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Elephant Ears are Falling on the CSX Abbeville Subdivision

Signalling outside the UK (but including Northern Ireland), past, present and future

Elephant Ears are Falling on the CSX Abbeville Subdivision

Unread postby Flagstop » Sat Aug 31, 2013 9:16 pm

Elephant ears are falling on the CSX Abbeville Subdivision so far from points north of Carlton to the north end of HULL siding (M.P. SG497.3); cutover was accomplished 12 August 2013 as part of a replacement by “Darth Vader” signals. The replacement included at the very least the intermediate, automatic, dual-sided, single-mast signal at Carlton, Georgia (M.P. SG483.1/483.0), southbound to the north end of HULL siding (M.P. SG497.3). This includes north end and south end of HOWIE siding (M.P. SG497.3 to M.P. SG499.4), and automatic dual-sided single-mast intermediates between Comer and Colbert (M.P. SG489.9/490.0, M.P. SG492.5/492.4, and M.P. SG494.9/495.0). Points north of Carlton, including NORMAN siding, CALHOUN FALLS siding, and the various intermediates may have been cut over at the same time or earlier; since I did not travel north of Carlton, I cannot verify anything north of that point. Old masts, signal heads, and some relay cabinets were removed and hauled away that very day with others following later in the week. Replacement signals generally DO include the capability of displaying more aspects, including lunar white for RESTRICTING (new to most of that portion of the line). Some signals that require flashing aspects may also be possible, but as a rule CSX does not use them on this line. Other signals saw replacement of the lower, offset head GREEN (only) signals (both small targets and large elephant ear targets) on 2-head intermediates replaced by an inline/non-offset signal that always displays red or green on the second head whenever the upper signal head is activated (Note: Most, but not ALL of these intermediates are approach lit, and even some that one would think would be, are continuously illuminated; curiously enough the signaled passing sidings at some locations were ALSO approach lit until 15 or 20 years ago). The new relay cabinets at the Howie siding and elsewhere have nice Verizon dish antennas and other components that are part of the move to Automatic Train Control. New relay cabinets, some preliminary signal pedestal, underground electrical, and new switch integration work is in process for points south of this newest work (from M.P. SG499.4 on down the line) as the work continues for conversion of more portions of the line. As mentioned above, the railway has quickly moved to remove evidence of the old signal hardware, unlike in some previous signal projects where old hardware, e.g., signal masts and signal heads were cast to the edge of the property beyond the ballast; even today some of the interim signals replaced or removed in the past four years or so are STILL on the ground near the tracks.

The last large scale signal project on this portion of the line was performed in conjunction with the overlay of CTC on top of the ABS signals, with new and lengthened sidings, and the elimination of the train order office functions. The last gaps on the line were finally cut over incrementally between Tucker, Georgia and Abbeville, South Carolina by 1978. At various locations along the line one can STILL see the many of old concrete signal pedestals/bases that were left behind after removal of old signals from THAT project. Until just a few years ago CSX and predecessors on this line (Seaboard System, Seaboard Coast Line, and Seaboard Air Line) had always been rather frugal, incorporating signal heads removed from service elsewhere in the system and installing them as “new” items when the need arose for them elsewhere on their network. As often as not, the reassigned signal head might get a fresh coast of black paint and maybe repairs for excessive bullet holes. Near the Howells area at one time, the line saw at least one searchlight signal intermingled with a (typical) color light array. Seaboard was good at modifying signals by simply covering up lamp position that were not required by a metal plate rather that replacing the whole signal; they also would utilize older retired signals from elsewhere in the system and downgrade them from 3 to 2 or fewer aspects similarly upon reinstallation in their new homes. One additional downside of the CTC project from that era was the elimination of most if not all of the signals that had doll arms and blue doll lamps that actually functioned. As a bonus, rail/highway crossings still used Wig Wag signals in some places, e.g., Winder, Georgia up until around 1960. As far as type of signaling hardware use on this line in even earlier years, it is NOT clear if the when ABS signals were first installed and whether they were color light or semaphores. Although the typical configuration of the signal heads was for the lenses to be arranged vertically on the target like a highway traffic light, Seaboard Air Line did use some signals where the lenses were arranged in an inverted pyramid upon a round target (referred to by some as a “G-Head” signal). Some signals of this type were evident in the Birmingham, Alabama area on this line and may have existed elsewhere between there and the Atlanta area.
Flagstop
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