DFR Telecoms Diary
1 January :
4 January : Charles and I went to the Junction to change the 50 volt batteries in the signal box. The new set appear to be good. Rick and Martin went to check the signal post phone at SP2. The PG was caused by the heavy steel handset cord preventing the handset from remaining on the cradle. Perhaps the cold was to blame, however we will consider changing the phone as the problem is likely tro persist. Ray and Peter went round checking clocks which somehow had got out of sync. Ray also went off to Parkend to test the main 50 volt battery by taking off the mains for a period. All OK. However he found junction 2 outgoing to be dis out, making level 6 and 0 calls unavailable. Rick and Martin went to Whitecroft to break the circuit, the fault is again in the Norchard to Whitecroft section. We will look for it next week. I became entry 1/2017 for an accident when I crushed my thumb between the hacksaw frame and the copper pipe I was cutting. It bled! However the resultant clean copper will fetch a nice price for our telecoms fund.
11 January : Rick and Martin spent their day looking for the cable fault on the Parkend junction. They narrowed it down to the section south of Whitecroft. They had to move to a spare pair to clear the problem. This leaves us with a suspect cable length. Peter and Charles spent their day disconnecting the C&W GUV and shifting the circuit to the workshop DP ready for a new sub DP to be provided when we can find someone prepared to climb a ladder. The GUV moves to the long siding beside the workshop on Saturday. Once in place it is proposed to erect a building over two of the sidings for stock protection. I tried to find out what the proposals are for the shop rearrangements. They look as though it will be physically difficult to provide the data sockets they will need. I will chase Jason over this and the associated electrical work. I managed to get the 20 pair cable to the new DP in the exchange fanned out on the MDF block but then got sidetracked onto a fault leaving three linefinders off normal with blown fuses. I then got sidetracked off this problem when I leaned on the signal post relay set to find it red hot. The uniselector inside was permanently operated. This came down to the residual on the controlling relay having been worn away so that the relay stuck on. A new armature with adjustable residual was fitted.
14 January : Rick, Peter and I were in. We started the day with discussions with Jason, Lloyd the new electrician, and James about the requirements for the reorganised shop. The counter has already arrived in the form of flatpack shelving units. They do not lend themselves to mains and data cabling. It seems that we will need to cut out holes between the various compartments through which to run cables and leads. Whatever we do, I'm sure there are some clever clogs out there who will explain what we did wrong! More discussion is needed when we can get to Lloyd, as he will have to take the lead in installing the cables and sockets. Rick spent time chasing a complex fault on the A2 linefinders. In the end no fault was found but it was all working well when we left. A 3 minute guarantee job. Peter worked on moving the BT analogue cordless phone from the counter to the shop office. I terminated Peter's 20 pair cable on the MDF.
18 January : Peter got his job in the museum quite a way forward with help from Charles and Ray. Rick and Martin went to see if they could locate the fault in the cable at Whitecroft with the echo tester. It's about 70 m from the Whitecroft cabinet which puts it in the area of the two epoxy filled joints on the fence line. I think that I may have to find a replacement length to cover the area of the fault, or better still, to replace the total section length. I helped just a little in the museum after finding out about the new purchase order system. After lunch we had a bit of a tidy round in the office.
21 January : It was the day of the Telecoms Group Lunch at our house. Jean and I welcomed Rick and Janet, Martin and Cynthia, Peter, Charles and Alison, Ray and June. Jean put on a good show of food.
25 January : Rick and Ray were both away. Martin made a start on sorting and thinning our small stores. He has been asked to be ruthless in throwing away items we have little use for. Peter and Charles carried on in the museum. I could do little as there was no room to work on the exchange frames, so I left after lunch expecting to do housework at home (all done when I got there).
1 February : The railway was still closed to the public today, apart from the cafe. Just as well as the site is mostly wet mud. The shop is a bare area with the hall doors now fitted and the internal wall removed. However we found that the shop layout has changed yet again and that no one on site knows what the current plan is. How very DFR! On our way out we also found that wireless CCTV is being considered for the shop. Yet more eggs in the BT router basket. We await Saturday's updates. We did get to recover the phones off DP12, reterminate the DP cable onto the block on the outside of the building and recover the cables between DP5A and the blocks in the Severn and Wye room. At least we have tidied something out of the cable cutting. After lunch we were introduced to Justin Eager, ex BT and wondering about volunteering with us. We showed him round a bit and had quite a chat. He may call in on Saturday morning to see what we do.
4 February : Peter and I attended today, mostly to see what was the latest in the shop. Rick and his dog called in for tea. Plasterboard and plastering was going on and access to the exchange was difficult. The shop layout seems to be hardening, though we could not find out what the counter construction would be like nor exactly where they would be positioned. However surface trunking and a hole through the shop office wall seems to be agreed. Due to the uncertainty of the future we have decided to fit eight data sockets on each of the two counters so that whatever they get used for, there will be enough to cope. We still need to discuss this with the electrician who was not in today. We had a very slow lunch with Jean in a very busy Kaplan's. We managed to change out a faulty data insert in the cafe and repair a dis that we obviously put onto the adjacent sockets. Such a pity that the GPO had not designed the sockets, we would not be getting these problems. Peter and I also recovered the old cables to the asterisk and old museum DPs now that everything is working via the new DP.
