Electric Staff

 
  JoeT Assistant Commissioner

I hope you are not a gambling man, for if you back your assumption I fear you will lose badly. I would be more inclined to put money on what "the animal" has stated in his post.
Throughwestmail

*Cough!*

Well, here we are - mid-2013 and Electric Staff on the South Coast is still going strong. I want my money!!! Twisted Evil

Don't worry - I'll waver the debt this time. I've seen plenty of starry eyed dreamers come and go over the years. Its all good. Very Happy

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  GrahamH Chief Commissioner

Location: At a terminal on the www.
*Cough!*

Well, here we are - mid-2013 and Electric Staff on the South Coast is still going strong. I want my money!!! Twisted Evil

Don't worry - I'll waver the debt this time. I've seen plenty of starry eyed dreamers come and go over the years. Its all good. Very Happy
JoeT
'starry eyed dreamers' = theanimal ? Rolling Eyes
  awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney
Electric Staffs could be made in the railway workshops (as in NSW), or bought from private companies such as say McKenzie and Holland.

Cannot speak for other states.

In NSW, Staffs came in two sizes, big and so-called miniature. Only the miniature ones could be mounted on a hoop and exchanged with a moving locomotive at line speed, such as on the North Coast line.

Even older than the Electric Staff, is the Electric Tablet, which worked electrically the same way. The last of these were IIRC replaced with ETS about 1950 between IIRC Wingen and Murulla on the Werris Creek line. CMIIAW, but it is my understanding that the Tablet system was rather inflecible, and if a train was cancelled after the tablet had been withdrawn, it could not be replaced in the same instrument from which it had been withdrawn.

The instruments at the two ends of the section are connected by a pair of wires, and the polarity of each instrument is reversed each time a staff is withdrawn or inserted. Great care must be taken by signal electricians to prevent the wires being reversed while carrying out wiring changes. To help this, twin wires with Blue and Yellow cores, have been used to help check the polarity. These blue and yellow cored cables would be used between the telephone wire termination post and the relay room, and signal box where the ETS instrument is located.
  HeadShunt Chief Train Controller

Electric Staffs could be made in the railway workshops (as in NSW), or bought from private companies such as say McKenzie and Holland.
awsgc24
The Electric Train Staff (ETS) instrument was patented in 1888 by F.W. Webb and A.M. Thompson of the LNWR. The instruments were initially made in-house at Crewe. In 1893, manufacturing was licensed to the Railway Signal Company of Fazakerley, Liverpool.

Edward Tyer claimed that Webb and Thompson infringed his Electric Train Tablet (ETT) instrument patent of 1878 and was paid £2 per Electric Train Staff instrument produced from 1889-93. The Webb and Thompson patent expired in 1903, following which the design was widely copied, including by the NSWR Signal Branch.

The Tyers Electric Train Tablet system was introduced in NSW in the section Mittagong - Bowral, in 1888. The last tablet section was Antiene - Grass Tree, which was replaced by Miniature Electric Train Staff 29 April 1959.

The first use of the Webb and Thompson Electric Train Staff system in NSW was in 1891 for the section East Maitland - Morpeth. Assuming the above information is correct, those first instruments would have come directly from the LNWR at Crewe. Miniature Electric Train Staff instruments were introduced by the Railway Signal Co. in 1906 and to the NSWR in 1913 on the Richmond line.

The Electric Key Token (EKT) instrument was invented by A.T. Blackall and C.M. Jacobs of the GWR in 1912. The design was licensed to Tyer & Co.

McKenzie & Holland, Ltd. patented their own tablet instrument in 1896. These tablets (or at least some of them) were square, as were some used in the Tyer No. 6.


CMIIAW, but it is my understanding that the Tablet system was rather inflexible, and if a train was cancelled after the tablet had been withdrawn, it could not be replaced in the same instrument from which it had been withdrawn.
awsgc24
This is true of some Tyer ETT instruments but not others, e.g. the No. 6, 7A and 7 instruments, patented in 1892, '96 and '98 respectively, were "returnable", whereas earlier versions (nos. 1-5) were "non-returnable". NSWR used five variations of the Tyer ETT instrument, including the returnable No. 6. It is quite possible that the majority in NSW were non-returnable, because the cheaper ETS was already in use by the time the returnable versions were developed.
  steve_w_1990 Junior Train Controller

Location: Trying to fix something on the PTA Network
Does anyone know if the small branch from Berrima Junction to Berrima Cement works is also still electric staff working?

