DFR Telecoms Diary


Hopes for the coming year :

Complete a risk assessment of all telephone points along the lineside and introduce briefings and records for all lineside work.
Get the Asterisk computer up and running on the internet and get some home phones connected to the internal phone system.
Construct and bring into service the concentrator for Lydney Junction Signal Box.
Bring the new 50 pair cable into service north of the Town Crossing.

January 2011

1 January : A Happy New Year. Nobody has attended the railway today, but I am busy on the computer tidying away the diary and programme pages ready for the new year.

5 January : Martin, Rick and I attended. Rick spent the day on the coin box in the museum, Martin did some PAT testing, I went to check on Parkend, all OK. I also checked the new concentrator batteries, they were OK but at 57 volts definitely being overcharged. I have put a time clock in the mains lead to reduce the charge time down to a couple of hours per day. We put 100 from our Telecoms Fund into the Rail Grinding Appeal.

8 January : Ian and Paul attended. They fitted a protection shield to the top of the concentrator rack to reduce the possibility of more spills into the equipment. They also made permanent the charging arrangements. The volume of the speaker in the new booking office has been reduced by fitting a pair of resistors in a potentiometer arrangement. They completed lineside surveys of DPs 3M and 3N and used the first briefing form before going lineside.
However the day went wrong when checking Parkend exchange to find the incoming finals held and the ringer running. The junctions were disconnected to give the ringer a rest. Back at Norchard the alarm extension from Parkend was showing a prompt alarm indicating that the cable has been cut. There was no time to go looking before dark.

12 January : Just Martin and myself attended today. I tested the faulty cable from the exchange to determine that the fault seemed to be only 288 metres from the exchange. No one knew of a work party that could have cut the cable. As I cannot walk properly following an operation on my knee, Martin and Jean decided to walk the line to see if they could find the fault. They soon came upon a worksite with cable scattered about.

The scene of the cut cable

The cable had been cut cleanly and was pulled out of its protective green duct and oddly had been left across the running rail.

The scene of the cut cable

Two coils of telecom type cable had been left tied to the fence line

The scene of the cut cable

Whoever cut the cable made sure we wouldn't have enough to get back to the cabinet without another tiresome and unnecessary joint. The cable end was cut and not protected and the wet has run back into the cable leaving us with very low insulation. We will have to cut off quite a length before we find it dry.

I am now trying to find out who has been working on our cables. The repair will have to wait until Saturday.

Martin and I also repaired the light in the Parkend Goods Shed and checked the currently isolated exchange. Martin continued with PAT testing while I went home to rest the knee after its first real outing.

13 January : It now seems that no one has been to the site for several weeks and the cable cutting may have been vandalism or thieves starting to steal cable. Martin and Jean walked the line to the cable damage site to pick up and bring back the two coils of cable left at site. At least the thieves will not get those should they return. Jean and I went on to Whitecroft to check that the Parkend phone there still works. All OK, so at least the Whitecroft to Parkend section seems OK. The incident has been reported to the Police.

15 January : Ian, Paul and Martin surveyed the line from Whitecroft down to Norchard for the safety requirements and to see if there was any more damage. There was another cut and a short length missing at Upper Forge which will also need to be replaced and repaired. The cable end has disappeared up the duct to make it more difficult. After lunch, Ian and Paul dug in a short length of cable under a gateway while Martin and I measured the cable lengths we still have in secure store. We finished the day with a training session covering transmission bridges.

Rail Grinding Train

19 January : The Rail Grinding Train spent the time grinding rails near to our work place. Eye shields were necessary each time the grinder passed. Martin, Paul and I attended. Martin and Paul replaced the missing length of cable at DP5C during the day. I repaired a wander lamp and checked leads prior to PAT testing.

22 January : Ian and I surveyed Lydney Junction box for the installation of a concentrator rack and then did the risk assessments for the Junction telecom installations. We checked Parkend exchange and then returned to Norchard. It was so cold we spent time in the warm training on the PA installation before leaving early to go home.

25 January : Martin and I spent the day on PAT testing apart from a foray into the shop to find that the faulty fluorescent seems to have a fault in the fitting. The shop has decided to live with it at present. We have no items waiting PAT testing at present (but there will be a lot out there that is now out of date).

Photographic Charter Train

29 January : We shared our day with a photographic charter train wandering about the railway. We started early so that Paul and Ian could get the cable repaired at DP5D. They have cut the duct back at the new distant signal so that we can easily provide a phone at this point somewhen in the future. The cable was repaired by lunchtime and the circuits from Norchard to Parkend worked immediately. Later I checked the circuits outgoing from Parkend, they also are working well. An excellent job by our two newest recruits.
I did the risk assessments for the external DPs at Norchard.

31 January : I tried to get our computer to recognise a USB stick without success. I checked Parkend which is still connected and working well.

February 2011

2 February : Martin, Rick and Tony came in today. Martin and Tony spent the day replacing the faulty workshop light fitting with two new fittings. Nice to have the job done and out of the way. Rick finished the job of connecting the coin box to the 10+50. During the job we found that the extension jacks were all labelled the wrong way up. No wonder we were having trouble. We also cleared what we think was a long standing intermittent fault on the UAX by removing a piece of dropped wire between two MDF test jacks. I sorted out the new office computer and made arrangements to put the telecom and electrical records onto it.

5 February : Ian, Paul and I sorted most of the electrical side of the caboosh. I had two trips to the dump. We may now be able to find a few things. A spare amp and power unit for the PA equipment came to the surface. We also made enough space to hold the several sets of spare batteries that we have. We just need to build or find a suitable charger to keep them topped up. Jean did a sausage and mash lunch. We also went to Parkend and got the 390 and 399 equipment installed. The 399 test number did not work as I have used too high a resistance H wire relay. It probably just needs a resistor in parallel.

9 February : Martin, Rick and I attended. We got the laptop sorted so that we can have Electrical and Telecom info on it under separate users. Martin and Rick took the museum heater apart to find the cut-outs not working. We have to order replacements. They also changed the light fitting in the caboosh and we now have a decent level of illumination in there. I made up straps for interconnecting all our spare batteries prior to getting a charger in there. I checked Parkend to find the battery volts still low at around 47 volts so I have put the standby power unit 184 onto the exchange to give things a boost. The charge meter is now wrapping itself around the full scale stop.

10 February : I went to Parkend to check the battery condition. All OK. The charge current was down to 2 amps and the PU184 was running just warm.

12 February : Ian, Paul and I did the safety surveys for the bypass crossing to Norchard section in the morning. Later Paul modified the 399 relay set at Parkend and Ian made a start on neatly lacing up the rack wiring at Parkend. We finished back at Norchard with a chat about stepping circuits.

14 February : Lineside survey forms for the section from the bypass crossing to Norchard were uploaded to the telecoms website.

16 February : Martin and Rick walked the line from Whitecroft to Parkend to complete the survey of all lineside telecom points. I went to the Junction to see Derek Spinks and get the code etc for the box there. I also obtained the access passwords etc for the router so that we may get on and get the asterisk exchange working. I picked up the lads at Parkend after checking the exchange. After lunch we turned to a series of small jobs. Rick removed the D phone from the signal box window frame so that the frame can be replaced. We found that two of the museum lights have faulty fittings preventing the provision of the second tubes. We have sorted a temporary light for the museum which we will fit next week. We also checked a heater for the shop and PAT tested it.

