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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:

 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

 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

 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

 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

 Q3857 Loco Headlight?  A small town museum was selling out. I bought this item which looks like a cast iron headlight housing. Is there a chance this could be from a steam locomotive? Marked on the front RSI-L2001 and on the back RSI-L103. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, July 21, 2021 by LB   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I suspect this is the lamp housing for an early model highway grade crossing flasher. Posted Wednesday, July 21, 2021 by RJMc

A. The link below is to a news story about a grade crossing accident in Arkansas. The lamp housing on the back of the flasher facing away from the camera looks very much like your lamp housing. The reason I suspect yours is a much older one is modern flasher housings have small side lenses to confirm to the train that the lights are flashing; plus over time the housings and lenses have grown much larger and the lamps much brighter. Link 1  Posted Thursday, July 22, 2021 by RJMc

 Q3856 China Pattern ID?  Can you tell me what railroad used the pattern pictured on the cup and saucer in this picture? It is magnolia flowers. What railroad and when used? It is Syracuse China with letters B-NN on bottom of cup and saucer. Thanks kindly,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, July 17, 2021 by Jim H   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is a pattern that was called "New Dogwood", reverting simply to "Dogwood" as documented by Barbara Conroy on page 480 of Restaurant China volume 2. Basically a mid-century stock design rather commonly found but not officially reserved to any one user. It may turn up mixed in with Northern Dogwood pieces, causing people to think it is somehow railroad related due to the belief that N.D. was used in some capacity by the Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway...I don't believe that this got to the level of acceptance as authoritatively conclusive and it may never reach a resolution like so many other pieces kicking around. Conroy's sample date codes ran from '52 to '60, and you're NN would correspond to the year '59 but the month prefix should be a number (not the letter "B") with 1 through 12 matching calendar months in order. (I have heard claims like this pattern being used at the Multnomah Lodge along the Union Pacific line in the Columbia River Gorge, but none of it is substantiated by "smoking gun" evidence.) You might refer to the Restaurant Ware Collectors Network (RWCN) or check their old and new IDwiki listings to see if it was put up with more info. And they do have some Syracuse catalogs to work from. Posted Saturday, July 17, 2021 by ShastaRoute

A. Great answer Shastaroute, with a tremendous lot of background, but I would like to add. Indeed, the flowers are not magnolias. This set is "New Dogwood," and indeed 8-NN is August 1959, too new for the original. The two versions are very much alike, but once you see both it's easy to tell the difference. The main thing is the new version looks significantly "browner" with more strong brown in stems/leaves; and the flowers are drawn differently. The original is what is accepted railroad related. NOW TO ADD - Per "Dining On Rails" by Luckin (the McIntyre book doesn't get into hotels): Dogwood was used by the Norfolk & Western at the Hotel Roanoake that it owned (Luckin says the Norfolk Southern sold the hotel in 1990). See Link 1 for a comprehensive history of the hotel. There is a wonderful but quite scarce service plate on which the "Legend of the Dogwood" is printed in full, taking up most of the center, with endearing sprays of dogwood blossoms encircling the plate. This service plate is top marked Hotel Roanoke under the "Legend". None of the other pieces had the "Legend" on them, they only had the florals and none of the other pieces had any hotel markings on them, either.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, July 18, 2021 by JMS

A. Just further - Luckin simply calls this pattern "Dogwood," not referring to New or Northern; regardless, the hotel china was the older version. The "Legend" is that dogwood tree wood was used to make the cross on which Jesus was crucified and afterwards, the tree was both cursed and blessed by God. See Link 1 for a full account. It is truly heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, July 18, 2021 by JMS

A. Prior inquiry at Q696 displays the Shenango "Northern Dogwood" design. It is darker and fuller/heavier and easily separated from the Syracuse ones. Posted Thursday, September 9, 2021 by ShastaRoute

