Question & Answer Board

Main
Q&A Page
Email a QuestionRailroadiana Home

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

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

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

Latest 50 Questions:

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

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

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

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

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

A. I agree it is the C&O style number plate, from a 2-8-4 Kanawha type (C&O didn't call theirs 'Berkshires' although almost everyone else did). For comparison, Link 1 shows sister engine C&O 2732 on display in Richmond, VA. Link 2 shows the C&O 2736 on display in Green Bay, WI., with what appears to me to be a replacement front plate (looks flat, not raised numbers, and numbering style looks incorrect to me.) Another view for comparison is of engine C&O 2724, in service, is at http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=4278182 . In that picture you can clearly see the raised numbers and style of the front plate. The great difficulty with your particular plate is it would represent an engine which has long been on display, making it a likely target of interest for people to duplicate the plates, but also making more likely the survival of the original plate since many of that series of C&O engines were held in storage for quite a while before being donated.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Friday, May 26, 2017 by RJMc

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Q3320 Tag Info Needed  Cool site. I was wondering if you could make out the manufacture on back, or have additional information on the luggage tag? Found in Cincinnati. I believe it to stand for Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Railway (1846Ė1917). Many thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, May 12, 2017 by Gary   Post a Reply  Email a reply

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A. The Links in the answer above don't seem to be working. Link 1 tries to go to: http://www.northamericanrails.com/yahoo_site_admin1/assets/images/NW_2-8-8-2_2075_-_Copy.130203626_large.jpg Link 2 tries to go to: wikipedia-commons-local-public.ed/e/ed/Pennsylvania Railroad Steam Locomotive-4483 _%28 Hope this works better; I think the link URL's were too long, but I couldn't find a shorter route to get to the pix.  Posted Thursday, April 6, 2017 by RJMc

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

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

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

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

 Q3293 ID Tag Please  Please help me ID this brass tag I dug in Montgomery, AL. Is it from a steamship or railroad company? Is it very old? Thanks!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, March 23, 2017 by Jerry DeL   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3292 Tag Info Needed  What can you tell me about this tag? Thanks for your kind assistance.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, March 22, 2017 by Plez   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Ashokan Reservoir was built in upstate New York in 1909. Believe this to be a souvenier watch fob for the workers or some sort of ID. A railroad was constructed to aid in construction on site. Not a baggage tag. Posted Thursday, March 23, 2017 by dc

A. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge regarding this item. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, March 28, 2017 by Plez

 Q3291 EL Signal Locks  Can anyone tell me the key or keyway number that will fit either of these locks and or have a picture of what the key cut looks like? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, March 22, 2017 by Joe   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Many railroad locks like these had proprietary keys. The railroads owned all of the blanks. Good luck with your search. Maybe someone has one to show or even sell, but I doubt you can get a key made.  Posted Thursday, March 23, 2017 by JN

A. Enter the words 'signal lock' in the 'word or phrase' search box to see LOTS of prior Q&A's about this type of lock. My experience has been that 'old line' full-service lock shops will usually either have or be able to get the key blanks, but these places are getting harder to find. Many industries used this type of lock, not just RR's, such as warehouses, military, utilities,even department stores, among many others which made the blanks much more common. As to the correct key for these particular locks, are there any numbers or other ID, since as explained in the earlier Q's each major RR often had many different cuts to be able to limit just who could open which lock, or series of locks.  Posted Friday, March 24, 2017 by RJMc

