brass plates was PETER GRAY AND SONS, INCORPORATED  Posted Saturday, July 1, 2017 by jms

A. Quoting Barrett, this time in "Vol 2, The Railroad Signal Lamp," in his chapter on Peter Gray, he names a model "GRA SW-03, Mushroom Cap Switch Stand Lamp," and says, "At least three versions of this lamp exist. There is a short version and a taller version. The taller version apparently had a larger capacity fount. Another version exists with day targets." This certainly sounds like your lamp. Regarding the holes, this lamp has had over 100 years of time and any number of different owners. Anyone could have made modifications, including an electric conversion, and then back. Gray lamps are notoriously hard to find founts/burners for.  Posted Saturday, July 1, 2017 by jms

A. No, there Is no screw holes in the bottom. I want to thank everyone for the responses. I was not having much luck finding anything on line.  Posted Saturday, July 1, 2017 by Red beard

A. No, there Is no screw holes in the bottom. I want to thank everyone for the responses. I was not having much luck finding anything on line.  Posted Saturday, July 1, 2017 by Jamie Neal

 Q3336 Kero Burner Question   I purchased this lantern at a yard sale and have been trying to find out all I can about it. It is marked The Adams & Westlake Co as well as SOO LINE. What is confusing is I just opened it up for the first time and the inside does not look like a typical Kerosene burner set up. There is no turn knob on the outside for the wick. I thought that might be missing but the inside looks strange and not like a typical burner. Can you tell me anything about this? Many thanks is advance.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, June 25, 2017 by Joanna   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hi Joanna, you're correct, it is not your typical lantern burner. Someone has replaced the burner with one from a railroad switch lamp; having a round wick instead of a flat one. Looking at the photo as presented on this web site, there is an oval shaped bend in the wire in the 6 o'clock position below the wick. That should be the wick advance; try turning it. The font (oil pot) looks like a typical lantern font. You can find a replacement burner on eBay, with a flat wick, if you look daily for a while. I have seen round wick burners used in lanterns before, so yours isn't the first time someone has substituted one for the other. Or, you could use the round wick one and keep it as a conversation piece. ---- ....Red Beard Posted Sunday, June 25, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. The proper burner should look like this one. See Link Link 1  Posted Monday, June 26, 2017 by LC

A. The Link in the second A above (to the Kirkman site?) doesn't seem to be working. Posted Tuesday, June 27, 2017 by RJMc

A. Try pasting this address to your browser address bar ( ) --- frequently, very long addresses won't work in the automatic "LINK" feature on this site. - Woody Kirkman should be lionized for the work he has done in the lantern collecting world. Thank you so much Woody! ---- .... Red Beard Posted Tuesday, June 27, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. From the photos, you will need a #300 burner, but it would probably be the threaded version which is the harder one to find. Switch lantern burners are usually threaded and fit into a 7/8" opening. Does it unscrew (threaded) or are there two "knobs" that hold the burner in. That will help answer your question. Posted Tuesday, July 4, 2017 by BobF

A. While I'm not familiar with SOO LINE practices, some railroads, Southern Pacific comes to mind, occasionally used longtime burners like this one in hand lanterns for a stable, longer lasting signal due to the lower oil consumption. Southern Pacific also had some hand lanterns with unusually large founts to extend the burn time even further. I would hazard a guess the SOO LINE used the lantern this way, but I couldn't say for sure. Posted Monday, July 10, 2017 by JFR

 Q3335 NYC Lines Vs System  I have two lanterns from New York. One is a Dietz Vesta high-top with New York Central embossed on the skirt of the dome. The globe is embossed NYC Lines and on the opposite side embossed Dietz Vesta and the Corning logo. The other lantern involved is an Adlake Kero with the skirt embossed with NYCS. It seems from my research that NYCS stands for New York Central System. I spent a fair amount of time researching how New York Central Lines would relate to New York Central System. I see the NYCS logo on some newer locomotives and the research indicates that NYCS referred to a time in the early 1800's where it stood for transportation including other than railroads. There is a lot of information on the formation of the New York Central but nowhere that I can find are the two terms explained. Can you tell me how New York Central Lines and New York Central System are related?  Posted Wednesday, June 14, 2017 by Phillip   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Here is some info I turned up on a website: "The New York Central changed its oval herald to read "System" instead of "Lines" as of November 1935." Posted Thursday, June 15, 2017 by DA

A. One was used to refer to the New York lines, the other referred to the railroad west of Buffalo, which would include the Michigan lines. I don't recall which is which, but everything became NYCS around 1920ish or so.  Posted Thursday, June 15, 2017 by JN

A. The question of "Lines" vs. "System" has come up many times, and involving many major RR's around the U.S. which all seemed to follow much the same trends in how things were named and organized as the whole RR industry evolved. In the East, both NYC and PRR followed those trends. With regard to NYC, enter 'By Question Number' 1333 for a good start, then look at 1501, 1525, and 2097 for a lot of prior discussion. If you enter 'PRR Lines' or 'PRR System'(without the quotes) in the 'Word or Phrase' box, and give the site time to sort them out, you will see a whole 'nother string of Q&A's about the Lines/System issue.  Posted Thursday, June 15, 2017 by RJMc

A. The more exact answer to your question is that the two terms refer to much the same overall operation(s), but before and after some corporate re-organization. Changing the corporate name and/or trademarks and branding was (and is) a way to change the official names of things, to reflect new ownership or refinancing or bankruptcy, for example, without needing to change the underlying brand identity and losing public recognition developed over decades. The changes back and forth between 'Railroad Co.' and 'Railway Co.' are done for similar reasons. Other transportaton companies, not just RR's, have these same happenings. Today it is Greyhound LINES but Trailways SYSTEM, but that could change tomorrow. Posted Saturday, June 17, 2017 by RJMc

A. My information is that the New York Central LINES began when the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad ended in 1914. The New York Central SYSTEM began in the summer of 1935 (hence the herald change shortly thereafter) and lasted until 1968 when the NYC was forced to merge/become Penn Central. Another good source of information may be the NYC Historical Society, a large and active group, which should be able to provide more details.  Posted Saturday, July 1, 2017 by jms

 Q3334 JT Co. Key  I have an Adlake brass switch key stamped JT Co. Any idea which RR it came from?  Posted Tuesday, June 13, 2017 by LF   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Possibly 'Johnstown Traction Company', as in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Posted Tuesday, June 13, 2017 by PEK

A. I believe the most common name that turns up for this key is Jacksonville Terminal Co Posted Wednesday, June 14, 2017 by DA

 Q3333 SP Conductor Badge  I am investigating a CONDUCTOR over S.P.CO. Badge (I believe it is Brass) It is 3 1/2 inches long. I would like to know the era it is from and any other info you are willing to provide. There are no further marks other than those you see on front or back of the badge.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, June 6, 2017 by WBC   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3332 Trust Plate  I have a Milw trust plate and would be really interested to find out more about it. The oblong alloy plate has a red background and reads in raised silver lettering 'Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad Equipment Trust, Series VV. Continental Illinois National Bank And Trust Company of Chicago, Trustee, Owner And Lessor.' On the reverse is a cast number 7805. I know what it's use was but is it possible to find out what it was attached to and in what era?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, June 4, 2017 by KB   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. You could probably research the trust number. As far as what it was attached to, equipment trusts can have hundreds of pieces of equipment. The plate number would all be the same.  Posted Monday, June 5, 2017 by JN

