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Miniature Lever Frame operation

British signalling of the past (UK, excepting Northern Ireland)

Miniature Lever Frame operation

Unread postby Marsh Lane » Sat May 6, 2017 11:02 am

Hello all,
I hope I'm posting in the right place. I'm in the process of building an almost full-size miniature lever frame to control on O gauge model railway, but am seeking some advice on how the actual lever frames operated. Although it's based on a Westinghouse design, it is envisaged as being located with the LM region.

My queries, looking at something like the real boxes at Crewe or Manchester areas for example, are:-

A) did the lever frames have FPL levers, or was it all combined with point operation, giving just a black lever?
B) if a colour light signal had a theatre indicator, giving access to six routes (for example) would there have been six levers, or one to clear the signal, with the point detection and interlocking giving the theatre indicator. If the latter was the interlocking all electric?
C) behind the levers, would the signal indicators just have been red/green, regardless of whether the signal had a yellow/double yellow/green aspect, or would it have been three/four lights to show all aspects?
D) ive seen some panels like Crewe, where the point indicator lights show which levers are free/locked, while others show the point detection, normal/reversed. Was this manufacture/region specific or just down to the design at a particular location?

Any help, advice, suggestions would be gratefully appreciated.

Rich
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Re: Miniature Lever Frame operation

Unread postby marka » Sat May 6, 2017 8:18 pm

A) did the lever frames have FPL levers, or was it all combined with point operation, giving just a black lever?
No FPL' s usually as points were electrically motor operated and FPL was built into the point motor
B )Theatre Rout indicators, depended on the set-up, Midland usually only had one lever, with point detection sorting out the selection. On the southern they tended to have independent signal levers for each route
C) Boxes like Crewe tended to only have red/ green indication, it was the southern that predominately had the 3/4 aspects behind the levers
D) Crewe used 'F' free lights for the points, where as the southern tended to use the F lights for the signal levers.
most design features were down to the region specific design specifications

Tons more stuff here on Westinghouse lever frames http://www.wbsframe.mste.co.uk/public/index.htm

All the best Mark (website owner WBS frames) and joint owner of HCJ box a miniature lever Westinghouse installation
http://www.wbsframe.mste.co.uk/public/H ... ction.html
Regards
Mark Adlington
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Re: Miniature Lever Frame operation

Unread postby Marsh Lane » Sat May 6, 2017 8:35 pm

Mark,
Many thanks for taking the time to respond. Thats very useful. Am I correct in thinking then that in the case of (B) if there was only one lever, the interlocking would all have been electrical? I can see how mechanical interlocking could have worked with the Southern examples, but would have thought there are too many variances to make it viable for a Midland example - or am I on the wrong track? Excuse the pun!

I must also congratulate you on your website - I've spent many hours on that looking at various things for the frame I'm putting together. Really would have been lost without it! Well done. Your HCJ box is wonderful, you must be very proud! Is it publicly accessible on open days?

Rich
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Re: Miniature Lever Frame operation

Unread postby Fast Line Floyd » Sun May 7, 2017 6:24 pm

Marsh Lane wrote:Mark,
Many thanks for taking the time to respond. Thats very useful. Am I correct in thinking then that in the case of (B) if there was only one lever, the interlocking would all have been electrical? I can see how mechanical interlocking could have worked with the Southern examples, but would have thought there are too many variances to make it viable for a Midland example - or am I on the wrong track? Excuse the pun!

I must also congratulate you on your website - I've spent many hours on that looking at various things for the frame I'm putting together. Really would have been lost without it! Well done. Your HCJ box is wonderful, you must be very proud! Is it publicly accessible on open days?

Rich

The Westinghouse style L frames had no mechanical locking as such, just electrical circuits controlling solenoid locks on each lever, the older style frames such as the B and the K (along with London Underground's Style N and V) had miniature mechanical interlocking.

The Southern types sometimes did have a separate route lever which proved which way the points were set followed by just one lever to actually clear the signal (Portsmouth Harbour, Waterloo, Victoria Central) whilst the LM did indeed do the whole lot with just one lever but indicated the route set to the signalman before the signal lever is pulled to prevent mistakes.

HCJ that Mark mentions does neither, one lever operates each signal and there is no indication to the Signalman which route has been set until the signal clears, this is because the complexity of the layout, to have done it any other way (the Southern way for instance) would have required at least 19 more levers for the same layout taking the grand total to 113 working levers rather than the current 94). It would have been possible to have used the LM style of indication as there is space but Mark is an ex Southern Man and wanted the frame to have a Southern appearance.

