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OCS Panel switch colours

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

OCS Panel switch colours

Unread postby Baffled boffin » Sat Nov 25, 2017 10:43 pm

Hello. I am trying to figure out what the different colour switches denote. I know Red is for signals and Black is for points, but I don't know what Lilac, Brown and Orange denote. There was only one Orange thumbswitch on the panel. It's a Westinghouse panel if that makes any difference. I would be obliged for any information.

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Re: OCS Panel switch colours

Unread postby Andrew G » Sun Nov 26, 2017 11:22 am

I can only help with the Magenta ones which I suppose might also be described as Lilac.

These were the equivalent of Automatic Buttons (A) buttons on NX panels. If the switch was set to the Auto position then the signal would in effect act as an Automatic Signal and step back up to a proceed aspect once the overlap of the signal in advance cleared.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/llangolle ... Jrr-TckSN4
Last edited by Andrew G on Mon Nov 27, 2017 10:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: OCS Panel switch colours

Unread postby Mad Mac » Sun Nov 26, 2017 3:24 pm

Semi-educated guess: would the “orange” be a miniature yellow?
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Re: OCS Panel switch colours

Unread postby Baffled boffin » Sun Nov 26, 2017 7:09 pm

Thanks for the replies. Yes, the Auto function makes sense as the plate is marked 'Down Fast'. I hope the old Wilmslow panel was saved, or bits from it. Sadly all swept away by Ansaldo. I understand there is an OCS panel at Crewe Heritage Centre preserved?
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Re: OCS Panel switch colours

Unread postby Mark Lamb » Sun Nov 26, 2017 10:03 pm

As far as I remember:
Black - point switches
Red - main signals
White - shunt signals
Lilac - Auto function (as Andrew G shows)
Brown - GF releases, or similar. They tended to be positioned in line with the point switches
Orange - special: e.g. bi-directional release, and I also think they may have been used for the over-ride, but I could be wrong. Did we have over-rides on OCS panels?

Let's hope someone else can add / correct this!


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Re: OCS Panel switch colours

Unread postby StevieG » Sun Nov 26, 2017 11:33 pm

Mark Lamb wrote: " As far as I remember: .... "
" .... White - shunt signals .... "
From vague recollection of visits to St. Pancras and York, 35 and more years ago, I believe that, in one or both of those boxes, white was used not only for ground shunt signals but also for at least some subsidiary routes from main signals.
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Re: OCS Panel switch colours

Unread postby kbarber » Mon Nov 27, 2017 10:13 am

Andrew G wrote:I can only help with the Magenta ones which I suppose might also be described as Lilac.

These were the equivalent of Automatic Buttons (A) buttons on NX panels. If the switch was set to the mid position then the signal would in effect act as an Automatic Signal and step back up to a proceed aspect once the overlap of the signal in advance cleared.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/llangolle ... Jrr-TckSN4

I would be surprised if the centre position were the auto function. The panel at Willesden New Line box had lilac switches and in that case the centre position was normal operation and turning to the fully reversed (pointing to the right) position was what engaged auto working. It also makes sense operationally, otherwise turning from normal to off for one train (or vice-versa) involves passing the switch through teh auto position, with the risk of setting up auto working for one movement.

Incidentally, during the one shift I spent learning in New Line, the signalman told me he'd been advised (no longer recall by who) that he should regard the operation of the auto switches as two separate movements - from normal to the centre position as the normal act of setting a route, then a further movement to put the signal into auto.
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Re: OCS Panel switch colours

Unread postby Andrew G » Mon Nov 27, 2017 10:44 am

kbarber wrote:
Andrew G wrote:I can only help with the Magenta ones which I suppose might also be described as Lilac.

These were the equivalent of Automatic Buttons (A) buttons on NX panels. If the switch was set to the mid position then the signal would in effect act as an Automatic Signal and step back up to a proceed aspect once the overlap of the signal in advance cleared.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/llangolle ... Jrr-TckSN4

I would be surprised if the centre position were the auto function. The panel at Willesden New Line box had lilac switches and in that case the centre position was normal operation and turning to the fully reversed (pointing to the right) position was what engaged auto working. It also makes sense operationally, otherwise turning from normal to off for one train (or vice-versa) involves passing the switch through teh auto position, with the risk of setting up auto working for one movement.