8 February : We started the day with a tour of the shop. It is currently being painted. Part of the carpet is down but decisions about the counters are still awaited. We could hardly get to the exchange so Rick, Martin and Charles went mob handed to measure the length of the faulty cable section at Whitecroft. 361m point to point, say a replacement length of 400m of ten pair 0.9mm or larger if possible is required. Ray and I took the exchange meter readings, still lots of traffic to the Parkend and Lydney Junction exchanges. We had lunch together in the cafe and more chat and decided to go home early.
11 February : Peter, Rick and I were in for the morning. Currently we now expect that only a temporary counter will be installed for some time. Our electrician, Lloyd, and I agreed that we would not be able to do a permanent job until the final counters are installed. It may be necessary for James to work with temporary mains and data cables for some time. It may be quite a long time before we can get to finish the job. The window had been boarded up in the shop and we helped James remove the offending boarding. Rick pushed the old data cabling that was hanging out of the ceiling, back into the loft for now. We also measured and cut the backboard for the new DP3S and on the way home I bought the necessary paint. We picked up Jean and Janet before having lunch at Kaplan's.
15 February : Rick and Charles changed the phone at Middle Forge which had a dial that had seized after six months use. It was badly corroded but worked when WD40 was used on it. Peter worked on his 3 volt / 12 volt power supply for the museum D phones. Ray and I refitted the shop clock although it needed a good scrub to get the paint off of it. The shop has James refitting shelving etc but no decisions have been made about the counter yet. I took a box of copper to Bendall's and got a very good price for the scrap. At least it declutters the office a bit.
18 February : Paul and I were got at as soon as we arrived at the railway. The Parkend token was not working and the railway had changed to using a pilotman. No morning cup of tea for us, it was straight into checking the circuit. The phone at the Parkend ground frame was also reported out of order so we thought that the cable to the frame had been damaged. We went to Parkend to find that the phone was just sticky handset contacts. Perhaps we should go back and check them again. We checked the token and proved that we could send a battery to Norchard but could not receive one. We went to DP1 and proved the same condition there, conclusion, dis somewhere down the line or at the Norchard token machine. Returning to Norchard we proved the same condition out of DP3S, ie the dis was probably between Norchard site and the Parkend site. We went to Whitecroft to break down the circuit halfway to prove the fault towards Norchard. We tested the dis pair to find a problem 70 metres towards Norchard, ie the same as the previous fault. We changed out the pair by sacrificing the 597 line at the gate cabinet at Whitecroft. We returned to Norchard to make the same change at DP3S. The circuit then worked. We then went to meet Jean for lunch at Kaplan's having not had time for a cuppa all morning. After lunch we wondered what to do with the rest of a spoilt day and decided to check the Lydney Junction public address which had been reported as faulty. Despite a signalman who would not let us onto his newly polished floor we managed to look over the equipment and get the signalman to make a test announcement. It worked. Right when tested (RWT). I still do not want to be a maintenance man. Roger has been chased about getting hold of a length of suitable cable as we now have two pairs out of ten faulty. I wonder what Wednesday will bring to us. By the way, the shop is looking rather like it always has with the old counters back in their original positions. At present there is no decision on the new counters.
22 February : I had a training session with Martin and Charles about 3000 type relays. Rick was repairing the new DP3S cabinet. Peter and Ray were clearing up the last of the work via the museum DP and getting the records together. We were joined at lunch by Ian and his birthday cake.
25 February : Peter recovered unwanted jumpers and Paul connected the clock 70A to the series clock circuit. It didn't work, it needs much more current and will have to be fed from a separate feed. I checked our spare drum of 14 pair/0.9mm cable to find it in good condition and 425m in length. It looks as though we may have to use it at Whitecroft. Jason said he could move the drum to site and lay out the length, possibly in April. We had lunch at Kaplan's.
27 February : It was the day for the group to have an outing to an Indian restaurant in Gloucester. We had health problems affecting some of the group so in the end it was Peter (the Organiser), Martin and Cynthia, Rick and Janet, Charles and Alison who went for an excellent evening out.
1 March : A pretty quiet day. Rick got on with selector maintenance. Peter checked three signal post phones we had inherited. They all ended up in the skip. Otherwise it was mostly a tidy around day.
3 March : Another group outing day, this time to the Forest of Dean College lunch. Probably the best meal there so far. We look forward to next month's lunch.
8 March : Ray and Rick changed the phone at Parkend ground frame. The existing phone was faulty due to damp and corrosion. The ground frame hut is very damp with no heating so we can expect more problems in the future. A junction from Lydney Signal Box was not working. I went to the Junction with Martin and Charles to start faulting. In the end it was proved into the cable network. As I had to leave early, the fault was handed over to Rick. After lunch Ray, Charles (not the singer) and Rick started to look at the fault on Lydney Junction Sig Box to Norchard junction 1. It was definitely dis one leg not far from Norchard. After a slight problem with the records, a visit to DP 3E revealed an HR conn on E side pr 8. A visit to the junction signal box found that the fault still existed. Downstairs we had problems proving which junction was faulty as I/c and O/g labels seem transposed. Back to Norchard and further testing indicated that Jcn 2 was now 1 leg dis. Another visit to DP 3E and we found a broken wire on D side 9 (probably from our previous visit). We will probably have more problems at this DP as it has a 20 pr box conn with IDC connexions with wires that are too thick. Test calls were passed and both junctions are working for now. Peter and Martin worked on DP13 and also fitted new trunking and 3 new cables from the 10/50 in the museum.
