DFR Telecoms Diary
Hopes for the coming year :
2 January : Rick, Tony M and Martin came in. Rick got to grips with a telecom's circuit diagram and maintenance work.
9 January : Rick spent the day making progress with DP3A. Ray fitted the new krone block in the office and reterminated the cable onto it. Peter fitted trunking in the exchange to go from the new MOP to the loft. This meant that I reacquainted myself with the delights of the loft. At least we have a few interesting spares up there. I also ran the mains fail check on the Norchard exchange. We turned the mains off at 11:20 and watched the volts drop quickly to 49.7. However at 15:00 the volts were at 49.9, not bad for a set of batteries rated at 48 volts. We look to be in good condition.
13 January : The details of the Junction Call Count Meters have been added to the website
22 January 2013 : Despite the snowy roads, Charles and Peter got in to continue work on the token display in the museum.
24 January : I went in for an hour so that I could replace the lock at the electrical meter cabinet at the Bypass Crossing with an ordinary engineering cabinet version. Now when the meter reader rings up and demands instant attendance, at least I will not have to visit our Norchard Office first. I also picked up a couple of 60 volt power supplies from the signal box for use with the possible Lydney Junction exchange.
26 January : Paul worked on the router to get it recognising the Asterisk again. I terminated the 25 pair MOP to MDF tie cable on the MDF. We left at lunchtime. Mission accomplished.
30 January : Today we were greeted with the news that the electricity was off over part of the site, including our office. No tea? We had to get on and isolate that part of the site with the fault so that we could start the day with a hot drink. Charles and Tony had a go at sorting the fault later but by then it had gone away. Probably rain related and the sun today cleared the problem. We visited Parkend to look at the state of the huts waiting an electrical supply. One was still far from acceptable and our Chairman and Contractor banned connection of the supply until the hut security is improved. Charles and Tony then turned their attention to extra lighting in the 9681 coach and came up with an agreement with John Metherall. Later they changed the light fitting in the signing on room.
31 January 2013 : Today I had a two way conversation with the shop from my Asterisk extension at home. Paul seems to have cracked the problems of the BT Home Hubs. Later I heard that Peter similarly could speak to Paul via the Asterisk.
13 February : I sorted out the circuits and wiring on DP2 as the records proved to be rubbish and then jumpered up 507 for use in the small works workshop. Peter got some back boxes into the trunking in the booking office while Rick sorted some of his diagrams. Later Rick and Peter got the dial tone through to the small works cabin but now await Small Works to cut a hole for the cable entry into the building.
19 February : Ray came in on his own to do maintenance at Parkend. Switch lubrication and a check of the telephones was achieved.
20 February : An odd jobs day today. Rick finished providing the small works cabin with their phone. Ray recovered the old speaker changeover relay in the stationmaster's office (not needed since the standby PA amplifier was stolen). Peter provided the new DP in our office and I made up sets of batteries for the token machines.
23 February : Peter, Paul and Ian got the cold job and got on with reterminating DP2 in the workshop into a new Krone box. They got all the cables over and the phones reconnected but had to leave the clocks, PA and BT lines until Wednesday. We now have plenty of spares to our office. I spent a nice warm day in the exchange making up another set of Token batteries and jumpering 549 for the proposed caboosh phone. In doing this I found the linefinders on rack 2 reluctant to restore after a call and tracked it down to the RS relay in control set 1. It had lost all its residual and was very reluctant to release. Then a group selector kept dropping out on level 5 but when I started to fault the thing it decided it was high time it behaved itself. No doubt it is planning to drop out now that it is back in service and expected to do some work.
27 February 2013 : Peter and Ray got all the outstanding circuits on DP2 back into service though they will have to return as they reorganise the telephone wiring in our office. The duct to our caboosh was laid by Bob Bramwell's gang. I mostly got in the way with minor jobs.
1 March : Peter and Ray went in to have a quiet time in the office changing over the miscellaneous circuits from DP2A to DP2C. This will leave the old DP2A serving only the BT lines in the office. Our new DP2C will serve all other functions.
6 March : Ray, Peter, Charles, Martin and Tony in today. Peter and Ray completed the trunking in the office and got all the cables run in and ready to terminate and recovered some old now unused cables.
9 March : Paul, Ian and I spent most of the day delivering cable to the trenching gang at the Junction, measuring lengths etc and finding out where pairs existed to be able to extend on to the S&T compound. We also recovered the old radio clock receiver from the loft and had a think about how to integrate a working radio clock into our new system.
13 March : Ray, Peter and Rick got the three BT sockets in our office completed back to the MOP.
16 March : Paul spent a while checking the CAT5 network to a computer that could not get onto the internet, to find that the computer, not the CAT5, was at fault. A couple of other laptops worked well on that feed. Peter provided slave sockets in the shop office and the booking office, while Paul and I ran a new 20 pair cable to what will be OP3 in the booking office. After a good lunch at Jean's, Peter and Paul terminated the 20 pair and connected two sockets in the booking office back to the MOP. I went to the meeting run by Ben Gray which looked at possible strategies for the future of the railway. Quite an enjoyable afternoon.
19 March : Ian came to my house to liaise with Paul at his house so that they could capture the traffic at both ends in the hope of finding why a BT home hub will not permit speech to be heard from the UAX. They now have a mass of data to trawl through.
