JeffPo's Adlake Reflex Switch Lamp Page

Last update:  09/18/07


This is a switch lamp made by the Adlake company (i.e. Adams & Westlake).  The purpose of the switch lamp was to let the train engineer know which way a particular railroad switch was set.  It could be set to be straight ahead, along the railroad line that was being traveled, or it could be set to a railroad siding line.

A green signal indicated the railroad switch was set to straight ahead.

A red signal indicated that the railroad switch was set to the turn off onto the siding.

This lamp does not rely on kerosene and flame, or electrical power.  The lenses are doublet reflecting lenses.  The outer surface is covered with smooth “bubbles”.

The rear of the lenses are coated with a silver lining.  I had thought about installing an electrical bulb inside the lamp to make it glow but the coating makes the lenses opaque.  While the diameter of the lens is the standard 5 3/8", the thickness of the lens is about 1/2".  This means that the coupling rings are wider than those on a normal switch lamp.

The lamp “shines” by means of reflecting back the light from the locomotive.  Just like reflectors on bicycles, or those to mark driveways, the effect is very pronounced.  The flash of the camera is what is causing the lenses to "light" up.

The lenses seem to glow with their appropriate colors.  Sometimes these lamps were equipped with day targets so they could be used during daytime operations.

I’ve acquired electric switch lamps to use as night lights, but I still prefer lamps and lanterns that use fuel oil and flame.  This reflex lens lamp was purchased mostly based on my curiosity of how they worked.

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