The indications on the LM frames in Crewe for a signal is Red (On) and White (Off) with the points indicated just F (lever free) and White (points not in correspondence i.e. lever reverse points not detected reverse) The F light only lights when the levers are actually away from the Normal or Reverse positions and only then provided the interlocking is correct and the track circuits are clear. Liverpool Lime Street did have separate N and R indications on the points after it was found at Crewe that a points failure coupled with a lamp failure on the frame could be a pig to find.

The F lights on the Southern frames were lit provided that all track circuits in the route were clear and all points correctly set and detected. Again HCJ doesn't work in quite the same way although only the very knowledgeable would spot this.

Back in history the rather large Glasgow Central box with (I think) 365 levers in a style B frame did indeed have separate levers for the FPL's and I believe it was the only one although I stand to be corrected on this point as someone who knew the older style B frames at Newcastle may know different.
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Re: Miniature Lever Frame operation

Unread postby Marsh Lane » Mon May 8, 2017 8:45 am

Graham,
Many thanks, that is very helpful. What colour would the route lever have been in the Southern examples then? Also, if you know, you say LM gave an indication of the route set to the signalman before clearing the signal, was that through lights on the track diagram or was there some form of letter indication on the lever frame indicators?

I'm currently looking for suitable modern day solenoid locks, if anyone knows of any!

Rich
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Re: Miniature Lever Frame operation

Unread postby Mike Hodgson » Mon May 8, 2017 9:47 am

Fast Line Floyd wrote:The Westinghouse style L frames had no mechanical locking as such, just electrical circuits controlling solenoid locks on each lever, the older style frames such as the B and the K (along with London Underground's Style N and V) had miniature mechanical interlocking.

The Southern types sometimes did have a separate route lever which proved which way the points were set followed by just one lever to actually clear the signal (Portsmouth Harbour, Waterloo, Victoria Central) whilst the LM did indeed do the whole lot with just one lever but indicated the route set to the signalman before the signal lever is pulled to prevent mistakes.

HCJ that Mark mentions does neither, one lever operates each signal and there is no indication to the Signalman which route has been set until the signal clears, this is because the complexity of the layout, to have done it any other way (the Southern way for instance) would have required at least 19 more levers for the same layout taking the grand total to 113 working levers rather than the current 94). It would have been possible to have used the LM style of indication as there is space but Mark is an ex Southern Man and wanted the frame to have a Southern appearance.


I was hoping that Richard Pike would have seen this and commented, as it would be useful for you to study an actual set-up such as his Ely Dock or perhaps Mark's even bigger and more complex HCJ. I don't want to discourage you from attempting to replicate a miniature frame and I wish you every success, but Graham and Mark have only hinted at the potential degree of complexity in what you are attempting to do.

One issue that you need to fully appreciate if you want to go down this road is that with this type of locking and power-worked points you do not simply pull a point lever all the way over and then establish that the points have followed as you would in most model railways. You pull the lever part way and wait. The points move and you must then complete the lever stroke before you can do the same with signals. Tappets attached to point levers are locked in the Normal or Reverse position until the catch handle is squeezed. Assuming the points are free to move - established by circuits involving contacts on the other relevant levers in the case of an L frame - this action energises the solenoid unlocking the lever. You pull the lever most of the way over to a check position, which causes the point motor to do what you are asking of it, and this takes a distinctly noticeable delay of perhaps a couple of seconds. There are notches in the segment plate castings corresponding to these check positions (and other lever types have their own distinctive segments). The lock drops out again during the lever movement, preventing you from completing the lever stroke.

You can only pull the lever the rest of the way once the locking has detected that the point and its built-in FPL are in the corresponding position and locked there. Similarly when you put the lever back to Normal. So pulling a lever is effectively a two-stage process, and the signalman gets a positive feedback from the lever - if the points should jam he would know not only from illuminated indications but also from the feel of the lever as he is unable to complete the lever movement. You can also tell from the audible clanks and clunks of tappets, solenoids and relays if the equipment is working normally. This would be difficult to replicate without using a real frame or at least something very close to it. It is an excellent fail-safe design for a safety critical use, but many modellers would consider this complexity of design to be seriously "over the top" for a model railway.
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Re: Miniature Lever Frame operation

Unread postby Fast Line Floyd » Mon May 8, 2017 1:32 pm

Marsh Lane wrote:Graham,
Many thanks, that is very helpful. What colour would the route lever have been in the Southern examples then? Also, if you know, you say LM gave an indication of the route set to the signalman before clearing the signal, was that through lights on the track diagram or was there some form of letter indication on the lever frame indicators?

I'm currently looking for suitable modern day solenoid locks, if anyone knows of any!

