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Cabooses & marker lights

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Cabooses & marker lights
Posted by tstage on Saturday, April 4, 2020 9:30 PM

I'm going to ask a somewhat naive question: Were marker lights on the rear end of cabooses detachable vs fixed?

I was looking at photos of NYC cabooses this evening on Fallen Flags and on some .pdf files of old Central Headlight issues and noted that only a few had marker lights or discs on the rear.  The corner pillars of the caboose, however, did have what appeared to be a bracket, which I presume was originally used for hanging kerosene lanterns upon?

I was interested in adding working marker lights to one or two of my brass or plastic NYC cabooses but then noticed that few were actually outfitted with them.  It would make sense if they were detachable.  One photo even showed an NYC caboose with a disc on the left rear but no disc on the right rear.  That's when I deduced that perhaps signals might be detachable and only displayed in certain situations vs fixed and only illuminate when needed.

I appreciate your input and knowledge base.  Thanks for the help...

Tom

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Posted by BRAKIE on Saturday, April 4, 2020 9:51 PM

Tom,

Some roads had detachable markers so,they could be cleaned and serviced as needed while other roads have fixed electricial markers...

On some roads the flagman would hang the markers while on other roads that job was done by the rear brakeman...

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Posted by OT Dean on Sunday, April 5, 2020 12:23 AM

tstage

I'm going to ask a somewhat naive question: Were marker lights on the rear end of cabooses detachable vs fixed?

I was looking at photos of NYC cabooses this evening on Fallen Flags and on some .pdf files of old Central Headlight issues and noted that only a few had marker lights or discs on the rear.  The corner pillars of the caboose, however, did have what appeared to be a bracket, which I presume was originally used for hanging kerosene lanterns upon?

I was interested in adding working marker lights to one or two of my brass or plastic NYC cabooses but then noticed that few were actually outfitted with them.  It would make sense if they were detachable.  One photo even showed an NYC caboose with a disc on the left rear but no disc on the right rear.  That's when I deduced that perhaps signals might be detachable and only displayed in certain situations vs fixed and only illuminate when needed.

I appreciate your input and knowledge base.  Thanks for the help...

Tom

 

Others may have more or better information than I, but it's my understanding that marker lights were required for dark-time running.  They were usually removable, since they were ordinary kerosene lamps with colored lenses with circular brackets around them.  The brackets had flanged protrusions which were slid down into slotted sockets in plates fastened on each corner of the caboose carbody.  Depending on the road, the lenses could have red and green or red and yellow lenses so they'd show red to the rear on both rear corners.  The lamps could be rotated in the bracket hoops to change what aspect showed rearward.  Some roads required the markers on a train occupying a passing siding to be changed on the side toward the main to let engineers of overtaking trains know the train was in the clear.  This also let the engine crew know they were safe.  As Brakie said, it was usually the rear brakeman's job to fill the lamp reservoirs and hang them before a run.  In early days ("Steel Rails and Iron Men"--and wooden cabooses) some roads placed what they called "Deck Lights," special lamps with only single red and green lenses, atop the cupolas, either instead of or in addition to the regular marker lamps.  This one could be turned 180 degrees to show green to the rear and red to the front for the same purpose.  (My Mineral Point & Northern bobbers will have these.  [Thank you, Atlas O; I have four of them on the rip track, plus an AHM Platteville & Calamine bobber that will be without a cupola.])  For daytime running, some roads had metal paddles that fit into the lamp sockets and others even had flag sockets for red flags.

If you're following a specific prototype you could check to see what arrangement of lenses it used for the regular marker lamps.  If you're freelancing or "Proto-lancing," have fun!  (I lack any information about electric marker lights, since I've been having a ball for 60 years researching old-time railroading.)

Stay safe, friends.

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Posted by dehusman on Sunday, April 5, 2020 7:58 AM

Kerosene lamps were "removeable' so the lamp could be refilled and the lenses changed (some rules required different markers depending on whether the train was in the clear of the main or not).

