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Early McK&H frames on the NER

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

Early McK&H frames on the NER

Unread postby John Hinson » Mon Apr 2, 2018 8:01 am

Most people think of No16 and No17 pattern frames when you talk of McKenzie & Holland and the North Eastern Railway. That type was introduced around 1903, prior to which the NER had used a range of suppliers which included McK&H.

I was interested to discover in some recently-scanned slides that what appear to be earlier types McK&H of frame survived into recent times - such as Peckfield:
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Photo: N L Cadge/John Hinson collection 29/8/82.
Notice that here the frame has the multiple notches ostensibly once used for signal wire adjustment, not found on No16s to my knowledge. I also found a picture of a similar frame at Gristhorpe. I wouldn't be surprised there were many others dotted around - until studying pictures closely the difference isn't obvious.

Does anybody know what type of McK&H frame these frames are, or what type of locking was originally provided?

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Re: Early McK&H frames on the NER

Unread postby Andrew Waugh » Mon Apr 2, 2018 11:46 am

Dixon et al in their 'Guide to Mechanical Locking Frames' state that the three notches for signal levers is a distinguishing characteristic of the McK&H 1873 Patent frames.

The locking in this type of frame is 'indirect lever locking', with the locking being driven by cam plates, the transverse locking movement by shafts and soldiers, and the actual locking by large cast iron locks that engage studs on the levers.

The McKenzie & Holland Nos 5 & 6 (i.e. the 1873 patent frames) installed in Victoria between 1870 and 1910 all used floor plates with three reverse notches for signal levers.
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Re: Early McK&H frames on the NER

Unread postby John Hinson » Mon Apr 2, 2018 4:37 pm

Thanks. Seems these could be No4, 5, 5A, 6, 6A or 8 frames then, according to that publication.

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Re: Early McK&H frames on the NER

Unread postby Pete2320 » Fri Apr 6, 2018 11:16 am

Certainly older frames were reused (or retained) but all seem to have been converted to direct tappet locking. I get the impression that the Cam and Soldier frames were sufficiently different from later types to retain their original visible features. However with the later types, Tee Bar and Cam and Tappet, the parts were largely interchangeable with No16 frames (were No17 ever used by the North Eastern Railway, I have my doubts) and so are less likely to be recognised as such and mixed frames could be found. Cherry Tree had some No11 floorplates with the (one) intermediate notch filled in.
As regards Peckfield itself. According to the Signalbox atlas, the box dates from "u1873" with a twenty lever 6" 1873 pattern frame of 1907. I suspect the box was probably extended in 1907 (did Peckfield Colliery open then?) and the "new" frame provided. By closure this had been extended to twenty-two levers in connection with the abolition of Micklefield Junction box. It appears correct 1873 pattern parts were found for this job.

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Re: Early McK&H frames on the NER

Unread postby Pete2320 » Fri Apr 6, 2018 11:25 am

Further to the above, perhaps all is not what it seemed at Peckfield. All the floor plates have three notches whereas this would not be the case on a true 1873 pattern frame, point levers having only one. Also, all of the catch blocks seem to have "McKenzie and Holland, Worcester" cast on them, a feature that did not appear until the twentieth century.

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Re: Early McK&H frames on the NER

Unread postby John Hinson » Fri Apr 6, 2018 12:11 pm

Gristhorpe seems to match all the points you make too. No pun intended! There were no points at Gristhorpe but nevertheless every quadrant has the notches.

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Photo: N L Cadge 30/8/82.

Interesting that Peckfield is recorded as 6" as I did wonder about Gristhorpe being so from the photographs although sometimes hard to judge, especially if wide-angle lenses have been used.

Maybe the presence of notches on all levers depended on whether you included installation by McK&H in the contract or just had frames supplied without McK&H having any knowledge of the layout.

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Re: Early McK&H frames on the NER

Unread postby Danny252 » Fri Apr 6, 2018 1:00 pm

From my familiarity with the McK&H frame in Highley SB (SVR), I can't quite shake the feeling that the spacing/design of the multiple notches in your photos is slightly different. The photo of Leek Brook Jn on this site's McK&H page shows the design I'm familiar with, with each position followed by a sloped section then a "flat" section. Maybe it's a trick of the light or the photo lens, but the Peckfield photo looks almost as if it's simply a sawtooth pattern, and the spacing between the notches is reduced.

