DFR Telecoms Diary
1 January : Welcome to 2015.
No good news I am afraid.
2 January : Bernard and I moved the covers from the battery so that I could carry out a series of voltage tests under varying load and charge conditions. All went well until I decided to joggle each battery. Battery six (from the earth end) then went from six to ten volts whilst being charged. It must have a very high internal resistance. At least something tangible at last. I disconnected the load and charger and when home emailed the sad news of the temporary demise of the heritage internal system to everyone I could think of. I will have a think about things we could do to get service back up and running.
3 January : Rick and I were in to change out batteries 6 and 7 for a spare 12 volt battery that we had in the caboosh. The volts promptly went to 53.1 and the charge reduced to 3.5 amps. It looked so good we will leave the exchange running overnight and I will check in tomorrow. Thank goodness the urgency has gone away. We still need authority to buy the new Parkend batteries and move good batteries from Parkend to Norchard.
4 January : The battery this morning is at 53.2 volts and the charge is registering at 3 amps. All seems well, there might be a bit more charge to go. All the facilities have been reconnected but the clocks will need resetting on Wednesday.
7 January : The power situation was fine when we came in today, but then I decided to find out what was wrong with the standby charger. I changed the chargers over to find that the standby was dead. Then I heard a pop. It was the shunt resistor on the charging ammeter blowing up. The standby charger must have a short circuit output. I did at least then get a chance to try out our new portable 48 volt charger to find that it works well. I had to strip out the changeover and charge ammeter circuitry to get the main charger working again. Meanwhile Ray and Rick were wandering the site putting the clocks right. Later they went to check Parkend exchange. They did not dare touch the batteries but discovered that more of them have splits in the outer case. We are starting to walk a fine line towards total failure of the internal telephone systems. Peter was also not having too much luck with his renovated wooden phone for the Parkend concentrator. In the end we found that the fault was simply in the four way handset cord.
10 January : Paul got on with the installation wiring for the 0 level relay sets. Peter came in to spend time fitting more test jacks to the bench and he did some phone testing. I replaced the ammeter on the rack and added the necessary wiring. I also terminated a few wires on the IDF. Late in the afternoon, Bob Bramwell wanted to test the fire alarm system. Easy we thought, until it did not work. All the relays are doing what they are supposed to, there is just no sound from the PA. I thought a tone coil might have gone "dis" and decided to leave it until Wednesday. On the way home I thought "I wonder if it's just that someone has turned down the gain on the amp?"
11 January : They had!
14 January : Ray repaired a microphone extension lead and then went home as his foot was giving him so much trouble. Peter has started to sort a couple of D phones for a demo PW in the museum. I spent my day in the exchange tidying and reterminating the cabling to the PA block on the IDF. It now looks very neat and has stopped being a visual nuisance. The batteries for Parkend turned up today, so we are all go for Saturday. We may be called on a future Saturday to assist the electrical group recover the damaged power cable at Lydney Junction when they reroute it and joint it.
17 January : I picked up the batteries and took them to Parkend. We need some blue and red power cable when we fit them. I had a look at the signal box which is proceeding nicely. I returned to Norchard to remove the CD player access point from the shop wall to bring it home to fit a volume control. No one else was in.
21 January : An interesting day. Peter continued with work around the new bench, and with Ray, found a better phone for the General Manager's use in the office. They intend to find as many phones as possible to wipe up for sale at Avoncroft in April. Ray and I went to Parkend to sort out exactly how we are going to accommodate and cable the new batteries. They should be very tidy when we complete the job and we should produce some storage space on the shelving. I refitted the modified music channel controller which now has a light to remind people to switch off when not in use and a volume control for the background music. We were approached by the new General Manager, Roger Phelps, about tidying the look of the shop. We have many miscellaneous items screwed to odd places on the walls. The GM wants them all moved to one place and tidied. We now propose that Bernard fits a hinged wall board on the office wall above the counter. We will provide a new DP on the board and gradually move items over to the board and new DP. There are several items we can recover completely and some that can be moved into the various boxes we must have. Virtually all of the wiring will be concealed behind the hinged backboard. It should be a job that produces an excellent result. I think a few before and after pics will be appropriate.
January 23 : I photographed the miscellaneous bits and pieces we have around the shop so that we have a set of "before" pictures.
24 January : Paul popped in to Parkend to make up the straps for the new batteries. Most of the connections have been made, next we have to complete the changeover, test and checkout the new set up and eventually move a decent replacement 6V battery to Norchard.
28 January : A lot of talking today, mostly about the shop and office reorganisation job. Ray and Peter sorted out an extra phone for the GM and got Lynne talking to the router via a cable. It seems that now we have found the CAT5 tester we need to go through our CAT5 circuits and check them. Ray also adjusted the clock in the Severn and Wye room as it had been gaining time. Rick and I went to Parkend and changed over to the new batteries. A quick job as Paul had done most of the lovely work on Saturday. In the afternoon I continued to install the first level 0 final selector. It seemed fine in the shelf jack but refused to work once jumpered up. There is an error somewhere in the relay set to IDF cabling. Another day!
January 31 : The first of our "after" pictures. Bernard has provided us with a clean backboard in the shop office and Peter had a good day moving the outside lines onto new and tidier sockets. We have therefore made a start on clearing the shop walls.
I spent the day finishing the installation of the first of the level 0 finals. I had to clear problems on the shelf jack U points but then the selector worked well. For now I have connected 06 to our phone 506 for trial purposes. All round, a profitable day.
February 7 : Just Paul and myself in today. We got the loft cables installed, a 20 pair DP, a new microphone cable, a replacement museum door alarm cable and two CAT5 cables to the shop. We picked up Jean and delivered hot dogs to the lineside gang before lunching at Kaplan's. After lunch Paul got the router to send its log to the Asterisk machine. I cable tied the new cables through the exchange. Time to have another cuppa and go home.