 Q3855 Lamp Use?  My antique collecting mother passed away four years ago. She left a barn full of interesting items, but unfortunately the information about the items went with her. I am enamored with this Handlan, St Louis, Railroad Switch Stand Lamp. I teach history and would like to properly explain this lamp / lantern to students. Can you tell me how railroad personnel used it?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, July 17, 2021 by DC   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Enter "switch lamp" (no quotes) in the word or phrase search box to see many Q's and A's about these lamps. If there is any problem with the search, start with Q 3837 and that answer will route you to much more info and pix of lamps as they were in service. These lamps were very standardized across RR's and mfrs. so if you chose, it would be possible to restore this one without too much difficulty -- they were VERY robust pieces of equipment and parts are commonly available. I see what appears to be a tag on the door beneath the lens opening: check that for RR Co. initials; that is often where and how these lamps were marked to show the co. ownership. Also check up inside the hollow mounting base casting -- RR ID letters were sometimes cast into the base during mfr. Having the RR ID and any other info about the source of the lamp can add considerable sentimental value. Link 1  Posted Sunday, July 18, 2021 by RJMc

A. This lamp would have been placed on a post at a switch or on a derail device etc with different colored lenses indicating whether the switch was open or closed or, if the derail device was on the track siding. A fuel pot inside with kerosene as the fuel would provide the light. Very common on all railroads as a standard piece of lighting equipment for the time Posted Sunday, July 25, 2021 by TE

 Q3854 Spurious UP Coach Key Marking  These two keys are being paraded around rail collectors sites by a gentleman who said that he also '...heard the Union Pacific marked their hangers with this mark.' Has anyone EVER seen such a stamp on a genuine key? I surely haven't. Union Pacific never forged their own keys in any shop that I am aware of.  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, July 17, 2021 by Patrick   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Timely question as last night I saw three listings of flatwares stamped SPRR with claims of authenticity but not a single established reference source mentioned (though one did throw out a name of a museum). Not saying they are definetly wrong, but always odd when they can't cite some real documentation somewhere or at least explain about conjecture. Posted Saturday, July 17, 2021 by ShastaRoute

A. Hmmm... red flags IMHO!! Looks like somebody copied the idea of Adams & Westlake's hex mark which of course is turn of the century (implying "old"). I would be concerned that the word COACH is there. Since this type of key was so drastically different from other types, and in fact "everybody" knew they were coach keys, there should be no reason to stamp COACH on them. We've collected keys for about 40 years and never seen one like these. How interesting that more than one have suddenly appeared... wonder if they are from the same area as well... from where the stamper lives ? just a guess. (And don't necessarily believe a general interest museum - most of which haven't direct knowledge about most of the intricacies of most RR relics.)  Posted Sunday, July 18, 2021 by JMS

 Q3853 Cleaning Brass Baggage Tags  I have some dug baggage tags that are heavy tarnished and dirty. The lettering on some are very hard to read. I would like to clean them up just enough to read the lettering . Any information on the best way to clean them with out damageing any further would be helpful. Thanks Dave  Posted Monday, July 5, 2021 by DHK   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I have used white vinegar to clean brass tags that were dug. Put the item in a cup, submerge it with vinegar and monitor; obviously the longer the item is in the vinegar the more cleaning action will take place. A soft toothbrush can be used to dislodge corrosion and dirt. Change out the vinegar when it turns green and if you need to clean the item more. Since it works relatively slowly you can control the amount of cleaning to what you want. Heavily corroded items may be better off just left alone as the metal may have deteriorated to a point where cleaning might reveal holes or cause the item to break apart.  Posted Tuesday, July 6, 2021 by DG

A. Just wanted to let you know I tried the white vinegar to clean the baggage tags. Works great. Thanks for your help. Posted Thursday, July 8, 2021 by DHK

 Q3852 Baggage Tag  My grandfather was a conductor on the Delaware & Lackawanna Railroad. I have his pocket watch from his days as a conductor. I also have a baggage tag that was attached. I am trying to find some information on the baggage tag. Any answers or websites that may be helpful would be appreciated. Thanks for your help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, May 31, 2021 by Charles   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. As described in Link 1, Manunka Chunk is a location in New Jersey on the east bank of the Delaware River, just southeast of the Delaware Water Gap. The original main line of the DL&W from the New York City metro area arrived in Manunka Chunk via two tunnels. Beginning in 1876 the Pennsylvania RR opened a line from the Philadelphia/Trenton area along the east bank of the Delaware and made arrangements to use the DL&W line on thru the Water Gap, rather than extending their own line. Link 2 is a bird's eye view of the junction, probably from about 1890. For example, your baggage tag would have been used on the thru (or possibly connecting) train(s) for someone boarding at Philadelphia on the PRR, and going to Scranton, PA on the DL&W. Those services lost their attractiveness in 1911 when the DL&W opened their new more direct, higher speed main line cutoff which bypassed Manunka Chunk and downgraded the service on the old route. Further, in 1913 (as pictured in the Link) floods destroyed much of the facilities in and around Manunka Chunk and the passenger service was further downgraded. So from 1876 to 1911 is the likely time period for when your tag was issued and used. There is no RR track left at all in Manunka Chunk today.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Thursday, June 3, 2021 by RJMc

