Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Preparing for the electrical interlocking.

 Preparing for the installation of the electrical interlocking.

27th April 2021.

The project is progressing in several areas at the moment. The two location cases that are to be installed are currently off site at Strathspey S&T’s HQ. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures for you but I can inform you that the locs have been cleaned down and repainted. The equipment that was in them has been removed. Installation of the track circuit and points detection equipment that is required is currently been installed and the location cases will arrive in a plug and play form. Only the external wiring will need to be connected up once on site. On-site various parts are still being removed, replaced and installed. See the pictures below.

The relay cabinet has seen some attention with it being cleaned down to start with. Some parts that are not required have been removed. The cabinet has had a good clean out, wash and polish. As you can see in this picture, the before and after is quite a improvement. The doors for the cabinet are also down south at S&T HQ. They will be coming north with the location cases. The relays that are required have been looked out of our store and placed in the cabinet. Two polarised relays for the points detection and three others for the track repeat relays and the route release from Boat Of Garten South signal box.

The cable termination board that was in the relay cabinet was life expired so a new one needed to be made up. Again this was done as a homework project off site, thankfully got the measurements correct. On this board there will be the B12 and N12 for the relay control circuits and lever locks. Below that will be the two 19 core cables going to the location cases and 4 wires to the South signal box. This runs to the south box over our telegraph pole route between the two signal boxes, which extends as far as Aviemore.

Once the board was installed into the relay cabinet the two 19 cores cables were terminated this is how it was looking. Still lots to do with the internal wiring yet.

The catch handle has been fitted onto number 3 lever, the yard points FPL. This acts as a switch to energise the release circuit of its own lever lock. If the track circuit is not clear then the points can not be moved.

The catch handles for the signals over the points has been installed too. These ones are behind the frame as a electrical release is only required to pull the levers, not to return them to danger. 

Down stairs. The two transformers for the 110v external and the 24v signal lighting circuit have been boxed, fitted and are ready for use. The current B12 supply has been moved from it’s original position and is now on the new S&T power distribution board. Just require the E&P department to supply us with 3 spurs form the 240v consumer unit to power up.

The p-way has received the step plate IRJ’s that were required to complete the track work for the track circuits. All have now been fitted and are ready for the track circuits to be energised. Once we have received the location cases from S&T HQ!

With us having some much needed better weather, the black paint at the bottom of the signal posts has been applied. Visually, definitely an improvement.

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Mechanical Interlocking Completed!


Mechanical interlocking completed 

1st April 2021

It has been a very interesting part of the overall project this one. I now have a big appreciation for what the locking fitters of old and current do. First of all the planning of the work, then doing the work. There is very little room for error when creating the locking bars as well as the cutting of the notches in the tappets. Then trying to fit the locking bars in the channels, some of the locking bars designed to fit under the tappets and the others on top of the tappets. It has been a very challenging job indeed.

This is how we were looking at the end of the weeks work, the stop board removed from the end of the up platform and the new DN starter on the up platform brought into use as it is solely controlled by the mechanical interlocking. 4 7 16 still require the electrical interlocking to be completed before being brought in to full use.

This is a look at one of the newly made locking bars. This one is for insuring that 2 points are set for the main line and that 3 FPL is reverse. Only then can 16 signal be pulled or 12 the King lever for locking out the signal box. This is for single line working from Aviemore to Broomhill.

This is one of the existing locking bars that had to be modified. Before it was 8 signal locked 19 points. Now that it has been changed it is 8 signal locks 17 signal and 19 points. There is a second bar that locks 8 signal to 18 FPL.

This is the before and after of cutting the notch on 2’s tappet. The lock piece is used to give the size of the notch that needs to be cut. This notch is for the locking bar between 2 and 7 signal insuring that 2 points are normal before 7 signal can be pulled. 

Once all the new and modified locking bars and the tappets with there notches cut in the correct positions. This is how both the top and bottom locking boxes were looking. In my opinion it is one of the most important parts when it comes to signalling. With out it, it would be almost impossible to run the trains safely.

This next little video is NOT the full locking test but it gives you a feel to how much goes into this. A full independent interlocking test was done after this video was shot, by a college who was not involved in the work. The mechanical interlocking was found to be working correctly and fit for purpose.