17 February : The remaining lineside survey sheets are now on this website. This phase of the work is now complete.

9681 taking water at Parkend

19 February : Ian, Paul and I went to Parkend to jumper two new lines for lineside phones and test sockets. We surveyed Lydney Junction signal box for the concentrator rack position and reached an agreement with Dave Collins. We checked the proposed lineside lines at Norchard and Ian and Paul reprovided the pairs between DPs 5A and 5C that were damaged in the attempted theft.

23 February : The train was running and quite a lot of people turned up. Martin and Rick were in. We changed fluorescent tubes in the museum and cafe, connected up the spare batteries in the caboosh, got the spare PU184 working on one of the sets, sorted out the diagrams in the exchange and did a bit of tidying in the office. Bob Hawker has promised us a cabinet in the next week or so, so it will be back to jointing on the new 50 pair cable south of Middle Forge.

26 February : Ian, Paul and I installed the new low voltage alarm at Parkend. It produces a deferred alarm should it go off. I will have to sort out the alarms and produce a real alarm system. Whilst there, the O8 turned up pulling the sleeper coach so that the gauging could be checked for a possible visitor with modern coaching stock. We took Bob Hawker to the Town Crossing to Middle Forge section to look at the jointing positions for the new cabinets. We will do one drainpipe joint in a position that is rather unsafe for a large cabinet, leaving Bob two cabinets to complete and install. This job is now becoming quite live. At Norchard we surveyed for a CAT5 cable from the router to our office and found that the route cannot have an extra cable installed. Ian and Paul are considering a WAP wireless point on the end of the main building. We also discussed the Asterisk, a possible numbering scheme and perhaps the provision of ADSL between Norchard and Parkend to provide home access from Parkend. Interesting!

March 2011

2 March : Martin, Rick, Tony and I attended. Martin, Rick and Tony went off looking for a battery contact on the Lydney Junction Signal Box line. They found it in the end at DP3A just outside on the platform. Corrosion in the DP E side box. We will have to re-cover the roof with felt to keep the DP dry and then convert the DP to our current crimped style. However we also found the UAX13 line circuit P relay inter "dis" and during its "dis" phase it would cause the linefinders to call one after the other and the control relay set to lock out. We changed the line circuit and now the line seems to be working nicely. Martin and Tony fitted a temporary light in the museum to illuminate the plaque for Mr Watts. I went to a meeting with Peter Adams, Tony Smith and Richard Gittings to go through the electrical jobs that could arise in the fairly near future. We also agreed that minor electrical works that could not be completed by the Telecoms group could be added to a monthly email to Tony Smith (copy to P Adams). Tony Smith would then complete the work. Larger jobs are to be referred to Peter Adams for approval before submission to the contractor.

6 March : Ian and Paul attended. They had a look at the Asterisk computer first and made progress sorting out IPs, passwords etc. They fused the spare batteries in the caboosh and then went back to sorting the stores, getting rid of some rubbish, taking cupboards to the tip and the metal skip.

9 March : Rick, Tony and Martin attended. Rick checked Norchard exchange and liaised with Bob Hawker. Tony and Martin checked out 2 sanders, PAT tested one and sent the other for replacement under guarantee. Bob, Rick, Tony and Martin took the Talis trolley up line to the location between Middle Forge and Lydney Town Crossing with posts for two cabinets. They planted two posts and fitted the tie bars over the cables to be jointed nearest the town crossing (opposite Spring Meadow Road). The other post was left at the rail side for planting next week.

16 March : Rick, Martin, Tony and I were there. We sorted a few small items and had an early lunch. Then with Bob Hawker we went to Goatfield to erect two more posts for the new cabinet DP3GA. The ground was a bit stony but the posts went in well and we are now ready for the cabinets for DPs 3GA and 3GB to be completed and installed by Bob Hawker. Very nice to see the posts and tie bars in and ready to receive the cabinets.

19 March : Just Ian and myself today. We changed D phone batteries at Lydney Junction and then readjusted the new low voltage alarm at Parkend. At Norchard we connected a set of circuit breakers onto the five spare batteries we have and got them charging to a PU 164. Then we made a start on sorting out the office. We need more space in there.

"Sapper" visiting for a couple of weeks after overhaul at the Flour Mill

23 March : I was on my own during the morning to attend a quick electrical meeting re the workshop distribution board and I repaired the fault on the hi-level PA phone. It was another corrosion "dis" in DP3A, we must get round to sorting the DP out by reterminating everything. Rick turned up for lunch and then we went to meet Bob Hawker and three helpers lift the two cabinets into place at Middle Forge. We ended by making eight fanning strips for the various cable terminations we have to complete. "Sapper" was running about having its bearings checked etc during the afternoon.

26 March :

Preparing for the drainpipe joint Stripping the cable sheath The Completed Drainpipe Joint

Paul, Ian and I attended. We completed the drainpipe joint at DP3GC finding that the cable from there to the town crossing only had thirty pairs rather than the fifty we were expecting. However the ground was very soft and we did not come across any stone when digging. We finished the day with a tutorial on P wire battery testing.

30 March : Rick and Paul spent most of the day lubricating Norchard rack A2 selectors. Martin worked on the museum night storage heater and changing the socket in 9681.

April 2011

Paul and Ian preparing to operate on DP3GB

2 April : Ian, Paul and I attended. The weather was kind and we completed the cable work at new DP3GB and got the backboard and the D side cable into place in DP3GA. We also checked Parkend exchange.
At the end of the day, Ian and Paul stayed on to attempt to connect the Asterisk to the router. They think they have succeeded as Ian was subsequently able to dial into the UAX13 from his computer at home. Now we are back to the position we held in April 2009 but with a much better chance of moving on and getting the Asterisk to work properly.

Rick preparing to operate on DP3GB

6 April : Martin and Tony did PAT testing whilst Rick made a start on reterminating DP3A, our biggest, most complex and fault prone. The new office may at last start to be used as intended, so I expect phone and computer links to be required shortly. We cleared up and cleaned the office so that we will be ready for Thomas in ten days time.

9 April : I went to the DFR with Ian and Paul. We shifted some cabinets out of the way of the Thomas miniature railway and then looked at the PA phone on the hi level platform. Nothing wrong there but the PA rack was not responding. We had to get down to fault finding and finally decided that the microphone preamplifier was faulty. If it was a valve amplifier, I would say it was motor boating. This is 1960s germanium transistor equipment, not at all amenable to being repaired. We located a radiospares pre amp module and connected that into the circuit. It failed, not having nearly enough gain. Strapping out the gain controls produced a small improvement but the system is now too quiet. If we keep this equipment we have to design and build a further preamplifier and get it installed successfully. If we go for a new PA amplifier we will have to build additional relay equipment so that it can integrate with and emulate the present system as far as possible. Either way we are in trouble for the next few weeks, particularly with Thomas coming up. I have advised Lynne and Rob Morris of the situation and they will look into hiring a PA for the next few weeks. I am to meet Lydney Music on site on Tuesday. Not a good day for us. At least Paul got on with lubricating the linefinders on rack A.

