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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:

 Q3907 What is This?  This was found in Raleigh County, WV at an old homestead. Directly across from the homestead is the New River, and Summers County, WV with the railroad lines within eyesight. I've researched a lot and found some information about a Chicago Central Railway that was around in 1889-1891. I thought this may have represented that company but, if so, it was in an odd area for it to be found. I'm not sure if this is a railroad item or not. For a long time I thought it stated CC Rv Co and now think it’s CC Ry Co. The sign is two sided and has the same markings on both sides. Any info/perspectives would be greatly appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, January 20, 2022 by D   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Interesting to note that the item does not show any obvious signs of having been mounted anywhere. And the double-sides mean it wouldn't have been glued or soldered onto something, and also makes using it as a printing block unlikely. Almost suggests a paperweight, although somewhat large for that application, and that wouldn't need a date.  Posted Friday, January 21, 2022 by RJMc

A. The only thing that I can see is that the border design changes at the bottom corners on both sides of the plate. If it was mounted, then it sat in some form of slotted bracket at these areas. On one side there is a slight wearing mark on one corner above that change in border, but that mark could have been from anything. Posted Friday, January 21, 2022 by DRay

A. I can understand two different pieces having the same casting flaws in the same places, but not the exact same stains. Even had they been stored facing each other to mirror the stains, they would be at opposite ends. So how can these two be so identical? In no stack of metal plates have I ever found two identically weathered pieces. Very odd. Posted Saturday, January 22, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. The posted pictures are of the same side. The one in my hand was to sorta show the size. But no, the stains are different and there are different wear marks on the obverse. Only the text and date are the same. Sorry to create confusion about that.  Posted Saturday, January 22, 2022 by DRay

A. Double-sided means a frame, itself suspended, is more likely so it can be seen from both sides approaching it. Given the Victorian era, seems that a Realty Company selling new homes with the built date is possible. For rail, the 1893 OG has a list of old and new names at the back pages, but they don't differentiate railway from railroad...that would have to be searched. I see several C.C.'s on the defunct side: Canada Central, Cape Cod, Carroll County, Cheraw & Chester, Chicago & Cincinnati, Cleveland & Canton, Colorado Central, Concord & Claremont, and Crooked Creek. Of course that may not cover some already gone, and names may get re-used in later years causing confusion of histories. Did you rule all these ones out so far? There was a lot of consolidations and abandonments in that period, all compounded by short lived logging roads, city & county boom operators, and what-nots of every kind with horse or mule power. Posted Saturday, January 22, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. I know there's no ampersand, but I threw them in just in case. Posted Saturday, January 22, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. The idea that 'Ry' = 'Realty" (not 'Railway') is really interesting. Do we have any evidence that this was an abbreviation convention back in the day? It's plausible since the context would distinguish such an abbreviation from 'Railway'. I had never thought of or heard of this before. Posted Saturday, January 22, 2022 by Webmaster

A. That provided lots of perspectives that I had never even considered before. I don’t have any knowledge about railroad items or anything like that. I’ve just stumbled on a few web pages from my recent internet searches. The idea of it being related to something of those descriptions and to the local area of WV makes much more sense to me than my original thought that it was something from a Chicago Railway Company. That idea only came to me when I saw that name on another website related to railroad items. I really appreciate your time and comments on this. Posted Saturday, January 22, 2022 by DRay

A. The best sources for seeing what abbreviations were used would be city directories or specialized business periodicals, especially in the adverts placed in them. Wasn't concerned with it went it popped into my head, but I believe I've seen Ry. for Realty while scouring ancient listings for hotels, suppliers, etc.. Places like New York, Saint Louis, and San Francisco have directories back to the 1800's which have been scanned and posted...come up in searches easily. Posted Saturday, January 22, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. Something else to consider: the 1889 may be a street address or a room number, rather than a date. See prior Q's 3386 and 3169. Just enter the Q# in the "Question Number" box to be taken directly to the prior Q's. Posted Sunday, January 23, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3906 Unusual Signaling Device?  I came across this unusual 3 paddle item marked 'Adlake'. I cannot find it in any of my reference books. It has 3 'arms' joined together, but they pivot, red, yellow, and blue. What is it? I figure it is for signaling somehow. Any help is appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, January 17, 2022 by Louis   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I saw a set of these years ago, and they were marked that they had come from a subway. May or may not be correct. Cannot help other than that. Posted Wednesday, January 19, 2022 by h v coll

 Q3905 Lock and Key Common ID System?  My Railroad lock and key collection (among others) has grown quite large over the 50 plus years I have been collecting. In re-organizing it I am looking for some sort of Railroad Cut Number. Let me explain. Like the telegraph/signal insulators have a common numbering system called Consolidated Design number, an example the Hemingray 60 (Mickey Mouse) aka CD257. Size and shape help identfy what the line was intended for. This allowed the same insulator to be made by many different companies across the country as there was no way one company could make the hundreds of millions that were needed. In the locks and keys railroads such as PRR, B&O, UP, NYCS and so on could order their respective locks and keys so that all worked together whether from Fraim, Slaymaker, Adlake, Wilson Bohannan.... You get the idea. Perhaps a member who was a store keeper with the Railroad may have the answer. Please let me know anything you can share and thank you for help.  Posted Monday, January 17, 2022 by M   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. If you look at older Adams & Westlake keys, you can see a faint number at the top of the bow. I've always taken these to be a blank number. Yale numbered their keys from A to K. Very few examples exist of factory marked railroad initials applied by Yale but I have seen them. What is seen when you look at dozens of switch keys is that the same cut got used by different railroads. The standard PRR cut that was originally PCC&STL was also the cut for CRI&P Pump House (PH) keys. Nevada Northern switch is the same as Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee. There's only so many bit shapes and cuts to go around, so they tend to have gotten repeated and I've only given a minimal number of examples. The late Don Stewart in one of his publications identified key bit types for both solid shaft and barrel type keys. The bit types I've identified being used in railroad switch keys were: Right (or Left) Angle Rim Bit, Right (or Left) Dog Leg, Plain Bit, Right (or Left) Z Bit, Right (or Left) Cove Bit. The specific cut for a railroad then depended on where and how deep you placed your individual cuts. Cuts are seen machined parallel to the barrel and perpendicular to it. I own keys that have cuts parallel to the barrel on both the barrel end side and the bow side (these are ward cuts)- sometimes more than one, and single or multiple cuts perpendicular to the barrel (these are lever cuts). These individual cuts get known as "the cut" of that key. The earliest keys for the Phila & Reading come to mind, as they were so intricate in these individual cuts that it took them being as exact as they were to pop open any of the early locks. Examples of later years for that railroad show less exactitude, as the lock workings became less intricate. In sum, I feel it impossible to categorize railroad key cuts by a Cut Number. Insulators are easy, as the casting molds were numbered. What popped out of the mold was a standard design. Railroad keys too were castings, but then had machining done to them to make them specific for the purpose of whatever railroad ordered them.  Posted Monday, January 17, 2022 by keyresponse

A. I think the best indication that there was NOT such a general numbering system is the practice at Adams and Westlake / Adlake. Adlake always had/STILL HAS their own blank numbers and cabinets filled with sample cut keys tagged and numbered with their own internal number and (maybe) railroad initials or names and (maybe) how the key was used. This applies for all kinds of keys and locks, not just switch keys, to include coach and Pullman door keys and other types as well. This is well illustrated in Barrett and Gross's book on Railroad Locks and Keys, Vol. 1, Adlake, where with Adlake's full cooperation they photographed and documented as many as the various sample keys as they could locate. There was never any mention of industry standard numbers. I recently purchased some newly-made passenger car door keys from Adlake, and the process is a matter of either selecting one of their known samples (looking at Barrett and Gross for reference!), or sending them a sample key or lock that you want them to match -- quite likely the process the RR's historically followed, as well. Glass insulators need more stringent specs because of the electrical properties they must have (for safety, when the voltages were often 440 AC and higher), as well as needing to serve as direct physical replacements in the field.  Posted Wednesday, January 19, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3904 Button ID?  I'm trying to figure out the name of the 'Street Railroad Co' with what looks like a monogram of 'E.O'. The backmark is the Pacific Button Co. S. Fran. Cal. Any ideas? Thank you,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, January 13, 2022 by Renée   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. East Oakland Street Railway/Railroad Company seems likely (Link 1) and there's one listing on the e(ast)bay claiming such. Link 1  Posted Thursday, January 13, 2022 by ShastaRoute

 Q3903 Key Questions  I have a couple keys I'm hoping to get some information on. The first is stamped G&NW RR and backside has Handlan Buck S very worn. The only name I can find on this site's data base is Gainesville and Northwestern. My research indicates this road was constructed in 1912- 14. I have 2 questions about this key. It being tapered, I'm thinking this key is earlier than that time frame. Second, being a Handlan Buck, I haven't seen any Eastern US road keys with that maker. All of them tend to be midwest or southwest. So is it indeed Gainesville and Northwestern or some completely different road that isn't in the data base of this site? My second key, the Bohannon Grand Trunk, doesn't have the traditional GT switch key bit. I'm wondering if it could possibly be a car or RT or some other special purpose? There is no designation marking on the back other than the makers mark. Any help on these two keys would be most appreciated. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, January 13, 2022 by Jim   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Please add a photo of the back sides of these keys and I and others can try to help.  Posted Friday, January 14, 2022 by keyresponse

