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Signals attached to signal-boxes

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Signals attached to signal-boxes

Unread postby Chris Osment » Thu Oct 15, 2015 3:39 pm

One of my contacts (for whatever reason) wishes to model a signal bracket, complete with doll and arm etc, actually attached to a signal-box. (NB: he is not talking about the early practice of signal posts sprouting out of the corner of box roofs.) Does anyone know of any examples of such an arrangement, and if so then know of a picture please? LMS/BR(LMR) preferred, but not essential.

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Re: Signals attached to signal-boxes

Unread postby davidwoodcock » Thu Oct 15, 2015 9:00 pm

Although my applied mathematics is just a trifle rusty, I suspect that generally this is a non-starter. Signal boxes are designed to take the static and dynamic forces associated with the lever-frame, the most important feature of which is that they are all internal to the box structure. Historically, railways had a lot of signal boxes and therefore they didn't spend money unnecessarily building boxes that were stronger than they had to be (or not until ARP considerations came into play in the latter half of the 1930s).

With a wood below the floor box, a signal could only possibly be attached to one of the main supporting posts, but that post wouldn't have been designed to take either the static, or more particularly the dynamic, bending moment that attaching an external signal bracket to it would have imposed. Counteracting those bending moments is the reason that bracket signal posts go a long way down into the ground - and then are often guyed as well.

A brick or stone built box, even to ARP standards, certainly wouldn't be up to the job. Signal brackets were sometimes attached to retaining walls, but not only are such walls surprisingly thick, they are usually bantered so that some of the vertical component of the bending moment would pass diagonally down through the wall, while the horizontal component would be pushing back, in effect against the soil that the wall is retaining.

The only possibility that I could envisage would be a small shunt signal, a c/l position light (or even a single aspect fixed red running signal) for example. I also reckon that a rotating shunt might be a possibility largely because the rotating action minimises dynamic effects and the iron castings used were much smaller than the signal itself which was largely a lamp case. Most semaphore, flap or disc shunts would have been too heavy - have you ever tried to pick up an SR-style Westinghouse shunt casting?

I can remember odd examples of signal boxes having small brackets attached, often at 45 degrees to the box, which bore oil lamps for illumination. IIRC there was one at Clatford on the Sprat and Winkle which will doubtless be familiar to you.
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Re: Signals attached to signal-boxes

Unread postby Pete2320 » Thu Oct 15, 2015 10:15 pm

Church Street in Middlesborough certainly had stop and distant running signals on a post attached to the box structure but this was an NER overhead gantry box and I have a feeling this occured with other similar boxes. As regards LMS boxes, the best I can come up with is one of the Inverness boxes which had a sizeable gantry attached. I don't think either of these is what is intended!

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Re: Signals attached to signal-boxes

Unread postby JRB » Thu Oct 15, 2015 10:23 pm

I'm wary of saying 'never' on signaling matters, but I have known none, even in Ireland where they tended to be economical. I have known several signals so close to the box that attaching them could have been tempting. It didn't happen.
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Re: Signals attached to signal-boxes

Unread postby beast66606 » Fri Oct 16, 2015 2:35 am

Better to be thought a fool than to type a response that confirms it.

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Re: Signals attached to signal-boxes

Unread postby Signalhunter » Sat Oct 17, 2015 6:15 am




Is it? I thought it looked more like an optical illusion. Difficult to be certain, given the angle(s).
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Re: Signals attached to signal-boxes

Unread postby RichardH » Sat Oct 17, 2015 7:57 am

I am surprised no one has mentioned Plate 5.11 in LNWR Signalling (Foster), which shows a short arm bracketed out from the corner post of the box at Dolau.
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Re: Signals attached to signal-boxes

Unread postby davidwoodcock » Sat Oct 17, 2015 8:23 am

RichardH wrote:I am surprised no one has mentioned Plate 5.11 in LNWR Signalling (Foster), which shows a short arm bracketed out from the corner post of the box at Dolau.