11 March : Just Paul and I in at the railway today. We had a quiet cup of tea in the cafe and considered the day. James though, just in passing, asked if we could provide a BT phone and an internal phone on the third desk now in the office for Andy Blake, our new General Manager. No one was in the office so moving items around, pulling off trunking covers and undoing sockets did not worry anyone. We got the BT phone working quite quickly on the end of a data link back to the shop cabinet. The internal phone was more awkward. Wired sockets existed but after getting the oscillator and amplifier working, we concluded that the cable had been cut off in the trunking. It had, and we now need to cable afresh back to DP14 in what was the booking office but is now the file room. By then our half day had ended. On the way out we had a thought. The clock cable above the desk probably has spare pairs. If so we have an easy job to get the phone to the desk. Of course, as soon as we have done that, "they" will take the wall down! We collected Jean for lunch at Kaplan's.
15 March : Rick and Martin worked on maintenance in the exchange. Charles continued museum work on the bells to be added to the token demonstrator. Ray surveyed for the upgrade work necessary on the PA system. We have two non working speakers and one now missing after the shop rearrangements. I met our new General Manager, Andy Blake, and had a chat with him, particularly over our worries concerning the data network. I spent most of the day cleaning up scrap wiring ready for sale at the best price at Bendall's. We all spent a few moments in the sun contemplating the inside of DP3E. It's becoming a fault liability as it was originally provided with some IDC connectors which are now looking pretty grotty. A quiet day, with no surprises for once.
18 March : Peter and I spent the morning installing the internal phone for the GM. A simple job made tedious by an incorrect record, however the tone tracer quickly told us what we needed to know. After lunch Peter and I met Steve Harris at the new Parkend signal box to discuss our cabling requirements. Paul spent the day with Sam Bolingbroke going over our data network. Sam seems likely to take the lead for future data work but will still require our help in cabling and other physical work etc.
19 March : We have received a very large parcel from Cornwall containing a tool box with its strowger tool kit. Lovely, it will be ideal to go to our new Parkend North exchange when we install it later this year. Thanks very much for the gift, Dave.
22 March : Rick got on with making the catch arrangements for the DP3S Cabinet door. Drilling, bending, cutting of substantial steel was involved. Peter and Martin continued to take over the exchange while moving museum circuits to the new DP. Ray occupied himself with getting down to detail on the planning for the PA speaker cabling upgrade we need to accomplish. I took the pile of scrap copper pipe we have been given and started to cut off the unwanted brass fittings. I also tidied up the pile of cable ends we have so that they ended up in our dustbin. I had intended to take the copper and cable to the scrap yard but the rain was so heavy I simply went home instead. Of course the sun came out once I had removed my wet coat and boots!
24 March : I took the scrap cable and copper that we had collected (since the 15th of February) to Bendall's and sold it for £85. Well worth the effort. Perhaps we can manage the PA speaker upgrade from the fund rather than charge the railway.
25 March : Peter, Paul and I caught the train to Parkend inorder to leave the concentrator head and phone in the signal box for S and T to fit. Whilst travelling there we were told that signal post 2 is still giving trouble and that a key was stuck in the lock of the platform phone at Parkend. We could not release the key and so reported the problem to the GM for attention by a locksmith. This resulted in us being asked to provide the GM with 00 as his phone number. Quickly jumpered up. However we now need to reissue the directory, so I have asked James to consider what internal phones will need to be provided with the new counter arrangement so that we do not have to reissue the directory again. Paul found that the signal post relay set in the exchange was red hot. The uniselector was permanently energised. So that's why the charge current was up and the exchange volts down. Peter and Paul went through the relay set checking residuals and armature travel etc so that the uniselector is now stepping very smartly indeed. They also drilled a hole in the side of the 10+50 to accept new cables from the new museum DP. At that point we decided to go to tea and finish the day. At one point we asked Paul if he knew where the red PA cable was. In the caboosh was the answer. Paul went to have a look and came back grinning. The cable was there all the time still on the cable dispenser which was in the middle of the floor. We must have moved it back and forth as we searched the caboosh. The cable did not come from Screwfix as we thought but was purchased from Canford Audio. Perhaps we have lost it.
29 March : After lunch I called briefly at the railway. Charles was busy with his bells for the museum token machines and Rick, Peter and Martin were continuing on with work on the museum exhibits. When I got home James rang to say that the SPT at the abutment was hanging off the wall. A job for Saturday.