February 11 : Rick came in briefly and then took Janet to the dentist. Peter came in to fit the trunking to the shop office back board along with the new DP, which he terminated. I stripped the two twenty pair cables hanging at the MDF and got the messy oily external cable from DP3A terminated. Glad to have that out of the way. We were visited by Dale Garland from Radium Audio who made close up sound recordings of our selectors working for his firm's archives.
February 12 : Jean and I met Malcolm Holt at the telecoms wing of the Milton Keynes Museum. We had a good look around their exhibition. Lovely to have so much space. Lots of phones, manual boards, teleprinters, a working UAX13, a working TXK crossbar and parts of a TXE2 to see. There was a UAX12, complete with diesel generator and a non director strowger , both in mobile trailers. I did enjoy seeing the non director strowger. We had lunch with the lads and afterwards we loaded up six UAX13 linefinders, plus three miscellaneous relay sets and a 4000 type group selector. An interesting and profitable day.
February 14 : I terminated the MDF end of the new twenty pair to the shop office DP. Peter terminated the CAT5 circuits to the shop. We also checked the office CAT5 circuits to find that most of the jacks are faulty. We looked through our data spares to find that we do not have enough jacks to replace them all. I need to order replacements and some spares as no doubt our users will continue to wreck the outlets. We checked the two scrap Renowns we had acquired. Neither worked so they are destined for the dump. I started a bit of tidying in the exchange now that we have so many selectors sitting around on the floor. We also did a bit of minor tidying in our office.
February 16 : The details of the new level 0 single digit final selectors have been added to this website.
February 18 : Rick and Ray spent the morning mostly recovering scrap wood to make shelves for the exchange. The museum clock was wrong and was corrected. I spent the morning turning out and sorting the scrap in the caboosh and around our office. After lunch Ray and I took it to Bendall's and did pretty well in refilling the telecom fund. However I was also told that I am to become a budget holder. Sounds good.
February 21 : Rick, Charles, Martin, Tony and I met at the Junction signal box so that we could reroute a heavy power cable that had suffered nail damage. The job went very well and we had the rerouting done in an hour and a quarter. Definitely many hands making light work. Charles, Martin, Jean and I met Peter for lunch at Kaplan's. Peter and I went back to Norchard where we finished getting 523 and 546 moved to the new DP and some recoveries started in the shop. All round, a useful day.
February 24 : Rick came in to clear out DP3A ready for work in the cabinet. The new 20 pair from the exchange needs to be terminated first.
February 25 : Rick and I collected the replacement battery, and the scrap batteries, from Parkend. We installed the replacement battery at Norchard and recovered one of the demo phones before getting the museum back to normal. Ray and Peter installed the clock control key in the shop office. I changed over the jumpers and got it working. I also took all our scrap batteries to Bendall's and got a good sum for the railway funds.
March 4 : A day for unexpected jobs. The token battery had been flattened when S and T worked on the system. Finding replacement 6 volt lantern batteries was difficult. I bought two at Light Fantastic and then found six at Mincost. I soldered up the six and then found five of them faulty. Obviously they could not stand the heat from soldering. The first time we have had any difficulty like this. I rooted around to locate five replacements and got a working set installed. Do not buy German lantern batteries. Rick and Ray had the job of finding new homes for the two PA speakers left on the ground when their rusted through post was removed. They mounted them on the waiting room and cabled them with the new cable and boxes we intend to use for the renewed PA wiring. Peter got the music channel equipment shifted to the shop office.
March 11 : Today was a frustrating day. Peter Ray and Rick went to Norchard Signal Box to check the batteries but could not find the required key to open the cupboard. They eventually borrowed one from Roger (do we have a key?). The batteries appear to be ok. 36/37 volts. No current flow in the non op position. They then made some test calls to 699 and all appeared and sounded ok.
March 18 : Rick and Martin were away with colds. Ray, Peter and I concentrated on the shift of the fire alarm equipment from the shop to the office. We had a successful test just before going home time. I rejumpered the MDF for the shift and then recovered the cables for DPs 6, 7 and 11 in the exchange. Cleaning off the 8064 terminations is such a nasty job. We did not get round to looking at the faulty 304.
March 19 : The records for the circuits now moved from the shop to the shop office have been updated.
March 21 :
It was five years ago (13 March 2010) that Paul and Ian joined the team. Quite a bit of work and changes seen since then. Paul and I cleared the fault on Parkend 304 first. It was a broken wire to a connector at the phone site at the stop board. Peter shifted the shop microphone position to the new site although the box has to go home to be fitted ready for the mic. Paul and I recovered the cables going up the shop wall into the loft. We got a lot of cable removed and on tracing the cable back, we also recovered a couple of sockets no longer used. A very profitable day with a lot accomplished. The shop walls are now ready for reuse, we wonder what for? Rick came in for the afternoon to work on the shelves for Norchard exchange.
March 25 : Ray did not come in as he is suffering the very painful effects of a fall. Rick got on with shelving for Norchard exchange. Peter and I changed over the shop microphone to the shop office. Both it and the Stationmaster's microphones then stopped working. Much testing did not uncover the basic reason though somehow we got the shop office mike to work though not as intended. I need to return to continue chasing the problem down. In all this the fire alarm was checked and then in an attempt to stop it sounding, the clocks were turned off. Not a day to be proud of. A P45 might be appropriate.
