DFR Telecoms Diary


Hopes for the coming year :

1) Update the safety and risk features of all lineside apparatus.

2) Reorganise the electrical side of the group so that more expertise on the regulatory side can be employed.

3) Reintroduce the training programme for the benefit of our new colleagues and for revision for our established staff.

4) Complete the 22 line exchange at Lydney Junction.

5) Reorganise the BT lines at Norchard so that they comply with the regulations and are completely flexible around the site.

January 2013

2 January : Rick, Tony M and Martin came in. Rick got to grips with a telecom's circuit diagram and maintenance work.

Tony and Martin spent most of the morning looking at the storage heater in the office. Though it was too hot to dismantle completely, they disconnected the element deemed to be faulty but a comparison of resistances indicated it was OK. They have arranged for the heater to be turned 'off' at end of day by Paul Wilson on Sunday. Lynne will check that this has happened on Monday morning. This should leave the heater in a cold condition for further investigations on Wednesday next.
They did a PAT test on a convector heater as requested. and repaired a 24 V lead lamp and replaced the dud bulb.

5 January : Rick came in briefly to look at his job on DP3A so that he was clear what the next phase would be.

Paul, Peter and I got the three UAX13 lines in the new office rewired so that they are rerouted via DP14 in the Booking Office. This has thrown the 20 pair cable to the old DP15 available for reuse as a network overlay cable to the new Overlay Point OP1 in the new office. A nice job out of the way as it involved cabling in the loft.

However this rearrangement of BT lines (to provide at least one BT line in the office for use should a major incident occur) is the result of a great sheaf of emails in which just about everyone on the railway has had some input. Now that we have agreement for our plans, the usual DFR demon has struck. We had just started to run cable in the loft when a lady introduced herself as the person who is producing the plan for handling major incidents. The very first question was "could we provide BT lines in the Severn and Wye room" The blood started to run a little hot. Does the left hand ever know about the right hand? We intend to carry on providing the currently agreed facilities as they introduce a lot of flexibility into our BT network. If subsequently the railway wants other facilities, we will try to provide them, but the railway, rather than our own fund, can pay for the necessary stores.

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.

Charles, Martin and Tony worked on the cold storage heater, taking it to bits but not finding anything wrong. It's back together, perhaps it will work properly now that someone has given it some TLC. After that it was back to PAT testing. The contractor arrived and got the workshop lights working.

13 January : The details of the Junction Call Count Meters have been added to the website

16 January : A freezing cold day in which Rick was determined to continue work outside on DP3A. He lasted until lunchtime. Ray reorganised some untidy clock wiring while I got the new junction call count meters screwed to the wall. We then cabled the meters to the IDF and we got the ends terminated. Rick came back into the warm to do some switch maintenance.

Charles and Tony surveyed the 9681 coach for additional lighting and have agreed on the way forward.

22 January 2013 : Despite the snowy roads, Charles and Peter got in to continue work on the token display in the museum.

23 January : A very cold and snowy day. Ray got in for a short time, just to go and check the Parkend exchange. Peter worked in the new office reorganising the various sockets and getting them ready for the new layout. I provided battery and earth to the new junction call count meters and jumpered them to the Parkend and Asterisk junctions. They are now working and counting junction traffic. During testing I found a "dis" outgoing junction 2 to Parkend. We will need to chase that down. I also found a VOIP line on the new router, which had been replaced a couple of weeks ago by BT.

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.

Rick and Ray went off to find out where the dis was on the junction circuit to Parkend. After a lot of lineside walking they have isolated it to the section between DPs 5EA and 5F. Why does it have to be so far from the road? We will need to take the echo tester along next time and find the actual problem before it can be repaired. I don't think I actually achieved anything personally. Oh dear! Yes I did, I got a lot of stuff out of our office into the caboosh and the Severn and Wye 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.

February 2013

2 February : Peter, Ian, Paul and I spent the day on the BT line rearrangements. We had success when our first line gave us dial tone in the new office. We did all go to meet Jean at Kaplan's for lunch.