20 March : Ray and Rick extended the signal box line back on two pairs to the MDF, ready for a changeover to the new master socket. I loaded the car with the scrap cable from the caboosh and raised £113 for the telecom fund when I took it to Bendall's. Not bad for a dustbin full of odd ends. Martin, Rick and Ray went to the development meeting after lunch.
23 March : Paul, Peter and I were in for the morning. We had a weird fault reported in that our VOIP line had inexplicably turned into our main shop line. We did quite a bit of checking, particularly as the last time we were in, we had reterminated part of a distribution box. However it turned out not to be us but that the router was connecting its VOIP output to the shop line. There have been power failures over the last few days so we think that the router must do this when the power fails and that it had been unable to recover when the power came back on. If it does it again at least we know where to look.
27 March : A very cold day with snow flakes drifting in the air. Peter, Rick, Ray and myself spent the day getting BT line 844609 changed over to the new arrangement. It now appears in three locations and is available for the point of sale machines. We also changed out a phone in the office and a microphone in the signal box.
1 April : Paul popped in to check out an issue with the Norchard incoming junctions from the asterisk. It seems that only the first choice selector was working. If two people tried to place calls from the asterisk to the UAX at the same time, they'd get equipment busy tone. The fault was eventually tracked down to a cable not being plugged in properly in the back of the asterisk. Paul gave the second choice selector a bit of a workout to wake it up and it's now behaving properly. During the hour or so Paul was stood in front of it, three calls were made to the speaking clock from the UAX. Not bad considering it was a non-running, non-working day and there can't have been more than half a dozen people on site.
3 April : Peter got on with jumpering the MOP. Rick and Ray tested the high level platform PA phone but could find no fault. They then went to test the fire alarm and found the output very low on the shop mic. Much testing and swapping of mics proved the problem to be on the shop input circuit and the aux1 control to be set quite low, turning the control up a little, produced normal volume. We assume the control may have been accidentally moved lower. Rick then worked on the control set lockout problem while Peter and I tested the MOP jumpering as far as possible.
8 April : Ray went in this afternoon and replaced a noisy transmitter on extn 522 at Lydney Town Station while June watered the platform plants.
10 April : Peter, Ray and I spent the day changing over a BT line to the new cabling, only to find that very little worked. There were several poor Krone connections and some reversals to be found before all was well on the line. During faulting we realised that the testing done on previously changed over lines was inadequate as we had used a two wire connected phone to test and the third wire had not been checked. Luckily only two wire equipment had been connected and we left at the end of the day with at least one circuit that needs to be faulted properly next week. We think it may be P45 time for us. Rick was lost to us during the day as he continued to work on DP3A.
17 April : Ray and I spent the day going logically through two BT lines and their new sockets getting everything straight. The faults, of which there were several, were all on various krone strips. We had broken wires and poor connections and a couple of pair reversals. However our new small home made socket tester did a good job along with the good old fashioned analogue meter. We are ready now to tackle another BT line on our next visit.
20 April : Paul, Peter and I were in. I thought I would demonstrate the little socket tester I had knocked up to Paul and Peter, only to find "dis" bell wires on two of the sockets in our office. These were faults on circuits proven to be good on Wednesday. We spent the day chasing faults on the krone blocks. Peter punched everything down again with a good krone tool. We seemed also to have reversals, but were left bemused because all had worked on Wednesday. In the end we found one strange condition. The Sagem point of sale machine put strange conditions back onto the wiring such that a three wire phone plugged into a paralled socket, rang continuously. By the end of the day we were back to our Wednesday condition. However Paul did get to put up a shelf in the office to hold the router when we move it.
23 April : Ray went to Parkend today and lubricated and tested all selectors. He had not done that for about 35 years so was pleased to come away with it all working and no mangled wipers.
27 April : Paul and I spent the day getting back to the installation of the exchange at Lydney Signal Box. We had an excellent day's progress with quite a bit of rack wiring completed and tested. Very nice to have a change from krone blocks and BT lines.
28 April : Ian, Paul and I went to the THG Swapmeet at Bromsgrove. Useful. We sold the old GMT34 and a D phone which just about paid for three 4000 type final selectors and a wooden cased KLU which we can probably use at Parkend signal box.
30 April : I am titivating the swapmeet KLU so that it will be suitable for Parkend Signal Box. I went in to the DFR to locate an extra keyswitch and found Ray on his way to do some further maintenance at Parkend and Charles in the museum working on the token machine exhibit. However they were sidetracked into looking at the car park lights controller, only to find that no adjustments are needed for summertime and that all was well. We are a keen lot!
1 May : Rick got on with DP3A while Ray and I changed over the signal box and Peter Adam's wagon BT line to the new cabling system. It all worked well. Except that there is still the hum on the line that was already there. This we found confusing as we had replaced most of the cabling and from tests we made it seemed that the new cable from the office to the MOP was responsible. But how can that be if it hummed before??? In the end we gave up and went to clear up our room ready for it to be used as the Thomas booking office this weekend. Luckily the electricians had already made an excellent job of tidying and cleaning. However on trying to leave the site, the three o clock demon struck with the observation that the Thomas music was at too low a volume. Resetting the output of the music channel equipment put things to rights.
