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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:

 Q3949 Reliable Lantern w/ Twist-off Bell?  I just saw a picture of an Adlake Reliable model lantern with a twist-off bell. Is it a real railroad lantern or a reproduction? All other Reliable bellbottoms I've ever seen have been with a fixed bellbottom. Thanks!  Posted Tuesday, August 16, 2022 by Larry   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3948 Miniature RR Flags  Can you tell me about these miniature flags, one from PRR, the other from Conrail? They are about 10 inches or so. The PRR flag is embroidered. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, August 14, 2022 by Jim G.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Jim G.-Thanks for bringing sample items from an often overlooked array of oddities. Rail artifacts are often divided between things related to the big physical plant if the industry and items used in advertising/public relations. But this is the third part..the corporate history. Just like in the military, for every infantryman carrying a rifle there is an enormous support structure to make the work possible. To function efficienty, there must be gatherings and that's what this is likely related to. In short, conventions/conferences. The big flagmakers were capable of producing all sorts of printed and embroidered material from large banners down to table flags. These were displayed wherever a group met such as for a dinner in a hotel with large banquet rooms. There were shippers conventions, billing meetings, and what not which were held on a regular basis (annual, bi-annual etc.) all through the era before technology/consolidations (& Covid) have made these things somewhat antiquated by modernized standards. In some cases, custom glasswares were made. Commemorative plates with logos on semi-vitreous china might have been made in the long past, but highly unlikely than any special sets of dining services (vitreous china) were created. Not at all unlike some of what can be found in the railroad brotherhoods or old timers association gatherings. But it often included people outside the rail industry itself such as the shippers...I myself have one for American President Lines which was involved in container on railcar advances but had a long association with carriers even before that. So you can find all these things as survivors that someone carried back home or to the office to display there during their tenure. They may have been issued in lots, but hardly at the mass production level, so the survival rate isn't all that high over time. Unless a collector has grabbed them for the trainroom as decoration or held them in storage, they just got tossed out and their numbers grow shorter bit by bit. With a railroad logo, it's a piece of corporate/company history beyond the tracks. And looks good too. Posted Monday, August 15, 2022 by ShastaRoute

 Q3947 PRR Med Cabinet  I bought this Penn RR medical cabinet at a sale. It's from Newark NJ and has boxes of bandages etc. from the Pennsylvania RR. Can this be by a company for the station? Please let me know your thoughts on it. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, August 14, 2022 by Jim G   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Is that two whom and for where? As to an outside supply company, this looks like it could have been made in-house using stencils to paint the lettering. The contents could have been purchased in large bulk quantities, so why buy kits when you could have existing shop employees make these between other jobs. Where it was employed might require a search of photo evidence and there could be multiple locations needing these in any single city like Newark...a bit tougher to narrow down than a small town with just an agency structure. Posted Monday, August 15, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. An interesting bit (Link 1) on the history of First Aid Kits with a railroad emphasis. Included is a photo of a J&J "cabinet" version with a wire handle on the left. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, August 16, 2022 by ShastaRoute

 Q3946 PRR Conductor's Box?  Can you tell me something regarding this PRR box with key? What's the number mean? And is this a rare item? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, August 14, 2022 by Jim G   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. See prior Q's 3380 and 3000, which was about a very similar PRR lock box. The contents of yours seem to be very complete, with ticket stubs, etc which indicate it was a "Conductor's Cash Box". And it was probably assigned by the number to an individual conductor. Does any of the paperwork in your box give an emplyee's name? Although one of the prior answers talks about a dining car steward (also needing a cash box) a dining car steward would not need fusees. And while the dining car crews often went the whole length of a run (say LA to Chicago on the Santa Fe, or NYC to Chicago on the PRR) and could base their operations in the dining car itself, during those same trips the conductors and trainmen came and went multiple times at division points and had to take all of their business affairs with them. On an all-coach train particularly, the conductor had to "set up shop" by taking over a coach seat and working out of his cash box.  Posted Monday, August 15, 2022 by RJMc

A. Indeed seems to be the very same box 660 in the images for Q3000. The contents were shifted about? The paint colors should give general dating as they match up to PRR passenger car and engine scheme. Posted Monday, August 15, 2022 by ShastaRoute

 Q3945 Possible RR Key Identification  I would like to know if anyone recognizes the cut of this brass barrel key and if it could possibly be railroad related? Thank you in advance to all those that respond in helping answer this mystery.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, August 6, 2022 by DBN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. As shown, this is a key made by Fraim. Appears to be unmarked, or the marking was thin and worn off. Railroads used these keys, but so did firms like utilities, factories, and many others. There were hundreds of railroads when this style of key was made, and many of them used multiple cuts for their various departments Posted Monday, August 8, 2022 by h v coll

A. See prior Q 3842, which seems to be discussing this exact same key. The advice there remains applicable.  Posted Tuesday, August 9, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3944 Strange Lantern Bail  I found this at a local antique shop and haven't been able to find anything about it. Have you ever seen a bail on a lantern like this?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, August 6, 2022 by David L   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The lantern is marked ccc&stl and a prr globe which I don't believe is original to the lantern. Posted Saturday, August 6, 2022 by David L.

A. See prior Q 3935 and the Link (also in that prior Q) about lanterns with insulated and/or cushioned bails. CCC & StL ("Big Four") was a New York Central subsidiary which like many big rr subsidiaries kept something of a separate identity for many years. Are there patent dates on the lantern? The Big Four was involved in the construction and operation of the electrified Cleveland Union Terminal projedt but it was under construction (including the catenary) thru the 1920's and did not begin full electric operations until 1929.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, August 7, 2022 by RJMc

A. I had a P&LE lantern with a wooden bail like this. I believe that sometimes such bails were a matter of preference rather than safety. The P&LE never had electrified trackage. I also have a B&O lantern with a metal bail like this, obviously not a safety issue re: electrification. So here it was likely what the employee preferred -- maybe easier on the hands. Posted Monday, August 8, 2022 by PK

A. Right....I can see that if you spent 12 or 14 (or even 16) hours out in a yard, swinging the lantern almost continuously to deliver movement signals to an engineer, the wire bails would really be chewing into your hands even with thick gloves.  Posted Monday, August 8, 2022 by RJMc

A. Another thought is areas with long winters, and cold weather. A larger bail that you could grip and would not freeze to your gloves could come in handy. Posted Monday, August 8, 2022 by h v coll

 Q3943 Builders Plate Location  Where would the builders plate, id plate and or manufacturing plates be located on 1940’s (about that year) Baldwin or Alcoa Diesel/Electric engine? Thank you,  Posted Friday, July 22, 2022 by SM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Although it may just be a typo in your question, the diesels were made by ALCO / GE, which stood for American Locomotive Co. / General Electric. Web searches will work a lot better under ALCO than Alcoa (which makes aluminum.) The link turned up on a prior Q about trust plates and shows a builder's plate on the cab side of a LIRR ALCo with a trust plate below it on the frame. Looking at a lot of Baldwin diesel old pix on the web (somewhat surprisingly) doesn't show any obvious builder's plates. I would have expected them to be on the sides of the frames, usually below the walkway so that someone walking on the ground could easily read them. On some equipment, such as coaches, the builder's plate was inside the vestibule, and that might have occurred also with diesel locomotives.  Link 1  Posted Friday, July 22, 2022 by RJMc

A. The Link below shows a 1949 Baldwin builder's plate mounted on the frame next to the steps as described above. Link 1  Posted Friday, July 22, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3942 CPR Print  I have a print from the Canadian Pacific railway. The frame says Canadian Pacific on the bottom and the print is of the Banff Hotel and Spa. My guess is it's from the 30's. Any help to better understand what I have is appreciated! Hard to get a decent pic but perhaps someone will be able to better identify it.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, July 22, 2022 by DB   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Originally railroad companies in the US had many subsidiaries such as hotel companies, etc etc. But Federal anti-trust regulation in the U.S. very early on required them to divest those activities so that the huge RR company treasuries, based on semi-monopoly transportation revenue, could not be used to unfairly compete in other industries. This type of regulation never occurred in Canada so the big railways, CP and CN, diversified widely and owned hotel companies, ferry boat lines, airlines, and many other subsidiaries. The first Link is a discussion of the long and varied history of the CPR Hotels subsidiary. The second link is a whole collection of Banff Hotel images sorted by decade which you can compare with your image to zero in on a date.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Friday, July 22, 2022 by RJMc

