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    • #10669

      Larry in Canada writes:

      After browsing through your association’s interesting website I thought I’d place an inquiry in the hope that one or more of your members might be able and willing to help me out. I recently purchased a bell plus a vertical cartridge ringer at a flea market (they were not assembled to each other). The seller bought them off a picker and regrettably, neither the seller nor the picker knows the background or the history of the bell. I’ve attached a copy of a digital photo and I’ve also listed the specs as follows:
      Weight 100 pounds
      Throat Diameter 16”
      Height 12”
      Stem Height 3”
      Stem Diameter 2.5”
      Stem Orifice Diameter 14/16” and the orifice is not threaded
      Stem is threaded externally and the stem can be rotated, but only by ¼ turn.
      Bell has been stamped on top twice with the number 42

      Vertical cartridge ringer is stamped PRIME MILW
      Moisture separator is stamped VILOCO BR113

      Even though the threaded end of the vertical cartridge ringer can be inserted thru the orifice in the stem, it does not protrude beyond the top of the stem; it just comes flush with the top of the stem.

      1) Is the bell a genuine locomotive bell?
      2) If it is a locomotive bell, is it from a steam locomotive?
      3) Would the bell be made of bronze?
      4) Does the number 42 on top of the bell signify the year of manufacture?
      5) Were vertical cartridge ringers ever used on steam locomotive bells?

      Any info that a member or members could provide would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance for your help.


      Who can help answer Larry’s questions?


      This inquiry was originally sent to the ABA’s Internet Coordinator. Responses are opinions of individuals based on their personal research and knowledge.

    • #13284

      This bell appears to be bronze rather than brass. It is the size of a railroad bell, but the band at the base would be atypical. It may be a ship bell rather than a railroad bell. Railroad bells were usually brass and did not have a pattern on the skirt. Ship bells are usually bronze as bronze tolerates sea water better than brass. Sorry that I cannot be more specific.
      Harry Long, MD

    • #13285


      Your bell appear to be off of the Pennsylvania RR. They had bells that looked like yours.

      Check out and the PRR websites and steam locomotive pictures. I am sure you will find a bell like yours on one of the steam locomotives.

      Merry Christmas!

    • #13286

      The air ringer is probably from a smaller 12″ diesel bell. The standard PRR locomotive bells are 16 1/4″ diameter and weigh about 80 lbs. You bell could be a ship or locomotive bell. Many locomotive bells have the engine number stamped into them when the railroads rebuilt the locomotives.

    • #13287

      Hello. Did you ever find anything conclusive about your bell? The bell seems too large and too heavy to be from a ship. You can test to see if it is bronze by using a dab of toilet bowl cleaner on a q-tip. Anywhere on the inside or outside if you are going to polish it. If the spot turns brass it is a brass bell. I think it will turn pink though. That means it is bronze. The ringer, like others have stated is from a smaller diesel bell. 42 is the number of the locomotive. I can probably find out which railroad it came from is you would like to know. I spend a lot of time researching locomotive hardware.

    • #13288

      Hello again!

      Question. Is the number stamped twice on the bell 4242 or 42 in two different spots. If it is 4242 that would be the locomotive number and with that you will be able to find out which locomotive and railroad it came from. Or I could help out. Let me know. I am pretty sure ships did not stamp there bells……….

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