6 February : Rick and Ray went off to locate the supposed cable fault between Norchard and Whitecroft and found that the fault was actually corrosion in DP5F. They cleared the fault but we have programmed a job to replace the terminals etc in the DP. Peter and I sorted out our VOIP number with BT with the invaluable help of James in the shop. It is now working correctly and we have the order to install a phone on it in the new office. Back to the loft. After lunch Rick went off to his job on DP3A, very brave in the cold wind. Ray and I worked with Bob Bramwell's gang and got a 20 pair cable laid in duct between the office and DP2 in the workshop. Quite a good day for the telephony guys.

Charles, Martin and Tony had a look at the power failure to our store. Everything tests clear but two contact breakers have now been destroyed by whatever is wrong. We need to call in the contractor. They made progress in surveying the 9681 coach for extra lighting and then turned their attention to cabling the temorary lights in the museum library directly to the office lighting circuit. This work will be completed next week.

9 February : Ian, Paul, Peter and I worked on getting the internet line put through to the new office. Back to the loft where we provided a 20 pair cable from the MOP to the shop office and a 12 wire cable from the MOP to the shop counter. Peter got the cables round the trunking in the shop office for all the sockets and the temporary line from the router. A pretty good day again. We are now ready for someone to say the phones are in the wrong place!

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.

Charles and Martin completed the museum library lights job. Richard came in from the electrical contractor and had a go at the failed trips. He did not completely succeed as part of the site is still off and awaits his return with more stores.

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.
We ended the day with a new path laid to our door. This should cut down on the dirt we walk in, so we had a tidy and a carpet clean. I have a boot full to go to the dump.

Charles, Martin and Tony replaced a bulb!! However they also recabled the lights in our caboosh after Richard the contractor finally got the electrical supply working again. Charles and Tony sorted out a heater and Martin updated the computer and went to collect batteries from the wholesaler.
We now have an urn for tea making. However it takes at least 30 minutes to boil from cold, which means that filling it up at ten on arrival means that tea doesn't start until 10:30. It makes for a late start. We think we need a system whereby we leave the urn ready to go and switch it on from home by dialling an appropriate code via the Asterisk exchange. Back to the drawing board!.

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.

Charles and Martin spent the day on the new work in 9681 while Tony shifted some electrical cabling in our office out of the way of new trunking that we then put up.

March 2013

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.

Charles and Martin fitted new lights in 9681 coach. Tony detitle with faulty lights in the workshop.

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.

Charles and Martin came in during the afternoon to finish off the work in 9681.

13 March : Ray, Peter and Rick got the three BT sockets in our office completed back to the MOP.

Charles, Martin and I spent the morning looking at the trenching at the Junction. From a visit by the Chairman we find that the trench is in quite the wrong place and must be filled in and a new survey undertaken. At least Charles has had a look around the site and signal box. Charles and Martin cleared a tripped breaker at the Pooley Van.

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.

18 March : The details of the work done so far on the BT Lines Overlay Network are now available on this site.

This is a photo of the new Main Overlay Point (MOP) now situated in the Norchard exchange room. All BT circuits will route via this box and the system will allow any socket to be connected to any line by means of a jumper. The space to the right is available should we ever be so foolish as to install a switch.

Later I received this email from Ray
"With nothing to do Mon afternoon I went in and changed the dial on the workshop phone. All OK.
I should have known this would disturb the 3.00 PM demon which emerged from its lair, and through its mouthpiece, Lynne, informed me that there was no power in the Parkend Goods shed. I contacted Martin and picked him up and we went to Parkend where Martin found a mains fuse box where the main switch must have tripped and not been fully reset by Ned. The batteries were ok but very near the low volts alarm operating.
During this time Peter rang me at home to be told I had gone to the railway so he appeared with some milk so we all had a cup of tea."
Thanks guys!

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.

Martin and Tony Smith vanished off to check on the safety of the oil hut at Parkend and decided that the electrical supply can be turned on. They also went to look at the provision of PIR lights at the junction following a theft of diesel fuel, but came back feeling that some sort of CCTV is needed. Tony Macey decided that our defunct office heater was due to go to the scrap yard and so began the fitting of a spare wall heater from the caboosh.