A. Whoa! At what point were U.S. railroads forced out of hotels by regulators? Not in anything I've ever encountered. There was an investigation of the relationship of UP to the Pacific Hotels Company concerning the supplies they carried for them, but that's not what ended the was pure economic factors and change. SP ran an entire group of hotels for many years. As to the art job, a name is sometimes found on frames for those who have a relationship to the could be a brass plate or cut into the frame. Not only booking agencies, ticket offices, and travel agents..but also credit unions and maybe a lot more with the name specified. This does appear to be official advertising display material, but it's also possible that the railroad may have "gifted" the picture to some special traveler or by way of the freight agency to a shipper. There's a whole lot of stuff floating about that has not been pinned down for the who and why. Even The Lionel Corporation made up special engine or car models given away to people who remain unknown or incompletely identified. I'd look into the company that framed it to see what their business relationship was to CP. Sun Valley had similar framed items done IIRC in Omaha...I had one...though there may not be anything on the frame as good as this. Posted Sunday, July 24, 2022 by ShastaRoute

 Q3941 Brass Plated Lantern  I found this Adlake Reliable tall lantern in Duluth MN. I find it interesting that it is brass plated. Could it have been a presentation lantern? The brass plating seems old and original to the lamp. Could it have had a marine use? Any thoughts? Thanks   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, July 22, 2022 by Dave   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3940 Baggage Tag Info?  Found on our property Where the Western Railroad train station was, and then replaced by Boston & Albany railroad station in Huntington Massachusetts. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, July 2, 2022 by Paul   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The Western RR became part of the Boston & Albany in 1867, so this bag check dates before that. Posted Sunday, July 3, 2022 by DA

A. I would get in touch with the gentleman who owns (Link 1) as he is an authority on baggage tags, New England tags in particular. A manufacturer stamp, if there is one, would be on the narrow piece above the slot. Best of luck and congratulations on an absolutely super find !!!  Link 1  Posted Saturday, July 9, 2022 by JMS

 Q3939 Help Identifying Railroad Piece  I found this piece at my local flea market but I cannot figure out what it is from the research I’ve done. Can anyone identify what this is? Thank You.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, June 30, 2022 by ML   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It is a sawed-off chunk of regular railroad rail. Rail usually came (and still comes) in 39-foot lengths. Rail is often sawed to shorter lengths to fit needed spots in the track, so rail saws are quite common on RR's. People often saw off small lengths and use them as bookends. They are often polished, some may get chrome plated, or specially marked (such as yours) or mounted with wood blocks and given as awards. The size of your rail is fairly small; it is possibly from a subway or industrial railroad, but there is no way to really tell the source of the rail. Doing a quick web search shows just one person named "Reynold Deffer". That Reynold was born in 1884, married, shows up in a couple of census records, and died in 1936. It looks like he might have gotten drafted in 1917. It is quite possible he was a railroad or subway employee or official.  Posted Friday, July 1, 2022 by RJMc

A. Reynold's entire life was in and around the New York City area. Posted Friday, July 1, 2022 by RJMc

A. Pieces of rail like this we're often used as anvils. Posted Saturday, July 2, 2022 by Ex Sou Ry

A. Taking another look at the pic, (and thank you for the included scale) this rail section is only three inches high(!!) as well as three inches long. This is clearly too small for any regular RR use and more likely for an amusement park ride-on railroad or some industrial use. The sawed-off slice looks more suitable for a paperweight than a bookend. But the small size made it much easier to use hand stamp letters to inscribe Reynold's name and date and have all the letters so nicely aligned.  Posted Sunday, July 10, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3938 WPA Drill or Stake circa 1935-43  Bar stock 1 1/8 in. W x 16 in. L to tip. Works Progress Administration at more than 3 million strong undertook many types of projects including rail laying. Some required blasting of rock or other quarry work. This is much heavier than the normal one man tool, but it might be used in dual jacking? WPA had tool shops to fashion what they needed, much like railroads did. Could this have been worked into a tool to act like a star drill? If not, what was it more likely to have been used for? John Henry awaits the answer. Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, June 30, 2022 by ShastaRoute   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. WPA was involved in many very heavy construction projects. This could have been used as a 'drift pin' to force the initial alignment of the pre-drilled hole patterns in girders (such as in bridge or multi-story building construction, or possibly even boiler sections), prior to riveting. The mushrooming shows that this one got hammered very heavily however it was used.  Posted Thursday, June 30, 2022 by RJMc

A. Very interesting point, pun intended. Too bad there's no singular museum dedicated to the works of this program. However, NPR has a good image of Roosevelt visiting Grand Coulee Dam project (Link 1) in 1937. Might be part of one of his Presidential rail trips across the country (with day trips out by the limo) to inspect the work and attend the openings/dedications. Some shots of rail projects do turn up in searches. Link 1  Posted Friday, July 1, 2022 by ShastaRoute

 Q3937 I&LI Ry Lantern Marking  What railroad does the marking 'I&LI Ry' on an Adlake Reliable lantern stand for?  Posted Tuesday, June 28, 2022 by MB   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. On a quick search of Bill Edson's Railroad Names, nothing shows up for I & L I. The closest I see is an Indianopolis and Louisville T raction Co. from 1907 to 1923, if the third letter was a T rather than an I.  Posted Wednesday, June 29, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3936 RR Lantern Info?  I picked up a train lantern yesterday at an old barn auction in Minnesota for $5. I was wondering if anyone could tell me anything about this lantern? I find it unusual that it has a brass top. I would like to know who made it and roughly how old it is. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, June 26, 2022 by Dave   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Cannot tell you a maker from this photo, as it would only be a guess, but for $5, that was your day to play the lottery! Posted Sunday, June 26, 2022 by h v coll

A. Thanks for the information. I have done some research on it. I think it may be a C J Ham brakeman's lantern. I get manufacturing dates from 1870's-1889. I bought it at Hamel MN. I am wondering if the location was a part of early Chicago and Northwestern history and if they had a branch line in Hamel MN. I am going to leave it as it is. I did clean it and put some oil on it to preserve the metal. I am hesitant to polish the brass on top of it. I think the patina is good . (maybe look for a fount.) Any thoughts ? Thanks Dave  Posted Monday, June 27, 2022 by Dave

A. Your lantern was made by the Steam Gauge & Lantern Co. in Rochester, NY, around 1885. It’s a classic no. 39 single guard model, and SG&L lanterns are scarce, marked for the C&NW. Posted Tuesday, June 28, 2022 by ASwoyer

A. OMG Dave - did you ever hit a mother lode here! A brass top bell bottom is "high end." Multiply $5 x ??? It surely looks like you did a terrific job cleaning it, and I wouldn't polish the brass, either; it looks great just as it is. You don't want the top looking like a replacement. There are founts/burners selling from time to time on eBay (but you may have a problem finding the correct ones) - or - my best advice would be that hopefully you're close enough to go to one of the big railroad shows in the Chicago area, where you would find big time lantern people. (DO NOT be in a hurry to sell this! until you have figured out a real value, which is considerable.) The shows are over for June but there will be more coming (Link 1) You just need to get into the "loop" for the higher end lantern guys, and this should help.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, June 30, 2022 by JMS

 Q3935 Lantern Marking?  I found this railroad lantern at an antique store at Northfield MN. It was very rusty when I found it. It has 'M.St.P.R&D.E.T.Co' on it. Does anyone know what railroad it came from? What reason would the bail have a leather covering on it? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, June 26, 2022 by Dave   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Minneapolis St.Paul Rochester & Dubuque Electric Traction Posted Sunday, June 26, 2022 by h v coll

A. The insulated bails were commonly offered by all the lantern mfrs and were most often sold to main line electrified railways (such as PRR, Milwaukee Road, New Haven, NY Central), trolley lines, interurbans and subways to limit the risk of the employee accidentally contacting high voltage components and getting electrocuted. It also had the advantage of making a firmer grip. Often the insulation was made of wrapped electrical wire; look closely and you may see that it is cloth and rubber-insulated wire rather than leather. Some employees wrapped their own. Bakelite and other insulating materials were offered for the insulation by some manufacturers. The link is to the 1918 catalog entry in the Archives here on the RRiana site for an Adlake lantern with a wooden bail, for the same reasons.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, June 26, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3934 Train Order Signal  I am trying to determine the manufacturer of a train order signal I recently bought. Looking for info on locating manufacturer marks on the signal and old catalogs. I'm missing a few parts and am hoping to find info to help determine and locate authentic components.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, June 26, 2022 by Dick   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Is there any markings of GRS or US&S on anything ? I have the catalogs on both. Posted Sunday, June 26, 2022 by h v coll

A. h v coll I can't find any marks; someone thought the signal looked like a GRS. What's the availability of the catalogs? Thanks Posted Sunday, June 26, 2022 by dick

A. Look hard at the metal castings. They often had mold numbers which may also have counted as part numbers for replacement part purposes and may help to ID the maker. The lens parts were standardized and interchangeable among manufacturers and so may not only be easier to find, but can be realistically used regardless of mfr. since the RR's did that kind of mixing and matching a lot, anyway. The link is to a 1918 GRS manual in the Archives on this RRiana site on (mostly electric) semaphores with a lot of detailed drawings. There are a lot of references in the catalog to "RSA Standards" which refers to the Railway Signal Association. There are many references on the web to RSA publications which may have good technical info. RSA ultimately became the Signal Section of the Association of American RR's (AAR) which continued to maintain those standards.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, June 26, 2022 by RJMc

