JeffPo's Adlake Switchlamp Page
Last update: 03/22/16
This is a railroad switchlamp made by the Adlake company. This one is "skinny" compared to my other Dressel switchlamps. It has four 4 1/2" lenses, two blue and two red. The blue lens will shine a signal green color because of the yellow flame of the burner. I've added brass lens retainer rings from the Krise Depot to dress the lamp up a bit. Switchlamps were used to indicate the settings on railroad track switches. They were mounted to the switch mechanism and would rotate with the changing of the switch. An arriving locomotive would know the track setting based on the color the switchlamp was displaying. Switchlamps are quite a bit bigger and heavier than lanterns.
The fuel fount is large and round. The burner accommodates a Pyrex chimney. You gain access to it by flipping open the top of the lamp. These were made to burn kerosene.
Also, since this lamp is tall with a small base, it is somewhat top heavy and easy to tip over. It was designed to be mounted on a railroad track switch, not be sitting on a fireplace for decoration. As you can see in this image, I've made a hexagonal wooden base for the lamp to sit on to give it more stability. More details on its construction below.
Here's a timed exposure in a darkened room with the lamp lit. The glow of red and green lenses are quite beautiful. The blue lens shines a signal green, indicating that the switch is set to straight ahead. A red signal showing would indicate that the rail switch is set to the siding. Also, notice the clear glass peep hole in the center of the image. This was so the person maintaining the lamps could easily tell if the lamp was lit during the daylight. Since there are no railroad markings on this lamp that I can find, I have no way of knowing which railroad it was used on.
Several folks have asked me how I made my wooden base and attached the lamp. It's very simple. For the base, you can make your own shape, be it square, round, hexagonal, etc. Make it a little bit wider than the lamp for stability. I attached a small block of wood to the middle of the base via wood screws from underneath. The screws are countersunk so that they won't scratch anything the base is set on. The size of the block of wood is such that it's a loose fit inside of the mounting socket of the railroad lamp. The lamp is placed with its mounting socket over the block of wood and secured with a lag screw from the side, going through an existing hole of the mounting socket and into the block of wood. The width of the lag bolt needs to be just a tad smaller than the width of the hole. If the head of the lag bolt is smaller than the hole in the railroad lamp mounting socket you'll need to add a washer. While not necessary, I painted the head of the lag bolt the same color as the lamp so that it blends in.
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