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.
Paul and I went back after lunch at Jean's. As the box covers were off and things were quiet in the shop office, we then got on with checking that all our sockets were correctly connected. They were. We also got the final sockets in the shop installed and tested back to the MOP. We are now ready to start changing over the rest of the BT lines to the new arrangements.

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.

April 2013

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.
And then Ray made another mistake and walked through the shop at 3.30. The 3.00 PM demon which we thought had left us alone, was waiting to strike, the phone at Lydney town station is noisy. Wrote this on the blackboard for future investigatigation.

Charles removed the wall mounted Dimplex FX20 from the catering coach for examination because it was only blowing cold air. He transferred a similar heater from the far end of the coach to the position previously occupied. Inspection of the failed heater revealed several of the elements broken and open circuits in both circuits - therefore, beyond economical repair. The substituted heater will require PAT, but visually was in an acceptable condition. He then examined the PIR floodlight removed from Parkend. The bulb itself was open circuit and by substituting a new one, all was well. The lamp is ready for re-installation at Parkend with the supply cable attached to the unit for feeding into the building and connection into the lighting circuit.

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.

On the electrical side yesterday morning, Martin, Tony and Charles looked for an titleernative fitting/bulb to suit the 9681 coach; none found, Martin will look to buy one. We substituted a 400W bulb in the PIR flood light for Parkend, unit refitted but not wired-in, Charles to progress, may need a new lighting junction box, a dual switch was located to be placed in booking office, where switch drop has already been installed. Charles, Tony and Martin examined the Signal box Distribution board which could possibly be placed out of sight on the stairs, but from a subsequent conversation with Peter Adams, we are to leave it where it is and tell Richard Hooper/David Collins of his decision as there are no funds at present. In the afternoon Charles and Martin examined the Oil Storage hut, the Platelayers Hut and the Ground Frame hut at Parkend. It appears that only the Oil Hut has outstanding work, which Tony Smith has confirmed should be completed tomorrow (no key access problems!). The next job for Tony Smith/Richard is the workshop power supply behind the toilet block at Norchard.

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.

Charles, Martin and Tony installed an additional fluorescent strip light in the Parkend Goods shed. They then had a quick look with Richard Gittings at some of the Power Distribution into and out of the Norchard shop area. Richard has agreed to send us his diagrams, Martin is also sharing his diagrams of the site, which John Metherall is going to update. They replaced bulbs and cleaned the two light fittings on the exterior of the Society coach. Richard had completed the Parkend distribution to the three out buildings; he should complete the fitting within the Small Works workshop within the next week.

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.

An interesting proposal came our way. We were asked if we could provide a webcam feed to the railway's website. No doubt we can, but to prove the concept we intend to borrow a camera from Peter and get it connected through to the telecoms website. It should be an interesting little side project and if successful, the railway may want to go to town on the concept. We propose to mount the camera on Betty's hut where it should be within wireless range of the router and can easily be fed with power.

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.

24 April : Rick spent the day continuing to reterminate all the cables in DP3A. It may look chaotic but he is nearing the end of the job. Ray and I retested all the LJUs on the new BT lines and, thank goodness, found them all still working correctly. We also recovered the cabling to the LJU in the stationmaster's office in readiness for changing over the line next week.

The electrical group completed the installation of the Security Light at Parkend. Ned will test its operation after dark one evening this week. Subsequent adjustment of the illumination and sensitivity controls may then be needed. It is switched from within the booking office - the switch and the adjacent switch for the Platform lights were labelled appropriately. This afternoon Martin and Charles purchased a 28W, 2D Square Bulkhead light fitting and tube which will be fitted into the 9681 coach in due course. Martin has provided Charles with the Norchard plan which they will mark up in parallel with the external contractor inspection, test and certification of the Norchard electrical systems.

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!

May 2013

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.
Later, discussing hum faults with my wife, as one does, I was struck with the notion that we had been disconnecting the speech pair to tags 2 and 5 but had ignored the bell wire on 3. I felt that if I were a three wire circuit, I might be happy to be just a speech pair, but if someone connected a long single wire to me via a largish capacitor, I might tend to hum also. When we next attend the railway we must check if the problem is the long bell wires involved.