A. Thanks RJMc, I've found several numbers on the various parts but no actual brand mark. I'll do more research.  Posted Monday, June 27, 2022 by dick

 Q3933 Thoughts on this Lantern?  I picked up a train lantern (lamp?) yesterday at an old farm auction in Wisconsin. I have attached several pictures of the lantern. I was wondering if anyone could tell me anything about it? I cannot find any identifying marks. I have not been able to find anything similar with the fixed side-handle in the 4-sided shape. The lantern is just shy of 12 inches. Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, June 19, 2022 by Bob   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The lamp is one of the many thousands of styles of "carriage lamp" which you can see by a web search such as at the Link. Some of them look very similar to yours. The relatively lightweight construction indicates that very few of these (if any) were used on railroads, but were used on horse-drawn vehicles and early automobiles and trucks before electric lights became common. On many of the web images, you can see the socket on the side for mounting the lamp. I think what now looks like a handle on your lamp is the broken off piece of the bracket from whatever vehicle the lamp was mounted on. The set screw was added to keep the lamp on the bracket in service.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, June 21, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3932 Class Lamp Bracket  A 3-color class lamp I purchased from an online auction has a different type of mounting bracket. Instead of the common horizontal ring casting at the base of the lamp, there is a vertical bracket mounted to the side of the lamp. Does the vertical bracket identify which railroad used this lamp? While cleaning soot from inside the body I discovered there is a plate with patent dates, including Great Britain patents, mounted on the inside of the lamp body between the lenses. Was this lamp from Great Britain? Never saw a patent plate like this on the inside of any A&W caboose markers or class lamps before. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, June 12, 2022 by JC   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Don't forget that Canada was still part of Great Britain (as well as the now Republic of Ireland) and the British patent system was probably in use well beyond the England/Scotland/Wales core of the empire. Posted Monday, June 13, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. As you stated, this is a class lamp used on the locomotives, not on a caboose. This mounting bracket is just one style of many that could be ordered, depending on which style was needed. Unless it is railroad marked, it would be near impossible to call it one from another. Still a nice find. Posted Monday, June 13, 2022 by h v coll

A. The 1907 Adams and Westlake catalog copy available in the Archives here on the RRiana Site (See Link 1) shows this as a No. 187 or No. 187 1/2 "Adlake Automatic Engine Classification Lamp" with a choice of the "F" or "R" type bracket. The illustration shows your type of bracket. The NO. 187 had green, white, and red colors and so could also be used as the rear marker on the loco tender or on any train. The 1/2 option had only green and white for class light service. The "automatic" part refers to the arrangement for changing the displayed color by throwing levers from outside the lamp housing (sort of like Volkswagen "automatic manual shift transmissons"). The catalog claims this lamp style was standard on many RR's. I am certain I have seen vintage photos of this type of bracket on the rear markers on a passenger train, I think on the B&O. They might have substituted a yellow lense option since some areas required multi-color markers for running in multiple track territory. Since the basic housings on class lights and markers, and the mounting brackets, were all standard that would not have been surprising -- just a matter of taste and the rules for each RR.  Link 1  Posted Monday, June 13, 2022 by RJMc

A. Also here in the Archives (See Link) an Adlake No. 219 Tail Lamp is shown with a Type F Bracket, as on your lamp. This was in the 1912-1916 time period. The Type F bracket seems to support the lamp much closer to the lamp's center of gravity; this would result in less vibration and less wear on the carbody-side brackets. It is kind of surprising to me that the highly-cantilevered (and long since standardized) Type R brackets did not break off with all the vibration and pounding of daily RR service.  Link 1  Posted Monday, June 13, 2022 by RJMc

A. Here is a 3rd type of A&W class lamp bracket, deep slots that appear to be designed to fit over a plate. Lamp is unmarked, but I was told this was a proprietary UP design, so probably not offered in the A&W catalog. VERY heavy. The slots are 3 inches deep, the bracket metal is 1/2 inch thick, and there are 2 unthreaded holes in one of the arms. Joe Cich Link 1  Posted Saturday, June 25, 2022 by JC

 Q3931 UP Circus China Pattern  I am having difficulty finding information/illustrations regarding the Syracuse line of children's 'Circus' china used by the UPRR in the early '50's. Specifically the 8 inch plate decorated with the figure of a ringmaster with top hat, tails and a whip. I've been able to find photos depicting clowns, dogs, monkeys, a ballerina on horseback etc. but no ringmaster. I would like to confirm that they did, in fact, produce this design. Any information will be appreciated. Best Regards,  Posted Sunday, June 5, 2022 by Alan M   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. See Show Photos section for 2006 at Timonium Maryland..there's a shot of the group with Ringmaster plate second from left on page 2. Posted Monday, June 6, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. A.M. ...that design got my interest because of what runs across the plate behind him. There is an actual 1929 photo (Link 1: scroll down) of RBBB circus and the center ring has this design matching those plates. Besides the typical pieces, I see a bowl with full clown, a bowl with monkey and three balloons, and a tall cup with a horsehead..but I can't confirm if they were officially part of the railroad service. Link 1  Posted Monday, June 6, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. I would scan the page but I think a "link" has to be for the internet (?) In "Official Guide" (McIntyre) on page 147 there is the discussion/photos of CIRCUS SERIES - which includes a picture of the Ringmaster plate, a cup/mug with a railroad car animal cage with a lion inside, and the common clown face plate. McIntyre says: "Syracuse refers to this as a 'hand-painted series' and according to their records it was never purchased from them by the UP. Syracuse did sell the pattern to the Dohrmann Company, a distributor of institutional wares on the West coast. It is evident that this is where the UP purchased the pattern. Its use on the UP is well documented through anecdotal records including mention of it by Paul R. McDonald in his book '41 Years in the DC&H.'" If I can find something I can send via LINK I will do it.  Posted Tuesday, June 7, 2022 by JMS

A. I did a quick online search and here's the photo from Timonium - LINK 1 . It would be incredible to find out how many different "scenes" were actually made.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, June 7, 2022 by JMS

 Q3930 RR Lock  We know these were used on railroads but seem to be getting conflicting information about where they were used. Any help would be appreciated including a photo of an open lock. (The key shown will not open this lock.) Thanks,  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, June 1, 2022 by Skip B   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3929 Key Marking?  I have an antique Adlake key stamped 'S. & S. F. P .CO', but I can not find it in your name list. Do you know which RR it stands for?  Posted Wednesday, June 1, 2022 by SN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Perhaps not a railroad? Did the key have a known far western connection? There once was a Sierra & San Francisco Power Company which was merged into PG&E in the late '20's (Link 1). Power facilities often had a rail connection, sometimes closed off with gates until access was needed for cars. Just one possibility. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, June 1, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. The power company ID is a good suggestion. As with many other power companies, in 1916 the S&SF power company was a major supplier of electricity to the trolley lines in the SF area (See Link 1). Nationwide, many electric power supply companies began as subsidiaries of street car and interurban rail companies. When highway transport took over, the profitable power company subsidiaries survived while the rail companies disappeared. Based on the original common ownership, and continuing common protection needs for many outdoor facilities (such as substations), US power companies used tens of thousands of locks and keys bought to railroad designs and made by the same manufacturers. Its often impossible to tell whether a given lock may have seen railroad, trolley, power company, or maybe all kinds of service Link 1  Posted Monday, June 6, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3928 SAL RR Soup Tureen  I have a question that may need investigating. In 1912 did the Seaboard Airline Railroad have soup tureens that had script writing on their sides? If so, can anyone provide a photo of same?  Posted Monday, May 23, 2022 by Dave   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. There is a photo in both railroad silver books: (1) "Silver in the Diner" (John Fowler) (Link 1) states "The Atlantic Coast Line Railroad put its first dining cars into service in 1913. As one of the two primary carriers from the North to Florida, its long-distance passenger service thrived until the advent of air travel." Fowler shows a manufacturer's photo of pieces included in the service, INCLUDING a soup tureen (side marked) that was made in two sizes: 1 pint and 1-1/2 pint. In the corner of that photo is an 1847 Rogers Brothers logo - Fowler goes on to say that International Silver provided the ACL's initial silverware using the Meriden-1847 Rogers Bros until 1914. (Dave - WHICH mark "your" piece carries will date it as before 1914 or after 1914) (2) The other book, "Silver Banquet II" (Everett Maffett) shows the same manufacturer photo but without the area in which the Rogers Bros logo appears. Maffett also identifies the same soup tureen in the same two sizes, but with no discussion of any kind. Dave - As far as WHICH soup tureen you are trying to find out about, the size probably will be marked on the bottom: 1 pt or 1-1/2 pt along with the maker mark. If the Rogers Bros logo appears, per Fowler, the piece was made 1914 or before; after 1914 apparently the "standard" International Silver mark(s) were used.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, May 26, 2022 by JMS

