DFR Telecoms Diary


Hopes for the coming year :

1) Reorganise the distribution system for clocks remote from the Norchard area.

2) Make some You Tube videos demonstrating calls going via our strowgers etc.

3) Provide an alarm system in conjunction with S&T to call the shop if any alarms come up on our equipment. This is STARS, the proposed Signal and Telegraph Alarm Reception System.

4) Reorganise the alarm and ringer start arrangements at Parkend in order to simplify the system.

5) Install the concentrator at Parkend signal box.

6) Keep pace with the building changes taking place at Norchard.

January 2014

4 January : A very good day at the DFR. We were all in. Rick, Ian, Paul, Ray, Peter and I got the DP3A to DP5A tie cable rerouted from over the siding rails to underneath the rails. We had completed this by 11:30, a job I had expected to last rather longer. The old DP5A cabinet has now been left completely empty and can be recovered by anyone who fancies the job. It did rain a bit but not enough to interfere. To celebrate, we all went to Kaplan's for lunch, where Jean, Rosie and Janet joined us.

8 January : Rick, Peter and I got on with getting the cables into the new DP5A. Rick spent time sorting out DP3A ready for tapping out when we come to terminate. Ray had a short on some clock wiring which stopped the reversal clocks. He isolated the pair which of course went over to DP3A and then got the rest of the clocks back to the correct time. We finished about three as it was starting to drizzle with a promise of heavier rain to come.

The new DP5A ready for terminating when the rain stops. We may need to renumber all the DP5A to DP5H DPs as they no longer have an E side cable from DP5, all E side pairs now come from DP3A.

The programme of main works for 2014 is now available on this website.

11 January : Rick and Ian carefully toned out the twenty pair between DPs 3A and 5A and got the cable terminated permanently at each end. Paul and I got the cable between DPs 3R and 5A tapped out. Ian finished terminating all the cables in DP5A and has made a lovely neat job of them. Peter made up gaskets for a couple of external DPs so that they will be waterproof. We all went to Kaplan's for lunch and met Jean there. All day the big shunting job went on to take the coaches out of the siding platform and get them rearranged to make room for the new cafe building. The mark 2 has gone to be scrapped, the GUV is in its long term temporary position and the kitchen coach and 9681 coach have been replaced in the siding in the correct place to allow the new building to be erected. A very busy day for everyone at the railway and luckily the weather cooperated by having a warm sun shine on us all day.

15 January

Ray and Peter spent the day finding the abandoned cables that originally fed DP5A and have diverted them into a new DP so that they may be able to feed the C&W GUV coach and the chalet hut with phone service. Rick and I jumpered up the new DP5A and got the circuits tested. We now have Parkend and Whitecroft reconnected to the internal phone system. I visited Parkend to check the outgoing junctions. A good effective day. I think though, that we need now to bite the bullet and relabel all the cabinets to Whitecroft as subsidiaries of DP3A to avoid future telecoms guys wondering why we were nuts!

The records for DPs 5 and 5A now reflect the move to the new DP on the north west corner of the main building. The records for DPs 5A-5H have been relabelled as DPs 3S-3Z. We shall have to get used to their new designations.

17 January : All of the electrical and telecom group members and their partners came to our house for a buffet lunch. A very good social occasion for the fifteen people attending.

22 January : Rick and Ray got the 9681 coach reconnected and added a socket so that any possible phones we may try to sell can be demonstrated. I did the rejumpering needed and went to the Junction to cover our rack with a plastic sheet so that contractors working behind the rack are less likely to do any damage. Peter came in later and started to get some of the clutter moved from the office to the caboosh. We also discussed refurbishing a wooden D phone with 700 type innards so that it can be used with the proposed concentrator at Parkend.

I fitted the new clock relay set and got it powered up and ticking. This started a chat on why we need the relay set. It has been built for two purposes. We have no more reverse pulse clocks but are likely to get demands for clocks to be fitted remote from the main building eg in the new cafe building. We will have to use a serial pulse clock but will have to feed it via a long separate circuit. The relay set will provide the right pulse.
We also have STARS (Signals and Telecoms Alarm Reception System) to build in 2014. The clock relay set will separate the clock and alarm equipment so that changes to the alarm circuits will not be inhibited by clock circuits being in the same relay can.
Incidentally quite a lot of other preparatory work is necessary before we can make a start on installing STARS gear. ie :
the rearrangement of the Norchard protectors to allow further junction circuits to be connected. This has started and is ongoing.
rearrangement of the Parkend alarm system to fit with the requirement for Signals to be able to bring back Parkend and Whitecroft alarms separately.
provision of common services to the new signal box at Parkend, including a remote Signals alarm display in the signal box.
some modification of the clock/alarm arrangements at Lydney Signal Box.

STARS itself is currently in the early design stage. The use of heavy and light line currents are being investigated as a means of bringing back several alarm conditions on one wire to the central display at Norchard shop. We appear to have relays that will differentiate between the proposed currents reliably under varying line and voltage conditions, so a relay set is under construction to prove this aspect of the design.

25 January :

Ian worked on his job of rewiring the protectors to make additional junction protectors available. I jumpered up the new clock relay set on the IDF so that all the appropriate clocks now work via the set and the IDF jumpers are now in the new regulation colour white. The MDF jumpers remain to be completed. However it was very good to see the relay set work correctly from the start. Peter was also in, sorting out telephone innards etc!

29 January : A very cold day. Even colder in the buffet coach where Rick, Peter and Ray reinstated the clock and phone.

February 2014

1 February :
Paul and I spent the day rejumpering on the MDF and IDF changing out to the new standard colours and tidying jumpers. We found a couple of record errors. We were glad to be working in a nice warm exchange room.

5 February : Terrible weather today. I was the only telecoms guy in. I made a start by shifting an existing jumper that had been badly run (see the blue/yellow jumper in the pic above) to the protector we had completed on Saturday. At least that part of the frame now looks pretty tidy. However I decided that jumper running on my own was too tedious so I packed in and picked up Jean and went home.
Later in the day I was asked to fault a friend's phone. It had one way transmission. I found the microphone aperture filled with red Jam!!!! It gave us all a laugh.

8 February : Paul, Peter and I were in. Paul and I continued changing out jumpers on the MDF. Just four more to go, then we will need to turn to the IDF. Peter got on with converting a wooden D phone to a modern CB phone for use with the Parkend concentrator. We had lunch at Kaplan's with Jean.

12 February : A wet, windy, miserable day. Rick and Peter spent the day on selector maintenance. Ray and I finished off changing the jumpers on the MDF and made a start on the IDF. At least we stayed warm and dry.

This morning Martin and Charles visited Lydney Junction Signal Box with Tony Smith & Richard Gittings, to discuss with the WPD jointers the trench and positioning of the new cabinet for the electricity meter. They were happy to report back to the planner at WPD (Anthony Hayward). Floyd's suggestion for a BOWMAC base for the cabinet was agreed with WPD and Bob Bramwell. In the afternoon Martin and Charles completed the installation in the Severn and Wye room of the ceiling mounted 13A distribution cable reel for light office duty in the table area.

Photographs from 1989 have been added to this website. They show the arrival of the first equipment for Norchard Exchange.

15 February : The railway had a couple of trees down across our line due to the storm. Ian, Peter and I were in, though I had to leave after cuppa time as the wind in the night had brought down a couple of fence panels at home that I had to repair. Ian got on with the MDF protector rearrangements. Jean and I met Ian and Peter for lunch at Kaplan's. Afterwards it was back to the MDF for Ian while I made up some jumper wire in the right colours for the IDF rejumpering we need to do.
Picture from Chris Bull, thanks.

At home the alarm extension relays sets for Parkend and Norchard are under construction. The ingenious relay circuit proposed by Peter Wood seems to be working on the bench when the two relay sets are side by side. The arrangement extends alarms from Parkend exchange, Signalling at Parkend and Signalling at Whitecroft to the central reception point at Norchard. It can send any combination of these alarms to Norchard over a single wire.

19 February : Rick and Ray repaired a faulty switch in Norchard exchange and changed out a faulty phone in the workshop.

22 February : Paul, Ian and I spent the day getting the shots for episode 2 of the DFR Telecoms videos. Episode 1 will be shot later. Peter is working on finding phones etc for sale at the next THG swapmeet in April. I came back to pick up Jean and the hot dogs for the lineside gang, after which we all went to Kaplan's for lunch. After lunch Jean's hands were used to show dialling and James in the shop had the only speaking part when he answered a phone for us. Now it's up to Paul to produce a rough cut to see what the video could look like.

26 February : Rick, Ray and Peter got a clock put through and working in the 9681 coach. We also received an order for a phone and clock in the new signing on hut. I filled up my boot with scrap and took it to Bendall's. That helps the Telecom Fund.