1 April : The railway was full of visitors as locals were given the opportunity for a free trip. Both the steam and diesel trains were packed. Paul, Peter and I trouped off up the line to the abutment where we found the SPT hanging rather loosely by two screws. We had to return to base for the necessary tools etc. Paul and I returned to refix the phone to the wall. It's now very firmly affixed. It tested fine to the signal box. We gave up on the cafe and went to meet Jean for lunch at Kaplan's. After lunch it rained and put us off the idea of checking the phone at the Parkend ground frame. It is supposed to be out of order yet again. Either no dial tone or a dial going at the wrong speed are suggestions from the Operations staff. Peter got back to consider the best way to further integrate the museum 10+50 into the network and we feel that getting extensions 1-10 working well will be the first aim. Then circuits can be transferred to them and the battery supply to the rest of the doll's eyes cut off so that they cease to operate incorrectly. Paul is thinking about "dial a disc". For a first trial he has connected the Thomas music to 416.
2 April : I got a call from James saying "no communication with Parkend". I checked that we could make outgoing calls to Parkend using my asterisk phone. We drove up to Parkend to find outgoing 1 seeming to be "dis". I busied the junction out and all was well on junction 2. Parkend is now back in touch, but no doubt the cable at Whitecroft is continuing to deteriorate.
5 April : Rick and I chased the fault on the Parkend junction. Still in the same cable length. Unfortunately all the spares are now faulty so that we could not rectify the problem. I have escalated the problem to both the General and Operational Managers and my Director so that they are aware that we could lose the token circuit at any time. It is now necessary to get Jason, our Development Manager, in the loop and hope he can find suitable staff to install the replacement cable quite quickly. Charles and Ray changed a dial in the signal box. Ray checked the stores necessary for the proposed PA connectors. Peter and Charles continued to work on the museum exhibits.
7 April : Rick and Janet, Martin and Cynthia, Peter, Ray and June, John and Jean attended a lunch at the Forest of Dean Catering College. Very good and excellent value.
19 April : I met Steve Bradbury and two colleagues from the SVR and gave them a tour of the telecoms exchanges using the DMU to get about. Rick and Martin went to change the SPT at Sig Post 2 but eventually decided that it was the pair that was "dis". The fault locator gave a distance that did not seem to lead to a problem and in the end, time ran out and the fault will have to wait until next week. Ray and Charles are looking at the PA upgrade and getting the exchange end connectors fitted. We did get good news from Jason. He has the cable drum ready to move to site and the large machine he needs is likely to be available tomorrow.
21 April : Ray was called in to find all the reverse pulse clocks stopped, loop clocks OK. He found B and C relays permanently operated in clock relay set as B22 and 23 H/R, thus preventing the release of C at next pulse. All clocks pulsing after cleaning contacts.
22 April :
Whitecroft in 2009 before the station was built (picture from Google Earth)
Before the clearance work
After the clearance work
Paul and I went to meet Jason at Whitecroft to view progress on the preliminary work necessary before a cable trench can be dug. The work is well under way. We agreed a new DP3Y position and to a short part of the cable run being back on the fence as the gas main is obstructing a trench. We have asked for a loop to be left where the cable exits the ground so that a DP could be inserted later if the SPT layout at Whitecroft develops. Scott was obviously enjoying his big big machine.
23 April : Paul had a table at the THG Avoncroft swapmeet. He made £98 for the fund. I thought it to be one of the best swapmeets.
26 April : Rick and Martin finally sorted out the line problem to signal post 2. Ray and Charles got the clocks all back to the correct time. I went to Whitecroft to measure the length of cable needed if we are asked to put a phone at the ground frame. 200m and 12m of trenching. Not too bad. I also sorted through the electrical stores with Alex, reducing the amount we hold to about half. I now need a trip to the dump. It's Thomas this weekend so Ray cleared up our room so that it is fit to be the ticket office.
3 May : Peter stayed at Norchard sorting the caboosh now that there is some space in there. Martin, Charles, Ray and I went to DP3Y at Whitecroft to find that the wooden post put in by Scott was exceedingly wobbly. We worked hard finding rocks to put around the post to stiffen it up. In the end we succeeded and the post may lean back a little but at least it seems to be stable. We got the cabinet off the old cables so that it could be drilled for fixing to the post. We also had to identify which cable emerging from the ground was the good one from Norchard. We got the final cables tied to the post and the cabinet screwed to the post. The very heavy new cable to DP3Z is threaded through the base of the cabinet but the Norchard side cable has to wait until we can cut the connections that still exist. A very heavy day's work for us and I am glad to see the cabinet on the post and ready for terminating.
6 May : Today was new volunteer's day. We had a presentation of the work covered by all the groups followed by a run up and down the line, a tour of the workshop and a buffet lunch. Following the presentation, Roger Hardiman from Coleford joined me to have a chat about telecoms and datacoms. He works in datacoms with a particular interest in CCTV and even has an interest in the Asterisk system. We visited Parkend and Lydney Junction exchanges and then had a look around the equipment at Norchard. Peter joined us for the Norchard tour as he was in for the day. Welcome aboard Roger, we hope to see you join us.