Martin did some Portable Appliance Testing in the morning at Lydney Town Station, while Tony and Charles fitted the additional light in the 9681 coach. It is switched together with the kitchen light. In the afternoon they investigated a reported failure in Peter Adam's coach. The power had been disconnected titleogether; re-connection and the lights worked! They picked up an additional request from John Metherall to re-position the large tube fitting in his museum office, which they will start next week. They finished helping to tidy the electrical bits and pieces to clear the Thomas event booking office.

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.

This will have to be our standard for "external" extension slave sockets on BT lines.

The electricians spent the morning surveying the electrical wiring for museum office lighting to determine the feasibility and practical problems of re-positioning the florescent tube and with Richard G looking at the new electrical wiring in the machine shop. They were concerned about the apparent hetitleh and safety hazards they could see around them but acknowledge that they have no Hetitleh and Safety expertise or qualifications. The ON/OFF control switches on the large vertical mill are within 18 inches of its rotating cutter and you have to reach over the work piece to reach the switches. The switch problem can be solved by returning the conduit support arm to its original intended position at the side of the machine. An additional emergency stop button on the adjacent machine also needs to be fitted. Our concerns have been passed on to Lynne to forward to whoever is in charge of H and S.
Richard G called Martin over to talk about the earth wire that had been secured in the neutral bus bar in the distribution box, located to the left of the vertical mill mentioned above. After discussion with Richard it was agreed that the connection should be made correctly and that Richard should mention the situation in his report to the DFR.
In the afternoon Martin went to Lydney Junction to attach PAT labels. We requested additional lighting in the Norchard Exchange and time was spent surveying the situation.

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.

The diagrams of the layout etc have been updated on this website.

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.

We are Strowger based in our approach to telecoms, but newcomers are trying to infiltrate weird electronic devices called Norstar into our domain. We cannot let them succeed and have labelled their silent assassin prominently so that everyone is aware of the enemy within. The worrying thing is that krone blocks have replaced good old reliable solder on our latest job and modern practices seem to be sneaking in. What next? VOIP?

Charles and Martin have completed the re-location of the strip light in the Museum Office, which gives John M. better access to his storage areas. John asked the electricians to do several more things in his area and on the 9681 coach.

21 May : Jean and I went to the Gloucester Warwick Railway to meet Mike Stephenson. We had originally planned to hand over a wooden cased KLU for a concentrator he is to build, but the spec has changed and it was no longer required. However we met at a very attractive Winchcombe station where the station cafe was staffed by friendly people maintaining a 1950s atmosphere with the decor and the music. Mike showed us round his domain including a look at the PAX in the signal box locking room. A similar PAX resides in the box at Toddington. We looked at the present concentrator and could see that perhaps it was time to upgrade. We left Mike expecting to go cable fault hunting as he had contacts between several circuits on the cable run to Cheltenham. However my day was made when "Cheltenham" a Southern Schools class locomotive arrived with the first train of the day. We tried lunch at Toddington and checked out the Pheasant pub. Looks good for our proposed outing to the GWR.

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.

Martin and Tony assessed John M's requirement for the additional 13A. sockets in the museum. They then started and purchased the wiring accessories that we did not hold in stock. This should be completed in another week or so. Charles fitted an titleernative 2 gang switch in the 9681 coach to allow independent control of the new lights in the kitchen and the main body of the coach.

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.

Charles and Martin installed a double 13A socket in the museum. There will be a problem finding a suitable point to pick up a supply; existing circuits are largely radial circuits, and we are unsure yet of the location/sockets on a ring main. Charles suggests that on a quiet day we survey the building.

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.

June 2013

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.
New heights were then achieved when they were surrounded by several 3pm demons in disguise. Names heard were "Stuart" and "Graham". Other absent demons were invoked by chanting names such as "Adrian, Ned, Bob". It seems that all involved with Parkend are of the opinion that the new phone should have been fitted at the end of the building by the gate. They said that where it is, people on the bench may bang their heads on the box so the bench has been moved along and is now in the way of the ladies toilet door. Ray and Peter then retreated to the cafe down the road for a cup of tea and to lick their wounds. The question now is "do we dare to go near Parkend?"