A. Thanks, What would be the best way of researching the trust number ?  Posted Monday, June 5, 2017 by KB

A. For addtional info about trust plates, also see answers to prior Q's 2528, 2386, 2078. For your specific plate, a good start seems to be the Annual Reports of the RR Co. The complete 1941 Annual Report (see Link) is available on the web, and has the following description: "FINANCIAL: On May 1, 1941, the Trustees sold $3,120,000 principal amount of Equipment Trust Certificates, Series" V," at 100.0530/0 of par, plus accrued dividends. These certificates are dated April 1, 1941, bear interest at the rate of 2 1/8% per annum, are payable semi-annually on April 1 and October 1 of each year, and mature in twenty equal semi-annual installments of $156,000, from October 1, 1941, to April 1, 1951, inclusive. Proceeds of these certificates were to finance not to exceed 75% of the cost of 16 Diesel locomotives, 500 box cars, 25 cabooses and 20 passenger-train cars." Unfortunately, Series V and Series V V are probably not the same. The 1941 report has similar info on "Series W". But it looks like a good bet that the Milwaukee Road Annual Reports will ultimately get you the best info you will get about Equipment Trust Series V V".  Link 1  Posted Monday, June 5, 2017 by RJM

A. To make things even simpler, the site at the Link has ALL the Milwaukee Road Annual Reports, available to read or download. Picking the 1965 report, just to start, on Page 24 it has a table of all the outstanding equipment trusts. It shows Series V V as having been first issued on Feb. 1, 1957 and maturing on Feb. 1, 1972, with a total value of $11,745,718. Looking back at the 1957 Report, it shows Series VV as issued, but the later Reports do not include the depth of detail that the 1941 Report had about Series V. The 1956 Report shows only thru Series UU, but does give the following equipment acquisition plan: "The budget provides for new equipment and improvements to existing equipment, the estimated cost of which, chargeable to Capital Account, is $14,090,000. New equipment includes: 1,000-50-ton steel box cars; 100-70-ton steel covered hopper cars; 35-50-ton airslide steel covered hopper cars; 15-70-ton airslide steel covered hopper cars; 2-Diesel-electric pile driving locomotive cranes" and this likely describes what Equipment Trust Series VV was intended to purchase.  Link 1  Posted Monday, June 5, 2017 by RJMc

A. Strangely, I have an exactly identical plate-way over in England! I was given it a couple of years ago as part of a small collection of railway items, most of which are reproductions, so I have some doubt about whether this plate is genuine. I would obviously be delighted if it was the real thing, what do US experts think? Posted Tuesday, June 6, 2017 by JJ

A. As noted in some of the other answers, the quality of these plates was not high to begin with, because it didn't need to be. And it looks like somebody had to make almost 3,000 of the plates for Series V V, to put one on each side of almost 1,500 pieces of rolling stock. It is quite likely that the plates of this one series were manufactured at different places, since the equipment was purchased from different suppliers. All of these factors make it very difficult to determine authenticity. A side note: as with most financing plans, there were also paper trust certificate notes labelled "CMStP&P Equipment Trust V V" issued to those who purchased them that can now be found in collections. And a major RR borrowing $14 Million was a major investment opportunity, so there is likely more info in places like the Wall Street Journal and the other major finance publications.  Posted Tuesday, June 6, 2017 by RJMc

A. Thanks for the fascinating replies, I certainly know a lot more now. I must try and find a trust certificate to go with it.  Posted Wednesday, June 7, 2017 by KB

 Q3331 Builders Plate  How do you trace the RR and type of locomotive with only the builders plate Number and Manufacturer? I have a Baldwin Manufacturing Co. plate dated Mar 1924 with number 57664. Regards,  Posted Friday, June 2, 2017 by William S.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. My Baldwin records show you have a plate from a 2-10-0 built for the Ga, Fla & Ala RR # 401 with 56" drivers and 24x28 cyls later became SAL # 524 Posted Sunday, June 4, 2017 by CD

A. Thank you for the information on the Baldwin builders plate 57664. The plate now resides in the Central Florida Railroad Museum in Winter Garden Florida.  Posted Wednesday, June 7, 2017 by William S.

 Q3330 Blacksmith ID?  Does anyone have any idea who the blacksmith is that used this touch mark or hall mark? This had so much grease on it when I started restoring it I couldn't make out a lot of the engraving or get a clear image of the mark I've pictured here. It's a nickel plated Adam & Westlake lantern with the copyright date of April 26th 1864 with the name Geo W Thornburg engraved on the lantern and globe it. Any help with this would be greatly appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, May 31, 2017 by John   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Don't know but great restoration job. You brought it back to its former glory and saved history for future generations. Posted Thursday, June 1, 2017 by LC

A. Its my understanding that the lanterns were purchased from the mfg'r and the engraving on the frame and/or globe was usually done by a local jeweler Posted Friday, June 2, 2017 by DA

A. Perhaps you could submit a picture of the touchmark to one of the online registry of marks. I did find that a George W. Thornburg was chairman of a grievance committee for Order Of Railway Conductors in Topeka, Kansas. Posted Sunday, June 4, 2017 by dc

A. Thank you LA for the compliment and DA for the good idea and dc for taking the time to look the name up on it.You found more than I did and I really appreciated you doing that.I just found out its silver plated not nickel and needless to say I was surprised.Thanks again. Posted Thursday, June 8, 2017 by John

 Q3329 B&A Lantern Marking  I found a lantern with the markings 'B & A R. R.' Could someone please tell me what it stands for? Thank you.  Posted Friday, May 26, 2017 by Jason   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. You have a couple possibilities. "Boston & Albany" or "Bangor & Aroostook". If you could actually show the lantern someone might be able to tell more. Posted Friday, May 26, 2017 by JN

A. Yes please post a picture of the lantern, thanks! On smaller items, Bangor & Aroostook referred to itself as "the B&A" but not on lanterns...... Posted Sunday, May 28, 2017 by JS

 Q3328 Real or Repro Number Plate?  I just got this number plate. The number matches the B&O berkshire locomotive but the numbers are a different style. This plate is cast iron and comes in at 30 pounds. It is 21 inches wide and 12 inches tall. It has casting numbers on the back. They think it may be a repro but they're not sure. Any info would help. Thanks .   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, May 22, 2017 by RT   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It appears to be a C&O style number plate. Can’t say for sure if its a repo or not. Posted Tuesday, May 23, 2017 by Ex Sou Ry

A. I agree it is the C&O style number plate, from a 2-8-4 Kanawha type (C&O didn't call theirs 'Berkshires' although almost everyone else did). For comparison, Link 1 shows sister engine C&O 2732 on display in Richmond, VA. Link 2 shows the C&O 2736 on display in Green Bay, WI., with what appears to me to be a replacement front plate (looks flat, not raised numbers, and numbering style looks incorrect to me.) Another view for comparison is of engine C&O 2724, in service, is at . In that picture you can clearly see the raised numbers and style of the front plate. The great difficulty with your particular plate is it would represent an engine which has long been on display, making it a likely target of interest for people to duplicate the plates, but also making more likely the survival of the original plate since many of that series of C&O engines were held in storage for quite a while before being donated.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Friday, May 26, 2017 by RJMc

A. thanks guys for the info .so what our you saying is this real or a repro Posted Saturday, May 27, 2017 by rt

A. Not exactly sure but I think RJMc said it was a reproduction but in a very round about and convoluted way. Posted Sunday, May 28, 2017 by LC

A. What I meant to say was, there is really no good way to tell, from just a picture.  Posted Sunday, May 28, 2017 by RJMc

A. Please post a good photo of the back of the C&O #2736. This plate appears to have a weld repair on the LH side between the 2 and 7. I had a number plate many years ago with this number and that repair. I think this might be a good plate, but we need some better photos to be sure. RJM Posted Sunday, June 18, 2017 by RJM