That is interesting but I suspect that Plate 5.11 doesn't tell the whole story. There is no way that the corner post of the upper works of the STF box is man enough to support the signal even with the bracket. Examination of the mode of construction of L&NWR bracket signals reveals that there were two horizontal beams which pass either side of the signal post, here the front horizontal clearly terminates in front of the box window but the rear horizontal must be in a plane beyond the side of the box; if that beam runs externally right across the side of the box and is bolted to both corner posts on that side of the box (or if there is a metal tie-rod doing the same task), that would just about provide sufficient support for the relatively small signal. The box upper works would still have had to be well bolted on to the stone base.

A photograph of that side of the box would no doubt reveal the answer.

Subsequent edit:

I have now found a (rather poor) photo of that side of the box which shows that the beam doesn't extend across the side of the box. The photo appears to suggest that the normal handrail in front of the windows on that side may have been beefed up with a steel frame extending down either side and along the bottom of the window frame, but that might be no more than phantom shadows, the photo just isn't clear enough to be certain. If not, there is almost certain to be non-standard reinforcement of the framing internally, possibly in steel plate or angle.
Last edited by davidwoodcock on Sat Oct 17, 2015 7:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Signals attached to signal-boxes

Unread postby John Hinson » Sat Oct 17, 2015 8:57 am

Signalhunter wrote:Is it? I thought it looked more like an optical illusion. Difficult to be certain, given the angle(s).

I asm inclined to agree. An S&T plan I have shows it as a separate structure.

That being said, I have certainly seen diagrams showing signals attached to boxes (finding one would be a needle/haystack job) but of course a plan won't tell whether it is physically part of the box or whether there is some internal structure.

If this is for a model, I think the feature would be best avoided unless there is prototypical evidence, and if so it would help to know the location.

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Re: Signals attached to signal-boxes

Unread postby Chris Osment » Sat Oct 17, 2015 9:24 am

John Hinson wrote:
Signalhunter wrote:
If this is for a model, I think the feature would be best avoided unless there is prototypical evidence, and if so it would help to know the location.

John


Thanks for the responses so far. AIUI the modeller concerned simply thought that it might be an "unusual feature" to have on his model (non-specific location), and so wondered if perhaps there had been any prototypes.
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Re: Signals attached to signal-boxes

Unread postby Stuart Johnson » Sat Oct 17, 2015 6:54 pm

The signal outside Chester No.4 box was definitely a separate structure. Plate 16 in "Chester to Holyhead Railway" by Anderson & Fox, taken from the up side, shows the whole bracket clearly.
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Re: Signals attached to signal-boxes

Unread postby John Webb » Sun Oct 18, 2015 6:22 pm

There is a picture, plate 65, in "A pictorial survey of London Midland Signalling" (Allen and Woolstenhomes, OPC, 1996) which shows the box and signal, but not quite at the right angle to see the separation. But it does show that the signal had two sets of twin staywires to the right-hand doll at the base and just below the upper arm.
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Re: Signals attached to signal-boxes

Unread postby scarpa » Sat Oct 24, 2015 3:27 pm

The ultimate installation with signals attached to a signalbox was King s Cross where a attached gantry system to the signalbox meant a high proportion of the 1932 colour light signals could be accessed from the signalbox in safety.They were certainly ahead of their time as regards H&S .This was brought tragically to the end when in the 50 s a steam hauled express rolled back from the Gas Works tunnel,the signalman seeing what was happening tried to divert the train into an empty platform .The points moved after the first coach of the trains bogie had passed over the points ,this caused the coach to derail and to collide with a gantry led bringing it down on to the coach killing two passengers.The station was closed for a few days.The gantry system was abolished I don t if this was carried out in one complete operation but the signals were replaced on several cantilevers B & C routes signals being one of them. The accident report can be accessed on the web.
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Re: Signals attached to signal-boxes

Unread postby Mike Hodgson » Sun Oct 25, 2015 8:13 pm

Colour lights do not have to withstand the same sort of forces that act when working a semaphore of course
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Re: Signals attached to signal-boxes

Unread postby StevieG » Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:03 am

From what I recall of older photos showing the gantry system, it carried a main+disc shunt signal (+ stencil route indicator, "M1") (Nos.63/64?) for departures from the 'arrival' side (platforms 1-5) and the inward & outward signals & RIs for at least 'A' - 'D' Routes (not sure about 'E'), but was a multi-angled self-supporting structure(s?) which benefitted from an additional walkway from one of its supporting columns which connected to the box's north end 'landing'.
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