DFR Telecoms Diary


January 2016

1 January :

Welcome to 2016.

The jobs we know about for 2016 include :
1) Training our new recruits.
2) Installing Parkend North exchange and concentrator. We may get involved in providing signal post telephones this year.
3) Making the necessary modifications to our phone and data cabling in conjunction with the proposed shop alterations. The cabling was installed all the way back in the second half of 2015, so it's long overdue for reorganising!!!!!!

DFR Data Cabling

5 January : Rick went to Norchard to look at the fault on 585. It was scorched wiring in DP3A e14. All wiring on 585 put back to normal, tested and working ok. Unfortunately on the final check he found another PG. 556 earthing both legs. Checked in workshop and phone not working.

6 January : Martin and I loaded scrap batteries and scrap cable and took it to Bendall's for a pleasantly large sum for the railway. Peter and Charles got on with faulting the dead phone in the south workshop. The cable and phone had been subjected to water problems and although they changed the phone and reterminated the cable, we feel that we should find an alternative away from the wet wall. We had lunch in the cafe, excellent. Peter went off first and I took Charles and Martin through the basics of signalling between phone and the exchange and between exchanges. We will of course meet all these conditions again as we delve into the detailed circuit operations.

Waterproof phone in workshop

9 January : Paul and Peter decided that the simplest solution to our losing phones from water ingress, was to replace the phone with an external grade phone. This is the phone on the wet wall in the workshop. After this replacement work, Paul had a go at the asterisk. It seems to be working satisfactorily but we have left only one trunk to the UAX working, so that we can check whether or not the call clears properly by making a follow on call. I spent some of the day clearing up scrap that has accumulated around our hut and office and locating spare selectors for offering to the Museum of Internal Fire in West Wales. Lunch in the cafe was excellent.

13 January : Charles and Peter have started to work on the museum token machines. Ray and Martin went to swap the ringer at Parkend for the spare. It did not have inverted ring tone, so the old ringer went back in and the replacement brought back to Norchard for faulting. Probably just cam contacts need sorting. Rick went back to maintenance at Norchard, overhauling the control relay sets and linefinders on rack A2. I went to Whitecroft to survey the cable route that needs diverting before it can be buried. I also managed to get the ringer 2A diagram copied at full scale at a local architect's office.

16 January : Too cold to contemplate outdoor work. Paul and Peter got the mounting for the PW relay set cut to size and drilled ready for mounting. Rick was also in and got on with overhauling selectors and relay sets in Norchard exchange. Peter Evans and Hazel from the Museum of Internal Fire visited. We supplied them with a dozen selectors for a UAX13, a control relay set and a shelf of five plus five banks.

20 January : It was a bright blue sky, bright sun but below zero. Despite this Rick, Ray, Peter, Martin and Charles elected to go to Whitecroft to see if they could move our cable away from the fence line. It took the morning to be able to open the cabinet and release the cable from the fence. I joined them after spending much of the morning in the warm discussing the BT bills with the GM. This did not leave sufficient time to cut the cable, reroute it and reterminate. We returned to Norchard for lunch. Afterwards we retired to our office and heater and did some sorting of the gear we have lying around. Peter got on with showing Charles and Martin how to strip telecoms cable and how to identify the pairs within. I went to Parkend to find some VMBs for Paul Evans of the Museum of Internal Fire.

28 January : Just Martin and I came in on a very rainy morning. Forest Road was flooded for a couple of hundred yards. We decided to limit our efforts to the office and so we listed all the bulbs and tubes we hold in stock. The list is posted on the door for any visiting enquirers. We went to an early lunch and then went home.

29 January : Ian has donated a refurbished 1+3 PMBX to the railway. This will be ideal for a 24 volt simple concentrator for Whitecroft signal box. It even has the hand ringer, so that we will not need a ringing converter, ring trip relay etc.

31 January : In the afternoon I went to a well attended meeting to discuss the future of the Norchard site. The site has been surveyed and prints were handed out on which individuals or groups could outline improvements they wished to see. Then the groups presented their thoughts to the meeting. Roger Phelps, the Chairman, and Jason Shirley collected and recorded all the proposals for further consideration. It was a well run meeting that finished before time as there was no opportunity for people to look backwards and wish that something different had been done in the past. The proposals made seemed to me to be very sensibly produced.

Some restrictions apply to the Norchard site :

The level crossing must remain at its present position.
No new building can be placed under the overhead electrical route.
There is a big culvert running under the site.
There is a large water main running through the site.
There is a weight restriction on the bridge.
There is a severe limitation on the electrical supply.

A common theme was to move Carriage and Wagon and the DMU Group to a secure site at the Junction first. This would leave space at Norchard which could then be more easily reorganised.

Another common proposal was to move the shop and museum to a better building in the car park or the toilet block site. As no new building can be erected under the power line running across the site, this limits possible locations. The shop block could go or be retained for other purposes eg offices, woodwork workshop.

Smaller suggestions were made for a loco running shed at the head shunts, a coal supply at the head shunts, an accommodation block behind the toilet block (this would involve the movement of the caboosh) and greater use of the land we have available at Whitecroft.

Another suggestion for more building space was to extend the cafe over the area of the two coaches.

All the suggestions have major implications for us, so my plea was to have two ducts (electrical and telecoms/data) laid in any new trench and space to be made available for data cabinets etc in all new buildings. We should also cable out any new building with data circuits as they are installed (or at least have such work included in any electrical contract).

I did suggest that we needed platform canopies for our visitors.

Then I started to fret about the thought of moving Norchard exchange, let's hope that the shop building will be retained with us having somewhat more space for equipment.

Further suggestions will be entertained up until Wednesday of this week, so if anyone has a bee in his bonnet, please let me know by then.

One thought came to me. We now have a proper surveyed map of the site. It would pay us to try to find and record the position of all our ducts and cables on site. It may be sensible to include electrical cables if we can.

February 2016

Martin learning to plate wire

3 February : Ray was on holiday, Rick and Peter were not feeling at their best, Charles and Peter went back to the museum token machines, Rick did a bit of maintenance and then went home, Martin, guided by me, did some plate wiring on the private wire relay set being built. We discussed the Sunday meeting and its implications. My suggestion, to make us a little more future proof, was to install asterisk extensions in the most important places to overlay our normal internal network. Signal boxes, the office, the shop, the cafe, our workshop seemed possible places to consider. If any stoppage, planned or not, occurred to our strowger network, service would still be possible. This needs to be discussed with Paul when he is next in.

5 February : I met Mike Stephenson at his home where he gave us a bootful of strowger gear. Thanks Mike. The relays have been mostly added to the relay store and the stock relay records have been updated on this website. is the address but you need to be able to view an Excel spreadsheet.

6 February : One of the junctions outgoing to Parkend is faulty and has been busied up. Paul, Peter and I discussed my proposal that we should start to provide Asterisk extensions, but this idea was not met with any enthusiasm. To keep an Asterisk secure, you need more experience than we can muster locally. Only years of experience will keep an Asterisk safe from hackers and we cannot extend this experience beyond Paul. Time to think of something else, perhaps an electronic switch? Or perhaps just stick to good old strowger. Peter spent his day wiring his part of the private wire relay set he is building. Paul and I spent our day at Parkend. We cabled five incoming first group selector positions to the IDF and also wired out and strapped the five vertical marking banks. In the course of this we tidied some wiring and records, so it was a good day for us. Lunch in the cafe of course.

