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Date: 05/22/11 15:37
Brakeman battery powered lantern history?
Author: Brian894x4

Can anyone school me on brakeman's lanterns and their history. I'm curious from both a collector's perspective, and rail's perspective. I’m specifically asking about the battery operated lanterns and not the oil lamps, for now.

I see there are about 3 or 4 major brands and the same designs seemed to have been used for many, many decades.

There's Justrite, Genesy, Adlake, Conger and the newer Star 222, 292, 2002 and 2007. These are my questions for anyone in the know.

When did battery powered lanterns start really coming into use?

Which of the older ones are the rarest and most collectable?

Which ones of the older styles were the most desired by the rails at the time of their use and why?

Which ones of the modern versions are the most desired by the rails and why?

The hardest thing for me to find has been a history of what brands were made and when they were produced and sold. For example, the Conger seems to be a desired model, but not sure what years were produced or if there were different models.

Adlake seems to be a very common version, with a bunch of different models, like the Adlake 31-C or D, etc, but I have no idea where to find what years these were produced or what the difference between models.

And finally, which versions are issued today by the railroads. I'm guessing the Star 222 and 292 are the most common in service. What's the difference between these and are railroads issuing the newer LED versions like the 2002 and 2007 or are they too expensive? Any other lesser known brands issued today?

Any other info, insights or stories regarding brakeman lanterns would be greatly appreciated. Please feel free to post anything you’d like regarding these lanterns and their use.

Brian McCamish
Oregon Pacific Railroad
http://www.oregonpacificrr.com/



Date: 05/22/11 16:18
Re: Brakeman battery powered lantern history?
Author: patd3985

Brian, I still have my dads stainless steel Conger and it is still a part of my everyday life! I think it was built during the 40's. As a matter of fact, I just used it today, in my boat, to see under the dashboard. The handle makes it able to be hung up in various positions to be able to see in tight places. I just love the Conger motto: "Your life is worth no more than the lantern you are carrying."



Date: 05/22/11 18:09
Re: Brakeman battery powered lantern history?
Author: Brian894x4

Looks like Conger must have been purchased by Star Headlight & Lantern at some point. The stainless steel Congers would be the original ones and then there are anodized versions that are marked Star Headlight & Lantern with the same Congers design and marked Conger on the face. Maybe the change was sometime in the 1970s? I'm sure it predates the plastic ones though, so maybe very early 1970s?

This is the kind of information I'm trying to find to get a history on these lights. Also, Delta was another manufacture.

Brian McCamish



Date: 05/22/11 19:03
Re: Brakeman battery powered lantern history?
Author: colehour

Brian894x4 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Looks like Conger must have been purchased by Star
> Headlight & Lantern at some point. The stainless
> steel Congers would be the original ones and then
> there are anodized versions that are marked Star
> Headlight & Lantern with the same Congers design
> and marked Conger on the face. Maybe the change
> was sometime in the 1970s? I'm sure it predates
> the plastic ones though, so maybe very early
> 1970s?
>
> This is the kind of information I'm trying to find
> to get a history on these lights. Also, Delta was
> another manufacture.
>

I bought a Conger stainless steel lantern in the late '80s or early '90s, I believe. When I moved to Europe I gave it to a friend. I wish I still had it since they are apparently no longer being manufactured.



Date: 05/22/11 19:42
Re: Brakeman battery powered lantern history?
Author: ddg

Here are a few from my collection, they're dirty, but I hang them in the basement. Photo #1 has a wood bail, single bulb Ray-O-Vac #94, the other is an Ecolite by the Economy Electric lantern co, two bulbs and a red lense. Both nickel plated brass, no dates. The 2nd photo has five lanterns, The Genesy in the front left was made in Kansas City, nickel plated brass, the green one is from Ried Bros. San Francisco, Calif. Brass, Nickel plating & green paint. It's "The Cobb Electric Lantern". The one on the right looks like an old oil lantern, it from "The Hazel Electric Lantern Co" Atchison Kansas. In the back on the left is an old ADLAKE might be dated by it's Pat. # 893293, and next to it with the bail folded down is the only one with a date, by The Federal Sign System" Chicago, Feb 24. 1914. Nickel plated brass, single bulb.