Electrical Group : During February the team has focused on implementing and supporting the rework concerned with the revised electricity supply to:
•Lydney Junction Signal Box
•The Platform adjacent to The Platelayers/New Cafe
•The Chalet Hut/GUV and maintenance of service to Forester Storage.

Small scale works associated with maintenance/Portable Appliance Testing has continued, notably lights in the museum, distribution in the platelayers coach, lights around the old booking office/signing on room/locomotive workshop. A new power distribution point has been fitted in the Severn & Wye Room. It is meant for light duty laptops during meetings. not for kettles/electric fires - please note.

March 2014

1 March : Paul and I got an exchange line and clock circuit out to the new signing on hut. It should be ready for fitting on Wednesday. I also got the labeller working again and got all the relay sets etc in Norchard labelled correctly. We all met Jean for lunch at Kaplan's again.

5 March : Rick and I visited the Junction to look at 621 which was reported faulty. Sticky switch hooks were quickly adjusted. Ray and Peter fitted the clock in the new signing on hut and cleared a low insulation problem on the DP. We turned to a bit of clearing up in our office and got quite a lot of gear put away or in the scrap bin. We all left early.

6 March : Ray went in to change the new clock in the signing on hut as it went faulty after three hours.

12 March : Not much for the diary really. Peter spent the first part of the morning in conversation with James and Lynne in respect of the recent change of service provider to "Chess", who ever they may be. Peter then spent time in the caboosh trying to work out exactly what we need in the way of spare parts to wipe up the rest of the phones on the shelves, Before leaving he managed to wipe up one more 741, this was a complete strip down and change of the gravity switch hooks. He has planned to sort out with Ray the wiring in DP 2 next week. It currently resembles an explosion in a mattress factory!
The electricians removed some of the old cable from the low level platform lighting at Norchard and installed some of the new cable.

15 March : Paul and Peter were in today and spent most of the morning tracing the cable from the telephone kiosk, eventually finding the end of it hidden in the ceiling of the new booking office. The cable was re-routed back to the exchange and terminated on the MDF ready for jumpering. After lunch they wrestled the payphone apart and looked at mounting it in the kiosk, eventually giving up due to a lack of appropriate length M8 bolts.

19 March : Ray and Peter made a start on DP 2. Before they actually started they decided to check the exchange lines with an 8746 phone, good that we did as it appeared that 844609 was faulty (faint NDT from the 8746 phone) we eventually tracked this down to the EPOS terminal in the new booking office, once removed everything worked fine but it was 11:30 before we actually took the lid off DP2. Before lunch they managed to jumper and test all the BT lines. Unfortunately Ray had to leave straight after lunch. Rick returned for lunch but had work to do in the exchange as he replaced two soldering iron bits, one taking no time at all, the second one was somewhat harder. He also removed all the old shelf brackets. After lunch Peter managed to get DP2 95% finished and tested. All that is left are just two clock jumpers and a line reversal to sort out (Pr 10). It is now looking quite professional and we need not worry about have to chase A- B reversals as they have all now been removed both in DP2 and DP2C, this should help with any future faulting. On retesting the Plan 107 it would appear that we can't buzz the office from the caboosh, ran out of time so a job for another day. Peter finished off the day by fitting two 8mm bolts of the correct length in the kiosk ready for the payphone. All that is required are two penny washers.
The electricians repaired the hand dryer at Parkend men's toilets and fitted a new hand dryer in the disabled toilets at Lydney Junction. In the afternoon Martin and Tony replaced a defective sensor controlling the exterior lights on the old booking office and the signing in room. Tony Smith was in attendance advising Jeff Bishop on DMU wiring and liaising with me on work at Lydney Junction.

22 March : It was the "Multiple Unit Festival" day today, and we had a First Great Western Sprinter Class 150 visiting from the mainline. Paul got a video of it running into/out of Norchard:

Peter and Paul were in today and finished fitting the coinbox in the kiosk, it's all jumpered up and working as a museum demo phone on 883.

25 March : Charles was in for most of the day coordinating the electrical work at Lydney Junction Signal Box. It all worked out in the end with Western Power, EON and Tony Smith all doing their parts of the job to move the meter to a new cabinet. The power was off for some hours, so I popped in twice to check the battery. It stayed at 50.9 volts so it looks as though it is in good condition. A good job to have behind us.

26 March : A miscellaneous sort of day. I managed to sort quite a bit of stuff in our caboosh. I ended up with a tidy telecoms shelf and a bootfull of scrap cable which went to Bendall's for sale. Rick is working on brackets etc to remount the C unit shelf in the exchange. Ray and Peter completed the jumpering of DP2A and the testing of the clock circuits.
The electricians exchanged a couple of fluorescent tubes in the museum to balance the light better as requested by John Metherall; then they continued work on the lower platform lighting cables at Norchard. They also helped categorise some cables as not required - mainly choosing to retain modern colours and rejecting Tough Rubber Sheathed in favour of plastic insulation. In the afternoon they visited the Lydney Junction Signal Box to see the completed meter cabinet and the on going backfilling of the trench. Thanks to Floyd and Bob Bramwell for that. They checked the light in the locking room; the 3 main fluorescent lights are OK. They need to identify more closely the feed to the rack tube, although switched, they will look for the lighting circuit. On his way home Tony found that the circuits for the hand dryers in the Gents Toilet at Parkend had tripped; these were reset and operated OK.

29 March : Ian, Paul and I were in for half a day, mostly sorting items for sale at next week's THG swapmeet at Bromsgrove. I also measured the resistance of a single wire to Parkend and Lydney Junction. They both came in under 200 ohms so the STARS design looks safe. Bob Hawker has two very rusty telephone cabinets ready to go to the restorers for shot blasting and painting.

April 2014

2 April : Rick, Ray and Peter provided lines to phones in the Carriage and Wagon coach and to the signing on hut. They had to lay some cable from DP12 to the GUV to accomplish this. I had a chat with the Chairman to find out what he hoped to get from us for the new cafe. It seems that we will need to provide an internal line, a clock or two, a PA speaker or two, and an extra BT line for use with a phone and a point of sale machine. Broadband would be needed so that we could provide Wi-Fi in the cafe with a view to adding a couple of webcams later. The building should be ready for fitting out around the end of April, but cabling will be completed on the surface in conduit or similar. I have checked the pair usage for this project and for STARS and found that we should have enough pairs across to the platform area, but we will of course need new external grade cable to run between DP3A and the new cafe DP. We also need to convert the signal box line to become a two wire extension. This will need a new phone to be purchased.

5 April : Paul, Peter and I found the existing ducts across the tracks to DP3A to be full, so we surveyed a new duct route for telecoms cables from outside of the new office to the cafe, by crossing the tracks and going round the back of the crossing hut. Bob Bramwell has agreed to lay the duct if the scheme is approved by the Board. The duct will take a BT only cable from the BT DP to the cafe in one length. We will also provide a relief DFR telecoms cable from the MDF to DP3A on the platform and perhaps two cables from DP3A to the cafe. We went to meet Jean at Kaplan's for lunch. After lunch Peter got back to telephone wipe-up while Paul and I changed out jumpers on the IDF for the correct colours. We seem to be tidying the frame with this updating as well.

Just as I was going home, 5541 whistled as it arrived at Norchard pulling a works train. It looks superb following its overhaul.

6 April : We went to the THG Bromsgrove Swapmeet today. Rather fewer tables than usual. Ian and Paul set up their table and were doing pretty well. Paul is at the table on the left. I bought some bits but could not find a key and lamp arrangement at all. So a little disappointing for buying but excellent for selling in the end. Paul did lay his hands on two very large battery ringers. All we need now is a couple of ten thousand line strowgers to go with them. We left at twelve getting back to the railway about 1:15 to unload.

9 April : Peter, Rick and Ray were in today. Peter fitted two phones in the office. Ray lubricated both master clocks. Rick changed a test jack on a line finder and chased a fault on another line finder which disappeared whilst locating. It was the fault that disappeared, not the linefinder! Extn 883 coinbox phone was checked for low insulation but was ok when tested. They all looked at the possibility of a 20 pair cable to the new cafe and taking it through DP3a which would give more spares there.

15 April : I took a couple of telephone cabinets into Gloucester Coatings for them to shot blast and powder coat.

16 April : Ray and Peter reconnected the crossing hut SPT to the new signals cabinet and got the phone working back to the concentrator. They also repaired a broken adapter with super glue. I spent the day installing the new alarm reception relay set. Lots more to do yet. Mike Stephenson from the GWR paid us a visit and went for a ride on the DMU.