A. OK will do  Posted Friday, January 14, 2022 by Jim

A. Here's the back sides of the keys. Link 1  Posted Friday, January 14, 2022 by Jim

A. I too have these G & N W keys. The one on left is the same cut as yours and mine is numbered where yours is not. I bought it out of an estate in Missouri and that man shopped for locks and keys in that state and adjoining ones. So I took it to be Gainesville (Georgia). Over the 45 years I've collected, with some exceptions, I've seen that artifacts generally stay in or nearby the area they were used. Mine is RY and yours is RR. The one on the right was bought from Oronoco, MN and I feel it could be Garvin & North Western. It is the same cut as a Chicago & Northwestern key but I don't believe it's a mismark. On your Grand Trunk, I've seen many cases where a purpose other than switch is not marked on a key and only those who used it knew what lock it was meant to go to. You're correct that Eastern roads generally used Eastern manufacturers and Buck and H-B products are found on Midwestern and Western keys. But the possibility for exceptions exists there as well. See Link. Link 1  Posted Sunday, January 16, 2022 by Non

A. The Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) had a VERY long and complicated history in Canada and the US (see Link) with MANY subsidiary companies coming and going at various times. I would be very surprised if there was just one 'standard switchkey' among all those various entities that all operated under GTR at one time or another. And that multiplied the numbers of specialized keys (car, RT, etc etc) many times over, as well. Link 1  Posted Thursday, January 20, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3902 Fresnel Globe in Armspear 1925 Lantern  My father left me a short frame Armspear '1925' lantern marked for the B&O with a fresnel globe. Given the good condition of the piece I am thinking the globe is original. Does the use of the fresnel globe make this more likely to be made closer to 1931? Would the fresnel globe (instead of a regular 'short' globe) have been a specification by the B&O? Thanks for your response.  Posted Monday, January 10, 2022 by Steve   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. 25 is a patent date, not a made date. If to shows a patent date, remember it is always newer than that date. I cannot remember all the locations that used fresnel globes, but I do remember crossing watchmen using them. Posted Monday, January 10, 2022 by h v coll

 Q3901 Lamp ID?  I've had this piece forever but cannot locate it on line. Can you help? It measures 9 3/4 in. at the base by 8 in. deep by 11 in. tall plus about 4 1/2 in. for the chimney. The lens is 8 in. diameter with pat. Dates for U.S. Feb 20, Can. Mar 23 & Apl. 13, and Eng. Dec 24, 1877. Haven't tried it but oil lamp (font - not shown) looks perfect. Hard to tell but likely repainted at some time. Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, January 10, 2022 by Ken   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3900 Obscure items  I have in my possession about 4-5 stones, almost completely round. They look like the balls that used to be used inside a computer mouse. My grandma told me she picked them up beside a railroad near Seal Beach in the early 1910s-1920s. According to her, they were stones put in the train cars that were transporting salt so it wouldn’t clump. She said the rocks were worn down into spheres as the train rocked. Some are grey, some white. But I can’t find any record of anything like this being mentioned anywhere. Was this a common practice? Do these rocks have a name? Are there others out there? I can only find info on train marbles, and speculation as to what they were used for. Your site seemed to be a good source for this kind of knowledge. Thank you for taking the time to read my inquiry!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, December 28, 2021 by HB   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. There has been quite a bit of past discussion on the RRiana site here about glass 'train marbles' found along tracks all over the US. Three possible uses mentioned so far are (1) as a type of floor conveyor system in freight houses, or (2) as you mention, maybe buried in some kind of bulk load to help it flow out of a hopper car, or (3) as bulk material in some kind of manufacturing process. See Prior Q's 3362, 3265, 3156, 2414 just to start. Another use not mentioned so far, suggested to me by the stone material of your ball, is in a 'ball mill' used to crush various things into smaller pieces and/or mix powders together (See Link) -- one common example is raw cement 'clinker' and a second is black gunpowder which may be processed in a ball mill both to completely mix its ingredients and to produce the desired grain size. In handling gunpowder the stone would probably be a much better material than metal, to avoid sparks. In all of these uses, the balls would be produced in a factory somewhere in their final round shape, and shipped to the point where they were to be used, a few no doubt leaking out on every trip on the way.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, December 28, 2021 by RJMc

A. I think these are just clay (or earthenware) toy marbles. See link below Link 1  Posted Thursday, December 30, 2021 by DA

A. Seal Beach was accessed in 1904 by the Pacific Electric Railway, with the rest of the Newport/Balboa line completed in 1905/06. There once were salt works on the area below the Santa Monica bay, but I don't know of any in the southbay. [A glass insulator maker did exist in Long Beach area, but I can not say anything for ceramics.] A rail extension to the Seal Beach naval munitions facilities is well documented on-line, but it comes too late for the period that granny claims. Newport actually did have a port connecting to rail services heading inland at one time, but this would probably not affect Seal Beach up the coast. There were clay related manufacturers in SoCal for pottery and tile all the way back to near 1900 (and maybe some before), but local clay marbles is not something I have heard of. So maybe they were just what DA is pointing to, but brought in for retail...PE did handle all kinds of product shipments. Posted Saturday, January 1, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. Afterthoughts-British educated and Wade family related George Poxon was a foremost authority in ceramic glazes. He came to California and started a pottery (tiles and then more) in Vernon south of downtown Los Angeles around the era (c.1912/3) noted. Conroy linked him as a supplier to the Southern Pacific, but I don't know what she found. No doubt some of the wares were sold at places like Santa Fe's La Grande Station (check silent fim footage) or the early goods stores in SoCal (some ads exist). They eventually made vitrified hotel china (very hard to find). Poxon is the SoCal equivalent to Union Porcelain Works of Greenpoint N.Y. or KTK up in Ohio, both making early railroad chinas. If Poxon made clay marbles as another product, and you can find proof of that, it would be historically significant. There was a twenty year plus search to re-locate a clay deposit that was involved in award winning pottery. It appears to be the Albermarle (?) clay pits that exists in Riverside County and was located along a Santa Fe branch. (It's all somehow related to Poxon among others, but much of the information was lost to researchers working before the internet machines went to digging through sources.] You might want to contact some of the pottery experts, if you can find one still alive and interested. Posted Saturday, January 1, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. BTW-A large plant for refining sugar from the beet industry was the big deal on the rambling marsh lines down the coast (inland a bit) above Newport Beach. I believe PE could exchange cars with SP if it made any sense. So maybe grandma saw sugar tanks instead of salt? Posted Saturday, January 1, 2022 by ShastaRoute

 Q3899 Unknown RR Lantern Marking  I've been collecting railroad items for a few years now and Railroadiana has been an invaluable resource for information. I recently purchased a Dietz Vesta lo-top lantern that has very unique markings. I haven't been able to find any information about these markings on the Railroadiana website, or anywhere else on the internet. I believe the 'B&M' stands for Boston & Maine, but I was wondering if anyone at Railroadiana could identify the meaning of 'X-277'? Sincerely,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, December 28, 2021 by JPV   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The Boston and Maine had a LOT of grade crossings. As a guess, that X-277 designates which crossing watchman's shanty the lantern belonged in, or which crossing watchman it belonged to, to prevent lanterns from being 'borrowed' back and forth all the time.  Posted Tuesday, December 28, 2021 by RJMc

 Q3898 Dietz #6 Lanterns  When did the manufacturer marking on No. 6 lanterns change from R. E. Dietz to simply Dietz? Are R. E. Dietz lanterns found less frequently than Dietz?  Posted Sunday, December 26, 2021 by Non   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3897 RR Item?  Back in 1976, The Freedom Train went through town and I found quite a few of these 2-inch triangular shaped items strewn along the RR Tracks... My recollection is that The Freedom Train burned oil for fuel... So might anyone know what this item might be? Thank you!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, December 25, 2021 by TK   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. What town or area are you referring to? Which locomotive was pulling the Freedom Train at the time: ex-SP Daylight 4449, ex-RDG 2101, ex T&P 610?  Posted Saturday, December 25, 2021 by RJMc

A. Sorry not to have mentioned it before... The Train pulled through Jefferson City Missouri in April 1976... Unfortunately, being a kid, I was too young to know which locomotive was there that day... Your response led me to find a partial link, but it didn't really mention locomotive specifics... Thank you for looking at my question! Link 1  Posted Sunday, December 26, 2021 by TK

A. The look of this is the way many bulk chemicals look. What comes to mind are detergents, fabric softeners, dishwasher cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, and maybe at the outside, water softeners. I suspect this is something that leaked out of a badly-closed outlet in a covered hopper car in a freight train, rather than the Freedom Train. I don't know of anything like this used around any of the steam locomotives I have helped to operate. In any case, whatever it is cost money, and strewing it around the right-of-way would be the basis for getting in trouble for someone. As a further thought, if this was found at a site where the Freedom Train was displayed, it might be detergent for power washing the train, which happened at about every site.  Posted Monday, December 27, 2021 by RJM

 Q3896 Adams Lantern Marking?  I have found an Adams RR lantern with a clear globe that that says C.S.L. Ry etched on the globe. I would like to know what railroad that is? It is a new one for me. Any idea what it might be ? Thanks.  Posted Wednesday, December 22, 2021 by FRC   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Chicago Surface Lines (1913 - 1947). Posted Thursday, December 23, 2021 by ASwoyer