Electrical markers tend to be more fixed, although some were removeable.  Battery operated markers tended to be removeable.  For example on the MP, in 1979, all the marker lights on all the cabooses were fixed electrical type.  However on the NYC, since the cabooses were built prior to the 1970's, the chances are higher they would have been kerosene and removeable.

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Posted by tstage on Sunday, April 5, 2020 9:41 AM

Brakie, Deano, and Dave -

Thank you for your input.  This is all great information.

I am modelling the NYC; hence why I was viewing photos of NYC cabooses on Fallen Flags and from certain .pdf issues of Central Headlight.  So it does appear that the NYC had removeable markers/paddles on the rear of their cabooses.

When did the electrical & battery-operated markers come onto use?  Was it a gradual transition, or was it mandated?

Thanks,

Tom

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Posted by tstage on Sunday, April 5, 2020 9:48 AM

Here is a photo of what I believe is a Big Four caboose with a center cupola (vs. offset cupola):

Would this be considered an electrical marker?

Tom

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Posted by doctorwayne on Sunday, April 5, 2020 10:15 AM

It looks like a kerosene lamp, Tom, and it's mounted on a bracket similar to the one seen on the near end of the car.

Here are some non-moveable electric ones...

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Posted by Erie1951 on Sunday, April 5, 2020 10:17 AM

tstage

Here is a photo of what I believe is a Big Four caboose with a center cupola (vs. offset cupola):

Would this be considered an electrical marker?

Tom

 

They look like standard kerosene markers to me. 

Russ

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Posted by tstage on Sunday, April 5, 2020 10:57 AM

Wayne & Russ - Thanks for verifying that.  That's what I was hoping was the case.

Tom

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Posted by dknelson on Sunday, April 5, 2020 11:57 AM

This discussion reminds me of operating sessions I used to attend at a Great Northern transition-era layout by a guy who was a stickler for prototype practices (and there was not a shred of scenery on the layout that I recall).

He had meticulously placed marker lamps on the rear of his GN cabooses.  But they were scale sized, not movable, and thus one of his demands when making up a train was that the caboose with the markers on the "wrong" end be sent to the turntable before being added to a train, whether it was a center cupola caboose or an end cupola caboose.  Since he couldn't swap the markers to the other end he had to reverse the car, in other words.  

There were some mock-heated discussions about this.  He had no good defense for putting a center cupola caboose on the turntable other than his desire to have the markers be at the rear of the train.  But he claimed the GN itself would send end-cupola cabooses to a wye or turntable so the cupola was always at the far end of the train, but guys delighted in finding old GN photos showing plenty of end-cupola cabooses where the cupola was closer to the train.  

The layout owner tolerated a certain amount of ribbing about turning the cabooses on the turntable.  But he would not tolerate that ribbing over his railroad telephone system.  That was for prototypical talk only, using prototypical vocabulary.  

OT - but that same guy insisted that every outbound "loaded" reefer had to go to the icing platform and you had to count off a certain number of minutes for each car.  

Also OT - every operating session began with at least a 30 minute lecture from the owner on prototype practices.

Model railroading is fun.

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Posted by DSO17 on Sunday, April 5, 2020 1:34 PM

tstage
When did the electrical & battery-operated markers come onto use? Was it a gradual transition, or was it mandated? Thanks, Tom

IIRC on the PRR and B&O it was around the late 1950s and early 1960s when the oil markers were giving way to battery markers and then maybe a little later they started going to premanently attached electric markers on some cabooses (cabin cars). Some Conrail cabooses were still using the portable battery markers even in the late 1970s.

I think it was fairly common that portable markers, oil or battery, were to be displayed unlit in daylight and lit at night, through tunnels and in times of reduced visibility, but a lot of crews would just leave them on all the time. Permanently attached markers were to be lit continuously day and night whenever markers were required.