17 April : I started work on the alarm display lamps and got them wired to new dropper resistors with a tail end cable for connection to the IDF. I went to look at the platform phone at the Junction. No dial tone. I had to get the keys from Norchard to get into the signal box. There I found our rack looking a bit the worse for wear with the wiring on the rear needing to be tidied back into shape. One linefinder uniselector drive was disconnected. Although I started by thinking a wire had been knocked off by the painters I eventually found that it was dirt, first in the bank and then in the interrupters. Not easy to find as each time I touched the interrupters with a test lamp, the uniselector jumped into life. I found that the tiniest pressure on the spring made the contact. Probably this will not recur once the painters leave and the place gets tidied. The exchange has not been used very much lately either, but it will get a good run over Easter.

18 April : I spent the day cabling out the alarm reception relay set and the alarm display lamps to the IDF. Rather a lot of wires to terminate. This leaves jumpering between the relay set and lamps to get the existing alarms back to working.

Derek Mulvana, Telecoms, from the Nene Valley Railway near Peterborough is to try to visit us on Monday.

19 April : I jumpered and labelled the alarm lamps to the alarm reception relay set. Now we are back to where we were but with the extra capability of receiving many more alarms and eventually being able to have them displayed in the shop. I also had a good tidy and clean in the exchange.

20 April : The diagrams and some notes for the Norchard STARS alarm reception relay set have been added to this website.

21 April : I met Derek Mulvana from the Nene Valley Railway for a chat and a look round Norchard exchange.

23 April : Ray, Peter and I looked at 304 at the outer home at Parkend after complaints of no dial tone. It was fine for us. RWT. After lunch we inspected decent sheds at RSJ at Blakeney. £800. Lynne suggested I get a quote from Roston who is building the cafe. He fancies a lean to, so do I, as it gives us maximum space. He will give us a quote.

26 April : Ian got on with extra junction tie circuits between the IDF and MDF. Paul cabled the shop display relay set shelf position to the IDF. Peter worked up another phone. I ordered the duct for the new cafe. I also saw Bob and Steve about the route and then caught Jason to check the route with him. OK, but the fence line is coming down fairly soon so we are saved from buying battening as the duct can be buried once the fence is out of the way.

29 April : Ray and Peter came in to put up an extra storage shelf at Parkend exchange. Quite substantial. Then it was lunch at the Fountain.

30 April : Not a productive day. Rick, Ray, Peter and I spent time considering the new duct route and looking at the new cafe building progress. We had a survey of DP3A to consider how to get another sixty pairs terminated in the cabinet. It's possible but we need to use the side wall space. Rick went home early as he had only arrived back from holiday at four in the morning. Peter wiped up another phone and Ray wiped up a clock for use in the cafe. We had lunch and went home early. I got on with the Parkend alarm relay set when I got back. It's proceeding nicely.

Tony and Charles worked principally at Lydney Junction, replacing a starter in a strip light in the Locking Room of the signal box. Also, they examined the lighting circuit to determine a better way of sourcing a supply to the strip behind the Telecom rack - this will be conduit work. Also, the rework of the signal box exterior has left work to be done in respect of the exterior lights - we shall have to inspect and maintain the residual circuits there. At Norchard, Tony replaced a lamp in the shop entrance, at Whitecroft, Tony and I found no lighting faults.

May 2014

3 May : Ian finished off his job of providing more miscellaneous MDF to IDF circuits. Paul and I walked up the line a little way to see if we could find our stash of 4 inch green duct. We located it hidden completely by the undergrowth, probably just as well or by now it would have walked. Having discussed the possibility of adders nesting in the ducts we recovered sixteen four metre lengths for Bob Bramwell's boys to use on the new cafe duct route. They got on and laid duct across the tracks and along to Betty's hut. Nice to see part of the job in place. We went to Kaplan's for lunch with Jean. Paul and I also visited the Junction to check the state of the exchange and the signal box locking room. The exchange was working fine and the box is somewhat tidier than it was. Peter called in to see how we were getting along. The 73 was on duty, looking and sounding in very nice condition.

7 May : A day clearing minor faults, a "dis" clock, intermittent no ring tone on a final, low volts alarm from the signal box and discussions about DP3A - again. Rick, Ray, Peter, Charles and I also took a ride to Parkend, ostensibly to see if my STARS relay set will fit ok - it will. However the main attraction was the bluebell display on the way. We finished early in the afternoon after being told that we had laid some of the duct too near to the point rodding. About par for the course!.

Charles discussed the new cafe installation with Tony Smith and Ben Gray. At Parkend, he confirmed that the hand dryers are still working. Observation of the 33kv WPD line crossing confirmed that a site visit by WPD would be useful, Charles has arranged for their Agent, John James, to make a site visit next Wednesday, he will join us for coffee and then we need to escort him to the site.

Paul is starting to write an additional website covering the functions of the Asterisk exchange. Click here for the website.

10 May : Peter was in today and wiped up 4 more phones. The community pay back workers re-routed the duct and have now got as far as the the new ramp to the high level platform.

11 May : Ian, Paul and I attended the National Vintage Communications fair near Warwick. A very busy show with lots of valve driven gear for sale. The THG had its stand manned by Ian and Paul among others.

Paul took his PAX to show the crowd. It provided exchange lines for others to demonstrate their phones.

Ian demonstrates his house exchange systems.

On the way home I met up with Mike Stephenson from the Gloucester Warwick Railway to collect some surplus relay sets and KLUs. Thanks Mike.

14 May : Rick went back to his DP3A job. Peter and Ray continued with telephone wipe up work. Charles, Martin, a Western Power Planner and I walked up the line from Upper Forge to Tuft's Bridge to survey the 33KV crossing that has to be replaced. I took the opportunity to check our cable and cabinets along that stretch. Much of the cable has come to the surface and needs digging in and the cabinets are looking in need of repair or replacement. Later Ray and I took the alarm relay set to Parkend and plugged it in. Now we need to cable it and bring it in to service.

15 May : The new Parkend Alarm Diagrams and write up have been placed on this website

17 May :

Bob Bramwell's lads started to dig in the new duct route and were stopped by Jason and Scott who offered the use of the digger. We had a most productive day, getting a good length of duct into the ground along with the cable that needed to be buried with the duct. Peter came in to work on phones but he is now down with the odds and ends and only managed to make up one complete phone. He does however have four KLUs from Mike Stephenson to wipe up and see what he can achieve.

21 May : Rick got on with repairing the cabinet of DP3A which has deteriorated somewhat. Peter, Ray and I started at Parkend chasing out two exchange lines for lineside phones and two spare pairs for STARS alarm circuits. We connected the lines out as far as DP1E but suspect that there may be some pair reversals in the next section. We will see later. After lunch we cleared up our office so that it would be available as a ticket office for the Thomas weekend.

25 May : Sad news. I learnt today that Chris Hall of the Mid Hants Railway died on Friday 23rd May, peacefully in his sleep. Chris has been a big benefactor of the DFR over the years, in particular, the exchange at Parkend was built from equipment obtained from Chris. Thank you Chris, for your support over the last ten years.

28 May : Peter has been wiping up our stock of 700 type telephone spares. He thought he had finished but then found two more that need attention and now there is the possibility of a few more appearing at the railway. Ray and Rick sorted out the CD player used for Thomas after complaints that the sound level was too high. They reset all the sound levels but in the end it might be best to give the shop staff a volume control on the music interface box in the shop. No doubt it will get turned down or off, and we will get complaints that the music channel doesn't work. Give the staff access to a switch and they will fiddle with it! I have ordered the 20 pair cable for the telecoms service to the new cafe. It was promised for delivery this evening! The weather was too drizzly to go wandering up the line, so after lunch we mostly left for home.

Martin and Charles worked at Lydney Junction to affix a suitable warning label to the newly installed meter box. They noted the meter readings and will forward these to Malcolm Harding in due course. Subsequently they inspected the distribution board in the new cafe at Norchard to confirm its damaged state and that the replacement door which has been ordered by Tony Smith will only hinge on the left hand side as viewed from the front. In the afternoon, Martin and Charles replaced two 8' fluorescent tubes and starters in the workshop.

30 May : Jean and I visited Chris Hall's mother and brother in Winchester and with the aid of Chris' BT friend Steve, we filled the car as far as possible with the contents of Chris' shed. Thank you Chris, you thought of us until the end. Our thanks as well to Chris' mother and brother, Richard, for looking after us.

31 May : Ian, Paul, Peter and I went through the telecom bits from Chris Hall. Ian and Paul recovered more green duct for Bob Bramwell's boys to lay along to the new cafe. Ian crawled under the coaches to bolt the lengths of duct together so that hopefully any temperature changes will not allow the ducts to spring apart. After lunch with Jean at Kaplan's, Ian, Paul and I went to the Junction to survey the provision of an extra phone and a SPT to the station. We found all the cable runs and are ready to do the work next week.