A. Dave, if you are considering the tureen listed on eBay right now I hope I'm wrong, but I'd be very concerned about the marking. Since the piece is bottom marked INTERNATIONAL SILVER (unfortunately with no date box they usually included) per both books, it is post-1914. I'd be very concerned that the script on the side truly appears to be amateurish ... BOTH Fowler and Maffett show ONLY the ACL circle logo, and more importantly, the International Silver Company photo of all 12 pieces shows ONLY the circle logo. Fowler actually additionally shows the round circle logo that was used. No mention by EITHER author is made of any script marking - so you are very wise to question it. My other consideration is wondering -- compared with the allover wear on the entire piece, why is the script not more worn? Is the piece a plain, "generic" tureen that somebody unethical has added a railroad marking to, to substantially increase its value? In many cases honest sellers are fooled by shysters and not being RR-oriented, they don't realize. I can't tell if this is one of those cases. One "good" thing here is that with eBay taking over sales, ALL buyers must accept returns - eBay guarantees money back, and you can return any purchase for a refund. Just be careful!  Link 1  Posted Thursday, May 26, 2022 by JMS

A. Hi, Thank-you for the reply. First of all, NO, I am not considering it because I used the very same word(amateurish)when I originally noticed this item for sale. I contacted the seller twice to inform him that the piece looked suspicious. The first response was polite but the second response was more defiant saying that it was an original piece and that he received calls from so called "experts"stating that it was fine. He subsequently asked me not to contact him any more. I've been at this game a long, long time and for the most part I can see things for what they truly are. It's a shame that some people will not admit to being wrong or at the very least unsure of something. That is why everyone must be very careful when purchasing railroad items either on E-Bay or in a brick and mortar store. Posted Saturday, May 28, 2022 by DY

A. It's June 4 and this tureen is still up for sale ... looks like nobody is beating a path after a "rare" piece. Good advice about eBay, Dave! because so many suspicious items have been offered, what I and I am sure many others have noticed is a "fear factor" developing... too many dishonest people victimizing honest ones (BOTH sellers and buyers) as well as honest people not knowing what they are selling (which actually is the genuine thrill of eBay). Every good collector has been swindled at least once, part of the learning experience and after a while we can begin recognizing red flags.  Posted Saturday, June 4, 2022 by JMS

A. Hello, It is Sunday, June 5th, and I just read your new reply. Yes, it still is for sale and for good reason !!!!! I agree with you, wholeheartedly, that the buying experience on E-Bay has changed for the worst. There is much more noticeable dishonestly than in years past. You can see from a quick glance that many items have been faked and the starting prices on other items are so astronomical that I wonder how the seller can actually expect anyone to bid on it. Gone, forever, are the days when someone was happy with a small profit. This year(2022)is my 45th year of collecting railroad items. It's been a long journey and I'm still learning as I go. I believe what also helped me is the fact that I had a 45-1/2 year career on the railroad and working with a lot of old timers from the steam days really opened my eyes with regard to all of the different items that the railroads used. I will probably keep collecting railroad antiques right up until the day I die. The thrill of the hunt always looking for that one elusive item to add to my ever expanding collection !!!!! Take care. Posted Sunday, June 5, 2022 by DY

A. Dave, if you happen to be reading this still, Link 1 is a beautiful side-marked Seaboard supreme set. How totally unlike the scratching on the side of the tureen .......... Link 1  Posted Sunday, June 5, 2022 by JMS

A. Hello, Yes, I saw this item a little while back. Extremely easy to verify it's originality. Posted Monday, June 6, 2022 by DY

 Q3927 C&A Badge  I have found information on 3 'C&A' railroads but cannot identify the source of this badge. Any information will be appreciated. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, May 17, 2022 by Larry R   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3926 IC Tag  I can't find any information on this tag. It's 2 in. by 3 in. and was folded-up when found while metal detecting. I was wondering if you could tell me anything about it? Found 50 miles south of Memphis. Thanks!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, May 5, 2022 by Brian   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Straight out of Baker's Railroadiana 4th edition (1990): Baggage Checks page 18-->>"ICRR - Return this check to Ill. CENT. RR CHICAGO, circle/diamond shape logo below, 2 x 2 7/8", strap, W.W. Wilcox Co., Chicago.......${valuation deleted}" Posted Thursday, May 5, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. His book was titled RailRoad Collectibles by then. Posted Thursday, May 5, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. Thank-you for your reply. Would you have any idea of possible age or date range?  Posted Friday, May 6, 2022 by Brian

A. Quck fishin' in the Muddy Mississip places logo date range after 1896 and before 1936. Postally confirmed date of 1908. Pass date of 1916. Several ads in 1905/6/7 era. So, likely approximation 1900-20 commonly known as "heavyweight era". Posted Friday, May 6, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. Thank you again, appreciate your info!  Posted Friday, May 6, 2022 by Brian

 Q3925 Fount Burner Variation  This fount with this burner came out of a late model Adlake switch lamp from the Union Pacific. I am not sure of the purpose of the two small metal plates on each side of the flame spreader. I have a large collection of lamps and have never seen this appendage. Have I missed something?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, May 5, 2022 by TE   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. As a guess, those look a lot like the wire loops that were used on lard oil burners to move heat from the flame to keep the oil warm enough to flow up the wick. May be an adaptation for extreme cold weather service -- UP certainly has some places where that could be an issue.  Posted Friday, May 13, 2022 by RJMc

A. There are excellent sections of Adlake catalogs in the Archives section of this RRiana site. Several of them have very detailed illustrated parts breakdowns -- since most RR's rebuilt valuable things like switchlights many times and needed replacement parts. Link 1 is to an Adlake discussion all about the wide variety of available burners, globes and wicks for switchlights in about 1940. Nothing in there clearly shows your mod, but the No. 90 burner comes close, possibly if your burner had a piece missing. Link 2 is the catalog pages with parts breakdown for the entire Model 1370 switch lamp -- again, not showing your specific mod but with a lot of very detailed info about the standard lamps, for future reference. Nothing required any given RR to stick to the AAR standards; this may well be something only the UP (or a predecessor RR) required and ordered as a special.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Friday, May 13, 2022 by RJMc

A. Correction: Its a Model 1307 above. Another possibility: since things were so interchangeable, it may not be an Adlake burner. But so far looking at the other mfr's catalogs in the Archives here doesn't show anything like your mod, either.  Posted Friday, May 13, 2022 by RJMc

A. The notation on the top of the fount saying "Use Kerosene Oil Only", the co. name shown as Adams and Westlake (not Adlake) and the general look cause me to think that although the lamp may have been 'late model' this fount is much older.  Posted Friday, May 13, 2022 by RJMc

A. Good points all. Thanks for the input. I agree the fount is an older model. The lifting handle is just a half circle, bent hook. I hadn't thought of the plates being a warmth retention item for extremely cold winter conditions through the Rockies. Close examination seems to indicate that they were well manufactured, meaning, it doesn't look like someone just quickly soldered them into place as an afterthought of, "lets try this." My gut feeling is that the burner is an older version of a same modern one. I say that because while the design can be matched to a modern one in the catalogs, this one is overall, lighter in weight with slightly thinner metal pieces than all the other burners I have, and that's a lot. No markings on it at all. Regardless, it's always a treat to open up a switch lamp and see what is going on inside with interchangeable, replaceable parts.  Posted Sunday, May 15, 2022 by TE

 Q3924 Seat Check/Ticket Stub-Astoria & Columbia River RR 1908  From what I can gather, Northern Pacific came into control of Hammond's A&CR in 1907 and later folded it into SP&S. At the time of this stub, the rail-ferry at Goble would have been ending, changing the nature of the Astoria road though it would still have a connection to Portland via an existing line to Goble. Rainier Oregon was about six miles west. I don't find much paper relating to this road, but does anyone know more about stubs for the line?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, April 29, 2022 by Shasta Route   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. While researching further, I found that A&CR timetables show trains that depart from a depot in Portland bound for Astoria & way points beginning with Goble....but, Houlton on that NP section was used as flag stop for those using the Astoria road points. [Houlton was the rail connection for nearby St. Helens on the Columbia. An online seller was posting a real photo snap of the Houlton Station with a stopped train, but I could not identify which road it was owned by...looks like a small loco. While there could be an image of this station in some book, it is the only one I could find in any online source. There is another photo that looks up the road to that crossing site, but the station is missing at that point..perhaps moved.] So, there might be Houlton stubs issued by A&CR in addition to their own stations. Posted Friday, April 29, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. -->From the steam roster of the SP&S, I was able to find A&CR engines by road number became SP&S engines in 1911, though not all prior numbers were accounted for. Whether they were retired or missing was not clear. -->From a 1913 report showing a closed complaint about inadequate depot facilities at Houghton, I was able to find this rail line was now listed as the Astoria division of the SP&S (Link 1). -->From government survey marker placement project reports (leveling), they continue to refer to the Goble-Portland section as "part of line" in reference to the A&CR. Some sources seem to believe this line was originally built as OR&N (becoming ORR&N after the default) to Goble wherein it is claimed Villard ran out of funds and had to stop. There is a short period where NP & OR&N are held in joint control which might explain why some have called this an NP line. At this point, it's difficult to believe any claims about who built or owned that section, or how it was aquired. Link 1  Posted Saturday, April 30, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. In 1958, George Abdill* emphatically stated that the first section of line out of Portland was carried out as the Astoria & Coast (no reference as whether railroad or railway) but he did not specify who controlled this nor if it was just a construction company name. Elsewhere, it is noted that the first service (circa 1883-4) was a shoreline built operation ending at Hunters where the Kalama ferry boat was met. This terminus was later shifted to Goble. [The local newspaper, The Oregonian, ran an article in 1901 covering the failure of the Astoria & South Coast under Reid to reach the 1890 agreement with Colis Huntington on the then planned coastal connection to Southern Pacific via a branchline. This later became part of the A&CR (SP&S).] If there are surviving ticket stubs, they could involve these other names and locations. The A&C has not surfaced in searches. *See Superior Seattle, This Was Railroading, Abdill. Reprinted Bonanza. Posted Tuesday, May 3, 2022 by ShastaRoute