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Posted by gmpullman on Sunday, April 5, 2020 2:21 PM

Good information here and I don't think I've seen it mentioned yet but the "Marker" plays another very improtant role in train rules.

 NYC_1937_9-26a by Edmund, on Flickr

 NYC_1937_9-26 by Edmund, on Flickr

That is, you do not have a "train" until the markers are displayed.

A Train is an engine or more than one engine coupled, with or without cars, displaying markers.

This was very important in pre-CTC days as the operator had to see the markers of the train before he could write "OS" on the train sheet.

The operator could not clear any further movements until he saw those markers and knew that the train was "complete". Possibly the crew cut the rear half off, possibly the train was doubling a hill or doing switching with the caboose cut off.

The operator could not report the train "by" without seeing those markers, weather it was a flag or disk by day (day-marker) or lamps by night.

When NYC began to take delivery of the steel bay-window cabooses which had electrical systems, the permanent Pyle markers became common. It wouldn't matter that there was another pair of markers at the front end of the caboose. The only ones that mattered were at the far end.

 

Regards, Ed

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Posted by tstage on Sunday, April 5, 2020 6:06 PM

Ed,

Thanks for the excerpt from the '37 NYCS rule book! YesStick out tongue  I now have a .pdf version of the entire book myself thanks to Terry Link's CASO website.  I will study it and may come back with more questions.

DSO17, I appreciate your input, as well - Thanks!

Tom

[Edit: I just picked up a '48 reprinted hardcopy of the said rule book in VG condition for $20.  A .pdf file is a handy thing.  However, sometimes leafing through the actual book is more rewarding.  I think it will be $20 well-invested. Big Smile]

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Posted by tstage on Monday, April 6, 2020 6:06 AM

Next question: Is the marker light in the earlier posted photo of the Big Four caboose considered a 4-way Adlake?

Do any manufacturer's produce a 4-way marker light in HO?  (I checked and Tomar only offers 3-way: G-G-R or Y-Y-R.)  Or, is my only option a 4-way brass marker with fixed jewels?

Or...I guess I can just leave them off and pretend.  Seems like that would be as difficult to model accurately as slipping drivers...

Tom

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Posted by dehusman on Monday, April 6, 2020 8:12 AM

By the 1956 NYC rule book, the marker rule had been simplified and changed to refect "modern" technology.

The different colors for things were greatly simplified.

Rule 19 :  The rear of a train will be identified by marker lamps, one on each side, displayed as follows:

By day, on cars not equipped with permanent electric marker lamps, marker lamps not lighted; on engines and cars equipped with permanent electric marker lamps, marker lamps lighted as at night.

By night, on engines and cars, marker lamps lighted showing red to the rear, except in manual block signal system territory, or non-block territory, marker lamps showing yellow to the rear when train or engine is clear of main track.

A trains not equipped to display the markers prescribed by this rule will display on rear of train; by day, a red flag; by night, a red light.

Note - Where the rear car is equipped with permanent built-in marker lights, such lights will be used in lieu of standard marker lamps.

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Posted by tstage on Monday, April 6, 2020 8:57 AM

Thanks, Dave.  I'm modeling early 40s-to-early 50s so it looks like I'm stuck in the "less simplified" world.

Tom

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Posted by doctorwayne on Monday, April 6, 2020 10:25 AM

tstage

Thanks, Dave.  I'm modeling early 40s-to-early 50s so it looks like I'm stuck in the "less simplified" world.

Tom

I need to build some cabooses for my freelanced roads, and plan to modify the brass marker lamps from Cal-Scale by removing the mounting lugs and replacing them with either a soldered-on wire or a short length of square brass bar-stock, which should allow me to move them to the proper end of the caboose, as necessary, and not leave gaping holes.

I have junction where many trains need to reverse direction - the locomotives are either cut-off and run to a nearby wye to get them headed in the right direction, or replaced entirely with a fresh set.
However, cutting off the caboose and taking it for turning is too time-consuming, so repositionable markers will allow a simple run-around move to place it on the rear of the train.