A. The area served by the Lackawanna beyond the Water Gap is the world-renowned Pocono Mountains resort area. So the trains through Manunka Chunk carried heavy passenger traffic from the Philadelphia area to and from those resorts.  Posted Friday, June 4, 2021 by RJMc

A. Scott Czaha's excellent Tag Town website, all about baggage tags, shows that the Hoole Mfg. Co. hallmark as seen on this tag further closes in the dates from 1885 to about 1891 (see Link below).  Link 1  Posted Saturday, June 5, 2021 by RJMc

 Q3851 Desk Calendar Pad Holders  What company made the day desk calendar pad holders? I see a lot of Reading Company pads on Ebay right now. I purchased a couple and was surprised how high quality they are. These aren’t from just one seller because I thought maybe they bought a box of them at a sale. I just bought anther put out by a molasses company with tank car on it. I’d like to know the history of these unique pieces of advertising. I think I will start collecting them.  Posted Monday, May 31, 2021 by DEF   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I'm familiar with these calendars, but don't know much of anything about them as I never investigated buying any. My only suggestion would be to look everywhere on the base - under the paper sheets, everywhere. A maker name may be hidden somewhere. And if you happen to find the same TYPE of calendar in an antique shop or flea market, even though it's not a RR one, look it over closely for a maker name, because that may lead you to companies that made the ones for the railroad. Wish I could be more helpful! They should be companies that primarily manufactured office supplies, I would think, as opposed to making railroad equipment.  Posted Sunday, June 6, 2021 by JMS

 Q3850 Dayton Caboose Lamp Info?  I may have posted this before, but my interest was piqued rewatching 'Union Pacific'last night. In the 'mail car' that was on the train were several wall mount caboose lamps that are quite similar to one I have. This was acquired by my late father, who was a Santa Fe engineer from 1941 to 1974. I'm not sure where, when, or how he acquired it but it was sometime in the early fifties. If he told me anything about it I have forgotten it by now, and he isn't around to ask about it. I have been in contact with Dayton Manufacturing about this but they have no records on it. Dayton is still in the business of manufacturing railroad-related metal products, but not of this nature. Any information would be appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, May 2, 2021 by Paul B   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I would imagine these lamps and other models may appear in one of the Dayton catalogs. Of course it's incredibly difficult to find these old catalogs! but that is what I would look for. Without actual RR markings, your best course is to affix a label with its provenance, that your father, the AT&SF engineer, acquired it. LIKELY he got it from the railroad, but Dayton must have sold to all comers; a catalog might say specifically that this particular model was made for railroad use (or not). Best wishes; this is a beauty!  Posted Thursday, May 6, 2021 by JMS

A. From the Dayton Car Trimmings catalog # 200 , dated 7/1/16 it would appear to be their # 58 or 59 lamp. The burner has been changed for a newer model , and it is missing the chimney holder , and the smoke deflector. This lamp is similar to one sold under the Adams & Westlake brand.  Posted Saturday, May 8, 2021 by h v coll

 Q3849 Builders Plate Info?  I found your website while researching a builders plate that we have. I'm hoping someone can tell me what it is? ... something real, or a reproduction? I'm not asking for authentication or appraisal, to be clear — I've been researching online about these plates - real and reproductions - but I haven’t seen anything exactly like this example. The plate is very heavy, about 5 lbs I’m guessing, and about 9 in. in diameter. There are no markings on the back (other than some scratches), just the bumps for the holes. There are no holes punched through. The date on the plate (October 1925) and the number 58686 seem to fit with the Baldwin Works numbers? It was given to us by an acquaintance, back in 1993, who said it was real. We can’t recall if he said *where* he'd gotten it. I would appreciate any information or opinion you might have. Thank you so much.  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, April 25, 2021 by KR   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. With no signs of boiler scaling or debris on the back, and no mounting holes , I would have to guess from the photos it is a recast , or reproduction. If it is flat when laid on a table . it is not off a boiler which was round. Diesel or gasoline engines in 1925 were only in their infant stage. It would be interesting to find out what was scratched off the back of the plate. Posted Monday, April 26, 2021 by h v coll

