What was this signal box equipment?

 
  chooke Station Master

Back in the 70s, waiting for my evening Grange train, I sometimes wondering into the Woodville signal box talking to the signal man.

He used to show me around and explain the purpose of the different levers, switches and boxes.

There was this one equipment which made a sort of a scratching sound.  The signal man said that the sound means the Grange train is heading up towards the Woodville station.

Just wondering how does this work?  I presume the Albert Park stations would have been unmanned on weekend nights as it would have been simpler for that stationmaster to call?

Cheers

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  dylan Train Controller

Location: South Australia
I may be able to help can you tell me more about this particular instrument?
  DJPeters Assistant Commissioner

It might have simply been a track circuit that when the train was on the circuit it made it work and rang a buzzer or something to alert the signalman to its presense as it might be out of sight of the signalman at Woodville. If the signalman did not see it there which was very likely as the Grange line curved around towards Port Road it could be forgotten so the circuit was put in to remind the signalman of a train approaching from that line.

It might have been used all the time and probably installed because sometime in the past a signalman had forgotten a Grange or Henley Beach train and left it waiting. So the signal man would not have to rely on the Station Master at Albert Park ringing him all the time, as Woodville cabin also had to control the mainline there as well and was a busy place.
  Captainchoochoo61 Locomotive Fireman

The Grange / Hendon lines in their time were quite busy.

When the line ran to Henley Beach there was a crossing loop at the golf course and at Albert Park. plus the yard at Henley Beach.
With the branch and yard at Hendon there was a possibility of several trains being in the area.

During the second world war there was a lot of traffic both freight and passenger into the munitions works.

Soon after the introduction of Redhens in the 1950s there was a collision on Port Road crossing between an F hauled train and a redhen.

It appears to have been, that a staff was withdrawn simultaneously from both ends.  ( Or the machines failed) So both trains met at full speed because they both had a staff.

The staff was used until Albert Park was straightlined about 1990 or so.
Right until the end of the short siding retained for track machines, it was possible for two trains to be on the line.

Associated with this short staff section would have been a block indicator with a red dumbell showing. The could be associated with a bell or buzzer to indicate that a staff was being withdrawn and the person was seeking clarification that the line was clear.

In the upper quadrant signal days this was when the twin arm signal next to Port Road would be set for up trains.
That signal was how I learnt about signals as I always hoped to see both arms vertical, but it could not happen, so I had to learn why.

When the new signalling system was installed the last fuel signal lamp in Adelaide was removed from Albert Park, and it takes pride of place in my train room so it is a cherished connection with the area.
  Captainchoochoo61 Locomotive Fireman

https://www.flickr.com/photos/baytram366/8459732761

Is a link to an image of the interior of the Woodville signal cabin.
The instruments on the shelf above the levers are what made the noises the OP mentioned.

The reason there are several are because of Grange, woodville North and possibly a remnant from the Cheltenham racecourse instruments.
  Gayspie Assistant Commissioner

Location: Adelaide, SA
Does anyone remember when the passing loop in the grange golf course was removed and straight-lined ?
  chooke Station Master

Thanks for your replies, and the additional information by captainchoochoo on the Grange line.

The instrument in question was closer to other the end of the cabin, away from the levers.  It was near the desk where the signalman sits with his cup of tea.  That is my recollection of it but memory fades...  the sound was like a scratchy noise, sort of the sound of an old LP record before the music starts.  But I think the interpretation is correct because I remember the signalman saying that is my train approaching the [Woodville] station.

A few other questions, I do remember the changing of electric staff at Albert Pk station.  Was one also in use for the Hendon line?  What was used instead of the staff and mechanical signals later in the night when the Albert Park station was unmanned - or was it manned until the last train at night?
  jm1941 Chief Commissioner

Location: Mount Gambier
A few other questions, I do remember the changing of electric staff at Albert Pk station.  Was one also in use for the Hendon line?  What was used instead of the staff and mechanical signals later in the night when the Albert Park station was unmanned - or was it manned until the last train at night?
chooke
Interesting read and an old memory jog of Grange/Albert Park line when I first started my SAR railway career 1962, the early fun days working on the Suburban Red Hens ticket collecting on my way to getting fully qualified.

How well I remember (this is well imprinted) we would pickup the staff hoop with an electric staff attached at Seaton Park. The staff was basically just a token staff that was used only between Albert Park and Grange)

This maybe just a shade off-topic. This is vivid memory was my very first experience with the electric or token staff working. Our Redhen from Adelaide picked up the staff (in hoop) at Albert Park, then proceeded to Grange and on the return we were crossing the next Grange Redhen at Albert Park which was on the siding. We were doing a fair turn of speed coming into the Albert Park station. The guard of the Grange train we were crossing that was in the siding and he was standing near edge of platform with his arm straight out to receive the staff.  Oh dear, a no no for taking a staff at some speed.