June 2014

4 June : A truly horrible day where it rained continuously. Rick chased a PG and then repaired a final with no ringing. The wiper cord had become unsoldered. Peter got the phones ready for Saturday's proposed work at the Junction. I sorted out the routings for three circuits going south and then Rick and I did the exchange jumpering. At least we will have battery and earth to chase down the line when it stops raining.

The routings for 525 (New phone in cabinet DP3N), 587 (test line on sockets in DP3 to DP3M), STARS circuit to Town Station (to DPW), and STARS circuit to Bypass Crossing (DP3N) have now been allocated in the DPs running south of Norchard.

6 June : I provided the 525 phone at the Bypass Crossing Cabinet. I had to put the pair through DP3M. I also found that 587 is available all the way to the Crossing and so it will be easy to fit lineside sockets in all the cabinets on the way.

7 June : It was supposed to be a terrible day for rain but it turned out to be pretty reasonable.

I finally got into the S&T cabinet used for DP2A, so I took this photo as a reminder. I put three pairs through to the platform in readiness for the fitting of the SPT on the station building. Ian, Paul and Peter spent their day providing a plan 1A extension into the stationmaster's office at the Junction. I managed to put a backboard into the cabinet we expect to use for the SPT.

Bob Bramwell's lads had a hard day getting a road crossing in for the new cafe duct route. Just a few yards left to go for completion of the duct.

11 June : Only Peter and I were in on the telecoms side. We spent the morning getting the two STARS circuits through DPs 3A and 3E. A lot of old jumpers were in the way and had to be cleared away. After lunch we went to check if the circuits appeared at the Town crossing but the lock on the cabinet was completely rusted up. We need to go back with the oil can before we can continue down the line.

14 June : Paul, Ian and Peter were in today. They came in to find the door to our hut open, and the whole hut smelling of burnt wood. After some initial concern they bumped into Bob Bramwell who told us there was a swarm of bees on the outside of the hut! The open door and the smell were due to the bee keeper who had moved the queen into a transport box, so that the swarm would follow.
After calming down with a cup of tea, it was off to Lydney Junction where Paul and Ian installed a new 5 pair cable from the DP under the platform to the DP in the station masters office. Peter busied himself installing the new concentrator phone on the outside of the building. After lunch, we ran a new cable in from the new phone, through the loft to the DP in the office, and finished up back at Norchard for an icecream and a cup of tea. A lovely end to a productive sunny day!
The office DP has two incoming cables: Pairs 1 to 2 are the existing drop wire back to the box under the platform edge. Pairs 3 to 8 are the new 5-pair cable, also back to the box under the platform edge.
The concentrator phone is on the new cable blue-white pair i.e. office DP pair 3. We need new DP names for under the platform edge and in the office. The joint box lid under the platform needs some 3/4x6 screws to replace the rusty ones.

18 June : Only Peter and Ray in today. They went to the town crossing where they were unable to undo the rusty DP lock and so returned to Norchard to get a new lock and a hacksaw. They were met with a report of the stationmaster being unable to call over the whole site on the PA. After instructing the stationmaster on the use of the PA emergency phone they started on the fault which turned out to be one of those worst cases where two faults exhibit the same symptoms. They found that there was no 24v from the PA relay set arriving on one of the two circuit switching wires at the stationmaster's key switch. This was due to a jumper wire in DP3A having its insulation under the screw terminal. After rectifying this they were amazed to find we still had the same fault. After much more testing they found that the pair carrying the switching circuit had been reversed!! Hmm, I wonder if the events of the 11 June had something to do with this!

24 June : I have updated our List of Available Relays. We still have a pretty good stock.

25 June : Rick and I were in for the day with Peter coming in for a time after lunch.
Rick and I went to meet David Collins at the Junction Signal Box for a chat about developments at Whitecroft and Parkend. It seems that the Whitecroft Signal Box is programmed for completion by the end of 2017 with Parkend following rather later, perhaps not until 2020.
At Whitecroft we need to programme a new telecoms cable between DP3Z at Whitecroft and DP3Y near the footpath crossing. The existing cable is tied to the fence line, so we should take the opportunity to replace it with buried cable or cable in trough. We have suggested a 20 pair replacement cable over this length which will also be available in any signals cabinet on the route. This will feed any SPTs south of Whitecroft Box. Signalling circuits will run in separate signalling cable. To the north of Whitecroft we will share a signalling cable for the one proposed SPT. We also need to find a pair for an inter signal box circuit between Norchard, Whitecroft and Parkend. This may need the provision of a relief cable between DP3S and DP3T at Norchard.
The concentrator for Whitecroft will need to move up our list of priorities. It will require a rack, 50 volt supply, ringer, alarms etc to be fitted in the box or relay room.

Rick and I then spent the rest of the day getting the STARS pairs through to the Town Station and the Bypass Crossing. The Bypass Crossing circuit is now in use monitoring the signals equipment and the Town circuit is ready for connection to the signals alarm equipment.

28 June : Paul, Ian and I went to the Junction and completed the provision of the concentrator phone on the platform. Nice to have that job out of the way. I had a discussion with Peter Wood about reporting signals faults should they occur now that we can monitor them in the exchange. He will discuss the issue with David Collins. We met Jean for lunch at Kaplan's. After lunch Paul and I went to Parkend to put the STARS relay set in place and give it a bit of a check. We surveyed the work we need to do to make it operational. Mostly it will be simple once we have a new IDF block in a place where we can get at it. We finished the day with tea and cake from the Platelayers.

July 2014

2 July : Rick, Ray and I went to Parkend to pick up the records and continue chasing 319 and the two STARS circuits towards Whitecroft. Rick and Ray got them through to Whitecroft. I left them to go to meet David Collins at the Junction and pick up keys for the signals and token cabinets. We had a chat about signals fault reporting which we carried over into our lunch break. We may be able to help with an initial diagnosis as we at least are all local. After lunch Rick and Ray chased a long standing fault problem on the rack 1 linefinders while I went for a lineside walk with Bob Bramwell to show him where we needed cable buried around the Tuft's Bridge area. He may get his gang on the job next Saturday.

5 July : Rick called in for a short time to look at the problem he has had with lock outs on control set one on rack 1. The control set was locked out again. We changed over the sets to see where the fault would go, but were unable to reproduce it again. Paul spent his day working on the Asterisk exchange and the BT router. He also claimed the moral high ground of the group by voluntarily clearing up a load of broken glass in our office and vacuuming the floor. Peter cleared up a load of the telecom bits that have been littering the office for some weeks. He is also renovating a wooden D phone for use as a concentrator phone for Whitecroft box. Ian and I had a very good day at Parkend connecting up the new alarm relay set and moving all the alarms into it. It is now operational and the old alarm relays are redundant and now need recovering. We did all go to Jean's for a cooked lunch.

6 July :Not all the work goes on at the railway, some of us have homework :

Peter's renovation of a wooden D phone for use as a concentrator phone at Whitecroft.

John's Parkend concentrator, now destined to go to Whitecroft and the shop display relay set under construction.

Mike Stephenson of the Gloucester Warwick Railway is now providing an S&T blog. Nice to have more of interest on the net.
Paul's Asterisk blog is also available.
The Parkend Alarm Diagrams and write up have been updated

9 July : Charles and I had a look at serving the platform one lights. The cable and the lights need replacement and we will need to lay ducts in the flower bed. We may be able to use antique lamp posts for the job. Charles will need to produce a proposal and estimate. Rick replaced a wiper cord. I jumpered up the STARS circuit from Parkend. It looks as though it is working but now needs a proper test when someone can be at the other end. I labelled up the lamps and protectors.

10 July : I called in to check on some U point numbering to find Rick in doing a bit of exchange maintenance.

12 July : Peter and I jumpered up the Lydney Junction part of the STARS relay set at Norchard. We then decided to have a cuppa and go home early.

16 July : Ray, Rick and I went to Parkend to go over the alarm arrangements. I came back to Norchard to check the alarm reception conditions. Only the Parkend Telecoms signal worked. I also then had a meeting with Alex Rennie who is doing the electrical work in the new cafe. Ben Gray was also there and agreed the positioning of the telecoms equipment. Alex Rennie will provide the trunking in conjunction with his electrical work. After lunch I went back to Parkend with Ray and Peter. They changed the BT phone in the ground frame hut which had gone faulty. I found that the 50 volt positive supply needed a tweak to get it to the right part of the alarm relay set. We then checked the alarms with Rick at Norchard to find that they now work correctly. Meanwhile Rick chased a fault on the first ten line circuits at Norchard which prevented the start condition from reaching the control relay set. However it was one of those faults which vanished during testing.