Cable alterations at DP3Y

10 February : Rick, Martin, Charles, Ray and I went to Whitecroft to redirect the cable as requested. We took the opportunity to remove corroded strips connections and crimped the cable back together. Peter stayed behind to continue wiring his PW relay set and test cable pairs as required. It was hard work for our group of pensioners to pull the cable out from the treeline and lay it out over the ground ready for burying. The job was done by lunchtime with service restored. We all had a cafe lunch. Peter and Charles continued with the relay set, Rick and Martin went back to switch maintenance and Ray and I went locating the problem on the junction to Parkend. There is 10 volts on the pair which perhaps is confusing us all. When we got to Parkend we took the switch out to find the 10 volts still there. Putting the switch back and checking it revealed a switch fault. At the end of dialling the first digit, the switch takes an extra step and sits with its vertical magnet operated until the second digit is dialled, when it acts normally. Dialling 99 for the test number gets you to 09 which returns NU tone. We took the switch back to Norchard for faulting later. It seems a good idea now to go through the cabinets on the way to Whitecroft and take Derrick Mulvana's advice and convert them to crimped joints. It's only ten pairs, how messy can that get? A later finish than usual, but a good day with a fair bit accomplished.

Peter with his completed PW relay set

13 February : A grey, pretty miserable day weatherwise. Peter finished off his PW relay set. It now has to be installed in the exchange at Norchard. Paul and I concentrated on Parkend. We partially modified a UAX13 first selector to act as an incoming PABX first selector. This involved changing the HX relay from an 11 ohm 3000 type to a 32 ohm high speed type to suit the 250 ohm battery test condition at Parkend. That aspect worked but the selectors require further work around the vertical marking bank area. We also cleared the fault on the incoming final at Parkend. The E relay coil was no longer 1200 ohms and allowed sufficient current to flow through it to operate the vertical magnet. We changed the coil and the selector behaved itself once more. However on returning to Norchard we could not put the junction back into use. There is a dis on the A leg and a high resistance on the B leg. At the moment we think this problem is between Whitecroft and Parkend but will need to be chased, hopefully on Wednesday.

We were also asked to change the token batteries but this requires the purchase of 24 6 volt lantern type batteries. I will organise this but will charge them to the S&T budget.

17 February : Peter and Ray chased a report that there were problems with the data circuits in the cafe. Eventually a crushed cable at one of the terminations was found and cleared. However the cafe has connected a new till system to the second data circuit and are now asking for two further circuits to feed to two printer positions. We can do this easily enough. Power sockets are also needed. Where will it all end? When asked this question, someone suggested that CCTV may be the next request.
Martin and I were asked to change the batteries on the token machines serving Parkend as the bell at Parkend would not sound. The batteries I had ordered were with us, so we set to and soldered up two sets of six batteries. Then we had to find a key to get us into the token cabinets. OK so far. When we opened the Norchard cabinet we found that the voltage needed was 48 not 36. We contacted David Collins, then Peter Wood to find that the Parkend token machines are not the same as the Junction machines and work via the loop of a cable pair, rather than over the bunched pair to earth. Back to the workshop to increase the number of batteries in series. Luckily I had bought six extra as spares. We changed out the Norchard batteries followed by the Parkend set and then found that the circuit behaved exactly as before. No bell!! Ah well, back to S&T to fault.
Whilst doing this job we were told that 304 at the outer home signal at Parkend was not working and causing operational problems. Checking at Parkend exchange we found a virtually zero ohm loop on the pair leaving the frame. We will need the tester 301 (pulse echo) to help locate the problem. When Martin and I got back to Norchard we found that the first real running day of the year had provided the child visitors plenty of chance to hammer the 4000 type demo selectors. Both were faulty with mangled wipers. A bit of a go with wiper pliers got the switches working again, but we could now do with changing the wipers.
Not a day that I enjoyed. I dislike maintenance, particularly when you spend all day not really clearing the faults.

18 February : Late in the day, I got the message. Jason has cut the main cable south of Parkend. Looks like we now have two cable faults. Looks like maintenance is rearing its head again.

19 February : I went in to meet Jason on site. There it was, a cable end stuck up out of the ground. The other end still buried somewhere under the digger. The annoying thing was that the job had been done, the digger was just getting back up the bank. Having had some hours to think about it, I felt that it would be simplest, quickest and cheapest if we provided two "drain pipe" above ground joints using whatever cable I could find to interconnect the two joints. I certainly did not want to try for buried watertight joints. I left Jason to uncover the cables back to suitable points and provide a trench between them. Jason then showed me where else he had been working as I felt that there may be further problems to be uncovered.
I went on to check Parkend exchange. It was going crazy with the intermittent shorts etc coming from the cable end. I switched off the chargers and took the main battery fuses out.
Back at Norchard I found the ringer running and both incoming selectors from Parkend held. I jacked out the selectors to get rid of the battery conditions out to line. The STARS line faulty lamp for Parkend was glowing red with the disconnection on the cable pair.
Lynne ordered the drain pipe and accessories from Travis Perkins and they will be delivered today. We have 20 pair cable and some dexion in the caboosh. You never know when such scrap bits will come in useful!!!
Now all we need is a nice dry day for jointing.

The scene of the crime

20 February : It's raining. Peter and I checked that Jason had dug out the cable and left a trench for the cable to be inserted into the run. We hammered dexion uprights into the ground, taped the cables temporarily to them and put plastic bags over the ends in an attempt to keep the rain off. Next step is to start stripping cable ends etc, but only when it is dry. We went back to find ring start, continuous ring and battery and earth for cabling to the new PW relay set. Discussions on making our network more resilient and our staff response to major problems brought very little in the way of conclusions. The shop grant has not materialised so the shop reorganisation is now not likely to be undertaken this year.

23 February : Paul and Peter and myself took two cars to the SVR at Kidderminster to see Steve Tull at the museum. He had a fair number of selectors and relay sets for disposal. We selected a bootful of items. We had a look at the railway signalling items in the museum. Some, especially the train describers, were fascinating. A pity that we do not have them at the DFR. We stayed for lunch and then returned south.

The scene of the crime

24 February : Rick, Martin, Charles, Ray and I spent the day getting twenty pairs back through from Norchard to Parkend. The extra thirty and the drain pipes are still to be fitted. This got comms back between the two sites but it still left us with Parkend 304, the second Norchard to Parkend Junction and the token with problems. Ah well, back nearly to where we were a week ago.

27 February : Paul and I spent the day carefully measuring the line resistance of the Norchard to Parkend token circuit. It came out as 283 ohms. During this time we found the records wrong in that the circuit had been carried back to the Parkend MDF rather than going straight to the ground frame hut as recorded. The routing actually makes sense as it will be simpler to move the circuit to the signal box in the future. The actual fault now looks like the Parkend token machine as we measured its resistance at eleven o clock as 3000 ohms, but on rechecking at two o clock it had dropped to a more expected 250 ohms. Back to S&T.
We also checked 304 at the outer home signal. It was working fine, but we think it could have been short circuit in DP1F as the drop wire had been pulled very tight so that it could be strung on the fence line. When we were checking the cabinet we freed the tight wiring and that may have taken off a short. We ended by checking the second Norchard to Parkend junction. We proved it faulty between Norchard and Whitecroft. This will reduce the distance to be surveyed and checked when we can get to look at the fault.

28 February : The details we discovered yesterday on the resistance measuring trip from Norchard to Parkend have been added to the website along with what we know so far about the token. I will add more as we learn more. See Token Details.