8 May : Rick, Peter and I tested the BT line to the signal box and Peter Adams wagon for hum from the bell wire. Taking off the bell wire got rid of the hum completely. We decided to use the fourth wire of the two pairs taken to each slave socket to make the bell circuit separate from the speech circuit and thereby convert the bell wires to a balanced pair. To maintain the balance we terminated each bell pair with a 4000 ohms condition. The hum vanished. Even with three wire connected phones plugged into the two slave sockets, the hum did not return despite the small unbalance this must have placed upon the circuit.
10 May : Paul, Ray, Peter and myself came in to successfully changeover the main shop line to the new system. This entailed moving the router to the new office and rearranging the CAT5 leads accordingly. Following the completion of the changeover, we also recovered the old equipment. This has considerably cleared the walls of our building of old sockets and boxes etc. It's very nice to have the job removed from the blackboard list at last. Now we can think of something else for a change. The maintenance guys can at last do some maintaining.
15 May : Ray and Peter spent the morning checking the records for the DPs in the workshop area. I recovered old MDF jumpers from the BT lines job and got everything labelled up and the new records updated and filed away. Peter went on to sort out slave sockets for the cabinet updating job. Ray had a go at the office floor. We are rather tidier now.
22 May : Rick and Ray went to Parkend to shift the phones in the ground frame hut to their final position. They changed a cord on the phone and looked at the phone in the ticket office which was noisy but it needs a new cord and sorting out next week. They made a start on the routine check and maintenance of the Parkend lineside cabinets. I jumpered up the auto auto relay sets, incoming selectors and the call count meters for the junctions to the proposed exchange at Lydney Signal Box. Checking the call count meters shows that the junctions between Norchard and Parkend have catered for over 600 calls so far this year.
25 May : Peter had bought a regenerator on eBay and I went in to pick it up from the office to include it in the auto auto relay set I am building. Very disappointing as it is very very second hand and so worn that at present I cannot get it to work. While there the demon strode from his lair and summoned me to Parkend where the phone installed in the ground frame hut on Wednesday was not working. I narrowed it down to an exchange problem and found that the line circuit CO relay had some paper stuck in the springs. Removing it made all well again. Bob Hawker promises me that the phone cabinet for Parkend platform will be available for next Wednesday. I think the moral here is "don't go anywhere near the railway unless you are going to work".
29 May : Only Rick and I were in on telecoms today. Rick went to change the dial at Whitecroft platform as it was needing help in returning. I fitted a wooden baseboard in the cabinet for Parkend platform. We sorted out a suitable working telephone for the cabinet. After lunch we went to Parkend and fitted the cabinet and phone. As soon as we had drilled the holes in the building for the cabinet we were told it was in the wrong place. But hey! That's usual for the DFR. We completed the cabinet mounting and got the phone working but need to go back and tidy some of the temporary connections we made. We ran out of time.
31 May : All the 3000 type relays that we hold in stock have now been listed and the lists are available on this website. Today I counted 423 relays. Further specialised relays, eg ratchet, shunt field, high speed, heavy duty contacts etc will be listed as time allows.
1 June : The demon has moved forward to ten o clock so that tea and cakes can be upset. An alarm was showing from Norchard signal box when Paul and I arrived. We investigated to find the battery was at low volts due to a permant calling condition from SP12. We went to check the phone but that proved OK. We got the pulse to distance line fault tester and this gave us a clue where to look on the drop wire feed to SP12. The fault was corrosion in a connector at the point where we had had a trackside fire and had repaired the cable some time ago. A crimp joint cleared the problem. Dave Collins was in the signal box and gave us a list of jobs needing to be done, most quite urgently. We went to Jean's for an early lunch. Afterwards we went to Lydney Junction signal box and continued with the exchange installation. We ended the day with selectors moving to dial pulses and a fault found in the design of the final which must be rectified before we can do further testing.
4 June : Ray and Peter came in especially to sort out line 303 at Parkend. It had confusing intermittent extn bell tinkle after fitting a new line cord to replace the noisy one. This was eventually cured by replacing the LJU after looking at the usual causes.
5 June : We entertained Mike Stephenson from the Gloucester Warwick Railway today, visiting both exchanges, and both signal boxes. Rick, Ray and Peter spent a large part of the day riding the DMU to Parkend sorting out cabinets with doors missing and cabinets laying on the floor. They got them sorted. However everything went horribly wrong at three (the usual time for demons on the line to strike) They checked the high level PA phone to see if it would work. It would not, despite working in the morning. In an attempt to fault the PA push button pair, they managed to get more of the PA, some of the clocks and perhaps even a BT line to become inoperable. When they had left vowing to return in the morning, I went to return an item to the exchange to be greeted with the smell of Strowger cooking. They had left a short on the clock circuit going towards DP3A. Pegging out that circuit at least got most of the clocks back working. We return tomorrow! The latest on the saga of the platform phone at Parkend is that David Collins will ask Richard Taylor where he would like the phone to be, as it his staff that will use it. I await a reply.