 Q3895 Globe Maker and Style?  What maker and style of lantern does this globe fit? I don't believe it is for a barn or utility lantern, thus suspect railroad. It is 5-1/2 in. high, with top outer diameter 2-3/4 in., extended base bottom opening 3-3/8 in. The glass is 3/16 in. thick, which is at least twice as thick as barn lantern globes. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, December 12, 2021 by Non   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Unmarked? Try searching "Dietz Globe" (might be a generic copy) and you will see similar ones. [At least one retailer has a chart to match it up to the lantern models.] And, of course, check back here to see if you get a more precise answer than this. Posted Monday, December 13, 2021 by ShastaRoute

A. Here is a photo of the type of lantern that I believe your globe fits [see link]. The measurements you gave and globe shape are not exactly the same but very close to the lantern globe in the photo. Earlier fixed globes in this style lantern were plastered in place while later styles were held in place by soldered guard wires and your globe would fit both of these criteria. Fixed globe lanterns were general use lanterns but also used by railroads. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, December 15, 2021 by VE

 Q3894 Seized Lantern Founts  I have recently purchased a couple of standard Adlake hand lanterns in which the founts have seized in the lamp (presumably rusted in) and I can't remove them. Is there anything I can soak them in to free them up? Thanks for any help you can provide.  Posted Friday, December 3, 2021 by Jason   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. From what I have found, there is no perfect answer, almost everyone is different. Just remember, WD40 and others like it are lubricants, not rust inhibitors. You might think of heat around the outside to expand the metal that is holding the font. Be careful as the contents are flammable and can also put off an odor when heated. Always be prepared for the unexpected as the fonts were never designed for what you are about to do. I have been lucky and never had a problem, except for some that are still stuck.  Posted Saturday, December 4, 2021 by h v coll

A. This might be a good time to remind everyone of the lantern restoration page [see link] which has a bunch of general rust removal advice, although not with specific focus on seized fonts.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, December 4, 2021 by Web Editor

A. A good MODERATE source of heat is a hair dryer. If you don't have one, or don't want to borrow somebody else's (at possibly great risk to your relationships) try the local thrift store. I have found many there in the $4.00 range -- I have often bought them to use as '1,000 watt dummy loads' to test portable electric generators. As to WD40, it is not even a lubricant. It is actually a degreaser, and acts as a lubricant only when it is still wet. Things may stick even harder once freed with WD40. There are probably thousands of brands of penetrating oils which can be tried. Things should actually be soaked in them for some time (at least days) to get results on really stuck items. If you can't actually submerge the item, paint the penetrating oil on repeatedly to keep the affected area wet with it. The link is a handy reference to some testing of which brand might be best for use on stuck bolts on cars. Their best result of all was to home-brew a mix of transmission fluid and acetone. But given the flammability issues, I would try some of the others first. De-rusters which contain phosporic acid actually chemically convert the rust to gray iron phosphate which then protects the metal from further rust and can act as an effective primer if any kind of coating is to be applied later, while also freeing the joint.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, December 4, 2021 by RJMc

A. PB B'laster to break the rust? Posted Wednesday, December 8, 2021 by ShastaRoute

 Q3893 Help Identify...  Trying to figure out what this is. Was told 'PRRS' was Steam so it's fairly old but no idea what it is. Thanks   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, November 21, 2021 by Jim H   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Could be a bulk lead bar used in soldering.  Posted Sunday, November 21, 2021 by h v coll

A. The S could be for system or Pennsylvania lines west of Pittsburgh Posted Monday, November 22, 2021 by DC

A. Yas, this is what is called "Plumber's Bar Solder." Also see prior Q 3004 for another metal ingot labelled PRR. At one time this kind of bar solder was sold in every hardware store. The 50 - 50 refers to its composition of 50% lead and 50% tin. Other kinds of solder, such as used for electrical or electronic work may be 60 - 40 which melts at a much lower temperature and usually comes as wire on a spool rather than in bars. The Plumber's Solder was used extensively on copper water pipe joints and the end-bell joints on black iron water pipe which can go to very large sizes (feet in diameter) so each joint needed a LOT of solder, which was melted in a pot and then poured on top of fiber packing which was forced into each slip joint after the pipe run was assembled. Of course lately no lead is being used (legally, anyway) on water pipe joints. It was also used to solder joints on things like gutters and other tinwork; possibly for filling the counterweights on steam locomotive drive wheels (many pounds per wheel), all things the PRR did extensively to maintain its thousands of buildings and locomotives. And also used to make fishing sinkers among many other uses. Particularly for such generally useful stuff as Plumber's Solder they were labelled so that the RR did not end up supplying solder to every plumber and fisherman in Altoona and much of the Eastern US. And the S is likely for 'System' as mentioned.  Posted Tuesday, November 23, 2021 by RJMc

 Q3892 Unusual Lantern Conversion  I just ran across a very unusual D&RGW RR lantern that was converted from kerosene to 6 volt battery. It looks like a professional metal worker did the conversion. Very well made and it does function. I would enjoy any information.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, November 18, 2021 by David   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The more I look at the pix, the more I am convinced this is not a "conversion" but made by the lantern manufacturer. For example, the horizontal guard wires at the base are perfectly bent, in exactly the same manner as the other guard wire joints. An even better indicator is that where the guard wires cross the battery holder, there are "ears" in the casting to hold those wires in exactly the right places. And the (well-worn) switch is set into its own housing, obviously purpose-cast into the side of the battery box. And the ring sized to exactly hold the globe base is also cast into the top of the battery box. The only part that looks adapted is the blue top light and it appears to happen to have fit just right into where the kerosene top would also have fit. The lantern manufacturers were very flexible and would make almost anything a RR wanted (or anybody else with $$, for that matter)and they would always make use of patterns they already had to keep startup costs down. I suspect this was made to use to 'blue flag' yard or shop tracks, and/or to hang on the side of an engine while stopped to be serviced in a terminal, and the original globe would also have been blue. This would have been used in the time period before transistorized blue flashers became commonly available, probably 1950's.  Posted Wednesday, November 24, 2021 by RJMc

A. A further thought on looking at all the heavy duty features built into this lamp. This is the kind of construction of lamps to be used in hazmat environments, such as to blue flag tank cars holding flammable materials while being loaded or unloaded, for handling explosives, or maybe even a grain elevator where potentially explosive dust is an issue and where open flames are banned. That's the kind of application that would justify the obviously great expense of making up that battery box casting. And the limited number of those places explains why so few of these have been seen.  Posted Wednesday, November 24, 2021 by RJMc

A. I have one of these lanterns in very good condition, with cobalt top AND cobalt globe. Top is marked D&RGW RR, and THE ADAMS AND WESTLAKE COMPANY. See pic.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, December 14, 2021 by Doug

 Q3891 Locomotive Bell Info  I just purchased this bell and am hoping to find out some info based on the numbers stamped on top of the bell. One side of the bell has numbers that appear to be 1238 then 1 on top of 1 then 273…. The other side of the bell is stamped 270. Removed the nut and washer but there are no numbers under there. The bell is cast iron not brass or bronze. Any help in identifying this bell is appreciated. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, November 14, 2021 by JM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. In the earlier days of railroading , when an engine was shopped , shop crews marked a bell with the locos number so the same bell could be replaced and not get mixed up with the others that had been removed. With multiple numbers , there is a good possibility the previous loco had been wrecked or scrapped , and the bell had been placed on a different loco. Posted Sunday, November 14, 2021 by h v coll

 Q3890 Lock Sites?  I recently purchased a Baltimore and Ohio Brass Railroad Switch Lock without a key and stamped with 'B & O R.R' and 'F S HDW.Co' from the Fraim and Slaymaker company. Some eBay Sellers claim this older style Brass lock was made by Fraim and Slaymaker and supposedly manufactured in the 1920s. I can’t see any markings on the lock that give me a clue when it was made or which hollow key pattern will unlock it. I realize that hollow key patterns and their matching locks often changed between railroad divisions and sometimes on a periodic basis for railroad security. Are there Internet websites dedicated to discussing and collecting USA Railroad Locks and Keys and their use/history – including Fraim and Slaymaker - and if so, what are their URL addresses?  Posted Saturday, November 13, 2021 by SN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. First be sure to check out the key related discussions on this site. Also, I hope the Key Lock & Lantern organization can help, Link 1. I don't know where you are, but the 2022 convention is scheduled for Carbondale PA; see the website for details. There are several groups that discuss keys/locks on Facebook; Link2 is a good one but you can probably find more by using FB's search function. RE: Fraim and Slaymaker, my information is that ET Fraim started the business in 1879; his sons Walter and Samuel joined the firm in the 1880s. ET died in 1917. About 1920, Samuel bought Walter out. By 1921, Walter had bought a major interest in the Slaymaker Co. and formed Fraim-Slaymaker (F-S Hardware), in direct competition to his brother. F-S Hardware lasted about 15 years. Fraim operated until the 1950s. I have never seen a lock coded for date/key cut. Some manufacturer stamp styles can help with dates; example, E T FRAIM LOCK CO in a straight line is the oldest Fraim mark; followed by FRAIM inside a keystone; then FRAIM inside a bowtie/banner/dog bone. Link 1  Link 2  Posted Sunday, November 14, 2021 by JMS

