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BR930 history

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BR930 history

Unread postby Andrew Waugh » Sat May 20, 2017 11:58 pm

I'm doing a bit of research into the history of BR930 relays, and was wondering if anyone could help with references or knowledge.

I've got JP Coley's IRSE paper on 'Modern Designs of Signalling Relays' which covers the origin of the design.

For those interested in a brief precis of what I understand of the story so far...

Large plugin relays seem to have become popular in the '50s. If you've ever seen a photo of York relay room, you'll know why. Further miniaturisation was limited by (among other things) the requirements of BS1659. Reading between the lines, it would seem that not all signal engineers were convinced that departing from BS1659 was necessary, suggesting why the manufacturers were interested in getting an IRSE stamp on the work. Europe was showing that relays could be much smaller, promising a useful reduction in cost in large signalling scheme.

The IRSE put together a high powered committee in 1957 to look at miniaturisation of signalling equipment. The committee consisted of senior staff in the manufacturers and BR. By 1960 a subcomittee had come up with a specification, and the manufacturers had produced products. These were the Westinghouse Style P (PN1, PSR1, PSP1, PL2, PN1A, PPWR1, PWK1BA), the AEI-GRS Style A (AS, A1), and an unnamed SGE style (Coley clearly came from Westinghouse!).

A comparison of the spec for the IRSE base and that for the 'current' BR930 base shows that they are essentially identical (the BR930 base has an additional 3 registration pins - L, M, & N).

Sometime shortly thereafter (but when?) the BTC clearly used the IRSE specifications as the basis for BR930, possibly with changes. The discussion on Coley's paper mentions this 'was under consideration' in 1960. The IRSE Green Book says that the BR committee for this standard was formed in 1958 and, interestingly, doesn't mention the IRSE or manufacturers at all. Sometime after Coley's 1960 paper, Westinghouse moved to the Style Q relays. Were the two changes related? It was noted in the paper that the Westinghouse Style P and the AEI-GRS Style A had been designed before the IRSE specification was quite settled.

I'm still trying to track down when BR930 relays were introduced into Victoria. The North East CTC, commissioned in 1963, used BR930 relays in the local interlockings, and I believe they used Style Q. I have a Style Q with a manufacturing date of May 1964, so this marks an end date for the introduction of this type.

The characteristic of the Westinghouse Style P relays, incidentally, was that they had a vertical coil and armature, with the relay contacts wrapped around them. AEI-GRS & SGE used the common arrangement with a horizontal coil at the bottom of the relay and the relay contacts above. The Westinghouse Style Q copied the AEI-GRS & SGE arrangement, and suggests that there was some problem with the Style P arrangement. This might simply have been that the vertical arrangement was more complex to assemble/maintain and was consequently just that little bit more expensive.
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Re: BR930 history

Unread postby Bob Davies » Tue May 23, 2017 1:41 pm

This is not an area of special knowledge for me so I have little to contribute, but I am a little confused by the following remarks:
Andrew Waugh wrote:The IRSE put together a high powered committee in 1957 to look at miniaturisation of signalling equipment. The committee consisted of senior staff in the manufacturers and BR. By 1960 a subcomittee had come up with a specification, and the manufacturers had produced products. These were the Westinghouse Style P (PN1, PSR1, PSP1, PL2, PN1A, PPWR1, PWK1BA), the AEI-GRS Style A (AS, A1), and an unnamed SGE style (Coley clearly came from Westinghouse!).

A comparison of the spec for the IRSE base and that for the 'current' BR930 base shows that they are essentially identical (the BR930 base has an additional 3 registration pins - L, M, & N).

I read this as suggesting that the bases for Style P and BR930 relays are "essentially identical". This is most certainly not the case, the 'footprints' of the two types being wholly different and there is no question of getting a P-style relay to fit on a BR 930 base.

There was a discussion on this board some while ago on plug-in relays but it may have been on the old board and therefore now inaccessible.
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Re: BR930 history

Unread postby Andrew Waugh » Wed May 24, 2017 11:09 am

Bob Davies wrote:I read this as suggesting that the bases for Style P and BR930 relays are "essentially identical". This is most certainly not the case, the 'footprints' of the two types being wholly different and there is no question of getting a P-style relay to fit on a BR 930 base.


My understanding was that the Westinghouse P type relays were the ones I mentioned in my original post (Style PN1, PSR1, PSP1, PL2, PN1A, PPWR1, PWK1BA). Photos of all these relays are included in JP Coley's paper on the development of the IRSE miniature plug in relay as examples of products conforming to the IRSE specification.

This could easily be a misunderstanding on my part. The history of signalling relays is surprisingly poorly documented, and AFAIK, P type relays never made it to Australia.
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Re: BR930 history

Unread postby Signal-sighter » Thu May 25, 2017 10:25 pm

Just as an aside I once spoke with a former Royal Navy Engineering Officer turned signalling designer who told me that standard railway specification BR930 relays are used on the vital interlocking that is used to operate the Rolls Royce pressurised water reactors in Resolution and Vanguard class submarines. I believe they were also used as part of the train-bourne Indusi equipment on Tyne & Wear Metro units.
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Re: BR930 history

Unread postby Pete2320 » Tue Jun 6, 2017 1:31 pm

Signal-sighter wrote:Just as an aside I once spoke with a former Royal Navy Engineering Officer turned signalling designer who told me that standard railway specification BR930 relays are used on the vital interlocking that is used to operate the Rolls Royce pressurised water reactors in Resolution and Vanguard class submarines. I believe they were also used as part of the train-bourne Indusi equipment on Tyne & Wear Metro units.

That's not surprising as they are one of the highest specification relays available. Apparently one land based reactor was controlled by a Westinghouse Style V lever frame but I can't remember which power station.
This type of relay was also used on the train born auto driver equipment on the Victoria Line
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Re: BR930 history

Unread postby Andrew Waugh » Thu Jun 8, 2017 1:19 pm

I've been reading the relevant IRSE papers more carefully, and I think Coley (and Westinghouse) was being a bit cute in his paper.

Coley's paper is almost entirely about the development of the IRSE specification for the DC neutral relay. He illustrates the paper with photographs of the Westinghouse P type miniature relays. He includes a couple of photographs of the AEI-GRS Style A, and, at the very end, a couple of photographs of the SGE relay. He mentions in the paper that the Westinghouse and AEI-GRS relays were developed before the IRSE specification was finalised.

I assumed that the Westinghouse P type relays were conformant to the IRSE specification. (Otherwise why would Coley use the photographs to illustrate his paper?) But I now agree that this assumption was wrong. The only design in the paper conformant to the IRSE specification was the SGE relay. Perhaps it was not possible for Coley, a Westinghouse man, to illustrate his paper with illustrations of the product of a rival signalling firm.

Incidentally, a later paper confirms that the BR930 series of relay were simply a reissue of the IRSE specifications. The IRSE could not afford to fund the printing of the specifications, so BR agreed to do so. It was ruefully noted that this meant that everyone knew the relays as a BRB relay, and the IRSE's work was not acknowledged.
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