13 May : It was military day. 5541 was joined by Rennes and Sapper hauling passenger and freight trains around the railway. Rennes was officially welcomed back into service. Our day was largely spent familiarising Sam Bolinbroke and Roger Hardiman with the data equipment we use at the DFR and in having a meeting with Paul, Peter and myself to discuss forming a data group. Between them Sam and Roger seem to cover many of the aspects of data work that we need eg data, IT, CCTV. They agreed that they would accept data faults and that James etc should report them directly to Sam. Design work would be undertaken between them with help from Paul when required. We had some discussion on the projects that need to be pursued. Roger wishes to be involved in telecoms work when possible and Sam showed an interest in the strowger network. I managed to fit in a quick visit to Whitecroft to check on the colours in the new cable so that I can produce proposed DP cards for Tuesday.
16 April : Rick and I went in to changeover to the new cable at Whitecroft. As soon as we got there and took the cover off the first cabinet, it rained. It rained for the rest of the day so the job was abandoned until I return from holiday.
17 May : Another miserable wet day. I came in only briefly. Rick spent the day working on the 4000 type switch. After much swearing he managed to move the operating pin for the NP springs on to level 8 and adjusted it to operate the springs. Then he realised the vertical pawl hinge was seized and would not pivot on it's pin. Lubricated but not much movement - left until next week. Martin spent the day on the computer correlating our small stores - screws etc. Charles spent more time in the museum working on the token machine. Ray and Peter worked on the BT faulty extension wiring at Parkend. Eventually a fault was found in the cord connecting the filter to the LJU. A new cord was fitted and tested ok.
20 May : Peter, Sam, Roger, Rick and I met in the cafe. The main topic was the need to establish a data link from the shop to the cafe area inorder to sort out our Wi-Fi problem. We did a quick survey covering accommodation for a data rack and the route for CAT5 cables across the tracks. We will need to return using the tone set to find the old route used by the BT cable to the old kitchen car. The obvious place for a new data rack is in the shop store room. Sam has his proposal more or less ready to submit. Rick had a look at the 4000 type selector mechanism that has been soaking in oil. It's not free enough to put into service and we may need to use another mechanism or vertical magnet assembly. We have the spares.
27 May : Roger, Peter and myself went on the train to Parkend to get the data cabinet into the exchange and the battery racking back to Norchard on the train. The racking is now installed in the caboosh and already has some strowger and krone gear stowed on it. This gear was brought in by Roger as recovered from one of his jobs. Much of the day was spent on going over proposals for the first two data jobs we intend to do. We went to lunch with Jean at Kaplan's.
31 May : Rick and Martin continued to organise DP3Z, Charles and Ray went gardening to find the fence line where we need to attach our new cable and Peter and I sorted some space in the caboosh and cleaned up over thirty Krone blocks we have been given.
3 June : Paul, Peter, Rick and I went to Parkend. Rick and I looked at the ground frame phone and found the switch hooks fouling the case again. What do the signaller's get up to? Rick readjusted the hooks and when tested we could not make the phone fail. We checked the exchange equipment as we had a noisy line on one connection. We didn't find the fault but we did find a selector that had failed to release and had burnt out its release fuse. A problem for Ray on Wednesday. Paul and Peter stripped out items from the new data rack for transport back to Norchard. After lunch Paul, Peter and I had a walk round Norchard with Jason to hear what the likely plans are for the site. We will need some duct provided when Jason does trenching.
7 June : Rick and Martin worked on the DP3A and 3S jobs, getting the DPs ready for wiring. Ray cleared a fault on a jammed selector at Parkend. Charles spent most of his day talking to members of the public, particularly about his token machines in the museum. Peter worked on tidying stores. I had a very unproductive day, though I did find a 4000 type selector at Parkend without a seized vertical pawl for use as a donor in making up a spare demo selector for the museum.
10 June : Sam and Peter established that the pair providing the data link to the Junction signal box was "dis". It took most of the day to track it down to the krone block in DP3E. We need to get rid of that block and sort out the DP, but its a biggish difficult job on a very vital DP. It will have to be a crimp job as there is not enough room in the cabinet for connectors of any sort. Paul and I also managed to connect the green museum phone to the new demo first selector. I have started to build a further demo selector to act as a spare.
13 June : Rick and I met to get on with the job of changing over to the new cable at Whitecroft. It was more awkward than we first believed as the actual wire colours were nothing like the recorded colours, but with a lot of tapping out and getting pairs straight and labelled we then started to make progress on the changeover. DP3Z at Whitecroft now looks pretty tidy and just needs a bit of a clear up and some new labelling, DP3Y also needs tidying. Testing was pretty good, just one outgoing junction from Parkend to Norchard was faulty and we think that may be a fault unrelated to our job. Lots of midges to annoy us during the work.
14 June : After the usual tea and cakes- Ray and Charles went off to Parkend to check the clocks and leave a message for Stuart Berne. Rick and Martin went looking for a fault on I/C junction 3 from Parkend to Norchard (busied out yesterday). Testing int dis b wire toward PKD. At DP3A the d side jumper was testing HR b wire ( 34 volts) but the e side jumper tested 50 volts. The jumper was refitted and then tested OK. Peter was busy with some data work.