A. There are no numbers or ID's on these locks.  Posted Saturday, March 25, 2017 by JB

 Q3290 Caboose Stove  I have an S.P. Co caboose stove that I am restoring. It was painted green, what paint that didnít burn off. I have been looking for pictures to help me get this right. I canít find any. Do you have any ideas where I can find any? General description? Smokeconsumer, wheel and wings on feed door,'S.P. Co.' in 3 different areas areas on front! Thank You for any help!  Posted Tuesday, March 21, 2017 by Rick H.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. If you run a search on "SP Caboose interior images" several different sites with several different photos come up. Many show the stoves; the one in the Link seems to definitely have the green paint in the interior, and has the icebox, but it looks like the stove was already removed.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, March 21, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3289 Baggage Tag  What can you tell me about this?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, March 19, 2017 by JRL   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. PW&B was the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore, under that name from 1837 to 1902 according to Bill Edson's Railroad Names. C&A was the Camden and Amboy under that name from 1832 to 1867. PW&B would have started the trip in Baltimore and carried the bag to Philadelphia, where it would have transferred (likely by ferry boat) across the river to Camden, N.J. for the remainder of the trip toward New York City. PW&B, after many years a PRR subsidiary, is part of the Amtrak Northeast Corridor main line today. Parts of C&A, also a PRR subsidiary, still exist but not as a through intercity route.  Posted Monday, March 20, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3288 Type of Lamp?  Iím not even sure this is a railroad lantern, but if anyone has any information on it, please share. Galvanized metal construction. 8.5 inches high, 5 inches wide. Lenses are 3 inches in diameter. The 'front' lens is green, the 'left' lens is clear, the 'right' lens is red. The 'right' panel slides up for access to the burner. The 'back' has a mounting bracket. It has a double canopy for exhaust and a Ĺ inch hole in the bottom for air to enter to feed the burner. It has NO markings or stampings to identify it. Thanks for any help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, March 19, 2017 by TY   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Do you have the fount (fuel tank & wick assembly} any markings on it? Maybe on the brass part wick passes through or on the brass wheel to turn wick up? Posted Monday, March 20, 2017 by dc

A. I do have the fount. It's brass with no markings or stampings. Posted Tuesday, March 21, 2017 by TY

A. The exhaust canopy gives it the resemblance of an old German RR lantern but they were always well marked by the manufacturer and equipped with a handle (bail). This one looks like it might be a well done home or shop made job. Posted Tuesday, March 21, 2017 by LC

A. I agree with LC. As a sheet metal worker I would say this was custom made in a sheet metal shop. If it was made in a RailRoad Company sheet metal shop it would be marked with the name of their RR. Posted Friday, March 31, 2017 by Dave F

 Q3287 Pullman Step  Asking do you have a web address that clearly shows step by Pullman built for C&O? I would really like to see it.  Posted Thursday, March 16, 2017 by Mark M   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. If you are referring to the picture I mentioned in Q 3282, it is on pg. 44 in the book "The Original Pullman-Standard Library, Volume 11 Mid-Atlantic Railroads" by W. David Randall and William M. Ross. This multi-volume (something like 15 or 16 volumes by now) set of books contains very high quality prints from original large negatives taken by the Pullman Co. photographers when the cars were being built, and detailed floor plans. These books are still for sale on the web and at various hobby stores. To my knowledge their contents are not available on the web, but copies of the books are available at some libraries.  Posted Friday, March 17, 2017 by RJMc

A. I found this handle in the same pile as the Adams and Westlake Pullman step. RJMC was very helpful with that. Link 1  Posted Thursday, March 23, 2017 by Mark M

 Q3286 ORR&N Lantern Marking  I have an Adams & Westlake 'ADAMS' Embossed Lantern Frame - O.R.R.& N. Co with the globe embossed O. R. & N. Could someone identify the railroad? Thank You.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, March 14, 2017 by Gary L   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Oregon Rail Road & Navigation Co Posted Tuesday, March 14, 2017 by CD

A. Oregon Railroad & Navigation Co Posted Wednesday, March 15, 2017 by BobF

A. Per Bill Edson's Railroad Names, and the Link, this company started out in the late 1800's as the Oregon Railway & Navigation Co., which might account for the OR&N on the globe. After 20 years or so it morphed into the Oregon Railroad & Navigation Co., per the stamping, for a couple of decades in the 20th Century. The 'Navigation' refers to steamboats on the Columbia River, one of the origins of the company. Link 1  Posted Thursday, March 16, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3285 Fork ID?  Trying to ID the rail line or Pullman. Was found by the Franconia, AZ section house, circa 1900-1945.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, March 14, 2017 by Donald P   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I read NC&StL which would be Nashville, Chattanooga & St Louis looks like it did some traveling ! Posted Tuesday, March 14, 2017 by CD

A. This is the Saxony Pattern, first designed in 1891y Gorham. Four railroads including NC&StL. It is a fancy pattern. Posted Wednesday, March 15, 2017 by JN

