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Artefact: Open Flame Inspection Lamp

One of the more interesting jobs around here is trying to explain to visitors what exactly this or that odd looking thing was for and how it worked. Sometimes the only way to find out is to fuel it up and try it, which is what we did with one such item recently.

In the photos below Mike Roberts is holding an open flame inspection lamp. These were used to illuminate the works of steam locomotives in pre electric light days when firing up or inspecting after dark. It has a cotton-waste filled container with a screw cap, an angled spout with the top cut off horizontally and a long handle. The spout is also filled with cotton waste and a little bit pokes out of the top like an oil lamp wick.
A wick is exactly what the cotton waste is. When the container is filled with kerosene it soaks up through the wick and can be lit at the end of the spout with a match.
The result is a smoky yellow flame about three inches long providing an effective light when held close to the object you wish to see in the dark. Clearly it is also a fire hazard and care must be taken.
In the second photo Mike is looking at the motion of our steam loco #3 in mini depot with the electric lights out. 

Posting and pictures by Michael Guy

Click on each image for a closer look!

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