We want one too!

We have withdrawn our request for a helicopter and replaced it with a request for a rail/road vehicle which we saw demonstrated at Parkend today.

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!

The E and T Group Outing to the Gloucester Warwick Railway

18 June : It was the day of our group trip to the Gloucester Warwick Railway. Rick and Janet walked down to come with Jean and myself to Toddington. We got there about 10:20 to see Ray, June, Martin and Cynthia also arriving. We went for coffee to be quickly joined by Charles, Allison and Peter. The train loco was a 37(215) diesel and we went to Cheltenham and back. Then we walked to the Pheasant for a lunch for eleven. A very good lunch at very good prices. Then it was back to the station to catch the railcar to Laverton and return. Jean bought me a black 5. A very pleasant day out.

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.

The faulty museum office light switch was replaced and labelled. Subsequently Charles and Martin looked for electrical works at Norchard and Lydney Junction. At both locations they were frustrated by uncertainty in the exact location of ducts/cables which are part of the projected cable installations. They were able to confirm the meter location and one distribution board location at Lydney Junction signal box. Martin is continuing to work on the faulty electrical toaster, Charles is liasing with David Collins to try to progress the electrical supply to the S&T compound at Lydney Junction. He has now received two plans from David which he will share with Martin to see if they agree with their observations this morning.

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.

Martin and Charles installed but did not connect (yet) a permanent 6ft tube in the Norchard telephone exchange. Additional lighting will be provided in front of the rack from the same switched supply - we will need to go in the loft again. In the afternoon Martin and Charles discussed the S&T compound electrical supply request with David Collins and Roger Phelps. The action is on Charles to progress the request by gathering data from DFR consumers at Lydney Junction to satisfy the requirements that any contractor (e.g. Western Power Distribution) would have of the DFR in quoting for a supply. The task will include getting access to definitive plans/agreements/covenants and memoranda of understanding between the DFR and all affected land owners/users. Charles and Martin will progress this task noting the role being played by the Development Manager, Ben Gray.

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.

July 2013

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.

Charles had examined the sensor originally fitted in the shop and discussed the requirement with Lynne and James. Lynne thinks that the requirement may be best met by purchasing a photo-cell beam to cross the main shop entrance, rather than a PIR sensor activated by any movement in the shop.

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.

Tony and Charles completed the work installing and connecting the dual 13A socket outside the Museum Office. In the afternoon they completed the installation of a re-positioned tube and one additional tube in the Norchard Telephone Exchange.

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.

10 July :A pretty hot day. Rick and Ray spent the day around the railway updating the directories to show the new Lydney Junction numbers. They tested the phones to 699 at Lydney Junction Signal Box and were mostly successful until they got to the platform phone at Parkend which gave wrong numbers. Changing the phone did not clear the problem entirely and other Parkend phones gave a wrong number on occasion. We will have to investigate this next week. I managed to get all the lines at Lydney Junction changed over to the new exchange and got all four junctions to Norchard working.

The photograph shows the exchange equipment with the covers off at Lydney Junction Signal Box. The top shelf has two combined linefinder and auto auto relay sets and an S and Z pulse generator relay set. The S and Z pulses are used to release any call that has lasted longer than 22 minutes. This will clear the outgoing junction for use on other calls if there should be a PG condition.

The two relay strips are the line circuits, L, K and P relays per circuit and the test number circuit.

The five uniselectors are the allotter, two linefinders and two final selectors.

The bottom shelf has the three line concentrator relay sets that already existed and the two final selector relay sets.

Also on the rack are the MDF, the alarm and clock relay set, the ringer and ringer control relays, the power unit and the four 12 volt batteries.

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.

Martin and Charles investigated the reported failed light on the corner of the workshop. The H(igh) P(ressure) Sodium lamp fitting was charred with some components missing/damaged. The supply feed cable from a junction box in the building was also charred and loosing its insulation. They removed the light fitting and Martin will see how much a replacement HP Sodium fitting will cost. They also replaced the cable from the interior junction box to the outside of the building. In the afternoon a reported 13A socket on a wander lead was examined because its RCD protection would not set/reset. A replacement protected socket was fitted; the old one will be scrapped

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".