17 June : Peter is working on the 10+50 museum switchboard while Paul and I decided to tap out the 20 pair to DP3A and get it terminated. Not easy, the connectors we have are rubbish and probably should be changed out. We could not get reliable connections and then pair 3 was finally declared dead and gone as there was no white wire terminated on the frame. The tone machine indicates that it could be cut off in the butt, so we have a nineteen pair relief cable. I went off to Parkend to an S and T management meeting only to find no one there. I assume it was cancelled without us being told. We ended a not too brilliant day unable to repair a demo selector that was buzzing away on the 11th step. I think it's the wiper but we will wait for Wednesday to find out.
21 June : Rick and Martin checked on the PG SPT line at signal 13. Eventually they cleared the problem by changing the pair in use but did not really find the fault. Peter and Sam provided a new line to the undercroft for Permanent Way. Charles worked on his museum display. Ray went to the Junction to locate and bring back various items. I installed the new demo selector. It worked well first time, so now we have a spare. I also jumpered up 593 as the new line for Permanent Way.
28 June : The usual morning tea and cakes but with Sam and Alison. Milk by Charles cakes by Rick. Heavy rain is going to make working difficult today. Ray and Sam went off to Parkend to return a spare ringing machine (to be tested on a non running day). While there, they were told that calls to Norchard were not working. Test calls passed all ok. Possibly congestion!!! Caused by Roger Phelps testing the token from the ground frame and station staff trying to contact Norchard? Charles and Alison went off to meet their friends. Martin and Rick checked the exchange and found a PG alarm which turned out to be the extn on the high level platform. The handset was replaced - after a walk in the rain. They then worked on the 4000 type demo switch - wipers changed and adjusted - now available as a spare for the museum phones.
5 July : Only Rick, Martin and I were in today. Rick and Martin spent the day getting the new cabinet for DP3S ready for the changeover. We need to recover a length of ten pair from Whitecroft before we can make a start on the job. I spent the morning cleaning up a load of scrap copper by cutting off all the brass contaminants. After lunch I went to Bendall's with a modest load of scrap copper and cable. £51 for the fund.
8 July : Only Sam and Peter in today. They had a fault on the data link to the Junction to chase. In the end they swapped extenders with our office link and everything worked. The problem extenders also worked when tested back to back, so we feel we may have a problem with the sockets or similar. They also finished off fixing the cabling to the Undercroft phone.
12 July : Rick and Martin spent the day recovering a couple of lengths of the spare ten pair cable at Whitecroft. Unfortunately somehow this resulted in a dis wire on the Parkend alarm pair. Cutting the crimp off and making a new connection sorted that out. I am now having to think that crimps have joined krones in the unreliablity stakes. I hope we do not need to go back to the S&T links to make reliable connections. Peter and I chased an alarm from the Junction. We found the battery down to 36 volts. This was puzzling as everything checked out. However we finally came across a short circuit contact in the clock pulse circuitry which resulted in there being three relays permanently operated and a lamp lit rather than just one relay. With the primitive trickle charge arrangements in place we think the drain was too much for the charge and the battery slowly discharged down to 36 volts. We put the portable charger onto the battery and got it back up to normal by the end of the afternoon. We also chased a box to box circuit fault, eventually finding that the microphone battery at the Town station had failed and ruined the battery holder. Replacing the lot got the circuit up and running again, hopefully for the next ten years.
15 July : Roger, Peter and I spent the morning discussing the proposed Asterisk installations at Parkend and following this up with a site survey visit. Roger will obtain an ATA on a buy or return basis for us to try out at Parkend to see if it could be suitable as a standard item.
19 July : Rick and Martin put in the cable between the old and new DP3S, Peter and Charles sorted out some good phones for the stores and did some jumpering for the museum 10+50, and I went to check the battery at the Junction. It was fine, however the PA was not working due to a broken microphone lead. I decide it was not repairable so I ordered some replacements from the internet, £2.30 each, carriage paid, amazing.
22 July : Peter and Sam got on with providing three new krone strips mounted in the back of the 10+50 PMBX. This was made difficult by the cramped, dark working conditions at the back of the PMBX, cheap cable ties, and having to borrow tools because Peter had forgotten his! While they got on with that, Paul made some modifications to the asterisk server to prepare for testing at Parkend.
26 July : Rick and Martin changed a sticky dial at the Junction. Charles worked on his museum token bells which now seem to work. Peter did a bit more on the 10+50 . I went to check Parkend exchange and tell Andy at Parkend about our plans for keyphones at Parkend.
29 July : Sam, Peter, Paul and I were in though Sam left early. Paul worked in the exchange running cable for his speaking clock project. Peter and I surveyed Parkend for telecoms work needed for the Parkend VOIP experiment. Quite a list of jobs to be done.
5 August : Roger and I spent the morning checking the three internet connections we have at the railway, mainly to see what speeds we are getting. Parkend was the winner with a 74 Mb download speed and an 18 Mb upload speed. Can't do better as the cabinet is right there at the station. Norchard office was next with 32 Mb download and 5.8 Mb upload, and finally the cafe provided 28 Mb download and 3.9 Mb upload. We are looking good for all the projects we have in mind.
12 August : I went up to Parkend for a quick visit to check for Peter that the wiring shown on the DP2 card is correct. It was. My guess is that Martin and I in 2006 terminated the DP cable at random one end and then tapped out to get it right at the other.