A. rjm there is a weld mark on the back that runs from top to bottom between the no 2 and no 7 i though it might have been a mold mark but its a weld mark i had a welder look at it and he says it has been repaired Posted Tuesday, June 20, 2017 by rt

A. Here's a picture of the back. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, June 20, 2017 by rt

A. NOTE FOR THE RECORD: rjm just above, and RJMc are not the same person replying. Further comments by RJMc: Some of these discussions go on at length and take interesting turns. After looking again several times, what I REALLY meant to say was that the actual C&O engine 2736 on display in Green Bay would look MUCH better if it had your plate, rather than the clearly-repro one that it has on it now. Even if you duped yours in fiberglass, painted it, and furnished that copy to Green Bay, the engine would look better. The Link below is a repeat to the pic of the C&O 2736 in Green Bay.  Link 1  Posted Friday, June 23, 2017 by RJMc

A. thank you rjmc for the info Posted Saturday, June 24, 2017 by rt

 Q3327 A&W #250 Fuel Pot  I have this Hocking Valley Adlake 250 lantern. I have noticed that in other 250's the fuel pot was stamped 'use long time burning oil'; whereas mine is stamped 'use kerosene oil only . I want to know if there was a kerosene option with this one? Or it was a replacement part that someone used to get it working?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, May 22, 2017 by CH   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The fuel pot that you have is the earlier of the two types mentioned and is period correct for a No. 250 lantern. The burner more than likely is marked No. 250, which would also be factory original. Fuel pots marked "USE LONG TIME BURNING OIL" came with later "KERO" models, that were introduced during the early 1930's and were often used as replacements in No. 200 and N. 250 models.  Posted Wednesday, May 24, 2017 by JH

A. I do believe also, that the phrase "long time burning" was used dating back to the time when more and more gasoline was being refined for auto and engine uses and many people were not fully aware of its volatile nature and that the makers of lamps and lanterns wanted to verify what was needed to safely use their products. I have a font in my collection that is stamped use lard oil only.  Posted Wednesday, May 24, 2017 by TE

 Q3326 Semaphore Number?  I was wondering if a letter or a serial number on a semaphore can be traced to what RR used it? Thanks.  Posted Thursday, May 18, 2017 by TW   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The numbers and letters on signals usually refer to milepost locations, usually assuming one decimal place. So for example, 899 would be milepost 89.9. Sometimes a letter may indicate a division ID (but often not.) Some railroads in the West, Santa Fe for example on the line thru central Kansas, did reach mileposts over 1,000, but in most cases RR's were divided into much smaller 'chunks' than that for milepost purposes. (See Link; this semaphore in New Mexico is 849.1 miles from Chicago.) So if you already know or suspect which RR the item might have come from, you might be able to determine exactly where it had been located on that railroad. There are references which may be available, such as track charts, which indicate where signals were located and how they were numbered. But since all the RR's usually started their milepost numbers on each line (somewhere) at 0.0 and counted up, there are many duplications of numbers (particularly relatively low numbers) and it is not possible to tell which RR may have had that signal at that particular milepost number.  Link 1  Posted Friday, May 19, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3325 Handlan Buck Jack?  Did the Handlan Buck Co make railroad jacks? I have a jack and it looks like 'Buck' is stamped into the handle.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, May 17, 2017 by 67Chevy   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I think "Buckeye" is more likely than Handlan-Buck; the rest of the name just wore off. There are lots of references to the Buckeye Manufacturing Co. on the web (mostly people looking for parts for them....See Link). Link 1  Posted Wednesday, May 17, 2017 by RJMc

A. Buckeye jack in Google search will also have images of jack. Posted Thursday, May 18, 2017 by dc

 Q3324 Tool Check   I bought this off eBay. Appears to be a tool check, the maintenance of way being the main reason. Can anyone shed some light onto what railroad it could be from? Marked 'O. D.' under the M. of W. letters.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, May 17, 2017 by TP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hello TP,Your tool check tag could possibly be from the Old Dominion RR.It certainly looks old enough.Good luck...DJB Posted Saturday, May 20, 2017 by DJB

A. Apologies as there never was an Old Dominion Railroad so clearly the abbreviation O.D. does not designate a specific railroad. That said there was a Washington & Old Dominion Railroad (W&OD) ran across portions of Northern Virginia. Posted Tuesday, May 23, 2017 by Ex Sou Ry

A. I collect W&OD - knew from the beginning it wasn't from them. I've asked multiple collectors and we all agree that it's railroad, but none of us are sure which. O.D.... maybe a division? Railroads certainly didn't mark ALL of their assets....  Posted Tuesday, May 23, 2017 by TP

A. I have found that sometimes the letters are for a specific building / place on a railroad. They could be actual telegraph call letters. O.D may not even be a railroad at all. Many different industries use tags like this. Rights-of-way can be power lines, gas lines, etc, not just railroads. Just my input. Posted Wednesday, May 24, 2017 by JN

 Q3323 Key Info Needed  I recently purchased a key marked CMRR on the front and W. Bohannan and C on the back. I'm unsure of the railroad, thought it might be a Colorado Midland car key since it has a C for car. Unfortunately upon comparing it with a known Colorado Midland car key the key cut didn't match up. I know there are a lot of railroads that have CMRR lettering. I was hoping somebody might have some insight. Thank you in advance for any help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, May 16, 2017 by Josh   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Where did you find this key? If you go to the Railroadiana On Line homepage you will see a box on the left that has all different categories. One says Railroad Names. If you click on that and search by Railroad Initials you get a half dozen or so railroads that used CMRR initials. Maybe that can help you narrow it down. Posted Wednesday, May 17, 2017 by JN

A. I bought this key at a auction in eastern kansas. The gentleman that had the auction had several hundred lots that had keys, locks, and various railroadiania. I checked the database you mentioned and used that as the beginning base for my search. I also looked through The Guide to North American Railroad Keys, American Railways Switch Key Directory, and Railroadiania 2 price guide and didn't see anything that matched the cut that had the right initials. I guess I'll work the date angle with the railroads and see if anything makes sense. If anybody has any other suggestions it would be appreciated. Thank you again for your help. Posted Wednesday, May 17, 2017 by Josh

A. The problem with the key guides you quoted is that they are very incomplete and from time to time also have inaccurate identification. The American Railways Switch Key Directory in particular was a compilation of key drawings provided to Key Lock & Lantern back in the 1960's/1970's....purely voluntary so only a relatively small number of drawings were available. That KL&L effort stopped when certain persons used the information to produce fake keys in the 1970's to have their fake keys use the correct key cut. Were the other RR items from the west or midwest, as compared to having stuff from eastern RR's??? That may give more of a clue to help identify it. Posted Thursday, June 1, 2017 by BobF

 Q3322 superintendent's Car Desk  Good day. Attached is a photo of a desk we have had in the family for years. It came off a superintendents car in Renovo pa. I'm fairly certain of that fact as my family worked in the railroad there for decades and several family members had one. I would be very interested in what you members think or know about it or if there might be some photos of it installed on the car. As always much appreciated. Respectfully.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, May 14, 2017 by Jan   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3321 Station Tag?  I just acquired this tag. It is painted steel. It has the number on both sides. It is stamped PRR a little sloppily. Could this have been a station locker check that a passenger would have used or maybe an employee locker? Maybe a key was attached to it? Does anyone know details? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, May 12, 2017 by JN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3320 Tag Info Needed  Cool site. I was wondering if you could make out the manufacture on back, or have additional information on the luggage tag? Found in Cincinnati. I believe it to stand for Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Railway (1846–1917). Many thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, May 12, 2017 by Gary   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The maker is James Murdock of Cincinnati, Ohio. I got this info from the Tag Town website. I have an Ohio & Mississippi tag with the same fancy logo on the reverse. Unfortunately, like yours it's almost impossible to make out very much. The tag town site has better photos and you can make out the fancy manufacturer's logo on the reverse side. That's how I found the identification for my tag's maker. You are correct on the RR name. Posted Saturday, June 3, 2017 by BobF