With that sinking feeling we returned to Norchard to find that there were all sorts of reports about failed calls. The exchange looked a picture of health until I noticed that the charge current meter was showing zero and Paul could hear the power unit making an unusual noise. Eventually we tracked the dis down to the fuse in the emergency 50 volt power cut off switch. To get at the fuse meant that we had to throw the BIG switch over the door to OFF. Quite strange to hear the equipment room go silent. We replaced the fuse and got the exchange back on line. The charge meter wrapped itself round the stop as the battery was sucking power from the stand by unit. We got the clock swinging again and reset the clocks.

During all this frantic exercise, Paul installed the new Asterisk exchange, which hopefully will now run reliably. He has a UPS coming which should further improve reliability. Quite a day!

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.

In the morning Martin and Charles finished condemning three flood lights and separated useful cable from the lamp holders; an extension cable was repaired. Also a flickering fluorescent light in the museum office was replaced. The greater part of the day was spent responding to a request to enable building work to proceed at Lydney Junction Signal Box. Martin and Charles (and then John Bathgate) visited. To replace the outer cladding:
1. Transfer exterior light switch to adjacent architrave - not too difficult
2. Separate meter box from supports behind cladding - difficult, little play on cables, advice from Tony Smith would be appreciated since we would disturb company connection from fuse to meter; what mechanical protection would be acceptable?
3. Access to building frame bracket; suggest via removed external cladding; the affected corner is very crowded and not designed for ease of maintenance!

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.

August 2013

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.

This week a failed Emergency Stop Switch on the Coal Hopper at Norchard was re-instated, it still has to be tested. The evening light switch on the Norchard Ground Frame Hut (Betty's Hut) was checked for correct operation and has now been transferred to the weest face of the building to avoid shadow from the proposed building around the new Oil Bunded Tank. Martin and Charles discussed on-going electrical work with Peter Adams and Tony Smith with a view to identifying works achievable by the Railway's electrical group and the works which would have to be undertaken by a contractor. Plans have been received from Western Power for an overhead line renewal in the area of Tuft's Bridge. Martin and Charles plan to survey the affected area next Wednesday.

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.

Whilst the lads were conducting their wasp wars, I was in France riding the Chemin de Fer at St Valery in Normandy. A pretty good railway, metre gauge and 27 Kms long, with two steam trains running on the day. Health and Safety consisted of a guard shouting at you in French if you got in front of the engine. The loco did have a cow catcher though.

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.

Martin and Charles re-visited the new bunded tank area. At the Ground Frame (Betty's) Hut we completed the revision of the night lighting change started last week. Subsequently, Martin and Charles began to follow up the Electrical Inspection report about Norchard to see where they would be able make corrections/improvements themselves. They discussed some of these with Richard Gittings later. After lunch, Martin and Charles visited the Diesel Section at Lydney Junction to progress the limited re-installation of power to a distribution cabinet adjacent to the burnt van. Bob Bramwell and the probationary Supervisor, Matt, discussed the trenching activity and confirmed the work being undertaken by Richard Gittings on behalf of Tony Smith. This work is a consequence of a poor inspection report and Charles is liaising with David Hurd and Paul Lansdell for a short term remedy and a longer term agreement on responsibilities for installation and maintenance.

21 August : We all had a discussion about the current work on the oil tank and about the Diesel Depot at the Junction. We all went to the Junction in the hope that we could drop a telecoms cable into the electricity trench, however we were too late as it had been backfilled. We came up with an alternative though. For Telecoms, we have decided to go for a new cabinet sited on the lineside wall of Betty's hut. By the afternoon, we had a gang digging out a refuge so that we could work on the proposed site. Rick, Ray and myself then walked along the rail from Whitecroft to DP5F at Tuft's Bridge to kill the wasps. We gave the box a good spray but found that the nest had been deserted. We cleaned out the nest and it is ready for the terminations to be replaced. When we got back we did some minor labelling work. Jean and I went on to water the flowers at the Junction.