23 July : I spent the day firstly discussing the provision of a security cable with the alarm company rep. and then jumpering and testing the shop display relay set as far as possible. It seems to be fine. Ray and Rick spent the day checking the Norchard SPTs. One is faulty and needs changing next week. Peter has started to refurbish some KLUs that we inherited from Chris Hall.

26 July : Paul and I cleared out all the old alarm wiring and components at Parkend and we are now completely changed over to the new alarm system. Peter recovered a D phone in the Parkend signal box and did his best in the ticket office. However he needs to return with a much larger screwdriver before the phone will give up its hold on the wall. We all had lunch along with Jean at Kaplan's.

29 July : I spent most of the day on the shop display relay set and got it to the point where it and the KLU are working on the bench.

30 July : I went to Parkend to water the flowers, file a load of new diagrams and pick up a relay set shelf jack. Back at Norchard I checked on the cafe electrical work which started today. I found out that August 16th, which we had programmed for cable laying, is actually part of a Thomas weekend. Best not to be there at all. I filed more diagrams at Norchard and then jumpered up the rest of the shop display outlets. Rick sorted out an SPT for replacement of the faulty phone at signal post 12 and did some faulting in the exchange.

August 2014

2 August : No one attended today. However I have completed the construction of the STARS Shop Display Relay Set and have added the information to this website

6 August : Ray, Rick and Peter spent the day replacing a signal post phone and clearing a fault on the kitchen phone. I had a look at the ducting progress in the new cafe, we could put cable in if we had the security cable to hand. I went to the Junction to see David Collins. He, Ben Gray, James in the shop, Ray and Rick have all agreed in principle to the proposal for handling STARS faults. David also wants a pair from Norchard box to the Junction so that the Norchard box could at times be left unstaffed. I need to sort out the alarm pair for the bypass crossing equipment to see if that can be made available. I also need to provide another relief cable into Norchard box for this facility.

8 August : I have updated the line plant records with the latest request for a circuit between Norchard Signal Box and Lydney Junction Signal Box. This has highlighted the shortage of spare pairs in our line plant. The following points show the line plant position along our railway and also the many tight spots that we now have :

1) Norchard exchange to DP3A (The main cabinet on platform one). 3 spares exist but there are requests for 3 circuits to the new cafe. A new 20 pair cable is planned, purchased and ready for installation.

2) DP3A to DP3E (the cabinet close to Norchard signal box). 5 spares exist, but these are routed via DP3S and 3R. These spares will need to be used if circuits are requested to go north towards Whitecroft from the Norchard Signal Box. A relief cable along the platform should be possible but see item 4 below.

3) DP3E to DPs Z and T in Norchard Signal Box. There are no spare pairs left into the box from DP3E or DP3R. A relief cable from DP3E will need to be provided. We have the spare cable with which to complete this work for the new box to box circuit.

4) DP3E (the cabinet close to Norchard Signal Box). There is little room left in this cabinet for relief cables to be terminated. A major job will be necessary to change all the terminations for smaller connection blocks. This is awkward work as circuits need to be maintained whilst being moved. It may be necessary to change the cabinet for a larger version. A similar job in DP3A has been worked on since 2011 in any spare time we have available and is still not complete.

5) DP3E to DP3G (Middle Forge). 24 pairs are connected between these two points. On completion of the box to box circuit we will have no spares left. The cable has 37 pairs with the additional 13 tied back in each cabinet. No doubt we can connect these 13 spare pairs as a relief measure but there is no room in cabinet DP3E until job 4 is undertaken. On the route there is a cable joint made on a post and secured by a tin can. This will need to be replaced by a much more robust joint or cabinet. Work will be needed to tidy the terminations in DP3F and DP3G to allow the extra pairs to be terminated.

6) DP3G to DP3HJ (North side of Town Crossing). Sufficient spares exist.

7) DP3HJ to DP3K (South side of Town Crossing). Only one spare will exist after the box to box circuit is provided. The duct work under the road will need to be investigated should relief be required.

8) DP3K to DP3M (Opposite St Mary's Platform). Sufficient spares exist. However the spare wires have been cut off at the cable butt by vandals and some work will be necessary to connect to the pairs within the cable butt.

9) DP3M to DP3N (Cabinet at the Bypass Crossing). No spares exist in this short length after the provision of the box to box circuit. A new cable will be required to be dug in when relief becomes necessary.

10) Norchard to St Mary's Platform. Line 587 is connected through all of the cabinets on this route. In an emergency, it could be taken for other use. I would be reluctant to let the line go as it is used for testing purposes along the route.

11) DP3N to DP3P (Lydney Junction Signal Box). No spares exist. To connect the box to box circuit, the bypass power alarm circuit will need to be recovered. This may be satisfactory as the new alarm circuit from the bypass to Norchard has been provided under STARS.

12) Lydney Junction Station Area. This area generally has spare pairs to the station and the far end of the platform.

13) Norchard to DP3T (Cabinet at the Abutment north of Norchard). No spares exist. To meet the requirement of a box to box circuit between Norchard and Whitecroft, a relief cable will need to be dug in to DP3T. The cable is to hand and the work has been added to Jason Shirley's programme.

14) DP3T to Whitecroft. A spare pair exists between DP3T and Whitecroft and can be used for a box to box circuit. Another currently spare pair will be used to provide a dial phone at Tuft's Bridge. The phone cabinet is with Bob Hawker for refurbishment. Generally this cable has 10 pairs and will be fully used. A relief cable will be long, expensive and awkward to dig in without damaging the existing cable. At the Whitecroft end a new 500 metre length of 20 pair cable is proposed to run south providing a replacement for the existing 10 pair cable currently mostly tied to the fence line. The cable will also serve signal post phones along its run.

15) Whitecroft to Parkend. This cabling has spare pairs existing and no pair problems are envisaged. There is a difficulty at the Whitecroft end of the section. All the joints have been made in "drain pipes" as the cable ends left were too short to be able to reach into cabinets. The joints are therefore encapsulated and access is not possible without a great deal of work. The first cabinet to be encountered on this route is at the south end of the long straight.

16) Parkend Exchange to Parkend Signal Box. A 20 pair cable exists between these points and is largely spare at present. However the proposed concentrator in the box will derive its power, ringing, tones, alarms etc from the exchange and this will take up some 5 pairs. Signal post telephones and signalling circuits will need to use this cable if they are to the south of the station. A relief cable may need to be provided. Duct space exists so this will not be too difficult a job.

12 August : The Glorious Twelfth. John held his 80th birthday party at the Ugly Duckling. Everyone came to lunch with their partners where appropriate. An excellent meal.

13 August : .Ray, Rick and Peter in today. Peter played phones as he does. Rick and Ray went to Parkend and changed the bell in the 741 extn 320 in the ground frame hut as it had one of the two coils dis. This was very odd as the same fault occurred about 18 months ago and the bell was changed at that time. In the afternoon they cleaned and tidied the office in readiness for the Thomas weekend.

20 August : Back to a tidy office, nice, but by the end of the day it looked like home again. We had a discussion about the use of the modified lineside form now that it has become necessary to keep records of all work on operational circuits. Peter and Ray went to Parkend to recover a spare D phone. I went to find out why we keep getting low volt alarms from Norchard Signal Box. I had to do a mod to increase the charge current as the batteries themselves seem to be in good health. I checked on the cafe progress and Peter located a phone and DP block for use there. Ray went to label a phone at the Junction that seems not to have been labelled. Peter spent time trying to repair a CB external SPT but decided in the end that the skip was the best home for the phone.

23 August 2014 : Rick, Paul, Charles and I spent the morning running cable in between the Crossing Hut and the new Cafe. We had three cables and a draw rope to deal with, but it went pretty well. We had to stop at one point and shelter from a heavy shower. Time for a cup of tea

When we had finished we went to Kaplan's for lunch with Jean and Janet. The power was off in the Crossing Hut and Charles had a fruitless go at finding the trip but I managed to locate it later in the Severn and Wye room to get the Hut working again. Paul installed a phone on an ATA connected to the Asterisk to demonstrate a museum facility whereby the public could key up the appropriate part of a BBC description of the destruction of the Severn railway bridge. It is available for John Metherall to check and see if it what he wants in the museum. I was asked to provide a point of sale facility in the new cafe in two weeks time. No chance. The railway will need to order an extra line from BT and it will require the use of a dedicated cable we are halfway through installing between the office and the cafe. I offered to check to see if our walkie talkies could be used to connect the cafe with the POS operator in the shop. To my surprise the walkie talkies worked well despite the walls etc of the cafe being covered with metallic foil. So the heat is off, but it would be nice to be told what the requirements are in good time. We continue cable running next Saturday if the weather is kind.