16 August :
26 August : Paul and I spent the morning installing Paul's speaking clock relay set. It is working on 846 (TIM). Then we realised that only one call could access TIM at any one time, so we decided to build three more access circuits and jumper them to 847 to849. We could then PBX hunt over the group when necessary. This would be the only time we have used the PBX hunting facility. We picked up Sam on the way to Kaplan's for lunch. We then picked up relays and a line transformer so that Paul can enlarge his relay set.
30 August : Rick spent further time on the tricky intermittent fault on rack A2. Eventually it vanished before being found. Annoying. Martin finished terminating the old to new MDF tie cable at Parkend. Charles terminated the 40 pairs of the data cabinet to MDF tie cable onto a patch panel in the cabinet. Useful practice as no doubt we have made a hash of the job as we have no experience of such work. Plenty of cable length when it gets reterminated!!! Rick brought the faulty first selector back to Parkend. It's fine but testing revealed a fault on a final selector. No battery to the A relay, a fault harking back to the time when we were going to run the exchange straight from the mains and start it with a 12 volt battery. I need to demodify the finals so that the battery supply is more straightforward. As we were leaving I was introduced to a possible new recruit, Tony Williamson. He has been a lineman among other jobs, so he could be useful if he decides to give us a go.
2 September : Paul, Roger and I went to Parkend. We seemed to have some problems on the exchange when we put the call sender on, but all problems vanished into thin air. I mounted some components to build a ringer control circuit in place of the current over complicated relay set which I hope to recover. We traced wires to find that LR line relays and A relays on the incoming finals got their battery from a separate fuse. Part of the problems from the original design spec for the exchange, this will not be a current problem but it could be demodified in the future. For now it needs to be better explained on the wiring diagrams.
9 September : Paul and Roger ran in some cable at Norchard for Paul's expanded speaking clock relay set. His set was checked as working on its original single exchange line. It will now cater for four lines in a PBX hunting group, but awaits cable terminating and jumpering next week. We had a very short working day and left before lunch.
13 September : A quiet day with just three of us in. Rick spent the day on faults in Norchard exchange. Charles and I took scrap cable and copper to Bendall's and then went to Parkend to partially label the new MDF and install the jumper rings. The MDF is beginning to look busy.
16 September : Paul, Roger and I terminated the wiring for Paul's speaking clock relay set, got it jumpered up and tested. Some minor problems were quickly sorted and the set tested out correctly. Then we found an odd design error. If more than one person dials TIM simultaneously, then they can speak to each other over the clock. Probably this will never be a problem in the museum where everybody is next to each other in any case, but it might be difficult should TIM become used by the rest of the staff. One limitation is that Parkend staff cannot dial 8, so cannot access the clock.
20 September : The faulty group selector from last week was repaired and put back in service. Rick, Ray and Charles installed a new 6 wire to the Norchard crossing hut phone in preparation for the cable changeover at DP3S. We also cut and stripped the new 10 pair cable and left it covered and sealed ready to go in DP3SA. Charles and I went to Parkend to look at the token battery but there was no locker key available. We did not get access in the end but Dave Collins let me have a key for a copy (or two) to be made. Peter is back from Pakistan and came briefly to Parkend to see progress on the Asterisk project. He is still not over the flight and felt awful so went off home early. Charles and I watched the signals operation at Parkend ground frame when a two train operation is underway. Ray and I left at lunchtime. Charles delivered the token cabinet key to my door at the end of the afternoon, but the key cutting shop was closed when I got there. Afternoon tea was abandoned as the cafe was so full.
25 September : The phone rang. Jean said "It's Chris Bull for you". That meant only one thing, a cable had been cut. I called Rick and we walked along north from Upper Forge to DP3W where we found the cabinet completely missing and the cable ends stuck out of the ground. Nothing could be done there. We returned to Norchard to see what jointing options we had. We found a compression joint which we could try. We disconnected the incoming Parkend junctions and I went to Parkend to find the exchange ringer running continuously. In the end I simply switched the exchange off to stop it running to no purpose. We hope to start a repair tomorrow.
26 September :
Rick and Martin had got the joint made when I joined them and we are ready to concrete in a post to mark the joint. Whilst coming back to Norchard for lunch I got a text saying that Chris Bull had cut the cable to the south at the Town crossing. We were joined by Charles and we had a quick lunch in the cafe. Then we went to see the damage. Much larger as it is a 50 pair armoured cable we are dealing with. It had been a drainpipe joint but it was entirely broken up. We will need an S and T cabinet inorder to make a repair. I left Rick and Martin to get the cable ends into plastic bags while I went to the Junction signal box to disconnect the exchange. This is turning into the worst week of the year.