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.

In the evening the whole Electrical and Telecoms Group, with their partners, went for the trip on the Fish and Chip Special. The food was excellent.

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.

September 2013

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.

Martin spent the day on PAT testing.

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.

Lydney Junction : Tony Smith, Martin and Charles examined the installed cable to the Diesel section; there are 3 cables satisfactorily attached to scaffolding poles, and 1 cable floating. The hand dryer in the disabled toilets is reported as faulty - experience with the time and trouble of such machines may need expenditure to replace it rather than expend effort on repairs.
Parkend : David Cross has a dirty water pump for the drainage pit at Parkend which requires connection to a permanent electricity supply. Martin and Charles made a preliminary visit but will require greater detail of location/load etc. In the afternoon Ned asked for the "on" period of the sensed lighting to be extended.
Norchard : A replacement for the exterior workshop light is proving to be difficult to purchase. However, John and Bernard have located the cable feeding the lamp standard which they are refurbishing. This will provide light in much the same area and could be connected to the daylight sensing circuit. It is difficult to access the feed within the building; Charles suggests an exterior junction box, as low as the cable from the eaves will reach. The fly killer in the buffet coach is faulty - it may need expenditure to replace it..

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 :

Exchange Lines - yellow/blue
P+- , green/white/red
Clock/Alarm - white/red
Junctions - blue/red
PA Speakers - white/green
PA Buttons - yellow/white
BT Lines - red/white/blue/green
SPT circuits - green/red
S&T circuits - yellow/red
Miscellaneous - yellow/green

These cards will be fitted wherever we have a jumper field.

21 September :

Paul, Ian and I spent a short day at the Lydney Signal Box. Ian carried on with lacing while Paul and I did the annual maintenance checks on the phones and SPTs in that area. Everything was working.

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 :

Ray and I followed yesterday's report of a faulty junction from Parkend by checking that it was disconnected somewhere towards the Whitecroft and Parkend area. We started at Whitecroft to prove the fault towards Parkend. We went to Parkend to prove it out. DP1D and DP1E saw the fault towards Whitecroft. Then we found DP1G leaning at a funny angle, probably hit by the vehicle that had been flailing on Monday. The cabinet had been pulled away from the cables emerging from the ground so that the pull on the wires had caused the disconnection. The fault was quickly repaired but the cabinet now resides looking very lop sided. Why cannot people who damage telecoms equipment report the fact so that we do not have to spend a half day in locating the fault?
Peter is progressing his scheme for listing the details of all phone installations on the railway. He is also working on his plan for a line in the office with an extension in the caboosh.

Martin was in for the electricians attempting to repair a grinder and doing PAT testing.

28 September :

No work at the railway today. However I did go in to find a load of copper by the door for us to sell for the Fund. At home the Parkend concentrator is coming on. Design and assembly by John and plate wiring by Ian.
I went back in to pick up Jean, only to be struck by the four o clock demon which demanded new token batteries at Norchard for the Lydney Junction circuit. I found the batteries and took them home to solder together.

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.

October 2013

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.
Meanwhile Charles was investigating an electrical outage somewhere in the Diesel charging area, apparently caused by a train running over an electrical cable laying on the rail. Some difficulty was experienced in locating the correct trip. Better records appear to needed.
Peter and I had an early lunch and Charles had a rushed lunch as we all wanted to go Lydney junction signal box, we had arranged to meet Steve Harris at 1.15. Charles wandered round looking at the electrics (and frowning a lot). We spoke to Steve and he showed us where the key to the batt cupboard was kept. We also discussed the possibility of a different sort of power supply i.e. lead acid batt charged from the mains. The diagram for the token only says the voltage should be between 20 and 30 volts. We should maybe discuss this further. The next problem was that the batteries needed wiring and soldering together. This we had not done. While on site we spoke to the diesel people and checked the working phone and recovered a spare telephone.
We returned to Norchard for a cuppa and a cake.
I have taken the batteries home to solder together. The plan was to take them back on Saturday but have now been informed no one will be in the signal box, but there should be someone in on Sunday. Will try then.
All in all just a normal day.