 Q3319 Baldwin Builders Plate 60885  Can anyone help me identify the locomotive this builders plate came off of? It's dated July 1929. Lots of corrosion and slightly bent.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, May 11, 2017 by Mark L.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. My Baldwin records indicate 60885 is an SP 4-8-8-2 # 4115 with 4 24 x 32" cyls and 63" drivers  Posted Saturday, May 13, 2017 by CD

A. nice plate We have all seen the antiques TV program where the piece of furniture is worth $100. But if they hadn’t resorted or cleaned it would be worth over 1000 times that. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES CLEAN IT Posted Saturday, May 13, 2017 by Es Sou ry

A. Yes - a nice plate. Regarding refinishing or cleaning furniture on Antiques Roadshow, it all depends. Older era furniture may lose value if refinished or cleaned. Newer furniture such as mid-century modern furniture may not lose value as collectors don't care so much. That being said, many metal items on Antiques Roadshow that have been polished or cleaned, even years ago, have a lower value than untouched ones, according to appraisers. If this plate has corrosion eating at it, at the least the owner would want to remediate this.  Posted Wednesday, May 17, 2017 by JEM

A. Thanks CD for the valuable info. Would it be possible to email me a copy of the records that indicate this?  Posted Sunday, May 21, 2017 by Mark L

 Q3318 RR Can  I was hoping you could help with possibly dating this piece along with verifying what it is. It appears that it would be about 1 gallon in capacity. We found it in my late Father-in-laws garage. He worked on the B&O from 1947 to 1989 and his father worked on the B&O from the mid 19-teens for 49 years so we don't know which one would have brought it home. Thank you for any assistance.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, May 11, 2017 by Biff A.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The Link is to a document elsewhere here on the site describing how the RR's standardized tinware in the 19-teens. They did that to simplify procurement and reduce costs by increasing the quantities purchased. Your item looks like one of the sizes of valve oil cans, which were used to refill the lubricators on steam locomotives. The earlier style of lubricator was mounted on the backhead inside the cab, usually fairly high up, and was filled by opening a plug. The spout on the can was needed to get the oil -- which is fairly thick -- into the opening in the lubricator body. The screw cap on the can was essential to allow the can to be tipped without spilling the oil out the top. Later locomotives had lubricators mounted out underneath the running board, with a square cap which opened on top, but the oil still had to be poured in from a fairly awkward position. These cans were made and used over many decades, making them almost impossible to date. Like most things around the RR, such cans would have found other uses even after all the steam engines left, and may have continued to be purchaed for the other uses found for them.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, May 11, 2017 by RJM

 Q3317 Builders Plate?  Can you help us with any history or background of this plate? What was it on or when? It looks to be brass under the black paint. Weighs a couple of pounds and 6 inches in diameter. It also has a threaded knob on the back like it was attached to something. Thanks in advance!!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, May 5, 2017 by Terrie M.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Apparently, from what I have found, is that this company built amusement park trains for 15" gauge. I found a blurb about it that mentioned the 1960's. The plate's small size kept it in scale with the locomotive. See the link. Link 1  Posted Saturday, May 6, 2017 by JN

 Q3316 Key ID Needed  Could you please tell me if you can identify which railroad this key was used? Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, May 5, 2017 by Brad D.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. A fairly quck (and not very thorough) search thru Bill Edson's Railroad Names comes up with "Slidell and Bayou Lacombe RR" as one possibility. It operated under than name for just a few years in the late 1800's before being absorbed into the Salmen Lumber Co. RR's. However, as we have said before, steel lettering stamp sets are very commonly available, making it exremely difficult to confirm any association with the actual RR operation without more info on the source of the key, etc. etc. I have not yet looked for trolley and interurban possibilities.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, May 7, 2017 by RJMc

A. I was thinking that the BL was possibly for branch line?Does the S stand for switch? I am not sure what you are saying about steel letter stamping? This key came with several other keys out of an estate.I cannot recall a lot about the others except they were different lines. Thanks for your information. Posted Sunday, May 7, 2017 by Brad D.

A. Does key have a makers mark and serial number on other side? Yes The S set off by itself is for switch. Never saw a key marked for the RR then BL for branch line. With a set of steel letter stamps and a hammer any unmarked key could be made whatever you choose, however since this came with other keys at an estate sale this is unlikely, but anything is possible. Posted Monday, May 8, 2017 by dc

A. There is a LOT of info about keys, and fake keys, in the other sections of this Q&A Board (see Link for just one of the sections.) And you can also select the 'Locks and Keys' category in the 'by Category' section of the Search Box to the left of the Q&A's. As you know, RR locks and keys are, and have been, fascinating to many, many people for quite some time (me included) so there has been a lot written about the topic. The difficulty is, after all the info is considered, there was never any master list or registry of which RR, or which Division, used which keys. Since (almost) every RR was privately owned, private property, with its own employees, there was never any requirement for such a list. This means we are almost never able to guarantee, with any certainty, where an 'unaffiliated' key might really have come from. This is even more complicated because it is so easy to mark blank keys, or re-mark authentic keys. We can state possiblities, and its good to ask around in case somebody else has either a known other example or maybe a known lock with the right pattern, but that's the best we can do. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, May 10, 2017 by RJMc

A. Thank you for trying to help me id my key.There is no markings on the back of the key.It's clear to me from the patina of the key initials stamp in person and even seen in the photo that this is an old key with an old stamp.Because something cannot be identified does not make it a fake.In my opinion the clear reason it is not a fake is the fact that no one knows where it is from.Usually a fake or forgery is from something famous and in demand making it worth a lot of money. So what I take from this forum is that this key is not from a known line and it is a possibility it belonged to some small private line or possibly the BL could be a small branch line? Again thank you! Posted Wednesday, May 10, 2017 by Brad D.

A. In my opinion, it looks like a fake, not a real key. Sorry, but it's sloppy, doesn't look like a blank from an established key/lock maker, the initials don't seem to match any known RR, there's no signs of use or aging, it has a very oddball bit and the font for the lettering looks recent, with no serifs, etc. As to marking fakes for famous experience is that many more fakes are for obscure lines. In the 1990's a guy used to show up at RR shows with keys marked for obscure or very old lines, looking to trade for a vendor's GOOD keys...multiples of his for one in return, and the keys all had a common look. It looked like he or someone else found an old Official Guide and used initials from the old & new names section. Why??? First you could appeal to someone with regional interests, and second with the obscurity involved, it was unlikely that many originals would be around to cross check. I did have originals for some of what he tried to pass off and his weren't even close. Those show up from time to time even now. Posted Thursday, May 11, 2017 by BobF

A. That's your opinion and I respect your opinion.But you have no evidence to back it up.I on the other hand know exactly where this key came from.I saw everything sell from this estate.The estate owner was a very wealthy lumberman.There were no fakes in his estate and very few railroad keys.No other railroad items.Possibly he used the key?The only thing he collected was money and lots of it. I think people on this forum should spend more time doing research and less time trying to explain something they are not familiar with as being a fake.Now that's my opinion.  Posted Thursday, May 11, 2017 by Brad D.

