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St Albans South - Works etc. in 2014

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St Albans South - Works etc. in 2014

Unread postby John Webb » Sun Jan 19, 2014 8:34 pm

The temporary shelter has had the valance added:
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On the 11th/12th of January we were open both days - on the Sunday morning as we were opening up, there was a rather nice frost on the lawn:
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The reason for opening was the annual Chiltern Model Railway Association's exhibition in central St Albans. For the third year running they gave us a space for a stand:
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For the first time we decided to man the stand as well as the box, and decided it was worthwhile - we handed out around 400 of our leaflets, spoke with dozens of people, and sold a number of our wagons and surplus books. The box had 220+ visitors, significantly up on the previous years figures.
The local Abbey Theatre had done a production of "The Railway Children" over Christmas. They came and took some publicity shots at the box and borrowed some props from us - hence the photos on the left of the display board. In return they allowed us to have our display boards in the theatre foyer.
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Re: St Albans South - Works etc. in 2014

Unread postby John Webb » Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:36 pm

Maintenance and improvement works carry on during our 'quiet' season , although even on February's open afternoon we had around 45 visitors.
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We've added a post with signal wire pulleys to lift the two runs from our LNWR ground frame above ground level to save wear on the wires and the flowerbed!

At the rear of the ground signal, the horizontal pulley has been cleaned of the earth which had washed in from the flowerbed, and bricks added to minimise soil movement in the future:
Image

Upstairs the rewiring in connection with making our simulator more robust continues:
Image
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Re: St Albans South - Works etc. in 2014

Unread postby John Webb » Fri Feb 28, 2014 4:11 pm

Remarkable discovery this week!
On our usual Wednesday afternoon working party this week we noticed a long package carefully wrapped and sealed in black bin bags laid up against our garden shed. On opening it we found:
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This appears to be a genuine diagram from the box dating, we assume, from possibly the 1972 station rebuild, but prior to the diagram which existed before the box's closure in 1979 and which we have carefully replicated. A close-up of the front panel:
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Only one original lampholder seems to have survived - the right-hand side of TC 426; the rest are missing. The up slow platform and adjacent siding have been amended.

On the reverse a number of LEDs have been fitted (several can also be seen in the picture above):
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The notice on the end of the interior reads "Donated to the St Albans Signal Box Preservation Trust. To be used or retained as desired by the Trust. (Anonymous donation) Feb 2014"

We are somewhat startled and perplexed by this unexpected donation, as one might expect! I and my fellow trustees would love to know something of the origins and history of the diagram, although we wish to respect the donor's desire for anonymity.
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Re: St Albans South - Works etc. in 2014

Unread postby John Hinson » Fri Feb 28, 2014 5:43 pm

Very familiar - worked a few shifts with that . . .

I think you will find that is the diagram that was in the box until closure, there are some extra holes drilled for track circuits that aren't on the diagram. The temporary fringe arrangements were probably on an overlay that has since been removed.

The frame doesn't look right to me - is this original? I'm pretty sure the original was black.

I wouldn't be inclined to ask too much about how the donor came to obtain it.

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Re: St Albans South - Works etc. in 2014

Unread postby John Webb » Fri Feb 28, 2014 7:19 pm

John Hinson wrote:Very familiar - worked a few shifts with that . . .

I think you will find that is the diagram that was in the box until closure, there are some extra holes drilled for track circuits that aren't on the diagram. The temporary fringe arrangements were probably on an overlay that has since been removed.

The frame doesn't look right to me - is this original? I'm pretty sure the original was black.

Thanks, John. A number of e-mails have been doing the rounds of the Trustees in the last 24 hours, and we were already coming to the conclusion this might well be the original. The frame is black, except at the front; I've not examined it in detail, but it certainly does not have on it the black angle edging (metal or plastic?) which is clearly visible in the photo you gave us a while ago showing Lesley on the levers.

John Hinson wrote:I wouldn't be inclined to ask too much about how the donor came to obtain it.
John

No, we don't want to go down that route - just wish to get confirmation it was the original diagram; your comments with first-hand knowledge may be what is needed, so thanks again.
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Re: St Albans South - Works etc. in 2014

Unread postby John Hinson » Fri Feb 28, 2014 8:27 pm

I think the diagram was first installed in 1970 when the North box was abolished, with neat alterations when the facing crossover in the slow lines was provided in 1973.

It looks to me as if it has been painstakingly cleaned - layovers usually leave a mess when removed - although top left seems to have suffered a bit as some text indicating distances of signals is missing. Restoration of this type of diagram is difficult but it looks fresher in the picture than when it was in the box!