6 June : Rick, Ray and I, having had a night's sleep, came in to make sense of yesterday afternoon's shenanigans. We started with doing what we are best at, ie having a cuppa. We tackled the clocks first and reconnected the circuits out to the platform area. The clocks worked and we got them reset to the correct time. Then we had a go at the PA push button circuit having put the MDF jumper back where it was. We found that a jumper in DP3A was intermittent. This was the original fault. The BT line had been disconnected by the use of a lamp on the MDF knocking a fuse out. During this, the UAX tester went faulty due to dis on the battery connections. We finished with all the faults we know about being cleared, so it was cuppa time again. Cheers!
8 June : Paul and I spent the day at Lydney Junction Signal Box working on the new exchange. We finished the day with a final selector responding to dial pulses and giving out the correct tones etc. However we found a number of wiring errors which we had to correct and we have a design fault which prevents us from getting to the 62x numbers. The design fault had us completely bamboozled, but Paul still has an agile brain which got us to a suitable conclusion. I have brought the set home for the simple mod we need to make. All in all, a very promising day.
12 June : Just Peter and myself in today. We spent quite a bit of the day tracing a "dis" on the exchange line to the locking room at Lydney Signal Box. Eventually we found that our vandal friends had cut all the spare wire away in the cabinet at St Mary's Halt. They had left the workers apart from 553 which they cut, presumably by mistake. There was no slack left with which to find the pair now cut down to the cable butt so we had to give up and come back and sort out the tone set for use next week. At Lydney Signal Box we plugged the modified final selector back into the rack, it behaved exactly as expected. I was rather taken with the set and did not want to stop dialling digits on the selector. We also sorted out some test phones for the signal box for a call through test when we get the linefinders working. One step forward, one step back. Next week perhaps we will get further round the dance floor.
13 June : I went in for an hour to drill a couple of holes in the back of the cabinet we are to use on the Lydney Junction platform. Tough steel, I had to borrow really good drill bits to be able to get through, even using a pillar drill. Bob Hawker can paint up the cabinet now.
15 June : Paul and I spent the day wiring up (and rewiring) the linefinders at the Junction. We have them looking for lines and switching but the allotter is not operating properly and there is a bug in one of the sets. We left the problems for another time. Spending much of the day on a ladder has had its effect on my legs, I can hardly walk and need the stair lift to avoid bumping down the stairs on my bottom. That's what age is for!
19 June : My leg is still troubling me so I decided not to do any work! I spent the morning sat beside the driver of the DMU inspecting the state of the lineside cabinets between Norchard and Parkend. They all seemed fine. An onerous morning, but with lovely sunshine. Peter and Rick cabled from the Panasonic Switch that Peter has installed, round to test jack positions on the work bench. Then Rick had a look at a spare ringer with a view to putting it into service on the UAX13. In this he was helped by Martin who knows about motors and the like. Peter fitted two wire connected additional sockets just for the use of the point of sale machines.
22 June : Paul and I went to Lydney Junction Signal Box to carry on with testing the new exchange. This turned out to be very successful. We only had one true fault which was a relay spring bent away from its buffer block. We tried connecting the line finders to the final selector and could establish calls straight away. We modified our alarm and clock relay set to give us 30 second earth pulses and connected it to the S and Z pulse relay set. This worked fine, disconnecting calls after 20 minutes to leave them parked on their line circuits. Paul also added a couple of relays so that the ringer did not stop immediately the final selector took off the ring start condition. It runs on for twenty seconds should there be a follow on call. The exchange now seems ready to go partially into service. I still have to finish wiring up the second final selector.
23 June : The information regarding the new Lydney Junction Signal Box exchange has been up dated and is available on this website.
24 June : I met Mike Stephenson of the Gloucester Warwick Railway at the Dog at Over so that we could discuss the facilities required in a simple line concentrator. The final diagram we came up with is available on this website.
25 June : Ray and Peter went to Parkend and lubricated the ringer, impulse regenerator, (not the pins) and no. 4 uniselectors in regenerator and F/S distribution cct. Tested all alarms. Filled in maintenance record book.
26 June : Today we had a cream tea to start the day. Rick and Peter spent the day changing out the cabinet on the platform at Lydney Junction. I loaded up our scrap cable and went to Bendall's but could not sell the signalling or telecoms cable scrap. New regulations! After lunch I took the remaining scrap to the dump but even they were not too keen to take it. They did in the end, thank goodness. I updated various records when I got back to Norchard.
29 June : Paul and I chased 553 line down to Lydney Junction signal box and got it working ready for changeover to becoming a junction. The line plant records on the website are updated but not the paperwork as there will be further changes next weekend. We installed the second final and got it working after finding a few faults. The most puzzling were U points that were not making properly. However we found that the ringer provided a very high noise level on the exchange when it was running. We decided it was something to do with the earthing and went over the rack measuring earth resistances. We found several that were on the high side. Reterminating and resoldering seemed to drive the problem away. At Norchard we converted 553 to an outgoing junction to Lydney signalbox. We returned to the box to connect the junction and start tests. Eventually we had both Norchard and Parkend phones call us satisfactorily at Lydney Junction signal box. We had a little time in hand so we connected up the 699 test number but found that the strapping at Norchard prevented access from the Asterisk exchange. A job for next week.
2 July : I updated the diagrams at Lydney Signal Box. I also found the problem with the tester at Norchard. It was the clamp that makes the cord connection not doing its job.