Was this one of the minor alterations made among the various types grouped under the "1873" designation?
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Re: Early McK&H frames on the NER

Unread postby Mackay » Sun Apr 22, 2018 10:24 am

Peckfield was inspected when new in August 1875 (MT 6/145/2) and was fitted with a Saxby rocker frame of 16 levers. In 1907 the Saxby frame was replaced by a "Second-hand McK&H 6 inch tappet" frame with 16 levers; presumably the layout and interlocking remained unchanged as there is no record of a BoT inspection. Gristhorpe originally had a McKenzie, Clunes & Holland dwarf frame of 10 levers (9 working) and a separate gate wheel (maybe a later addition; recorded in 1895). In November 1910 the dwarf frame was replaced by another "Second-hand 6 inch frame" of 17 levers plus integral gate wheel (No.1, so the levers themselves were 2-18). In this frame No.10 lever worked the siding points (on the down side, Scarboro side of the platforms), and No.13 was the trailing mains crossover. Chris Woolstenholmes' visit notes and measurement from August 1984 confirm the lever pitch.
"Second-hand" frames would have been made up in the York workshops from older equipment made redundant by line quadrupling and other major resignalling schemes in the early 1900s.
The NER did use No.17 pattern frames, the first was recorded at Hemingbrough in 1902. See Appendix 3 in the NER signalling history, pp280-81.
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Re: Early McK&H frames on the NER

Unread postby Pete2320 » Mon Apr 23, 2018 12:03 am

Interesting reference to Hemingbrough. Latterly it had a No16 frame which I understand was secondhand from Beverley Sidings ex L&Y box at Goole.I had always assumed the previous frame was No16 as in other boxes on that line including Howden where the 31 plus gate wheel frame was a very tight fit in the box despite the box being extended to accommodate that frame. Hemingbrough had also been 31 plus gate wheel before reframing.
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Re: Early McK&H frames on the NER

Unread postby Pete2320 » Tue Apr 24, 2018 2:37 pm

Pete2320 wrote: As regards Peckfield itself. According to the Signalbox atlas, the box dates from "u1873" with a twenty lever 6" 1873 pattern frame of 1907. I suspect the box was probably extended in 1907 (did Peckfield Colliery open then?) and the "new" frame provided. By closure this had been extended to twenty-two levers in connection with the abolition of Micklefield Junction box. It appears correct 1873 pattern parts were found for this job.

Pete

I had better correct myself for the sake of historical accuracy! The frame at Peckfield was not extended to 22 levers. The junction points were put on levers 19 and 20, as can actually be seen in John's picture. The down starting signals were numbered 21and 22 but were operated by switches.

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Re: Early McK&H frames on the NER

Unread postby Andrew Waugh » Tue Apr 24, 2018 11:12 pm

John Hinson wrote:Gristhorpe seems to match all the points you make too. No pun intended! There were no points at Gristhorpe but nevertheless every quadrant has the notches.

Maybe the presence of notches on all levers depended on whether you included installation by McK&H in the contract or just had frames supplied without McK&H having any knowledge of the layout.


One point I'd make is that point/lockbar levers are prevented from moving beyond the first notch in the 1873 pattern frames I'm familiar with. In other words, the lever travel for rod operated functions is fixed. (It would be impossible to correctly adjust the point or lockbar if the signalman could vary the travel at will.) This is achieved by a projection on the floorplate that prevents the lever from moving beyond the first notch when required.

In Victoria you can find frames with a mixture of 1/3 reverse notch floor plates, and all 3 reverse notch floor plates. Not all of these are 1873 pattern frames as we changed around 1910 to an inhouse cam and tappet frame, but the floor plates were all interchangable. I haven't investigated this in detail, but the frames with a mixture of floor plates are the older frames.

If you use both 1 and 3 reverse notches, you need to keep four different patterns of floor plate in stock. Instead, what they did locally was to have one floor plate with 3 reverse notches on both sides. It had a projection on each side which stopped the lever going beyond the first reverse notch. If it was a signal lever that was supposed to move beyond the first notch, you got a chisel and knocked off the projection.

I don't know whether this design change was originated by McKenzie & Holland, or by the local railway. But it does seem a fairly obvious design change, particularly if you are making up frames from second hand parts and are casting up new floorplates.
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Re: Early McK&H frames on the NER

Unread postby John Hinson » Wed Apr 25, 2018 12:09 am

Incidentally, in passing I found a box on the GE with every lever notched but through other distractions have forgotten where it was. One has to be careful passing judgement on the GE as large numbers were rebuilt at Leyton and re-used, sometimes using brand new quadrants which had no notches whereas others used old ones, sometimes in illogical places in the frame. But this was an original one in situ. If I remember where I will come back on this.

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