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Author Topic: Locomotive headlights in1915  (Read 5999 times)

Trackside in Rural OK

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« Reply #15 on: May 12, 2009, 03:26:20 AM »

From A History of the American Locomotive
 By John H. White

I'd heard this before, in grade school I believe, as some of those facts you can file and forget.  I wasn't sure if it was true till today.


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God Bless Jimmie Rogers the Singing Brakeman
« Reply #16 on: May 12, 2009, 11:15:35 AM »

Interesting, the 4 lights I ordered for my Connie represent "Pyle-National", circa 1899. They were arc lights, so I will make sure they are "flamethrowers".  My thought is to focus the light to about 20 degrees with intensifiers I scrapped from an LED flashlight.

Have you tried looking directly at one of the latest LED flashlights?  From what I read, the arc lights were really blinding. I think too many years of welding on the ranch accounts for some of my current eye problems.

Hi Bob

Yes I have. Very bright. I have a ball cap from LL Bean that has four bright LEDs built into the visor. Great for walking the dog at night and watching out for "stuff".
I have seen LED ball caps and clip on devices with LEDs in them on ebay.

As a kid, I remember seeing carbon arc lamps at amusement parks. Extremely bright.

Jim Banner

Enjoying electric model railroading since 1950.

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« Reply #17 on: May 12, 2009, 11:36:39 AM »

After doing some more reading on the subject, I am now wondering if the headlight I was wondering about might be a combination of arc and incandescent bulb.  It seems that such headlights were made so that the engineer could turn off the arc while stopped in a station and still show a headlight.  Sort of an early rule 17 lighting.  The other possibility is that the headlight was constructed like a searchlight with a small reflector in front of the arc which reflected the arc back to the main mirror.  Apparently this doubled the intensity of the beam while eliminating side scatter.  What I see as a bulb may in fact be the back of a small reflector.

In modelling terms, this would suggest using a high efficiency white LED as a "flame thrower" but using a decoder with rule 17 lighting to operate it.

The de Laval type turbine was not a brand, just an alternate way of building turbines.  The usual turbine applied steam axially so it was easy to alternate moving vanes with stators in multi stage units.  The de Laval type applied the steam radially through a nozzle against the rim of a finned wheel, much like water flowing over a water wheel.  They were easy to manufacture but not as efficient as a multi stage axial turbine.


Growing older is mandatory but growing up is optional.
« Reply #18 on: May 12, 2009, 04:23:22 PM »

Hi Jim

Thanks fo telling me about the de Laval type turbine. I did some searching and found very interesting reading about the design.

 I did find a link the was a newspaper publication about the de Laval company setting up in the USA in 1901 for manufacturing all kinds of steam turbines.


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« Reply #19 on: May 13, 2009, 12:19:33 AM »

The DeLaval Co. also made stationary engines and milking machines.

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« Reply #20 on: May 13, 2009, 06:18:00 AM »

The headlights, generators, air compressors, check valves, injectors etc. were 'appliances' and not part of the basic locomotive, therefore specified by each railroad.  The use of similar appliances is what gives your loco's a 'family' look.
In the olden days, headlights were sometimes covered by sheet metal, as noted above, to protect the light.  The metal cover was removed at night.  It was simple to remove a non-electric headlight to protect it when it was not in use.  Remember, daytime headlight use was not popular until after WW2.
Steam locos did not carry ditch lights.  They originated in Canada in the 1970s.
CNE Runner

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« Reply #21 on: May 13, 2009, 05:12:25 PM »

De Laval's subsidiary was the De Laval Separator Company based in Poughkeepsie, NY. This company was eventually bought by a Swedish concern and closed. It is hard to find a Northeastern dairy farm that didn't have one or more pieces of equipment manufactured by De Laval.

Regarding early headlamps: these were extremely expensive appliances and were frequently moved from a sidelined locomotive to a new replacement engine. From my research into branchlines in the mid to late 1800s, I discovered there were dealers in new and used headlamps.

« Last Edit: May 13, 2009, 05:15:49 PM by CNE Runner » Logged

"Keeping my hand on the throttle...and my eyes on the rail"
Tom Lapointe

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« Reply #22 on: May 14, 2009, 10:19:18 PM »

Working 2nd shift, I frequently operate my garden railroad in the "wee hours" of the morning  Cheesy during the summer months; as such, I like my locos to have BRIGHT  Cool headlights!

I've added white LED headlights to my 2 Accucraft live-steam Shays when I converted them to RC operation (1 of my Bachmann 2-truck Shays has gotten them also); they really give the effect of an "arc-light" headlamp, especially when viewed head-on.   Shocked  (The Bachmann 45-ton diesel came factory-equipped with them & is similarly bright).  Smiley

Here's a little video I shot of my Accucraft 3-cylinder Shay running at night a few years ago: ; note the effect especially around 3:55 in the video (where you can see the headlights gleam on the rails), & the back-up light just before the end of the video where it shines directly towards the camcorder (I so far haven't bothered to make the lights directional, they're just both on if the RC system is on).  Wink

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