11 April : Having woken in the night with a thought, I went to the DFR briefly to check the PA again. At least one of the speaker groups is short circuit, and removing the shorted speaker group enables the equipment to produce loud sounds. Now we have to tickle it to get the speech quality to be satisfactory. That will wait for Wednesday, as will looking into the speaker groups that are not working. However the equipment is "jury rigged" and if we carry on with it, we will need to rebuild part of the rack.

12 April : I went to the DFR to meet Lydney Music. We decided where to place a temporary amplifier in the Station Master's office. We will attempt to make our platform speakers available for him to use. I went on to fault the speaker system and fairly quickly got them all back on line.

13 April : Martin and Tony replaced a platform light at the Town station and then did some PAT testing. Rick and I reset all the gain levels on the PA system so that it is now working quite well, of course, it is still jury rigged and needs to be rewired on a semi permanent basis. We have pretty well decided that we must replace the whole thing after the summer season. That means a pair of PA amps plus quite a complex control unit to interface the amps with the real world. The temporary amplifier and CD player came from Lydney Music and we got it set up and connected to the platform speakers only. Later Rick and I checked out Parkend, it was working well.

15 April : Thomas day one. I went to the DFR to check that the PA was OK and that the station master knew how to operate the temporary equipment. Oh dear! The main PA rack would not switch on when either 6 was dialled or the over ride box outside the exchange was operated. I plugged the rack directly into a mains socket to provide service. That's four faults in one week on the PA. When I left the PA was playing Thomas music. I went on to the station master's office to find that the temporary equipment was not functioning. Someone had turned down the headphone level control on the CD player; putting it back restored service. I left my mobile number with the staff.


16 April : Thomas is sizzling in the platform admired by the first small boy of the day. The PAs are still operating, thank goodness. I have ordered another microphone preamplifier to help with the temporary rebuilding of the PA rack.

17 April : I had a call to say that Thomas has caused a lineside fire just south of Norchard box. At least he also put it out. However the cable to the signal has been burnt through and needs replacement and the main 37 pair has had some damage which may only be superficial.

20 April :

Thomas being careless The cable to the Signal Post Phone The somewhat cooked main cable going south

Rick, Martin and Tony went off repair the damaged caused to our telecom cables by the Thomas lineside fire. I recovered the temporary PA system from the stationmaster's office and checked out the level 6 starting problem. RWT (Right when tested), so what is going on with the PA? We also cleared up the problem with the 16A socket by the disabled toilet and found 25m of 20 pair cable for the DP3G to DP3GA link. We sorted out the way to get Martin's electrical info onto the Office computer. A hot day during which we enjoyed the ice creams.

23 April : Ian had a swollen ankle so we abandoned the idea of cabling at Middle Forge. We had a frustrating morning. We had a report of a non working phone at Lydney Town. Ian, Paul and I went off to check but all was OK. We thought that maybe it was the Junction involved, but all was well there also. When we returned we checked the routing of the new S&T plunger circuit. It had been reported as in use for other purposes, but was fine. Then we checked the freezers as they had been reported as "tripped out". They were running and the two freezers had been connected to different trip circuits by Lynne. Three jobs looked at and nothing done so we went to lunch at the Fountain. We checked Parkend which was behaving itself properly and came back to Norchard to run a tutorial on the Parkend linefinder and group selector. We then shifted the Asterisk from level 9 to level 4 in readiness for reconfiguration within our numbering scheme. An odd day.

27 April : Quite a good day for us at the DFR. We repaired the light at the food container, cleared up the top shelf in the caboosh and got all the junk out of the exchange and into the caboosh during the morning. After lunch Rick, Martin and I went to Middle Forge to lay the DP3G to DP3GA 20 pair cable and get it stripped and fanned in the cabinets. We also went to the Town crossing to get the 30 pair into DP3H/J and stripped ready for change over.

30 April / 1 May : I spent the weekend extending the outstation alarm and clock pulse relay set from Norchard to accept another four circuits. This will allow us to extend alarms from the signal box to Norchard and supply clock pulses to the signal box.

May 2011

Alarm Reception and Clock Pulse Transmission Relay Set

3 May : I fitted the modified Alarm Reception and Clock Pulse Transmission Relay Set at Norchard and went to Parkend to reset the Norchard clock there. This equipment will allow us to monitor the alarm conditions at up to five outstations, and will also allow us to extend the Norchard 30 second clock pulses to those outstations. Parkend is already connected and the equipment for Norchard Signal Box has been designed and built and will soon be available for installation. Lydney Signal Box will also have the facility built into the line concentrator under construction at present.

4 May : I was away having a wisdom tooth extracted. Rick and Martin completed the work at DP3GA so that we should now have the relief pairs available from Middle Forge to the Town Crossing ready to changeover. They fitted a handle to the electrical cupboard in the disabled toilet and had a go at a fault in the exchange.

Alarm and Clock PulseEquipment for the Norchard Signal Box Line Concentrator

3 May : I completed building the Norchard Line Concentrator Alarm and Clock Pulse Equipment and it is now ready for installation.

6 May : Ian fitted the alarm and clock pulse set in the signal box and connected its pair back to Norchard exchange. He then got on with configuring the asterisk. Paul worked on the display panel for the alarms, but this involved desoldering all the lamp holders etc and the job will have to be completed next week. I attended the new entrants day and gave my little spiel but did not gain any interest from the seven entrants. We had lunch on the DMU and had a ride down to the Junction and back.

11 May : Rick restrapped the VMBs on the asterisk incoming firsts. Martin and Tony got on with PAT testing the items from the Pooley van and C&W. I sorted out scrap cables etc and old electrical items. After lunch Tony went riding the DMU while Rick, Martin and I recovered some of the scrap cable from the parkside and took it to Bendall's.

14 May : Ian got on with configuring the Asterisk. Paul got on with the alarm and clock pulse relay set. We came home for a very nice lunch. After lunch we checked the signal box equipment to find the battery rather on the low side at 48.6 volts. We set the charger up a bit. It will need looking at for a while. After Ian had finished with the Asterisk we made a start in the stationmaster's office cleaning up the existing wiring and getting the new PA amplifier fitted.

16 May : I went to check the concentrator battery at Norchard, it had dropped another volt to 47.6 so I have left the charger on continually in the hope that will bring it up again.

17 May : I went to the railway to check on the battery voltage. 49.6 volts is encouraging, the charger must be beating the current drain. Perhaps we will even end up floating nicely. As I left, the alarm went back to green in the exchange, thank goodness.