Last time I was in the area (2011), it was, but I haven't heard anything about it since then.
  theanimal Chief Commissioner

Yes I must throw myself on my sword, it is mid 2013 and electric staff is still in use between Kiama and Nowra, however the preliminary works to "signal"the line are occurring, I believe there are signal posts being erected, with the timeline now extending into 2014.
  Junction box Chief Commissioner

Location: newy
It's not really practicle in country nsw with long trains, they are expected to sink the staff while the rear of the train is still in the section.
  theanimal Chief Commissioner

It's not really practicle in country nsw with long trains, they are expected to sink the staff while the rear of the train is still in the section.
Junction box
dealt with under modified working, and by the placement of Yard Limit signs, communications were both the savior and the curse of this, a defective radio could stuff you
  awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney
It's not really practical in country NSW with long trains, they are expected to sink the staff while the rear of the train is still in the section.
Junction box

At an Automatic Crossing Loop, where track circuits exist from Landmark to Landmark, these track circuits can "cut" on of the staff lines, and prevent a following train obtaining the staff before the first overlength train is completely protected within the automatic home signal.

Similarly the direction sticks UDSR and DDSR cut one of the staff wires to prove that these direction sticks had de-energised.
  wurx Lithgovian Ambassador-at-Large

Location: The mystical lost principality of Daptovia
A picture of the staff instruments at Berry can be found here http://www.nswrail.net/locations/show.php?name=NSW:Berry (ninth photo, click on the Photographs tab). The instrument on the left is for the Bomaderry-Berry section, the one on the right for the Berry-Kiama section. Yes, the CTC bits & pieces are currently being installed between Kiama & Bomaderry (bagged but completed signals, foundations & signal posts at several locations) but as yet incomplete. 2014 maybe, but I'm not holding my breath....

When I took up as a guard @ Wollongong Depot 3yrs ago, I was told the Electric Staff would be completely & thoroughly history by the following year. Yeah, right Laughing

So for the time being, Electric Staff is still pootling along at the far end of the South Coast line.

BTW train crews operate the staff instruments and change the mechanically interlocking lower quadrant signals @ Berry between 2030 & 0430 each day, as during those hours the station is unattended; whereas Kiama & Bomaderry are attended round the clock.
  OK2RUN Assistant Commissioner

wurx, your hyperlink above not working.
  wurx Lithgovian Ambassador-at-Large

Location: The mystical lost principality of Daptovia
See above, should work now.
  OK2RUN Assistant Commissioner

See above, should work now.
wurx
Yep. All good, thanks.
  awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney
Yes I must throw myself on my sword, it is mid 2013 and electric staff is still in use between Kiama and Nowra, however the preliminary works to "signal" the line are occurring, I believe there are signal posts being erected, with the timeline now extending into 2014.
theanimal
Will Berry be converted back to a loop? With a second platform on the loop?
  wurx Lithgovian Ambassador-at-Large

Location: The mystical lost principality of Daptovia
Will Berry be converted back to a loop? With a second platform on the loop?
awsgc24
Love to see that. Seriously, no chance this side of electrification to Bomaderry.
  gordon_s1942 Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Tablelands of NSW
I did hear that there is still one section with Ordinary Train Staff (no tickets) in use out the Dubbo way.
  georges Train Controller

Sydney Trains engaged Cinetel Productions to produce an oral history and associated video to mark the the decommissioning, in June 2014, of the last Electric Train Staff System in NSW between Nowra and Bomaderry.
See http://www.sydneytrains.info/about/heritage/oral_history

The project included:

  • An archival video of the equipment in use.
  • Oral recordings of interviews with staff and industry experts in the field of railway signaling.
  • A report outlining the history and changes of technology using information and memories of those who participated in the program.
  gordon_s1942 Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Tablelands of NSW
For some years it was the practice of many when 'testing' the Staff Instrument was to try to withdraw another Staff with one already out ( I did) but we were told this was not acceptable because if we did actually withdraw a 2nd Staff, we were causing a potential serious safety breach.
Of course stories abound of how to 'water' the earth return and of a case where it was claimed that at one location, by standing at the Instrument and pressing down on the floor, you could withdraw as many Staffs as you wished.
According to Folk Lore, this was demonstrated to the heirachy during an inspection and didnt go over as rapturously as expected by the demonstrator !!!!!!!