A. This plate is a reproduction. There are no mounting holes and no curvature so there would be no Baldwin code on the back. I checked the construction number and it was built for - C. Brewer & Co. 2-4-2 #5 in 3 ft. gauge. I have no idea where it went after that. Posted Saturday, May 8, 2021 by RJM

 Q3848 Loco Bell?  I am trying to determine if this is a locomotive bell or something else. Any help appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, April 19, 2021 by Jerry   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. With that style of mounting , I would have to guess fire engine , not railroad.  Posted Tuesday, April 20, 2021 by h v coll

A. Doing a web search for "Fire Engine Bell" images turns up several with mounts identical to yours and fairly similar hand ringing arrangements. Other clues: the not-too-robust mounting feet, which would not survive the banging around things get on locomotives; the red paint on the bottom of the feet; and the ringer arrangement which has to be used by someone sitting right next to the bell -- a circumstance that never happened on locomotives. Interesting to note that the ones on the web that closely match yours all seem to have come from fire apparatus in London, England, which may explain the very unusual (for US fire truck practice) ringer arrangement..  Posted Tuesday, April 20, 2021 by RJMc

A.  I restore vintage and antique fire equipment and railroad equipment. This does not look like it came from a US fire truck, I agree it may be European. I have never seen an air ringer like this on a truck. There is another clue, the horizontal lines that go around the circumference of the bell are unusual for older fire apparatus. Check the bolts which are on the air ringer, are they metric thread? What is the size of the bell, fire truck bells are usually 12 inches or less. The Parts Manual for a 1925 Seagrave fire truck specifies "one twelve inch locomotive bell".  Posted Sunday, June 6, 2021 by KM

A.  Another thought, is there any patent or manufacturer information on that air ringer? The thread on the air tube may also be metric so be careful if you try to connect it to an air supply! Posted Sunday, June 6, 2021 by KM

 Q3847 Triangle Switch Light?  What can you tell me about this item? The three different colored glass panels are about 9 by 13. Overall it's about 22 in. tall. It looks weatherproof if it was in the rain but it is not that durable for the wind. Thinking it is railroad but maybe you can help? Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, April 13, 2021 by DA   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is probably a darkroom 'safe light.' Look closely to see if there was a way (some kind of shutters) to cover the glass panels so that only one, or none, would be exposed. The glass plates and early B&W films and printing papers were not sensitive in the red, and some may not have been sensitive to blue, so the photographer had the luxury of actually having some light in the darkroom to work by. Put 'darkroom' in the search by word or phrase box to see several prior Q's about very similar lamps. Q 1027 has a lamp very similar to yours. Note the light-duty flat tab feet for fastening the lamp down to a countertop. That suggests use in some kind of production arrangement where the selected color did not need to change, unlike some of the more portable darkroom lights.  Posted Tuesday, April 13, 2021 by RJMc