 Q3889 Pyle National Marker Lamp  I have a Pyle National Marker Lamp. Can anyone tell me what size original light bulb it was used in it. I am not running it and it is for looks. Thank you. Don  Posted Friday, November 12, 2021 by Don   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The socket in most electric markers and class lights is a standard 'Edison Medium Base' female receptacle, the same as is used in regular household lamps. Markers and class lamps usually used a 15 or 25 watt, 32 Volt bulb which ran on DC voltage from the locomotive or passenger car. Illuminated number boards often used two or three sockets with the same size bulbs. Because the bases are the same, and even for 32 volt service the insulation was rated at 600 volts, household bulbs can be used directly to light class lamps and markers with household 120 vac PROVIDED that you either confirm that insulation is still good, and/or replace any wiring where time, wear, or weather may have degraded it.  Posted Friday, November 12, 2021 by RJMc

A. The above answer refers to the larger 'cannonball' style marker and classification lamps. The later 'cat's eye' smaller style of markers, some also made by Pyle National, used a bayonet 'twist lock' base lamp often running at 12 VDC and very similar to some automotive turn signal lamps. If you are trying to match that lamp, be aware that the side pins on most turn-signal type lamps are not directly opposite each other; the pin configuration must match the socket for the bulb to fully engage and work in the socket. Some of the auto bulbs made for top lights and/or reverse lights may have the pins opposite each other since they only have a single conductor in the base. Once again, a picture of your item would be most helpful.  Posted Sunday, November 14, 2021 by RJMc

 Q3888 S.P. Co. Steel lock and Brass Key  A Diamond 'S' lock, RR marked front with 1961 dated back. Key works fine but is marked 'round top Eagle Lock Company Terryville Conn. U.S.A. with code 13c1 on obverse. No RR stamp on key. [Key has been in place for a long time as no rust formed behind area where drop was swung over..same for front area of key that was inserted in the workings.] All kosher and do we know more about this key? TIA   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, November 8, 2021 by ShastaRoute   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Correction: 13c1 is on the reverse side of key, not the obverse where the Eagle Lock name is. Posted Saturday, November 13, 2021 by ShastaRoute

A. This would appear to be a Southern Pacific Company lock. Link 1 is some info on the railroad line. I am not sure what I can offer about the key: it fits, it works, it was made by a fine company but as you state, it is not railroad marked. I have no way to know what 13c1 means. It's a plus to have a good working set, but of course it would be more valuable if the key was stamped SPCo as well.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, November 14, 2021 by JMS

A. Found 2 records (2019 & 2021) of what may be the same (twice sold) "13C1" key in different numbers stamp from mine, but the complex cut is a match [Note use of large "C" on that one.]. It was also marked Eagle Lock w/o RR identity. The second source was in Dubuque, but they may have obtained it online from another area. So, at least we now know those lost keys should work on a select Southern Pacific lock set. Slaymaker was gone in 1973, so maybe they had to get replacement keys from Eagle in the last years before they went under too in 1975? Posted Monday, November 15, 2021 by ShastaRoute

 Q3887 Class Lamps?  On an online auction I recently purchased a pair of lamps that were described as classification lamps. However, they both have both green and red roundels. It was my understanding classification lamps only displayed either clear or green. Are these in fact classification lamps, or some other application? If they are classification lamps, when would the red indication be displayed?  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, November 3, 2021 by Joe C   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Red lights on the front of an engine were used as markers when the locomotive was on the trailing end of a reverse move. Among the most obvious place to see this was on the front of some ALCO and MLW diesel locos where all three light colors were prominent with each color having a separate lens (see Link). Link 1  Posted Wednesday, November 3, 2021 by RJMc

 Q3886 Hiram L Piper Lamp  I'd been interested in a rail lamp for a long time and, just yesterday I stumbled into this repainted, Montreal based Hiram L Piper. As found in a 1960 catalogue of parts; with matching dimensions and lenses (4), it's got to be either a No. 8 or No. 12 Standard switch lamp. The catalogue says it's 19 lbs, crated. The actual weight is 11.4 lbs. It's not electrified, but has no fount. It's on a No. 54 lamp bottom [stamped 54 and its patent date is 1909-12-20. Most of the examples I find have CPR or CNR stamped on them. This one does have any other markings beyond HLP M, patented date and 'Piper Montreal'. Assuming that they only branded CNR and CPR because of the scale, I assume it was owned by one of the 100 or so railway companies early-mid 20th century Canada, but I’d like to try and date it. Anybody have info or tips? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, October 31, 2021 by Jeff   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Greetings Jeff, I vaguely recall having this same discussion with the late Paul Roy, Canadian railroadiana collector and long-time Key Lock & Lantern and RCAI member. You're right that these lamps don't have manufactured dates on them like the lanterns do. He told me that you can roughly date your lamp by looking closely at the outer edge of the lenses, many are engraved very lightly with the date they were made (you may have to open your lamp and look through the lamp against a flash light to see, and you may even have to remove a lens to see the date clearly). I had a look at a few of mine, one CNR lamp for example had 1934 and 1935 date marks on the four lenses. This'll give a rough estimate of manufacture of 1935. I hope this helps you! Posted Sunday, October 31, 2021 by Steve B

A. Possibly unfortunately for the current discussion, the "1935" on many, many railroad lenses is a specification number, not the date of manufacture of the lens. That's why almost every lens which shows up for sale online is claimed to be "vintage 1935" when in fact many were produced quite recently. They often look brand new because they may BE brand new.  Posted Monday, November 1, 2021 by RJMc

A. The Link discusses the long history of development of standardized colors for signal lenses, not only for RR's but highways and aviation as well, resulting in US national standards. As to "1935" a short excerpt from the document at the Link: "Revisions In 1935: The year 1935 witnessed a revision of the specifications for lenses, rounddels and glass slides. Experience gained in manufacture and test at Corning, combined with research at the Bureau of Standards and experience in the field, permitted the specification to be rewritten permitting use of higher transmission glasses. The 1935 specifications define color values in a manner that with proper test equipment any doubtful glass will be eliminated. This specification also covers heat resisting discs for search-light signals."  Link 1  Posted Monday, November 1, 2021 by RJMc

A. The 1935 standard discussed above resulted from strong support from the Association of American Railroads (AAR) and its predecessor organizations. The Canadian (and Mexican) railroads have always been strong supporters of the AAR and its technical committees so the 1935 standard for lenses applied in Canada, also.  Posted Tuesday, November 2, 2021 by RJMc

A. Thanks for your insight RJMc, interesting article too. I had another look at the lenses I was referring too, and sure enough they are marked Corning. That'll explain the 1935 dates! Well Jeff, what can I say, I tried to unravel the mystery but no, you can't date your lamp just by looking at the lenses as it turns out. I am out of ideas as to how to date this. Posted Tuesday, November 2, 2021 by Steve B

A. Steve B, RJMc: I enjoyed the read and thanks for the info. No closer to getting a picture of where/when, but's all good. Odds are that I'll never figure it out and should just enjoy it for what it is. Wish I could do that with my WW2 rifles of the world collection, lol. I've since temporarily wired it (no damage) and put a LED fire bulb inside. Its floating between my office and what I call my music studio, until I find it's home. I'm considering building a post for it. I'll periodically poke around and, revisit here. Maybe I'll get lucky someday. Side note: The fire bulb and red lens looked really cool as a backlight to our jack-o-lantern.  Posted Saturday, November 6, 2021 by Jeff

 Q3885 Installing a Peepsight on Adlake 275 Lantern  I'm looking for information on how to install a peepsight on an Adlake 275 switch lamp. I am currently restoring a switch lamp that is missing the peepsight. There are peepsight replacement kits available for this lamp. My question is how to install it? Is the soldiering involved something that an amateur can do? If anyone has done this I would appreciate their insight in this application.  Posted Sunday, October 31, 2021 by DBN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3884 Donated Item Identification  This wheel was donated to our Depot Museum with the donor believing it is a railroad item, possibly a caboose wheel driven generator part or a 1940's PFE reefer car wheel driven fan system. The holes on the front are for accessing the mounting bolt. I have not been able to locate any photos showing this wheel. Steel wheel and rubber tire. At some point it was painted black and cream color. Any help would be greatly appreciated.  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, October 28, 2021 by Dale R   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I suspect it is a landing gear tire for a small airplane. Posted Friday, October 29, 2021 by RJMc

 Q3883 Lamp with White Lens  Here is a Northern Pacific lamp. Why does it have a white lens? The other lenses are 2 blue and 1 red. Thanks, look forward to your answer.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, October 23, 2021 by TR   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. We asked around trying to find an answer and the consensus was that a prior owner of this lamp put the white lens in it because it was what he happened to have. We could not come up with any use for this type of lens by a railroad. It works fine covering the hole, and it does look like a fine conversation piece.  Posted Friday, October 29, 2021 by JMS

A. Just "conjecture time"...could it have been used on an intermediate or secondary switch branching off of a main repair track, like a stub or even a runaround for engines? Blue at 180 degrees would be informative only to say the rip track is aligned. When the switch is thrown, red tells any opposing traffic not to cross the switch while showing an entering crew (facing white) that it is aligned for movement. If white were only informative, they would still be required to have clearance or orders to enter that track. Of course, I'm thinking special conditions for a particular place rather than general rules here. Any chance of that in the long past? Posted Sunday, October 31, 2021 by ShastaRoute