 Q3923 RR Lighting?  I have been trying to research the following lantern. It is up for sale online and have not seen one like it before. Would you have any knowledge or history on this item? Thank you,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, April 20, 2022 by Rodney   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Research "MINING LAMPs" or a similar topic. I was in a mining museum out west some time back and they had several examples of smaller lighting objects and especially version of the taller one on the left in the picture. Posted Friday, April 22, 2022 by TE

 Q3922 SP Lines 'Setting Sun' Mirror  Measures 73 in. L x 57in. H. Outer staplings on reverse show it was once fully covered. Some tiny losses behind glass suggest older real mirror. Closest I could see on a matching frame was RCA Victor Master's Voice one that also seems to pre-date those 1970's-80's era knockoffs. This is an older find from around the time when the Eugene Shops complex was being retired by Union Pacific, so that could be in consideration for where it may have resided. Any thoughts on authenticity are welcome.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, April 13, 2022 by Shasta Route   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3921 REA 1930s Shipping Frame?  I hope you might be able to give me some information. Attached are photos of a Railway Express item which some workers recently found in my attic. My house was built in the mid 1930s. Perhaps you can help identify what this curious item is? At first we thought it was some kind of low table or a small cushion support because of the chicken wire and that it has swing open 'legs.' But that certainly doesn't make any sense at all. Maybe those legs hold an item in and that's how the item can be removed. But what could possibly fit behind them pressed into the chicken wire? This is about 5 feet tall and 2 1/2 feet wide. It's well reinforced at the corners with metal braces. Judging from the name of the addressee, it was the first owner of our house on Long Island, so it must be in the mid to later 1930's. Please let me know either way if you can help identify this. I am no longer on Facebook, so I can't get in touch with the Railway Express Agency Fangroup that was passed on to me by Freightwaves as a possible way to get this identified. Thank you so much for your time.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, March 28, 2022 by Nancy   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. What an intriguing item! Obviously it folds up for easy handling/shipping, and the wire would seem to have been used to keep the weight as minimal as possible. But I do not think this is an item that the Railway Express Agency actually owned. The REA label on it seems to be a shipping label, sending the item via REA (by train), rather than a label identifying it as REA property. The Post Office label seems to confirm that it was shipped another time via the postal service. Is there an antique shop locally that might be able to offer suggestions?  Posted Tuesday, March 29, 2022 by JMS

A. I agree with JMS; it was shipped via REA and USPS, but not owned by them. It is constructed in a way to minimize shipping charges when it is all folded up. I note that the size is almost perfect for a bed, but the construction is not substantial enough to actually be a regular bed frame. Was the first owner of your house a funeral director? I can see this item possibly supporting a casket during a funeral. Another item usually in this same size is the folding tables used in schools, churches, and at conventions and shows. This could have served in that capacity at remote events such as revival meetings, long before the friendly area rental store became a common phenomenon.  Posted Tuesday, March 29, 2022 by RJMc

A. This looks like a base frame for what was called a "day bed" years ago. There would have been a thin mattress on the top. Think of it as a camp bed, that could be easily folded up and stored during the day. My family had one of these in a side room that my grandmother would rest on when she needed a break, without going upstairs to the bedroom. Probably modeled off of Civil War beds used by the officers that also folded up in the middle. Posted Friday, April 1, 2022 by h v coll

 Q3920 Old RR Electric Lantern Requirement  Since railroad lanterns were used to pass train signals, there used to be a requirement posted in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) that the lanterns have two bulbs and be capable of storing a spare bulb. The redundant bulbs were to avoid accidents from lack of train signals from a lantern bulb failure. Can anyone tell me what that former CFR number was? Thanks. Posted Monday, March 28, 2022 by Russ   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I do not recall ever seeing a hand lantern provision in 49 CFR, where railroad safety regulations are located. This doesn't surprise me because the hand lanterns have been standardized for so long by the railroads and lantern manufacturers -- long before FRA existed and long before any coverage of RR issues in CFR. The rules that existed then were Interstate Commerce Commission rules. Link 1 is to a Star Headlight and Lantern Co. website and their catalog for 1952, which says Star had focussed on electric lanterns since 1930 "exceeding AAR standards." And there are other references to electric lanterns as far back as the 19-teens (Link 2). The two bulbs available in most of these lanterns serve different functions: one provides a focussed spotlight, the other a wide-angle light for signaling. I suspect any requirement for lantern standards may have been similar to the requirements for watches, where the employee had to HAVE a watch which HE had to provide and maintain, and that watch had to meet the RR's standards. That was a rulebook requirement, not a Federal rule. Many RR employees provided their own kerosene lanterns and one RR cited in Link 2 required each employee to buy at least one lantern from the RR on employment. The AAR standards would have provided a benchmark for what lanterns were acceptable to meet any such rulebook requirement.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Tuesday, March 29, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3919 Dietz FITZALL Raised Numbers  A LOC-NOB red globe with 1/8 in. thickness. Appears to be similar to #852, but measures closer to W.T. Kirkman No. 0 Tubular Globe with minor difference of lower outside diameter being 3 3/8 in. (3 6/16 in.) rather than their specified 3 7/16 inches. Upper outside diameter is 2 3/4 in., and overall height of 6 5/8 in. The main question is what could 'C+2' reference since that does not appear to be a factory location code? (This is red glass through and through.) TIA!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, March 23, 2022 by ShastaRoute   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I was able to find a similar globe in a listing of what is obviously a Dietz "Monarch" hot blast. Photos were tough but it appears to read "C+3" and all else is equal. Posted Friday, March 25, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. Dietz (as well as other lantern and lamp mfrs) globes were made by different glass outfits. These almost always bear maker and mold numbrs in code. C2 for example would be Corning glass and mold #2 for that globe. For mass produced globes like the Fitzall there were dozens of molds in use at any time. I've had numbers up into the 60's.  Posted Friday, March 25, 2022 by James

A. Full list of those glass makers codes is found under Question 10 of F.A.Q's. at W.T. Kirkman's site lanternnetdotcom (Link 1). [And Thanks, James.] Link 1  Posted Saturday, March 26, 2022 by ShastaRoute

 Q3918 Builders Plate Info?  I'm from the Netherlands. I've got a Brooks Works plate as shown in the photo. My father found the plate in the 1980s. He was trading in old metals and found the plate in a container. Could you tell me please more about the type of the locomotive?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, March 13, 2022 by CP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. You have a very nice plate it is from a 2-8-2 built for the Ferrocarrilles de Cuba number 354 also worked for MINAZ Lopez Pena plant number 1910 as well as the MINAZ Espana Republicana plant number 51 MINAZ is the Spanish initials for the Ministry of Sugar Posted Monday, March 14, 2022 by RMH

 Q3917 Oil Can Marking?  I have been working on selling off some of my railroadiana items, and one of the oil cans that I have is a tallow pot with the markings Pa.L.W. After some extensive searching online, I have not been able to come up with the railroad name that it was associated with. I had assumed that it was Pennsylvania, Lehigh, & Western, but I have not found any railroad with that moniker. Can you help me find the correct name for these initials? Kind Regards,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, March 13, 2022 by Scott   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Pa.L.W. is for Pennsylvania Lines West of Pittsburg or P.S. Pennsylvania system. Posted Sunday, March 13, 2022 by DC