A. Thanks for the lecture to we ignorant RR collectors. The fact that he was a lumberman and had very few "railroad keys" and no other railroad items isn't exactly a ringing endorsement that its not a fake. Posted Saturday, May 13, 2017 by JE

A. Brad, I'm the moderator and have a few comments. You state "I think people on this forum should spend more time doing research and less time trying to explain something they are not familiar with..". You may be annoyed by someone's opinion about your key's authenticity, but your statement basically insults everyone on this forum. You say 'doing research'. Where? To amplify RJMc's response above, there is no grand database of railroad keys, real or fake. We get lots of emails from people who assume that there are national registries of railroadiana like bells, keys, lanterns etc. that can simply be accessed to do research. Such registries or databases don’t exist. There are two self-published, out-of-print books on railroad keys, and these are very incomplete. The idea behind this website is that people can pool knowledge and educate each other, but in many cases this knowledge is both imprecise and less than definitive. A lot of history is simply lost to time. For the record, many people in this forum have spent careers in the railroad industry and/or decades collecting and learning about railroadiana. You’re free to ignore any and all responses but your comment basically guarantees that no one here will put any more time into your question. As to an item’s provenance, the source (estate) is generally weak evidence for authenticity. It's quite common to find railroadiana reproductions in estate auctions, and you could make the case that someone who is *not* an experienced collector of railroadiana is *more* -- not less -- likely to have acquired a fake since they’re not necessarily familiar with this area of collecting. Other brief points in response to what you've asked or said: (1) No use of 'branchline' exists in our database of over 6000 railroad names; this was a generic term like 'spur' or 'turnout' and not likely to be incorporated into a RR marking. (2) Switch keys were used by rank and file working railroaders to open locks on turnouts; a wealthy lumber magnate — “The Boss” — would not likely carry one of these around unless it was a memento of the really early days. (3) Your statement 'Usually a fake or forgery is from something famous and in demand making it worth a lot of money.' may be true on a very general level but keys from the big 'famous' railroads were made in quantities because they had more trackage. Since there are more of them, they have less collectible value, and counterfeiters have less incentive to make them, which is in line with BobF's comment. The list of fake key markings referenced by RJMc above includes pretty obscure lines. I personally have no opinion about the authenticity of your key, and the policy of this website is to NOT judge the authenticity of any particular item. Opinions expressed belong solely to the responder. But it seems to me that the responses have gotten you further down the road than where you started. Posted Sunday, May 14, 2017 by Web Editor

A. Brad reminds me of a certain guy in Washington DC. "You don't agree with me? You're Fired!" Posted Tuesday, May 16, 2017 by JN

 Q3315 Steam Whistle  I have acquired a steam whistle and don't really know much about it. Would really appreciate if you could maybe give me some info on it anything would be appreciated. Possible the maker and time era of it. Or maybe even a push in the right direction. Thank you for your time.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, May 5, 2017 by TR   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Nice looking whistle!! In the book "Engine's Moan - American Steam Whistles" by Fagen, I find 3 images of whistles that look just like yours, with the side rods. Two, made by Crane, and one made by a Canadian mfg'r - Morrison. Both are referred to as "piston whistles" , a.k.a "mockingbird" meaning that they had an adjustable piston inside the bell so you could change the whistle's tone. Apparently, American Steam Gauge also made this style of whistle. Date range seems to be 1890's - 1900's. No markings anywhere on your whistle??? Posted Monday, May 8, 2017 by DA

A. I found out that it is exactly the same whistle as the one at the New York Wire Co. in York P.A.  Posted Monday, May 8, 2017 by TR

 Q3314 Trying to solve a china plate mystery  I recently contacted a Wells Fargo historian, Alyssa Bentz, to see if I could discover the history of a china plate I own. This plate has been kicking around for many years (inherited it from my parents estate.) I’m semi-retired now, and finally decided to try and figure out why they had this plate. They (my parents) primarily collected early Americana in the form of 18th century firearms. I’m not a collector or dealer. Just someone who wants to try and find out some history on a china plate. The Wells Fargo historian suggested that this could have possibly been used in a private RR dining car. The thought never occurred to me. Just passing this by you folks in case you might have seen something like this. The only notes I have on this are that it once belonged to a 'Wells Fargo man.' There is a reference to the Am. Railway Express and a note that suggests George Jay Gould (1864-1923) might be the 'Wells Fargo man.' That is all I know. Thank you for your time. I enjoyed your website. *** Reply from Alyssa Bentz, Wells Fargo museum, San Francisco, Ca follows***: ['The china plate you have looks very beautiful and the design is certainly similar to some WF designs I have seen on ads and other publications where the W, F, and C, are all folded into one. But it is not identical. Unfortunately, I cannot really provide any additional information. Our records are extensive, but not comprehensive. .... There is one thing that comes to mind, however. It was not uncommon for railroad executives and others to have a special china set made for private dining cars. This plate reminds me of that. You could check with railroad collectible specialists...text omitted]  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, April 30, 2017 by Ron W.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Is that really a C or a G folded in with the WF ? could it be a G for Gould ? Posted Monday, May 1, 2017 by dc

A. Genuine Wells Fargo artifacts are always marked W F & CO, or W F & Co Ex. The "C" might be College? Going by the order of the letters on the plate, front to back, it looks more like F W C. Posted Monday, May 1, 2017 by DA

 Q3313 PRR Electric List?  Is there a list of PRR electric engines built by Altoona or others that includes build date and production number? Thank you for any help.  Posted Sunday, April 30, 2017 by George B   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I would suggest the book "Keystone Steam & Electric" by William Edson  Posted Sunday, April 30, 2017 by CD

 Q3312 Bell  Can anyone identify this bell? I have been contacted to install it on a fire house. I think it needs to go on a locomotive. Maybe some history will help? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, April 24, 2017 by Bob S   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. it is a locomotive bell Posted Saturday, May 13, 2017 by Ex Sou Ry

 Q3311 Ingersoll Rand Aftercooler Number Plates  I found these plates along the old abandoned CNJ tracks in Easton, Pa. I've searched and cannot connect them to any engine. I'm a novice but, do know it was most likely a turbocharged diesel. I thought the years, 1965 and 66 would have been a great starting point...nothing. I hope you can ease my frustration with any information. Thanks again.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, April 23, 2017 by Steve P.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  The Nat'l Bd refers to the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors which is headquartered in Worthington, Ohio. They are an independent agency similar to Underwriters Lab which develops safety standards for boilers and tanks that are subject to high pressure. The 18256 number is probably recorded with them but I don't know how to ask them about any information on it. All sorts of large boilers and pressure vessel tanks are recorded with NBIB. The stylized four leaf clover emblem which is on both tags is the NBIB logo.  Posted Saturday, April 29, 2017 by KM

 Q3310 SP Lock Marking  The marking on this lock and key is 'JNHFW' -- Anyone know what this marking is for?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, April 21, 2017 by Dennis M.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Probably the keying. Posted Friday, April 21, 2017 by BobF

A. Most of the RR brass padlocks like this have five tumblers (a few had 6). So your code would be one letter, designating the length, and order of each of the five tumblers. A well-equipped locksmith can make the key , or re-key more padlocks to work with the keys you already have, just by having the letter code, key blanks and/or padlock bodies, and a supply of the various length tumblers plus the tech. info of how deep to cut the key blank at each position to suit the designating letter.  Posted Friday, April 21, 2017 by RJMc

