What would be in the ground floor of a signal box?

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GaryB
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What would be in the ground floor of a signal box?

Postby GaryB » Wed Nov 06, 2019 9:56 pm

I have a signal box of the same style as the below and I want to add an interior. While the upper floor is straightforward, does anyone know what the lower floor would contain?

68942467_8754_bury_st_edmunds_signalbox_22_june_2006.jpg
68942467_8754_bury_st_edmunds_signalbox_22_june_2006.jpg (34.38 KiB) Viewed 882 times


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Bufferstop
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Re: What would be in the ground floor of a signal box?

Postby Bufferstop » Wed Nov 06, 2019 10:15 pm

It contained the (inter)locking frame vertical bars attached to the underside of the levers with horizontal ones that slid into notches on the verticals to prevent them moving if there would be a conflict. It might also serve as a lamp room and a place for the signalman to keep his bike. In the one beneath my uncles box at Bescot Junction (North) there was a most wonderous contraption, A three foot square box hanging on the wall which had rows and rows of "eyeball" indicators, like an old style switchboard. They were connected by open telegraph wires to a crude thermostat in the top of each signal lamp. If the flame went out the lampman would see the eyeball close and set off to whichever signal it was with a freshly filled lamp. This was the late fifties, the new fangled electricity wasn't considered to have proved itself reliable enough to actually illuminate the lamps.

(edit) D0260 thanks for providing the picture.
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Buelligan
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Re: What would be in the ground floor of a signal box?

Postby Buelligan » Wed Nov 06, 2019 10:25 pm

The signal box I've been in had the interlocking mechanisms along 1 side, and along the other was a large amount of batteries, individual lead acid cells, and a lot of wiring and switchboards. Unfortunately I never thought to take my camera with me, and I don't go there anymore.

This was a box on a preserved line, the wooden upper being an original, but with a new brick built lower section

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Re: What would be in the ground floor of a signal box?

Postby b308 » Thu Nov 07, 2019 9:28 am

This gives you some photos of the locking room during a revamp of the 'box:

http://www.bluebell-railway.co.uk/blueb ... kwork.html

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Re: What would be in the ground floor of a signal box?

Postby D0260 » Thu Nov 07, 2019 10:24 am

Hi again GaryB,

Contact your local preserved railway and you will find they are usually very helpful to arrange a visit to one of their real , modelling size, signal boxes. and as many photos as you can take...

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Re: What would be in the ground floor of a signal box?

Postby flying scotsman123 » Thu Nov 07, 2019 10:30 am

D0260 wrote:Hi again GaryB,

Contact your local preserved railway and you will find they are usually very helpful to arrange a visit to one of their real , modelling size, signal boxes. and as many photos as you can take...


Yes, but...
Locking rooms tend to be a bit more difficult as by convention signalmen aren't allowed in locking rooms and aren't usually even given the key for safety reasons.
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Re: What would be in the ground floor of a signal box?

Postby D0260 » Thu Nov 07, 2019 10:50 am

If its close enough , go to Severn Valley Kidderminster station and adjacent is a recently rebuilt , operational but not connected to the railway, signal box, adjacent to the museum/ cafe, I'm sure they guys there will invite you around.

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Re: What would be in the ground floor of a signal box?

Postby Bufferstop » Thu Nov 07, 2019 11:01 am

Buelligan wrote:The signal box I've been in had the interlocking mechanisms along 1 side, and along the other was a large amount of batteries, individual lead acid cells, and a lot of wiring and switchboards.

Theres two sides to what a signal box does, one is the control of signals and points, via the locking frame.
The other is the passing forward and back request to dispatch a train, permission to do so and reports of arrival and dispatch with the box either side. This uses multiple phone and telegraph circuits hence the lead acid accumulators and all of the wiring. Many boxes would have had a voice circuit to the box either side, the omnibus circuit, where every box is connected and listened out for its own number of rings, but could listen in to anything passing up and down the line, and arriving rather late on the scene a private circuit, just like an ordinary phone only connected to the control room for that line, or even later to the companies own private automatic exchange. There would then be two telegraph circuits, one in each direction for use with the key and bell or striker to send message by bell codes.
Telephony and telegraphy systems anywhere, were reliant on lead acid accumulators right into the 20th century and some still are.

FS123, the rule on locking room keys was one of those that had an awful lot of exceptions, some less official than others. The one at my uncle's box was in a break the glass style box (which had long lost its glass) provided, following a box fire further up the line. It was his brother in-laws box that burned down, I can remember the aftermath when they were working to rebuild it, and the junction was being worked by flagmen and pilots. The front seats of a DMU gave a great view of the proceedings, it was the box on the Bescot to New Street line that controlled the cut off that gave a route south to Coventry via Stechford.
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Re: What would be in the ground floor of a signal box?

Postby flying scotsman123 » Thu Nov 07, 2019 11:49 am

Bufferstop wrote:
Buelligan wrote:
FS123, the rule on locking room keys was one of those that had an awful lot of exceptions, some less official than others.


Naturally!
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Re: What would be in the ground floor of a signal box?

Postby D0260 » Thu Nov 07, 2019 6:09 pm

Where else did the signalman keep his bike?