 Q3916 Globe for Adlake 100 Lantern?  What size globe is needed for an Adlake 100 Lantern? Thank you in advance.  Posted Thursday, March 3, 2022 by JN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Adlake 100s take a 4" globe that looks like a #39 with an 1 3/8" cut off the top. This leaves a globe that looks like it is upside down to the point that most are marked "TOP" so you put them in correctly. The other option is change out the globe retainer for a standard Reliable retainer and then you can use a #39 globe Posted Friday, March 4, 2022 by COD

A. The Adlake #100 takes a globe that is 3 5/16 in. bottom diameter X 3 1/2 in. top diameter X 4 in. in height. See Link.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, March 6, 2022 by RJE

 Q3915 Handlan Lantern for US Army?  I found this globe today and am trying to figure out what it might go to. It’s 4-1/2 inches tall so I thought Handlan lantern, and it's etched 'U.S.A' so I thought possibly US Army, but I haven’t been able to find any historical reference for Handlan lanterns in use with the US Army, just Dietz and Adlake. It's Macbeth glass (High Speed MEG Co Made in USA), but I don't know how long Corning carried the Macbeth branding after the 1936 purchase and I'm not clear on the Handlan #345/358 production dates so having a hard time placing the globe on a timeline. Hoping this group can shed some light, thank you!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, February 23, 2022 by Jake   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This will fit the Dietz Vesta lanterns or a special order/special size Adlake Reliable that was made for the Army but not marked except for the maker.  Posted Saturday, February 26, 2022 by COD

A. I had a terrific Dietz Vesta Navy dark lantern and was so pleased when I found one of these USA globes for it ... the lantern was all brass. President Wilson nationalized the railroad system during the World War I emergency - this lasted from 1917 until 1920. See Link 1 for interesting history.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, February 27, 2022 by JMS

A. Wow. So can this be summed up defining the entire period that these military versions were in use? And, if WWI, then did the army ones also find use in Europe where US personnel operated trains beyond those of French railroads? Posted Monday, February 28, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. The US military for decades used many tens of thousands (millions?) of kerosene lanterns on all kinds of operations, not just railroading. Every tent in an encampment needed one or two. Just put ' U.S. Army ' in the Search by word or phrase box (without quotation marks) to see a lot of prior discussion.  Posted Wednesday, March 2, 2022 by RJMc

A. Ok, so I led the group astray…the globe was labeled 4-1/2 in. when I bought it - didn't think much to question it… then I read through Q2690 after RJMc’s response and that thread questioned whether or not a 4-1/2 in. globe would fit the Vesta and short Reliables so I put a tape on it… it's a 4-1/4 in. globe, doh! This makes much more sense and I think it's certain it would have been used on a Vesta or short Reliable. It still begs the question of time period. The only references I’ve been able to find on USA marked globes for these particular lanterns all cite cast marked globes (even the 4-1/4 in. globe survey here only notes cast USA marks). Yes, quartermaster records show the US supplied upwards of 200,000 kerosene lanterns during WWII; I’m sure they were used for many purposes, but I'm guessing this globe pre-dates WWII. The glass has somewhat yellowed and Macbeth was bought out by Corning in 1936. Would like to find a period correct lantern to put it on; at this point I'm thinking an unmarked short Reliable or pre-1936 unmarked or 'US' marked Vesta would be appropriate. I don’t know if this globe came standard on one lantern or the other vs. the cast globe or perhaps it came on neither and the U.S. Government simply had a contract for spare globes with Macbeth and they were swapped in whenever and wherever needed? I think we've nailed down the lantern(s) this globe belonged to; just hoping to dial in the time period. Thank you all for the valuable feedback! Posted Sunday, March 6, 2022 by Jake

A. Note the profile on this Vesta type globe is of the earliest style with the short top rim flange. They are found both cast and etched U.S.A. and yes thats for US Army. They are WW1 era contracts along with the Adlake Reliable hybrid model. The Army purchased extra fount/burners & globes for obvious reasons. Over their service life some of these old globes wound up in later short model Vestas up to WW2 although most later army Vestas came with the std. Dietz Vesta globe; plain or simply etched 'US.' I used to find cardboard boxes of these (cast & etched) with Army QMC storage stamps.  Posted Sunday, March 13, 2022 by James

A. Just to note, there were also Naval Railway artllery sections operating in France in WWI. Presumably, they would have had a need for equipment of this sort. Posted Friday, April 1, 2022 by ShastaRoute

 Q3914 China Info?  I have a mystery piece of RR China I would like to know more about. I tried many years ago - but no definitive answer on it. Thought I'd try again. Can you tell me any info on this? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, February 23, 2022 by Patricia   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The pattern order for Western Pacific appears to be WP-3 Keddie by Warwick, then WP-4 Meridale (a stock border customized with logo) by Onondago Pottery Company [OPC-Syracuse], and finally WP-2 Feather by Shenango. [ What could be missing is unknown until someone actually finds it and proves it.] Manufacturer date codes are the only thing can provide factual information, but Meridale was probably a mid-1920's pattern and we see some decoration on menus that would suggest such. Yours is Feather, which has recieved additional gold "overglaze" (over the glaze, not overglazed decalcomania which is under the glaze) by Royal China who largely specialized in household type wares (see Jo Cunningham's American Dinnerware on them). Why and when create another problem. So far, Larry Paul has concluded that that other feather design by Scammell at the Maddock Pottery (appx.circa 1926-8) is the pattern used at the Feather River Inn by that time. But we are still missing the earlier pattern when WP built and operated the lodge resort (1916-). And perhaps WP operated other things that needed china. On the other hand, perhaps the railroad just decorated these for another undocumented reason, or an excess at Shenango ended up in the hands of Royal (not very likely for controlled patterns). It all seems improbable but I myself have a piece from Maddock made for a Portland eatery which also has a stamp from one of these third party china makers that never worked in vitreous wares..even the supplier is identified on it. I believe that one also has gold overlay. Subcontracting? Who knows...they're all dead and left us no notes. Certainly yours is an interesting piece to have. Looking into Royal's history might help here. Posted Thursday, February 24, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. One added consideration...if this was excess stock from late production, then the cancellation of passenger services may well have led to these wares going into the hands of third parties who contracted for the gold additions. If the supplier was Dohrmann Hotel Supply out of San Francisco, then they might have had warehouses to dispose of in addition to the railroad or Shenango. IIRC, Royal was still operating in the 1970's and maybe up to the '80's. Gold overlay is finished at lower temperatures than greenwares and glazedwares, so it can be added after the glost firing, but only above the glaze. You might be able to feel this with a finger. Posted Thursday, February 24, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. I am somewhat confused by the number of possibilities mentioned in the first two answers. Am I reading correctly: This is a piece originally made to a much simpler WP Feather pattern -- (was that pattern used on the railroad?) Then sometime after the original manufacture THIS piece was modified (by Royal -- somebody other than the original mfr.) to add the gold trim? Was that process done by hand, one piece at a time, or somehow automated? And highly unlikely (??) that such a piece would have been used out on the railroad, but may have been used for PR giveaways or other auxiliary purposes? Interesting circumstances, in any case.  Posted Friday, February 25, 2022 by RJMc

A. Luckin's sample backstamp for Meridale dates to December 1929. Not sure when Feather was introduced, and patterns can overlap, but 1930's seems a reasonable "earliest date". Royal was created primarily to engage in premiums/advertising/etc. from older potteries. But it became much more. Looking at backstamps, on a historical site with 2 pages for Royal, I saw one that matched this style (for the gold decor) and it was basically datable by a note that put it as a gift in 1940. [When the stamp starts or ends is hard to say.] So it would seem that this piece could have been finished at almost any point during the lifespan of the Feather pattern. It would then seem that a lot of possibilities for this piece's decoration are there. This was an era still of hand done decoration, not full automation. I doubt the piece ever saw use before the gold was was likely re-routed from new stock. [I know-extra transport costs! The two potteries are in adjoining states-Penn. & Ohio-so who knows? If aquired as a lot at discount price, they might have made their numbers.] And of course, railroads themselves made shiny new things available for direct order by passengers. Maybe it was mentioned on some piece of paper? Posted Friday, February 25, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. And yet more...think of the effect of the WWII materials restrictions orders and the ensuing rush to deplete non-essential production before the deadline fell in 1942. Beyond that...if this is a one-off item, just looking at the oddities of china companies like Homer Laughlin will show you there were many reasons such things exist, some decorated by another firm. Posted Friday, February 25, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. Thank you both for the wealth of information! When I first sought information around 2005 or so, I was told it was a gravy boat,circa 1949,and may have been a sample or presentation piece. I have been trying to locate where the Royal China records might be to see if it was perhaps a special order. They did do decorative gold application for other pottery companies, like Hull. But Royal appears to have been a division of Regal China. I read Shenango had supply issues around this time, so maybe they subbed out? There are voluminous Shenango records @ the Lawrence County Historical Society in New Castle. I contacted them in July 2020 and sent photos, but research volunteers were working from home then due to Covid. I followed up 6 months later and got no reply back. I also found a video online of the abandoned (some 30 years ago) Shenango plant. It was filmed in 2019. The site is in awful shape;there are records all over the floor,employee x-rays, tons of finished and unfinished china, et al. When they zoomed in on orders I looked to see if they might just be for my gravy boat--lol! I guess they didn't save everything ;( Both spooky & sad. Posted Friday, February 25, 2022 by Patricia

