W.W.&F. Discussion Forum
April 25, 2017, 06:13:39 PM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Notice: Great things in store at the WW&F.
 
   Home   Help Search Login Register  
Pages: [1] 2 3
  Print  
Author Topic: Monson Railroad Lanterns: Shedding Some Light  (Read 14716 times)
Roger Whitney
Administrator
Switchman
*****
Posts: 64


View Profile
« on: January 19, 2012, 12:05:41 PM »


   Ever wonder what the Monson used for railroad lanterns?  On October 16, 1911 Morrill sent a letter to the Sherburne Company returning two DOZEN lantern globes which the company had sent to the Monson.  Morrill explains very curtly that “we ordered “vesta” globes and the ones you sent us are the common railroad lantern globes.”
   Morrill went on to say that “our order was very plain” and assumes that the company (Sherburne) didn’t have them in stock but sent the wrong ones anyway.  Kinda sounds like today’s mail order!  Anyway he told them that he was “ordering direct from the manufacturers.”  So much for that business relationship!
   But the real little nugget in the whole letter is that evidently the Monson used Vesta lanterns made by R.E. Dietz Company.
        The "Vesta" was a popular line of brakeman's lantern manufactured by the R.E. Dietz Company over a period of many decades.  The name "Vesta" was applied by Dietz to a long series of lanterns. The original version was introduced in 1896 and by 1907 there were at least two different versions: some in the “hi-top” version, some in the “lo-top” version. However the vestas all had a very similar look.  I wonder what the Monson had before 1896…whale oil?  My father collected railroad lanterns and he had several whale oil railroad lanterns. Other major manufacturers of railroad lanterns were Dressel and Adlake.
        I seriously doubt if the Monson had their lanterns stamped “MRR”, knowing the thriftyness of the company.  And “2 dozen globes”?  Were the train crews hard on their lanterns?  If anyone has a bonifide Monson Railroad lantern, it’s sure a rarity! Some of you collectors out there I’m sure can shed more light on this subject!
Logged
Stewart "Start" Rhine
Museum Member
Trainmaster
*******
Posts: 2,634


View Profile
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2012, 01:34:37 PM »

Good information Roger.  Hand lanterns are one of my favorite subjects so what the Monson used is a great question.  Interesting that they had Vestas.  I have seen the early Vesta bell bottoms and the "tall top" frames.  They were the first hot blast lanterns that used the side tube style braces to put hot air from the chimney down to the base of the burner.  Regarding Morrills letter, the vesta globe has a taper at the top and standard globes will not fit into the Vesta tension ring.  

I agree that the Monson probably never had marked frame lanterns because they didn't have that many and would not have spent extra money on them (too bad).  If any globes were marked they were probably done at Monson.  So - What type of lantern did the railroad use prior to the Dietz Vesta?   Well, we know that the MRR had purchased lanterns from Dietz so there was a relationship between the two companies.  We also know that the WW&F and SR&RL used the Dietz "Standard" #39 tin-top bell bottom lantern.  They were popular with New England railroads prior to the advent of the Vesta so I believe that the Monson used the Dietz 39's as well.  I have some possible information on early Monson lanterns that I'll show you.  Then you can decide if it is worth printing.

Stewart  
« Last Edit: January 20, 2012, 09:38:02 PM by Stewart Rhine » Logged
Cliff Olson
Museum Member
Baggageman
**
Posts: 108


View Profile
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2012, 02:53:04 PM »

Roger, do you know anything more about the Sherburne Co, (e.g., location)?  It may be strictly coincidence, but the photographer who took all the glass plate photos of Monson around 1910 was named Sherburne.
Cliff
Logged
Eric Larsen
Museum Member
Switchman
**
Posts: 88



View Profile
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2012, 08:40:54 PM »

Sherburn was out of Boston and they were a general railroad suplier.  There are lots of early New England railroad locks, keys and back-up wistles that have thier name on them.  I have many of those lock and keys in my collection.  They don't seem to have sold much outside of New England.  Never seen a lock or key for a railroad that did not touch a  New England state.  I don't know if they made thier own hardware or if they just got to put thier name on stuff made by others.....probably the latter IMO.  
PS.  Sorry, no Monson locks or keys but the closest Sherburn I do have would be a Somerset Ry.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2012, 01:06:21 AM by Eric Larsen » Logged
Roger Whitney
Administrator
Switchman
*****
Posts: 64


View Profile
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2012, 10:48:28 AM »

Thank you all for the replies!  Very interesting!
There's a Sherburne & Co. letter head on e-bay right now which is a contract to supply the Sandy River, Phillips & Rangeley and Kennebec Central all their locomotive and truck driving tire needs.  Eric is right they were a Boston firm located at 53 Oliver St, Boston.  Also there is a website at
http://www.tagtown.net/sherburn.html
Logged
Skip Breyfogle
Museum Member
Flagman
*
Posts: 28


View Profile
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2012, 04:28:15 PM »