As we were slowing down the staff hoop ran up his straight out arm and guess what, with the weight of the staff itself, it ran right up his arm to his armpit which caused the staff to then fly around and the end of the metal staff itself stuck him in the back of the bottom of his head and came very close to knocking him out or worse. I could see his legs weakening as he slowly slumped to the platform. My guard and I before our Redhen had even stopped we both jumped off and belted back down to where he was and we helped him shakily to his feet, THANKFULLY he was shaking his head and after a bit got his land legs back and he said, he was okay now, but then said, he will NEVER do that again. Lessons the hard way we all have growing up.

This was an excellent teaching lesson to me, as later on I took a shift to Jamestown and then Mount Gambier and both were on electric staff working.  The only difference was, these staffs were taken at ground level, not at platform level.

Anyway Chooke, thanks for the memory jog, thought this may be of some interest about the old electric staffs.

Jm1941
  Captainchoochoo61 Locomotive Fireman

Staffs were meant to be lifesaving devices , but could so easily have been a grim reaper.

For the sake of accuracy I think the event happened at Albert Park not Seaton Park as I do not think there was a siding at Seaton Park in those times.

For Heath I think Golflinks siding was closed in 1961.
There was a picture in Rails through Swamp and Sand (  I think ) of a cross happening there, and I think a staff was in the hand of the guard at ground level.


Another staff story
It was a cold, dark, foggy night. A train was approaching Coombe ( I think) at a fair speed as it was running late on the Slow & Rough. The staff had been set into the auto exchanger to enable a fast changeover.

For some reason the staff flew into the dark foggy night and could not be found. Wether it was too fast, an arm bent, the stand failed, the hoop broke or any other reason will possibly never be remembered.
Staff and crew searching all round.

Another staff could not be drawn, paperwork started flowing and that late running train got a lot later until the situation was resolved.
I think in a case like this fitters had to be called to obtain an extra staff and ensure there was no other train in the system. Can Johnny shed any info on this ?

Night time. Main South Line, how many trains would have been delayed?
  jm1941 Chief Commissioner

Location: Mount Gambier
Staffs were meant to be lifesaving devices , but could so easily have been a grim reaper.

Basically staffs are, but main fault lay with the human element, not following rules and regulations.  When one thinks of all the millions of staffs used over the time of staff usages, not a lot went wrong. Of course the results can be and were often catastrophic. But that happens with all train working. I guess law of averages where that odd unforeseen circumstance or someone not following proper procedure rears its ugly head.


For the sake of accuracy I think the event happened at Albert Park not Seaton Park as I do not think there was a siding at Seaton Park in those times.

Sorry Captain, I actually first typed Albert Park, then went on putting Seaton Park. Glad you picked that up as I had to re-check that out and sure enough dum & dummer's old aged thinking had got totally derailed. Surprised  sorry folk.
First I thought Seaton Park, but changed it to the correct station "Albert Park", but then went on typing Seaton Park for some reason (shaking head) brain fade, dunno.



Another staff story
It was a cold, dark, foggy night. A train was approaching Coombe ( I think) at a fair speed as it was running late on the Slow & Rough. The staff had been set into the auto exchanger to enable a fast changeover.
For some reason the staff flew into the dark foggy night and could not be found. Wether it was too fast, an arm bent, the stand failed, the hoop broke or any other reason will possibly never be remembered.
Staff and crew searching all round.
Another staff could not be drawn, paperwork started flowing and that late running train got a lot later until the situation was resolved. I think in a case like this fitters had to be called to obtain an extra staff and ensure there was no other train in the system. Can Johnny shed any info on this ?

This is reason one never stood close to an auto staff exchanger.  Yes I've heard stories of missed staffs with the staff being flung out into the scrub and often found day's later.  I've never worked with an automatic staff  exchanger, but have seen them. If they not set and lined up correctly, this would happen.
I would think if the staff was deemed missing, I'd say Train Order working would have been instituted between those two missing staff stations till the staff was rectified.      



Night time. Main South Line, how many trains would have been delayed?

I'd be doubtful if there was much delay to train working, that is if there was not much messing about.
Be different story these days though. Smile


JM1941
  dylan Train Controller

Location: South Australia
I don't think Coombe ever had the auto staff exchanges, it was only a goods siding until fitted out for CTC, mind you, I could be wrong.
As a matter of curiosity, were the staffs always found after being flung into the bush?
Trawling through the scrub at old crossing loop sites looking for lost staffs could be my new hobby! Haha
Cheers,
Dyl
  Radioman Chief Train Controller

I don't think Coombe ever had the auto staff exchanges, it was only a goods siding until fitted out for CTC, mind you, I could be wrong.
As a matter of curiosity, were the staffs always found after being flung into the bush?
Trawling through the scrub at old crossing loop sites looking for lost staffs could be my new hobby! Haha
Cheers,
Dyl
dylan
Hello All,

eventually, yes. Eventually could be days, weeks, months, or very rarely , years ! Could also cover missing staff landing on top of loco fuel tank and being found by the Workshops people.