A. Addendum: Just discovered that there were actually two Royal China Companies--Chicago,Ill. & Sebring, OH. The one I referenced above(in Chicago)isn't the correct one. I also found the historical site ShastaRoute mentioned with the datable note ;)This makes sense as Sebring and New Castle are only an hour apart. I've gone ahead and inquired about further info from the histrical site. Will let you know if these bird seeds lead anywhere!  Posted Saturday, February 26, 2022 by Patricia

A. One other possibility perhaps - I've seen quite a few Pennsylvania Railroad china reglazed with distinctly non-railroad patterns -- both on the same piece. It's really weird to see a nice PRR keystone design under a bunch of flowers and gold. My thought was perhaps the factory wanted to test something or other and they happened to have some left over/rejected/extra/whatever at the factory, so they grabbed the RR pieces and tried the other pattern on top. Maybe they needed to test kilns, transfers, glazes, who knows and the RR pieces being there, were handy to use. Just a guess.  Posted Sunday, February 27, 2022 by JMS

A. In "The Official Guide to Railroad Dining Car China" Douglas McIntyre calls this pattern "Feather River" and states it was first produced in 1947-49.  Posted Sunday, February 27, 2022 by JMS

A. JMS-very interesting. Did McIntyre explain where he got the dating info. on the pattern, like Shenango records or useage photos? (I unloaded my copy long ago.) Posted Monday, February 28, 2022 by ShastaRoute

A. No explanation from McIntyre about where the dating came from, but I imagine he had to have had information or he wouldn't have printed such specific years. He and Rich Luckin both had close contacts with Syracuse China getting production records, and I would imagine/guess either or both of them were after the same from Shenango. What they did or got I have no clue. Years Syracuse offered an Archives service that even I was contacting, retired employees ran the service on a volunteer basis and could be spoken with on Wednesday afternoons. They would look up and send copies of actual orders to people who inquired. That was years ago and I should have taken much greater advantage, but I did not want to overdo my welcome, so I didn't.  Posted Thursday, March 3, 2022 by JMS

A. Here is another "double dipped" piece of railroad china, this one marked for the Pennsylvania - see Link 1.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, March 5, 2022 by jms

A. SORRY - I messed up and the photo/link I posted about isn't the one with the PRR on the piece, right there with the floral design. I have seen several of those; a PRR keystone mark right on a dish with flowers - can't tell which transfer is on the bottom. This sauce boat is the very first Wabash piece I've ever seen this "double" pattern on.  Posted Saturday, March 5, 2022 by JMS

A. Hey JMS....did you mean to say WABASH? Or, Feather River/Western Pacific...?  Posted Sunday, August 14, 2022 by Patricia

 Q3913 Fake PRR Bell?  I have a box of items from my grandfather, who worked out of Baltimore as a brakeman for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. One of the items is a mountable brass bell with clapper, and with the keystone PRR logo on the exterior. I'm not sure where he got it or why, and I've read that almost all of these types of bells are reproductions or fakes. Before I try to sell it, I'd like to know if this one is a 'fake' or reproduction? Another way to ask the question is: Are *any* bells like this authentic? Any help would be appreciated!  [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, February 3, 2022 by Lynn   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The Link is to a page here on the RRiana site that discusses what is known about this type of marked "Hand Bell." As far as we know these were never used on a RR, but produced as keepsakes. There is an outside chance the RR itself might have produced them for this purpose, such as for marketing giveaways. Mentioning Baltimore causes me to wonder if bells like this might have been sold at the B&O Museum Gift Shop in Baltimore. Over many years the Museum sold many newly-manufactured keepsake type items (for example lanterns and china pieces) as well as authentic RR surplus items.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, February 5, 2022 by RJMc

 Q3912 3-1/4 Inch Corning Globe with Libbey Logo  I have a Corning Kero globe (3-1/4 inch) with a 'Libbey Glass logo' opposite the Corning logo. This is the first one I have seen. I know that Libbey Glass dates back quite far, but why would their logo be on a Corning globe for a railroad lantern? Any thoughts???  Posted Thursday, February 3, 2022 by Dave   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Can you post a picture please ? The only "Libbey glass" logo I know of is a scrolling letter L . Thanks.  Posted Monday, February 7, 2022 by JMS

A. Hello, I'm sorry but I cannot send a photo. The casting is so light that you would not be able to see it. The Libbey name is enclosed within a circle. The letter L begins at top left then proceeds downward slightly to the left before reaching the bottom. It continues unbroken to the right then loops up to form the letter Y. In between are the letters IBBE. This logo is extremely difficult to see in person let alone a photo. I hope this description helps a little. Posted Thursday, February 10, 2022 by Dave

A. I google searched and found an interesting story - see Link 1.I have no way to know if this is true, but it's what turned up. Link2 is Libbey Glass company information. If you scroll all the way to the very bottom there are illustrations of the circle logos with dates when they were used.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Thursday, February 10, 2022 by JMS

A. Hello, Thanks for the links. Great information !!!!! The logo on my lantern dates in the 1919-1945 era. This is why railroad lanterns are so fascinating. You never know what type of information will turn up. Posted Saturday, February 12, 2022 by Dave

 Q3911 Adlake #1112 Switch Lantern Target Finish  I am restoring an Adlake #1112 lantern and while stripping two or three coats of paint off from the targets, I'm ending up with an extremely hard red finish which is not removed with stripper or even a heat gun. Does anyone know what this finish is and what will possibly remove it? Is it ceramic or possibly lead based? Thanks.  Posted Wednesday, February 2, 2022 by Jim C   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. That is a baked-on porcelain finish, designed to withstand almost anything nature could throw at it, including the expansion and contraction of the base metal with extreme rates of temperature change. Only physical impact (bullets, for example) would typically cause it to shatter and flake off. Sometimes with great age it would develop cracks but usually the entire coating would not peel off. Only intensive and very aggressive sandblasting would be likely to remove it. It would be easier to find a different target, if the porcelain color is not to your liking on the one you have.  Posted Wednesday, February 2, 2022 by RJMc

A. There are porcelain repair folks, but I doubt if the repair cost is cheaper than finding another target. As said in the prior response, they were designed to take a beating. I have found some that were bent, maybe from a piece of dragging equipment, with no damage to the face, except for a few minor cracks. If you go looking for a replacement, remember to match it to the lens size, plus the shape of the target, as there are many different ones out there. A&W made plenty of them, but not being in service for years, it could take some time. Posted Wednesday, February 2, 2022 by h v coll

 Q3910 C&O Switch Lamp  I've been collecting mostly china for a while, but I've just recently gotten into lamps & lanterns, so I'm not as knowledgeable about this topic. I recently acquired a switch lamp from the Chesapeake & Ohio, and I have a few questions about it. Currently, it is painted 'Fire Hydrant Red.' Is it safe to assume it was never painted this color by the railroad? If so, would it be beneficial or detrimental to repaint it black (which I'm assuming is the correct color)? It's also painted gold on the inside (again, I'm assuming not correct). I've seen similar lamps finished inside with silver paint, gray paint, mirror polished metal, and unfinished bare metal. How would these lamps have normally been finished inside in actual use? Lastly, the lenses are currently four different colors (red, amber, green, and clear). Would this arrangement have ever been used by the railroad or was this another modification made by a later owner? For clarification, it is definitely on a switch mount base (footed square post hole on the bottom) and not a caboose lamp base (rotating bracket). Thanks for any insight you can share!  Posted Thursday, January 27, 2022 by Nick   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. There is a very good reason for switch lamps to be painted black -- as are almost all signal heads. Any other color similar to the indication colors could cause the lamp body to be mistaken for an indication, bearing in mind that switch lamps had to be seen in widely varying ambient light conditions. This is particularly true if day targets are not used. Some special-application lamp bodies, such as derail position indicators, might have been other colors, but red would not be a likely one. Some RR's painted marker lamp bodies bright yellow, but in that case that fitted the correct function to mark the rear of a train even if the lamp was not lit. We have discussed lens colors on the site here many times in the past, and they varied widely; see prior Q 2971 for starters. To my knowledge the question of painting the inside has not come up here before. Most lamps in service quickly gained a layer of soot, but probably left the factory with metal on the inside with no finish added. The lens openings leave so little area on the inside of the lamp body that reflecting more light doesn't improve the operation enough to justify the added cost.  Posted Thursday, January 27, 2022 by RJMc