A. JNHFW is the Eagle Lock Co. code for the key. That could be looked up and a key cut to the depths in the list/book. The letters do not in themselves represent depths with the Eagle system. This lock is the M of W "Tool House" lock and was used on what railfans call speeder sheds and similar buildings, etc. The Telegraph (later Communications) Dept locks said Tele Dept, then Comm Dept and the last (newer style) ones went back to Tele Dept (probably a factory stamping error as the name never reverted back). The code on those is LBYWS. B&B (Bridge & Building) and WS (Water Service) gangs would send boxes of the JNHFW locks out to locksmiths and have them repinned. I personally know of 2 B&B variants and 1 WS keying. Eagle went out of business about 1975. SP then used American locks for the TH's (marked merely SPTCO)and the Comm Dept, the first Comm Americans were marked LBYWS-1 and were keyed on the "civilian" blank, the second ones were marked LBYWS-2 and were on a restricted blank.  Posted Tuesday, May 16, 2017 by spladiv

 Q3309 Brass Plate  This artifact was recovered while metal detecting the former rail yard of the Campbell's Creek Railroad 1865-1962 near Charleston, WV. I was hoping you might could tell me the origin of this relic. Thank you very much.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, April 14, 2017 by Todd H.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3308 Cast Iron Plaque  I recently purchased this cast iron railway sign, and would like more information about its purpose and what it means. The sign measures 7 3/4 inches high and 6 5/16 wide at the top. The only markings are those of the face. There is no markings on the back to identify its origin or manufacturer. What does 'SHD' stand for? What was the purpose of the plaque? Is the plaque particular to one railroad or did they all use them?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, April 12, 2017 by RM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I have never seen one of these before. But purely as a guess, "State Highway Department Right of Way" property line marker makes a lot of sense. This particular sign might be unique to just one state. Similar signs are used in many situations to mark the limits of one jurisdiction's property line and responsibilities for maintenance. As such, these might be placed along a RR to show where RR maintenance responsibility ends, and state responsibility begins. On older RR lines, concrete posts were used for the same function.  Posted Thursday, April 13, 2017 by RJMc

A. Missouri state highway department uses this right of way marker. Posted Thursday, April 13, 2017 by dc

A. A 'word to the wise': property line and right-of-way markers have legal significance. Even many years after a railroad ceases operations, and even after the track may be gone for some time, the property lines are still very important, and the State would probably be VERY interested in keeping their markers in place. There are quite likely stiff penalties for disturbing markers like this; terms apply such as 'vandalizing state property'.  Posted Friday, April 14, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3307 Orient Express Lanterns  Hello, I would love any information about these beautiful lanterns. What is the estimated date? Are they originals or replicas? They have a sticker on the bottom that says solid brass and the other says made in India. I polished the one on the left. I have searched online and have not found one like it. Any information would be appreciated. Thank you!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, April 6, 2017 by Kim M   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. fakes these were never used on the OE Posted Friday, April 7, 2017 by Ex Sou Ry

A. They appear to be brass patio candle lanterns that are sold in places like Pier One and the Pottery Barn. Probably made in India or China.  Posted Friday, April 7, 2017 by LF

A. The 'Made in India' sticker (mentioned) is probably a clue. At least they acknowledge their work. Posted Friday, April 7, 2017 by RJMc

A. Hi! I have a similar lantern but it is bigger and has an old kerosene lamp inside. I'm wondering if that also is an old decorative lantern or something that might have been in use? Is this sort of lamp something used for a special purpose? Posted Thursday, April 27, 2017 by P.A

 Q3306 What is this RR Thing?  What is this? It seems to have something to do with telling us whether the tracks are open or not. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, April 6, 2017 by Robert   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Its the British who refer to northbound track as the 'up line' and the southbound track as the 'down line.' This would be used in a signalling tower (so called here) or a signal box (as called there) to keep track of which tracks are occupied and to clear trains into unoccupied tracks. Many other RR's in the world followed Britain's lead and practices, so it might also have come from one of them.  Posted Friday, April 7, 2017 by RJMc

A. This is a British 3 position Block Telegraph Instrument, made by Tyers & Company of London in the first quarter of the 20th century, probably for the North Staffordshire Railway. It is one of many types of instruments made by different manufacturers for various railways in the UK and abroad. As RJMc says, this instrument, with another similar, would be used in a signal box (tower). The instruments would be connected by telegraph with corresponding instruments in the adjoining signal boxes and would be used to control the entry and exit of trains to and from the "block section" controlled by the signal box. The block instruments were interlocked with the lever frame controlling the points and signals and also track circuits. The use of the interlocked block system became a legal requirement on British main passenger carrying lines in 1889. "Up" and "Down" do not necessarily refer to north and south. The "Up" line is usually the line leading to London, or on the minority of lines that do not connect directly with London, towards the town which contains the railway's headquarters.  Posted Sunday, April 9, 2017 by JAJ

 Q3305 RR Jacks?  I have two large, old screw style jacks. I often hear them referred to as railroad jacks. Were these types of jacks used for the railroad at all? Also, do you happen to know who the maker was? They have a 6 pointed start and the size on the side but no maker listed. Thank you,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, April 6, 2017 by Shane G   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Jacks like this were (and are) commonly used to support car or locomotive bodies during shop repairs, when necessary to raide the car off the trucks. They are also used in many kinds of industrial operations; construction, house moving, installing and moving large machines. etc etc. Usually a more flexible type of jack (hydraulic, for example) is used to lift the item and then this jack is pre-set (which is kind of a nuisance, to turn it all those times) and placed under the item to support it during the work, releasing the other jack to move over to another location. Posted Friday, April 7, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3304 All Amber Lenses  Thank you for your excellent article I saw online about railroad lamps. I had a question that I can't seem to figure out. I saw a railroad lamp with 4 lenses that were ALL amber. I can't figure out whey a lamp would have all 4 colors the same, or was there a purpose for that? Thanks.  Posted Thursday, April 6, 2017 by Dan   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hi Dan; You ask an excellent question. The first thing to remember is that we are now over 40 years past the end of kerosene lamps on railroads.(early to mid 1970s) Many lamps that show up for sale have replacement lenses, and in non-standard color configurations; the seller often times slapping in anything they can come up with, just to complete the lamp.. There would have not been an application for switch lamps or marker lamps with all the same color lenses in a lamp. However, that doesn't mean that a railroad didn't use a lamp body with 4 yellow (not amber) lenses as a way of marking an obstacle in or near a surface road on the property. Railroads used what they had on hand in very creative ways. The other possibility is that a previous post-railroad owner of the lamp put those in there for decorative purposes. Yellow lights are supposed to attract far fewer flying insects than a white light, and it could have been used as an outdoor lighting fixture, ..or any of a dozen other uses. ---- ....Red Beard  Posted Thursday, April 6, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Hello Dan,As a re-inforcement to Red Beard's comments about how railroad's were creative and at the same time frugal,I can relate an actual story relating to your lamps with all yellow lenses in them.I grew up in central Wisconsin near the Green Bay and Western Railroad and in the city of Wisconsin Rapids,which was their middle terminal,they had a shop facility and an actual operating turntable.Around the outside edge of the pit,they had a series of kerosene switchlamps,on steel posts,spaced evenly around,and all were equipped with only yellow lenses,as a safety warning to those working in the area at night.These lamps were maintained just as if they were along the line on track switches,and received regular maintenance. This was a simple,effective,way to warn of the possible danger and this method never failed in a power failure.There you have it re the railroad's creativity.Before I go,hello Red ! DJB Posted Tuesday, April 11, 2017 by DJB