Regards, Radioman.
  Mufreight Train Controller

Location: North Ipswich
I don't think Coombe ever had the auto staff exchanges, it was only a goods siding until fitted out for CTC, mind you, I could be wrong.
As a matter of curiosity, were the staffs always found after being flung into the bush?
Trawling through the scrub at old crossing loop sites looking for lost staffs could be my new hobby! Haha
Cheers,
Dyl
Hello All,

eventually, yes. Eventually could be days, weeks, months, or very rarely , years ! Could also cover missing staff landing on top of loco fuel tank and being found by the Workshops people.

Regards, Radioman.
Radioman
The staff when it went missing on an auto exchanger often was recovered far from where it went missing, the staff for the Glenap Border Loop possibly set the record as it was found in a South Australian ELX in Perth in the times of bogie exchange
  jm1941 Chief Commissioner

Location: Mount Gambier
I don't think Coombe ever had the auto staff exchanges, it was only a goods siding until fitted out for CTC, mind you, I could be wrong.
As a matter of curiosity, were the staffs always found after being flung into the bush?
Trawling through the scrub at old crossing loop sites looking for lost staffs could be my new hobby! Haha
Cheers,
Dyl
Hello All,

eventually, yes. Eventually could be days, weeks, months, or very rarely , years ! Could also cover missing staff landing on top of loco fuel tank and being found by the Workshops people.

Regards, Radioman.
The staff when it went missing on an auto exchanger often was recovered far from where it went missing, the staff for the Glenap Border Loop possibly set the record as it was found in a South Australian ELX in Perth in the times of bogie exchange
Mufreight
Good one, not heard of that, but sure is very easily to see how that staff could easily end up flying over into the ELX of the train being crossed at the time.

Have staff will travel further than one may possibly think, though not entirely by air.

For those not seen or what the Staff in an auto exchanger looks like and how it is setup.
Here below are pictures of the setup on my web page at Pandora.

http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/132791/20180921-1834/rail_dittys_files/staff_on_the_fly/staffs.htm

JM1941
  chooke Station Master

Thanks for the replies.

It's still not clear though whether a staff was used on the Hendon line from Albert Park as well as the Grange line.

Another question, were the points on the crossover just down from the Holdens station operated electrically?  I can't imagine it would have been a mechanical lever operation all the way from Woodville.
  dylan Train Controller

Location: South Australia
I have a funny feeling Albert Park to Hendon was operated under token staff, don't quote me on that though cause I can't find my suburban lines WTT!
  duttonbay Minister for Railways

I have a funny feeling Albert Park to Hendon was operated under token staff, don't quote me on that though cause I can't find my suburban lines WTT!
dylan
My 1966 WTT indicates Albert Park to Grange was "special token staff" - which sounds like what other states might call an ordinary train staff. Albert Park-Hendon was automatic electric staff.
  DJPeters Assistant Commissioner

Thanks for the replies.

It's still not clear though whether a staff was used on the Hendon line from Albert Park as well as the Grange line.

Another question, were the points on the crossover just down from the Holdens station operated electrically?  I can't imagine it would have been a mechanical lever operation all the way from Woodville.
chooke
I think you would find they were manually set but spring loaded so that normal passenger trains were not stopped to open and shut them. The station and siding that used to be in the Golf Links was like this the train for Henley Beach always took the left hand siding and the train going back to Adelaide used the left hand siding only if something went wrong like a failure or something of the sprung points would a train need to actually stop and manually change the points. Goods trains though at Holdens would stop to change points as they needed to get where normal passenger services would not go. The track past Holdens was effectively double track with an up and a down track once past Holdens heading to Grange etc it was only single track. From Grange passenger trains could pass at Golf Links, Albert Park Or Holdens. Albert Park was a manned station but the other two may have used sprung points to get passenger trains into the right places.

Also as an aside to this the last remant of the old Holden Factory at Woodville was demolished recently and the area alongside Cheltenham Parade is now an open paddock. You can see the back wall of the Bunnings store from the train just before St Clair railway station.