A. Of course, that makes no sense for a lamp set up as a marker. Posted Sunday, October 31, 2021 by ShastaRoute

 Q3882 SP GS-1 #4405 Locomotive Image Mirror  Two feet in length on 1/4 inch glass with mirror backing. Engineering blueprint diagram fast applied in black on surface. Looks to be very professional work. But for what purpose, when, and by whom? Haven't run across this as an item offered for sale to railfans in the past, but what use would it be, if any, to Southern Pacific? TIA   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, October 20, 2021 by Shasta Route   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. What a great find ! But I would wonder if it actually was made for the SP. Would think they would have used an actual image - not a blueprint - but this is just guessing. This would make a great wall mounted decoration or maybe might have been part of a "divider" somewhere - ? Just wild guessing. Restaurants use this type of decoration on privacy panels built between booths in dining rooms. I wonder if it came from a train theme restaurant.  Posted Sunday, October 24, 2021 by JS

A. Thanks, JS. There's no evidence of any prior framing, and the thickness of the glass would seem to preclude any chance of mass production for the railfan markets except where made-to-order custom work might be done. In addition, it's rather odd that they chose the number of a locomotive from within a class rather than the first model to represent that group. That also seems like a custom decision for some inexplicable personal reasoning...kind of like decorating a brass model to create a specific engine. As far as I know, #4405 has no particular historical significance. Posted Wednesday, October 27, 2021 by ShastaRoute

A. Shasta Route, it sounds like maybe this was custom made (another guess) and may have been created as a gift. An error like you mention suggests the artist was not a train person, just "painting" a locomotive with no real knowledge of what the numbers meant. The SP would have ordered numbers correctly. This makes an even better case for this being a "non-railroad" item. Regardless it's a terrific find, great on a wall anywhere some light reflection would be interesting.  Posted Friday, October 29, 2021 by JMS

A. The thick glass causes a reflection that that makes it near impossible to get a clean image, but rest assured that this is a very professional work of creating a decal or using an advanced printing process to transfer the schematic onto the surface, and the Espee rails-to-sunset logo is down at the center bottom. I suspect it may pre-date this era with technology in every garage or home office, and was done by someone with real skills. That said, I noticed #4404 was used in publicity for one of the name trains in Oregon during the '30's. I have not been able to ferret out any of the operating history of #4405 to see if it might have played a similar role in those early years before the Lima products. The image here is of the original Baldwin-built configuration with cylindrical tender before they were changed out. Espee did order a lot of odd items (like system maps applied to glass mirrors) which surface every now and then, probably used only in offices, agencies, or stations. Guess I'll just have to watch to see who might have produced a similar style diagram with the logo embedded on the turntable..? Posted Sunday, October 31, 2021 by ShastaRoute

 Q3881 Alco Builders Plate  I have an Alco builders plate and need some help identifying the locomotive. The builders plate is from a steam locomotive type: 38 /HLV 38. 2-8-0 Consolidation. Made for Belgium, 75 were delivered in 1920. Train numbers 5201-5275 How can I find 'my' locomotive? What happened with this steam locomotive?  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, October 20, 2021 by Theo B, Belgium   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I would say doing the math based on my Alco serial numbers book it came off engine 5228 I would guess it was probably destroyed or damaged in WW 2 Posted Monday, October 25, 2021 by RMH

A. There is an entry here (Link 1) giving the renumberings of class 38 (class 5201) if that might help find it. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, October 27, 2021 by ShastaRoute

 Q3880 N.L. Piper Lanterns?  Did Noah( N.L. Piper)make any railroad stamped lanterns or were they done by his son Hiram (H.L. Piper)?  Posted Wednesday, October 20, 2021 by boxcarwingy   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3879 HPR CPR Switch Lamp  I've recently acquired a Hiram L Piper CPR Switch lamp (1943). It seems to have had plastic lenses rather than glass. Were these lanterns made with plastic lenses? Any information would be greatly appreciated.  Posted Wednesday, October 20, 2021 by Dan   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Greetings Dan and congratulations on getting your war-era CPR switch lamp. I live in Canada and have been collecting for 34 years now. I have several lamp examples, however I haven't personally seen any lamps from the CNR or the CPR that didn't have plastic lenses. All ones I have seen either have the plastic fresnel type for the lamps with kerosene burners, and later, some which were converted to reflective plastic Stimsonite lenses which were used just as the reflectorized targets came out in the early 1970's. Common sense however tells me that the very earliest lamps would most certainly have had glass lenses prior to the development of plastics, but when the switch to plastic lenses occurred I really don't know. I think that may have been well before 1943. Also It's quite common for a lamp to go through a few changes and updates in its life depending on the requirements of the railroad, and I have seen several converted to the plastic Stimsonite lenses which were formerly kerosene burning. I have yet to see a Canadian switch lamp which has any glass lenses at all, not even one, but it doesn't mean that they don't exist somewhere possibly. I Hope this helps you. Posted Thursday, October 21, 2021 by Steve B.

A. Thank You Steve for the information, you've cleared up questions that I had and made ownership of the lamp much more interesting and enjoyable. Posted Monday, October 25, 2021 by Steve B

 Q3878 Handlan Lantern?  I acquired this after retiring from 30 years (with 5 railroads) in the industry. Your website has been helpful to the extent that I am fairly certain this is a Hanlan except that the padded handle isn’t present on what you have pictured. The lantern is unbranded and the shape is correct. It is serviceable; 3 lanterns and one of my MKT dispatcher’s train sheets are the only artifacts in my possession. Positive identification is all that I am seeking, my compliments for your most informative site.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, October 12, 2021 by DR   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Judging off the one photo, this appears to be the Handlan model 177 with the stiff bail, rubber grip , produced in the WW1 era. Posted Thursday, October 14, 2021 by h v coll

 Q3877 Baldwin Number Plate?  I came across your website while searching for information on what seems to be a Baldwin Locomotive Works numbers plate. I can't seem to find anything on the internet that is this big. It's 16.75 inches in diameter and weighs approximately 33 pounds and is solid brass. I'm not sure if this is a fake or if it's valuable or very rare since I haven't been able to find one like it. I am hoping to get some information or maybe pointed in the right direction to get more information. Thank you for your time.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, October 4, 2021 by Lori K   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3876 Rare RR Co and Globe Mfr. Markings?  I have been searching for a list of rare railroad company names and markings/logos that would be found on lanterns. I have also been looking for a list of globe manufacturers and the markings that were used. (I remember seeing a list with the markings many years ago but I am unable to locate them...maybe 8-10 different companies). Any help is appreciated. Thanks.  Posted Sunday, October 3, 2021 by DM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I am not sure if it will give you everything you are looking for but Key Lock & Lantern publishes a list of railroads and the globe markings that have been documented. See Link 1. There is some good globe manufacturing information in the back of Barrett and Gross' book "Illustrated Encyclopedia of Railroad Lighting Vol. 1, The Railroad Lantern" - but I don't recall seeing any list of what railroads these companies made globes for.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, October 17, 2021 by JS

A. The KL&L material has been republished with permission and updated on this website. Also new pages of marking have been added for models not covered in the original KL&L surveys.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, October 17, 2021 by Web Editor

 Q3875 Key IDs?  I was wondering if you know what these reporting marks are on these 2 switch keys? I think the one is for the St. Paul Union Stockyard company? I don't know if the other one is some railroad and Great Northern or maybe New Orleans Great Northern. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, September 30, 2021 by Dave   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Dave, The key on the left is indeed a St. Paul Union Stockyard key appears to be an unused slaymaker. that company used both adlake and slaymaker keys. the NO&GN I really have my doubts about it even being legit. the hilt appears ground down and polished to remove another roads markings plus the official road name is New Orleans Great Northern no ampersand between Orleans and Great. Another flag is the key appears very new for such an old long gone road. hope this helps. Posted Thursday, September 30, 2021 by JIm

 Q3874 Real or Fake Key?  Regarding the information listed on the fake keys page I noticed one of my Southern keys listed as a fake, supposedly made by stamping a generic Pennsylvania key [See Link]. One of my key collectors books though (Railroad Key Diagrams) specifically mentions this key as legitimate, so is it real or fake? My key came to me from a known railroader who retired from Southern and worked in the state of Tennessee. Not only did I get the key in question, I also got other Southern keys and locks which are 100% authentic and very old. Here's my key which shows wear from use and grime (unless that too was part of the faking-process?). There must be a Southern collector somewhere who can put the issue to rest. Is it real or fake!? If this key is real, was it a car key, rip-track key or??   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, September 28, 2021 by Steve B  Link 1     Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Without seeing your key in person I hate to rush to judgment, but IMHO the tiny, modern lettering is a real problem - especially since the die appears to be the same as the stamping on numerous keys in the illustration (Link 1). If your key is over 2 inches long is another red flag. The fake key article is correct that a large number of Conrail and later Penn Central keys were not marked - making them easy prey for dishonest scum to stamp with desirable line markings that would sell for beaucoup bucks. Use and grime in this case don't matter - it would have happened from use by Conrail or the PC. Sadly - there isn't a one of us who hasn't been fooled by fakes, too many of which have been around for so long they seem to have become accepted as legitimate. Worse, more information about known fakes hasn't been made widely known. In general, key guides are mostly accurate but even their authors have been fooled on occasion. I personally look in several guides if I have questions. I think collectors in the Northeast are more on the lookout for faked Conrail/PC keys because that's the home region. Someone in another part of the country, not having encountered them before, may well have been taken in. That's nothing to be ashamed of.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Tuesday, September 28, 2021 by JS