March 2016

2 March : Raining, so we cannot get to the jointing work on the Parkend cable. Rick is back on Norchard routine maintenance, Charles is working on the museum's tokens, I went to put the records back in Parkend exchange and also went to order some 110V halogen lamps. I also did the minor mod on the outgoing junction relay set which will allow us to properly busy them . I left after lunch to go home to pack for my holiday.

9 March : Very cold and windy here, no volunteers to go jointing at Whitecroft so Charles pursued his quest with the token machineswhilst Ray and Rick attempted to locate the fault with Parkend junction 2. After repairing the line tester ( dis b ) and repairing a faulty wire in DP 3A they went to Whitecroft to find junction 2 testing OK toward Parkend from the end of Norchard area. Using the Echo tester they estimated that there is a dis toward Norchard at about 40 meters. Testing from Norchard there is batt b ; dis a some way down the line toward Whitecroft. Too cold wet and muddy to do more today. Hope for better weather next week. Then Ray bought us all a cup of tea to warm us up.

16 March : Wednesday morning started out as usual tea and cakes courtesy of Charles. Ray, Martin, Charles, Peter and Rick were in. Ray, Martin and Rick went to Whitecroft to continue with the cable repair. We stopped for lunch at 13.00. The north end joint is finished and the south end has just one 20 pair cable to finish. We should be able to complete that and then put the pipes over and finish completely when we get another fine weather Wednesday. Meanwhile Peter was working on his point to point system and Charles was working on the token and both were being interrupted by an intermittent stars alarm. After lunch Ray, Martin and Rick went to look at the faulty Norchard to Parkend junction. Last week we proved it ok from Whitecroft level crossing to Parkend . This week we went to the next DP toward Norchard. Initially testing dis a , then ok. Possible meter fault? Returned to Norchard for the 3pm demon to strike. John Metherall says his phone faulty. Five engineers to look at one fault. Heat coil blown, replaced. Could this have been our intermittent stars alarm? Not sure time will tell. All went for well earned cup of tea.

19 March : Peter and Paul started the day late, with lunch in the cafe. The exchange was showing a PG alarm, which was quickly tracked down to the phone on the high level platform which hadn't been put back on hook properly. Then attention moved to the asterisk, which has been faulty since the 29th Feb. After a lot of investigation, dead ends, and "switching everything off and on again" - the fault was eventually tracked down to an issue with the BT Broadband router. Once rectified, things sprung into life again. The day was rounded off with a cup of tea in the cafe, discussing future CAT5 projects.

23 March : Peter and Charles spent the day working on the museum token machines. I faulted an alarm that kept coming up on Stars. It turned out to be a lever spring on the RA relay on rack A1. When a selector released, that contact sometimes stayed made. A bit of retensioning fixed it. Rick traced the dis Parkend junction to somewhere between Norchard and Tuft's bridge. Martin and I finished off the pipe joints on the Parkend cable. All together, not a bad day, until, at the last minute, we were asked to clear up our room so that it can be used as a booking office over the Easter weekend.

30 March : Charles and Peter continued with their work on the museum token machines. They succeeded in getting tokens released in both machines, so they are closing in getting them working. Rick and Martin chased faulty 304. They think that it is faulty in the final length of dropwire. It will probably be best to replace the length and leave it with some slack and avoid a joint in the small cabinet next to the phone cabinet. I chased a very noisy BT line at Parkend. Pulling out the plug showed that the BT line was fine. Thank goodness, as I did not fancy wasting my time wrangling with BT. The wiring away from the master socket is extensive and complicated and I started by disconnecting various spurs to try to isolate the noise. In the end, having taken off all the spurs, I still had a noisy line. The fault was in the broadband filter! If only I had been a maintenance man, I might have got there quicker (but I am not!!).

April 2016

6 April : Rick and Martin spent the morning replacing the drop wire to 304 on the Parkend rail side. Finally it is working. Peter changed the BT phone in Norchard signal box and then provided an internal phone on our bench for use by the booking clerk during Thomas events etc. I worked on getting the information together for a teach in on Stars. To start "What happens if a prompt alarm comes up in Norchard exchange". The teach in will go right through the procedure to the alarm calling the shop. Other alarms to follow. Later Rick and Martin went back to the railside chasing the Parkend junction fault. They cleared the fault only to find that a second intermittent fault exists, to be chased again next week. We need to do complete refurbishments of the jointing in the cabinets between Norchard and Whitecroft. Rick stayed late to chase a fault on one of the museum demo phones.

The two drain pipe joints9 April : Rick was in, spending his day on repairing a silent 300 type phone in the museum and replacing the rotary magnet assembly in a 4000 type switch. Paul and Peter finished wiring up Peter's PW relay set in the exchange. I supervised a couple of community payback guys while they made an excellent job of backfilling the trench at the joints we have made recently near to Parkend. I then carried on preparing drawings for a teach-in on the exchange alarm and STARS system. Home about 3:30.

10 April : It was the day for the THG swapmeet at Avoncroft Museum. Paul and I attended. The usual stalls were there. We bought an Ericson 700 lookalike phone with four buttons, a Db meter, some protector wedges and an exchange 50 volt monitor amplifier with loudspeaker. I'm sure we can come up with a use for them if we think hard enough. The event was quite well attended with a good number of tables.

13 April : Charles and Peter are finally making real progress on the museum token machines. They can now unlock one machine from the other. Ray and Martin checked over the Parkend spare ringer, adjusted it and returned it to Parkend. It still needs installing on a non running day. They also checked over the selector on incoming junction 2, but found no problems. Rick continued to rebuild the rotary magnet assembly on the demo selector. It works but does not sound quite right. It is back in service. I went through the records of the level 8 numbers as they have not been kept up to date. I also had a chat with David Collins about the token circuit. He still wants us to reduce the resistance as far as possible. When the token moves to the signal box he will consider an earth return circuit.

16 April : Rick came in and spent his day adjusting the 4000 type demo selector. It finally worked after changing a part on the rotary interrupters. Paul and I spent the day getting the token circuit bunched between Whitecroft and Parkend ground frame. When checking the circuit, the bells rang good and loud. Hopefully this is the last we shall hear of them for some time. A good day with success all round.

20 April : Rick and Martin spent the day rejointing cabinet DP3U at Upper Forge. A lovely day to be on the lineside. We have made a start on reterminating the cabinets on the way to Parkend. Ray and Charles sorted the clock at Parkend and recovered the decorative 50 volt lights in the exchange window for reuse as ballast resistors on the museum token circuit. I sorted all the interconnections on the STARS circuits for turning into training documents.

27 April : I spent the morning faulting the shop display relay set. A wire was trapped under the U point bracket and was earthing when the set was plugged into the shelf. Not easy to find. However it now works as designed. Peter took Martin and Charles through his PW relay set and the various MDF and IDF connections and jumpers, mostly as a training exercise for them. We had a good tidy round the office as it may be in use as a booking office for Thomas on Monday next.

May 2016

4 May : A very pleasant sunny day. The railway was pretty quiet after a hectic weekend. I had a demo switch jammed in the bank again. I needed to change a wiper to get it operational. I think they call it maintenance, but I call it boring. Rick and Charles went off to Upper Forge to crimp joint another DP. 597 still shows a battery contact with the next pair so we must continue with the crimping. Peter and Ray started on the wipe up of our spare teles. They had a strange fault on the test connections to the Panasonic which provided an arguing point for the rest of the day. I just say "damn all krone blocks, three cheers for solder". We finished by receiving a request to provide PA speakers for the upper platform. We should be able to do this from the back of the cafe. We have the cable, connectors and speakers to hand. All we need is for someone to cable under the cafe!