 Q3284 Info on Engine?  I have what is most likely a Cooke Locomotive Works builder's photograph which shows the builder's plate on the side of the boiler. As best I can make out the number is 1622. Can someone point me to a Cooke builder's plate cross reference so I can find out more about the engine? Web searches have turned up nothing. The engine is an 0-4-0 and the railroad name on the tender is M & N W RR, which I believe is the Minnesota & North Western Railroad. The M & NW RR started laying rail in 1886 and in 1887 it became part of the Chicago St. Paul & Kansas City Railroad. Any help is appreciated. Thanks.  Posted Saturday, March 11, 2017 by JEM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. My limited Cooke records show much of what you already know, that Const # 1622 was an 0-4-0 for the Minnesota & NorthWestern, road # 11 with 48" drivers, 16 x 24 " cylinders built in May of 1885. Looks like the M&NW also bought const #'s 1612-1621 but they were 4-4-0's numbered 1-10. The M&NW seems to have purchased #1640 a 2-8-0 which was numbered 12 also in 1885.  Posted Sunday, March 12, 2017 by CD

A. Thanks so much, CD, for the Cooke locomotive information. It is very helpful. Construction number 1622 does indeed have road number 11 on the sand dome and the cab. A switch engine for sure, given its wheel configuration and slope back tender. Thanks again.  Posted Monday, March 13, 2017 by JEM

A. Interesting - This Cooke engine photo shows the engine without a headlight, although there is a platform in front of the smoke stack for one. Any guesses from anyone as to why? My thought- either the railroad would supply a headlight or it was felt one was not immediately needed because this little switcher would only operate during the day. Thanks.  Posted Tuesday, March 14, 2017 by JEM

A. I think a lot of times, the headlight was attached after delivery, instead of risking damage while in transit. Posted Tuesday, March 14, 2017 by BobF

A. BobF - Thanks. Headlight shipped separately to prevent damage during transit is most likely.  Posted Tuesday, March 14, 2017 by JEM

A. Not only that, but as we have mentioned before, RR's are VERY ECONOMICAL (cheeeep!) and often would supply a headlight, bell, and other accessories they already had on hand, sometimes from the 'trade in.' Why splurge on a new one, if you have a perfectly serviceable one on the shelf?  Posted Thursday, March 16, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3283 RR Key?  I found this metal detecting, I was told it was some type of railroad lamp key. Any help verifying the type of key and possibly how old would be very helpful.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, March 8, 2017 by JB   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It is a Pintsch gas key for turning on and adjusting railroad car lighting. 1800's Link 1  Posted Wednesday, March 8, 2017 by DC

A. Pintsch gas lights were used on other kinds of vehicles, as well. This key was used to turn the gas valves on and off. Using the key provided somewhat more security than just having plain valve handles. The link mentioned above didn't seem to 'take'; hopefully the one below will get you a lot of info and drawings on Pintsch systems used on RR passenger cars. If the link doesn't work, go to: http://www.rypn.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=28925 Link 1  Posted Wednesday, March 8, 2017 by RJMc

A. While the Pintsch system was invented in the 1800's, as explained in the Link above, it worked well enough that RR's such as Union Pacific used it on some cars into at least the 1940's. And in Australia, cars were built with it as late as 1920 and ran into the 1970's and 80's, so it must have been reliable for RR's to keep using it that long (which also shows how much of a maintenance nuisance electric batteries and generators can be, which the Pintsch system avoids!). Posted Wednesday, March 8, 2017 by RJMc

A. The Pintsch system was reliable, but also potentially dangerous. The worst rail disaster in British history, a collision between three trains at Quintinshill, on the English/Scottish border, in 1915, was caused by mistakes by two signalmen, but the death toll of about 227 (the precise total is uncertain) was made much worse by the resulting fire, for which the use of Pinsch gas lighting in wooden coaches was blamed. As a result, Pinsch lighting was replaced by electric on main line trains and had virtually disappeared from Britain by World War 2. Posted Sunday, March 12, 2017 by JAJ

 Q3282 A&W Hardware Piece ID?   Can you ID this brass piece? It has a Adams and Westlake stamp.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, March 6, 2017 by CTH   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The easiest thing to do would be to send the picture to Adlake (Adams & Westlake). They are still very much in business and they are very helpful in historic research. I have linked their website to this answer. Good luck! Link 1  Posted Tuesday, March 7, 2017 by JN

