NSWGR Electric Staff exchange staffs/tokens

 
  LocoMofo Station Staff

Hello. I have a NSWGR staff exchange and I'm curious about locating some staffs to fit it. How do I know what type it takes? is it displayed on the machine itself?  Heres a few pics of it, Im nowhere near it at the moment but I'll follow any info up next time. I've been quoted over $600 for a single staff which seems pretty loose tbh







edit: thanks ahead for any help/answers!

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  WimmeraJack Station Staff

I am sure that if you could borrow one, and get a mate or somebody with a lathe, you could turn any number up for the occasion.
May not appear as having been used for years, but that can also be overcome.

Regards,

John.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
I have seen a preserved (may have been two actually) electric staff machine/s in the foyer of a railway equipment supplier somewhere but I cannot remember exactly where.
To the best of my recollection it was in Newcastle NSW and may have been Comsteel but not sure. I think that it had staffs, but it was many years ago. Question
  awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney
I have seen a preserved (may have been two actually) electric staff machine/s in the foyer of a railway equipment supplier somewhere but I cannot remember exactly where.
To the best of my recollection it was in Newcastle NSW and may have been Comsteel but not sure. I think that it had staffs, but it was many years ago. Question
YM-Mundrabilla
Miniature ETS came in types A, B and C. The type may be marked on the left side of the instrument in the above picture.

Large ETS came in types D, E and F.

There are "wards" inside the instrument that only accept type A staffs if the instrument is type A, and so on.

The staffs are made of lightweight "Duralium", and not the much heavier steel. This makes thing easier when the staffs are exchange by hand, or by staff exchanging equipment at line speed.

Each staff is marked with the names of section, say "Berry - Nowra."

The number of the staff is engraved on one end. A tabulation in the Local Appendix lists the range of staff numbers in use, say "1-36", If a staff (number 8) gets lost, the tabulation might say "1-7,9-37". The total number of valid staffs should always be an even number.

In NSW at least, staff instruments are always painted red; cannot speak for other systems.

Googling "duraleum" reveals that bicycles and bike parts are often made of duraleum.
  historian Deputy Commissioner

The gauge of the staffs is shown on the plate on the left side of the instrument (this is actually the outside of the gauge block and can be swapped around). The photo is not clear enough to make out, but it looks like 'B'.

You clearly have a staff in the instrument. A photo of the staff will confirm the gauge.
  gw0071 Deputy Commissioner

From my observation over the years, the 'mobile' NSWGR staffs that you seek are an absolute rarity. Whether this is based on supply or demand is anyone's guess. I would imagine that if the pattern is known, any staff from any system would be compatible if the pattern is matched. Provenance aside, WimmeraJack's suggestion is probably the most viable option - both economically and physically, on account of your location. Great purchase btw
  petan Chief Commissioner

Location: Waiting to see a zebra using a zebra crossing!
Video via the URL below of the operation of the Kagaru (QLD) 1435mm gauge miniature electric train staff instrument, both release and insertion of the staff. It includes staff exchanging with the train crew as well as internal cabin electrical apparatus plus the signal arm operation. It is 5 minutes 10 seconds and 56 MB file size. The original of this short clip was 98 MB so it has been reduced although quality was also diminished accordingly.  The full-length video is 53 minutes. The initial scenes were included to acknowledge the source, Brisbane to Grafton, 1991, by Rowlingstock Productions. Seems this is out of stock as I cannot find it on the web although the similar Brisbane to Maitland one is available for sale. Obviously, the sound / narration is the original.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByB-ppGeDyvwUnFySHhldkpqeUk/view

Cheers
Peter Cokley
  KRviator Moderator

Location: Up the front
Hello. I have a NSWGR staff exchange and I'm curious about locating some staffs to fit it. How do I know what type it takes? is it displayed on the machine itself? Heres a few pics of it, Im nowhere near it at the moment but I'll follow any info up next time. I've been quoted over $600 for a single staff which seems pretty loose tbh
LocoMofo
I HOPE you are nowhere near that staff instrument - because that is the one I bought from Cowra a few months ago, and it is sitting in my back shed until I can devise some electronic trickery to simulate another instrument to permit withdrawal of the staff...Evil or Very Mad