This is a very big step forwards. Next we will be moving onto the electrical interlocking. This is required to supplement the mechanical interlocking to insure that safety is maintained.

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Boat of Garten North Interlocking

 Boat of Garten North Interlocking 

21 March 2021

It has been a while since the last update, progress has been slow with the forever changing situations. Anyway progress has been made! A lot of time has been spent making up drawings to work from, in regards to the interlocking. It has taken a lot of drafts, emails and discussions with colleagues but in the end I believe we have a working plan for the interlocking for the north signal box. 

For those who do not know or understand what “interlocking” is. Basically it is what determines if the train can be signalled from signal A to signal B. I suppose you can call it a mechanical computer, only if the levers are in the correct position and have been pulled in the correct order will you be able to pull off the signal allowing the train to move.

Just a reminder for us all this is what we are working towards. Still lot’s to do but it will be good when it is all finished. 

This may not look like much but a lot of time and effort has gone into this, by several people! Each picture is one locking box. This is the diagram of what needs to be done to allow train’s to run safely preventing any conflicting movements and ensuring that the signaller can only do his job correctly.

We have been lucky to find some locking tappets in one of our store vans. Which have had the old notches cut off and new metal bar added, so they are as good as new! Other than needing cleaned and polished up they are ready for use. Thank you who ever took the time to do all this work in the past, it is much appreciated.

This is how we were looking after a day had been spent cleaning up the tappets. At this point the pins still needed cleaned up and pin holes skimmed out. This was all completed and they were taken back to the signal box at Boat Of Garten to be trial fitted.

With out the new tappets in, this is how the locking looks in the locking boxes. So what you can see in the top locking box is two channels for the locks to sit in. Thus allowing you to have up to four locks on one tappet if required. You can just make out the “locks” the “tappets” and the bars that hold it all together. It’s not the easiest to get a picture of because of its location and certainly not the easiest to work on.

Not the easiest thing to show in a picture but this is all the tappets that we require in the locking boxes. The locking boxes are of a Eastern Region design, on our Mackenzie and Holland frame. This was quite a common thing with the frames that had been sent to Crew to be serviced and prepared for the next signal box that it would be installed in.  The tappets are not straight, there is a curve half way along them because of the way the lever moves in the frame. Each tappet in turn needed to be shaped as required for a smooth movement from the normal to reverse position. After a lot of removing, shaping and replacing this was finally achieved.

With the tappets all in the locking boxes sitting ready for the notches to be cut to take the locks. It was time to start looking at making up the locking bars. Hear you can see a selection of the different shape locks and the bars that hold them all together. This is what prevents or allows the levers to be moved.

This is the first attempt of riveting the dies to the bars, not a bad attempt a lot has been learned and will see about doing it for real next time.

Saturday, 2 January 2021

Early December, Lighting testing.

 Lighting testing, 

For the short time that we were able to run trains for this Christmas period, Maintenance checks was carried out on all signal lighting circuits, before the Christmas running season began. It sounds an unimportant job, but when that light is the only way for the driver to know when it is safe to go or must stop. Then they are quite important in the winter mouths with low light levels and snow conditions. Our signal lights are well above the standard that is required for signal lighting and are all LED lit, I believe that the Aviemore South bound signal light can be seen from 3/4 a mile away! So more than adequate for braking distances.

Selection on Boat of Garten signals being checked all with LED lights.

Out with the old and in with the new, wiring!

 2nd January,

Out with the old and in with the new! 

That’s the wiring I am on about. Things have slowed down with the Boat Of Garten North project I am afraid. The next steps are requiring a lot of drawings and off site work to be done first. The likes of interlocking requires to be planed and drawn up and discussed before work can be commenced. So for the time being with current government restrictions and our own restrictions this will need to wait until it is deemed safe to travel and Spey lodge is available for use by our members. In the meantime, work on creating a cable route, to hide all the unsightly cables can be created. Work has also started on the mounting of the power supplies. The power supplies are for feeding out to the line side locations, to feed track circuits and indication circuits. Signal lightning supplies and the lever locks under the signal box. This has been slowed down as it was not known that all the 1960 BR cabling was still in place. This all had to be removed before removing and repurposing the old wood cable routes to suite what we are requiring. All very fun, dusty and dirty work!

