The above signal was seen at the Gaithersburg train show for many years, didn't
see it in 2013, so maybe the fellow finally sold it. It is
slightly different than the one below, sent to me by ADB. What follows
below is a discussion about the signals. I hate to pull the "when I was a
kid" routine, but when I was a kid back in the late 60's-early 70's, if I had
just known all the stuff I do now, I would have been burning up the tires on my
old 1970 VW Bug getting pictures of all of this stuff while it was still in
service.... especially in 1972 when my best friend and I went to Chicago for
EMD's 50th anniversary - all those semaphores!! :-( MANY Thanks again to
ADB for the pictures and information!!!
It is a PRR Block Limit Signal. They are unique to the PRR. Came into
use about 1920, when the PRR put in telephone lines along a lot of the branches
and closed many of the smaller Train Order Offices/Block Stations, and
established at such places an "Unattended Block Station" indicated by the
presence of these Block Limit Signals. The Rule Book required that the
yellow be displayed next to the track governed.
Under the PRR scheme of operation, non-signaled main tracks were operated by
Time Table/Train order authority, with a Manual Block System superimposed
thereon. In order to operate, a train needed both an authority (timetable
schedule, or a run extra train order,) and "the block." These Block Limit
Signals divided the railroad up into blocks. If a train running on such a
branch had no indication of the condition of the condition of block on the other
side of the BLS, the Conductor or Engineman went to the wayside telephone and
called the operator in the tower controlling the BLS, and obtained the condition
of the block ahead (occupied, permissive, or clear.) The rule required
that the operator could give one block verbally, but if a permission was given
to pass a BLS further down the track, that had to go in writing. So each
phone box was supplied with pads of "K Cards" on which to record permissions to
pass additional Block Limit Signals. At some later time, the illuminated
Block Limit Signal lamps were replaced with a piece of sheet metal painted red
on one side, and yellow on the other. This likely happened in Penn Central
days when (a) the old signal lamps were rusting out and (b) there was a need to
economize on materials and the manpower necessary to maintain things like this.
Your friend has a nice one. Most of them still surviving are badly rusted.
Mine came from Hanover, Pa, on the York, Hanover & Frederick Branch. I had
to have a tinsmith go over mine, to fix up the rust problems.
Your friend's BLS has the wrong glass on the yellow, but he shouldn't be worried
about that. The Standard Plans call for use of a "roundel," not a "lens,"
on the front of the "wings." But I'm sure that as glass became broken,
maintainers put in anything they could find, whether it was a roundel or a lens.
(Note: Roundels are uniform in thickness, even through they may be convex
- they are not designed to do refracting of the light rays. Lenses,
on the other hand, have either prisms or stepping [concentric Fresnel rings] to
refract the light rays.) The optical system of the BLS lamps called for
two clear "planocovex lenses" INSIDE the lamp and pointed toward the
wings, and roundels on the outside of the wings. There were also two
mirrors set at a 45 degree angle, to light the roundels in the "wings."
Without the mirrors, there will be no light displayed on the "wings."
In the photos of my BLS, below, you will be able to see the "lens" on the main
cylindrical body of the lamp, and the "roundel" on the wing. The first
picture below will show you what the roundel on the "wing" did to the appearance
of the light in the "wing" side... it made it appear to be deeply set back into
the signal, almost as if it were in a tunnel.
I was very fortunate to obtain my Block Limit Signal. In 1999, an old retired
railroad supervisor call me up and asked me if I wanted to make him an offer on
all the old railroad junk which had accumulated in his basement over the years,
and this lamp was in with all the other badly rusted junk. (Actually, the
old junk was unceremoniously piled in his former coal bin!) He had taken the
lamp down from the wooden post it was mounted on at Hanover, after Hurricane
Agnes shut down the line in 1972.
A bridge lantern off the Pierre and Marquette (according to the seller)
I love trains, and I love signals. I am not an expert. My webpages reflect what I find on the topic of the page. This is something I have fun with while
trying to help others.
Please Note: Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.
For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my
indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented
I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.
If this is a railfan page, every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this railfan guide is correct. Once in a while,
an error may creep in :-)
My philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a thousand words, especially for railfanning. Text descriptions only get you so far, especially if you get lost or
disoriented. Take along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still better if you get lost! I belong to AAA, which allows you to get
local maps for free when you visit the local branches. ADC puts out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their state maps do not have the
railroads on them. If you can find em, I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and concise graphics, and they do a really good job
of showing you where tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads. Other notes about specific areas will show up on that page if known.
Aerial shots were taken from either Google or Bing Maps as noted. Screen captures are made
with Snagit, a Techsmith product... a great tool if you have never used it!
By the way, floobydust is a term I picked up 30-40 years ago from a National Semiconductor data book, and means miscellaneous
and/or other stuff.
Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit
is always given! Please be NICE!!! Contact info is here
Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as being possibly being inaccurate, wrong, or not true.