Now, as it happens, that instrument you have pictured is a Type B, evidenced by the plate on the side of the head. And it is not an actual MES in the instrument, it's only a replica unfortunately. Were it a real staff, I'd know where the instrument came from, oth than a general "Cootamundra Region" sign that was hanging on it at the auction.
  gw0071 Deputy Commissioner

The plot thickens
  gordon_s1942 Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Tablelands of NSW
The spacing of the rings on the staff acted as the 'Lands' on a key.
I think there were no more than 4 different spacings used.
Its the rings that contact the fingers inside the head not the actual body of the staff.
This would mean that if you tried to insert a rod with no 'Rings' on it, it would not reset the machine if a Staff was out.
My limited knowledge is that there were THREE Wires needed to connect 2 machines together and it used the reversal of Polarity to allow a Staff to be released or lock the machine once one was out.
In some places an Earth rod was used as a 'return' (In the GA, Water Earth Rod) but I think in most locations they ran the 3rd wire.

There was a famous story circulating of how one fellow found by treading on a specific floor board near the machine, he could withdraw staff after staff and got promptly stood down for demonstrating this because he was NOT supposed to try or 'TEST' the instrument to see if another Staff could be withdrawn after one was removed.
If this story is correct, this would prove if you can set one up to allow you to withdraw a Staff without having it connect to another machine.

They kept the Batteries in nearby cupboard but I dont know if there was anything else needed . I know there was some sort of a polorising relay used for Tyers Machines along with the batteries.
***********************

For Automatic working, there was a box on the wall with a removable key/switch in it.
Looking back even that had 2 types of working, at Wallerawang West, the Signalman could hold the BELL over for a roughly a minute, release it and when the  Bell in the Box rang, he could withdraw a Staff but this did not apply to the other end.
When you got a ring on the Bell ( neither Guards or Drivers knew the line clear codes) the Signalman would hold down the Bell Key to allow a Staff to be withdrawn at the other end.
  historian Deputy Commissioner

I think there were no more than 4 different spacings used.
...
My limited knowledge is that there were THREE Wires needed to connect 2 machines together...
gordon_s1942

Other states used more. Victorian, for example, had 6 patterns of miniature staff, A to F.

No staff instrument in Australia used three wires. Staff instruments used one wire (with earth return) or two wires (metallic return).
  neillfarmer Chief Train Controller

AFAIK as the staff machines became redundant all the staffs were collected and locked away. Could be that very few ever found their way into the hands of the general public or enthusiasts. The railway didn't want any staffs floating about while in other places they were still essential for safeworking.
Neill Farmer
  KRviator Moderator

Location: Up the front
Though IIRC, each MES had the names of each interlocking engraved/stamped on either end of the staff, such that even if you inadvertently sank & then retrieved the same staff, on presenting it to your mate, he would identify it as incorrect and demand a carton...

But anyways... LocoMoFo, any particular reason you've staked a claim to my staff instrument?!? I just checked and it's still in its rightful place.....Shocked
  gordon_s1942 Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Tablelands of NSW
Though IIRC, each MES had the names of each interlocking engraved/stamped on either end of the staff, such that even if you inadvertently sank & then retrieved the same staff, on presenting it to your mate, he would identify it as incorrect and demand a carton...

But anyways... LocoMoFo, any particular reason you've staked a claim to my staff instrument?!? I just checked and it's still in its rightful place.....Shocked
KRviator
In NSW anyways, an Electric Staff was not to be 'Swung' nor put into and withdrawn from the machine and re issued.
Of course there was the occasional problem of the Crew not paying attention at an unattended interlocking and carrying the wrong staff for the section until just as they were to arrive at the attended one and reading what was inscribed on the Staff.......