March 26 : I went in to continue faulting the PA. The stationmaster's mike was still not working so I took off the covers off the mike and switch boxes to check whether or not the control voltages were getting there. Then the clouds started to lift. I found the mike cable to be a thin grey cable. Back at the start we had recovered a thin grey cable from the old mike position, so when it came time to change over to the new cable in the exchange, I naturally chose to terminate the new mike cable in place of the old thin grey cable. There was also a heavy black external mike cable which I had taken to be the stationmaster's mike cable. Wrong! This heavy cable went to the old shop position and there must be a joint to a thin grey cable in the loft. Then I remembered Paul shouting from the loft that there was joint in the cable. At this point I had terminated the shop mike in place of the stationmaster's mike and had left the stationmaster's cable disconnected. The still connected heavy black cable of course simply went to the joint in the loft and did nothing. This left the shop mike connected to the stationmaster's audio input but it's control button still operating the shop input relays. ie nothing worked!
April 8 : Just Rick, Peter and myself in today. The electricians were all away. Rick and I started by surveying the route to signal 12. We need to lay a new drop wire to the signal post phone inorder to free up a pair in the "S & T" cable for their use. I ordered 400m of drop wire 11 (3 pairs) when we returned. We had a go at a noisy phone in the new cafe. In the end it was the microswitch, but on the way I found that the exchange test panel was not working properly. It was the 63 volt battery with one battery "dis". A new set of 9 volt batteries got the panel going again. Peter also managed to get a coat of varnish on the head for the Parkend concentrator. Rick continued on his new shelf project in the exchange.
April 12 : Peter and I went to Avoncroft for the THG swapmeet. A somewhat quieter meet than usual but we managed to lay our hands on several goodies. We also had a good look around the UAX13 and the TXE2 with long chats with the custodians. We stopped for lunch at a pub on the way home.
April 15 :
Ray, Peter, Mike Ayland and I went to the Severn Valley Railway to meet Steve Bradbury, Bob Lawson and John Smith for a chat about their telecoms systems. We found that most of the network used the internet to connect with other sites but with the smallest sites accessed via the PSTN. Signal Post Telephones continue to be connected as CB phones to conventional concentrators.
April 18 : Peter changed a cord on the cafe phone and with Paul discussed the arrangements for connecting both a laptop and a card machine in the booking office to the internet. I spent a frustrating morning waiting for the shunters to open the gates and give me access back and forth across the line. In the end we went to an early lunch at Kaplan's where we met up with Jean. After lunch, Paul and I reeled out the dropwire cable from the signal box to signal 12, some 330 metres or so. We will joint and terminate the cable at a later date.
April 22 : Just Peter and myself in today for a rather ineffective day. I was asked to a meeting at 3:30 which in the end did not properly materialise. I was intending to change over the SPT at signal post 12 to the new dropwire but needed someone to walk the line with me. Peter is not up to walking the line and only Charles was in but he was busy until lunchtime. In the end he was busy all day. I moved the spare land drain duct up so that it is now under the high level platform. The ladies then cleared the area of weeds and rubbish so we have a tea party table back. The meeting at 3:30 was postponed as the BT representative was still in Brecon. However Roger Phelps, Lynne Westwood and I took the time to run over and write down the basic requirements for the exchange lines we have at Norchard.
April 29 : I had a meeting with the GM and BT to discuss our external lines and their facilities. BT have offered ISDN and a small IP switch which will use our CAT5 network to reach four IP phones. There are changes and extensions to our broadband to cover the cafe and Parkend. It all seems to work but the proposal goes to the Board now. I then spent some the afternoon chasing a fault on the stationmaster's PA mike which proved to be a short on the mike input in the exchange caused by us tidying the exchange. Ray called in for tea and cake, his hand is still not working correctly. Rick carried on with tidying the exchange, it's starting to look much better. We had to clear up our room ready for its use as a booking office during the Thomas weekend.
May 6 : I took Bob Bramwell to the Junction for him to inspect our wooden ladder. Rick, Peter and I spent the day chasing the obscure cable routes between the main building, the workshop and our office. Ladder work and loft work involvement. We need to get CAT5 cables across for the new BT proposal. We can probably do it but need to share the duct with the security cable.Hmm!
May 9 : Paul and I got the SPT at sig post 2 changed over to our new cable, checked and working. Peter worked on the demo D phones. We met Jean for lunch at Kaplan's. After lunch the three of us went round surveying the work necessary to get our data network up to standard. We have much of the gear, we will need to buy a patch cabinet, patch panel and patch cables to be able to accommodate all the CAT5 cables going back to the hub in the shop office. We may also need to buy more CAT5 cable. Then its back to the loft!!!
May 10 :
This seems to be the way we have to head for our data network to be suitable for a BT IP switch to use. Plenty of loft work ahead but we end up with a much more reliable network, most of which will revolve around the 24 way hub in a new cabinet with a patch panel, somewhere in the shop office.
May 13 : I had chats with James and Lynne to discuss the data job we need to do for the proposed BT IP switch. We agreed a position for the patch cabinet and Lynne asked for data circuits to the Severn and Wye room. That takes the total of data circuits to 23. Peter and I recovered DP2A in our office so that the cable can be used as a pull through the existing duct for the CAT5 cables. Peter kept one exchange line working via DP2C so that the card machine should operate satisfactorily. Mike Stephenson from the GWR wants to borrow our "distance to the fault" tester, so I checked it by measuring how much CAT5 cable we have on our four part boxes. 452 metres.
May 18 : I was called to the railway for a meeting with Roger Phelps and a Martin Wiltshire of Network Rail. He does data work for the big railway. He has offered us a floor standing data cabinet of around 30U and possibly some CAT6 cable. I accepted, now I have to find somewhere to store it. Whilst there the GM agreed that I should order the proposed stores and they should be delivered tomorrow (Tuesday). The GM still has to discuss his requirements with two other contractors but we can go ahead with our data upgrade. Mike Stephenson of the GWR called to borrow our line fault tester.