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Posted by maxman on Monday, April 6, 2020 10:59 AM

tstage
Do any manufacturer's produce a 4-way marker light in HO?

Is it really necessary to have the 4-way?  If you have toward the front, toward the rear, and toward the outside lighted, do you need to have toward the inboard lighted?

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Posted by tstage on Monday, April 6, 2020 11:53 AM

maxman,

I'm just trying to mimic what the NYC used and their marker lights were 4-way.  (See Ed's post and diagrams above from the '37 NYCS rule book.)  There were also different lighting aspects depending on where the caboose was located, how many tracks there were, and whether the train was heading with or against the "current of traffic".

I'm not going to go super geeky in regards to prototype accuracy but I'd like to get as close as possible, within reason.  It may suffice to just go with Cal-Scale brass marker lights and "pretend" they are lit.  Lighted markers would be pretty cool though.

Tom

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Posted by mvlandsw on Monday, April 6, 2020 9:31 PM

Four way markers were probably designed so they could be used on either side of the equipment.

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Posted by OldEngineman on Monday, April 6, 2020 9:50 PM

dknelson wrote: "Also OT - every operating session began with at least a 30 minute lecture from the owner on prototype practices."

If a guy like this had a job on the big trains, he'd be one of those trainmasters or road foreman hidin' in the bushes, waitin' for the smallest mistake you might make, so he could nab you and charge you with it..!

I'd visit this guy's house once. And that would be all...

On the subject of markers (on former NYC territory):

Most of the cabooses I remember had fixed single markers on either end (this is 1979 and after). Some of the old ones, the old New Haven cabooses, they might use a "portable" marker for. Or in the daylight... just a red flag.

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Posted by OT Dean on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 12:46 AM

Tom, I thought of something the other night and, as usual, it leaked out of my brain, to pop up as I read the last few replies Monday night.  Again I ask for others to add their knowledge to the rest of us.  As I said in my original reply, I picked up there of the dandy O scale bobbers and one of the AHM versions for my MP&N RR.  These are modified versions (the windows are a little bigger and the Atlas cars have brake rigging) of the Reading bobbers offered by Mantua/Tyco in HO and Thomas Industries in O, back in the early '50's.  The AHM model has something not seen on the Atlas versions, something I presume is a version of the cupola roof "deck lights" I mentioned.  There are oblong boxes with what I think are two lenses mounted side by side and what appears to be chimneys for oil lamps above them.  I think I've seen these in cabooses of the Late 19th and early 20th century Chicago Milwaukee & St Paul, predecessor to the Milwaukee Road, though other roads may have had them in that era too.  It's nitpicking, I know, but I wonder if they held two lamps or only one.  Does anyone know anything about them?

Enjoy your model railroading activities and stay safe, everybody.

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Posted by gmpullman on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 6:48 AM

OT Dean
There are oblong boxes with what I think are two lenses mounted side by side and what appears to be chimneys for oil lamps above them.  I think I've seen these in cabooses of the Late 19th and early 20th century Chicago Milwaukee & St Paul, predecessor to the Milwaukee Road, though other roads may have had them in that era too.

Hi,

I know the Nickel Plate Road used a system such as this for a number of years leading up to WWII.

 2006 photos 659 by Edmund, on Flickr

These "Train indicator lamps" were used in conjunction with marker lamps and flags.

Rather than speculate how they were used (it was explained to me once, which I've long forgotten the details) I'll see what I can dig up from references I have at hand.

There was another "box" centered on the cupola which was for placing another lamp (note the stack as you mentioned). The Nickel Plate used both green and yellow flags on the rear of their trains. 

 2006 photos 617 by Edmund, on Flickr

The Nickel Plate also outfitted many of their later cabooses with Mars signal lights or Gyralights.