The old BR wiring being removed, in surprisingly good condition for its age.

New power supplies transform boxes been placed, transformers are not in the boxes yet that’s another days job. The New, Old cable routing going into place to carry the power supply cables, and round to the lever locks attached to the lever frame and up through the floor to the relay cabinet on the operating floor.

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Signalling Maintenance and Installation work

 Signalling Maintenance and Installation works.

15th October to 18th of November.

It is getting harder to find time and help to get on with the jobs at the minute. Between the the ever changing Government Guidelines and the colder and darker Autumn day’s arriving. Again there is no train’s running, even though that helps with our work. It reduces the enjoyment of being on site. This months work has been divided into two different parts. Maintenance and installation. This story starts at Aviemore with the maintenance of Speyside Box.

Speyside cabin sitting in the Autumn overcast sun. The general appearance of the box how ever good it looks, is in need of some major body work! The windows are tiered and the cladding has seen better days. But yet the cabin is probably the most important signal box on the Strathspey Railway now. Controlling movement’s out from the engine/carriage shed on to the main line. Secondly it controls all train movement’s in and out of the carriage storage shed. Within the cabin is the key token machine which will control the single line section between Aviemore and Boat of Garten. Needless to say time must be spent maintaining the signalling equipment to ensure the box is fault free.

This is a view of the lead off table in front of the signal box. As you can see it controls a lot for a small cabin. Some time has been spent and all the cranks and pullie wheels on the entire rodding and signal wire runs. Have been greased and or oiled to ensure everything is working properly for the up coming winter train service. 

A little look inside the cabin, you can appreciate some of the work that has been done and that, that needs to be done. The block shelf has been changed in the cabin. As the original one was in very poor condition and in need of a lot of work. This one has been cleaned up and varnished by Stephen. It was originally the block shelf at Carrbridge, of the frame that was in the station building. The windows in the cabin are in a poor condition now and are in need of repair or replacement. If there is any wood workers reading this and would like to volunteer, you’re help would be much appreciated.

Looking to the back of the cabin you can see the key token machine, yet to be commissioned. The writing desk as well as our internal phone network phone. From hear the signaller can speak to the Aviemore Station staff. Boat Of Garten, South and North boxes. This all works over our pole route between Aviemore and Boat Of Garten. There can not be meany heritage railways that can boast having a work pole route, 5 miles in length.

Moving to Boat of Garten North Box. Colin Frost and team have been able to finish off the internal painting, plus the installation of skirting boards around the Cabin. Internally the Cabin is looking very good. I can see it being a pleasure for the signaller to work in, once a new normality is achieved.

Moving outside number one signal is nearing completion. The balance weight now on, cable run up inside the post. The signal lamp unit installed and wired up. Just some small things to sort out and a bit of painting once the weather improves.

The p-way department has been following up, with the first of the IRJ’s been fitted. (Insulated Rail Joint). There is still some to be purchased before they can be installed, unfortunately there is a number of step joints required which we do not have in the railway storage area.

At the engineering sidings points (number 2 leaver) some remedial work has been carried out. The lock was binding as there is a slight height difference between the lock shoe and the crank in the four foot. After a day of looking in the storage area at Boat of Garten. The correct type of rod was found, cleaned up and installed. It’s a small change but improves the workings of the points. The points detector has now been wired up, ready for telling the signaller what way the points are lying. This is once the location case has gone in that will be supplying the power for it.

 Underneath the signal box there was a big job to do! The prop under the end of the frame was suffering from dry rot and required to be replaced. A jack was borrowed from the engine shed, packing pieces found  around the yard. The leaver locking frame was loose-end up to allow the cross beams to be lifted just enough to knock the old prop out and get the new one in. As you can see in the top left image, the prop was not in the best of conditions.

Since the prop had been changed, work has continued on the leaver locking rack and leaver tails. The locks are now attached to the leaver tail via a con rod. Each signal and the FPL are now locked in place and the signals or FPL can not be pulled off or lock removed, with out the leaver lock first being electrically energised.