May 20 : We arrived at the railway to find our office door blocked by the floor standing data cabinet. We decided to hold it in the office as it was a cupboard. This meant clearing up the office and vacuuming the floor before we could move it in. It looks OK in the office and may even turn out to be used for its proper purpose one day. The wall mounted cabinet had also arrived so it was unpacked where we found one side panel clip was broken. We called the supplier who will replace the panel tomorrow. Peter and I started on the job of mounting the cabinet in the shop office, but the first job was to drill four large cable holes through the ceiling before we mount the cabinet. Four holes in the ceiling were easy, apart from covering everything and everybody in plaster dust. The corresponding four holes in the loft floor could not be drilled from below as any pressure applied to the floor by a drill simply lifted the loose floor rather than making a hole. We need to get in the loft to drill down. Next week hopefully. So, a whole day spent moving a cabinet into our office and making four holes in a ceiling. P45 time again?
May 27 : I was in on my own apart from a couple of electricians. I decided to go home for the morning and work on the Whitecroft rack. The battery and common service wiring is now complete. I had lunch back at the railway and then Charles and I packed our cars with unwanted gear and took it to the dump. There is now a small amount of space available in the caboosh. We then cleared up our office so that it can be used for this weekend's Peppa Pig day. Martin did a good job on the carpet.
May 28 : I was called to the railway to answer a Norchard Telecoms alarm. When I got there, it had gone off. I checked the battery in the signal box as the most likely cause of an intermittent alarm but it was showing around 55 volts, so I assume it's OK unless one cell is going high resistance. I went home to get on with cabling out the Whitecroft rack when I heard that the alarm was back on. Too late to attend as the shop staff were closing up. What's up?
June 3 : Peter and I surveyed the data outlets to check that we have enough faceplates and back boxes. We seem OK. We also got the four cables in the shop office into the trunking ready for termination on Saturday. We pushed lead into the handset of the coin box demo phone so that it would more reliably release the loop at the end of a call. I also went through the STARS shop display relay set to check that it is correctly delaying the extension of an alarm to the shop. It worked for me.
June 6 : Peter and Paul were in today, and with help from James managed to connect up the 4 network ports in the shop office, run 2 new cables in for the shop and move the 4 remaining existing ports over to the new patch panel. The old network sockets and switch in the shop office can now be recovered at a convenient time.
June 10 : Ray found the Norchard Exch. alarm on STARS operated. He then found C2 E shelf G/S 3 with its vertical marking bank open and the wipers flapping. (Odd because the switch had not been busied out.). He reconnected the bank and found the switch intermittent when going rotary. He checked the vmb wipers ok and then found CC relay sometimes sticking on the poleface. All ok after cleaning the poleface. All this with one hand and assistance from June.
June 13 : Paul and Peter continued with the data circuit provision to the shop and new booking office. All of the old data back boxes and the old hub are now off the wall. The hub was moved as a spare to the new cabinet. Rick came in to fault the troublesome group selectors. I called in briefly on the way home from a holiday to find everything continuing beautifully.
June 17 : After a discussion about the electricity work at Tuft's Bridge, Charles, Martin and Rick went with Roger Phelps and the Western Power Reps to survey the work. Ray came in for coffee and then went off for an appointment. I met Malcolm Holt (from Milton Keynes Museum) and his wife, Gill and gave them the tour of the railway and our telecoms equipment. We rode the train and had a quick lunch at the cafe. Rick and Peter had better ideas about routing the drop wire for the cafe phone. They did some faulting in the exchange.
June 24 : Rick and Ray extended the cafe dropwire to the BT DP in the office. Peter and I went to Cinderford to buy trunking. Peter, Rick and I then extended the dropwire to a BT pattress in the cafe. After we had proved the dropwire OK we went on to fit the trunking in our office ready for the CAT5 cabling.
June 25 : I went to the railway at 8:20 to meet the BT installer. I decided to fit three more call counting meters while I waited for him to arrive. They are in, two are jumpered to the 0 level circuits and are working. Peter came in as well. We held an email from BT saying that the installer would call between eight and one. At one, we had no installer. Contacting BT and getting some idea of what had gone wrong was not easy. By 2:30 it was obvious that BT were not going to arrive. The first line of defence by BT was that we had not signed the paperwork. In which case why had we seen an engineer on Monday checking pairs and now held an email giving this morning as the initial visit? We await an explanation!
June 27 : Paul and Peter tried a couple of ADSL type extenders to provide a data service from the shop office hub to our telecoms office via the telecoms wiring. It worked. Interesting, as presumably we could provide data service much further away from the router than we have previously thought. However such a data service would cost around £320 per circuit for the hardware, which would rather reduce its attractiveness. We then decided how to cable from the shop office to our office with CAT5 cable. We need to fix some pipe and some trunking in advance of tackling the job. Then it was time for lethargy to rise to the top, tea in the sun seemed very pleasing!
July 2 : Rick and Peter were called in because of an alarm from Parkend. By the time they attended, the alarm had gone.
July 8 : We heard that the broadband provision at Parkend and the Junction signal box was imminent, so Peter and I surveyed both locations. We need extra mains sockets everywhere with surge suppression built in. Eventually the routers arrived by post for Parkend and the Norchard signal box line. Looks like work for Saturday. The Lydney Junction box needs cabling but we must wait for the GM to decide where he wishes to fit a CCTV camera. Rick and Ray spent the morning with a representative from a radio firm trying to see how far a radio signal would travel up and down our line. It turns out that we can cover from the Junction to Whitecroft from a Norchard transmitter but we would need a repeater to stretch the coverage to Parkend. After lunch Rick and Peter found a fault on one of the linefinders at Norchard to be a vertical interrupter problem.