27 August : Rick, Ray and I spent the morning getting a cable hole drilled through the floor of the new cafe. After lunch we pulled the three cables through into the cafe. Peter then came in and put the DP Box Conn and the BT box on the wall so that we could get the cables round to the correct position. Nice to have that done and ready for terminating. Ian and Paul called in after visiting Winchester to pick up Chris Hall's two pendulum master clocks. We all, Ian, Ray, Paul, Rick, Peter and John, had a cuppa before Rick, Ray and Peter went home. Paul, Ian and I had a discussion on where we felt the telecoms on the DFR might be in five to ten years time. A somewhat gloomy prediction of a strowger set up reduced to a museum piece and contractors providing telecoms via switches, VOIP or whatever the favourite is at the time. Like most railways, we think it will probably not be possible to find enough recruits interested in heritage phones to keep a three exchange system going. The railway could be in for considerable telecoms expenditure at some point. I see the need for a report to be written so that the Board is at least told that things may get tight as the older telecoms volunteers drop away. Still, not just yet, we can still fit some fun in!

29 August : Practically a Group Lunch with Martin and Cynthia, Charles, Peter and his mother, Rick and Janet, Ray and June, Ian, Jean and myself going for the Pensioner's Special at the Fountain. Twelve in all. Very good value for money. Poor Paul was still at work in Bristol! Still, Kaplan's beckons for tomorrow, we have booked table space for up to a dozen.

30 August : An excellent day's work. Paul, Ian, Rick, Ray and I were in from the Telecoms Group and we had the assistance of Charles and Martin from the electricians. We spent the morning getting the new cafe cables into the duct as far as the office building. Then we went to an excellent lunch at Kaplan's picking up Jean, Cynthia and June on the way. During the afternoon, Paul, Ian, Rick, Charles and I got the cables into the loft and through to their destinations. We tidied the external cable run before finishing for the day. A really good day's work. Thanks lads.

September 2014

3 September : Rick terminated the new cafe cable in DP3A, Peter terminated the cable in the cafe and I jumpered up a new line. We ended with a working phone in the cafe much to the delight of Lynne who will find a use for it this weekend when we have an ale and beer train. Ray did some odd jobs helping out where he could be of use. It will be a rearrangement of the clock circuits next week plus possibly the PA circuit. However morale has taken a dip in our normally cheerful bunch following the news that the railway may well not take our advice to use BT for the new wi fi line proposed for the cafe. Perhaps the fish and chips train on Friday and a group visit to the Severn Valley line later in the month will help.
It was meter reading day today. So far this year we have had 7629 local calls completed within Norchard exchange and 6599 calls completed to and from Parkend and Lydney Junction. So Norchard has been instrumental in completing 14228 internal calls on our network so far.

6 September : Paul, Peter and I installed the cables for the shop display KLU via the loft. Peter got the door contact working. Jean delivered hot dogs to Chris Bull's lineside team and came to lunch with us at Kaplan's. We returned to tie in the cables and tidy round. We decided that we should join the ales on the rails party. We signed out of work and went for a drink and a chat.

7 September : The list of 3000 type relays available to us has been updated today. Currently we hold a stock of 618 relays. From this we can build pretty much any sort of relay set we can envisage.

9 September : The new alarm arrangements for Lydney Junction Signal Box and STARS have been added to this website.

10 September : Ray, Peter and I got the clocks in the new cafe and 9681 coach working, after sorting out their routing in DP3A. The cafe clock looks pretty good! Ray and Peter also checked out the faulty demo phone in the museum and decided that any problem was in the line circuit. Mostly the first finder drops out immediately with relays K and P not operating only to switch perfectly to the next choice finder. In the end we left it for Rick's return and went for a cuppa instead.

11 September : E mail received from Ray :

Hi John,
Inserted complete operation up to dial tone into brain and then went to have another look at 880. I started by watching what happened on another number and compared it to 880. I saw that K relay never operated regardless of whether the LF did a double take or not. (Yes, I checked this many times). K operates after P and I found P4 and 5 had no lift. Having given lift I rechecked and K operated ok but now the same 2LFs which were ok were still ok but the original fault had changed to 2 Lfs dropping out and then ok on the third. When the drop out occurs P does not operate and therefore K doesn't either. All This only takes 30 seconds to say but represents 2 hours lying on the floor.
Other difficulties were, I couldn't find a twinning tool and mine is at Parkend so P relay needs some attention for that, also having removed P relay armature to check it I suddenly remembered how difficult it is to put back on a 600 type relay. (this took half hour of the 2 hours).
Next move is for someone to do the line seizing while another (me) chases the earth from GS that operates P.
It's odd that P operates on 2 LF/GS but fails on others.
After 2 hours I retreated bruised but not yet beaten.
Regards Ray

Dedication, I think, spending two hours down at the foot of the rack. Thanks Ray.

12 September : Today the story moves on :
Hi John,
Musing over breakfast I considered the following. ( as one does).
The failure of K relay was a complete red herring. The fact that 880 was ok on some LFs rules out L K and P problems. Other lines being ok rules out LF, control set, allotter and GS problems.
This only leaves LF multiple, so I called in for 15 mins today and found the LFs which were ok were at the end of the multiple wiring and those failing at the beginning thus ruling out a dis in the multiple wiring. Interestingly the failing LFs were on shelf C and the OK ones on shelf B. When correct, LFs stopped on level 8 outlet 3. Those that failed went to level 8 outlet 7 or 8, couldn't count before it dropped out. There was no hint of trying to stop on outlet 3. So we have moved a little further by finding P relay does not operate because switch does not stop on correct outlet. It would seem to be some sort of marking problem which may have gone unnoticed since original installation.
To be continued,
Regards, Never give up Ray

13 September : I went in today, just to measure up a bracket for adding 8064s to the MDF. Rick was there. He was also looking at the 880 fault and had come much to the same explanation as Ray above. Being a maintenance man he was swapping line finders around like a man possessed, but the fault, though intermittent, is always on the shelf C finders. This still leaves us to look at the multiple wiring on Wednesday.
Just a thought, if we busied out the finders on shelf B, leaving only the suspect finders on shelf C, would the exchange act in a rather demented fashion? I must try it on Wednesday.
I also ran into Jason who is now likely to start the cable provision between DP3S and the abutment in October.
Alex was in and will provide separation in the trunking to the clock.
Lynne says that the Board have decided to go with BT for the extra cafe line and may even revert to BT for the existing lines when the Chess contract expires.
A Good News Day!

17 September : Rick and Ray wanted to get their teeth into the 880 fault but were diverted to the new cafe to put in the loudspeaker cabling. Rick and Ray needed to go to Chepstow to purchase some suitable cable. Peter assisted in getting the cable round the trunking. I mounted the new 8064s on the Norchard MDF. Later Rick, Peter and I checked that the speakers proposed for the new cafe were actually working satisfactorily. They are fine and responded with very good quality speech.

20 September : Paul, Peter and I went to Lydney Junction signal box to install the new STARS relay set. It seems to work OK but we now need to rejumper the incoming alarm at Norchard. I also need to do a small mod to the existing alarm/clock relay set to make the low voltage conditions correct. We also had to find 50 volts positive for the new set. We made this available from the bypass crossing equipment but found that the battery in the unit is completely useless and must be replaced. We three had lunch at Kaplan's and later a cuppa in the Platelayers.

21 September 2014 : I jumpered up the new Lydney Signal Box STARS Alarm. It seems to be working but now must wait for some one at each end to do a complete test.

24 September : The Electrical and Telecom Group had a family day out to the Severn Valley Railway today. We had a slow run around Gloucester but still got to the SVR at ten. Ray and June, Rick and Janet, Martin, Charles and Alison, Jean and myself met up for coffee and tea cakes in the buffet at Kidderminster. The train was packed. We could not all get in the same compartment. It left promptly at 10:30 to arrive at Bridgnorth at 11:40. We walked into town in a heavy shower and went quickly to the Castle restaurant for our booked table. Lunch went very well. We had a look around the small indoor market. Then it was back through the gardens to the station to pick up the 2:00 for Kidderminster. This was not nearly so busy and so we could sit together in the open buffet car. Charles and Alison got off at Highley to visit the Engine Shed. At Kidderminster we had a look in the museum and admired the PAX they had on display. Then it was the drive back to Lydney where we collected for drinks before going home. A good day out.

26 September : Ray went in with Rick to continue with dropping out linefinders on 880. They soon found the LF multiple to be all OK and so returned their thoughts to the L K and P relays but could find no fault with them. However their line of thought was considerably altered when it was discovered that extn 571 exhibited the same drop out of LF as 880. This was on level 3 outlet 1 so their thoughts turned to whether it could it be the LF H relays not operating fast enough on the first rotary step. They could not see any common factor to cause this on several LFs and both control sets and allotters. Just as it was time to go home they put a " good" LF from shelf B into a position on the C shelf which always failed, and it failed. However when returned to its original position on the B shelf it failed every time which it has not done before. At this point of disarray they sounded the retreat and will return to the fray another day.

