JeffPo's Dressel Derail Lamp Page

Last update:  07/25/07


This is a Dressel Stainless lamp.  The lenses are red and amber and about 5" in diameter.  The plates, or targets, are about 10" in diameter.  The purpose of the targets is to allow the lamp to be used more effectively during the daylight hours.

As you can see in the preceding image, this lamp is powered by electricity rather than fuel oil and flame.  Welcome to modern times.  It has been rewired to use 110v household current.  In fact, a previous owner had wired it using the original connectors inside the lamp, so it wasn't very safe (open wires on the inside).  I rewired it directly to the power cord so there are no exposed wires.

Notice in the title of the webpage that I refer to this as a derail lamp.  I'm doing so because sometimes derail lamps used these combinations of colors.  In a regular regular switch lamp, the colors would be red and green (main line use), or green and amber (rail yard use).  A combination of red and amber would sometimes indicate its use in derailing operations.  A derail was a device placed on top of  the railroad track that would cause a railcar to derail.  Yes, that's right,  it would cause a railcar to come off of the track.  It was a safety measure to keep loose cars from getting onto another line and having a collision.  You wouldn't want a railcar from a siding just sitting on the mainline track when another locomotive comes barreling by!  The lamp was an indicator as to what position the derail device was in.  Red indicated that the derail device was on the track, and rail cars would derail if they passed that point.  Amber indicated that the derail device was not on the track, so railcars could safely pass through that point.

This lamp retired from railroad work many years ago and now lives a quiet, relaxed life as a nightlight for my son's room.


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