July 11 : Peter was in very early and did a bit of welcome office tidying. When we got down to things, Paul, Peter and I got the routers installed in the office and at Parkend on the new broadband circuits. They worked quite quickly but we found that the NTE2000 faceplates do not carry the third wire through. We had to fit a master socket at the signal box to get the bells working properly. However the line has a fair bit of electrical noise on it, we may need to find a new routing via DP3R, which hopefully will be away from the mains cables. We learnt from this and at Parkend did not fit an NTE2000 but simply used the filters supplied with the router. We had lunch at Kaplan's with Jean.
July 15 : Rick and I walked to Tuft's Bridge to check the state of the cable after the work on the electricity route and the removal of the signal box. All seems OK but it would be best to get the cable buried. Peter and Ray got rid of the hum from the signal box line after removing jumpers to Peter Adams wagon. After lunch we had a go at moving the alarm to the signal box circuit as this will be the only analogue circuit going via the office when all the BT work is completed. Then we found that the line has featurephone characteristics requiring an additional 9 to be dialled. This will be removed when BT get round to it. We could not complete the job. We also found that broadband is incompatible with the redcare on the Junction signal box line. We will not be able to provide the broadband until this has been sorted. Rick went back to a fault on the linefinders at Norchard and is making progress. A mixed up day, some good, some not so good.
July 25 : I went in for the morning and chased a spare exchange line from Norchard to the Town station. This will give us the chance to try our ethernet extenders over a mile or so of cable.
July 29 :
July 31 : I went in twice. The first time was for a fault on 845840 in the office. The remote handset is faulty so I swopped it for the unused handset in the shop office. I went back to unplug 164 and 609 at the master sockets so that they ceased to be available around the site. If there is no problem, we could get them ceased and BT could reuse the pairs for their new ISDN circuit. This might save them from "digging up the road".
August 1 : Peter had come in early and had terminated the dropwire on the new SPT opposite the signal box. We still have to cable round and terminate in the box itself. I rejumpered 587 in the exchange to the line to the bypass crossing phone. This threw 525 spare for connection to the Norchard box phone. I shifted the data test circuit from the old booking office to the pair now going to the Town station. Peter and I went to the Town station with the ethernet extender box and a laptop to test the connection quality. We were surprised to find that we had a speed just in excess of 4Mb and a ping time of 80ms. Excellent. We went on to change the label in the bypass crossing phone from 525 to 587. The phone is working fine. Then it was time for an early lunch at Kaplan's.
August 5 : Rick, Peter and I finished off the job of providing the signal post phone at the stop board. After lunch Rick and Peter turned maintenance men and found a dry joint in the high level platform PA phone. It's now working properly. We surveyed the PA work we need to do in the stationmaster's office and arranged for the data cabling work in the cafe. Next week we are coming in on Tuesday, rather than Wednesday, inorder to work in the cafe when it is not in use. I have also been asked to attend a meeting with a BT rep next Tuesday.
August 8 : Peter came in only briefly. Paul shifted the Asterisk DP onto a krone box while I got in his way jumpering on the IDF. 587 is now connected as an off-site line and 525 is teed to 529, the signal box line. We had an early lunch with Jean at Kaplan's. Paul and I spent the afternoon at Parkend making a start on the common services needed for the proposed concentrator. We are going to have to cut off much of the lacing to trace wiring. A pity but necessary.
August 11 : Peter, Rick and I installed the data cabling in the new cafe today. Two cables are in and tested from the proposed router position to the card machine counter. The cabling went very well though it did require ladder work. I also attended a meeting with the latest (third) BT salesman. We have a date of 4 September for actual installation. We will see. The IP Office equipment will actually be provided by a BT contractor. The end of the day was rather stupid. I could not set the cafe alarm. It took an hour to get the equipment reset over the phone by the security company. To do this you need a phone at the keypad. There is no BT line nearer than the shop and my mobile had no signal. Walking between the shop and cafe takes longer than the time out period involved. Luckily Lynne turned up with a mobile that works in the cafe.
August 18 : Martin, Jean and I went in for the morning only to find the door to our office unlocked! Martin and I changed a light tube in the ladies loo and then we three tidied and vacuumed our office to leave it presentable for use as a booking office during the Thomas weekend.
August 22 : It was Thomas day at the railway so we could not use our office, in use as a temporary booking office. Peter and I went for tea at the Postage Stamp cafe in Parkend. We spent the day on the common services on the second rack. It entailed cutting off the lacing to enable wiring to be traced and diagrams to be updated with the results. It will be better when we finish! We found some of the common services needed for the signal box concentrator and we got the cut off switches mounted and cabled via some trunking. At the time we felt we had not accomplished very much but looking back we have sorted a lot of potential problems and we will leave the rack much tidier. We had lunch at Kaplan's with Jean and finished the afternoon with another cuppa in the cafe.
August 26 : Rick got down to faulting on rack 2 finding that one problem led to the next. The amount of use of the linefinders and first groups is extremely high as children jiggle with the handsets. We may need to find a way to connect demo lines direct to incoming selectors to reduce wear. 4000 type selectors would be best as they would not need to restore using the rotary magnet. I will think about it. Ray checked the clocks and then went to Parkend with Peter to check on the state of the exchange. I ordered a UPS for the router and proposed IP Office equipment. I checked the next directory edition with the users, read the meters and generally hovered over the rest of the team. I left early to continue record work at home.
