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St Albans South - Works in 2016

Signalling on heritage railways

Re: St Albans South - Works in 2016

Unread postby John Webb » Fri Apr 8, 2016 9:18 pm

Downstairs we have three original bulkhead fittings. During March these were internally cleaned and the reflectors given a couple of sprays of white primer. We then replaced the compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), used from when the building was restored, with new 'filament' LED bulbs:
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We get more light with no warm-up time and something that looks a lot more in keeping than the CFLs.

Outside we did trial lit-ups of more of the LED Junction indicators:
Image
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Re: St Albans South - Works in 2016

Unread postby John Webb » Fri Apr 8, 2016 9:26 pm

Then we lit up the Position 1 LED and the Position 4 bulb JIs:
Image

We have also tried the 4-aspect LED signal - but I forgot to take my camera up that day!
Arrangements are now being made with a local steel supplier/fabricator to make us steel posts on which to mount some of the signals. I hope we'll have them working by the middle of the year.

Contrasting strongly with the box colours was this passing train of new Gatwick stock:
Image
A few more of our recently acquired signs are visible mounted on the fence.
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Re: St Albans South - Works in 2016

Unread postby John Webb » Thu May 19, 2016 7:31 pm

We were offered a donation of some used telegraph poles in April, provided we could provide a team to load them onto the donor's lorry at his premises and unload them at the box - pictures herewith:
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They've since been stripped of all fittings and tidied up into a bunch together to take up less room.

We were given two MR bench ends; these were grit-blasted and given good quality undercoats and topcoat, and with appropriate new wood now make a nice bench to sit on and watch the passing trains:
Image
Last edited by John Webb on Sat Jun 18, 2016 9:18 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: St Albans South - Works in 2016

Unread postby John Webb » Thu May 19, 2016 7:45 pm

Work continues on the LED signals. Early in May a local steel fabricator had made us a stout 'I' girder post with a flange on top; the bottom of the girder being buried in a large concrete base cast in situ. Once set, we then mounted the position 4/5 JIs on top:
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A little in front of the JIs' post we set up a home-made stand, being tried out here:
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This week we mounted our three and four aspect signals on their now fixed bases:
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But we'll need to keep the hedge trimmed back!
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Re: St Albans South - Works in 2016

Unread postby John Webb » Thu May 19, 2016 7:55 pm

A side view of the JIs and three-aspect:
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(Yes - we can still get the back of the three-aspect open enough to get the wiring in!)

Not neglected either was the LED GPL:
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This has been mounted away from the two main aspect signals and will not form part of the sequence that they will be running through. (Strictly speaking it is an 'eye-level' GPL, but it's easier for us to mount it at low level and tilt it upwards.)
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Re: St Albans South - Works in 2016

Unread postby John Webb » Fri Jun 17, 2016 7:53 pm

We've been looking for the duct under our entrance path to convey the supply to the LED signals and their controls:
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We found it just beneath our finial display. Note too the mounted Theatre display as well as the GPL.
Here's a view of the end of the duct:
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We could not at first get a drawtape through the duct - on opening up the other end we found that the duct run was more complex than we thought:
Image
As a result we will insert a new section of tube from where the ropes emerge on the left of centre into the base of the LOC on the right to allow us to draw in the power cable to supply the LED signals.
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Re: St Albans South - Works in 2016

Unread postby John Webb » Fri Jun 17, 2016 8:09 pm

Off site we were at the St Albans Steam Fair the weekend of the 4th/5th June, adjacent to our friends from the North London Society of Model Engineers who had their portable passenger carrying track in operation:
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Back on site, this week saw the first erection of one of the telegraph poles we recently acquired:
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We will be mounting a 'Yard Lamp' on this pole to light the stairs and adjacent area rather better than they are lit at the moment; particularly needed for evening visits later on in the year.
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Re: St Albans South - Works in 2016

Unread postby John Webb » Thu Jun 23, 2016 5:07 pm

This week saw three of us in (mostly) dry weather prefabricating the wiring for our LED signals. We're using flexible conduit. First view:
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Note the considerable growth in greenery since the picture two posts above!

View from the other end:
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The conduit runs will be buried in the flower bed with suitable protection from spades etc.

A relay board driven from a PIC will switch the 100v supply to the various signals. The picture following shows the box we're going to mount the control components in - weather-proof and lockable:
Image
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Re: St Albans South - Works in 2016

Unread postby John Webb » Wed Jun 29, 2016 9:52 pm

Work has continued on the LED signals, with one of my colleagues burying the conduit runs and setting up the box for the controls earlier in the week. That left two of us to wire up the three and four aspect heads, starting off in slightly damp weather. The 3-aspect:
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A close-up of the 4 aspect terminations:
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That was all we had time for, as we were called away to assist erecting pole number two near the lamp hut:
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This will support a light which will illuminate the area between the north end of the box and the lamp hut. This will help with clearing away things after Winter working parties or evening visits - in the latter case it will allow us to display items that would otherwise be difficult to see if the area was not lit.
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Re: St Albans South - Works in 2016

Unread postby John Webb » Wed Jul 6, 2016 9:56 pm

LED Signals Up and Running!

Today (6th July) saw the final connection of the LED signals donated to us in January. Here are some views.
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The 3 and 4-aspect signals during part of the 'straight-through' section of the sequence. The GPL is 'Off' and the Theatre display is lit - shows an 'R' - but hardly visible through the greenery! (The GPL and Theatre are not part of the main sequence and work independently of it.)

