Watercress Line

Block Shelf and the Sergeant Major

Monday 20 May - Signal Engineering Update

Two weeks ago saw a major project underway in Ropley Box... the replacement of the Block Shelf with a new, deeper version to be able to accommodate the additional signal repeaters and backlock key releases in readiness for Phase. 2. This work was started immediately following the end of the Diesel Gala and had to be completed before services were due to operate later in the week. The last thing we wanted to happen was station announcements stating that services were running late due to over running engineering work! The smart new shelf was constructed and fixed in place by John Larke from the Building Group after all the old equipment had been removed from the old shelf by the mid-week signal engineering lads. Once the new one was in place, all the equipment had to be reinstalled, rewired and tested before it was signed back into operation. The photo shows the new Block Shelf now equipped with its full complement of brass indicators. This will cause a groan from the signalmen as it means more brass to clean as part of the box maintenance procedures.

Last Thursday saw the end of deployment of the new signal wire, with completion of the run out to the Down Outer Home at Ropley. This involved carrying a heavy drum of wire out to the existing Down Home signal and threading the wire out through the posts to the new Down Outer Home signal. Additionally, all the cross-track signal wire runs at Ropley now use insulated variety so that any future use of track circuits are not compromised by bare wire shorting the tracks.

This week also saw the last of the line side signalling cables being run out (we hope) to the Train Waiting Treadles 200 yards in advance of the two Outer Home signals. These just need to be terminated and tested when the rail mounted treadles are installed as part of the final commissioning.

On the way back into the station area, we stopped to pay our respects to the "sergeant major” located in the cess on the country side of Ropley. The "sergeant major” does not shout or stomp around but will provide a necessary task of tensioning the signal wire to the new Up Outer Home signal. This signal is a long way from the signal box and the counter balance weight in the wire run provided by this piece of equipment ensures that the signal arm will return to its danger position when the signalman restores the lever in the frame.


Rod Wicks
Signal Engineering Department

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