A. My apologies - my Link2 did not work - I found an identical SOU RY marked key in Proxibid, but since the auction was over the link is for something else. I'll try again (Link 1) but if it still doesn't work, my apologies. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, September 28, 2021 by JS

A. Thank you for your response and insight JS, and also thank you to Paul K. for posting my question. I have been collecting railroadiana and specifically keys for 34 years now and it's to be expected that a fake key would end up in my hands eventually! Now I have to build a display case for my fake stuff too LOL!! I am very thankful for this site and for the members who visit here regularly as it has been a wealth of information for our hobby and for each other. Posted Wednesday, September 29, 2021 by Steve B

A. Steve B, you are so gracious - thank you. I think we're about the same age. I think key fakers take serious advantage of the fact there are no records from railroads or key companies about who bought what and when. (Why keep old, no longer relevant business records?) I fell victim to a couple not long ago, myself and we have been in railroadiana for about as long as you. Indeed showing off fakes would be helpful educating collectors! Sadly, while some of the dishonest people have died off, their deeds have survived them - here are more - Link 1 is to what's becoming known as "Sullivan" keys as reported by the Key Lock & Lantern organization.  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, September 29, 2021 by JS

A. I too got 'burned' by the fake/repro PRR / PC / Conrail keys. The one I purchased online at first glance looks OK, but the barrel is drilled so badly off-center that it is not even possible to get it into a lock. And there is so little metal left on the one side that even if the drilling was corrected, the key would break on any attempt to use it.  Posted Wednesday, September 29, 2021 by RJMc

A. It would appear we are in good company. RJMc, what a rotten thing - it sounds like a scumbag faked the key itself instead of just stamping initials onto a genuine Conrail/PC key. If every collector who was scammed by a scumbag would promise to buy a T-shirt from me "I WAS SCAMMED BY A SCUMBAG KEY FAKER" I would make the shirts up and sell them and become rich and would be able to hire a cleaning lady. Or possibly a seat on the next shuttle going to space, but that's really not as appealing to me. Posted Thursday, September 30, 2021 by JS

A. I am not saying you folks are wrong, as there could be many bad keys out there , but in the late 70`s , when I had access to the supplies at Mansfield and Bliss , on the east end of the PRR 20th St. yard , I saw bins full of keys marked like this. Almost all were from production in other countries , ordered by PC , and CR. I noticed some that were miss drilled , and quite off center as described. These were the keys to be sent out for use in the field. I do not know about other railroads and their markings , but I saw the PC and CR ones in stock. Posted Friday, October 8, 2021 by h v coll

A. H V Coll, take a look at the page of fakes posted right here in (Link 1). The story is that a scammer obtained a large group(s) of unmarked ones and stamped them to dishonestly sell. I personally have seen the PC and CR keys stamped PORTUGAL or Adlake(with or without a RR stamp)and many with no markings at all.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, October 10, 2021 by JS

A. Sorry - here is the Link.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, October 10, 2021 by JS

A. Correction - fakes made from CR and PC keys, Link 1 - Link 1  Posted Sunday, October 10, 2021 by JS

A. All I was trying to inform you folks about was that I have seen all of these PC and CR keys , along with unmarked ones in the supply bins in the Conrail supply depot. Posted Sunday, October 10, 2021 by h v coll

A. HV Coll, I didn't mean to make this a big deal. Also, I never intended to suggest you were mistaken; and I DEFINITELY never meant to imply that you might not be truthful. My sincere apology if you or anyone else took it that way. I am sure you report what you saw, and what you are reporting is accurate! My own intent was to make readers aware that in fact it has been found out that years ago a specific person got hold of a bunch of blanks apparently made for PC or Conrail and wrongly stamped them with desirable reporting marks in order to resell them for $$ to unsuspecting buyers.  Posted Sunday, October 17, 2021 by JS

A. I am not saying anybody is mistaken in their ideas. When I first noticed these in the bins , along with a few of the earlier made keys, there was a visual difference that was easy to see. The castings were of a lower grade , the milling was not as sharp , and once in a while the boring was off center. My thought at the time was that the railroad was trying to save money , and had ordered from another source. I do not know if any other railroads did the same thing , or there were numerous fakes made on blank keys from the same supplier. All the marked ones I noticed at the time had the very small lettering. I will openly state that I have seen many keys over the years that did not appear to be correct , but without being there when they were marked , I could not swear in court one way or the other. I wish I could tell for sure , as I have purchased some in bulk lots over the years, to get one or two keys out of it , and had to question some of what was left. If some of those others were real , I could quit eating at White Castle !! Posted Sunday, October 17, 2021 by h v coll

A. Hello h v coll and thank you very much for your 'inside view' comments. I had known things were very bad inside Penn Central during its bankruptcy which was a disaster for many, many people at the time. Link 1 is to a VERY distressing video MADE BY PENN CENTRAL in 1976 showing the multiple derailments and other disasters they were suffering due to having no capital -- apparently in an attempt to get public funding. The whole issue of trying to save money, then ending up with new equipment that wouldn't even work (all those keys, for example) fits right in with that whole situation. Let's all hope things don't get that bad in the RR industry again!!  Link 1  Posted Sunday, October 17, 2021 by RJMc

A. Correction: the date on the video mentioned above is 1974.  Posted Monday, October 18, 2021 by RJMc

 Q3873 Fount and Burner Questions  Here is a picture of 2 founts with burners. I call the one on the left a burner with a dial and on the right, a burner with a bent wire handle. I have noticed that every RELIABLE lantern I have ever seen in person has the dial but the pictures on this website, show the bent wire. There are 2 types of burner and fount combinations that I am aware of: threaded and twist on. I see DIAL burners with threaded bottoms and twist on bottoms. I also see founts with and without writing. I am not finding any significant information on line. QUESTIONS: Based on the information I have: 1) What is the correct name of the bent wire handle? 2) When was the transition from dial to bent wire? During the RELIABLE time frame….. 1912 TO 1925 ish? 3) When did DIAL burners transition from threaded bottoms to twist on bottoms? 4) Did bent wire burners ever come with a threaded bottom? 5) When did founts start to have writing? Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, September 27, 2021 by DM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3872 Short Globe Glass w/ Uneven Surface Questions  I have 2 CNX globes that have an uneven outer surface. I can feel the unevenness. It is somewhat slight, but I can feel it and I can see it. Looking through the globes, the image is distorted. In the picture I was not able to capture the surface, but the reflections look somewhat distorted. Was this type of surface an error? Was it made during a certain time frame? Was this intentional? Mine are the only 2 examples I have ever seen. I am not finding any information on line. Thanks   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, September 27, 2021 by DM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3871 Chessie Teapots  My sister collects Hall China and has a cat named Chessie. I saw a Hall Chessie teapot online. I also saw your article about fakes. Was there ever an original Hall Chessie teapot or just the alleged reproductions? Thanks for any information you can give me. Posted Sunday, September 26, 2021 by SR   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. If your sister has a kittie named Chessie and collects Hall China, I think one of these tea pots would be the absolutely perfect gift! They are a fine addition to any Hall China collection. They are also shown in the railroad china guides in the "Fakes" sections, because they were never made for a railroad, and sadly, unscrupulous, dishonest people try to pass them off as railroad items, scamming unaware buyers. The ONLY company that made authentic "Chessie" dinnerware for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad was the Syracuse China Company. If it says "HALL" it is not railroad. Technically, the Hall pieces are "fantasy" items, because they are not "reproductions" (copies made to appear identical) of an original piece.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, September 28, 2021 by JS

 Q3870 Small B&O Dish  I found this small dish, looks like it could be for soap ? I would like to find out the approximate date it was made/used. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, September 20, 2021 by John K   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is a "Derby" pattern dish from the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. it was not a soap dish; this shape is a "baker" that got its name from use in the oven baking potatoes (although I'm not sure I would do that with china). Another use is a side dish for vegetables. It would be a huge help dating your dish if you could show a picture of the manufacturer mark on the bottom. Several companies made "Derby" - having a picture of the maker mark would help dating it. My information from the B&O Museum in Baltimore is that Derby was the standard chinaware used in dining cars before "Centenary" was introduced in 1927. It was used on "The Sportsman" train. In 1932 the B&O removed Derby's dining car use and sent it to the employee cafeteria in the B&O Central Building, Charles Street, Baltimore MD. Another interesting note from McIntyre is that there are stories about "Derby" being used on special trains that ran to the Kentucky Derby horse race - total fantasy! The name "Derby" comes from the original maker, John Maddock & Sons, which named the design/pattern Derby and included the word in the mark they printed on the bottom of pieces. Please show a picture of the china company maker on the bottom and I'll do my best to help you further with a more specific date.  Posted Monday, September 20, 2021 by JMS

A. John, sorry I didn't edit my response very well. It would be extremely helpful to have a picture of the entire bottom of the dish. ALSO - is anything IMPRESSED into the bottom? One of my books shows dates that specific company marks were used. In my response, I meant that Derby was the standard service used on B&O trains including the train named Sportsman, until 1932, when the B&O removed all of the Derby pieces from its trains and sent them to the employee cafeteria for use there.  Posted Tuesday, September 21, 2021 by JMS