18 May : We went to the railway with a car full of plants for Rosie and Jean. Martin and Tony checked the loss of electrical power to the Forester. Perhaps the power would have been OK if the plug had been inserted into the socket! I made a repair to a wander lead and checked the concentrator battery voltage. It's up to 50 volts, so things are looking good. I also started to check out the possibilities of fitting a relay set shelf to the exchange wall, as we are going to need a couple of sets when we rebuild the PA and get Parkend connected to the Asterisk. After lunch Martin and Tony got on with PAT testing for the loco dept while Rick and I met Ray Willey, a possible telecoms recruit. We had an introductory tour of Norchard and then went to the Junction to check the non functioning platform phone. Just the switch hooks stuck. We had a look round the signal box and then went to look over Parkend. All was well there. We checked out Whitecroft on the way back, the contractors have done a fair bit of earth moving but were not on site.

21 May : Rick came in for an hour to refix the D phone in the signal box. Ian and I spent the day installing a standby PA equipment in the stationmaster's office. Seems to work well. Even the radio mikes will work with it.

25 May : Rick and Ray went off to jumper a couple of lines in Parkend exchange and then made a start on chasing the lines through the cabinets fitting line test sockets in each cabinet. It also gets a line to DP1G in readiness for a phone cabinet to be erected for the operational groups. I also took scrap copper and cable to Bendall's to get a top up for our fund.

Alarm and Clock Pulse Relay Set for the Lydney Signal Box Line Concentrator

27 May : I completed building the Lydney Junction Line Concentrator Alarm and Clock Pulse Equipment and it is now ready for installation. The relay set diagrams for the concentrator have been added to this web site.

30 May : I went to Parkend to change out the coil on the tone relay in the 399 test number circuit. In the end it wasn't the coil but the relay incorrectly assembled, so that the lifting pin was sitting on an armature without a lifting stud. Changing the armature cleared the problem. The Forester has lamps not working so I had a look to see what we need. I can get the 240 volt lamps but I will have to look more deeply to find the 28 volt bulbs that are required.

June 2011

1 June : We checked the standby PA, all seems OK there should it be required for the Thomas weekend, but later we had a complaint that the main PA was too quiet. It probably was and in the end we changed over to the second main amplifier to get it up to a satisfactory level. Martin, Ray and I got the 30 pair fanned out at DP3HJ and the twenty through pairs from DP G tested for continuity. All ready for changeover when we can find a quiet non running day. We also cleaned our office ready for it to be used as a Thomas Booking Office.

8 June : Martin and Tony got on with PAT testing and found some queries in the records. The records have gone home with Martin for examination. Rick and Ray started on the wall mounted relay set rack in Norchard exchange. This may take a few weeks to mount and provide battery, fuses and common services. I covered the site looking for PA speakers. I found four that were not in use and could be recovered and were tested to be fine, including a small horn that will be useful. There are three speakers not working on the site which will need sorting. Quite a productive day.

15 June : Martin and Ray spent the day on fitting the relay set shelves in Norchard exchange and starting to wire out the battery and earth supplies. I went to Parkend to recover A relays for the new PA relay set I am building. We had a visit from ex GPO/BT personnel from Carmarthenshire.

17 June : A paper discussing the possible way ahead for growth in the exchanges in the telephone network has been added to this site. For access, Click here.

Paul and Ian make a start on the Lydney Junction Concentrator rack

18 June : Ian, Paul and I sorted out what we wanted for the concentrator rack at Lydney Junction and went to buy the wood etc at Light Fantastic. Excellent prices by the way. Then we got the basic rack installed in the signal box and some of the shelves fitted. Not a bad day.

22 June : Rick and Ray fitted an extra PA horn speaker to the stationmaster's building and got it wired up. That makes a decent help to audibility in the area. I cut down the shield on the top of the Norchard concentrator rack as S&T keep knocking their heads on it. After lunch Rick and Ray went back to the new relay set rack in Norchard and made progress in wiring out the battery and earth feeds. Rick and I also faulted a line circuit which would not switch properly. We found an L relay with the spring lifter jammed down the side of the lifting stud so that it contacted the armature. I got the feel of the fault, when operating the relay by hand gave me a shock.

29 June : Rick and Ray continued to provide the wiring to the relay set shelf. They also cleared a fault on a linefinder which for the third time in a month was a contact to the frame. This time the spark quench capacitor tag was touching the frame and was incorrectly wired. Correcting it cleared the fault. Three times in a month? Tony and I helped Richard Gittings sort out the electrical problem in the signal box and then we traced three new lines down through the cabling to the town crossing. There is a faulty pair in the grounded aerial cable but when we change over to the new cable we should have all the circuits working OK.

July 2011

The Lydney Junction Concentrator rack progresses

2 July : Ian and Paul continued to work on the concentrator at Lydney Junction. It now starts to look like a rack of telecom equipment. Starting at the floor we have (hardly visible) four 12 volt batteries, above it a shelf for the 50 volt power unit, then a plain panel on which we will mount meters, a small tubular heater etc, a relay mounting strip for miscellaneous relays, a UAX13 type ringer with the alarm extension and clock pulse reception relay set alongside, space for the MDF, the three relay sets of the concentrator, a relay set mounting shelf for a possible 20 line exchange and, at the top, a shelf for the PA amplifier. I have an amplifier available and this should be our priority once the MDF is in place and we can cable away to the signal box room with a decent DP.
I spent the day as the "go-fer". I did manage to look at the earthing possibilities in the signal box, to find that compared to the mains earth, the racking has a very small negative voltage on it and the token earth has another, but different, negative voltage. I think we should stick to the mains earth as that at least is bonded to the water pipe.

6 July 2011 : Only Ray and I were in today. We came in wondering wondering what to do but we were soon overtaken by events. We tried to replace a museum fluorescent tube but decided after trying three tubes that the fitting needs to be changed. A job for later. We were asked to remove a hand dryer from the redundant loo in the cafe eating coach. This we managed but when asked to fit it in the other loo on the coach we could not oblige as there is no mains supply to use. Back in the exchange we noticed a selector stepping very slowly. We traced the caller to find it was the signal box. We decided to change the dial. It took three goes, with trips back to the office, before we had a working dial. Walking back along the platform we were told that Parkend was unobtainable. Checking the junctions we found junction 2 dis one leg. We went to Whitecroft to check the junction at the halfway point and decided the fault was towards Norchard. We walked the line proving the fault out of DP5A. We continued to DP5C only to find a very active wasp nest in the cabinet. We were unable to make any tests and will have to come back to kill the wasps. We went on to DP5D to find the fault was somewhere between DP5A and DP5D. At that point we had run out of time and decided to busy up the faulty junction and go home. Not a day to remember for anything good.

9 July : Ian and I came in. We started the day by going to DP5C and killing the wasps. After turning the cabinet into a gas chamber we demolished the nest. This allowed us to test and find that the "dis" on junction 2 was 228 metres back towards the exchange. We stepped off the metres to find that in the end the dis was in the duct under the track close to Uskmouth. Those rodents have been at it again. We surveyed for a replacement cable but decided in the end to provide a loop cable along the fence line to DP3A. This will give us many more pairs to DP5A. We need to make up a larger group for a morning to get the cable into place.
Ian and I went to my home for lunch and whilst there Ian sorted out my router and ATA. We finished by dialling into Norchard and Parkend exchanges. I now have line 485 on my desk at home. Later when at Norchard I also rang 485 to check that the set up works both ways. However, this has shown that setting up an external line on the Asterisk is not easy and requires detailed knowledge of both the ATA and the router. Now we must simply check that the whole thing is stable and that we can dial between Asterisk lines.
After lunch we went to the Junction to look at the platform telephone and its extension bell. We got the ladder out and surveyed the loft to find all the interconnections between the two teles and the bell at the station. We decided that it had been incorrectly installed and that we needed to reposition the bell and reorganise the wiring to bring it up to standard. A job for later. We also surveyed the cabling between the signal box and station with the help of Peter Woods of S&T and now know what cables exist and where they run. A big step forward.