September 2 : We have had thunderstorms today. Good news and bad. First tea break interrupted by call to the shop to speak to BT eng who only wanted to know the position of BT DP. Ray and Rick obviously quizzed him on what was happening and (good news he may be interested in coming as a volunteer), bad news, he was trying to prove 2 new pairs to the DP. All spares dis 540 metres away from DP. This means in Forest Rd which means traffic lights are needed (approx 3 week delay) and permission from the council. He had a super dooper tester (about 5000 pounds worth). Just as he was ready to go Lynne arrived and he told her all about it. She was not very pleased and was going to ring Aimie.
September 9 : Peter and Ray changed the faulty SPT opposite the signal box for a new one. It seems that the rain had got into the one we fitted there only a couple of weeks ago. Rick spent his day faulting in the exchange. We have agreed that we must do something to relieve the finefinders of all the demo calls. I have two group selectors to modify to 4000 type direct exchange line firsts. I cut up a load of copper and binned lots of old stranded cable so that I can visit the scrap yard.
September 11 : A key date in our year The new BT switch at last. Peter, Ray and I came in for the big BT changeover to the new switch. The day went pretty well. BT Tim came in to provide the ISDN2 lines and BT Darren turned up to install the IP Office switch. The work was done by three and then it was mostly training the DFR staff to operate the new system. Ray left early but Peter and I carried on with the recovery of the BT line sockets etc in the office. There had been one major problem. We had been sold a cordless IP phone for the shop but found that this was not possible. The way out was to provide an analogue cordless phone in the shop in addition to the two IP phones. Peter and I provided the necessary pair via our DFR wiring. The job was completed by four.
September 12 : Peter and I came in, mostly to see how the new BT system was behaving. It seems to be doing the job it was ordered for. James is very enthusiastic and is delving into the programming. Peter spent the morning testing his Norstar and telephones that he is to fit elsewhere. I jumpered up lines 01, 02, 03, 04 as agreed with the GM. Now we can reissue the directory.
September 15 : The GM and I had a meeting to discuss the state of play with the BT lines. The new switch is working satisfactorily.
September 16 : I walked to the abutment looking for strimmer damage to our cable. I found the outer sheath stripped off at one point and have made a tape repair. Let's hope it holds. I then went round the site at Norchard replacing directories and dial labels where needed. This should start to move traffic onto the level 0 finals. I went home after lunch as I can be of more use there building the new direct exchange line first selectors we need to move traffic off of our battered linefinders. When I left the security firm had spent the morning trying to find a suitable position for the aerial on their equipment. Wherever they put it, it would work for a few minutes and then revert to giving too small a signal.
September 23 : We started by having a tour around the new BT IP Office equipment and its associated data network for the benefit of Rick and Ray. Rick then took my new 4000 type first selector and checked its adjustments and lubricated the mechanism. We plugged it in and it seemed to do the job OK. We temporarily jumpered it to a spare multiple number to find that it worked well, except for the tones it returned. It's not too good if it provides NU instead of dial tone. I have taken it home for a little mod. Ray went off to distribute directory cards at Whitecroft and Parkend. During the day Peter and I looked at the recoveries we need to make now that our analogue BT lines have gone. He also prepared draft records for DPs 2 and 2C.
September 26 : I tried the new 4000 type first selector but then I found that it did not return busy tone on the 11th step. Back to the bench for yet another mod. I had bought a pair of Patton 2174 ethernet extenders and Paul had brought in some others he had acquired so he did some back to back testing. We seem now to have three working sets of extenders. I connected the data pair to the Town Station to 500 and Paul and I set off to connect the circuit through to Lydney Signal Box. Peter turned up whilst we were at the Town station so we went off to Kaplan's for an early lunch. We got the circuit through the two St Mary's DPs after disconnecting the disused power feed from the bypass crossing equipment and arrived at DP3P under the sink at Lydney Signal Box. Who fitted the darned thing there or did the sink get built over it later? We then took time getting the pair extended through our wiring to the DP behind the desk. We are now ready to try a pair of extenders. If they work, and we are pretty sure they will, we will have saved the railway renting broadband equipment. During the work, STARS said that there was a fault, we had blown the 50v positive fuse. Then we found that junction 1 outgoing from the box was dis out. Back at Norchard tests showed that it was dis out from there as well. A job for Wednesday. A longer day than usual but with a good result.
September 27 : I modified the DEL first selector busy tone circuitry, took it back to the railway and tested it. It now seems to be satisfactory.
September 29 : The DEL First Selector diagram and notes have been added to this website
September 30 : Rick and Ray spent the morning finding the dis junction from Lydney Signal Box. One jumper wire dis in DP3N. Peter and I got all the old BT circuit jumpers in the MOP recovered. We checked the few remaining circuits afterwards. I jumpered up the new DEL first selector and got it working. Such a change for the better when the handset is lifted and replaced. I can now carry on and build the second switch. Rick and I then had a fault on a line circuit at Norchard which turned out to be the 600 type P relay armature misaligned so that the springs made contact with the relay body. Easy to find, but a devil to get the armature replaced in the correct position. Ray went on delivering new directories at the Junction.
October 3 : Paul and Peter concentrated on the ethernet extenders. They successfully reinstated the test link back to our hut, but hit problems getting the Lydney Junction signal box circuit to work. After much head scratching (and temporarily fitting the extenders in Norchard exchange) the fault was tracked down to some dirty fuse links on the frame. By that point, it was too late in the day to revisit the signal box. A job to pick up another day!
October 6 : Peter and Ray went to Parkend and swapped the exchange clock for one in the caboosh. They brought it back to Norchard and cleaned it up ready to fit in new kitchen. It is not easy to gain access to the kitchen on non running days but they arranged with the GM to do the job on a Wednesday in early November.