As I said before, I thought they used a 3 line wire system to operate the Electric Staff system similar to that used on Block Telegraph machines.
Very few places in the State used an 'Earth Return' and used a line wire instead but the stake was still in use to dissipate Lightning strikes.
  historian Deputy Commissioner

AFAIK as the staff machines became redundant all the staffs were collected and locked away. Could be that very few ever found their way into the hands of the general public or enthusiasts. The railway didn't want any staffs floating about while in other places they were still essential for safeworking.
Neill Farmer
neillfarmer

Absolutely, except in Queensland and WA. About 15 or 20 years ago, the QGR happily sold 'scrapped' S and M pattern staffs through their shop in South Brisbane station. As they were steel they were heavily covered in surface rust, and the section names had been filled in with weld. But they polished up quite well. WAGR sold surplus large instruments complete with staffs.
  historian Deputy Commissioner

Though IIRC, each MES had the names of each interlocking engraved/stamped on either end of the staff, such that even if you inadvertently sank & then retrieved the same staff, on presenting it to your mate, he would identify it as incorrect and demand a carton...

But anyways... LocoMoFo, any particular reason you've staked a claim to my staff instrument?!? I just checked and it's still in its rightful place.....Shocked
In NSW anyways, an Electric Staff was not to be 'Swung' nor put into and withdrawn from the machine and re issued.
Of course there was the occasional problem of the Crew not paying attention at an unattended interlocking and carrying the wrong staff for the section until just as they were to arrive at the attended one and reading what was inscribed on the Staff.......

As I said before, I thought they used a 3 line wire system to operate the Electric Staff system similar to that used on Block Telegraph machines.
Very few places in the State used an 'Earth Return' and used a line wire instead but the stake was still in use to dissipate Lightning strikes.
gordon_s1942

There was at least one head on prang in NSW caused by a fireman of a light engine who sunk a staff at an unattended crossing station and then accidentally extracted a staff from the same instrument (it was night, the lighting in the staff hut was poor/non existant, and the driver didn't check). They then collided with a train coming the other way. I have an idea this was described in Ellis' book, and occurred on the Stockinbingal - Parkes line.

I have no idea if NSW used one wire or two, but ES instruments generally worked fine on one wire and an earth return. Two wires could be used for long sections (less resistance) or for special situations (e.g. the connections between an intermediate staff instrument and one of the end stations would always be two wire). Two wire, of course, significantly increased the line costs. Electric staff instruments certainly didn't use three wires.

The NSW circuits for staff instruments used to be available for download as part of the signalling standards web page.
  historian Deputy Commissioner

There was a famous story circulating of how one fellow found by treading on a specific floor board near the machine, he could withdraw staff after staff and got promptly stood down for demonstrating this because he was NOT supposed to try or 'TEST' the instrument to see if another Staff could be withdrawn after one was removed.
If this story is correct, this would prove if you can set one up to allow you to withdraw a Staff without having it connect to another machine.
gordon_s1942

I don't know how old this story is, and I'd be dubious about treading on a specific floor board, but there were certainly issues with staff instruments.

It's well known that a signalman in Ireland was able to get multiple staffs out of a machine "using some force". After some correspondence, the BoT required all staff instruments to be modified. It's also known that the SAR discovered that unless the fitter was careful, it was possible to file away sufficient of the armature so that "residual magnetism" would hold up the lock after the current had ceased.