13 July : Martin, Rick, Ray and myself were there. Rick and Ray went back to the new relay set rack at Norchard. Martin and I went to the electrical wholesalers in Cinderford to buy two replacement lighting fittings for the museum. However they will not be available until Saturday. I then wandered around collecting a common service block from Parkend, power cable from Lydney Junction and more cable ties from Tuffin's. We finished early at 3:30. Not very much accomplished.

John Bathgate, Paul Seward, Rick Gillingham, Ian Stubbs, Martin Lunn

16 July : Paul, Ian, Martin, Rick and I turned up on cabling duties. This is the cable that will provide relief and replacement for the cable recently chewed by rodents. However we needed a long tea break first whilst we waited for the rain to die down somewhat. Why do we always have to cable in the wet? Ian and Paul dug out the ends of the duct under the gate by the Crossing hut while Martin, Rick and I retrieved the cable length from beside the track. We soon had it installed along the fence line and through the duct. We reinstated the diggings and made a good start on tieing the cable to the fence. We got one end into DP5A and stripped ready for termination. The rain stopped us from completing the ties along to DP3A. Ian and Paul stayed to tinker with the Asterisk configuration, it now is getting licked into shape. Martin went home to change and fetch Cynthia, Rick went home to change. We all met at my house, along with Ray and June, for an excellent lunch provided by Jean. Nobody felt like going back to work afterwards.

20 July : Rick, Martin, Ray and I attended. Rick and Ray spent the day on the relay set rack. Martin went off to get the two museum lights. I completed the tieing in of the new loop cable between DPs 3A and 5A. After lunch Martin and I replaced the faulty museum light fitting. My 485 Asterisk line is still working satisfactorily at home, allowing me to dial into the exchange test numbers to check that all is well.

21 July : I was called to find that cable scrap held in bin bags outside our office has been stolen. The police have been informed. Not so much money has been lost but the work put in by Paul in cutting off plugs from hundreds of leads has been wasted. Just to round off the morning I found that the museum light we fitted yesterday is not working. Further circuit drawings for the proposed Lydney Junction exchange arrangements have been put on this website.

23 July : Martin came in to look at the museum light, of course, it was behaving itself perfectly. Rick came in to borrow a 300 type tele for a display. I cleared some sticky switch-hooks on the machine shop phone. Ian, Paul and I went to Lydney Junction and had a good day on the rack. We went to the Fountain at Parkend for lunch. By the time we had to go home we had the batteries and power unit installed and connected up and the batteries on charge. A very satisfactory day's work.

Martin Lunn, Rick Gillingham, John Bathgate, Tony Macey, Ray Willey - The Wednesday Team

27 July : Rick and Ray kept going on the relay set rack. Martin, Tony and I got the new tie cable from DP3A to DP5A stripped and terminated at each end. I also got the "dis" junction to Parkend diverted via the new cable and back into service. Ian popped in to look over our shoulders and to deliver some wire and cable he had obtained for us.

John Bathgate, Paul Seward, Ian Stubbs, The Saturday Team

30 July : Paul, Ian and I continued with the Lydney Junction rack. The PA amp is working but still has to be connected to the mic position and the platform speakers. The battery and earths are complete and the ringer runs OK. However the battery was down to 43 volts and we found the mains fuse in the power unit blown. I have to locate a replacement and hope that the unit is OK. We picked up Jean and had lunch at the Fountain. The lads opted to return to the Junction on the auto trailer.

31 July : I went to Lydney Junction Box to replace the faulty fuse in the power unit. All was well when I left. I went on to Norchard where the PA access from the signal box was reported to be not working. It was OK when I tried it but I did find the PA phone on the hi-level platform dead. We will look at it on Wednesday.

August 2011

3 August : Up at 6:30 to be away to the Ffestiniog Railway at 7:15. We arrived in Porthmadog in three and a three quarters of an hour for 157 miles going via Abergavenny and Rhyader. An easy run in lovely weather and I don't think we could have done it quicker. We met Tim Oulton at Boston Lodge and were given a quick safety briefing and got signed in. Then we looked at the pile of strowger gear going into the skips as we watched. I managed to salvage as much as I felt the car could carry. Tim gave us a look around his tandem exchange and carrier centre. Interesting. We very carefully drove out of Boston Lodge over a very bumpy track before turning for home. We stopped for lunch at the new cafe on the lakeside at Trawsffyndd. Then it was home via Bala, Welshpool, Craven Arms and Hereford. A few miles shorter but it took just over the four hours. A useful trip as we now hopefully have plenty of relay bases, relays and uniselectors.
Rick and Ray repaired a fault on the hi-level PA phone ("dis" in cab3A due to working party fault) and went on with the job of fitting telephone points in the Parkend cabinets. Martin and Tony sorted out the electrical switches at Parkend and surveyed for changing out the light fitting in the museum. This may need some careful loft work.

4 August : Ian and Paul went to the Ffestiniog and collected their share of the scrap strowger equipment.

10 August : Martin did some electrical repairs while Rick and Ray went off to put a phone socket in the last Parkend cabinet. I started to sort out the common service feeds from the C Unit to the wall rack . We had an early lunch and all four of us went to the parkside to recover some of the old ten pair cable and take it for sale at Bendall's. We could not get at it all due to the height of the vegetation. When we got back we spent an hour turning out old stores from the caboosh inorder to make space in the exchange for the new PA amplifiers. I now have a car full of small electricals to take to the dump. A welcome event, a visitor, Mathew Wheeldon, left a donation for the Telecom Group. Thanks for the interest and the donation, it is much appreciated.

13 August 2011 : Ian, Paul and I spent the day at Lydney Junction, first chasing down the elusive fault that keeps taking the platform phone off line. In the end we recovered the phone in the office and rewired the platform phone and external bell properly. In doing so we sent Ian up to Spiderland in the loft to sort out a tape joint and get the wires crimped. It took all morning for a ten minute job. Jean supplied a very nice cooked lunch at home and then we went back to continue work on the concentrator rack. However we found that the power unit continually trips out with an over voltage alarm and that the batteries were pretty well flat. We think the power unit is a bit temperamental but would be OK with batteries that are much larger. Now I have to find or construct another charger.

16 August : Martin, Rick and I changed over to the new cable between Middle Forge and the Town crossing. The grounded aerial cable is now no longer in use. We went to the Fountain for lunch and afterwards chased the circuits on down to St Mary's Halt. We could not undo the lock on DP3M so we filled it with oil in the hope that it will open later. We could not get the circuits right through to Lydney Junction Signal Box, but it should be simple to finish the job once we get into the cabinet.