From memory the only electrically operated points in the Adelaide Metro area that were operated remotely was the old Tonsley Junction and these were operated by train control from Adelaide.
  steam4ian Chief Commissioner

David. I recall that the switch at the down end of the loop at Bridgewater were motor operated when the loop was extended. At Aldgate both the switches at the UP end were two wire operated; at some point the loop had been extended to include Madurta.
  DJPeters Assistant Commissioner

The points at Woodville might have even been wire operated as well a lot of the old semaphore signals were and some had very long runs as well.

Yes  I should have said something about the points on the loop at Bridgewater but what I am meaning is that back then they were not in the Adelaide Metro area though. I mean in the days of the Golf Links station etc.
  steam4ian Chief Commissioner

The points at Woodville might have even been wire operated as well a lot of the old semaphore signals were and some had very long runs as well.

Yes  I should have said something about the points on the loop at Bridgewater but what I am meaning is that back then they were not in the Adelaide Metro area though. I mean in the days of the Golf Links station etc.
DJPeters
David, wire operation of the down switched at Woodville is quite unlikely unless the NRM removed the distinctive lever/s used to operate wire switches. Such levers did not operate through the floor as for standard frames but had a 180 deg travel which moved the drum to which the wires were attached by chains. The last ones I saw were in the then derelict cabin at Roseworthy, they operate the cross-overs at the down end of the yard. One thing about wire operation was that the throw mechanism also incorporated the facing switch lock eliminating the need for a second lever.

I suggest the Woodville switches in question were electrically operated; reference to Reese Jennings' post of Facebook should clarify this.
  Captainchoochoo61 Locomotive Fireman

The point from double line to single leaving holdens would be very unlikely to have been spring operated.
During the war years the Hendon plant was a munitions factory.
I would think it unlikely that train loads of ammunition would have been unlikely to have regularly passed over unlocked switches.
I can remember lots of rods being all over the yard in conjunction with the signal cabin.
With locked points everywhere I find wire operated signals on this yard to also have been unlikely.
The absence of the "roller" would seem to confirm that.
The Grange line was the second busiest part of the yard.

For up trains from Grange there were many movements to the up Port main, but also many movements on the road to platform 3 so a spring operated point would have been a nuisance.
In addition the up signal the other side of port rd was electrically operated. To combine that with a spring loaded point would have been a nightmare.

When shunting was taking place the wagons were moved in and out via the down line.

I found a few references to safeworking in the area via google and it confirms that some form of staff was used for Albert Park to Hendon.
The staff instrument was kept in a small brown shed on the island platform.
I can recall that  shed in photos of trains waiting at Hendon.

The spring loaded points at Golflinks were used because there was no shunting there, and time outside the train was desirable to reduce time off train to avoid wayward golf balls.
  DJPeters Assistant Commissioner

Now that you mention it most of the point work was closer to Woodville cabin than is thought the only far away point would be where the double line from Woodville turns into single line for the Henley Beach (Grange) line so I think that the closest end  to Woodville cabin was all rod operated and maybe the point closer to Port Road was a spring loaded but switchable point that was left set one way as the train coming out of Woodville for Henley Beach would need to wait for the train coming to Woodville to clear the line before proceeding. Or if it was necessary go to Albert Park and wait there in the passing loop. There was also a 10 mph permanent speed restriction over the Port Road crossing as well. So the use of a trailable switch or point could be used quite safely, it would have had a locked point change lever on it though just in case it was needed to throw it the other way, this would be the same type that was at Golf Links or similar to it.

That way would save a very long run of rodding that could easily be damaged in a derailment or other event. Just saying as SAR was always using things such as this to save time and not having to have the staff stop the train change a point and then continue. On country lines yes it would be done on the armstrong method but Henley Beach generated a lot of rail traffic back then so that could be how it was done.

According to a 1971 employees time table I have here the Albert Park to Grange section was controlled by working it according as a token working in other words a electric staff was used it was inscribed Albert Park to Grange, at Grange a telephone was provided adjacent to the waiting room and secured with a S lock, to probably get permission to return to Albert Park and return the staff to the signal cabin there. To get to Hendon was also a electric staff.  If either staff was lost then train order working would be used until the staff or staffs were found, on the Grange line out of order clips must be placed on the down Absolute signal levers Nos 14 and16, except when necessary to admit a train to the Albert Park Grange section under a train order. But they must be replaced immediately after the train has passed these signals.

This is from Page 44 of the SAR working timetables for 1971.




Above is a hand drawn track layout of the old Woodville station area, the photo and drawing are by Reece Jennings.
  DJPeters Assistant Commissioner

Another plan of the track layout at Woodville.

  chooke Station Master

Thanks for that info DJPeters, very helpful

A couple questions...

What are the references to the numbers in the Woodville pic?

Would you have a similar diagram for Albert Park and Hendon from the  SAR working timetables?

Cheers

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