3 July : Ray and Peter spent most of the day fitting a new SPT on the outside of Betty's Hut. They then went to look at the Whitecroft phone and could find nothing wrong despite giving it a very full test. Rick and I got the second pair through from Norchard to the signal box at the Junction. I restrapped the VMBs on the incoming selectors and jumpered two selectors as incoming from Lydney. We went to Lydney Signal Box and connected the new pair as a junction, provided 625 as a line in the signal box and 614 as the line for the diesel depot. The new exchange is therefore now operational but needs extra junctions and the changeover of the platform phone. Next week we will distribute the new directory on Wednesday and finalise the changeovers on the Saturday.
6 July : I re-strapped the VMBs on all the incoming and demo firsts. One first is faulty and I left it for later.
7 July : Paul popped over to look at the Asterisk exchange. It is dead! The PSU has given up. He has taken it away to see what can be done to repair or replace the computer. It died when the power was taken off on Wednesday.
9 July : Rick came in to do some more on DP3A. A very hot day which meant that he had to erect an umbrella to keep the sun off.
11 July : I fitted an answer phone to 546 so that callers could be referred to the new 625 number. I also went to Parkend to look at the regenerator relay set. I wondered about the two stage drop back feature as we seemed to be getting some wrong numbers. However I hammered the relay set on 699 and got the right response every time. The relay set looks OK. Perhaps next week Ray could dial numbers at Parkend and I could inspect the result with the tester at Norchard.
12 July : Ray found time to pop in to Parkend and give the busied out group selector 1 some attention. After much testing he found the switch would drop out after failing to stop on the level 3 outlet for final selector 4 every time. Ok to the other finals. He then checked other group selectors to final 4. All Ok. After this he was unable to reproduce the fault at all despite considerable testing. He left group 1 back in service and as a pessimist will keep an eye on the situation.
13 July : I took the regenerator relay set that I am building to Parkend to check that it would fit the rack. It did, but only after I replaced the capacitor boxes in the right places. I also checked the phones around the site, dialling 699 on them. Only the platform phone failed. A bit weird as the phone was changed but the fault remains on that line.
17 July : What a scorcher, too hot to really be bothered. However, after the usual tea and cakes, Rick and Ray went off to further our enquiries as to the platform phone problem at Parkend. It seems to be the dial. Adjusting it right onto 10 pps cleared the problem. Now we wonder if the ratio is wrong. But it was too hot to make another foray back to Parkend to check. I got the line plant records at Norchard up dated with the changes from DELs to junctions in the many DPs on the way to Lydney Junction and then wandered round updating directories at Norchard. After lunch we decided that the only sensible course of action was to have an ice cream and then go home.
20 July : Quite a day! Paul and I caught up with the news over the usual cuppa and then went to Lydney Junction Signal Box. We fitted an overflow meter to the linefinders and connected the spare numbers to NU. It was during this work that we found NU on working lines. This was a real blow as it was a busy working day and 625 in the box was out of action. Some hasty fault finding revealed that the 2WS relay in the final was not pulling completely in. The headlamp and soldering iron had given us a low voltage on the battery. We stopped work and decided that we needed to change the coils on the 2WS relays, so we went for lunch at Jean's taking one of the finals with us. We changed the coil and returned to the Junction to find that the modified relay set would work fine. However we had also decided to check the battery and found that one was low voltage. Luckily I had a newer set of four bigger batteries in my garage which we took to the Junction. We changed out the battery and hopefully all will now be well. One final remains to be modified. During all the swapping around of relay sets we lost the ringing on final one. This was tracked down to U points being out of tension. At this point it was four o clock and we decided to pack in and return to Norchard. As we were departing the four o clock demon struck with the words that "your exchange is playing up and so is the PA".
22 July : Yesterday I went to Southampton to pick up a ten way relay set shelf bought on eBay. Today I put it into storage at Parkend exchange for possible use on a future Lydney Junction exchange. I called at Norchard to find that the charge current was back to normal. The battery must have been way down on its charge and the fuse probably went when the electricians turned the supply off and on recently. I went on to Lydney Junction Signal Box to change out the coil on relay 2WS in the second final selector. The new battery was running at 53.5 volts so it seems to be OK. Whilst returning the signal box key to Norchard I bumped into Ray who had been asked by Paul to come in and start the standby master clock which had stopped during the power cut off on Saturday.
24 July 2013 : I cleared up the junk in our office and took it to the dump. Ray came in for an early lunch. We then went to Bendall's with scrap copper and cable given to us. We got a good price. I then showed Ray the equipment at Lydney Junction Signal Box. When we got back to Norchard, the three o clock demon was obviously sleeping or worrying someone else so we cleared up and had an early homegoing.
27 July : Paul installed an uninterruptable power supply (UPS) for the asterisk exchange. This should improve reliability. We went to the signal box at the Junction but couldn't get into the locking room. Someone had taken the key away with them. We located it and went to an early lunch after watering the tubs at the Junction. The five car DMU, looking splendid, came in while we were there. After lunch we returned to the box to tidy up around the exchange. We fitted a digital voltmeter to show battery voltage easily and labelled the equipment. Paul cleated the cable round to the AT5422 but gave up on connections as the diagram we have is so poor. He will look for a better copy. Peter Wood of S &T enquired about the possibility of extending alarms from their equipment back to Norchard so that problems could be found before staff come in for a running day. We rather liked the idea of a Signals And Telegraph Alarm Network but thought that finding an acronym for the system would be a devil of a job!