Finally, it is known that in June 1925 Lad Porter Trevallyn demonstrated to the Traffic Inspector that he could obtain a Lower Ferntree Gully - Bayswater (Victoria) electric staff at any time, even though the short section was switched out. The Lad Porter was duly asked for a report as to why he interfered with the instrument (Lad Porters weren't supposed to touch the Staff instruments, not being qualified). This was, in fact, a defect in the instrument - the exact problem is unknown - and this was duly taken up with the manufacturers. Fortunately for the inquisitive Lad Porter, the Assistant General Superintendent agreed with the Metropolitan Superintendent that it was fortunate that the fault had been noticed. The Traffic Branch required a formal assurance from the head of the Signal & Telegraph Branch that this would not happen again "without using such force as to break the mechanism".
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
There was a case back in the 1920s or 1930s IIRC where there were two staffs for the same section on the TAR somewhere out of the machines. The VR (Signals Branch ?) was engaged by CR to conduct a thorough investigation but unfortunately I don't remember the outcome of that investigation. I do have a vague recollection that it was put down to some 'atmospheric aberration' but don't take that as gospel.

I have been told anecdotally by an old Guard that a spare gauge glass with appropriately placed rubber sealing rings was a satisfactory substitute for a 'lost staff'.
  petan Chief Commissioner

Location: Waiting to see a zebra using a zebra crossing!
Historian wrote; The NSW circuits for staff instruments used to be available for download as part of the signalling standards web page.

Folks, if anyone can supply the URL, I would be most grateful. I did a google without results.
  awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney
In NSW anyways, an Electric Staff was not to be 'Swung' nor put into and withdrawn from the machine and re issued.
Of course there was the occasional problem of the Crew not paying attention at an unattended interlocking and carrying the wrong staff for the section until just as they were to arrive at the attended one and reading what was inscribed on the Staff.......
gordon_s1942

One reason for the rule for always using a new staff of a different number was to give an opportunity for in-section level crossing direction sticks to be proved.

Direction sticks turn off the level crossing lights as the train leaves, but if the departing track circuit (DXT or UXT) or its direction stick (DDSR or UDSR) fail, then the level crossing lights will not give any warning when next a train arrives. This is obviously unsatisfactory. Proving the DSRs in one wire of the staff lines, gives the system a chance of noticing the problem.

Of course, Ordinary Train Staff, had no linewires to check the operation of the Tracks and DSRs. So how were these relays were checked? Similarly, Train Order Working has no linewires, so how would the Direction Sticks be proved?

During WWII, some equipment (staff instruments?, relays?) were apparently made with the "wrong kind of steel", causing the magnetic flux to decline to a non-zero value.
  petan Chief Commissioner

Location: Waiting to see a zebra using a zebra crossing!
At a lever frame for a siding in the section, inserting the miniature electric staff into the lock to release the Annett key, also operates a switch which disconnected the electrical link between the signal boxes at each end. This is termed ‘broke the line wire for the electric staff section’ and prevented any staff being released by the signal boxes at each end, while shunting is in progress. The wire between the signal boxes went up the side of the Annett post to the switch on top. Picture of this in part two of my Salisbury TNT article in next month's (March 2018) Australian Railway History. This was in addition to the fact that a withdrawn staff prevented another one being withdrawn.
  duttonbay Minister for Railways

At a lever frame for a siding in the section, inserting the miniature electric staff into the lock to release the Annett key, also operates a switch which disconnected the electrical link between the signal boxes at each end. This is termed ‘broke the line wire for the electric staff section’ and prevented any staff being released by the signal boxes at each end, while shunting is in progress. The wire between the signal boxes went up the side of the Annett post to the switch on top. Picture of this in part two of my Salisbury TNT article in next month's (March 2018) Australian Railway History. This was in addition to the fact that a withdrawn staff prevented another one being withdrawn.
petan
I wonder why this was considered necessary? As you say, simply having the staff means no other can be withdrawn. All explained in your next article, petan?
  petan Chief Commissioner