A. This is a step, which would be bolted to the side or end of a RR car or loco. The diamond-pattern surface was to reduce slipping off. It would be used for maintenance workers to reach the roof, or to service items such as headlights, number boards, or maybe trolley poles or pantagraphs which would be out of reach from the ground and when a ladder wasn't handy. This one might also have been on the running board or pilot beam of a steam loco, where the change in height of the running board (usually as it went back from the very front of the loco) was too high for a man to make without an intermediate step. There are folding versions, also, where the horizontal step is hinged and only flipped down when needed, to minimize clearances. Similar steps can be seen on the back of larger recreational highway vehicles today.  Posted Tuesday, March 7, 2017 by RJMc

A. There are a huge possible number of uses for a step like this. It looks to me that it is intended to be screwed onto a wood surface. For example, inside a caboose, to climb to the cupola seats or up to a Pullman upper berth; or possibly on the wood pole of a signal requiring daily lamp servicing. Not to mention fire trucks, yachts, and ships, all of which used very substantial cast brass or bronze fittings such as this.  Posted Wednesday, March 8, 2017 by RJMc

A. Would make a nice shelf to display a piece of railroadiana, perhaps an engineer's torch. Posted Thursday, March 9, 2017 by dc

A. Did you ever find out what the step was for? I have a friend with the same item and the same questions. Posted Saturday, March 11, 2017 by Matt M

A. Thanks to all for their help! The co records did not extend past 1927 but they were very nice trying to help! I just could not find anyone to confirm what I suspected. I wish I knew how it came to be where I found it. If anyone finds a picture of one mounted in its original location I would love to see it. Posted Saturday, March 11, 2017 by CTH

A. Builder's photos of sleeping cars built by Pullman for C&O in 1950 clearly show two very similar, but not quite identical, steps used by the Pullman porter to get up into his berth, which was elevated above the floor level. Those particular steps were mounted in a corner and had a triangular back, but the mounting was basically identical.  Posted Tuesday, March 14, 2017 by RJMc

 Q3281 China Info Needed  I'm trying to learn more about my plate. Any info would be greatly appreciated! I also have a specific question. On the back, there is a number. I believe it's 39. Any idea what it means? Thank you very much for any info!!!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, March 6, 2017 by Angie D.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is a piece of B&O Centenary China. The B&O first produced this china in 1927 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the railroad. The pattern was used in their dining cars right up until April 30, 1971 when the very last B&O passenger train ran. This china is very beautiful and is collected by railfans and the general public. After passenger service ended the B&O kept producing this pattern and it was sold through the B&O Museum gift shop in Baltimore, MD. This particular plate was made in 1977 (note the 1927 - 1977 dates) and sold trough the gift shop to honor the B&O's 150th Anniversary. This piece never saw a dining car. It was made strictly as a souvenir. While it is a beautiful piece of B&O china, the museum pieces are not as collectible as the older pieces that were used on actual trains. As for the "39" it may be a batch or production number. I have this same plate with a "41" on the back. There is a huge section on B&O china elsewhere on this website. Posted Monday, March 6, 2017 by JN

 Q3280 Protecting a Lantern in Use  I have read the pages on lantern cleaning and I have purchased a book on it written by Les Winn; however, all the steps lead to a lantern that it coated with a clear lacquer, hence my question. I love to light my lanterns and have them on my deck outside at night and in the garage (never in the house) and this would not be possible with a lacquer coating applied. So after the cleaning process is done, what is the proper way to protect the lantern from rust, while still allowing it to burn kerosene?? Thanks.  Posted Saturday, March 4, 2017 by Mike L.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Dear Mike: The best way to prevent your lantern from rusting is to store it where it never gets wet or damp. Never let come into contact with rain, snow, ice, dew or store it in a damp location. I suggest to thoroughly clean it with a detergent, remove all rust and scale and then paint it with a good grade of high temperature engine enamel, flat black color. I don't know why you hesitate to operate the lantern inside? If the lantern stinks like sulfur, just install a new wick and only use 1-K grade fresh "water clear"kerosene with a flash point between 124 to 150 deg.F and you should be fine. (You could wash the old wick in liquid detergent and then boil it in distilled vinegar to remove the odor when the lamp burns.) NEVER use the red tinted kerosene. It will gum-up the wick and stink. NEVER use paint thinner or anything with a flash point below 124 deg F. as fuel. (If any gasoline contaminates the fuel you will quickly have a fire bomb! Don't laugh, people have done more stupid things!) Be sure to carefully adjust the flame so there is a clean white light and no smoke. Never leave the lantern burning when you are away from it. Good luck - SEW  Posted Tuesday, March 14, 2017 by SEW