Incidentally, during the one shift I spent learning in New Line, the signalman told me he'd been advised (no longer recall by who) that he should regard the operation of the auto switches as two separate movements - from normal to the centre position as the normal act of setting a route, then a further movement to put the signal into auto.


That makes sense - I have edited the original post just to refer to the Auto position.
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Re: OCS Panel switch colours

Unread postby StevieG » Mon Nov 27, 2017 11:27 am

Andrew G wrote:I can only help with the Magenta ones which I suppose might also be described as Lilac.

These were the equivalent of Automatic Buttons (A) buttons on NX panels. If the switch was set to the Auto position then the signal would in effect act as an Automatic Signal and step back up to a proceed aspect once the overlap of the signal in advance cleared.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/llangolle ... Jrr-TckSN4
Looking at the detail in the linked-to Wilmslow photo; - a question :
42 signal appears to be indicated as 'Off' without any of the usual route switches reversed. Is it the case that the 'lilac'* Up and Down 'Auto' switches being in the vertical position means that auto-working is in operation ? - And further that their use thus negates any need for the relevant normal route switches to be reversed ?

[ * - Is the alternative description of 'magenta', mentioned in this thread, for these 'lilac' 'Auto' switches, generally recognised as such ? - My only previous understanding of 'magenta' in power signalling was its use in descriptions of the somewhat purplish-red of the track occupation indications in at least some Westinghouse OCS and NX panels of the late 1950s / early '60s. ]
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Re: OCS Panel switch colours

Unread postby Andrew G » Mon Nov 27, 2017 7:45 pm

I think the use of Magenta has come from me so if the consensus is Lilac then I will use that in future.

KB has commented that the Automatic Position was the far right position which would mean the vertical position was for conventional one use of the route.

The Lilac switches were Route Switches and you can see the third position in use at Sandbach for the route from 73 to the Up Main.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/llangolle ... GGb-TQUA1q
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Re: OCS Panel switch colours

Unread postby steve thompson » Mon Nov 27, 2017 11:05 pm

The TCs on the Wilmslow and Sandbach panels have blue and yellow on the down line and green and brown on the up, the other way round to the way I always thought they were. Was this then not always the case then.
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Re: OCS Panel switch colours

Unread postby kbarber » Tue Nov 28, 2017 9:24 am

StevieG wrote:
Andrew G wrote:I can only help with the Magenta ones which I suppose might also be described as Lilac.

These were the equivalent of Automatic Buttons (A) buttons on NX panels. If the switch was set to the Auto position then the signal would in effect act as an Automatic Signal and step back up to a proceed aspect once the overlap of the signal in advance cleared.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/llangolle ... Jrr-TckSN4
Looking at the detail in the linked-to Wilmslow photo; - a question :
42 signal appears to be indicated as 'Off' without any of the usual route switches reversed. Is it the case that the 'lilac'* Up and Down 'Auto' switches being in the vertical position means that auto-working is in operation ? - And further that their use thus negates any need for the relevant normal route switches to be reversed ?


I would say that is because the lilac switch marked 'Down Main' is the usual route switch, it's just that for a signal capable of being put into automatic working it's a three position switch, with the 'mid' position corresponding to route for one train only and the right-most position putting it into auto.
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Re: OCS Panel switch colours

Unread postby StevieG » Tue Nov 28, 2017 10:45 pm

kbarber wrote:
StevieG wrote:
Andrew G wrote:I can only help with the Magenta ones which I suppose might also be described as Lilac.

These were the equivalent of Automatic Buttons (A) buttons on NX panels. If the switch was set to the Auto position then the signal would in effect act as an Automatic Signal and step back up to a proceed aspect once the overlap of the signal in advance cleared.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/llangolle ... Jrr-TckSN4
Looking at the detail in the linked-to Wilmslow photo; - a question :
42 signal appears to be indicated as 'Off' without any of the usual route switches reversed. Is it the case that the 'lilac'* Up and Down 'Auto' switches being in the vertical position means that auto-working is in operation ? - And further that their use thus negates any need for the relevant normal route switches to be reversed ?


I would say that is because the lilac switch marked 'Down Main' is the usual route switch, it's just that for a signal capable of being put into automatic working it's a three position switch, with the 'mid' position corresponding to route for one train only and the right-most position putting it into auto.
That sounds plausible Keith; thanks.
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