Date: 05/22/11 20:32
Re: Brakeman battery powered lantern history?
Author: wabash2800

I have one that was given to me. It does not have a make on it but patent number and a patent pending on the bottom where the two bulbs are located. It will not light up and I suppose the top is to be removed to get to the battery. I can not get it open. Does that mean the battery has corroded it shut? What do the batteries look like?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/22/11 20:42 by wabash2800.



Date: 05/22/11 21:29
Re: Brakeman battery powered lantern history?
Author: ats90mph

wabash2800 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I have one that was given to me. It does not have
> a make on it but patent number and a patent
> pending on the bottom where the two bulbs are
> located. It will not light up and I suppose the
> top is to be removed to get to the battery. I can
> not get it open. Does that mean the battery has
> corroded it shut? What do the batteries look like?


Sometimes they just are a b**** to open up. I had issues with my Adlake Lantern that I bought from the guy in the Grand Junction Amtrak Station, I have two Congors as well. They take "Lantern batteries".



Date: 05/22/11 22:20
Re: Brakeman battery powered lantern history?
Author: wabash2800

I did get mine open! Perhaps the photo of the battery will date it? It was given to me by a friend of the family and her deceased relative worked for the PRR in the Harrisburg, PA area I believe. Again no markings other than those near the bulbs. There may be a hand painted "L" on the side perhaps for the railroader to distinguish his from those of other crewmen?








Date: 05/23/11 00:24
Re: Brakeman battery powered lantern history?
Author: ats90mph

Patent year would be 1933.



Date: 05/23/11 04:30
Re: Brakeman battery powered lantern history?
Author: Brian894x4

I noticed a couple of very old conventional "flashlight" style lights on ebay, with three bulbs, red white and green I think, with a seperate switch for each color. These flashlights date to around the 1920s. Was this style of light actually used by the railroads as well?

Brian McCamish



Date: 05/23/11 09:23
Re: Brakeman battery powered lantern history?
Author: eminence_grise

I was told that on Canadian Pacific, kerosene lamps were supplied to train crews well into the battery lamp era. You purchased one from the company when you hired on, replacements were free.

Battery lamps were advertised for sale in the union newsletters and sometimes an enterprising co-worker would sell them. Because they were a consumer commodity, different manufacturers made "improved" designs.

Another type of employee who were saddled with kerosene lamps were railroad carmen, and similarly some of them purchased specialised battery lamps.

Although I was supplied a battery lamp by the CPR when I hired on in the 1970's, and a "reasonable" amount of batteries and bulbs were grudgingly supplied by a yard office clerk, there was a market for "Spectro" high powered bulbs which burned brighter than those supplied by the railway.They also drained the battery much faster.

Both the kerosene and later the battery brakemans lights are uniquely North American. European train crew lamps include colored lenses and are more like a flashlight in appearance (the British "Bardic" lamp is an example. So employees would not be tempted to take them home, they had a unique battery only available from the railway).



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 05/23/11 14:46 by eminence_grise.



Date: 05/23/11 14:25
Re: Brakeman battery powered lantern history?
Author: ddg

And lets not forget the "Streamline" electric lantern. I can't find mine or I'd post a photo of it. It was a mini-size brakeman's lantern, and took two D batteries. Passenger conductors carried them, because you could pass signals normally, but they with the bail folded, they would fit in your pocket. They were made in Lebannon, Mo. If I remember right. I think they were nickel plated too. (Well I'll be derned. I found one on an online auction. http://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/streamline-products-passenger-conductors-lantern)



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/23/11 14:27 by ddg.