A. Hey DJB! - Turntable pits always posed a number of safety hazards. When Doyle McCormack and the 4449 crew were stranded in Omaha back in 1975 (Freedom Train), due to the locomotive having been determined to have sharp flanges, and being bad ordered by the FRA until the tires could be machined down to create an acceptable flange profile, I got to spend a fair amount of time with Doyle and the crew. They had countless stories to relate; some personal and some they acquired from other railroaders. They related one from the GN in the Dakotas: A hostler managed to put a steamer in the pit, so the terminal superintendent wired the division super for a wrecking crane. In their attempt of retrieve the engine, the crane crew managed to topple the crane into the pit as well. The terminal superintendent again wired the division superintendent, advising him of the now compounded situation. The division super wired back asking if a second crane was needed. The terminal superintendent replied -“Thank you, no. Pit already full”-, then proceeded to use jacks and timber cribbing to rectify the situation. ---- .... Red Beard  Posted Wednesday, April 19, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

 Q3303 Peter Gray Lamp  This photo depicts the lamp style which was carried by Maine Central steam locomotives. We are trying to replace those which were carried by MEC #470, a Pacific in restoration. The originals have deteriorated beyond successful repair, so we are making replicas to take their place. Apparently the original replacements are scarce items. Specifically, we need an idea of the colors carried in service, and how the internal mechanism worked to change colors. Photos or drawings of the interior of the lamps are highly desired. The lamps are marked 'Peter Gray & Sons' and stamped for the Maine Central. Similar lamps were found on SRRL locos and B&M locos. Many lasted in use into the Diesel era.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, April 4, 2017 by Richard G   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hi, I am very familiar with Peter Gray lamps but have never seen this version before it is very a early design. Your best bet is to see if the archive in the city of Cambridge MA where the factory was has any info on these I believe they have a Peter Gray reference material saved from the area.  Posted Thursday, April 6, 2017 by Brian D

A. Richard, the lamp pictured has the look of a kerosene lamp that has been converted to electric. Many railroads converted oil burning markers and class lamps to electric, and in the process removed the vent stack on the top of the lamp, then covering the open top of the body with a metal plate. -- Guessing that is a class lamp in the photo ?? It would help if you sent in a few photos of the rusted out lamps that you have. -- Old, originally oil burning class lamps would have had clear (called white) glass lenses, often with manually inserted green glass panes that fit into slots behind the clear lenses when a green aspect was required; so, no complex mechanism to flip a color filter up and down behind the clear lens as in more "modern" lamps that came from the factory as electric and some late model oil lamps. -- Again, several photos of the bodies you have would help. ---- ....Red Beard Posted Thursday, April 6, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Having now scoured the net for photos of MEC steam engines, I retract the idea of a rebuilt kerosene lamp. The lamp pictured in this question is identical to the ones I've seen in many MEC steam engine photos, and the body of this lamp and those of unaltered oil class lamps are different. In the photos I've found, I can see no exterior leavers or small handles to activate a color changing mechanism, as are found on other brands of lamps. My guess still is that these Gray lamps may have used a colored glass slide for color change, that had to be changed out by hand from inside of the lamp. -- Please do send in photos of what's left of the lamps you have. ---- ....Red Beard  Posted Friday, April 7, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. Dear Sir, I have one of these classification lamps that has been consigned to me to sell at public auction. I have sold over 1,000 railroad lanterns and lamps at auction and before that I think I have sold 2,000 at shows and mail order. I attempted to contact you directly via this list but that failed for some MS Outlook issue. Please contact me and I can provide details about the lamp. I can offer in my next auction in September 2017. It is truly an unusual design. I only have one but that's 1/2 way there! Regards - Scott Czaja  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, April 19, 2017 by scott czaja

A. Scott; Can you Please take some detail photos, including of the inside of the lamp and send those in? Also ; by what means do you change the display from clear to green?? Thanks. ---- .... Red Beard Posted Wednesday, April 19, 2017 by Red Beard the Railroad Raider

A. If I was you I would but the lamp in Scotts auction, it is likely the only one you will ever find. It is complete and I have never seen one before until your post. Posted Tuesday, May 9, 2017 by Brian D

 Q3302 Tag Info Needed  I'm trying to learn more about this tag that I dug up with my metal detector in Upstate NY. The maker of the tag is AM.RY.S.Co (American Railway Supply Co. from what I understand). I'm trying to identify the use of the tag, was 'House 54' a sleeping accommodation on the train or would this have been a key tag a railway worker would have carried to access a certain building? I would also love to know what W.A.T. would have stood for. Thanks!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, April 4, 2017 by SMP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A.  I think it is a valve identification tag. They are attached to the valve handle with a small key chain. If it was valve number 54 it must have been a large pipe system that it came from. House could mean something like power house or maybe roundhouse. Valves on pipe system blue prints or drawings are numbered so that maintenance people can look at what valve needs to be replaced or shut down during repairs. American Railway Supply made tags that were used by many customers other than railroads. Posted Wednesday, April 5, 2017 by KM

A.  Boiler house would be another possibility. It could be a key tag also, but key tags and keys get worn out due to pocket wear and the constant motion of pulling the keys from your pocket and this tag does not show any of that. A valve may not be opened or closed frequently so the tag may hang from the valve for many years and because there is nothing rubbing against it there is no wear.  Posted Wednesday, April 5, 2017 by KM

A. Thanks for the replies. One more thing, this was found in the backyard of my parent's farmhouse not too far from a creek. I'm almost guessing it might have fallen out of a pocket when someone went to do the laundry in the creek or something like that.  Posted Wednesday, April 5, 2017 by SMP

 Q3301 Switch Stand  Asking for any assistance in finding a manufacturer's name or patent number for this particular style of switch. Found on site of an abandoned railroad line. I believe it to be a Y - switch. The only identifying marks on the castings is Y-5-0-. Any help would be greatly appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, April 2, 2017 by Marci   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3300 Use of Tag?  Hi Everyone, I recently purchased this brass tag from the Wiscasset & Quebec RR. Can anyone say what it was used for? I don't think it was a baggage tag since the tag has no destinations on it. It is a rather large item (see the quarter for size comparison), too large to be a key tag or tool check. Can anyone provide some possible uses? Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, March 27, 2017 by JN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Watch fob? Pretty plain for a fob, but may be off of a watch assigned by the RR and they wanted a serial # (like tool checks) or employee ID #. Looks about the right size. Not sure, just an idea to get people's minds rolling. Posted Monday, March 27, 2017 by KO

A. It's a baggage tag used on the W&Q RR. See my web site for types and uses of this sort of commercial baggage tag.  Link 1  Posted Friday, March 31, 2017 by scott czaja

 Q3299 NYC Gizmo?  We have a New York Central gizmo. It is flat steel with round holes and a slot on the end. It looks like a gauge of some sort to check the diameter of something(s). Can anyone ID this for us ? It's about 5 inches long. There is a fraction number stamped beside each hole. There is no mark at the end slot. There no markings on the other side. Thank you for any help!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, March 27, 2017 by J&H   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Hi, It could be a size gauge for measuring bolt diameters. Posted Monday, March 27, 2017 by JN