So overall the project as a hole is coming along nicely. Thanks needs to be given to everyone who has been helping out in the other departments within the railway. With us all working together, Team Strathspey will complete this and mean more project’s to come.

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Boat of Garten signalling works

Boat of Garten signalling works,

Up to the 9th October.

 So it has been a bit of time since the last update but we have been working away quietly. There has been lots of small jobs done plus a large one as well. As normal all the work has been done following the government guidelines for social distancing. With the necessary line blockages to insure that all work is done safely. Looking after ourselves as well as passenger trains that were running. 

To start with thanks needs to be given to a long standing member from Suffolk and occasional volunteer, Mike Poynton. Mike advised he was spending a weekend at Boat of Garten and wanted a task for his visit. With the weather been poor, Robert Walters our Station Manager, had identified that the South signal box had become quite grubby with the lack of use this year. Mike was provided with the necessary tools, cleaning materials and safety equipment to give the inside of the signal box a really good clean. Then, with the moving of the furniture etc, Mike applied two coats of red floor paint to the main part of the floor before he had to return South. Robert Walters then continued to complete the painting over the next two day, just in time before the engineering department turned up to do some shunting and take the crane to Aviemore for the delivery of  46464’s wheel sets.

In the North box we have been starting to look at the furniture in the signal box. Not a three piece sweat, but relay cabinet and writing desk. The relay cabinet, is from the former Holden signal box in East Yorkshire. It is requiring a bit of work, but fits in nicely on the floor. Now that the floor has been painted you can see the indentations on the floor of the old relay cabinet,  as well as the former block instrument in the corner. The writing desk is yet to be changed with one that will sit on top of the relay cabinet as can be seen in the old photographs.

Sue Davies has been Very busy, trying to make sense of of what is going on and insuring that the new track diagram is completely correct and conveys all the information that the signallers requires. It is currently covered over with the current diagram but is ready for commissioning.

Hear is a closer look at the relay cabinet before it came out of storage. The part on the right of the cabinet is the cable termination area this is were the line side multi core cables from the line side locations will arrive and will then be wired up to the appropriate relays in the left hand side of the cabinet. The doors and door runners are requiring a bit of work. One door is missing it’s glass but we will get a replacement piece. Overall it is in very good condition and will serve the railway very well.

With the age of the signal box there is a few repairs required. Before carrying the relay cabinet up the stairs, each of the steps were made subject to the big hammer test. Quite simple really, hit the step hard with a p-way hammer if it gives in then it needs changed! One step was in very poor condition and failed the test. Some wood of the correct size was found and the tread replaced, before we took the heavy load of the relay cabinet up the stairs.

Under the signal box a lot of work has been done, “the big job”. The lever lock rack has been made bigger to cover all 20 leaver tails. Before this work started the lever rack was only built to cover levers tails 10 to 20. As back in the day I don’t think anyone envisioned the railway putting sidings into the old Engine shed site, let a lone a shed as well. The reason why this work has been done is that we require lever locks on lever 3 the FPL. (If the train is sitting on track circuit 6486, then the points lock can not be removed until the track is clear). The signals 4, 7 and 16 all require to be fitted with a lever lock too. With the points being electrically detected, this is the only way of making sure the correct route is set for the movement of the train. (The points are set and locked before the signal can be pulled off).

On the ground at the remote end of the diode track circuit, the disconnection box with the diode in it has been put in, the tail cables connected and clipped onto the sleeper ends. Both IRJ’s (insulated rail joint) are still waiting to go on when the p-way have the time.

In this picture we are looking at number 16 signal to the left and then 7 to the right. Both now have there lamp units mounted on the brackets, cables have been run up the signal posts and terminated. Just need the location cases to terminate the other ends.

Number one signal now has it’s Balance weight attached. The cable has been run up the signal post, but still requires a lamp unit yet. Have got one, just not had the time to fit it.

The wire runs out to the new signals. Although it is working very well there was still a couple of miner changes required, were the wire was rubbing on the pullie casting. Resulting in making the lever heavier to pull. With these pullie being changed it has definitely made it even lighter when pulling the signal lever to the off position. Small changes but will make for some very happy signaller’s.