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.
Paul had spent a day at the Gloucester Warwick Railway helping out with one of their PAXs. Mike Stephenson now has an S&T blog available at

November 2013

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.
The electricians worked on faulty lights and did some PAT testing and repair.

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 :

The Parkend Concentrator wiring work has moved to the much warmer kitchen.

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.

As we left, 1450 turned up on a lorry in the car park. Welcome back.

23 November : A lovely sunny day, a bit cold but we were drawn to getting on with something outside. Paul, Ian and I decided to cut the cables clear from the fence line past Betty's Hut. Ian then took on the job of fixing our new DP5A cabinet to the wall in the recess. The Payback Boys dug out the ends of our duct under the gateway so that we are ready to reroute our cable in the New Year. Paul recovered the temporary webcam and then we removed the sheet iron from the rear of the new oil hut to give us access to the old DP5A. Ian and I then rerouted the DELs going north out of the cables from DP5. The junctions will have to wait until someone is available at Parkend for testing. Peter came in later and fixed the new DP to the wall in the old signing on room. Peter and Paul then located the cable from the DP to the loft and jointed it to a new end for later termination on the MDF. All in all, a very productive day.

25 November : Paul fancies devices called QR codes to be added to our literature. Apparently smart phones (whatever they are) can read a QR code and follow its instructions. I think Easyjet use them on their boarding passes so that they can be quickly read at the gate. This one apparently directs you to this website. If you have a smart phone, you could try your luck.

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.
Paul and Ian have been pressing me to place DFR Telecoms videos on our website. There is one of Paul's videos on our "links" page with coverage of our five car DMU leaving Lydney Junction. This seems to work, so now I have to become a scriptwriter and turn out an epic or two.
Charles, Martin and Tony transferred the Betty's Box electrical supply box from the external DP (where access will be impeded by the oil store cladding) to an internal position. A small amount of slack has been left for limited slewing of the building. Once the retention (or not) of the building and its use and the demands of the bunded oil pump have been determined, an external supply (in conduit) will be provided to the corrugated hut.

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.

December 2013

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.
Charles and Martin worked with Tony Smith and Richard Gittings to try to resolve the ambiguities with the planned Electrical Work at Norchard and Lydney Junction. We have surveyed Lydney Junction for the location of the new Meter Cabinet and will progress the work to be undertaken by Tony Smith and Western Power Distribution. In the afternoon a Carriage & Wagon portable light fitting was received for bulb replacement and Portable Appliance Testing.

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.

17 December : Peter came in to fit a new ringing converter no 9A to his plan107. The original had destroyed itself during testing and is with the doctor. Martin was worrying that Peter would go up in flames when the switch went down.

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.
Martin and Charles planned(!) the new electrical layout for the new cafe and kitchen car and surveyed the affected area. After lunch they removed a damaged light fitting at Parkend, and replaced two faulty light bulbs at Norchard.
Then it was time to say Merry Christmas to everyone as we shall not meet again until Jan 4th when we hope to move our telephone cable out of the way of the siding reorganisation. Unless there is a panic, this should be the final entry for 2013.

How have we done this year? : Not too bad.

We have more expertise on our electrical work and this has resulted in the group more or less splitting into Electrical and Telecoms factions. We still share accommodation and stores etc and stand ready to help each other out if necessary. We remain a social group, enjoying lunches, dinners and trips out together.
The exchange at Lydney Junction has been working for six months and has given virtually no trouble. Most pleasing, as it had been designed and constructed in house from recovered components. It has now passed several thousand calls.
The BT lines have been completely reorganised and are now very tidy and capable of quick and easy modification to their layouts around the site.
Some updating of the safety and risk factors has been undertaken, but we do need to visit all of our lineside cabinets and phones.
The retermination of the circuits in our main DP3A has been 80% completed but awaits further attention from Rick when the weather permits.

We had hoped to do more training, but this has not happened apart from discussions that arose naturally during work.

Merry Christmas to all our readers, and thank you for your interest in our railway telecoms.

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This page was last updated on
20th December 2013