October 7 : Peter and Paul determined that the 4 port ethernet extenders won't work over the distance down to Lydney Junction. The single port ones do though, so they have installed one of those temporarily. They will install it more permanently once the decision has been made about what they want where in the signal box. Ray and Rick tried to find the elusive line finder/group selector fault. After a while they decided they did not know what they were doing so they started from again from scratch. This time they found dirty contacts on the rotary interrupters on L/F A2B5. After they cleaned them it worked OK. The original fault has now disappeared and all seems to be working all right for now. After lunch they "tidied the exchange"
October 14 : Peter and Paul got the analogue emergency phone socket working in the main hallway only to find that it had been incorrectly programmed by BT. It allowed calls to almost anyone rather than just 999. This has been left with Roger and James to sort with BT. I shifted the incoming junctions from the Asterisk from the first selectors to ordinary line circuits. Then I rearranged the first selectors to leave a space for the proposed DEL first selector for 889. When I plugged the 4000 type selector in, it refused to step vertically. A mechanical fault needing the ministrations of a maintenance expert. I checked the junctions to see if they were all still working OK and found that one outgoing to Lydney Junction Signal Box was giving back NU when 99 was dialled. I went to check at the Junction to find the fault intermittent at first and then it cleared. Dirty banks? I had a chat with David Collins and agreed that the rack I am building will be used at Parkend rather than Whitecroft. It's use of 3000 type relays in the line circuits make it suitable for very long lines, so I propose to use it for anything going north from Parkend when the northern extension starts. Then the three o clock demon struck. Level 0 calls could not be made from Parkend. I went there to check to find that the junction relay set could not be seized and the first selector was dropping back to dial tone when 0 was dialled. After much tracing of a dis neg wire the fault cleared. Dirty banks again? However the circuit was still not functioning and I returned to Norchard to find the incoming selector with its wipers jammed in the bank. I cleared them out and all looked well, but they managed to stick once more. Then they decided to work correctly. Maintenance required, I think. I feel that I have left a trail of maintenance to be done at all three exchanges.
October 21 : Ray and Peter spent the day at Parkend, bank cleaning and checking selectors for dropping out. Parkend now seems to be working well. Rick cleared the incoming selector from Parkend that was not releasing properly. Wiper adjustment did the trick. He then moved on to the second direct exchange line first selector that I have just built. It needed mechanical adjustment and some work on the relays. It did not work in that it stepped up nicely but then refused to drive into the bank. I found that I had terminated a wire on the wrong U point. After that it worked well. I went to Lydney Junction signal box as one junction was giving back NU when 99 was dialed into the final. It was relay adjustment which came to light quickly as arcing at the relay contacts took me straight to the fault. A busy day spent on faults and maintenance.
October 24 : I jumpered up the new direct exchange line first selector to its multiple number. It worked well. It was good to hear very little magnet operation as the public used the demo phones. I tidied the frame of some old jumpers and then went home to update the records.
October 28 : Rick and Ray fitted the red emergency phone but we did not put it into service as the GM has not chased up Aimee to get the programming corrected. The electricians spent the morning on an extra light in 9681 and I filled up the car with copper and cable and took it to Bendall's for a nice top up of our fund. After lunch it was all hands to the pump to clear our room of junk and get it cleaned for use as the Thomas booking office. I took a car load of junk to the dump.
November 6 : I went in to meet the BT installer who has put the new BT line through to the cafe. The onsite work took about 15 minutes only. Somewhere there is a router waiting to be plugged in. I wonder if the broadband has been activated??
November 7 : Paul, Peter and I had a chat about getting rid of stores that are of little use to us as we had tea. We examined the caboosh. I'm hopeful that there is a lot of scope for making space. Perhaps one day we will see the floor again. Once the shop opened we were able to get our hands on the router for the cafe broadband. However when we arrived at the cafe it was full of chaps from a photographic charter sheltering from the rain and enjoying an extra breakfast. We fitted in another cuppa. Then we were able to fit the router and test to find, of course, that the broadband had not been activated. Ringing 152 and ploughing through menus etc got us to the announcement that BT Business was a Monday to Friday business. Ah well, stupid to think otherwise. At that point, midday, we decided to try the cafe's lunchtime offerings. The bacon roll, baked potato coronation chicken and a veggie breakfast were all given excellent ratings. We gave up at that point and as the sun had come out, decided to go home. Not a very productive day. By the way, the cafe has decided to use the counter by the phone for the till and card machine. They now do not need the data circuits we provided to the opposite counter.
November 11 : Charles decided to join us today, so our Wednesday Telecoms gang is now six strong. Welcome aboard. We now have to start a training scheme. We need a new photo for the website. Charles finished fitting a light to our fence line. Martin got the electrical computer data copied onto an external drive for eventual transfer to a new main office machine. Rick and Ray visited some lineside phones attempting to provide them with up to date directories. Peter and I got back to getting rid of junk from the caboosh. We are finally making some progress, at least we can walk up and down the floor now. I have a car full to go to the dump. Alex has had a look at the electrical stores remaining and has indicated those that we should keep. Peter has started to look at a Private Wire relay set we have acquired with a view to installing a circuit between the caboosh and the office. We took the opportunity to have a group lunch in the cafe. Everyone liked it and we will probably make it a permanent arrangement.
November 14 : Peter and I tried to mount the phone and shelf on the wall in the cafe but gave up when the place filled up with a photo charter group. He will have a go tomorrow. We took the PW tele to tele relay set, cut open the form and determined its circuit diagram. Peter wants to rebuild it in a normal exchange relay can and then make use of it. We left at lunchtime.
November 15 : Peter went in later in the afternoon to put the phone and router shelf on the wall. Hopefully we have completed all the work associated with the BT installations.