29 July : I went to the junction to check on the allotter spark quench which did not seem to be very effective. However it tested fine and a second temporary quench did not help. Must be OK! I also checked the batteries in the caboosh, we seem to have two which are faulty and which we need to discard. Unfortunately this does not leave us with sensible sets of batteries.
31 July : I spent the day on the cushions (railway speak for riding in a carriage!) with an old colleague and his wife. We inspected the exchanges at Parkend and Norchard. Ray spent the morning cleaning the standby master clock and then met my colleague. They got on well, both being ex Cable and Wireless. Ray spent the afternoon helping Martin on his electrical duties.
3 August : I went in and decided to check the batteries at Parkend and Norchard Signal Box. I measured the individual batteries, both under charge and 30 minutes after the charge had been disconnected. The Parkend installation was excellent but two of the 12 volt batteries in the Norchard Box need replacement. Luckily I have suitable spares for use on Wednesday. The Norchard Exchange battery showed itself to be fine recently when it maintained service for a week after the charge fuse had blown and, of course, the Lydney Junction Signal Box battery was only replaced a week or so ago. The demon bit as I was about to go home at lunchtime. Apparently Ned's calls from Parkend are noisy. We will look at this on Wednesday, I wonder if we have noisy junctions due to the corrosion at DP5E. We will see.
7 August : Ray and I changed a couple of batteries in the Norchard Signal Box and then went to check on the phones at Parkend as they are complaining of noisy calls. We found that junction 1 outgoing to Norchard was noisy. After lunch Ray, Rick and I did some fault locating and found the fault to be between Norchard and Whitecroft. We suspect DP5F where we have some corrosion problems. Rick and Ray will attempt to clear the problem next week.
13 August : Rick and Ray went in to replace corroded connections in DP 5F. It took some time to locate the DP in the undergrowth which was cleared by Rick wielding a machete. It then started to rain despite a dry forecast. Then on removing the lid the box was almost completely full of a wasps nest which was stuck to the lid and broke apart. At this point we conducted a disorderly retreat and went to Parkend and fitted the voltmeter.
14 August : Rick, Peter and Ray in today. Rick and Ray chased a PG on the UAX which disappeared before they located it. Rick wielded a spade and buried the duct to the caboosh for the phone. Peter and Ray connected and tested the extns on the Panasonic which is now up and running in case it is ever needed. Before leaving they tested the "Thomas" music for the coming weekend. The office was plagued by wasps today which they assumed was retaliation for wrecking their home yesterday.
24 August : Paul, Ian, Peter and I were in. Ian spent the day at the Junction tidying the mess Paul and I had left with the rack wiring. He is back to his favourite job of lacing. Paul and Peter got the cable in through the wall of the caboosh, an operation needing many holes to be made in metal wall. I replaced the rear covering to the Norchard miscellaneous rack which had all been removed when faulting for the blown charge fuse recently. After lunch Paul also went to the Junction to wire in the AT5422 tester now that we have a clear copy of the diagram. However he cannot get it to do anything sensible so it needs faulting and correcting.
27 August : Paul and Peter came in to experiment with a webcam. The camera has provided a fairly low quality picture at Paul's home but they could not finish the job as they broke its aerial off. A new one will need to be obtained.
28 August : Rick went back to DP3A and got some jumpers in ready to reroute circuits from DP5 to DP3A. Martin and I spent some time with Jason showing him where our cables are in the area to be developed as an engine shed and accommodation block. We sorted out the abandoned electricity cable ends in DP3A and cut some of them off. We are just left with a cable that we suspect goes to the museum loft where it will presumably be cut off!. Peter cleared a noise fault on the BT line to the signal box. It turned out to be a dis in DP3A again.
30 August : Rick and Ray replaced all the connection strips in DP5F but this still left the junction from Parkend to Norchard slightly noisy. Ran out of time as we could only work the morning. To be continued.
31 August : I went in to fit a digital voltmeter at Norchard and decided to stay on and cable out the M wires for level 5. This then enabled metering on all local calls as level 8 had already been done. I checked all lines for correct metering and labelled all the meters as I proceeded. I found the line circuit for the wallphone outside the shop faulty and causing all the linefinders to be found in turn and lock up and leaving the control set lamp alight. I changed out the line circuit. Perhaps this will clear up some of the A1 unit lockups we have been having. I noted all the meter readings so that we can monitor the number of calls made from each line. With all of the junction calls already being counted, we will know the full use being made of the exchange. Traffic record spreadsheets have been added to this site.
4 September : Rick and Ray spent the day walking to Whitecroft checking for corrosion and noise on the junctions. Eventually they went to Parkend and found that the junctions were finally clear of noise. We hope the noise does not return when the weather becomes damp. Peter and I tried to find out why our laptop would connect to the router wirelessly but not the internet. It worked fine when moved and connected via an ethernet cable. We never did solve our problem but got round it by using the BT open zone facility which did work. Later we went to Middle Forge and the Town Crossing to do the maintenance checks on the phones and cabinets there. We do need to go back to the Town Crossing and do a couple of small jobs. We heard that there may be a request for cable pairs at Lydney Junction from S and T and that they may ask for a couple of signal post phones to be provided.