27 September : Ian set to terminating the cable to the shop alarm display KLU at both ends. I went to install the modified lo volt alarm relay set at Lydney Junction Signal Box and tested the STARS circuit to Norchard with Paul. It works. Paul recorded the tones the ringer produces. Peter came in briefly with a friend. Ian and I came for lunch at Jean's. After lunch we set to checking the extension of the alarms to the shop. One jumper had to be moved, otherwise all was well. James in the shop is now familiar with the KLU operation.

27 September Alarm Call : Difficult to believe, but less than thirty minutes after getting home, James is on the phone announcing an alarm call from Norchard Signal Box. I went back to the railway to find a genuine alarm. I checked the signal box equipment for it to show as a low voltage alarm. I then measured the four 12 volt batteries to find that two of them were under voltage even though the trickle charge lamps were glowing quite brightly. They will need to be replaced, hopefully on Wednesday next.

29 September : The new low voltage alarm arrangements for Lydney Junction Signal Boxhave been added to this website.

October 2014

1 October : On reaching the railway, I was not even able to sign in before Lynne grabbed me with news that there was trouble at the signal box. I found the trip out serving the 110 volt transformer. It would not reset. I left a message with David Collins but was able to contact Peter Wood. He talked me through changing over to the standby transformer, which also brought the trip out. However taking the load fuses out allowed either transformer to work. By then the rest of the gang were available and Charles and Martin checked the socket for any problems. None found. However in trying it all again, suddenly the standby transformer worked connected to the load. We hastily beat a retreat while all was working. By then the time had gone on and the signalman had started to work the train using a pilotman. Later I recalled that this had been a problem in the past and a request for an uprated supply had been requested by S&T, but that as the failure had not recurred, the job had been removed from the list.
Ray, Peter and I changed out the concentrator batteries for a larger type. They immediately went to 53.5 volts and we now hope that we will not get any more low volt alarms from the box. Martin & Charles checked the festoon lamps at Norchard platforms, replacing broken bulbs where necessary.

4 October : No public trains today. Paul and I went to Lydney Junction Signal Box to finish wiring in the STARS relay set. We had problems with the NU tone supply which kept going off. We think that in the end it was an intermittent short on the common services block. Similarly when testing we had wrong numbers from final selector 2. We had intended to remove the uniselector from its bank and give it a good clean but playing around with it cleared the problem. We concluded that the second final is hardly ever taken into use and a few rotations was all that it needed. This led us to the thought that our outgoing junctions from Norchard should be controlled by distributors or allotters in order to even out the usage. Back to the drawing board. Jean supplied a cooked lunch for Paul and myself. STARS worked very nicely from Lydney Junction to the shop during our testing.

8 October : Only Peter and Ray in today. No faults or complaints so they bought a switch for the cafe PA and wired it so that when off, the wires to the transformer are shorted to prevent any pick up (radio 4 long wave seems to be the favourite). They fitted a 550 ohm w/w resistor for the low volume setting and this can easily be altered as Ray has found lots of w/w resistors in his old tin of bits. They also fitted the new plug to the mic extn lead and tested ok. Peter is sorting out the shelf for loudspeakers which will the require painting. This probably won't happen for two weeks as no one is in next Wednesday.

15 October : No one came in today on Telecoms as we are all away on holiday. So it's time for holiday snaps. This is my favourite little cottage in Scotland. It's 28 miles northwest of Ullapool at the end of the Coigach peninsula (and 602 miles from home in the Forest of Dean). It looks out to Skye, The Shiants, Harris and Lewis on the horizon on clear days. We have been coming here for twenty years.

The electricians were in though. Tony Macey started to investigate the electrical service to the failed platform light at Norchard. Martin, Tony Smith and Charles oversaw the installation of a new luminaire in the Carriage and Wagon Workshop. They also examined the prospective services needed for the Bunded Oil Tank and the re-positioned GUV and the Chalet Hut. By examination the power provision to the New Cafe was confirmed to Alex Rennie. Later, Martin and Charles fitted an MCB serving the dual 13A socket in the signing on room.

22 October : Almost a full house today, Ian and Paul came over to install a phone for the Severn Bridge Disaster display in the museum (visitors can now listen to audio description of the disaster) while Rick and Ray continued to battle faults on the A2 rack of the UAX. As quickly as they cleared faults, others exposed themselves! Peter gave the shelving another coat of paint and Paul and Ian swapped out the batteries in the Lydney Bypass Crossing equipment.

Tony Macey followed up the report of failed lights on the Norchard platform. Martin and Charles followed up the request to fit an exterior switch for light(s) at Lydney Junction Signal Box. In the afternoon, they started to remove the failed service cable to the lights serving Platforms 1 and 2 at Norchard. The pillars/light fittings are left in place pending a decision on who will be responsible for the installation of a new cable.

29 October : Rick, Ray and I got ourselves updated. Rick and Ray spent some time on the 880 fault and concluded that the fault was probably general wear in the linefinders. These finders are punished by the public on running days. We found a spare and that worked well, so it looks as though we need to change out as many as possible and then go over the old finders and get them readjusted as far as possible. A good training exercise for Paul and Ian perhaps. That brought us to the need for a dedicated workbench with room for a power supply and a selector test stand. We pretty much agreed to fit one in our hut as it seems unlikely that we will ever get an extension to the building. I will pursue this. After lunch we visited Lydney Signal Box and the bypass crossing so that Rick and Ray will be familiar with the access arrangements before we introduce formal STARS reporting procedures. I can now write them up. Rick and Ray finished the afternoon by getting a second coat of paint onto the loudspeaker shelf for the new cafe.

Charles, Martin and Tony investigated the sump pump at the rear of the workshop and proved as suspected the switches in the distribution box are faulty. Temporarily the pump has been electrically connected to the DP switches that control the two 13A outlet sockets in the box. The pump was then tested and runs as expected when the buoyancy switch is lifted into an appropriate position. Efforts are being made to find a suitable replacement switch unit. Consequently electrical power is not available at the two 13A sockets that are to be found in the main box that houses the distribution box. Martin returned to PAT testing.

November 2014

1 November : I have built a 4000 type incoming junction selector for our UAX13. It's been constructed from odds and ends and the stepping circuit in particular is not at all standard. However we plugged it in, got the wipers working and ran some tests. It need a couple of minor mods and now seems to be able to do the job quite happily. It sounds different to the 2000 types and it looks odd when it releases but I suspect that it will do a perfectly good job. It needs a maintenance man to tweak the wipers and give the mechanism some oil. It's just a bit of fun!

Paul connected the IDF to a relay set shelf jack in readiness for an outgoing junction call distributor to be fitted when built. I finally located our tester 301 (an echo pulse fault locator for cable work) in the back of the wardrobe once Jean knew I was turning the railway upside down looking for it. It wasn't working but it was just a "dis" lead in the end. We have a mains cable fault to find on a buried cable at the Junction. It will be interesting to see if it works on mains cable. Peter was working on the wooden telephone for the Parkend concentrator.

Paul made a quick video of the home made 4000 type selector and put it on YouTube at this location

5 November : The electricity was due to be off at Norchard this morning, so we gathered at Kaplan's in Lydney for breakfast instead. Much enjoyed! Charles, Martin, Alex and I went off to the Junction to try to locate a cable fault on the main electricity feed to the station building. I took the tester 301. It had a go at looking for the fault on the mains cable but was a bit unsure of itself. It seems likely that the fault is very close to the signal box. The electricians now need access to a locked cupboard to check the cable within.
Rick, Ray and Peter went to check out Parkend exchange, all seems well there. Later Rick got down to maintenance on the linefinders he is replacing and had an initial look at the 4000 type selector before installing it in a working location. Ray, Peter and I put the now working tester 301 on the spare cable in the signing on hut. It is 23 metres long but we have no idea where it can end up.

6 November : The diagram and write up for the new 4000 type selector is now available on this website.

12 November : Rick spent the day on selector maintenance and adjustments. The 4000 type incoming junction selector is now installed permanently on one of the incoming Asterisk junctions. Paul and Peter installed the PA speakers in the new cafe and got them going nicely. We had hoped to put a low/high volume switch on the speakers but even putting a 560 ohm in series with the line transformer primary had no effect at all on volume. We will need to think again and probably control the volume on the secondary side, but this will involve installing another cable from the switch. I jumpered the outgoing junctions on levels 3, 4 and 6 to the proposed distributor shelf jacks. The relay set itself is nearing completion at home.

15 November : Paul and I installed the distributor relay set and started to test. It was all over the place until we realised that we had not inserted a battery fuse. Then it worked perfectly so far as we can tell. The relay set is now in service.

