Motor Car Lanterns

Motor cars are not just creatures of the daylight. Many a luckless signalman, track inspector or telegraph maintainer has been sent off into the darkness of night to find a problem down the line and fix it. Lighting the darkness on the railroad was an area that a number of lantern manufacturers leapt into.

Below is Fairmont's most popular hand lantern, made of aluminum. It runs on two 1.5V dry cell batteries. The switch is below the handle on top of the lantern. The round brass wheel at the back controlled the focus by moving the bulb forwards or backwards inside the lantern. The back of the lantern had a slot in the casting so it could be mounted on flat stock that was attached to the motor car. The Fairmont name was cast into the top with the part number, M8404. Fairmont lanterns can be found on ebay and sell for $50-150. You may see them very occasionally at train shows.


Larger size Fairmont lanterns used four batteries. Darren Doss took the pictures below of lanterns in his collection. The first one is part number 57700. Below it is the 1955 replacement for it, the Fairmont Super-Lite, part number 70761 :



Other Types of Lanterns

Batteries and Bulbs

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Last Edited 04 April, 2004