The Vesta globe is 4-1/4" tall and the common #39 globe is 5-3/8" tall.  In addition, the diameter at the top and bottom are also different - not even close.  Scott Czaja, who hosts the TagTown website, maybe worth contacting about Monson lanterns as he is an avid collector of railroad stuff in New England.
Logged
Eric Larsen
Museum Member
Switchman
**
Posts: 88



View Profile
« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2012, 07:21:48 PM »

You could ask Scott but I think he will tell you that there are no known marked Monson railroad lanterns.  If they had them the order was so small that it would be unlikely any survived.  There is always that remote possibility though.  They were probably unmarked.
For Maine NG, Here is what is known:  WW&F Ry (two versions of Dietz 39's), SRRR, SR&RL RR's, (Both similar dietz bellbottoms made after 1900; and also evidence of somthing earlier but only through photos) and verry strong evidence for two verieties of P&RRR.  (RRSL&L and A&W)  I've never heard of any others though there are photos of some in the back of F&MRR locamotive tenders, (Probably A&W's) but not sure who's lanterns those were since the unit was leased from the Sandy River.  Also, a famous B&HRR photo with a "shortie" vesta but I strongly suspect that was a railfan photo from the 1940's which opens up too many other possibilities to say anything about.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2012, 08:42:45 PM by Eric Larsen » Logged
Stewart "Start" Rhine
Museum Member
Trainmaster
*******
Posts: 2,634


View Profile
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2012, 08:42:27 PM »

Hi Skip,

     Welcome to the forum.  I've known Scott for years.  I see him at the Gaithersburg, MD railroadiana show every November and I always ask if he has seen any B&SR or Monson lanterns.  He's always said no.  I'll see him next weekend at the Big E train show and bring the subject up again. You never know ...

     As I noted in my earlier post, I think the Monson used Dietz #39 bell bottom lanterns prior to the purchase of the more fuel efficient Vesta models.  It makes sense but would be hard to to prove unless a lantern came from the Monson area or was linked to a family who worked for the railroad.  You have to wonder why they didn't at least try to I.D. some of their company property like lanterns and oil cans to keep things from going home with employees or quarry/mill workers.  It may have been that the line was so poor from the outset that they never did.  After all, there are very few items marked for the W&Q (which was short on cash) but quite a few things marked for the WW&F during the Carson Peck era.  The Monson never had a fellow like Peck "rescue" the line, just the slate operations take over.   I wonder if there was any marking work done by the crew in the slate shop.  They could have etched globes (like they marked some slate) or shop struck MRR on tools, etc.  There may be an example out there.    Just a guess.

Stewart  
« Last Edit: January 20, 2012, 09:33:27 PM by Stewart Rhine » Logged
Allan Fisher
Museum Member
Brakeman
***
Posts: 157


View Profile
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2012, 01:07:41 AM »

Another thing to consider is that the Monson never had more than 4 or 5 trainmen (the last 10 years probably only 3 or 4) at any one time, and so the Vesta order would have lasted until the railroad went out of business - I'll bet an unused Vesta may show up sometime in the future from a Monson garage or barn that could be attributed to the Monson - ah - but how would you prove it if they never were marked.
Logged

Allan Fisher
Win Nowell
Museum Member
Flagman
*
Posts: 34


View Profile
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2012, 08:08:13 AM »

The story that I heard on marked railroad items was that they were only marked if they were used in interchange service, like on cabooses where they might get mixed up. The Monson didn't have that kind of situation. Although a lot of tools show up marked.

Win Nowell
Logged
Eric Larsen
Museum Member
Switchman
**
Posts: 88



View Profile
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2012, 11:58:11 AM »

Who did the WW&F have interchange service with?  I have collected New England RR lanterns since I was in middle school.  (30 years)  There are many mysteries out there as to who had or did not have marked lanterns but interchange does not seem to be the factor.  The frugality, number of pieces in order, or even simply if the purchasing dept/ person forgot to mention it are all likely culprits.  Maine seems to be the N.E. state that had the least amount of it’s railroads mark their lanterns.  No Somerset lanterns have surfaced, nor  St.C&P RR, just to name a couple of larger and later independent lines.  Then there are the many smaller early lines as well.  New Hampshire and Mass. seem to be well represented however.
As Allan says above, new things bubble up all the time.  I've seen a few good ones recently that nobody ever thought they would see.  ....but if it isn't marked it will not matter what the story is to a collector.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2012, 01:14:41 PM by Eric Larsen » Logged
Ed Deere
Flagman
*
Posts: 47


View Profile
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2012, 05:30:20 PM »

   A little off topic but, switch lock and switch lock keys with the railroad initials show up often. I have learned that I would be leery about purchasing these and believing fully that they really did belonged to a line with the initials stamped into them. A lantern however with the raised lettering embossed, is really and truly going to have belonged to the railroad represented. And unmarked items always have a story that my great uncle worked on the such and such railroad and that this is the only known thing that is in existents from that line. “Just a buyer beware”, when you are purchasing historical railroad items. I guess all of us have had to learn the hard way one time or another.