7 May : We sorted out the proposed location for the new toilets behind the cafe block and then Paul, Peter and I, with help from Rick for a short period, got the loud speaker cable in from DP3A to the back of the cafe to the new speaker position. Nice to see the cable go into the duct so easily. Nice to have Paul as a volunteer to scrabble about under the cafe floor. We went to lunch at Kaplan's. After lunch we tried the new loudspeakers only to find that they were low impedance models without line transformers. However we ended up with them test connected via a transformer and working well. They can be installed on Wednesday. Quite a useful day.

11 May : A quiet day where the rain prevented us from doing very much. Rick did some selector maintenance, Charles provided new cable tails to the two PA speakers we are to fit and I connected the line transformer to a connector block and found the necessary cable glands. After lunch I ran through the basic operation of a UAX13 with Charles.

The two new PA speakers

14 May : A very pleasant sunny day. Paul, Peter and I fitted the two new PA speakers on the back of the cafe during the morning. We shared the work. I managed the job and also checked that the box on the wall was straight, Peter supervised but at one point did manage to climb the ladder. Paul did the work but at one point decided it was important to clear the gutter of grassy growths. Not sure who should get the credit for a job well done, tested and over by lunchtime. Peter feels that while the sun is shining we should get all the speakers on the platforms out of our telecoms cables and reconnected via new red speaker cable. We met Jean for lunch at Kaplan's. When we got back I took Paul and Peter through some of STARS by explaining how a prompt alarm in Norchard exchange results in the lamp flashing on the display in the shop office. Then it was time for tea. A pretty good day.

18 May : I could not attend today. After tea/coffee and excellent doughnuts the lads tried to order lunch (priorities) but the queue was out of the door and the phone wasn't being answered. As a check and to show Martin and Charles how it was done they did a finals test. All OK. Ray showed Charles how the clocks worked and conducted a masterclass on clock maintenance. Rick and Martin checked out two of John's 4000 type switches that were on the bench. Various mechanical faults were found, vmb wiper, relays and rotary interrupters out of adjustment and remedied. Both now require lubrication and electrically testing in the test rig. Lunch and tea breaks were taken when necessary to relieve stress.

Lunch at the College

20 May : The group, with partners, all attended the college student's lunch at the Forest of Dean Academy. A very well cooked and presented affair which we all enjoyed. We are booked again in about a month's time.

23 May : Ray and Martin went to Parkend to try to install the spare ringer. Unfortunately there was no ring tone, so the job had to be abandoned until the spare ringer can be faulted.

25 May : Ray and Martin had a go at faulting the spare ringer from Parkend. In the end it proved to be broken spacers in the U point jacks. Charles raided an old selector mechanism for spares and the ringer should now be ready to install on a non running day. Peter moved the keyboard shelf down in the exchange so that our new transmission test set can sit there with the keyboard on top. Now we will need a 50 volt supply and an exchange line provided to the tester. Rick spent the day lubricating and adjusting the incoming firsts for Parkend. They are proving quite tricky to get into good shape. For me, well I managed to file some diagrams and find out what the barretter on the C unit is for (testers and PBX ringing leads). The day seemed to require an above average number of cups of tea.

28 May : I went to Parkend to try installing the first of the incoming selectors. It did not work. I found that the UAX13 first selector that I had modified was to a much older diagram number than the rest of the selectors we will be installing. I will need to find the original diagram and see what was different then. I also found the common services on different U points. I shifted the wiring so that should now be OK, but the U points on the shelf only go up to 16 while the jacks on the selectors go up to 32. So I will have to condense the wiring into 1-16 on the selectors as they go in. I also strapped the VMBs to prevent calls to level 1 (spare), 2 (Norchard fire alarm) and 9 (ringback). Then I was informed that there were no tones on calls to Norchard. I had a look at Norchard to find the incoming final selector was faulty. I jiggled the tone contacts and cleared the fault but the switch needs taking out of the shelf and checking properly on Wednesday.

31 May : I went to Parkend to have another go at installing the incoming selector after making quite a few mods at home. In the end it did everything except return busy tone on the eleventh step. It also sparked beautifully at the interrupters and N springs. I took it home again and changed the spark quench components and did yet another mod to make it stop on the eleventh step and connect busy tone. Fingers crossed again!

June 2016

1 June : Rick spent the day on selector adjustments. Charles went back to his token machines in the museum. Martin started on sorting and ordering our small stores in the office. Ray and I went to Parkend to install the new incoming selector. It does the job correctly but makes a beautiful spark at the N springs as it restores. The odd thing is that the rotary interrupters make no sparks at all, and the two are in directly in series. The only difference we can come up with is that the N springs break the circuit after the magnet has been fluxed for some time. I will build a second selector and see what happens. We had a teach in regarding line transmission arrangements, Dbs etc and then we had to tidy the office somewhat as it is to be used as a booking office this weekend.

6 June : Ray and Martin went to Parkend and finally changed over to the spare ringer and got it working OK. They also unbusied group selector 5 and gave it a good testing, to find no fault. It is back in service.

8 June : Those in attendance were Martin, Ray, Peter and Rick.. Ray and Peter repaired the red pay phone in the museum. The receiver in the handset had previously been changed but the earpiece has now been repaired and the pay phone is now completely red again (very smart and a good job). Martin continued to sort the screws and bits and bobs over the bench and used the computer to print relevant labels. Rick attended to a lockout on A2 line finder caused by no vert drive on switch A2B2. Vertical interrupters dirty, cleaned and adjusted.
Other jobs done today. F/S A2G1 has been busied out for some time ! Switch checked over, lubricated and test calls passed ok. Weatherproof phone at the level crossing hut had the seal refitted so should be weatherproof again. Peter started work fitting extra 50 volt jacks to the workbench. Very warm today so afternoon tea break taken sitting in the shade outside the cafe.

I may be on holiday trying the Great Little Trains of Wales but I am still thinking of life on the DFR. I thought it might be time to construct a new list of jobs to be done as every Wednesday we seem to look at each other and wonder if anything is urgent. The list :

Jobs to be done (in no particular order)

Check state of Norchard battery. (the spare batteries at Parkend have all split badly and need disposal).
Complete retermination of DPs between Norchard and Whitecroft.
Provide incoming selectors at Parkend.
Training sessions for new staff (and perhaps some of the veterans).
Install exchange and concentrator at Parkend (awaits space being made available).
Convert 597 line to outgoing level 7 junction to Parkend North.
Museum D phone circuit provision.
Museum token machine provision.
PA speaker cabling reorganisation on platform one.
Provide terminations on data circuit at Lydney Signal Box.
Change out Norchard ringer to spare machine.
Complete DP3A reterminating and jumpering.
Wipe up of all spare telephones
Reorganisation of small stores in the office.
Caboosh tidying with, hopefully, the scrapping of items of no value to us.
Maintenance check and replacement where necessary of all telephones.
Upgrade all cabinet jumpers to current standard colours, in conjunction with records check.

Any further suggestions?