JI 4 lit:
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JI 5 lit:
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There is some fine-tuning to be done to the angles of tilt and view to give visitors a reasonable view.
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Re: St Albans South - Works in 2016

Unread postby John Webb » Wed Jul 6, 2016 10:20 pm

The LED signals are controlled from an 'in-house' designed sequencer.

The control box mounted with the flexible conduits connected up:
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The mounting woodwork (and the foam fill) are to be painted black to minimise their visual intrusion. The opportunity was also taken to erect a couple of weather-proof mains sockets as well - so if we need to run tools or other equipment we can do so without having a cable crossing the main entry/exit path.

The controls part-wired up this afternoon:
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The earths are terminated on an 8mm stud on the left; the incoming 100v is terminated on the usual 2BA stud-type terminals, the 'Neutral' connections to a pair of studs permanently linked on the right, the 'Phase' to the terminal on the left with the usual isolating link fitted.

The wiring complete and the system running:
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The relay board on the left is an 'Off the shelf' purchase, and holds 16 relays, although we currently use only 12. Each relay in use has been labelled with it's function, and a surface-mount LED indicates when any relay is energised. Top right is the 'PIC' which is programmed with the sequences we've set up. Below it is a 12V power supply fed with AC from the transformer below that.
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Re: St Albans South - Works in 2016

Unread postby John Webb » Mon Sep 12, 2016 8:58 am

Prior to the Heritage Open Days, we'd been paid a visit by members of the S&T crew at the Bluebell Railway. Here they are having a demo, with me giving it:
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(Thanks to fellow trustee Richard Kirk for taking the picture.)

We then paid a visit to Harpenden Methodist Church's "Railway Fun Day" aimed at the youngsters. This was the largest railway layout on show:
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These are battery-operated locos pulling short trains - no signals, but some points. Besides the trains there is a roadway and an 'aircraft' taking off and landing!
Last edited by John Webb on Thu Sep 15, 2016 9:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: St Albans South - Works in 2016

Unread postby John Webb » Thu Sep 15, 2016 9:09 pm

HERITAGE OPEN DAYS
After a couple of weeks of intensive preparations (including a repaint of the 1970s colour light signals) we opened in rainy weather on Saturday 10th. The weather kept numbers down, so we had 198 visitors. But on Sunday the sun shone all day and we had 364 through the gardens and box. So the final total was 562, only around 50 less than the average 600 or so for the last few years.
(Edited for correct figures 14/09)
Garden Scene on a very sunny Sunday:
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The Museum downstairs unusually clear:
Image
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Re: St Albans South - Works in 2016

Unread postby John Webb » Thu Nov 3, 2016 5:21 pm

Wild Life at the Box

No - not a party for swinging signallers! For the past month our Number 4 colour light signal, the one with a feather, had not been able to show a green aspect. Measurements had shown that while the controller was sending out the appropriate signal, it wasn't reaching the signal head. Only after the considerable growth of this year's greenery had been cut back was I able to access the duct containing the cables; this is what I found:
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Clearly a small creature with sharp teeth had been employing them on the wires we'd so thoughtfully supplied! Here is a close-up after the wires were removed from the duct:
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It was the severed white wire which normally fed the DR (Green) relay in the signal head, hence we were only showing a double yellow at best. We were fortunate not to get a short-circuit - the white, blue and red individual wires run either at 12V or OV, depending on the selected aspect at any time, and the blue of the twin-core cable is always at 0V.
Anyway, the wires are replaced and have been given extra protection against this particular failure. We are planning a refurbishment of this demonstration, including a complete rewire, along the lines of what we did for the LED signals installed earlier this year, which will further rodent-proof the wires!
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Re: St Albans South - Works in 2016

Unread postby John Webb » Fri Nov 18, 2016 8:38 pm

Our Midland Railway "Pole Route"

Earlier this year we started collecting telegraph poles in the hope of being able to set up a section of pole route from one end of the garden to the other, as a visual part of railway history, since most such routes have been replaced by cable runs. One of our members put us in contact with a Chas Carpenter, who had installed such routes at various places, including Sir William MacAlpine's garden railway at Fawley Hill. He has given us his assistance over the past couple of months - this involved fitting the arms to four posts at ground level, then taking them off while we helped getting the posts into the prepared holes. He then fitted the arms, populated them with insulators and again with assistance, laid out the wires.
This is a photo of him starting to fix the wires onto the insulators:
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A close-up of the pole before the work was completed - the bottom two wires are still to be fitted:
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This was taken from the signal platform seen in the first photo. The insulators are Midland Railway ones - designed by William Langdon, at one time Telegraph Superintendent of the MR and known as Langdon Corrugated.

The whole pole run, seen from the North end of the box garden:
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You will note that the end post has been stayed, as has the other end post. Two weights of wire have been used. Four of the wires are 150lb/mile, and the other four are 70lb/mile, if I have correctly understood the notes I was given!

From one of the posts two wires run to one corner of the box:
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These wires are on shackles patented by Brights at the post and on a variation of Langdon's insulator at the box.

So far we have no plans to actually use the wires, they are for the moment a visual display.
Last edited by John Webb on Fri Nov 18, 2016 9:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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