Rich

Rich,

Good luck with the solenoids, I tried some from Maplins some time ago to use on a small part of the London Bridge K frame that I have, but they simply were not man enough for the job but they might be ok on a miniature (model) lever frame where little force can be exerted.

The route levers on the Southern boxes were coloured red. To see the route indications on an LM L frame look at the Crewe North and South Box entries on Mark's sight, you can see a number of these route indications above some of the signal indications on the indication panel in the photos.

Much more information about the complexities of these frames can be found in John Francis's excellent book 'The Style L Power Frame' ISBN 0 9514636 0 8, this book is a long way out of print but you may be able to obtain a copy somewhere (just looked there is one on the Amazon site now!).
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Re: Miniature Lever Frame operation

Unread postby Fast Line Floyd » Mon May 8, 2017 1:35 pm

Mike Hodgson wrote:
Fast Line Floyd wrote:The Westinghouse style L frames had no mechanical locking as such, just electrical circuits controlling solenoid locks on each lever, the older style frames such as the B and the K (along with London Underground's Style N and V) had miniature mechanical interlocking.

The Southern types sometimes did have a separate route lever which proved which way the points were set followed by just one lever to actually clear the signal (Portsmouth Harbour, Waterloo, Victoria Central) whilst the LM did indeed do the whole lot with just one lever but indicated the route set to the signalman before the signal lever is pulled to prevent mistakes.

HCJ that Mark mentions does neither, one lever operates each signal and there is no indication to the Signalman which route has been set until the signal clears, this is because the complexity of the layout, to have done it any other way (the Southern way for instance) would have required at least 19 more levers for the same layout taking the grand total to 113 working levers rather than the current 94). It would have been possible to have used the LM style of indication as there is space but Mark is an ex Southern Man and wanted the frame to have a Southern appearance.


I was hoping that Richard Pike would have seen this and commented, as it would be useful for you to study an actual set-up such as his Ely Dock or perhaps Mark's even bigger and more complex HCJ. I don't want to discourage you from attempting to replicate a miniature frame and I wish you every success, but Graham and Mark have only hinted at the potential degree of complexity in what you are attempting to do.

One issue that you need to fully appreciate if you want to go down this road is that with this type of locking and power-worked points you do not simply pull a point lever all the way over and then establish that the points have followed as you would in most model railways. You pull the lever part way and wait. The points move and you must then complete the lever stroke before you can do the same with signals. Tappets attached to point levers are locked in the Normal or Reverse position until the catch handle is squeezed. Assuming the points are free to move - established by circuits involving contacts on the other relevant levers in the case of an L frame - this action energises the solenoid unlocking the lever. You pull the lever most of the way over to a check position, which causes the point motor to do what you are asking of it, and this takes a distinctly noticeable delay of perhaps a couple of seconds. There are notches in the segment plate castings corresponding to these check positions (and other lever types have their own distinctive segments). The lock drops out again during the lever movement, preventing you from completing the lever stroke.

You can only pull the lever the rest of the way once the locking has detected that the point and its built-in FPL are in the corresponding position and locked there. Similarly when you put the lever back to Normal. So pulling a lever is effectively a two-stage process, and the signalman gets a positive feedback from the lever - if the points should jam he would know not only from illuminated indications but also from the feel of the lever as he is unable to complete the lever movement. You can also tell from the audible clanks and clunks of tappets, solenoids and relays if the equipment is working normally. This would be difficult to replicate without using a real frame or at least something very close to it. It is an excellent fail-safe design for a safety critical use, but many modellers would consider this complexity of design to be seriously "over the top" for a model railway.

Mike is absolutely right with the LM frames (except Euston, Bedford North and Northampton) but not on the Southern L frames where no check locking was provided on the point levers.
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Re: Miniature Lever Frame operation

Unread postby davidwoodcock » Mon May 8, 2017 3:15 pm

Fast Line Floyd wrote:Mike is absolutely right with the LM frames (except Euston, Bedford North and Northampton) but not on the Southern L frames where no check locking was provided on the point levers.


Thank you for that, Graham.

I couldn't remember any check locking on the point levers at Cannon Street and thought that it must have been my memory that was failing - glad to find that it wasn't. The regular signalmen could, and regularly did, pull or put back two levers together (with one hand) and I suspect that the frame was laid out to facilitate this. It was a trick I couldn't manage.
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Re: Miniature Lever Frame operation

Unread postby Fast Line Floyd » Mon May 8, 2017 4:09 pm

davidwoodcock wrote:
Fast Line Floyd wrote:Mike is absolutely right with the LM frames (except Euston, Bedford North and Northampton) but not on the Southern L frames where no check locking was provided on the point levers.


Thank you for that, Graham.