Ed Deere
Logged
Stewart "Start" Rhine
Museum Member
Trainmaster
*******
Posts: 2,634


View Profile
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2012, 06:02:24 PM »

Some railroad brass hats had their lines tools marked so they wouldn't walk.  True, interchange may be a reason for some railroads but the Maine two footers (except for the Franklin County roads prior to the SR&RL merge) did not interchange cars with any other railroad so tools or lanterns staying on a car would not be a factor.  There were transfer yards on all the Maine two footers (although the K.C. interchanged with river traffic) so there was a possibility of loosing items to railroaders from other lines.  This probably didn't happen too often on most, especially the Monson where much freight was sent to the shed and then loaded into B&P/BAR cars.  

Regarding switch locks.  In the heyday of the larger lines, many had railroad brass/bronze locks with cast letters on the front dust cover or on the back.  Theses are fairly valuable today.  Shortlines couldn't afford cast locks so they often purchased a case of locks and had their own crew shop strike the letters, usually on the hasp so they wouldn't damage the inside workings of the lock.  Yes, locks can be faked so you have to know what brand of lock and the type of letters the railroad used. The key cut is another way. The surviving WW&F locks from the Carson Peck era are all made by the Slaymaker Company and have the same type of letters so you can confirm the lock's origin.   I have never seen a Monson switchlock so I doubt that they marked their locks.   Again ... maybe something will turn up someday.

Stewart        
« Last Edit: January 21, 2012, 06:14:46 PM by Stewart Rhine » Logged
Eric Larsen
Museum Member
Switchman
**
Posts: 88



View Profile
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2012, 10:35:42 PM »

Not to get too far off topic but locks are fine to collect as long as you pay attention and know what you are doing.  Keys can be harder but still good to collect.  Just have to be more careful.  Most locks and keys are stamped with the railroad initials by the manufacturer, not the shop.  Some are cast but most of those were for the larger lines - but not all.  Bohannan made many lock from about 1895-1910 that had a block style lettering cast into the back.  (Two distinct font variations)  I am wondering if these cast ones really cost that much more or if that was just the standard Bohannan lock for that time period.  ...Not sure but the B&MRR had them, as did the MCRR.  What is interesting though is that I have also seen a KCRR one and a Georges one as well, (both from Maine) which surely blows the short line theory about cast locks costing too much for short lines.  
As for the factory stamped ones, most early railroad locks from New England were stamped on the back raised pad with the railroad initials.  (Among early N.E. makers were Jones, Thomson, Wiliam Page, T. Slaight, Sherburn and Wm Bohannon.  Some of these may have just been the suppliers names and not the actual makers.)   By the mid 1880’s many RR initials were being stamped on the back of the shackle, but some were still on the back pad.  It depends on the maker and time period.  Getting back to Sherburn Co. Boston, Mass, - early ones were on the back pad and later were on the back of the shackle.  To throw a wrinkle into this, the newest and most un-typical Sherburn I have is a B&MRR car lock that has very modern style stamped railroad mark on the back pad.  This lock has a “pebble finish” and I have never seen another Sherburn that looks anything like it.  It is rite as rain but not particularly attractive as far as old locks go.  The good news is that I have never seen an unmarked Sherburn or Wiliam Page so if you find one it is probably legit.
New England RR lock collecting isn’t what it used to be but there are some really cool old ones out there.  Prices have come way down though.  IMO, most but not all lines had marked locks.  The Monson’s switches seem to have been mostly harp style. By looking at the photos, it does not appeare that they even used switch locks at all.  That tells me that they didn't have a big vandalism problem there.  Perhaps a clue about the need to pay extra to mark lanterns???  I wouldn't hold my breath on finding a marked one.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2012, 11:02:41 PM by Eric Larsen » Logged
Mike the Choochoo Nix
Museum Member
Switchman
**
Posts: 98



View Profile
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2012, 09:16:19 AM »

Sherburn was out of Boston and they were a general railroad suplier.  There are lots of early New England railroad locks, keys and back-up wistles that have thier name on them.  I have many of those lock and keys in my collection.  They don't seem to have sold much outside of New England.  Never seen a lock or key for a railroad that did not touch a  New England state.  I don't know if they made thier own hardware or if they just got to put thier name on stuff made by others.....probably the latter IMO.  
PS.  Sorry, no Monson locks or keys but the closest Sherburn I do have would be a Somerset Ry.

It was very common for hardware supply companies to have items marked with their name. I have seen this often with barn lanterns. Not a hardware company but, the most common case of this is the RAYO lantern. they were made by Deitz for the Standard Oil Company. Rayo was Standards Oils brand name for the lanterns their dealers sold.
Logged

Mike Nix
Pages: [1] 2 3
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2006-2008, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!