 NKP_423 by Edmund, on Flickr

These did not take the place of markers but were used strictly for visibility.

I have at least one photo of an early New York Central caboose with the cupola-mounted "train-indicator" lamps also.

Good Luck, Ed

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Posted by BigJim on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 9:14 AM

maxman
Is it really necessary to have the 4-way?  If you have toward the front, toward the rear, and toward the outside lighted, do you need to have toward the inboard lighted?


Four way markers were probably designed so they could be used on either side of the equipment.

I am going to point you in the direction of one page in gmpullman's post above, then let you figure it out.

 

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Posted by doctorwayne on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 10:29 AM

tstage
I'm just trying to mimic what the NYC used and their marker lights were 4-way. (See Ed's post and diagrams above from the '37 NYCS rule book.) There were also different lighting aspects depending on where the caboose was located, how many tracks there were, and whether the train was heading with or against the "current of traffic".

The markers are four-way, because they can be rotated, as necessary, to display the proper aspect.

This Rivarossi observation car, serving as a private car for the railroad's brass, has four-way markers which could be rotated, as they're mounted on a wire, bent to an "L"-shape, with the upright portion fitted into the bottom of the lamp...

Unfortunately, I don't recall the manufacturer of the markers, but I eventually cemented them to the wires, as rotating them often caused a jewel or two to pop out, usually never to be seen again. 
I may have the same issue if I do the removeable markers which I mentioned earlier, but I'll likely give them a try anyway.

Wayne

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Posted by dehusman on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 11:09 AM

First question with the markers is:

Are you operating Rule 251 Double track, current of traffic operation (not single track, not two main track CTC)?  

If you aren't running Rule 251 double track then figs. 9, 10, 11 in the rules aren't applicable.  If you are running single track then only fig 7 & 8 apply to cabooses.

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Posted by tstage on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 2:43 PM

I noted that, Dave.  Right now I only have a single track but hope to have a double track at some future date.  I'm not sure yet what I will be doing in regards to signaling.

Tom

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Posted by mvlandsw on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 3:50 PM

OT Dean

Tom, I thought of something the other night and, as usual, it leaked out of my brain, to pop up as I read the last few replies Monday night.  Again I ask for others to add their knowledge to the rest of us.  As I said in my original reply, I picked up there of the dandy O scale bobbers and one of the AHM versions for my MP&N RR.  These are modified versions (the windows are a little bigger and the Atlas cars have brake rigging) of the Reading bobbers offered by Mantua/Tyco in HO and Thomas Industries in O, back in the early '50's.  The AHM model has something not seen on the Atlas versions, something I presume is a version of the cupola roof "deck lights" I mentioned.  There are oblong boxes with what I think are two lenses mounted side by side and what appears to be chimneys for oil lamps above them.  I think I've seen these in cabooses of the Late 19th and early 20th century Chicago Milwaukee & St Paul, predecessor to the Milwaukee Road, though other roads may have had them in that era too.  It's nitpicking, I know, but I wonder if they held two lamps or only one.  Does anyone know anything about them?

Enjoy your model railroading activities and stay safe, everybody.

Deano  

 

These markers used one lamp. The lamp was placed on a shelf behind the color lense that you wanted to display.

Mark

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Posted by OT Dean on Wednesday, April 8, 2020 1:00 AM

mvlandsw
These markers used one lamp. The lamp was placed on a shelf behind the color lense that you wanted to display. Mark

Thanks, Mark, I should've known they'd go for the simplest solution.  I think they were used to indicate the train on a passing siding was in the clear.  I still like the lowly 2-lense lamp on the cupola roof, and I think I'll now see if I can find lost-wax castings for my three MP&N bobbers.  So much modeling to do, so little time to do it all...  Stay safe, everybody!

Deano

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Posted by dehusman on Wednesday, April 8, 2020 8:11 AM

Also the marker lights would only come into play if you were operating at night.  During the day, they would be off/unlit.

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