The visiting Beattie Well Tank

15 June : A quiet day for us as there was torrential rain at one stage preventing us from moving. The railway was very busy though. Martin got on with sorting and labelling the small stores. Peter found and sorted items for the data job at Lydney Junction signal box. He will need to buy a few items. I ordered a new battery for Norchard exchange consisting of four 12 volt 38 ampere/hour items for 275. By the time we get the VAT back and we sell the very large scrap batteries, we should get the price down to approaching 100. We should then have good sets of batteries at all our exchanges, including Parkend North when it is installed. Nice to see the Beattie well tank back for a visit.

18 June : Paul, Peter and I spent the day at Lydney Junction signal box, cabling and connecting the data circuit from Norchard. The extender is working and has its output extended to a socket behind the signalman's desk and we are ready to fit an eight way hub when required for cabling to additional sockets around the box. We met Jean for lunch at Kaplan's. Generally a successful day.

22 June : Charles and I went to Parkend to fit the new incoming selector but it decided to be difficult and not step rotary in the proper manner. We brought it back for Rick to look at. He found the comb plate needed adjustment and the selector behaved itself in the test stand. We took it back with Rick to find it was still very uncertain. In the end it was the usual trouble with old interrupters. When we left it was working. I wonder if it still is? Martin carried on with sorting our small stores. Peter and Ray surveyed the PA speaker cable routes on the platform as we intend to renew all cables with proper speaker cable. At five to four I was told that the Parkend ground frame phone was playing up with no dial tone on most attempts. Next week, I think!

29 June : Tipping down with rain most of the day here. Peter Martin Charles and Rick in attendance. Ray had visitors and was showing them round the railway. 887 and 889 were double switching to f/s A2G1. Martin and I went to the exchange to see what was what. The f/s was out of the rack on the floor. The f/s was put back and test calls passed. There was indeed double switching and other strange things. After over an hour going round in circles and studying the diagrams we realised that most of the problems were caused by misplaced test jack links on all 3 switches.
Unfortunately 1st selr 889 is still not rotating around the bank smoothly (very intermittently ) and confusing the issue. Rotary ints adj and now seems ok ! 3 minute guarantee on that !
Meanwhile Peter and Charles checked out a report that the phone link between Norchard signal box and Junction signal box was not working. Test calls passed with Dave Collins ok.
Peter then held a masterclass on 700 type telephones for Charles. Martin also joined in.
After lunch Peter, Charles and Martin went to Parkend to check the fault reported on 320 while Rick went to the Junction signal box to return the files. Rick then followed them to Parkend in time to see them return from 320 where all seemed OK. All went to the exchange and passed test calls and found L/F 4 int no dial tone. Busied out for Ray to look at later. As it was 3.30 we thought it was time for tea. A very peculiar day all round.

July 2016

The visiting Southern T9

6 July : The Southern T9 spent the day running up and down. Very nice to see. Ray went off to Parkend to clear an intermittent no dial tone fault. Rick got on with fault finding on some of the Norchard selectors. Martin and I unpacked the new batteries for Norchard, tested them and moved them over to the exchange. Now we await a quiet non running day before we can install them. We then started to go through the selectors, labelling them prominently with the diagram and issue number. We had inadvertently been looking at the wrong diagram whilst faulting a final selector.

The visiting Metropolitan 044T on July 2

7 July :Martin and I changed the main Norchard battery. It took quite a bit of grovelling on the floor. The new battery settled down straight away. The clocks were reset. Then we found demo phone 889 was not working and we thought we must have pulled a cable out of a junction box in doing the battery work. It tested dis to line. After a cafe lunch we took the old batteries to Bendall's and got a handsome 76.50 scrap value. I went back to fault 889 to find it working OK. Jiggling everything would not bring the fault back on. I also changed the BT phone in the cafe as there were complaints that it was faint. They may be right, the new phone does sound better. If it is OK then we will need to fit it to the wall.

9 July : Rick, Peter and I were in and we decided to fault the Parkend junction that was very very noisy. Peter stayed in the exchange with the line tester. Rick and I went to Parkend to busy out the faulty junction. We then disconnected the junction at Whitecroft which showed the fault to be in the Norchard to Whitecroft section. This we expected. We went to Upper Forge to disconnect the pair again and this showed the fault to be towards Norchard. We went to Norchard to start disconnecting the circuit in DP3A and DP3S. DP3S was rather damp despite being housed in a new IP** cabinet and we felt we had the fault. In the end however we had the E and D side cable pairs connected on a flying connector and we still had a fault. There seems to be a dis or similar on one leg to produce so much noise on the circuit. We finished a long day realising that we had to start again next Wednesday. Lineside work was interesting with differing steam gala trains passing us.

13 July : Ray came to say hello but had to leave to see a physiotherapist. Peter fitted the new cafe BT phone and a sounder as the bell was too soft. He then wiped up a 700 type phone ready to fit in the museum. I reorganised the incoming first selectors at Norchard so that there was room for the new DEL 4000 type demo first that I have built. The selector worked well and is now in use in place of the selector that has given us so much trouble. Rick and Martin wandered off up the line testing back to me in the exchange trying to clear the battery contact and possible dis on the first Parkend junction. They got as far as the next DP to Whitecroft clearing problems as they went. The junction still has some battery contact on it so we must keep going next Wednesday. We ended the day though by noticing that STARS was showing the alarm wire from Parkend as dis. Oh dear, what have we done?

4+25 PABX

17 June : Jean and I visited the railway at Blaenavon to view some telecoms equipment going spare. It turned out to be a 4+25 uniselector PABX. It had been dropped at some time and there was damage to at least one uniselector and to the framework holding the uniselectors. The bottom of the rack and the power unit was rusty. However the relays, uniselectors etc looked in good clean condition and the rack should be capable of being repaired and put into service again. As we have no space in which to hold a rack and no immediate need for a PABX, I turned down the offer. The rack will go for scrap if no one wants it. If anyone does, please contact me (John Bathgate) at and I will put you in touch with the Blaenavon Railway.

20 July : It was too hot to do too much. Rick escorted a beekeeper along the track to remove a colony of bees from one of our lineside cabinets at Middle Forge. Then he and Martin went to disconnect the Parkend junction again at Whitecroft. There is still a battery contact but it still seems to be in the Norchard to Whitecroft section. However we could speak perfectly over the pair so they went on to Parkend to put the junction back into service It works fine so the real problem must have lain in DP3S by the crossing hut. We now need to replace the cabinet in a more accessible position but this will have to wait until we have a big window of non running days. Whilst the testing of the junction pair was being undertaken, the dis alarm wire from Parkend repaired itself!!! How can this be? Ray and I stayed in the exchange to make the line tests. We attempted to find the alarm wire dis with the pulse echo tester, but could not get any meaningful results. Charles checked the newly machined tokens in the museum equipments to find that they need further machining for one of the token machines. He also started to tidy some electrical wiring in our hut in advance of the electrical contractor coming to check the site installation. After lunch we decided to pack in for the day as it was too hot to work. By the way, the Blaenavon rack turned out to be a PABX5 and probably will go via Ian Jolly to the Crewe Heritage Centre.

27 July : Martin and I recovered the spare batteries at Parkend. They were all splitting badly so we had to tape them up to keep them from falling apart. We got them to Bendall's and got 42 for the fund. Charles and Ray spent the morning proving that a pair of D phones were working. They have the job of installing them in the museum as working exhibits. They both finished at lunch time. Rick as usual spent the day fettling selectors back into some sort of good order. I now have a couple of incoming firsts ready to install at Parkend on Saturday. At lunch we were joined by Jason Shirley who told us that his current job was to move the ski hut out to the car park and provide it with services. We need a duct from our office to the new hut position as it is a certainty that something will be required as soon as an electrical trench is back filled. We also need to go over our portable apparatus and get it available for PAT testing, luckily we do not have very much.

