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St Albans South Box - works and occurrences in 2017

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St Albans South Box - works and occurrences in 2017

Unread postby John Webb » Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:34 am

This year got off to a good start on the 8th of January open afternoon, with 66 visitors, about double what we would normally expect to get. Our President got a 30sec slot to promote us on Three Counties Radio on Saturday morning, and it seems to have been a major contributor to the good numbers on the Sunday.

Last weekend we were at the Chiltern Model Railway Association's annual show, resited to Stevenage rather than being in St Albans, with a larger stand in one of the two exhibition halls. Sales income was over £300, and many leaflets were given out. We did not attempt any opening of the box during the weekend!
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Re: St Albans South Box - works and occurrences in 2017

Unread postby John Webb » Mon Feb 13, 2017 10:58 am

Well, we didn't win any HRA Award on Saturday, as expected we were up against some big projects and lost out.

Our open afternoon yesterday saw, despite very poor weather at the start, some 61 visitors to the box, and that was without a plug on Three Counties Radio as well!
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Re: St Albans South Box - works and occurrences in 2017

Unread postby John Webb » Fri Mar 3, 2017 3:22 pm

Storm Doris did not leave us unscathed last weekend. On Tuesday morning as we assembled to show a party of former railwaymen round the box, we realised that our one wooden arm, on the MR signal at the North end of the garden, had broken off. This arm had been constructed by ourselves a few years ago from 3-ply timber, as the genuine MR arm we had was considered too fragile to be displayed out of doors on a working signal.
Wednesday's working party saw the construction of a new arm in substantially thicker timber, seen here in its first undercoat, together with the broken arm:
Image

A look at the broken section showed that the wood must have been cracked for some time, as only one of the three plys shows the clean surface of the recent break:
Image

I mentioned late last year about the wild life damage to wiring in one of our wooden cable ducts. I was checking out another length of ducting recently, following further cutting-back of old greenery, and found this:
Image
At least the wiring had not been nibbled - it is rather larger than in the other duct; and hopefully there are fewer snails on site to nibble the greenery!

Another bit of good news - the work done on the box roof finials last year was successful - despite the heavy rain during 'Doris' and before then has shown that we have cured the leaks into the 1st floor of the box.
Last edited by John Webb on Fri Mar 3, 2017 3:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: St Albans South Box - works and occurrences in 2017

Unread postby John Webb » Fri Mar 3, 2017 3:31 pm

A couple of years ago we were given a quantity of odd bits and pieces, including a two aspect signal:
Image
We thought at the time it was not a railway signal, and recent work has shown it was a traffic signal; internal circuitry suggests it was used with a similar unit to control traffic flow through a narrow gateway or other access point. We've decided to use it as a platform 'starter' signal, however, in conjunction with the 'CD/RA' and 'OFF' indicators we were given last year to demonstrate the dispatch of modern trains.
It was in rather poor condition and has been dismantled and carefully cleaned up, as seen here:
Image

It now has to be reassembled and the method of mounting it and the 'CD/RA' together sorted out in detail.
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Re: St Albans South Box - works and occurrences in 2017

Unread postby davidwoodcock » Fri Mar 3, 2017 8:38 pm

I think it most likely that that two-aspect signal originates from industrial usage - through a constriction point, or tunnel, as you suggest - and that industrial usage may have been rail or road or, indeed, both.
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Re: St Albans South Box - works and occurrences in 2017

Unread postby John Hinson » Sat Mar 4, 2017 2:53 am

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Re: St Albans South Box - works and occurrences in 2017

Unread postby John Webb » Sat Mar 4, 2017 10:29 am

We do have the hoods - but it was rather easier to work on the units with those taken off, of course. The rubber seals are rather weathered, and I may replace them with closed-cell EDPM seals or similar modern material. The original bulbs were small 12v halogen ones - markings unreadable as to wattage - with reflectors. I intend using LED lamps of the type we already use in our signals in the garden.
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Re: St Albans South Box - works and occurrences in 2017

Unread postby Sharpey » Sun Mar 5, 2017 9:21 pm

If these came with some signalling stuff that makes some sense. For many years (certainly on the Midland Line) Signalling Techs faulted and maintained the parking barriers at stations.
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Re: St Albans South Box - works and occurrences in 2017

Unread postby John Webb » Mon Apr 3, 2017 9:12 pm

The Mayor of St Albans Recognition Award
The box won its third major award last week. We had been invited to send eight representatives to the Mayor's Annual Awards Dinner, held on the 28th of March. We were not told why we'd been asked to go, and when we got to the dinner, held in the St Michael's Manor hotel in St Albans, there was no mention of us on the evening's programme! The general scene:
Image
(Several box representatives are on the right of the photo.)

Eight other people or groups received their awards, chosen by a committee, before, at the end of the evening, we were called forward. We then found that the Mayor makes their own special award separately from the committee - here is the certificate we were given:
Image
It transpired from the Mayor's presentation speech that she had fond memories of her youth watching trains on the WR line by her village in Warwickshire, and as a consequence had visited our box on a number of occasions with her grandchildren.

There was also an engraved glass trophy for us to display:
Image

Following the presentation, our Chairman in his acceptance speech was able to give our Open Days on the 1st/2nd April considerable publicity! And afterwards he was interviewed by Radio Verulam, who also sent someone along on the Sunday Open Day to record what was going on.
Last edited by John Webb on Mon Apr 3, 2017 9:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: St Albans South Box - works and occurrences in 2017

Unread postby John Webb » Mon Apr 3, 2017 9:41 pm

From the elation of the above award, back to the more prosaic. Replacing the signal arm broken by Storm Doris:
Image

And refixing the repeater switch to the back of the arm:
Image

'The Big Weekend' - English Tourism Week event 1st/2nd April. We had extended opening 10am-5pm on both days. We were concerned at the seeming lack of publicity in the local press, and the attendance of only 117 people on the Saturday seemed to confirm our concerns. But on Sunday 253 visitors came, to our relief! Donations and sales were very good as well, making a success of the weekend.
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Re: St Albans South Box - works and occurrences in 2017

Unread postby Danny252 » Tue Apr 4, 2017 8:38 am

John Webb wrote:We were concerned at the seeming lack of publicity in the local press, and the attendance of only 117 people on the Saturday seemed to confirm our concerns.


The group must be doing exceedingly well if "only 117" visitors in a day is concerningly low!
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Re: St Albans South Box - works and occurrences in 2017

Unread postby John Webb » Tue Apr 4, 2017 9:15 am

Danny252 wrote:
John Webb wrote:We were concerned at the seeming lack of publicity in the local press, and the attendance of only 117 people on the Saturday seemed to confirm our concerns.


The group must be doing exceedingly well if "only 117" visitors in a day is concerningly low!

When you bear in mind that for our extended open days for the previous "St Albans Residents First" weekend, held in late January, we reckoned on getting 200+ each day, and for the 'Heritage Open Days' weekend in September 300+ each day, so the 117 last Saturday did seem below average! (Particularly as the previous 2-5pm open afternoon in March had supplied a somewhat surprising 82 visitors rather than the expected three dozen or so!)
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