Date: 05/23/11 23:52
Re: Brakeman battery powered lantern history?
Author: sphogger

ddg - I've got a couple versions of the smaller passenger lanterns. One version takes 2 "D" cells as you mention, the other takes 2 "F" cells which were found in groups of 4 inside the standard 6v lantern battery. The link you provided looks like the longer "F" cell version to me.

sphogger



Date: 05/24/11 06:41
Re: Brakeman battery powered lantern history?
Author: ddg

sphogger Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> ddg - I've got a couple versions of the smaller
> passenger lanterns. One version takes 2 "D" cells
> as you mention, the other takes 2 "F" cells which
> were found in groups of 4 inside the standard 6v
> lantern battery. The link you provided looks like
> the longer "F" cell version to me.
>
> sphogger


I have several of these little ones. One is a brand new "Streamline" I ordered from the factory in Lebanon, Mo. when they were still making them back in the 70's, but I can't find it at the moment. (don't ask) But, I did run across this little one, and it has pat. info on the label inside the lid. Takes two "D" cells.








Date: 05/24/11 08:44
Re: Brakeman battery powered lantern history?
Author: ddg

And then there's this. An oddity for sure. I think it's a brass, non-working, full sized salesman's sample from Genesy. It doesn't have any electrical components, has a soldered on non-working switch, and has no place for the bulbs to screw in.






Date: 05/24/11 08:55
Re: Brakeman battery powered lantern history?
Author: ddg

And another older Genesy, fixed up for presentation. I also have an old Bronson lantern somewhere, it has a wood bail and a fresnel dome over it's bulb, Gotta do some more digging I guess. Last photo is another Genesy, new, unused. Probably one of the last models they produced. It's marked on the side. K.C.T. Ry. Co. 8 99.








Date: 05/24/11 09:09
Re: Brakeman battery powered lantern history?
Author: sphogger

Wow what a collection ddg...

So in terms of the original question, battery powered lanterns showed up in the 40's? I wonder what the history of batteries might reveal.

sphogger



Date: 05/24/11 09:27
Re: Brakeman battery powered lantern history?
Author: Brian894x4

Here's some of what I've found over the last couple of days.

These seem to be the major brands over the years.

Genesy (for the really early ones) Adlake, Conger, Star, Streamline, Justrite and Ecolite.

The earliest ones I've seen date to the late nineteen teens. Like 1918 or so, but a few could be even earlier. I've seen kerosene lamps with dates as late as the 1920s, so there was definately overlap in terms of type production.

Conger and Star seems to be the most popular models going into the 1960s through today. Conger was apparently purchased by Star at some point (I think the early 1970s?) and started producing Conger type lights with the Star brand on them. At some point, Star introduced the plastic version that is sold today and the metal versions dissappeared from production. Apparently the metal Conger/Star models are the most favored by crews, from what I'm reading due to their superior weight and balance.

All or at least most models seem to use the same type battery and bulbs. Battery is the standard 6 volt lantern battery and bulb screw size is the E10 screw base, with the bulb type varying over the years in terms of size and brightness.

These things are dirt cheap and very plentiful on Ebay. Very easy to start a collection if one wanted too and I've purchased a couple just to have to fix up for display and maybe even use. The oldest ones should clean up nicely. I think the really older Genesys were copper or brass.

Brian McCamish
Oregon Pacific Railroad
http://www.oregonpacificrr.com/



Date: 05/24/11 10:09
Re: Brakeman battery powered lantern history?
Author: ddg

sphogger Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Wow what a collection ddg...
>
> So in terms of the original question, battery
> powered lanterns showed up in the 40's? I wonder
> what the history of batteries might reveal.
>
> sphogger
Well, They showed up quite a bit earlier than the 40's. But I think they were probably not widely used until about then. One of those in the first photo I posted is the only one I can find a date on, and it's 1914. Who would have thought they had batteries back than that would last an eight or ten hour shift?



Date: 05/24/11 10:14
Re: Brakeman battery powered lantern history?
Author: wabash2800

How hard is it to find an electric one with a red light or did they just substitute red bulbs?
I am building a replica of a working interlocking (cira 1950) on my layout and would like to have a red one to hang on the wall as I understand this was a requirement in the event the operator had to stop a train.

I take it mine pictured above with the 1949 battery date is an Adlake?



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