30 July : Just Paul and myself in for the morning. We had a cuppa and then took the two modified selectors to Parkend for installing and testing as incoming firsts. Neither would work. One has a stray earth coming from somewhere and the other switched to a free outlet, released and switched to another until it stopped on the 11th step. Wiring faults somewhere so they are now home on my bench. We called at Whitecroft to see where we need to move the phone and TRTS button. It is of course where we cannot reach without a duct being laid. I saw Jason and he is the guy to do the job. We also need to source another cabinet that can be opened by the right key. Both Ray and Rick called into Parkend to see how we were getting on. We met Jean for lunch at Kaplan's.

August 2016

3 August : Charles, Ray and Martin took the train to Whitecroft and Parkend. Charles and Ray surveyed the requirements at Whitecroft only to have them increased by the staff on duty. They also want an extension phone on 308 at the gate. We seem to be getting to the position that we will have four phones spread around the station. Martin arrived back with the spare ringer from Parkend for overhaul. I found the cabinets we seem to need for Whitecroft and obtained Jason's agreement that he will do the ductwork for us. Rick and I also started to fault the incoming selectors from Parkend but got nowhere, I need to take them back to Parkend, plug them in and fault them there. Not a particularly productive day but interesting.

6 August : Paul and I were in for the morning. We loaded the Whitecroft cabinets into Paul's car for him to take home to paint and fit backboards etc. Paul cleared a PG on the exchange. We found some 5 pair external cable for use at Whitecroft and also located the N series diagram. We both left for an early lunch at Kaplan's with Jean.

The house that Jack built

10 August: Our office has always been the house that Jack built, being several inches out of plumb. It is now being brought up to standard. The outside boarding is to be replaced before painting, then it may be that Jason will attempt to level the building. This will be interesting. All our shelving etc will end up sloping and there is a problem with the telecoms and data cabling stretching when the building is lifted.
We did however manage a busy day. Rick, Martin and Ray surveyed, bought and installed piping from the existing cabinet at Whitecroft station to the proposed south end cabinet. Nice to see that ready for cabling.
I installed, faulted and commissioned three of the four incoming selectors at Parkend. I had to take the fourth home for an in depth look at what is going on.

13 August : Paul, Rick and I spent the day getting backboards into the two Whitecroft cabinets and then taking them for fitting at Whitecroft station. Whilst fitting the cabinet at the crossing gates, we were asked by the station chap what it was for. We told him that it had been requested by the Whitecroft staff. He told us that he did not have a key or access to a key. Are we wasting time and money again?

17 August : Rick, Martin, Ray, Charles and I spent the day getting the cables into place at Whitecroft. Nice to have that done, though we still have some cable ties and cleats to finish off. Ray did very nicely in vacuuming and tidying our room in readiness for the Thomas weekend coming up. Thanks Ray. We were asked to do some electrical work, but opted out as usual.

24 August : Rick, Ray, Charles and Martin continued with cabling and phone fitting at Whitecroft. I was called to a fault at Lydney Junction which I quickly found was a dry joint. Then I saw that the block was poorly soldered and had to go over the whole block. Later I saw Bob Hawker and we located a cabinet for use as a jointing point at Whitecroft. It's in good physical condition but needs some painting etc and will now slow the job somewhat.

27 August : I have modified a further UAX13 first selector for use as an incoming selector at Parkend. I took it in and installed and tested the item. It worked first time. We now have four working incoming selectors and a fifth that has been modified but refuses to work. On a working level, it stops on an early outlet, fails to switch to the next rank of selectors and then drives on, to stop and switch on a later choice. The wiring has been checked over and over, to no avail. One day I will find out what is wrong.

31 August : Rick, Martin, Charles and Peter went off on the Whitecroft job. We are not yet in a position to change out the jointing cabinet and make the final connections. I chased the fault on the hi level phones etc only to find that the cable from the DP had been cut when some vegetation had been strimmed. Luckily the cable end was long enough to reterminate in the DP. However DP3Q is now nearly inaccessible. I could scrabble up the bank to it but there was no way back down. I crawled out under the platform in the end. I went to pick up scrap cable from S and T at Parkend and decided to install the faulty incoming selector in the last spare position. It worked immediately. It must be wired OK, but there is probably a timing problem with a relay.

September 2016

Transmission Test Corner

3 September Paul and I fitted the remote transmission test equipment at Parkend. If you dial 391 you will receive a tone sent at a standard level at 800 Hz. We checked this from Norchard and received the tone nicely. We looked at it with an oscilloscope and it remains a very tidy waveform, despite our hotch potch of cables. We sat the Norchard transmission tester in place. It looks fine. Now I have to design and build the Norchard equipment for connecting the tester to line.

7 September : We have a request to move the new cabinet we have provided at Whitecroft to a position around a coach length further south. Rick, Martin, Charles and Peter returned to Whitecroft to shift the new south end cabinet to the position now required by the operating staff. They also fitted the new jointing cabinet alongside the phone cabinet to be recovered. The cable to the south end phone was extended to the new position. We must by now be getting ready for the big changeover. We are talking a plan 1C and a TRTS button, whow! I got the Norchard transmission test gear connected up to the 50 volt power and tested. It's looking good. I also designed the requirements for the transmission test calling equipment. Now I need to build it.

14 September : Rick, Ray, Peter and Charles went back to Whitecroft to continue on with the job. They are closing in on the end but are not there yet. Rick and Peter may go back in tomorrow to finish. I found that the line fail alarm lamp for Parkend was glowing red and chased it to a line fault between the Norchard site and Whitecroft. I could not check any further as I needed someone to walk the line with me. I have decided to write again to the board about the future of telecoms as it now seems mostly to be tied up with data circuits.

15 September : Peter and Rick went to Whitecroft and changed over to the new cables. All 3 telephones and the extension bell are now working. New labels and directories are required and some tidying of the cables in the main junction box is necessary (hammer and cleats ?). Of course by Friday the guarantee will definitely have run out.

16 September : Charles put in some overtime, working on the token machines in the museum. He stripped out the rather thin proving wiring and transferred the line/return pair to something rather more substantial, labelled the wires and made sure both machines were identical. He has continuity tested between the machines, and next will apply line and local batteries.

I was in West Wales at the Museum of Internal Fire seeing Paul and Hazel Evans. I left some VMB parts and a couple of non director final selectors with them and picked up three clocks. The museum is mainly a home for diesel engines of all sizes. Even some really large engines were running. Most impressive. The telecoms area is also fascinating. I was particularly taken with the old PAX featuring the Siemen's style of pre 2000 selector (I started work in 1950 in a Siemen's 16 exchange).

21 September : Only Charles, Peter and myself in today. Peter has started to sort the stack of old phones that we have. Nice to see a box of rubbish phones ready for the tip. Charles and I walked a part of the line chasing the dis alarm wire from Parkend. We now know it is south of Whitecroft but north of DP3U. Then it was lunchtime and after that the rain put paid to another outing up the line.

22 September : Charles installed the line/local batteries and achieved satisfactory token release from each token machine to the other in the museum. He has not monitored currents, but will do so once the single-strike bells are installed. Some lubrication of the moving parts is still needed to allow easier operation of the keys themselves and also the snail and armature within each machine.