Location: Waiting to see a zebra using a zebra crossing!
At a lever frame for a siding in the section, inserting the miniature electric staff into the lock to release the Annett key, also operates a switch which disconnected the electrical link between the signal boxes at each end. This is termed ‘broke the line wire for the electric staff section’ and prevented any staff being released by the signal boxes at each end, while shunting is in progress. The wire between the signal boxes went up the side of the Annett post to the switch on top. Picture of this in part two of my Salisbury TNT article in next month's (March 2018) Australian Railway History. This was in addition to the fact that a withdrawn staff prevented another one being withdrawn.
I wonder why this was considered necessary? As you say, simply having the staff means no other can be withdrawn. All explained in your next article, petan?
duttonbay
I am led to believe the term ‘broke the line wire for the electric staff section’ at lever frames and type F level crossings in electric staff sections, to prevent any staff being released by the signal boxes at each end, was common enough in other electric staff NSW track places. The level crossing aspect just meant the staff was not released if a level crossing was bung. The bit about one staff out meant no more could come out, was just standard as well. Together the two aspects were a 'bib and braces' doubling up of the safeworking safety. I understand the Salisbury TNT situation was just the usual for siding like that.

EDIT; of course, as noted by others earlier, swinging the staff defeated the safeworking backups. Swinging the staff involved train crews on opposing trains in the crossing loop swinging the staff they arrived with to the other crew so each had the correct staff for the section ahead. The lazy crews who might claim they are in a hurry and don't have time to walk to the signal cabin, did not place the staves in the machines in the signal cabins and get a new one out, to prove, as others have said, the level crossings etc are not bung.
  duttonbay Minister for Railways

At a lever frame for a siding in the section, inserting the miniature electric staff into the lock to release the Annett key, also operates a switch which disconnected the electrical link between the signal boxes at each end. This is termed ‘broke the line wire for the electric staff section’ and prevented any staff being released by the signal boxes at each end, while shunting is in progress. The wire between the signal boxes went up the side of the Annett post to the switch on top. Picture of this in part two of my Salisbury TNT article in next month's (March 2018) Australian Railway History. This was in addition to the fact that a withdrawn staff prevented another one being withdrawn.
I wonder why this was considered necessary? As you say, simply having the staff means no other can be withdrawn. All explained in your next article, petan?
I am led to believe the term ‘broke the line wire for the electric staff section’ at lever frames and type F level crossings in electric staff sections, to prevent any staff being released by the signal boxes at each end, was common enough in other electric staff NSW track places. The level crossing aspect just meant the staff was not released if a level crossing was bung. The bit about one staff out meant no more could come out, was just standard as well. Together the two aspects were a 'bib and braces' doubling up of the safeworking safety. I understand the Salisbury TNT situation was just the usual for siding like that.

EDIT; of course, as noted by others earlier, swinging the staff defeated the safeworking backups. Swinging the staff involved train crews on opposing trains in the crossing loop swinging the staff they arrived with to the other crew so each had the correct staff for the section ahead. The lazy crews who might claim they are in a hurry and don't have time to walk to the signal cabin, did not place the staves in the machines in the signal cabins and get a new one out, to prove, as others have said, the level crossings etc are not bung.
petan
Sorry, my query was why was this necessary when the staff was in the staff lock at a siding, to release the Annett lock. I understand the level crossing and swinging the staff scenarios. but not the necessity at a staff-locked siding. Although, as I typed this reply, I wondered whether the extra protection it offers might cover the possibility of leaving the staff in the lock, and heading off without it...
  petan Chief Commissioner

Location: Waiting to see a zebra using a zebra crossing!
Dutton Bay wrote; Sorry, my query was why was this necessary when the staff was in the staff lock at a siding, to release the Annett lock. I understand the level crossing and swinging the staff scenarios. but not the necessity at a staff-locked siding. Although, as I typed this reply, I wondered whether the extra protection it offers might cover the possibility of leaving the staff in the lock, and heading off without it...

Petan (Peter Cokley) replies. You might be right, John! Wonder if it was possible to leave the staff in the Annett lock after returning the Annett key from the lever frame?  After all, the facing points and the facing points lock would be ok for mainline running if the Annett key was in the cabinet on the post and not in the lever frame. If it did happen then maybe caused by the crew being distracted at that time or in a hurry to get to the loco due weather such as heavy rain.

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