November 18 : Rick spent the day jumpering a level 7 junction out to the MDF in readiness for the Parkend Signal Box exchange. Charles tried to fit a switch to an outside light he is modifying but was defeated by the rain. Peter stripped the PW telephone to telephone relay set ready for rebuilding into an exchange type relay can. Peter, Ray and I continued to tidy our office by sorting light bulbs and tubes, which we have decided to continue to stock for the railway. We got rid of the PAT tester and stocks of specialist bulbs to various users. Peter and Charles spent time updating some jumpering to the correct colours. James in the shop received a business hub 5 from BT which he tried to install in lieu of the present router, only to get a message saying that it takes 24 hours for the connection to be available. How can BT expect a business to have its broadband off for 24 hours?
November 21 : Paul and Peter got the new hub 5 router working to the asterisk and then they changed out some CAT5 inserts in the exchange and tidied up the asterisk cabling to make it less likely to develop a fault. I carried on clearing more from the caboosh and taking a car load to the dump. We had a very good "breakfast" in the cafe for lunch. BT has managed to mess up yet another aspect of their work. Out of nowhere they have renumbered the line to the Junction signal box. The correct number, used in much of our literature, will be reinstated! Will Redcare work then, we shall see?
November 26 : I was called by the railway as their new BT system was not working and they did not have an exchange line to report the fault on. I could not get through on any BT Business fault reporting number so I called at the railway. Eventually James had a number for fault reporting and we used the signal box line to call BT. They seemed mostly concerned with whether or not we had a maintenance contract but eventually agreed to accept the problem. We shall see what their response is. The ISDN green light seemed to indicate that the line etc was OK. I was concerned to see the BT Office switch buried under a pile of debris. It showed a couple of flashing red lights. Can that be good? The equipment seems to need to be housed in a cabinet where the leads and connections will not be vulnerable. If we have a server as well, I feel we must go for a suitable cabinet. Every time I talk to the office etc staff, the shop rearrangement proposals seem to grow. I hope we become properly included in the planning process for this project as it seems that there may be need for the data network to both be shifted and grow.
November 28 : In checking that my asterisk phone at home was working, I dialled the Lydney Junction test number. I received NU first and then intermittent ring tone. Something was wrong. I went to the box to check and found one of the batteries is faulty with its voltage varying wildly. It will need changing on a non running day. Luckily we have a spare but all four batteries are now very elderly and probably need new replacements.
December 2 : Rick and Ray continued on the provision of the level 7 junction at Parkend. Charles, Martin and I went to Lydney Junction box for a bit of basic explanation on the equipment there. We changed the faulty battery out with our spare. Just a temporary job until I can get new replacements. After lunch I sat with Charles and Martin for some formal instruction. During our look at the Stars system we found that the shop display relay set is faulty. It is not providing the six minute delay. I must look at it somewhen.
December 5 : The replacement batteries for Lydney Signal Box have been ordered. Paul brought in a ringer 2A which will be used for "Serridge" exchange when it is built. Rick called in to collect the two Parkend North incoming selectors at Parkend and move them to Norchard for overhaul. Paul and I visited Parkend to fit vertical marking banks to the positions that will one day be required for incoming firsts from "Serridge". The extra positions now need cabling out as incoming selectors. We also found a couple of suitable selectors for modification to Serridge incoming firsts. We went to Kaplan's to meet Jean for lunch. We did not do anything further as it was a Santa day and for the same reason we will not be in for the next two Saturdays.
December 9 : Just in for the morning today. Ray and I went counting spare selectors at Parkend and Norchard. Rick started on overhauling the incoming firsts for Parkend. Martin watched. Peter and Charles concerned themselves with the private wire mounting and relay set. The mounting needs cutting down to size to match our both way wall mounted auto-auto relay sets. We had lunch in the cafe and departed early to get ready for our Christmas meal this evening.
December 16 : Peter, Charles, Martin and Rick were in. Peter and Charles were working in the caboose and Martin and Rick were checking the relays on the 2 relay sets for Parkend. After lunch Peter went home. Charles and Martin joined Rick for a masterclass on 3000 type relays.
December 19 : Peter came in today to find an alarm from Lydney Signal Box. Rick and I met him at the box. It was a low volt alarm caused by a junction held permanently. This had the ringer running continuously. The volts were down to 29 when we arrived. Disconnecting the junction cleared the fault and stopped the ringer. The battery voltage started to rise slowly. Hopefully it will all be OK. Back at Norchard we found the Asterisk holding the connection. We don't know why, the circuits from the Asterisk have been pegged out and the problem referred to Paul.
December 22 : Rick and I visited the box to check on the battery. It had deteriorated further to 22 volts and the lamps in the charging circuit were glowing brightly. We disconnected the charger to prevent any further damage as it was apparent that the batteries were now all spent.
December 23 : Rick and I were in. We went to the Junction signal box and changed out the battery. It was nice to hear the uniselectors home cleanly when the 50 volts came on. We decided that was enough for the day and went home.
December 29 : Rick and Janet came in to walk the line at Whitecroft to check the state of our cable following the fencing work being done by Jason Shirley. The cable seems OK, however it does have battery contacts somewhere between Norchard and Whitecroft, probably corrosion in one of the cabinets. We will need to locate the problem in the new year.
December 30 : Martin, Rick, Charles, Paul and I came in for the morning. Rick and Charles chased a short on the 9681 phone but were defeated by the weather. Paul worked on the Asterisk software trying to find why it failed to clear down on the call to Lydney Signal Box. He found problems in both the Asterisk and the router but we are not yet confident enough to reconnect the junctions to the UAX13. Martin and I took the end of year meter readings. At that point we had a bit of lunch and decided to go home early.
Happy New Year
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