I cant ever remember getting the correct Bells for 'Line Clear' or 'Train Departure' from a Train crew at an unattended location, just a 10 second or so ring or if it wasnt replied to instantly which you normally get from an Automatic location, they would play morse code on the Bell push.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
For some years it was the practice of many when 'testing' the Staff Instrument was to try to withdraw another Staff with one already out ( I did) but we were told this was not acceptable because if we did actually withdraw a 2nd Staff, we were causing a potential serious safety breach.
Of course stories abound of how to 'water' the earth return and of a case where it was claimed that at one location, by standing at the Instrument and pressing down on the floor, you could withdraw as many Staffs as you wished.
According to Folk Lore, this was demonstrated to the heirachy during an inspection and didnt go over as rapturously as expected by the demonstrator !!!!!!!
gordon_s1942
'Allegedly' a spare gauge glass with appropriate spare sealing rings could substitute for a staff.................
There was a case on the Trans line many, many years ago (1930s ?) when two staffs were extracted from staff machines. Caused no end of investigation including the 'importation' of VR experts to investigate. Unfortunately, I don't remember the outcome but I vaguely recall the weather/atmospherics may have played a part.

That, of course, was when the VR had experts (which they really did!). Smile
  gordon_s1942 Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Tablelands of NSW
I thought the GA part 11 had more detail but I am sure there was a cupboard beside the line holding the exchanger which you had to set up each time for it to be used.
On page 169, clause C, subclause V states the Staff exchanging apparatus must be checked daily as soon as possible after commencing duty and an entry made in the Train Register.
A gauge is provided at each station for the purpose of making the test.

I remember the tale being told on a Traffic Inspector placing a nut off a rail bolt on the frame of the exchanger and when he returned later, it was still where he put it so charged the Signalman with failing to test the apparatus but the signalman claimed he did the test but replaced the nut back where it was before as he thought it was supposed to be there.
Needless to say he wasnt believed and either got a reprimand or a fine.

I had used both Large and Miniature and sent away the container to 'Balance' the number of staffs (Bathurst West to Georges Plains) but never used or saw an exchanger used.
  NSWRcars Chief Train Controller

Sydney Trains engaged Cinetel Productions to produce an oral history and associated video to mark the the decommissioning, in June 2014, of the last Electric Train Staff System in NSW between Nowra and Bomaderry.
See http://www.sydneytrains.info/about/heritage/oral_history
georges
Kiama-Bomaderry was the last on the “NSW passenger network”. Unless things have changed in recent weeks, Electric Staff is still in use over several sections between Parkes and Merrygoen. Ordinary Train Staff remains between Gulgong and Werris Creek.
  gordon_s1942 Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Tablelands of NSW
'Allegedly' a spare gauge glass with appropriate spare sealing rings could substitute for a staff.................
There was a case on the Trans line many, many years ago (1930s ?) when two staffs were extracted from staff machines. Caused no end of investigation including the 'importation' of VR experts to investigate. Unfortunately, I don't remember the outcome but I vaguely recall the weather/atmospherics may have played a part.

That, of course, was when the VR had experts (which they really did!). Smile

I think there were 3 wires running between each instrument and being battery (DC) operated, by using polarity this was used to allow or prevent the removal of a Staff from the machine.
If this is correct, possibly a line fault as suggested by YM-Mundrabilla's posting could have caused a resetting of the machine to allow more than one Staff to be removed.
I know an 'Earth return' was used in areas of NSW as directions were contained in the various regulations that it had to be 'watered' to ensure its proper operation.
YM-Mundrabilla
  wurx Lithgovian Ambassador-at-Large

Location: The mystical lost principality of Daptovia
I have a few pertinent pix to post in respect of the last "electric staff" passenger service - on which I was the guard - but at this time my pic host is playing silly buggers with me Evil or Very Mad

Hope to rectify this soon.

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