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.


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