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Discussion Starter #1
A question for the Lionel Prewar Tinplate history gurus ...

Locos like the 260, 261, 262 had boiler fronts with sockets for a pair of flags that mounted to the top.

Can anyone tell me:

What's the significance of the color of these flags? I've seen red, white, green. When/why where they flown, in various combinations?

When purchasing a loco new in the early 1930's, did Lionel include the flags with the loco, and if so, what color???

(Boiler front and flags look like image below.)

Thanks!!!

TJ
 

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Moderator Torpedo Emeritus
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TJ, I just sent an email to Bruce Greenberg, for another reason, and I included your question, to see if can come upwith a logical answer. If I get a response, you’ll be the second person to know.
 

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Well we have a strike out from Bruce Greenberg, for an answer. From a quick search, the flags were only used during daytime, and went to classification lights at night. The colors had to denote certain situations involved with RR Timetables. It will take some time to explain the use of what each color indicates.

After some digging, I came up with the following, as to the different color flags that were seen or used on real locomotives. The known colors were White, Green, Red, & Blue, and were used in conjunction with night time classification lighting. These were part of "Timetable & Train Orders".

White: This indicated that an extra "train" not shown on the timetable, was in line on the same track, such as a train that is running late.

Green: When a train was a regular scheduled one, a second, was following behind the first train. An example would be a passenger train that had too many passengers, would need a second train, or even a third train, and so on. Each train would fly the Green flag, with the exception of the last one, in that line.

Red: This is indicated the end of the train, and would be displayed on the rear of the train only.

Blue: Was used as a "Safety Signal", and the train was being worked on, in some manner, and the train was NOT to be moved, for any reason. Sometimes workers would have to work under the train, or between cars, etc., and the blue flag was to insure safety for the workers.

The stanchions for flags on the Lionel trains, came on the early Electrics, during the 1920's, until 1930. The 260 was introduced in 1930, with the other 261, & 262 issued in 1931.

Hope this is understandable, as to the use of the flags, & their color meanings.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Great info re: real-life flag usage, Jerry. Much appreciated.

Does anybody else know: Did Lionel include a set of flags with their 260, 261, 262 locos in the 1930's, and if so, what color?

Thanks!!!

TJ
 

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TJ, According Greenberg, some, but Not all, would have had flags included, and typically were “White”, if included. Per the info of the use of colors, the only logical colors would be White or Green. The other two colors were for special purposes. It took quite a bit of internet searching to get the explanation of the flag colors used in real life trains.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Excellent info, Jerry. MANY THANKS!!!

And with that, I'll be putting in an order of WHITE flags for my 262 from Jeff Kent (when I order the "coal" load for the tender, too)!

Cheers,

TJ
 

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I would think that of they made more then one color it would be random as to what you got like some of the colored jems in the side. I remember somewhere that it was just qhat the worker grabbed at the time. I would assume it qould be similar.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
SJM, perhaps. 1932 catalog shows green flags; 1932 catalog shows white flags. Not sure if that's what was actually included, but you raise an interesting thought.

Cheers,

TJ
 
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