A. Looks like a drill bit gauge to me.  Posted Monday, March 27, 2017 by KO

A. In trying to make sense of the kind of strange fractions, and agreeing it looks like a drill bit gage, it turns out that 29/32 is the right drill size for a hole that will be tapped to fit a 1" x 12 threads per inch bolt, a very common size on steam locomotive boilers. Similarly, 11/16 is listed as the size drill for a 3/4" bolt. 19/32 is just under 5/8", but is not listed for that application (in the one list consulted so far. See Link.) Pre-drilling holes to be tapped is one situation where having too large a drill bit destroys the work, because there is not enough material left in the walls of the hole for the tap to properly form the threads. Having a drill bit fail to pass thru the proper hole on this gage (too large) would condemn it from use as a tap drill.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, March 28, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3298 Plate ID Needed  I have a Baldwin Locomotive Builder Plate – Burnham Williams Philadelphia dated March 1902 #20237. I am trying to determine what this plate is off of? Can you help or steer me to someone who would know? Thanks.  Posted Monday, March 27, 2017 by Larry J.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Turn the plate over. If you look very carefully, there should be a class number (ex. 8-16-D-59). If you find this number, I can find the Baldwin specs sheet for the engine. If possible, find this number without cleaning the plate. Some collectors view these plates as worth more as-is with little cleaning I believe.  Posted Monday, March 27, 2017 by KO

A. My Baldwin records indicate this was a 2-8-0 built for the A&SM as their # 19 with 51" drivers and 21 1/2 x 28 cylinders went to EP&SW # 217 and then to SP 2510 Posted Tuesday, March 28, 2017 by CD

A. Hard to make out the class number. It appears to be 10-L (or E) 451 R (or P) Posted Tuesday, March 28, 2017 by LJ

A. Thnank you for your assistance. Very much appreciated. Posted Wednesday, March 29, 2017 by LJ

 Q3297 RR Speed Limit Sign?  I picked this sign up at a local antique mall in Duncannon, Pa a while ago. Not sure if its railroad or road or even it's genuine....appears real to me and it weighs a lot. Love to know anything you all might know about it.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, March 26, 2017 by Jan B   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. How big is this sign? Are there any ID marks or numbers, possibly cast in the back? The shape and style appear identical to the cast iron grade crossing warning signs used on many RR's (such as the Western Maryland, for example) and signs were posted to warn of approaching permanent speed restrictions. Speed restrictions were often posted for sharp curves, yards, and approaching tunnels or long viaducts. The Link has a wealth of information about several RR's including the WM, and track charts which show multiple places where speed restriction signs were posted. 35 mph was not an unusual speed limit on a mountain RR such as WM.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, March 26, 2017 by RJMc

A. Thank you for the info. Its 30 inches wide x 21 high. No markings unfortunately. Posted Sunday, March 26, 2017 by Jtb

A. agree with RJMc this is most likely WM Posted Monday, March 27, 2017 by Ex Sou Ry

A. In my opinion this is a Reading Company sign. I had one in my collection in the past and it's a perfect match. Posted Monday, March 27, 2017 by DLS

A. There will probably be no way to tell for sure. It could have been either. This style of sign seems to have been popular on many RR's before reflectorized Scotchlite became available; they show up in the 1950's O. Winston Link night pix of steam engines on the N&W as well. I don't know if PRR used them, but its certainly possible. And we all need to watch: reproductions of similar signs ARE being made, in both cast iron and aluminum, and even weathered to look old.  Posted Tuesday, March 28, 2017 by RJMc

A. One last question: is there any sign of paint on the back of the sign?? For a while, the Western Maryland painted almost everything out on RR with silver-colored aluminum paint. But if that were the case, some of it would almost certainly have gotten around onto the front of this sign.  Posted Tuesday, March 28, 2017 by RJMc

A. Thanks for all the great info. Mich appreciated. Glad its railroad and genuine. It goes well with my other railroad signs.jtb Posted Saturday, April 1, 2017 by Jtb

 Q3296 Engine Plate Info?  Any ideas on this engine plate? Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, March 25, 2017 by Don   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It kind of looks like an N&W number plate. N&W had a Y3A 2-8-8-2 with that road number. The locomotive was built arund 1920. This just a guess. The Illinois Railroad Museum in Union Illinois has one of these locomotives preserved. Send them a picture of your plate. Maybe they can compare it. Posted Saturday, March 25, 2017 by JN

A. The N&W 2075 was a freight locomotive, Y3a Class, 2-8-8-2 built in Richmond Va. 1923 Construction number 64095. The engine was scrapped April 1958. Although not particularly rare, the front number plates are prized by collectors. That said a lot of N&W hardware was reproduced (FAKED). It would be helpful to know the exact dimensions.  Posted Monday, March 27, 2017 by Ex Sou Ry

A. The Link has a very nice photo of N&W 2075, with a good clear look at the front number plate. That said, having just acquired the book Pennsy Power by Alvin Stauffer, the PRR originally also used round front plates on all their engines. Only later did they go to the keystone plates, and then primarily on passenger engines. Unfortunately, PRR did NOT number new engines in much of any kind of sequence, making it very difficult to find out what kind of engine 2075 might have been. The second link is to a PRR engine where you can see the round front plate; looks like PRR might have used a different font style than N&W.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Thursday, April 6, 2017 by RJMc

A. The Links in the answer above don't seem to be working. Link 1 tries to go to: Link 2 tries to go to: wikipedia-commons-local-public.ed/e/ed/Pennsylvania Railroad Steam Locomotive-4483 _%28 Hope this works better; I think the link URL's were too long, but I couldn't find a shorter route to get to the pix.  Posted Thursday, April 6, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3295 A&W Conductors Lantern w/#39 GLobe  I picked this brass top, nickel plated lantern I believe to be a conductor's lantern. Now here's what I know: The newest patent date that I can read on the bottom of the bell ​is August 22, 1882. I believe the bottom of the bell says Adams & Westlake Co., Chicago. It is about 11.25 inches tall, and has a standard No. 39 Corning unmarked globe in it. It has a brass top, but a magnet sticks to everything else very strongly, so I'm assuming everything else is sheet steel or iron. This doesn't seem to be any close variation of any common Adlake conductor's lanterns; I cannot seem to find it in a catalog anywhere (though there is a similar Steam Gauge & Lantern Co. one in the Conductor Lantern section of this website). Now here's the problem. The spring wire latch is missing (I can fix this easily) and the globe is loose. As seen from the pictures, at first sight it looks like it has a globe retainer, as there is a wind deflector piece in the inside of the top vent section of the lid. However, from closer inspection this seems to actually be part of the top vent section of the lid, which brought up a thought in my mind...perhaps this lantern isn't even meant to have a globe retainer?? There are no slots or tabs inside of the lid like you usually see to hold the retainer in place, and usually the wind deflector is part of the retainer. Also, the top conical vent section of the lid is slightly loose on the lid, but if pulled upwards, taper locks against the hood section of the lid, almost giving the effect of what a spring does in a normal globe retainer. There is no evidence of these two pieces ever being soldered or stamped/beaded together. So, I guess my question is this: does anyone know what's up with the globe/retainer/lid in this lantern? Is it supposed to have a retainer? If so, how does it stay in place in the lid without popping out when the lid is opened? Or is this the globe wrong; should it have a slightly taller globe, therefore fitting tight up against the top vent section of the lid? P.S. I suspect the globe is about 1/4 inch away form fitting tight up against the top vent section of the lid. Thanks in advance everyone!!!!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, March 25, 2017 by KO   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I suggest you contact Adlake, still in business and may be able to help you out. Posted Monday, March 27, 2017 by LC

A. Thanks for the reply. Never thought to email Adlake, didn't figure they'd bother with antique collectors. I'll give it a shot. Posted Monday, March 27, 2017 by KO

 Q3294 A&B RR A&W Lantern  I recently acquired an Adams & Westlake short globe lantern marked A&B RR in small letters on the brim and dated on the bottom 3-39. Anyone know which line this would represent? Have search on the internet without much success. Thanks for your help.  Posted Saturday, March 25, 2017 by BS   Post a Reply  Email a reply