I couldn't remember any check locking on the point levers at Cannon Street and thought that it must have been my memory that was failing - glad to find that it wasn't. The regular signalmen could, and regularly did, pull or put back two levers together (with one hand) and I suspect that the frame was laid out to facilitate this. It was a trick I couldn't manage.

:D I can just about manage two levers with one hand.
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Re: Miniature Lever Frame operation

Unread postby Marsh Lane » Mon May 8, 2017 5:58 pm

Mark/Graham,
Thanks to both of you for the background info that is really useful. I knew about the 3/4 ('mid-way') pull, when pulling the lever forwards, but didn't realise the same happened when resetting to the normal position. The aim is to create something that is a realistic interpretation of a Westinghouse frame, but as Mark said, to recreate somethings which are a necessity in a safety-critical environment, on a model railway is sometimes taking things a bit too far!

I've managed to get the lever locks sorted using actuators, which will be tied into to the track circuits on the layout, but I will go back and look at the 1/4, 3/4 positions and see what options I can come up with for them! The biggest issue is how to sort the tappets and 'mid-way' detection points on each lever. The points themselves, will have detection on them, as do the signals. The whole frame is currently drawn in CAD, the next stage being to cut the steel for it - but I want to make sure everything is as good as I can get it before I go down that route, as any changes at this stage are easily dealt with in CAD!

Graham, thanks for the book reference too - I'd not seen or heard of that, but strangely Amazon no longer have a copy available ... can't think why!! hehe:) thanks for the tip. Its due to be delivered on Friday!

Rich
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Re: Miniature Lever Frame operation

Unread postby Fast Line Floyd » Mon May 8, 2017 8:24 pm

Marsh Lane wrote:Mark/Graham,
Thanks to both of you for the background info that is really useful. I knew about the 3/4 ('mid-way') pull, when pulling the lever forwards, but didn't realise the same happened when resetting to the normal position. The aim is to create something that is a realistic interpretation of a Westinghouse frame, but as Mark said, to recreate somethings which are a necessity in a safety-critical environment, on a model railway is sometimes taking things a bit too far!

I've managed to get the lever locks sorted using actuators, which will be tied into to the track circuits on the layout, but I will go back and look at the 1/4, 3/4 positions and see what options I can come up with for them! The biggest issue is how to sort the tappets and 'mid-way' detection points on each lever. The points themselves, will have detection on them, as do the signals. The whole frame is currently drawn in CAD, the next stage being to cut the steel for it - but I want to make sure everything is as good as I can get it before I go down that route, as any changes at this stage are easily dealt with in CAD!

Graham, thanks for the book reference too - I'd not seen or heard of that, but strangely Amazon no longer have a copy available ... can't think why!! hehe:) thanks for the tip. Its due to be delivered on Friday!

Rich

Enjoy the book, it is a truly great reference work, which will probably help tremendously, I am always willing to help with information as to how these frames were set up as I'm sure is Mark and others on this site.
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Re: Miniature Lever Frame operation

Unread postby Marsh Lane » Mon May 8, 2017 9:06 pm

Thanks Graham,
Really is appreciated. When I get a little further down the line (excuse the pun, although 'two taps' have been sent!!) I'll have to start a thread on the modelling section for this I think! Looks a fascinating book!

Rich
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Re: Miniature Lever Frame operation

Unread postby StevieG » Mon May 8, 2017 10:26 pm

FWIW Rich, and noting that you seem to be interested only in replicating a Westinghouse frame, just thought I'd mention, in case of passing interest, that in the 1932 232-lever Siemens frame at Kings Cross, which had at least some mechanical locking as well as electric locks, several main signals, seemingly for up to three routes (and separate signal heads for each route), had only one lever, with clearing depending on point detection, but others, apparently those with four or more routes [ (but not the single read-to-any-route one lever ground discs) and consisted of one head with a roller-blind route indicator, plus a lower disc as a subsidiary signal], also had red route levers, plus one signal lever to clear the main signal and another for the disc.

Incidentally, re Graham's info. on the Glasgow Central frame, AIUI, it had separate FPL levers originally operating traditional external FPLs (i.e. not integral within the point machine), which, as the layout was either not, or not completely, track-circuited, also had locking bars working with the FPLs.
BZOH

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Re: Miniature Lever Frame operation

Unread postby Marsh Lane » Tue May 9, 2017 8:27 pm

Hi StevieG,
Thanks for that. While I have some knowledge of these things, Im no where near an expert or even 'knowledgable'! So must admit I didn't know that Siemens did some miniature lever frames. Interesting that those had mechanical locking as well and that the method of operation varied between 1-3 routes and 4 or more.

All useful information, and gratefully acknowledged.

Cheers
Rich
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