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Extreme Signal Engineering

Monday 11th March 2013 Signal Report

Today has been a case of "Extreme Signal Engineering”... when I looked out at 6.45 am this morning, Liss had a dusting of snow and it would have been quite easy to climb back into bed with a nice morning cuppa... this would have been the sensible decision. However, the thought of team work kicked in and I knew the other midweek S&T guys would make it to Medstead so off I went, in a heavy snow shower, dressed in as many layers of clothing that I could muster. Over a cup of tea at Medstead, John Webb told us of today’s plans at Ropley.

Country End Points
Since the track circuits at the country end have been powered up for test purposes, it was found that track circuit ‘J’ dropped when No.9 points were reversed. It was traced to an insulation problem with the drive rod and the first job today was to replace it with a new one. I lucked out on this job as John wanted me in the box to operate the frame but I did offer to take my turn outside when one of the others was struck down with frostbite! This job was completed relatively quickly and we then retired to the warm SI’s office for another cuppa and a donut.

New Down Advance Starting Signal
We spent the rest of the morning running the cables from the adjacent location 4 case up the signal post for the electric lamp and arm proving circuits. John drew the short straw here as the rest of us claimed we were not good at heights in cold weather, so John found himself exposed to the elements up the signal post terminating the two uncooperative cables. Ron Patterson, Ken Jarvis and myself then spent a good 30 minutes feeding these two cables from the cess up an underground pipe in the bank that was already stuffed with seven other cables and lots of dead snails. Having finally got the tails (cable not snails) into the location cabinet we tried to get some protection from the wind and snow behind the open doors of the cabinet whilst we terminated them. This took us up to lunch... and another cuppa.

New Down Distant and AWS Magnet
By the time we had chomped through our sandwiches, the snow was horizontal and we had lost the will to venture outside again. However, John suggested that on our way back to Medstead depot, we should stop off at the Down Distant AWS Magnet to terminate the cable and test it. The AWS magnet is perched high on the embankment just south of Wanders Curve and must take the prize for having the highest wind chill factor on the railway. With frozen fingers, we again wrestled with the cable and after it had been terminated decided that we might as well test it. Last week we had wired up and tested the motor that drives the Down Distant signal arm so John legged it down to the signal to power it up. Whilst the other two were watching the meter for the 110 volts to appear at our end, I offered to prove the electro magnet was operating correctly in the hope that it might give off a small degree of heat. As the Distant arm climbed to 45 degrees, my metal screwdriver was attracted with a thump onto the magnet. Job done! We then retired to Medstead for another cuppa before the journey home.

My wife has also been busy today filling in the paperwork to get a mad volunteer sectioned!

Rod Wicks (with my Signal Engineering hat on)