Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Baldwin Cab Signal Gongs

From: William.Barbour@bnsf.com
Subject: Gong/Signal bell

Early in railroad development, a need to for the conductor to signal the engineer became apparent. A rope thru the cars to the locomotive cab tied to a noisemaker (bell, whistle etc) was relatively cheap and easy to rig up.

When Nevada Central brought the number 2 from Baldwin, it had a emergency trip bell (also called a gong in the catalogs). On the cab ceiling, near the center, is a flat, round wood plate, for mounting a signal bell. The signal bell was long gone from Emma before Ward had brought the engine. Ward did acquire a modern (1940’s modern) signal gong and mounted it in the appropriate place. Similar bells were used for a variety of industrial uses as well as locomotive and streetcar use. Very few Baldwin locomotive gongs have survived, Kyle Wyatt (CSRM Curator) mentioned to Dave Garcia & Brian Norden that apparently only a few in Finland are known to exist.

John LePrince acquired a rare 1870’s signal gong that may have been used on a locomotive, or possibly some industrial application. It is not from Baldwin, but the 1903 Dayton catalog in the Museum’s collection (another Kimball donation) shows several different gongs, for use in locomotives. John’s is very similar to one of these. The bell is a brass and silver alloy that produces a very rich sound. The gong Ward installed has a steel bell, is larger, and very plain. We are currently investigating if either of these bells were used on locomotives. A photo of John’s bell is included with this email.

John's 1870's emergency trip bell.
John's 1870's emergency trip bell.

Bell trip mechanism.
Bell trip mechanism.





Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: KyleWyatt@aol.com

A note on Baldwin loco cab signal gongs, as represented by the one in Finland.  The gong itself is cast in brass (or bronze or some such material), with lettering cast into the face identifying the manufacturer, and the patent date (in the mid 1850s, as I recall).  The ringing mechanism is all contained inside the gong, except for the actuating arm which projects out and is attached to the bell cord.
The bell in Finland looks very little like the one in the photo that Bill (Barbour) sent [see above] ... 
I did locate a patent that I believe is the one for the gong in Finland, issued to Henry Belfield of Philadelphia in 1859, patent #23639, above.  Both the name and the year seem to be what I remember.  This would be the bell used in the cabs of Baldwin (and other) locos in the mid 19th century – notably including V&T locos.

8/01/2006 1:34 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Randy Hees" hees@rcn.com

I did a quick patent search by current classification, (starting with the Belfield patent Kyle found.) Most other patents in the same classification (116/164) are for either door bells, burglar alarms, or servant call bells (don’t you love the 19th century), but several others also appear to be locomotive signal bells.

They are (starting with Kyle’s) (Inventor, date, patent no)

H Belfield, April 12, 1859, No. 23,639

Benckert, Oct 11, 1859, No. 25,714

Jos. Woodward, Nov 15, 1859, No. 26,137

Henry Foss, May 28, 1874, No. 127,333

All but the Foss patent are from Philadelphia inventors (home of Baldwin). It seems a bit strange that all three are issued within a 3 month period. I wonder if this is the beginning of signal bells on trains/locomotives, and if various Baldwin suppliers were all competing for the business.

—Randy Hees

8/01/2006 1:35 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Barbour, William D" William.Barbour@bnsf.com

Thanks for the comments and information on the cab bell. John LePrince has given his blessing to taking it with us to the V&T Symposium. John and Paul Harr have studied and collected all sorts of bells (whistles, headlights etc) over the last 30 to 40 years, they have provided most of what I know about this bell.

No markings on any part of the bell or base to indicate who made it, or what date it was made. John and Paul are fairly certain there is some silver content in the bell. From their past discussions with other collectors, the use of silver in bells for RR and commercial purposes was generally discontinued during the 1880's.

Attached [see above] is a view of the bell trip mechanism. The thread 1/4-24 for the cap nut was not unusual prior to 1900. Not much else to say, but hope to have further discussion at the V&T Symposium.


8/01/2006 7:04 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: KyleWyatt@aol.com

Thanks, Randy. In a quick sweep I had found the Woodward patent, but not the other two you listed. I note the Patent Office has accidently left off the drawing for the Woodward patent (and instead added at the end the patent drawing for the next patent).

I also note that these gongs could be (and I expect were) used for a number of other uses besides cab signal gongs.

Also scanning the related patent categories, I found a number of horsecar signal bells and gongs. Most appear to be more of the "ting-ting" bells for the conductor to signal the driver, but there were some things listed as gongs as well. I noted the following, but didn't do a thorough search:

Car Bell - Sweeney 1866 #60,083
Car Bell - Borrowman 1867 #63,843
Car Bell - Keppler 1877 #193,876
Car Bell - Hart & Geach 1883 #273,358
Car Bell - Williams 1886 #347,452

Car Gong - Finnell 1875 #161,109
Car Gong - Guilfoyle 1875 #169,356
Car Gong - Cottier & Matheny 1881 #245,060
Car Gong - Matheny 1882 #260,588
Car Gong - Brown 1882 #266,964
Car Gong - White 1883 #271,176
Car Gong - Stephenson 1886 #339,342
Car Gong - Brill 1887 #370,602


8/02/2006 9:57 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: kylewyatt@aol.com
Subject: Cab Signal Bell

Thanks to some help from friends (particularly Wendell Huffman), I now have the patent papers for the Baldwin cab signal bell that was used in the early 1870s 4-4-0s built for Finland, and I feel confident was used in most other Baldwin locos of the period, passenger and freight.

9/08/2006 1:17 PM  

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