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Re: St Albans South - Works etc. in 2014

Unread postby John Webb » Sat Mar 1, 2014 9:55 am

John Hinson wrote:I think the diagram was first installed in 1970 when the North box was abolished, with neat alterations when the facing crossover in the slow lines was provided in 1973......
John

Yes - the Up slow platform has been shortened to make room for the (unnumbered) fixed stop signal. I must admit I hadn't looked closely at the crossover 4, but will do so when I'm next at the box.

As you say, there is text missing top left; we wondered if this dates from when Harpenden to the north was being controlled by the new PSB at West Hampstead?

We're also wondering about the extra holes for TC lamps on the Up Slow and Fast lines on the left. Were these an official alteration (which would possibly tie in with the alteration mentioned above) or done at a later date?
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Re: St Albans South - Works etc. in 2014

Unread postby John Hinson » Sat Mar 1, 2014 3:38 pm

Yes, that's correct - the holes on the Up Fast and Slow are for TCB sections to indicate approaching trains. That whole end of the diagram would have been covered by an adhesive overlay showing the new arrangements.

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Re: St Albans South - Works etc. in 2014

Unread postby John Webb » Sat Mar 1, 2014 4:25 pm

Thanks again. We're moving to the conclusion that after some conservation work, such as the removal of the LEDs and their wiring, we shall put it on display upstairs, with an appropriate label.
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Re: St Albans South - Works etc. in 2014

Unread postby John Webb » Wed Jul 2, 2014 9:24 pm

Some while since I made any report - not from lack of work, but mostly because we've been working on maintenance as much as new stuff!

In the winter months, our 3-Aspect ground-mounted signal, worked from the box, was just visible, seen here in January:
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But growth of plants in the last three months rendered it invisible! So we've had to resite it. First attempt was at the top of the ramp leading down to the box, a couple of yards beyond the right-hand gatepost visible above, only a few yards from the original position:
Image.

But there were concerns it could become visible from the railway, and it was finally moved today to a new position on the lawn:
Image
With only grass in front, we shouldn't have any more sighting problems, neither is it visible from the railway.
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Re: St Albans South - Works etc. in 2014

Unread postby John Webb » Wed Jul 2, 2014 9:32 pm

In the last photo of the previous post, on the right by the hedge, is a new sign:
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We've no idea which reservoir is referred to, alas.

Donated by the Elstree and Borehamwood Museum, as they had no room in their new premises, was this old sign:
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Two of our members seen here cleaning it up:
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The corners are to be repaired and the sign repainted.
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Re: St Albans South - Works etc. in 2014

Unread postby John Webb » Mon Aug 18, 2014 4:13 pm

The Elstree Tunnel sign, seen in the previous post, now restored and erected near the ground floor entrance to the box:
Image

Our original MR Lamp post near the site entrance has been repainted, and our 'Tea Shelter' now sports paint inside and out - see post #1 above as it was soon after construction. Proved very useful on the 10th of August when we had a tremendous downpour for some ten minutes during the open afternoon!
Image

Another new item is the 'Level Crossing' gate and (oil-fired) lamp:
Image
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Re: St Albans South - Works etc. in 2014

Unread postby John Webb » Mon Aug 18, 2014 4:32 pm

The resited 'Signal 16' replica is now wired up and working:
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We also got an MR boundary post from Elstree and Borehamwood museum - as cleaned up and 'planted' in the garden:
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We've attended both the St Albans Steam Fair and a fete at Highfield Park in St Albans - part of the redeveloped Cell Barns mental hospital. This is our stand at Highfield:
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I've not included pictures here of the LED lights fitted to our ground discs as they are already on the Forum at http://forum.signalbox.org/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=3781&start=15.
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Re: St Albans South - Works etc. in 2014

Unread postby John Webb » Tue Oct 28, 2014 9:47 am

An update of the past couple of months starts here.
A new Gradient Post is planted:
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Nearby we have a concrete Mile Post, also recently acquired:
Image

And a new view of our 'Museum Room' on the ground floor where we have a lot more bits and pieces now on display:
Image
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Re: St Albans South - Works etc. in 2014

Unread postby John Webb » Tue Oct 28, 2014 9:54 am

Heritage Open days in September brought in over 600 people in two days.
One of the 'special attractions' was a live steam locomotive owned by one of our members and running in steam:
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Following the Heritage Open Days, work has continued on the new interface installation - seen here the new interface boards are tried out for a physical fit for the first time:
Image

With the nights drawing in, we were getting concerned at the lack of light at the bottom of the external stairs, but have realised one of our Tilley lamps, which is mounted on a railway style carrying frame, can easily be hooked over the fence near the bottom of the stairs to give extra light:
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Also on the fence are a signal lamp and a hand-lamp - these show people the difference in brightness the addition of simple optics (ie a lens) gives. The Shunt Limit sign is also lit by a paraffin burner, by the way.
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