A. Correspondence from Stine to Galloway (pg. 387 Luckin 4th ed.) puts DERBY still in circulation but being used-up in "small cars" to get rid of it as of 06/1935. Earlier, Dec. 1932, forward orders for the lunch room would be in this pattern...implying it wasn't used alone but would be henceforth. Who they would get it from is not stated. Luckin gave the original source as MAD (Thomas Maddock & Sons, i.e. the Maddock Pottery Co. at Lamberton N.J. with Chandlee-Baltimore as the supplier), so might be a helpful go to site. Scammell controlled the Lamberton Works during the later era. [Luckin's pitcher image on the pattern is not very large, but it seems to have differences in the central design feature from this sample.] Posted Tuesday, September 21, 2021 by ShastaRoute

A. Here is a photo of the bottom. Link 1  Posted Thursday, September 23, 2021 by John K

A. Try to read the impressed Mark...too much glare back in image causing it to look like W CASTLE (Shenango China was in NEW CASTLE PA). If it reads AMERICAN over CHINA, that's earlier Maddock's. If it reads TRENTON over CHINA, that's later Maddock's or Scammell's. John Maddock & Sons used an ink-stamp/decal, with impressed marks usually limited to crowns or numbers (for date codes and sizings). [There is a bad image of McIntyre's book page of the pattern recorded on Worthpoint for a past listing.] Posted Thursday, September 23, 2021 by ShastaRoute

A.  With respect, do try to read the impressed mark. I own a B&O Derby baker that is clearly impressed MADDOCK'S over TRENTON CHINA. Per "Restaurant China Vol. 2" (Barbara Conroy) this mark is from Maddock's American works, and dates between 1914-1924. Conroy also says the impression may be MADDOCK'S or MADDOCK. I need to clarify my earlier answer: The name "Derby" comes from the original maker, John Maddock & Sons (the incarnation of the company located in Stoke-on-Trent in England, between 1855-1896). That company named the design/pattern "Derby" and included the word in the mark they printed on the bottom of pieces. The name "Derby" carried over into the American made pieces.  Posted Tuesday, September 28, 2021 by JMS

A. I love Conroy's books, but unfortunately she has become very dated as a result of Internet sampling and information exchanges. 1) In the early years, Shenango did have an impressed stamp (embedded in the body on some wares) for NEW CASTLE PA. I believe at about 90% certainty that this is what is in this image, and McIntyre noted Shenango as an additional maker. (This plant had a capacity for bakewares which grew over time to compete even with Hall's line, and they could decorate them to match the custom patterns in use. They eventually stopped this line for unknown reasons.) 2) Beware of John Maddock marks...close examination is needed as the old 1880-96 stamp was still used even into the era of the "Ltd." stamp. It sometimes helps to line up on the center of the VITRIFIED banner to see if they left-shifted and the "Ltd" was just excluded. The crown date coding can help here too. 3) Maddock Pottery Company (USA, aka Maddock's Lamberton Works) was strictly a custom work shop, I.e. an originator of patterns and never a follower. (The issue of "stock decals" tends to mislead us here, but Maddock's is always first in line. John Maddock was a relative, and though older and bigger, probably just got in on select contracts where the Lamberton Works could not supply a specific shape or item. Scammell, running the show, later introduced new shapes and larger lines.) The only thing that Maddock's clearly borrowed from John Maddock would appear to be the 1893 Royal Porcelain backstamp which is so similar to the 1880 Royal Vitreous one. [BTW...if you want a real shocker, look at the surviving catalog pages of KTK's hotel wares catalogue of the 1890's. The size of their line along with the samples of crests including railroads is stunning. They were reprinted in the Gaston volume from Collector Books.] Posted Friday, October 1, 2021 by ShastaRoute

A. Added note on Shenango: I have held in hand and examined an early piece with two impressed marks. One clearly read "PHILADELPHIA PA" which no one has ever been able to explain. I suspect this may relate to the era of switching factories for Shenango Pottery Co. to the defunct Shenango China Co., but I'm not certain. However, this would mean the impressed marks could potentially pre-date circa 1910. [I have no images but might have the piece in storage still. IIRC it was an oval tray with simplified blue lining and a logo for "AHS". Found in Oregon, I thought maybe early Ashland High School but could not find proof. In retrospect, it might have been one of the numerous Hot Springs resorts scattered across the nation in that era, many of which are mainly just historical footnotes now.] To confound this, I hold a Lamberton piece supplied in Portland for Swetland's which bears in addition another pottery of the many semi-vitreous one's...which should only be on wares for which they finished the decorating and glost firing. It makes no sense, but potteries sometimes had oddball interactions. Even railroad China might fall victim to these things. Posted Friday, October 1, 2021 by ShastaRoute

 Q3869 Deitz Tall Glass #39 Lantern Info?  I have this lantern in a nickel finish over brass. I am trying to find information on the specifics of this one. I have found similar ones but not this exact one. The handle is attached to the side of the dome, it has 2 angled rows of holes above the bell and it says RE DIETZ COMPANY NEW YORK USA 39 underneath. No other markings found. I am looking for years of manufacturer and any other information. Thanks   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, September 16, 2021 by DM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Being as it is nickle finish and from what I can see it appears to have a conductors bail (handle] to fit over his arm while working tickets. Believe it to be a conductor's lantern. Posted Saturday, September 18, 2021 by DC

A. DC: Thank you for the info. Taking that and looking around I agree it is a conductor's lantern. I still haven't found this exact one but I will keep looking. Thanks Posted Monday, September 20, 2021 by DM

 Q3868 Age of Lamp?  I have acquired my dad's old RR lamp that he received from his sister in Michigan. I am wanting to know how old the lantern is? Thank you so much!!!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, September 16, 2021 by DJH   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. These types of lamps were often made basically unchanged over many years, so it is impossible to date them. The Adlake square type top like yours was made starting after 1913. Previously Adlake lamps had a round top.  Posted Friday, September 24, 2021 by JEM

 Q3867 Lock Getting Super Tight  I obtained an E.T. Fraim lock a couple years ago and have been using it for my motorcycle shop exterior door ever since. It initially worked fine but over time it had gotten tighter to the point that I needed to pull down really hard on the shackle while turning the key to get it unlatched. I tried cleaning it in an Ultrasonic Cleaner, drying it out with a heat gun, and dropping some graphite powder into the latch port. This did not help. The shackle is misaligned with the port going into the latch (tight on the inside). There is nothing I can see that is causing this because the other side of the shackle is clean. Could it be that the shackle has changed shape? Thank you,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, September 13, 2021 by Craig   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It may be that the lock has changed shape from use. I just fixed a very old (and very worn) lock similar to yours. It drove me nuts trying to decipher why and how the tolerances changed. The good news is that I was able to fix the problem by securing tightly in a vice sandwiched in between two pieces of plywood (for protection not to leave vice marks). With some gentle coaxing with a pry bar I was able to regain the proper clearance and restore operation, no heat or rough treatment needed. Just don't pry against the rivet holding the shackle to the body of the lock or the end of the shackle where the levers lock it and take your time. With the lock in the open position and upside down you can also try prying gently on the shackle with a small piece of steel pipe or tool of your choice. I am glad it worked for me! Good luck! Posted Monday, September 13, 2021 by SteveB

A. Just a guess - I'm not a locksmith, but this is an old lock and I wonder if a tumbler(s) inside just plain gave up the ghost after such a long amount of use and wear (I'm talking about from the time it was brand new until now). Being exposed to the elements outdoors certainly could not have helped, either.  Posted Tuesday, September 14, 2021 by JMS

A. The shackle appears to be bronze or possibly brass metal. Both are copper-based alloys containing other metals such as zinc, tin, lead and possibly many other alloying elements. These alloys are known to possibly shrink over time due to either the gradual relief of internal stresses or possibly changes in the internal crystal structure. These changes can occur spontaneously over time, but generally quite slowly. Such changes can be accelerated (such as during part manufacture) by heating the parts to fairly high temperatures, or by physically deforming the parts such as in forging. But even without such intentional treatments, the parts can change more slowly over very long time periods. The 'U' shape of the shackle will magnify the results of a small change in the length of the part. Shrinkage would cause the free end of the shackle to pull inward, which is what you appear to have observed. Larger shrinkage amounts might even twist the shackle out of parallel. Because there is essentially an infinite number of possible alloy combinations, each with different properties, determining or specifying likely shrinkage (or in rarer cases growth) percentages is almost impossible. This all falls under the general category of 'metallurgy' which is a very complicated, but very useful and essential, subject. I have yet to find any references that might give us an idea of how much shrinkage to expect (over decades) in a part such as your shackle, but I will keep looking.  Posted Tuesday, September 14, 2021 by RJMc

 Q3866 What is it?  I just came across this item in my grandfather's basement. It's brass, about 4.5 inches long, marked 'The Adams&Westlake Company Chicago'. It opens on both ends. Can you tell me what this is please? I'm very curious. Thanks for any help that you can give. We live in the suburbs of Chicago north along Lake Michigan.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, August 30, 2021 by Matthew   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Your item appears to be the body of a 'candle lamp.' If there is a fairly large (about 1" in diameter) spring inside the tube, that would confirm it. Just put the words 'candle lamp' --without the quotes -- in the search by word or phrase box to see much discussion and lots of pix of this type of lamps, which were used as emergency lighting in various passenger and mail cars. Yours is a little unusual in that most of these had sice brackets to hang in wall receptacles, but some of the designs used slip-in holders instead of the hard-mounted brackets, or the brackets might have been broken off the one you have.  Posted Monday, August 30, 2021 by RJMc