17 August : Today, I went in to check that all was well. Rick called as well to see if help was needed. No problems, thank goodness. Jean and I cleaned out the office for Thomas this weekend. I made up a lead for C&W, I have asked them to bring it back for PAT testing. To get the stuff from the office to the caboosh, I also cleared out all the scrap cable (not the good stuff) from the caboosh and took it to Bendall's.

24 August : Quite a bit of PAT testing has been completed by Adrian Copley and Martin received the paper work to cover the tests. Rick, Martin and I spent the day at St Mary's getting the circuits through to the signal box. We had to burgle our way into DP3M and take the lock back to be angle ground off the door brackets. However we succeeded and all the circuits should now be through to Lydney Signal Box with a spare for connection of the alarm circuit when we need it. We had complaints about poor speech quality on calls from Parkend. To start with we suspected that we may have earth problems somewhere but in the end it was simply the barretter in the incoming final selector. The circuit is busied up and we will repair the final at some time later.

27 August : Only Ian came in today although he brought his brother to help. They fitted the replacement power unit at Lydney Signal Box and got the flat battery recharging. Then they cabled the 120 wire cable to the KLU within the locking room and terminated the necessary wires on the relay set U points.

31 August : We had a funny day, mostly faults. Martin had no power to the DMU charger cubicle. Eventually we found that the switch at the cubicle had burnt out. Martin had to go and buy a replacement and spent the rest of the day installing it. We never did get to the flickering tube in the hallway. Rick and I were intent on changing the barretter in the faulty incoming final but found the exchange with the smell of burning magnets and with five group selectors all held to one final selector that had not quite restored. In the end we found that there had been silver migration on U points 9 and 11 on the final and I have brought it home to change the insulator. We gave up on a line finder which had a charred H relay with an armature stuck to the yoke with melted lifting studs. Rick replaced the selector with a spare and used the faulty switch as a donor of spare parts for the other switches.
In the end we got things going OK and got the faulty Parkend junction back into use. I also got the power unit from Lydney Junction working quite happily on the spare batteries we hold in our store. We also found two telephone cabinets that we can use at the Upper Forge distant signal and at Tuft's Bridge for lineside dial phones. Bob Hawker will paint them up for us.

September 2011

Final Selector A2 G1 U points suffering silver migration and burning

1 September : I had to change not only the U point insulation between 9 and 11but also the former holding the U points. When I took the switch back to test, I then had to change the barretter as well. No wonder the switch was not feeling too well!

Heritage Coach

September 3 : Ian, Paul and I worked at the Lydney Junction Signal Box. We cabled to the KLU and to DP3P from Norchard. We got the cables terminated and now have the Norchard exchange lines as far as our Lydney Junction frame. A reasonably satisfactory day where we made progress. We liked the sight of this heritage red and White coach in the car park.

7 September : Only Ray and I in today. We started by changing the tube in a light in the hall, but only after two trips to Light Fantastic before we got the right tube. We also got the two phone cabinets ready for Bob Hawker to clean and paint. After lunch we made a very good start on getting the common services over to the new relay set rack. Most of them are now available at the rack, just a few obscure services to find and extend.

10 September :

The office being reorganisedThe office being reorganised

Ian removed the level 6 power start box from the UAX wall so that I can take it home and rebuild it simply as a 24 volt supply for the PA control circuits. Paul, Ian and I started by going through our stores to see what we could sell at the Milton Keynes swapmeet. We found a fair number of items for which we do not see any use. This spurred us into tidying the caboosh and then starting to move items out of the office into the caboosh. We took the worktop out of the office and relocated it in the caboosh and then started to provide a big shelf to hold the items from our ceiling and to move the cases of small stores holders to the outside wall. We ended with it possible to start on the demolition of the false ceiling and partition wall next week. It looks as though we will have a more spacious office and room for a blackboard for training purposes. We have tidied a lot of junk and have a box of bits for the Wednesday gang to look over in case they want to keep any of it. We have our eyes on the main building loft next, where we still have some items stored. It would be good to clear the place out.

The platform phone at St mary's has been vandalised and removed.

14 September : It was just me in at the railway today. I repaired an electrical paint scraper first and then went to the junction to check on the battery there. It was charged but as soon as I put the alarm extension relay set into position the charge was insufficient. I modified the charger by removing a shunt resistance and by fitting an additional parallel bulb in the charging lead. This led to there being a 60ma charge even with the alarm extension relay set in position. Should now be fine. However I was asked to check the platform phone for a sticking dial, it was OK, and also to consider including the bypass phones onto the concentrator when it is ready. That should be OK as I believe that they are CB phones. Apparently we have had a voltage spike which has blown the bypass phone equipment and it would now be best if we recovered it. Then I heard that the St Mary's platform phone had been vandalised. I went to look to find the phone completely gone. Both it and its cabinet will need to be replaced with something more substantial. Bob H has been asked to move one of the cabinets he has to refurbish up his priority list.
When I got back to Norchard I was asked to consider the possibility of being able to operate a PA at the Town station from a mike at Norchard. If we have a running problem, then people can wait at the Town station and not have any information about late running etc. As the amps at Norchard are set for the right volume at Norchard, any speakers at Town station would likely be too low in volume with the line resistance in circuit. It will probably be simpler to provide a completely separate mike, amp, line and speakers for such a facility.
I spent the afternoon tracing all the alarm circuits on the UAX13 and getting them labelled. We have some work to do to get the miscellaneous equipment connected correctly to the C unit display.

17 September :

Ian working on the new shelvingThe office with the partition and false ceiling removed.

Paul, Ian and I got the partition down in our office, shelves erected, carpets sorted, electrics and clock moved and things generally tidied and cleaned up. The place now looks spacious. We still need to remove some cupboards and replace them with shelves to further improve the look of the place. Just the exchange, the loft and the caboosh to go after that! Some good news - S&T have decided that a phone is no longer a good idea at St Mary's Halt. It is just an invitation to have a go to the vandals.

21 September : The new look room got general approval as we started the day with a tablecloth and cakes on a stand. Martin sorted out the loss of electrical power to the DMU site first. Ray and I got on with checking the portable equipment we are holding. Martin then did the formal PAT tests on the gear. We made reasonable inroads into the portable gear backlog. Ray and I also went to the Junction on the train to check the battery at the signal box only to find the power unit not working. The mains input fuse was blown. The charger for the barrier batteries was also out so it looks as though the mains is spiking badly. Replacing the fuse got things back to normal.

28 September : On Wednesday Rick, Ray and myself (Martin) enjoyed a day in the sun. Ray and Rick did one or two exchange checks.
As requested we checked the night light in the car park and replaced the bulb which worked at first but then went out after 2 or 3 minutes. We also replaced the bulbs out side the signing in room, one of which was missing. We then check the nightlights in the shop passageway and discovered that the light nearest the platform was not working. This we replaced with a unit retrieved from the loft above the exchange.
After lunch we had a go to get the lights that did not work down the side of the carriage shed working. We checked them out and discovered that there were no electrons available at the light sensor switch. After some journeys up the ladder we traced the supply cable back to a DP in the main switching area at the end of the machine shop. We reset the switch that was "off" and every thing worked. We have no idea if it tripped or if it was deliberately turned "off". Everything worked when we left on Wednesday afternoon.
We think there is another circuit that needs checking at the end of the shop. The spot light at the end of the carriage and wagon shed works. But it needs looking at again because it appears to respond to the appropriate switches only when it feels like it.
We spent all day sorting this lot out, doesn't sound much, but we finished the day with ice creams courtesy of Rick.