28 September : Rick and I wandered off up the line attempting to locate the fault on the alarm wire from Parkend. We got it down to the length going south from Tuft's Bridge. We changed out the pair over this length and returned to Norchard. The fault was still on. We have it wrong somewhere but we need a new day to do more exhaustive testing and we need to take more test gear, walkie talkies and teles to site with us. This will now wait for two weeks before we can get back to it. In testing the alarm pair in the exchange, I realised that the clock circuit to Norchard signal box was dis. I checked only to find the retard key in the signal box permanently thrown. At last, a fault taking 10 seconds for a reliable clear!. Peter made a good start on teaching Martin and Charles about teles 746. They are wiping them up and testing as they go. Rick went back to Whitecroft to label phones, leave directories etc.

October 2016

1 October : Paul came in for the morning to pick up some items for the upcoming THG swapmeet. He checked Norchard exchange, did some updates to the Asterisk server and everything seemed ok. Before long he was accosted with reports of faint transmission from Whitecroft, and noisy ring tone on the demo phones. The Whitecroft fault turned out to be "right when tested" after a site visit, and the noisy dial tone was tracked down to FS4 on the demo rack. As it was lunchtime, Paul opted for leaving site before anyone could give him any more faults!

5 October : Usual start to the day-tea and cakes. The team decided that today should be a maintenance day where possible. Ray noticed that various clocks were showing the wrong time and spent some correcting them but could not find a good reason why. (Actually it had been me checking the clock relay set on the previous Wednesday)
Peter and Charles set to on phone wipe up. Martin filled in the forms and liaised with Norchard signal man ready for walking the line to Middle Forge. Rick attended to the final selector fault reported by Paul. This was caused by a dirty contact in the ring tone path. Rick and Martin then walked the line to Middle Forge to check 504. It was not working and Martin quickly found the cause - the line cord had been cut. The phone was changed but still not working due to HR b leg (approx 30 volts). Another visit necessary. The SPT phone at signal 13 needs to be checked at the same time.
On the way back to Norchard we checked the SPT phones were OK. All SPT phones to Norchard box were checked OK except signal post 13.
After lunch Ray went to Parkend and checked all the phones on site - all OK The rest of us checked as many phones as we could at Norchard, changing noisy transmitters where necessary. Still a few more to do next week?
Tea and cake to finish the day. A good day for maintenance!

12 October : Peter and Ray went to Whitecroft to recover the cable now made spare and the old telephone cabinet. Later they went through the eight second hand SPTs we have acquired and found seven of them to be working. Rick and Martin spent the day faulting the line to Middle Forge. It was traced to corrosion in DP3F. I changed the token batteries at Lydney Signal Box and recovered telephone 587 now made spare at the bypass crossing.

Building work outside our office

15 October Not a profitable day for us. We were collared as we arrived with the message that the token had failed. The railway was having to use a pilotman scheme on a two train day. We were directed to Lydney Junction to find Roger Phelps attempting to fault find. Paul and I gave the new batteries a good going over. Nothing wrong. We checked the line. 136 ohms loop resistance and no conditions on the pair. Nothing wrong again. We were directed to Norchard and gave cooperation in making tests with Lydney Junction. Eventually we had to take the cover off the section in/out switch and also check that the relay worked in the locking room. It seemed that David Collins suspected that that was where the fault lay. Having helped as much as possible we left S&T to it. We went for a late lunch at Kaplan's. When we returned Paul and I put short circuits on the Parkend alarm and clock pair so that we could get straight down to breaking the circuit in the middle next Wednesday. Peter also came in and did some phone wipe up work. At the end of our day, S&T were still sweating through the workings without success.
During the day, Jason and his team worked immediately outside our office starting on the new building work for the area.

Two good bits of news, it seems that our plea to move eventually from our office to the shop store has been noted and Paul made 45 for our fund at the last swapmeet.

16 October : I heard today from our GM that the token fault had been a faulty plunger at Norchard.

19 October : Rick and Martin spent the day finally clearing the fault on the Parkend alarm pair. It was a dodgy crimp joint in DP3Y. Nice to see the alarm lamp back showing green instead of red. Ray and I responded to a no dial tone fault on the Lydney Junction exchange. It proved to be dirty drive contacts on a uniselector line finder. Signal box locking rooms may not be the best place for strowger gear. Peter and Charles made a start on providing a D phone link as a museum display. I am to meet Alex shortly to let him look at and list the electrical stock we hold. It would be good to clear out the rubbish and make some space so that we can start to sort and tidy our own gear.

26 October : A very quiet day. Charles and I collected the scrap copper and cable in the caboosh and took it to Bendall's. 69 for the funds. Ray and Martin cleaned the office ready to hand over for Thomas the Tank duties this weekend. After lunch we thought we would have an early day. Martin and Charles produced the two o clock demon. The shop office phone had its switch hooks sticking and junction 1 outgoing to Parkend is dis one leg. I busied it up and we left before anything else went wrong. Our Parkend cable looks as though it is in a state.

31 October : A Diagram Index Page has been added to give quick access to PDF copies of most of the circuit diagrams used at the DFR.

November 2016

2 November : Rick and Martin chased the dis junction to Parkend finding another poor crimped joint at the Tuft's Bridge DP. Peter and Charles continued working on the museum D phones exhibit. Ray changed a mic insert at Whitecroft and I lay on the museum floor finding a dis pair to a demo phone.

5 November : Paul, Peter and I spent the day planning how we would provide services to any new shop complex on platform 2. Telecoms is easy, datacoms is harder and much more expensive. Now I have to price up the components and give myself and the railway a bit of a shock.

9 November : We were all in today, including Paul. Everyone decided to pile into the museum and get on with recabling the main DP for the demo area and continue with the provision of the D phones etc. We were visited by Colin Gardener who brought us a couple of big boxes of Strowger spares. Very welcome as they were just the right bits. Thanks Colin.
Just the day for a team photo.

The Telecoms team in 2016

The Telecoms Team
in 2016

Left to right :
John Bathgate, Charles Bristow
Paul Seward, Martin Lunn
Ray Willey, Rick Gillingham
Peter Medcalf

16 November : All started well today - tea with cakes supplied by June. Ray and Rick went to Parkend and tidied the exchange, cleared a lot of rubbish and took it back to Norchard for disposal. Charles worked in the office rearranging cables. Peter and Martin worked in Norchard exchange fitting trunking and cables for museum phones. The socket for 565 was recabled and refitted.
John Metherall asked us to check the Santa line. It was working ok but unfortunately the handset cord was intermittent dis on the red payphone. We found a replacement red cord but a simple handset cord change (normally a 5 minute job) took about an hour and a lot of expletives. Just for the record the red phone box cover does not have a lock and is held in place with a small screw on the right hand side at the back - short screwdriver reqd. The old cord was trapped between the cover and the switch hook assembly but the new cord is fitted correctly.
Afternoon tea was taken slightly later than normal before going home.

18 November : Eleven of us attended the Telecoms Group lunch at the Forest of Dean College. Excellent value at 10 for three courses.

19 November : Peter and I had a quiet morning at the DFR. We have arranged for the faulty light in the exchange to be replaced by Alex over the next couple of weeks. We also decided to terminate the 20 pair from the new Museum wall DP on a fuse mounting 8064 on vertical C after it had been shifted from vert A. This leaves space for vert A to hold up to 34 krone strips on a wooden baseboard for future expansion to any data room and new shop. How about that, "krone strips on our UAX MDF"? Peter thinks he now has work until Christmas at least.