A. That should read 'side brackets.' Posted Monday, August 30, 2021 by RJMc

 Q3865 B&MR Key ID?  I recently picked up this key I hope someone can hep me with. I believe it to be Boston & Maine. But there is an extra R at the end. Also not the typical cut for a switch key. Key is marked Fraim on reverse. Repair track maybe?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, August 30, 2021 by TomL   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. TomL This is a Burlington and Missouri River RR Tool house key Jim Posted Tuesday, August 31, 2021 by JIm

A. For background, Bill Edson's Railroad Names book shows two listings for Burlington & Missouri River, one operating from 1856 to 1872 and the second one labelled "(Nebraska)" from 1872 to 1880. All absorbed into the Chicago Burlington & Quincy. Posted Tuesday, August 31, 2021 by RJMc

A. Thanks for the information. I picked it up with a sandard B&M key and a Hoosac Tunnel & Wilmington key in B&M territory so I assumed that was its origin Posted Wednesday, September 1, 2021 by TomL

 Q3864 Inspector Lantern Marking  Can you tell me which railroad this is? Pennsylvania? The 'MO St.' Is throwing me off. Thanks   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, August 19, 2021 by ME   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It looks like CMStP to me, not OMStP. Is the "O" really a "C" (it's hard to tell in the picture)? Given the space available and the letter size, I wonder if this mark is for the Chicago, Milwaukee & St Paul RR, with the & left out. See Link 1 for a history. The CM&StP apparently existed between 1874 and 1928.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, August 19, 2021 by JMS

 Q3863 Railroad Chimney?  I don't know if this is a railroad piece or not. Hoping for expertise from this group. Obviously because of the size I don't think this glass chimney is for home use. It is 14 in. high and has a 5 1/2 in. diameter base. (Both top and bottom are ground.) I'd think it must be for commercial or industrial use. Might it have be used in the headlamp of an engine? I've included two photos. The second, just to give a sense of size, shows a full size bottle of wine sitting inside the chimney.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, August 17, 2021 by DB   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I think you are correct about industrial/commercial use, rather than railrod. IMHO it almost certainly is not from a railroad engine, if only because it should be clear glass; I am not sure if this type of globe was even used as a headlight, in the first place. Someone more knowledgeable please ?  Posted Wednesday, August 18, 2021 by JMS

A. Among the largest kerosene lamps commonly used on RR's were 'platform lamps' which were over two feet tall. The same type of lamp was widely used as a street lamp and for other area lighting. See prior Q's 3680 and the answer to Q 2676 for discussion and good pix of this type of lamp in use. Note that there is an internal glass chimney inside the very large outside globe; your chimney might work for that internal chimney in that kind of lamp.  Posted Wednesday, August 18, 2021 by RJMc

A. Note the size of the upper portion of the lamps in the related question numbers to the latest photo. This size would not fit into any station lamp or headlight that I have seen.  Posted Friday, August 20, 2021 by h v coll

 Q3862 Builders Plate Info?  I have a builders plate that I need info on if y'all can provide any. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, August 14, 2021 by Mark F   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. SOUTHERN PACIFIC 0-6-0 #1216 Posted Monday, January 24, 2022 by GJ

 Q3861 B&O Car #98 Lantern  I've been handed down this lantern from my great grandfather who was an executive at B&O and traveled around in Pullman business car #98 that is currently at the Chattanooga railroad museum with a different color and name. I was hoping to get some sort of documentation on the lantern or compare to old pictures inside #98 to help prove our family theory that it did indeed come from #98. I reached out to Chattanooga railroad museum but they didn’t have much info about the car under the B&O umbrella. Any help or input would be greatly appreciated. Also I believe the current state of the lantern is kind of misconfigured so I want to also restore it to the original state if possible. Thanks in advance for any help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, August 14, 2021 by Phil   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. What a lovely piece! and best of luck to you. Regardless of whether you can find out more, this lamp is a wonderful family heirloom. Indeed, this is a "lamp," not a "lantern." Lanterns were/are portable, designed to be carried around. A "lamp" is meant to stay in place, whether mounted permanently on a wall or ceiling, or made to be carried to a spot where it's put down and left. Here are a couple of resources that may be helpful: Link 1 is to the B&O Historical Society; Link 2 is to a Pullman historical society site - I would try the phone number shown at top right. They apparently have a great variety of information.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Tuesday, August 17, 2021 by JMS

 Q3860 Help Identifying Light?  I was wondering if anyone could help identify the purpose and origin of this unusual light? I was told it was a railroad item, and would appreciate any information you can provide. Thank you!  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, August 11, 2021 by JW   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. See prior Q 3759. We didn't ever figure out what that one was, either, but it looks almost exactly like yours, although the reflector on yours is much better silvered, making it more appropriate to reflect light rather than heat. And I now suspect the hole thru the reflector is for aiming the light, leading me to now suspect a theater spotlight application. But the seeming lack of provision for a chimney is still puzzling.  Posted Thursday, August 12, 2021 by RJMc

A. Thank you for the link to the previous question. It appears I have only added to the mystery with the silvered reflector! Any further idea would be much appreciated. Posted Thursday, August 12, 2021 by JW

A. Could this be a part of the old interior access caboose markers ? Posted Thursday, August 12, 2021 by h v coll

A. Does your unit have the holes/passages up thru the bottom of the tank? And a size reference would help. I am assuming this is fairly large (maybe over a foot to 18" tall) and the large double wicks would burn a lot of kerosene and produce relatively a lot of light and heat. The inside-access cupola-side caboose marker lamps I have seen are usually smaller and single-wick, looking more like traditional kerosene hand lamps, and with no reflectors. Another possibility where a focussed beam is desired would be a lighthouse light source.  Posted Thursday, August 12, 2021 by RJMc

A. Yes, there are three openings in the bottom of the tank, two round ones and one rectangular one. I will try to post a picture of the bottom. Total height of this lamp is just 6-1/2" tall. Posted Friday, August 13, 2021 by JW

A. Here's a picture of the bottom. Link 1  Posted Friday, August 13, 2021 by JW

A. The "WWII Ship Navigation Light" (See link 1) with burner shown outside of the lamp is the closest I have seen to your item, and very suggestive of a similar application for yours, as well. Link 1  Posted Saturday, August 14, 2021 by RJMc

A. And now the real answer: its the burner as used as a masthead light on ocean-going British ships in World War II, manufactured by Birmingham (England) Engineering Co. See the Link for full description of the lamp and burner, with several pix including the burner installed in the copper lamp.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, August 14, 2021 by RJMc

A. According to the Link, the colors, functions, and performance requirements for various ship navigation lights were internationally standardized as early as 1889, and various nations including the US and Britain had standardizing agreements well before that. So it is quite likely that masthead burner arrangements similar to those we see here got manufactured almost world-wide, in order to meet the performance standards on visibility. There is an outside chance that such lights may have railroad heritage, in cases such as the Canadian Pacific ferries, various car float operations, and the various railroad harbor tug boat operations. But the high likelihood is that the units we are seeing are not of railroad-related origin. Link 1  Posted Sunday, August 15, 2021 by RJMc

A. Thank you all for the insight! Great forum of knowledge here. As an aside, the collection I got this from was a railroad collector who happed to have a lot of Canadian Pacific stuff. Maybe coincidence, maybe more yet to the story. Thanks again! Posted Monday, August 16, 2021 by JW

 Q3859 Howard Clock  We have a donated clock believed to be from an old railroad building in Weldon, NC. It stands approximately 5 feet tall. Looking for any information. Also, it needs some TLC - any suggestions? Wilmington Railroad Museum, Wilmington NC   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, August 5, 2021 by Wilmington Railroad Museum   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Congratulations! a Howard clock is a great piece. See Link 1 for company history. You can probably find more searching online. FIRST - DO NOT CLEAN THE FACE! It is painted tin and any attempts to clean it will harm it. I don't know much about Wilmington, but I'm guessing it's a large enough city that there must be some capable antique clock repair/restoral people. You just need to find someone who is experienced working with this brand or type of clock. Ask at higher end antique shops. The wood case looks beautiful. What a wonderful acquisition (railroad or otherwise)! I wonder if there are any old interior photos of the Weldon building you suspect it may have come from. It might show up in the background of a photo of some other subject.  Link 1  Posted Monday, August 9, 2021 by JMS

 Q3858 Any ideas what this is?  I found this odd little brass bauble while exploring a long abandoned baby/narrow gauge road bed in Clifton, AZ. My guess is it was attached to some larger structure such as a light fixture or some such, on a passenger car perhaps. Height is 1.75 inches and base is .75 inches across. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, August 1, 2021 by Chris   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. To get discussion started, and as speculation: the flat mounting base and the head with what appears to be two 90-degree offset holes, or sockets, causes me to think of the end corners or stanchions that would support something like a towel or washcloth rack, or maybe a curtain rod. The very small size, less than 2" tall, would really limit how much any such rack would support. If the item were much larger it would make sense as the corner fitting on a railing (possibly on top of a bar, to keep glasses and/or bottles from falling off) or maybe the end piece on a toilet paper roll holder.  Posted Wednesday, August 4, 2021 by RJMc

A. Actually, that's one hole with a divider down the middle. I can imagine a chain or some such running through a row of these guys blocking something off or whatever... But at least semi ornate. Posted Saturday, August 14, 2021 by Chris