 Q3846 Baggage Check Questions  This baggage check was in a box of knickknacks that belonged to my father. The family history is a bit blurry due to divorces and small numbers of children in each generation. I believe my father's paternal grandfather worked on a railway (and lost his leg while at work). Given the tag's stamp of 'N.C.Ry' and 'Harrisburg' I'm guessing it's from the Northern Central line that ran from Baltimore to Sunbury, PA. I believe the line was taken over by Pennsylvania Railroad pretty quickly. Not sure how long they kept the Northern Central name. It seems the manufacturer (E.Hoole) was in business from 1860s to 1891. My understanding is these tags were usually made of brass. This one doesn't look like brass but could it be nickel plated? A few questions: 1. Any ideas on the metal? 2. Confirmation of railroad line? Any idea on age of tag? Any other info? Thanks for any help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, April 7, 2021 by TC   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Bill Edson's book Railroad Names shows Northern Central operating from 1854 to 1914. Available 1895 and 1910 Official Guides have extensive listings for the Northern Central Railway Company, but under the umbrella of the PRR System listings. PRR kept many subsidiaries as separate companies --at least for administrative and financial purposes -- much longer than other major RR systems, some right up to the creation of Penn Central. I note that your tag has only Harrisburg as the origin station and no destination station. See prior Q 3730 for a lot of discussion about how similar tags might be used to ID company mail shipments, maybe things like ticket records or receipts. But if entire carloads ir large batches of checked baggage moved, say from Harrisburg to Baltimore, the destination would not need to be marked on each individual piece of baggage. As to the metal, have you checked it with a magnet? The corrosion on the back looks like maybe the tag is plated steel.  Posted Monday, April 12, 2021 by RJMc

A. Looking closer at the Northern Central Ry. operations (under PRR) in 1909 the line between Baltimore and Harrisburg carried more than 13 (thirteen!!) through passenger trains each way every day and many additional locals and commuters. They served almost 30 open stations in those 84 miles. Several of those trains were the thru PRR limiteds between Washington, Baltimore, and Chicago or St. Louis. All of those trains (except maybe the commuters) handled checked baggage. The huge PRR station at Harrisburg which served multiple PRR divisions would have had to stock tens of thousands of baggage tags if every one had to show a destination station. Clearly they had some system other than the stamped tags of letting the baggagemen know where to set out the checked bags at all of those rural destinations. (Bear in mind that in 1909 most roads in the US weren't paved yet, and automobiles and busses were still very rare. The whole country travelled by train when it travelled at all.)  Posted Tuesday, April 13, 2021 by RJMc

A. Advertising on cover of 1893 OG...American Railway Supply Co. (Successors to the Hoole Manufacturing Co.) }24 Park Place New York{ Manufacturers of BAGGAGE CHECKS And dealers of every description of RAILWAY SUPPLIES. [Did they change the base metals?] Posted Tuesday, April 13, 2021 by ShastaRoute

 Q3845 RR Station Vending Machine?  We recently found several of these vending machines and were looking for any information anyone may have on them? I haven't been able to find out much but I believe they were used in railway stations or on railway cars in the early 1900s. Any information is appreciated!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, March 25, 2021 by Megan   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It looks like Peter Gray & Sons made cases for the vending machines; the Peter Gray label is a newer one, made after they moved to Cambridge from Boston. Peter Gray is very well known as an important maker of railroad lanterns and metal equipment. Maybe that is why someone is making a railroad connection. The vending machine company was located near Peter Gray & Sons, so it's not a surprise the vending machine people turned to Gray for cases. If you look in Boston directories, history you should be able to date both companies. The AMI nameplate looks newer than circa 1900. Indeed these likely were used in railroad stations (I doubt on cars themselves) and anywhere else vending machines could be placed. It would be fun to find old photographs of depot interiors that showed them!!!  Posted Friday, April 2, 2021 by JMS

A. Close study of the pic shows the machines were 'leased solely for the sale of chocolate bars mfd. by Walter Baker & Co.' As explained in the Link, the Baker Chocolate Co. is the oldest chocolate maker in the US, going back into the 1700's and now absorbed into the Kraft-Heinz conglomerate. So that doesn't help date things much, but adds some interest. The RR station we frequented as kids was equipped with a Mills Vending Machine that sold pre-packaged Chiclets gum pieces for a penny each. The Mills machine was not as tall as yours, and had several columns of different types of gum including Dentyne as well as Chiclets. I have several of those gum machines which are operable, but pre-packaged Chiclets are no longer made (apparently anywhere in the world!) so they can't really be used. I am a little surprised that chocolate bars were put in this kind of machine. Chocolate does not tolerate high temperatures very well whereas Chiclets gum was almost indestructible and probably stayed in some of those machines for years. But the Link mentions that the Baker Chocolate Co. had very aggressive marketing campaigns and the archives at Kraft Foods might have some info on the machines. There are several vending machine collector societies which were helpful in finding the specialized keys to open the coin boxes if you were not lucky enough to axquire the keys along with the machines.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, April 3, 2021 by RJMc