October 2011

5 October : A full house for Wednesday today. Rick and Ray spent most of the day chasing a pair towards Lydney Junction for the alarm and clock circuit. They got it to St Mary's Halt before rain stopped play. Martin and Tony were back on electrical faulting and repairs. We wonder why there are so many faults appearing on the electrics on Norchard site, as we can hardly keep up.

8 October : Paul, Ian and I had a good day at the railway. We finished chasing all our circuits between Norchard and Lydney Junction box successfully and got the platform phone changed over to 551 from Norchard and the Diesel Depot site hut phone on 552. 553 is available for our use in Lydney Junction signal box and the alarm and clock circuit between Norchard and Lydney Junction is also working. This work required a new cable to what is now DP2 at the Junction to pick up the external cabling and the provision of protectors at Lydney junction so that eventually we will be able to split circuits there and test both ways. The minimaster is now not in use and we expect to recover it shortly. The Norchard line plant records have been updated and are on this website

11 October : I was not at the DFR today, I was taking the return journey from Caernarfon to Porthmadoc on the Welsh Highland Railway. Leave at 11:00am and get back at 16:50pm for 27.50. A very good ride as the trolley keeps appearing and orders are taken for hot food to be delivered to your table. However on chatting to the staff, it seems that our telephonic talents would not be required on the railway as the only telephone installation they knew of, was a BT exchange line at Caernarfon. A good day out.

Note : Chris Hall from the Mid Hants sent the following explanation : Regarding your visit to the WHR, BT lines are provided at the stations as this is the method of contacting Control at Porthmadog, when a train arrives they call. Even the small halt in the woods has a line, I assisted in putting it in last year, a Drop Wire 10 runs a considerable distance along the fence and under a couple of road crossings to reach an access point. Thanks for the info, Chris

12 October : Martin and Rick went round updating the directory copies held by our users.

15 October : Ian and I had a profitable day. We prepared a set of token batteries for S&T to install at Lydney Junction. We then recovered the Minimaster and its associated junction equipment at Lydney Junction and got rid of a lot of redundant wiring in the signal box. We went to lunch at Kaplan's in Lydney, excellent. During the afternoon we managed to install the core common services on the Lydney Junction rack. The ringer is running well and producing all the ringing and tones we require.

19 October : A full Wednesday Gang. Rick and Ray spent the day getting the power supply to the new PA sorted and the 24 volt unit installed. Martin and Tony had another go at the floodlight at the end of the shed and hope that it is now working correctly. They spent the afternoon on PAT testing. I went round updating directories with the new Lydney Junction phones and went to Parkend to do the same there. We agreed that changing over the PA to the new equipment will be done in January when all is quiet as we cannot be sure we will not find problems getting the new system operational. All round, quite a good day in which we moved forward.

20 October : The Wednesday gang met at Martin and Cynthia's, with their wives, for an excellent lunch provided by Cynthia. A very pleasant get together. We did miss Tony and Jill though. Thanks Cynthia.

22 October : We went to the THG swapmeet at Milton Keynes. It was very good, a lot of contacts to chat with and some useful purchases at very good prices. Ian and Paul had a table selling some of their gear and some of the railway's unwanted equipment. They had a good selling day and this will have cleared some bulky items from our limited storage space. We also had a look around the museum at Wolverton as part of the package and we had lunch there.

26 October : Rick and Ray reorganised the exchange storage shelf so that the new PA amplifiers could be installed. Martin tackled some PAT testing. I met a guest, Matthew Wheeldon, and gave him a tour of all our telecom installations. Thanks for the very generous donation towards our telecom fund. After lunch we all pitched in and cleared the four drawer cabinets in the office and got one emptied and moved to the caboosh. Now we have a space in which to install a 19 inch rack for a battery and power supply etc in the office. This will enable maintenance of selectors etc to be undertaken in some comfort. I have also brought all the notes from the many technical courses I have attended so that they are available to railway telecoms staff.

29 October : Just Ian and myself today though a possible new recruit, Peter Medcalf, turned up for the new members day. He is ex BT and will try to come in on a Wednesday to see what we do. Ian and I found that the A relay of the Parkend junction 1 relay set was well out of adjustment. It worked sometimes, particularly if the cover was off. We have busied the junction and left it for our maintenance colleaugues to look at on Wednesday. We also cleared a dis in DP5A on the phone line to the crossing hut. We went to survey the Parkend ground frame to find the new token hut and the new telephone cabinet both erected. We will have to do some work there to move the telephones out of the old cabinet and into the hut. After lunch at the Fountain we went to Lydney Junction to complete the common services wiring to the concentrator and the wiring to the MDF block. I have also heard that the town crossing hut is no longer in use and that S&T have transferred the treadles etc to the station. We will need to clear up miscellaneous gear in and around the town crossing and recover the power lead from Norchard. An interesting day.

November 2011

2 November : Rick and Ray repaired the fault on the junction relay set which turned out to be a 500 ohm resistor being intermittent dis. Then they continued with the PA installation. Martin updated a load of PAT records and had a look, yet again, at the non functioning charger on the DMU road. Again the trip was out. Someone seems to be plugging in something that is faulty. Ian had come in unusually on a Wednesday and our possible new recruit, Peter, turned up to check us out. Ian, Peter and I went to the town crossing to recover all the cabling to the old crossing hut and tidy up DP3HJ. The S&T Town station installation looks very tidy. We recovered a couple of lengths of the scrap aerial cable and took it to Bendall's. Later we sorted out some teles to wipe up for use as signal post phones at Lydney Junction. Quite a busy day.

9 November : Rick and Ray did some work in the exchange and Martin got a grinder back into commission during the morning. After lunch they made a start on replacing the scruffy cupboards in the office with shelves.

12 November : Ian, Paul and I worked at Lydney Junction Signal Box. We worked on several small aspects of the job at once. Ian got the concentrator head installed in the main room and made a very good start on terminating the wiring. We cleared some problems as we tested. Paul installed several bits of PA equipment and made a start on providing a temporary light behind the rack. Now that the hour has changed we cannot see to work on the rack after about three.

16 November : Martin and Ray had a fault to find on the main lights on the shed overlooking the yard, eventually it was tracked down to a burnt out starter and ballast in one lamp. Paul, Ian and I went back to working on the Lydney Junction concentrator. The installation and wiring is now complete and the concentrator is partly working. I have had to bring the operators relay set home to sort out as we ran out of time. We are close to bringing it into service.