A. As previously stated, I have never seen a listing for the inside color of a switch or marker lamp. From memory, black or bare metal silver was it. As to signals, many masts are painted silver at the bottom to show better at night for the brakeman walking a broke down train, but past head height was black so as to not give a false reading from the sun. Depending on the type of signal, and the location. some of these were a bear to paint, without getting anything on the lens. Many times, I used my pole gear, swung around with a can and brush, and did the best I could. You had to watch out behind you at all times for trains, as you could be blocking the signal. Posted Friday, January 28, 2022 by h v coll

A. Very interesting inquiry as I had been looking at an online image of the Burlington Zephyr approaching a station with passengers which had been colorized a few years ago. Not a bad job and don't know if they now have a way to scan grey tones for likely color clues, but they ended up with one switchstand base in a bright apple green like some sort of antique Ford Cabriolet. Sure gonna leave future generations with a Disney view of the reality of the past unless they dug up some corroborating proof of this implied practice. Posted Saturday, January 29, 2022 by ShastaRoute

 Q3909 A&W Question  I'm wondering when Adams & Westlake stopped using their 'A&W CO' stamp and changed to Adlake? Posted Wednesday, January 26, 2022 by DA   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Seems like it depended on the lantern style, but it appears to be in the teens. Question would be how many pieces did they have pre-stamped in stock that they continued to use. Posted Thursday, January 27, 2022 by h v coll

 Q3908 Builder Plate Hypothetical Guessing on Design?  I am trying to make an educated-decision on what a BUILDERS PLATE for the Philadelphia & Erie/ PRR Renovo, PA Shops locomotive plates would have actually looked- like from the over 120 steam locomotives built there from 1860s on? My assumptions so-far are that they may have imitated the PRR Altoona builder plates on the Renovo-builts? But they may have forged their own unique builder plates also? This question leads to a lot of speculation and outright guesses, I agree, but Im hoping a history-fan of steam builders plates could add his- her knowledge and logic of what they probably looked like back then? I have tried the easy route of looking at old pictures of Renovo- built American locomotives to physically see of it was... circle...keystone...oval...??... but I cannot identify the builder plates on the grainy old photos. Thanks.  Posted Wednesday, January 26, 2022 by VT   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It was a circle builder plate. I have narrowed the answer to that level with certainty. I found a picture of an 1888 Renovo-built D8a "American type" 4-4-0 locomotive number 101 stationary with the crew standing in front of her posing. The engine number plate on smoke box was a cast circle with simply the number centered on a raised edge plate.  Posted Thursday, January 27, 2022 by vvtdeb

A. There is at least one photo I have seen that shows a round builders plate with a single bolt hole on the smoke box and you can read Renovo Shops on the plate. It is very similar to a round Altoona plate before they moved to the ovals.  Posted Thursday, January 27, 2022 by COD

A. Very good info...we got the fact that the RENOVO Shops locomotive builder plate was actually a round metal plate. Now the question becomes, WHAT WAS INFORMATION shown on these builder plates? I am assuming there was common cast of the wording of "Built at Renovo Shops" on every plate? "Date built" is probably another sure bet on information contained? Wonder if they used the "Shop Serial number" of each engine? This was literally numerical sequence of each build prefaced with "R" from 1 thru 120. Any for sight by anyone knowledgeable in small shop builder's plates is highly appreciated!  Posted Saturday, February 19, 2022 by vvtdeb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A. What is the size of this item? What diameter are the lenses? Posted Thursday, January 27, 2022 by RJMc

A. About 14 inches in height, glasses are a little over 4 inches diameter. I got one on e***, so here's a better picture. Link 1  Posted Sunday, January 30, 2022 by Louis

A. Well, we are in very good company in not knowing. I forwarded the query to Adlake and got a quick courteous reply from Mike Rzeszutko, President of today's Adlake. They don't know what it is, either. He noted that a lot of historical material has been lost over the years.  Posted Thursday, February 3, 2022 by RJMc

A. I don't have specific information yet, but I have seen a photo that these devices were mounted in the nose of F-units (diesel engines, like F-5's or F-7's) in order to change the classification lights. The light source and device was all mounted behind the nose hood so nothing was on the exterior to interfere with the 'streamlining' — like the typical cannonball style class lights. Well, with that being said, I still can't confirm or prove it, because I can't find the photo—even after searching numerous times; but I know for sure I've seen it… just hoping it helps! Thanks,  Posted Wednesday, March 23, 2022 by KG

A. Last night I showed this at our Historical Society. Today I got a text from one of the members. Here is what he found: This is an antique R 1-9 Marker Lamp Semaphore. This handle came from the R 1-9 cars of the IND Subway, which were built in many waves by a few different builders (American Car & Foundry, Pullman, and Pressed Steel) between 1930 and 1940. There were over 1800 built. The last of them were retired and scrapped in the 1970s. A few still exist as part of museum collections, including the New York City Transit Museum and the Shore Line Trolley Museum in East Haven, CT. Each car had two operating positions – one at each end. Each driving position had two of these semaphores mounted over the interior end of the roof of the car. The color light shined through a clear lens mounted on the outside of the car. Changing the colors let the Towerman know how to route the subway train. This semaphore measures 14 inches long and 5 inches wide. Posted Saturday, March 26, 2022 by Lou L

A. Great info and thanks for coming back with it. The one aspect (so to speak) of this item that still bothers me is there doesn't appear to be a way to show just one color in the clear in front of the light source (and behind the outer clear lens). Did the user push one lever and lens up above the rest to give the single color indication? Also see prior Q 3811 regarding "route indicators" as used on various subway systems. Link 1 below, also referenced in Q3811 actually discussed the IND line specifically and how they used combinations of colors from these lights for particular route designations. The subway systems -- not being bound by any kind of regular RR rules -- called these "markers" while RR's called front-facing lights "classification lights" but they also had different purposes.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, April 2, 2022 by RJMc

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

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

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

A. This is more about identification for mass production purposes. For example a batch of switch locks in my collection as follows NYCS-Fraim, PENNA-Adlake, B&O-Slaymaker, B&M-Corbin and I have others. These locks are all steel, 1920ish and made by different makers but they all look alike with the same specs, same shape, almost the same rivet pattern. Keys are the same with the only difference is in the bow. I have heard that a #252 is a caboose key made by various manufactures as is a #533 is for CTA switch locks The closeness of these locks is more than just by chance. Knowing this identification system would help in cataloging and as well as a cross reference sheet as to what keys opened who's locks. I don't know if it has anything to do with the CS numbers like CS-1 is UP mainline CS-2 Oregon Short Line, CS-8 Northwestern Pacific. These are hard to find for some yet others put them on the locks. Posted Friday, February 4, 2022 by M

A. See prior Q 2840 for a detailed explanation of how the owned and affiliated Harriman railroads adopted CS, a C_ommon S_tandard system of specs for procuring things, including locks, keys, and many other things. At one time Harriman controlled SP, UP, and many other RR's. But CS was not industry-wide standardization, just for Harriman RR's. There probably IS an industry-wide standard for the size and shape of switch locks and signal locks, if only to insure that replacements would fit into the hasps and keepers, etc. But the key pattern doesn't affect whether the lock will fit and so remained unstandardized as discussed above. And in the early 1900's there was much cross-sharing of patents and designs where one manufacturer would produce items to the specs originally delivered by another, by licensing agreements that actually specified what portion of total trade which mfr. would produce -- practices long since banned as anti-trust violations. Posted Friday, February 25, 2022 by RJMc

A. I've found that there was not likely a huge effort to adhere to a standard cut. The most recent example of this are the Keline keys that clearly are made to only vaguely resemble the cut of an Adlake or whomever key. Don't forget that the newer locks have only 1 lever (both Keline and now the newer Adlakes). I can find many examples of variations in the barrel ID and even the OD, not to mention the cuts themselves. Not major mind you but there are noticeable differences. For example, I have an old Frisco Slaymaer/FS Hardware style key marked key that will not open a MoPac lock but Adlake Frisco keys will. Bear in mind that they keys are fairly identical to the eye. So much for "anything will open a switch lock". If you collect signal/general purpose lock then you might have noticed that the AT&SF Ry versions have a huge difference in the post diameter and the bit size even though the key cuts are of the same general profile. This includes Fraim, Miller, Yale and Slaymaker at least.  Posted Tuesday, May 3, 2022 by spladiv

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A. This may be hard to believe, but as a life long Railroad employee (retired) I have found these in switch point filler blocks. The ones I have found were actually track stones that were stuck inside the block and over time rounded from movement of the train traffic. Just another possible explanation.  Posted Thursday, March 10, 2022 by Ricks

A. I doubt it can be related due to the size difference, but Ira Swett's Interurbans Special (1965-66) on Los Angeles Pacific Railroad development shows an image of massive round rocks uncovered in the L.A.-Santa Monica basin zone when they were cutting into hillocks to lay out lines. Seems nature had produced something odd and perhaps buried them when it was all ocean covered along the coasts. Nothing was noted about any small ones, but this Newport line was in the same general area. Posted Monday, April 11, 2022 by ShastaRoute