I went down Severn Valley Kidderminster this afternoon and had a good trawl through 3 types of locking frame , one of which was from the Bristol area , and called a double twist type , pulled a few levers in the nearing completion Wrangaton signal box, and took hundreds of pics . The best were the large lever frame undergoung rebuild outside in the sunshine. GaryB drop me a PM with your email address and as soon as Ive got the images off the memory card, I'll drop you the images by return- or at least the best.
The guys down there were very very helpful and knowledgable and just left me to explore everything. Thanks to them.
The 'key' thing wasnt rigorously enforced , but was useful to 'prove' who was guilty or not in the case of an accident - If you hadnt got a key - it wasnt you....!

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Re: What would be in the ground floor of a signal box?

Postby Flashbang » Thu Nov 07, 2019 7:36 pm

As a former real railway signalling (S & T) engineer, keys to under box locking frame doors, lever locks and circuit controllers attached to the levers are never accessible by the signalman. It would give the signaller a "Get out of jail card" if they had a key. Under box access door key is normally kept in a small and often wooden box with a glass front. This little box was normally mounted on the wall of the signalling floor and locked closed by a padlock which only the S & T (Signalling) technicians hold the key to. The glass front ensured all could see the key but not access it, except in case of fire or other emergency when the glass would be broken to access the key. Keys to covers on electrical lever locks and circuit controllers are only held by S & T staff and to release a lock manually they have to be called to the signalbox, fill a form in and then after ensuring all is correct and nothing is in section that shouldn't be they can manually release the lever. Some lever locks have signaller releasable locks, where the signaller has to turn a winder for a couple of minutes or hold a push button depressed to the same time or wait a couple of minutes after operating the PB until the lever electric lock is released. Sort of "thinking time" for the signaller.
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Bufferstop
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Re: What would be in the ground floor of a signal box?

Postby Bufferstop » Thu Nov 07, 2019 8:16 pm

Brian, could the frame be locked in a cage. There would have been a problem at Bescot as the lampman had to check the indicator board for possible lamps out. What was the arrangement in GWR internal stairway boxes? I don't think the arrangement in the rebuilt Exeter box at Crewe Heritage Centre is quite original, you enter through a door in the middle of one end then pass along Infront of the frame, with a barrier rail to get to the stairs at the other end, leading up to the main floor.
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Re: What would be in the ground floor of a signal box?

Postby stuartp » Fri Nov 08, 2019 8:40 am

flying scotsman123 wrote:
D0260 wrote:Hi again GaryB,

Contact your local preserved railway and you will find they are usually very helpful to arrange a visit to one of their real , modelling size, signal boxes. and as many photos as you can take...


Yes, but...
Locking rooms tend to be a bit more difficult as by convention signalmen aren't allowed in locking rooms and aren't usually even given the key for safety reasons.


In all the BR (ER and LMR) boxes I worked the locking room key was in the signalman's possesion, usually on a nail on the wall somewhere. Mind you, in the less vandalism prone areas the box key was usually on a nail somewhere on the outside of the box ! We were issued with a BR222 key to unlock point handle locs, point motor covers etc, anything the S&T really didn't want you to fiddle with was locked with a BR221 key. I 'acquired' one of those later and it was taken off me as soon as our lineman recognised it !

Crigglestone Junction's locking room had a stack of half a dozen VCR machines in one corner, the signalman and one of the PWay had a sideline going in pirated videos. The locking room at Jumble lane was accessed by a completely unlocked trapdoor, very inconveniently placed between the lever with the longest/hardest pull and the LC barrier pedestal. The 'Safe System of Work' when the S&T were down there was to remember not to fall down the hole.
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Re: What would be in the ground floor of a signal box?

Postby Flashbang » Fri Nov 08, 2019 12:00 pm

Very slack working by the regional or area signalling engineer who would be the first head to roll if an accident occurred and it was proved the signaller/operations staff had free access to the interlocking! Closely followed by the errant signallers head!
The concept was that RKB221 padlocks and keys were solely for use by S & T staff, no "operations" person should ever hold one unless the Area/Regional Signalling Engineer has deemed that person needs access for whatever reason to the main signalling equipment. The issue is that RKB221 keys opened most S&T items. The RKB222 lock and key only allows access to items that the operations staff should have access too - Point handles, point motor handle covers but not the whole motors lid etc. The RKB222 lock can always be opened by the S & T RKB221 key. This is why the RKB221 key has been replaced now my the so called Grand Master in many areas as there were too many keys in use by unauthorised persons.
Before RKB222/1 locks 675 keys/padlocks were used by the S & T but there were far too many keys around! 675 locked many S & T items including block instruments, frequently the signaller or Box Boy used Brasso to clean the instruments brass covers and surrounds and also the padlock too which looked superb when polished to a high shine!, but when it was to be opened the Brasso often had run inside the lock and frequently caused the lock to partly jam! Sharp tap with a hammer usually resolved!! :D

But none of this has anything to do with the OPs question really! 8)
GaryB wrote:I have a signal box of the same style as the below and I want to add an interior. While the upper floor is straightforward, does anyone know what the lower floor would contain?

Mainly mechanical and electrical interlocking items worked from the levers above, plus where mechanical signalling and points are used, chains and pulleys and then onto 7 strand signalwire going out to operate the signals. Plus round or U shaped channel rodding for points and facing point locks etc. In addition too were to be frequently found banks of dry and wet cells located underneath and depending on the box signalling relays and terminal blocks for multi-core signalling cables. Lots of fag ash and the odd tea leaves in some areas back in the 60's, which were dropped down between the levers from above! :o
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