The Key and Lamp Unit for the Lydney Junction Concentrator

19 November 2011 : Ian, Paul and I finally completed the Lydney Junction concentrator and brought it into service. We have three lines operating on it, the west loop phone, the locking room phone and a demo phone for the signalmen to play with. Definitely one of our better days. We had lunch at the Fountain along with Jean and Rosie after we had come home to collect and deliver the hot dogs to the lineside clearance team.

21 November : The documentation covering the Lydney Junction Rack and Concentrator has been added to this website.

22 November : I went to Norchard to survey for the required three phase supply to the new loader position and get agreement to Small Works doing any necessary trenching. I reissued a very much updated version of the end of October Electrical Statement to all interested parties.

23 November : Rick, Ray and Peter went to Parkend to start on the moving of the phones into the new hut. In the end it got too dark to complete but Rick and Peter may return on Saturday to finish off. Ian, Paul and I went to the junction and got the far end of platform phone converted and connected to the concentrator. We also found the phone at signal post 9 broken and will need replacement before we can change over to the concentrator. There are three phones at the crossing (one missing) which need something done. At the signal box we investigated the two crossing phones left for us by S and T but found that they take a standing current of 6ma each. This will not work into the concentrator as they will permanently call the concentrator. I need to do some digging around.

26 November : Rick and Peter came in to finish off the changeover of the phones in the ground frame cabinet at Parkend to the new hut. Paul and I replaced the damaged phone on signal post 9 and got it connected to the Lydney Junction concentrator. We all had lunch at the Fountain at Parkend. We picked up a spare AT5422 tester and took it to the Junction for later installation.

The Telecoms Group November 2011

30 November : The Telecoms Group : Ian Stubbs, Peter Medcalf, Ray Willey, Rick Gillingham, Paul Seward, Martin Lunn, John Bathgate.

We had a full group today as the Saturday gang came in to work as well. As we were all together we started with a group meeting to discuss how we were going to proceed next year.

1) We went through the telecoms programme. Several minor additions were made, the main extra being a suggestion that we attempt to provide a digital circuit to Parkend, partly so that an IP CCTV camera at Parkend could be viewed at Norchard. This will need experimentation and may not prove to be possible.
2) We discussed new electrical work but concluded that this will simply turn up out of the blue and cannot be anticipated by us.
3) We discussed the need for a recorded maintenance regime in which all apparatus, including every phone, is checked fully at least once a year. Ray will produce a procedure for consideration. This will assist us to become compliant with the IRSE guidelines on telecoms for minor railways.
4) Training seemed to be a popular requirement. Various topics were mentioned, records, workshop use, UAX13 and PABX4 equipment operation, the new PA equipment, clocks and safety procedure reminders were the main headings. Subsequently I found that the railway has a projector suitable for displaying computer pages which can be borrowed for such use.
5) The crossing phone replacement produced a lively talk, the final view was that this was a highly safety critical area and we should not bodge the job but that the correct equipment should be provided.

After the meeting we turned to normal work. We fitted more shelving in the office, the redundant cabinet at Parkend was brought back to the workshop for refurbishment, the Asterisk computer was removed to be taken home by Ian for updating and the monitor was fixed to the exchange wall to make more space, and the PA at Lydney Junction was tested with a different amplifier. This produced more difficulties which will be looked at on Saturday. I also went to the bypass crossing to locate the electricity supply meter which needs to be read by the supplier.
A different day to normal.

December 2011

3 December : Paul and I spent the day at Lydney Junction connecting up the new PA. It worked. A good day.

7 December : Rick and Ray did more work on the new Norchard PA. Martin and Tony continued with PAT testing. Paul and Peter went to finish off a few little jobs at Lydney Junction. I went to a meeting at Whitecroft to decide how to trench across the gateway for the phone cable, and moved the old cupboards from the office into the caboosh and started to reorganise the caboosh.

The Santa Special warms up before the day's activities

10 December : The Santa Special warms up before the day's activities. (photo by Paul Seward)

Ian, Paul and I tidied some of the office and got the last of the shelves up. Ian tidied the high shelf in the exchange ready to receive the rebuilt asterisk exchange when it is returned. He moved the various leads up to the shelf position. We had lunch at the Fountain and then went to Lydney Junction to tidy up before moving out. While there we looked at the crossing phone installation to find that it had a short circuit suppressor capacitor across the mains. We removed it and the equipment decided to work. We checked it at the crossing but the only phone we had access to today had no incoming speech. However it rang in both directions. Looks like a faulty phone as it worked to a butt.

14 December : Ray and Peter started on a test of the proposed maintenance procedures to see what would be likely to be required. They went round checking all the phones they could on the Norchard site. We now know that the forms need a minor revision and that we are going to need to get our phone spares organised and probably augmented. Martin put Office onto our computer so that it could be used to show Power Point presentations when we start training sessions in the new year. Paul and I went to the bypass crossing to recheck the phones. Only the maintenance phone in the cabinet would work to the repaired crossing equipment in the signal box. We still need two new phones for the crossing itself. In the signal box we found the booklet that came with the equipment. We now have a better understanding of how the system works. We came to realise that the phones are CB working but have a modification that allows the ringer to operate even when the phone is left off hook. However the booklet describes the Racal phones required and how to do the mod but at no point gives a circuit diagram of the phones. So we remain slightly in the dark but think we could alter a CB phone to do the job, if we had a couple. We are still digging into this. We left rather early, as the afternoon had turned into a weather nightmare.

15 December : The maintenance schedules and proformas have been added to this website.

17 December : A cold icy day with frozen snow on the ground. We came in on a panic, the point of sale machines were not working, and it was a busy Santa day. The BT line had no dial tone and is obviously faulty. Thanks to our "patch panel" of BT master sockets and thanks to an idea from Ian we were able to shift the POS machines onto a different line and get them working quite quickly. Panic over and we can get dial tone back onto the original lines at leisure. Ian got on with reinstalling the updated Asterisk computer. It seems to be happy. However it may still take some work to get the distant ATAs and phones to operate correctly. After lunch we went to the bypass crossing and recovered the faulty phone. Paul will use it to try to reverse engineer the modifications needed to make a CB phone work correctly to the crossing equipment.

21 December : Ray and Peter sorted out telephone spares and got them into labelled boxes so that we now know more or less where things are. Martin did some PAT testing and computer updating. I connected the 50 volt power to the new rack. This required me to take the power off the exchange for a while. I left the mains off and was pleased to see that the battery set maintained its voltage very well. I also connected up the 24 volt supply to the new PA relay sets and was able to test them for relay operation. The faulty BT line has not yet been reported to BT so I may have to go in over Christmas somewhen to restore the point of sale machines to their correct line. We do not plan to meet again until New Year's Eve.

27 December : The programme for 2012 has been added to this website. At the moment it covers mostly those items left over from 2011 and will need further consideration.

31 December : All I could do today was to reconnect the point of sale machines to the correct BT line now that we again have dial tone on it.

We managed to complete all our hopes for the year, except for that dratted Asterisk. The ATAs have been changed, the computer has been rebuilt, all the software has been updated, yet it still forgets where it is in the world wide net. We must cast our eyes at that BT router next. A pity we had to carry over this job for yet another year.

A Happy New Year to all our readers.

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