Question - train end lanterns

NW Modeling List nw-modeling-list at
Fri Nov 20 04:57:30 EST 2015

On Western roads ( C&S DRGW RGS ) RED & GREEN lenses were used on cabins or 
pass cars ( end of train ).
They were very relevant in dark territory.
The rules and usage being as follows.

1 When travelling or stopped on plain ( single )  track the last car shall 
display a red light to the rear and a green light to the front
2 When stopped in the clear in a siding the colors are reversed i.e. Green 
to the rear and red to the front.
The purpose of this is twofold i) Engineer can tell that his rear end is 
tucked in and the road is set to the main line.
ii) A following or overtaking train seeing the green aspect on the caboose 
knows it is safe to pass that caboose ( its clear in the siding.  Seeing red 
tail lights has the overtaking train's Engineer reaching for the brake 
lever )

In signaled or radio territory the green or amber option is irrelevant, why 
it fell into disuse.
Red to the rear when moving or standing on the main is the default setting 
( Green yellow or amber offer no protection in this case )

For a while at the turn of the century ( 20th ) some western roads 
introduced a large single lantern housing on the cupola roof. The lantern 
could show either Red or Green to the front or back.   At this time the 
caboose still carried two marker lanterns and could therefore show three red 
lights to the rear or maybe Green over 2 Red  ( Clear under rule 281 )

The selection of colors on loco markers has significance in respect of extra 
sections under TO&TT working

John Pearson

From: "NW Modeling List" <nw-modeling-list at>
Sent: Thursday, November 19, 2015 3:18 AM
To: <nw-modeling-list at>
Subject: Question - train end lanterns

> I've got to take exception to a few things here.
> Train service crews didn't change any lenses.
> A marker lamp had one red lens and either two or three yellow lenses. 
> Green lenses were common on western roads but most eastern roads used 
> yellow.  The N&W was a red and yellow lens road with the body of the lamp 
> painted yellow.
> The bayonet mount on the bottom of the lamp was connected to a ring that 
> went around the bottom of the lamp.  The lamp body would turn within the 
> ring to allow the red lens to either be swung to the rear or away from the 
> side of the caboose as needed.
> I haven't figured out how to do the last step.  When the caboose was no 
> longer the end of a train the markers were removed and stored inside the 
> caboose.
> Stoney
> Rick Stone
> NWHS #0001
> you will be fine with red LED's.
> The actual rules get complicated with the circumstance as the lenses
> would get changed out to differrent colors depending on the
> circumstance, like if its on a siding stopped you may have red to the
> rear and yellow to the side, changing the colors out in HO would require
> multiple color LED's-multiple LEDs for each lense, or fibre optics.
> I am actually doing this on a steam engine marker lights using a 3 color
> LED. Takes using the Titan decoder (a function decoder can work)
> Sometimes the caboose might display 3 different colors, this would
> require 3 function decoders/3  3 color LED's progrtammed at differrent
> addresses to control. Maaaaybe a wee bit more than we want to get into,
> but be fun if you really could.
> If you have differrent lenses to mount, use a white LED, just for
> jollies, red to the rear-yellow to the side, mix it up a bit, if you
> don't want to go this far, clear lense and red LED works, whatever works.
> You cold websearch caboose marker light rules, might bring up answers.
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