7 September : Ian went off to Lydney Junction to continue lacing the new exchange wiring. Paul spent time attempting to get Peter's webcam going. He was sort of successful, an image is available but it is very poor and will be affected continually by the number of times the BT router resets itself. Try Paul's personal website, you may be lucky. But the quality seems to be poor when the light is right and horrible when it is too bright! We had lunch at Jean's. After lunch Paul and I started to look at the AT5422 only to find that the 63 volt battery was completely flat and the batteries had started to leak. Eventually we twigged that the batteries were connected to the wrong A,B,C and D terminals. What 1957 GPO brain box had two sets of terminals labelled A,B,C and D? We then ran out of time but in any case need to buy another set of 9 volt batteries.
11 September : I spent the morning installing a replacement computer for the office. Rick and Ray had a look at the Town Crossing phone and decided that they needed a different key to gain access, so they came back and got on with lettering all the DPs on Norchard site. They also cleared a fault on the PA which came down yet again to a "dis" in DP3A. I spent the afternoon showing a visitor around our installations.
14 September : Paul and I finished off the work on the Lydney Signal Box AT5422 tester so that it is now fully operational. We also went to Parkend to leave a good copy of the AT5422 diagram and consider what jobs should be done on the exchange.
18 September : We came in for half a day only. Rick fitted a lock to DP3A and made arrangements to fit one to DP3H/J later. Peter managed to bolt a telephone bracket to the steel wall of the caboosh in readiness for his plan 107. I cut up some scrap cable ready to go to the dealers. I am to provide some credit card sized laminated notices showing the jumper colours to be used on circuits. ie :
21 September :
24 September : Ray popped in to check the exchange at Parkend to find the demon lurking in the switch room and junction 1 o/g to Norchard ( the one which was recently noisy) had a loud hum and unable to call over it. Proved out of the exchange and busied up so all calls will use junction 2. He went to Norchard to be met again by the demon in the disguise of Ian and taunted by the news that flailing of the trackside undergrowth had taken place yesterday. Proved junction 1 from Parkend faulty out of the exchange and checked the two Norchard to Parkend junctions which were OK. Looks like we have a dis junction to look at tomorrow.
25 September :
28 September :
29 September : I went to the railway to attempt to change the token battery but no one has a key. The token was working so I left the battery set in the signal box and left.
2 October : An odd day with not much to show for the day. Peter sorted some phones but didn't have everything to complete a job. Ray spent much of the day sorting his car which had sprung a water leak. Rick went off up the line with Charles to find the overground cables at Tuft's Bridge ahead of the flail coming in and got rather wet in the rain. I sorted out a backboard for the new cabinet for DP5A but seemed to get little else done. However we did manage to consume tea, doughnuts and biscuits.
8 October : The " John's away" demon found Rick's phone number yesterday and called him in the evening to announce speech problems on the Norchard phones. Rick and Ray went in today and found A1 rack final selector 3 with an open circuit barretter. We busied the selector and will change the barretter tomorrow. Found Peter in, continuing with his caboosh plan set.
9 October : Rick replaced the faulty barretter. Peter continued with his plan set. Ray fitted a neon lamp handset on our office phone. In the afternoon Rick and Peter continued with the sockets in the cabinets whilst I surveyed the Parkend phones for Peter's master list of equipment. We also got the Panasonic into programming mode and it is now ready for use if required in an emergency. We hear the signing on hut is to be refurbished and used as a library. There are some old telephone cables in there but we do not know where they go and we guess a phone may be asked for in there. Next the outside of our office is to be refurbished and we hope none of our equipment will be affected.
16 October : A report from Rick as I was away : Heavy rain all morning, sunny after lunch. Martin had trouble with his BT line and had to go home to sort it.This left Peter, Charles and myself to eat all the cake. Ray rang to say his op seems to have been a success and he should be in next Wed. Lynne rang to say she had a faulty heater in the shop and Charles sped off to sort it. Peter sorted more stuff in the caboose while looking for the token batteries. We found the batteries and took them to the office to check the voltage. This was slightly more difficult than we thought as we do not seem to have a digital voltmeter.We eventually sorted out six of the best. Peter and I then visited Norchard signal box to get more info on token working.
23 October : Nearly a full house, Ray was off looking after his eye following a cataract operation. Even Ian and Paul came in to scrabble about under coaches. We had heard about the probable recovery and scrapping of the mark 2 coach used as a dining room. This may involve shunting the coaches out of the siding and we have a major cable in the way. The electrical boys have a similar problem if the coaches are moved so we all got down to a full survey of what we need to do. We now know that we need to do the shift of DP5A at the same time as relaying the offending cable under the lines. This means disconnecting the world north of Norchard while we do the job. Best tackled after the Santa season when the line goes into hibernation for the winter. After lunch we made a start on some preliminaries for the job, making up the new cabinet for DP5A, jumpering circuits in DP3A and on the MDF ready for the move. One bit of luck. The signing in hut is being refurbished and a couple of telecoms cables fell out of the wall. We got the tone set working and traced the ten pair back to the loft above the exchange. Now they can have telephone and clock service in the hut. We could not find where the other cable went but we will terminate its seven pairs and hope to locate it at a later date.