Where the cable was cut

23 November : STARS had three alarms up and a flurry of emails indicated that the cable at Middle Forge had been severed by the flail. Rick, Ray, Charles and I went to site to investigate and sure enough the 20 pair cable had been shredded and cut into several short lengths. However if the cable was to be cut, this was the place to do it as only about 20m separated the two cabinets involved. We had always intended to up the cable size to 50 pairs to match the cable continuing on to the south.
I ordered cable from Qing at Cheltenham and went off to collect it. When I got back we took 30 m off the drum for an easier lift to site. We are now ready for the repair when we can get two trained technicians on site together.
During the day Ray and Charles went to Parkend to start to lubricate selectors and Rick overhauled the allotters and control relay sets at Norchard.

the flail versus the aerial cable


24 November : I met Rick at the railway. Rick and I proceeded to Middle Forge with the replacement cable length. We ran it in, stripped the ends and fanned out the 50 pairs ready to connect. We then slowly changed over the working circuits to the new cable. What an uncomfortable job, working at low level in the railway cabinets. We need to be thirty years younger. We closed the cabinets and headed back to Norchard for a late lunch and a hot cuppa. Then we started to look at the telecoms circuits. Nothing worked. We noticed that we were only getting 28 volts instead of 50 from the Junction exchange so we headed off to see what was going on. We could not open the lock on the locking room door. Being denied access we could only peer through the window to see the charger lamps brightly lit. We assume that the ringer had probably been running for a couple of days and had flattened the battery. There were no selector lights showing so we assume that we had cleared any shorts when we replaced the cable. Now we will have to wait until Saturday to recheck. We went back to Middle Forge and we checked each other's work. It seems fine but crimps are not perfect and connectors are even worse so there could be faults lurking at Middle Forge still. By then it was getting dark and cold so we cleared up a bit and decided to head for home for the day. Subsequently Dave Collins has arranged for Steve Harris to go in on Saturday and try to open the locking room door. We need to see what state the battery etc is in, luckily it is quite new and should be able to stand one excessive drain.

26 November : I checked the situation in Norchard exchange. The volts from the Junction were down a bit to 26 volts. Not good. I went to the Junction to find the door open. The main problem seemed to be one uniselector trying to home but being unsuccessful with only 26 volts. It was hot though. The ringer at least was not running. I connected our portable charger to the battery which promptly went to 60 volts before settling down to around 53. I started to test circuits. The token and D phone to Norchard worked fine, dialling out via the exchange was OK, but nothing worked on the incoming junctions. I returned to Norchard where I decided that the outgoing auto auto relay sets were polarity conscious. I reversed the lines and all was well. Meanwhile, Rick, Paul and Charles had been attending their PTS update course. We met and went to lunch. After lunch we also reversed the alarm/clock pair to find that all was then well. We decided to go home, though I called back at the Junction to disconnect the temporary charger. I left it there in case we should need its services again. We also have to get back to Middle Forge to recover all the old cable and clear up the site somewhat. That will be after the Thomas event, I feel, we do not want to put any faults back on just yet.

30 November : We were all in including Paul. It was so cold we could hardly contemplate working outside but Rick got on with clearing out DP3A and fixing the base to stop the mice getting in. The rest got on with work around the exchange and museum followed by Rick who readjusted and lubricated a line finder. Ray cleared up our office for its use as a booking office over the weekend. He then went to Parkend to clean the floor. I went to Lydney Junction to see how things were. The battery looked in to be in a good state, though I did connect the spare charger for half an hour while I gave the exchange and concentrator a good work out. No failures thank goodness. We packed up at 2:30 as none of us felt like staying out in the cold any longer.

December 2016

5 December : At home, I am building a further strowger exchange. It will probably never move out of my garage but it will be capable of fitting into anywhere on the DFR network. It could even go to the furthest end of the proposed extension to Cinderford. I am calling it Cinderford exchange. I am writing a blog about its construction as I build the thing over the next couple of years. Click here to view the blog.

7 December : Rick went back to really doing a good job on overhauling linefinders, Ray went to Parkend to lubricate selectors, Peter watched Martin terminating the new DP for the museum, Charles was mounting relays and wiring on the tokens in the museum. How about me? I didn't do anything except go home to find the bank cleaning gear I had borrowed for Cinderford exchange and try out replacement brushes in the ringer from Parkend. They fitted. We had lunch at 12:30 as usual and I went home and left the guys to it. However I did manage to arrange for the delivery of further brushes.

The telecoms group dinner

7 December :
We held out annual Christmas dinner at the Ugly Duckling. An excellent meal organised by Jean. Present : John and Jean, Rick and Janet, Martin and Cynthia, Ray and June, Charles and Alison, Peter, Ian and James from the shop as our guest. Paul was ill at home and could not make it.

The telecoms group dinner

14 December : There was a STARS alarm up from Lydney Junction and the test number 699 was giving back NU tone. I looked at the exchange voltage on one of the junctions to find it down to about 40 volts. Rick and I went to the Junction to find the battery low, yet the charge was also low. We checked each of the four batteries to find one significantly low at 8 volts. We went to my house to borrow a battery to try as a spare. It worked and the exchange returned to normal. Obviously the cable fault of a month ago and the consequent flattening of the battery had played havoc with the set and we were left wondering about the state of the other three. We will need to ensure that the circumstances do not recur if at all possible. Later I ordered a new set of four. Peter and Martin continued with the museum DP work, Ray went to Parkend to continue lubricating selectors etc and Charles worked on the museum tokens again.

16 December : Peter organised an evening out in Cinderford. The local Arts Society was holding a Turkish dinner at Jasmine's cafe. Seven of us went, Peter, Rick and Janet, Charles and Alison, John and Jean. The arty crowd put on a quiz, we did not win anything. Dinner was interesting, not at all hot or spicy, and we all cleared our plates. An enjoyable evening which we rounded off by going back to Peter's for coffee or tea.

21 December : It was a Santa Day so we were not able to get to most jobs. Rick managed to repair the MDF test plugs. We went for an early lunch in between Santa trains but we needed to vacate our table due to the pressing crowd of diners. We did manage a good old chinwag though. This looks like the final entry for this year.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Current Jobs

Project Name


Job In

Job Allocation







DP3H/J alter lock

Lock 221 requested

Oct 16



Parkside Treadle

Records update

Oct 16


Oct 16

Parkend North Exchange

plus concentrator

Jan 16




complete tidying




Change Norchard Ringer


Aug 16



Museum D Phones


Aug 16



Museum Token Machines


Mar 16


Oct 16

Prov 3rd Demo phone

use spare selr

Sep 16



Whitecroft TRTS & Phone shift


Jul 16


Oct 16

Parkend Ringer


Aug 16



PA Speakers

Recable platform 1

Aug 16



Transmission Test Gear


Aug 16



Replace DP3S

During non running

Sep 16



Parkend Incoming Selectors

for Parkend North

Aug 16


Sep 16

Parkend Alarm Pair

Cable fault

Sep 16


Oct 16

NCD -WCT Cab Upgrades


Jun 16

Rick etc


Tele Wipe up


Jan 16

Peter etc


PAT our leads etc


Oct 16

Martin etc


Small Stores

Tidy & organise

Sep 16




Clear out Junk & Tidy

Oct 16



Middle Forge Tidy

Waiting non running

Nov 16



Current Value of our Fund


Return to the Diary Menu


Page provided by John Bathgate

This page was last updated on
21st December 2016