Peter, Paul and I spent the rest of the day building a new work top in the hut. We finished the day with the top complete from a building point of view but it now needs several coats of good hard varnish before we wreck the top. We await comments from the Wednesday Gang!

16 November : I went in and got a couple of coats of varnish on the work bench. The information regarding the Outgoing Junction Distributor is now on the website.

18 November : I went in yesterday and finished the varnishing, and today Jean and I went in to clean up and tidy round the room. Jean did a good job on the floor but will we keep it clean?

19 November : Tony Macey spent the day getting a ring main extended to a couple of extra sockets for our new bench. He also located a double five foot fluorescent fitting in the caboosh for fitting next week. Rick and Ray did some maintenance and also provided a hi/lo switch on the cafe PA speaker. I located a 50 volt power unit for the bench and got it repaired and working again.

22 November : Peter spent the day finishing off his wooden cased modern phone for Parkend box. It looks good. He also did some tidying in the office. Paul and I went to Parkend to get a couple of relay set shelf jacks. However whilst there we found one of the batteries split and another leaking. They are still working but need replacing. Back at Norchard Paul and I have started on cabling out for a couple of level 0 ten line uniselector finals for special services.

26 November : When Rick arrived this morning two people told him that the phone at the abutment was ringing continually and had been since Sunday. After tea and cakes he rushed to the abutment to check. The phone proved to be faulty. A previously used phone was found and tested OK. He was on his own until lunch when Ray and Peter arrived. Ray and Rick fitted the new phone at the abutment and gave the old one to Peter. All three looked at the Norchard batteries and decided it needed someone stronger (younger) to move the metal signs before the battery condition could checked. They moved the key box in our room instead.

Tony Macey continued his work installing additional power and lighting circuits in the E & T Room. Martin & Charles confirmed a light switching circuit in Lydney Junction Signal Box, and plan to install a replacement 2-way switch next week. In the afternoon Martin and Charles welcomed Tony Smith and Alex Rennie who joined them in a meeting with Paul Lansdell, Chairman/Engineering, Dean Forest Railway Company, to discuss better ways of working and integration of the resources to support Electrical Engineering work.

29 November : Paul and I found the Norchard battery from behind its cover and began a check on the state of the batteries. Paul and Peter then spent the day wiring test jacks from the Panasonic to the new work top. I sign wrote the IDF blocks and sorted out the labels required for the relay sets and selectors we have moved or installed recently. In the end the battery seems to be in very good health, it still read 50.2 volts after having the charger off for four hours and some kids giving the exchange a bashing! We ended the day with a discussion on what could replace our telecoms network in say five years time, so that any discussion I may have with the Board is based on our most up to date experience. I think the answer is "no one knows" and any work we do to anticipate a replacement system is likely not to be correct at in the future. Ah well!

December 2014

3 December : Ray And Rick fitted the 50 volt power unit and battery jacks and have tested them with a test lamp and soldering iron which seem to work ok. Peter has fitted the trunking and cables ready for terminating. Rick has taken the test stand home to clean it up.

The electricians re-instated the exterior 2-way switch controlling the upper exterior light at Lydney Junction Signal Box. They measured the cable length to replace the damaged section of the supply from the signal box to the platform, 20m of 4-core will be required. This will reach between the breaker and the ground pit outside the signal box where a resin filled joint will be required. We are not sure yet of the conductor size, Martin and Charles have sent pictures of the affected cable to Tony Smith and will have to take measurements of cable/conductor size if necessary.

6 December : I called briefly at the railway to find out which U point the M wire uses. While there I found Slade blasting out on the PA, much too loud. They are using the multichanger CD player which does not have a volume control. I turned the PA down. Hope the Santa announcements are OK. The picture shows the level 0 single digit final selectors under construction. They will provide a multiple of 00-09 for special service lines.

10 December : Ray Peter and Rick worked on the new bench and fitted the test stand, finished terminating the cables to the bench sockets and tested them OK. Rick started working on a line finder using the new test stand (much easier). In the evening, the Electrical and Telecoms Group held their first Christmas Dinner at the Ugly Duckling in Lydney. A very pleasant evening, though John and Jean were missing through illness.

13 December : Just Peter and Paul in today. It was a cold morning so there was no hanging about and work started before the kettle went on! Paul busied himself polishing up the handset for the concentrator phone which now looks rather nice, while Peter sorted out the labels for the DP's and test sockets in our hut.

That done, it was time to venture outside. The Santa special was in full steam, and looking spectacular in the cold weather. The DP in the workshop got the same labelling treatment, and then it was time to rummage in the caboosh where we found a huge box of phones kindly donated by Robert Staines. They were sorted through and have now been put away.
After lunch, they pottered about in Norchard exchange, and fitted a new krone DP to the wall next to the Asterisk ready to change over from the old DP on a quieter day. Hopefully this will get us away from all the "whisker" related issues we've had in the existing screw terminal box. Then it was a quick cuppa, and a tidy up before home time.

17 December : Not a very productive day. We did, of course, do quite a bit of chatting, some of it about next year's activities and about the topics to bring up should I get to address the Board. I did manage to complete the sign writing of the MDF protectors. Legible but not great. Rick, Ray and Peter are still connecting test jacks etc to the new bench.

20 December : No one went in today, but I have read the meters for the end of year reading. The results are as follows :

Internal Norchard Operational Calls : 2694
Internal Norchard Demonstration Calls : 6631 (Calls made by our Museum visitors)
Calls between Norchard and Parkend : 3364
Calls between Norchard and Lydney Junc : 3838
Calls between Norchard and the Asterisk : 798 (Calls made to the Speaking Clock, Museum Severn Bridge Display and to the homes of the Telecoms Group etc)

Grand Total of all Completed Calls :17325

These are interesting results should we consider any replacement of the Norchard exchange. The exchange handles only 2694 internal operational calls a year. However it is involved in 7202 operational calls to and from Parkend and Lydney Junction a year. If a replacement exchange was unable to handle calls to Parkend and the Junction, the majority of our operational traffic would presumably be routed via the public network.

27 December : A quiet morning until the call came from the railway. "The clocks have stopped all over the place". Oh dear! I called in to find the exchange room ominously quiet. The clock pendulum was swinging but none of the clock relay sets were operating. I found the exchange down to 22 volts. Rather more than the clocks had stopped working. The output fuse in the main charger was "dis". I tried to change to the standby, but all I got was a high pitched whistle from it and no output. Oh dear, oh dear! I then had to rummage for a 7 amp fuse, which I could not find. I found a 10 amp fuse and put it into the charger. The ammeter wrapped itself around the far stop as the charge must have been around the ten amps. At least the fuse held. I left for lunch but went back later to find the charger rather hot and bothered but still banging in a big charge so that the battery was up to 46 volts. I didn't fancy a fire in the night so I went back for a third time to switch the charger off for the night. Back tomorrow to continue the recharge.

28 December : I called in at the railway to find a running day in progress and the exchange being pounded by the demo phones. I decided that as the battery was only at 44 volts it was time to close the exchange. I removed the control relay sets and disconnected the incoming junctions. That stopped everything. I reconnected the charger and spread the word that the internal phones were off. No one seemed to mind, in fact I was told that the day should now be much quieter. Later in the afternoon I went back to disconnect the charger again. It was hot but perhaps not so hot as yesterday. While I was there, Rick came in and we had a chat about the problem.

29 December : I called at the railway to find the volts down to 33. Overnight it seems to be using all the charge I can get in during the day. I removed the fuses of all the miscellaneous relay sets and reduced the discharge current from 3 to less than 1 amp. That should help. I put the charger back on for the day. I returned to the railway at four to find the battery up to 49 volts and the charger not as hot as before. The ammeter is still wrapped round the far stop though, so plenty of current is being used. I switched off for the night. Back in the morning!

30 December 2014 : I went to the railway to put the charger back on. The volts were 44 which went to 47 with the charge on. I went back just before four to check. The battery was showing 50.5 volts, so it must be improving at last. It dropped to 49 when I turned the charger off. The charger was not too hot so I think it may be able to stay on tomorrow. Tomorrow is a running day and I have been asked to switch on the exchange if at all possible.

31 December 2014 : The battery was at 47.9 volts before I switched the charger on and restored service on the exchange. Ray, Peter and Rick came in for a cuppa and a look at the charger diagram and then another cuppa in the new cafe. We were gone by twelve except for Peter who stayed behind working on his Panasonic. Just after four, the volts were up to 51.3 following a six hour charge. I switched the quite warm charger off and took the exchange out of service again. Back tomorrow.

That seems to be that for 2014, over to a new page tomorrow. All best wishes for the New Year.

Return to the Diary Menu


Page provided by John Bathgate

This page was last updated on
31st December 2014