6 November : Peter, Rick and I sorted the records for the lines we have put onto the Panasonic tester and the plan 107 to the caboosh. We discussed the way to provide more through circuit test jacks. I moved most of the selectors from Milton Keynes from our office to Parkend exchange for storage. Peter and Rick worked on the plan 107 to the caboosh but did not succeed in getting it working yet.
13 November : Norchard was extremely grey, overcast, misty and cold during the morning. Just about normal for our little winter home in the Forest valley. We immediately gave up the idea of working outside as we had intended. However the electricians went off in overalls to crawl under the coaches in the isolated siding to determine how they were fed electrically. Peter, and Ray in between doctor's appointments, spent the day attempting to fault find on Peter's plan 107 between our office and the caboosh stores. They did not succeed. I see that the job started in August and is still current. Is this the longest it has ever taken a fitter to provide an external plan 107? I spent the day in the warm in Norchard exchange moving all the 800 lines onto the 880 - 899 protectors. This will allow the other four sets of protectors to be replaced by two 40 way test jack units, thus leaving two 20 way protectors available for more through circuit protectors. We will need the facility for the proposed STARS (S&T Alarm Reception System) to be provided next year.
16 November : I went in for an hour and a half and got quite a lot done. I faulted the line tester, replaced the 800 series phone labels and strapped up the spare 800 series lines for NU. I had fifteen minutes to spare so I found out what the rectifiers on the IDF block were for. They common up all the alarm earths to provide a local alarm. We must get that tied into our overall alarm system.
19 November :
20 November : Ray spent the day working on the clocks. The master clock had failed. Somehow the pendulum had dropped a little and the drive magnet was fouling the pendulum at the end of the swing. The clocks had to be individually corrected in most cases. Rick changed a faulty barretter and then helped me with changing the 800-889 protectors for 40 way test jacks. This will be ongoing for some weeks but we did find a way to hinge the test jacks so that wiring will be easy.
27 November : Rick, Ray and I spent the day at Parkend replacing the D phone at the outer home signal with a dial phone on Parkend exchange. We recovered the D phone at the ground frame. Things should now be more reliable. Ray also spent some time puzzling over the clock which despite its pendulum dropping a couple of mils has started to gain time. He has a theory.
30 November : Ian and I finished changing over the Parkend circuits out of DP5. Paul terminated the new DP16 cable on the MDF. We went for lunch at Kaplan's and then went to check the circuits at Parkend. All OK. We also had a look at the work going on in the signal box. Probably 2015 for completion. We returned to Norchard where Paul and I looked at the clock wiring and now know how to sort out the mess on the IDF. Ian went back to the rearrangements of the MDF protectors. Peter came in to do some more telephone wipe up work.
4 December : Rick, Ray and I spent the day chasing trouble on the Norchard Concentrator. The volts were down to 33 and we had a permanent call on signal post 12 tele. We changed the tele, not easy as we had to find and test a phone that would bolt onto the existing brackets. We still had trouble and in the end found corrosion in the box fitted after the Thomas the Tank lineside fire. By the end of our day the phone was working clearly and the voltage was up to 45, sufficient for correct working. We still had a low volt alarm when we left though.
7 December : Ian went back to his protector rearrangements on the MDF and Paul wired between the IDF and the relay set shelf jack for the proposed auxiliary clock circuits. Peter and I discussed the use of a Panasonic switch on one of our BT lines. We stopped work early and went to lunch at Kaplan's. There we had a discussion about making Telecoms Group videos for showing on You Tube. The script for the initial video has been approved. We have a camera man and editor but will be looking for a Narrator
11 December : A quiet day. Rick and Ray lubricated the linefinders at Norchard. I checked and recorded the colours and conditions of the DP5A cables ready for the changeover next month. I checked that the auxiliary clock relay set I am building will actually fit the shelf position. It does. We finished rather early as we were all ready to go home.
14 December : Bob Hawker reported that he had had success in repairing the two metal phone cabinets he had found and that they would be going away to be shot blasted and galvanised. Paul and I added wiring to the auxiliary clock relay set position so that we could move all the clock relays out of the alarm extension relay set and into the auxiliary clocks set. That should get all the clock equipment into two relay sets and onto one IDF strip connection. Much tidier. Peter also came in and we went to Parkend to check on the position for a lineside phone at the south end of the long straight. As we did not fancy digging 200 metres to the fixed distant signal we propose to erect a cabinet next to the existing DP. We also checked the phones at Parkend for Peter's phone records. We went to lunch with Jean at Kaplan's. Paul and I went back to Parkend exchange to look into simplifying the alarm arrangements. We can get rid of a lot of the complexity but it's a fairly big job in the end. But it will be worth it.
18 December : We had an alarm showing from Parkend so Ray and Rick went off to find it was a PG on 303. Possibly dicky switch hooks. They got on then with lubricating Norchard selectors. Peter and I cut the padlock off our caboosh door after it had been incorrectly locked by our lodger. I had to go and get a key cut so that our lodger can use our padlock. This should obviate any more problems. I also sorted out where we had got with our clock relay set reorganisation. Not very productive from my point of view.
How have we done this year? : Not too bad.
Merry Christmas to all our readers, and thank you for your interest in our railway telecoms.
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