27 September : The railway is running just a single train today with pilotman working! I went to Parkend to switch the exchange back on and get the junctions tested. All was well and the exchange is functioning satisfactorily again. We could not test the token as no signalmen were available. The Lydney Junction cable fault was not tackled as we needed to come up with a plan. We decided that an S and T cabinet was not the answer as there is insufficient space for one between the bank and the rail. Our lineside group did not want us to replace it as a drainpipe joint, seeing that as a potential for further damage next year. I managed a chat with our new General Manager. We decided to do a really quick and very temporary repair to simply put through the few main circuits we need. We will end up with the cable ends left in a stout plastic bag. We will then find, or even purchase, a replacement length of cable to go from cabinet to cabinet, bypassing the narrow danger spot, thus eliminating the problem. Further he will call a meeting of interested groups to see how we could avoid these problems in the future. Rick and Martin also arranged for postcrete to be delivered to the Parkend cable fault site along with a visibility post for erection tomorrow. Charles put together a further set of token batteries and fitted two of the sets in Norchard box. We still have Lydney Junction box in which to fit a new set.
28 September : Rick and Martin went up the line to concrete in the marker post for DP3W. Then we went back to the Lydney Junction cable problem. Rick and Martin concentrated on finding the important circuits from among the debris caused by the flail. I lost count of the running up and down to Norchard and Lydney Junction I did in trying to help. At one stage even Jean walked up to the fault with me when it was time for lunch. We ended the day with one junction outgoing from Lydney signal box, two incoming circuits and the token. At least we hope that the token will work as the galvos deflect. That should allow the weekend to go ahead as planned. Thanks Rick and Martin, a super effort.
4 October : The day started with tea/coffee and cakes provided by Janet. While discussing the day's work the lads were visited by Roger Phelps who said he wanted to thank 'The Team' for their excellent work last week.
4 October : Peter went to look at the new MDF at Parkend and realised that there were reversals in the new to old MDF tie cable. Sam and Peter spent most of the day sorting this out by shifting the cable so it is now run inside the krone frame and completely reversal free.
6 October : Peter met Sam at Parkend in the afternoon and recovered the BC 254A in the signal box leaving the S/B end un-terminated with everything disconnected. They then proceeded to the exchange, and removed the cable from the old MDF and pulled it back stripping the sheath ready for terminating.
7 October : After the usual cup of tea and a catchup, Peter and Sam went to Parkend to terminate the cable that goes to the signal box. One end is now neatly terminated on the new Krone MDF, and the other is ready and waiting to move it to its new location. Paul and Roger busied themselves troubleshooting the UPS that powers the Asterisk. After taking it to pieces, and testing it thoroughly it looks like the battery is fine but there is a fault with the inverter. The battery charges ok, and holds a charge, but when the mains goes off the inverter doesn't start up to feed mains to the Asterisk. Fixing this was deemed to be more trouble than it's worth. The Asterisk was reconnected directly to the mains supply to restore service, but who knows how long that will last on Norchard power. Steve Harris was in the Parkend box when Peter arrived and asked if he could remove all the phones from the wall board, this was done along with this all the old wiring being removed. The wall board is now ours and is now in the locking room. It needs refurbishment before reuse.
8 October : Peter spent Sunday afternoon in the workshop making a simple jig to align the Parkend MDF jumper hooks so as they would be the same as the jumper rings in a customers premises.
9 October : Peter met Sam at the Postage Stamp cafe for tea at 10:00 o'clock and proceeded to Parkend armed with the hook aligning jig and a drill. The hooks were refitted and look the part. The jig is suitable for any frame 50 - 340 pairs. Having now got the frame almost complete for use they started to change over the existing S/B circuits checking the polarity as they went. Along with 3 extensions they also connected through 3 junction circuits using the correct jumper colours.
11 October : A rainy day. Roger Phelps popped in again to thank the group for the effort made in getting service back after the flail damage. He also obtained authority to purchase the required replacement cable when we were ready to install it. Peter, Ray, Martin, Charles and myself had a long chat about where we were at Parkend and then went to Parkend to look on site at the situation. Peter brought everyone up to date. The signal box is progressing and we can move in the exchange and concentrator rack any when we like. At least the rack can be mostly taken apart for transport so that is a job I can get on with. We agreed what phones we will provide in the box ie the heritage concentrator phone on the wall beside the concentrator head, a table 746 for 725 and two MF phones for BT and the Asterisk. These phones will simply sit on the top of the cupboard. During this we realised that there was a low voltage alarm on Parkend exchange. We investigated to find that the charge circuit had been switched to the "other" rectifier which of course was off. We cannot think how this occurred.
14 October :
Jean and I went to Kaplan's to meet Peter and Roger for lunch. After lunch Roger and I inspected the damage to DP1E at Parkend. Jason had backed the digger into it and had done an excellent job of writing off the cabinet and concrete supports. The token, the alarm pair and a junction in each direction are not working. We went on to Parkend to discuss a new cabinet with Steve Harris. If we get one it will be enormous. As we only have a short length of cable to go into the cabinet, I can see us laying on the ground to do the jointing. Separately I delivered the concentrator to the locking room. Peter, Roger and I had a chat about the upcoming requirements for the Parkend Asterisk job. I have a list of bits we need. I left Peter and Roger discussing the work and went on to Norchard to a meeting to discuss lineside clearance etc.
18 October :
A bit drizzly today. Sam, Martin, Charles and I went to Parkend DP1E to see what could be done following the major damage of last Saturday. We got the cabling clear of the broken cabinet and had the cabinet moved to the railside. Then we started checking pairs, in E side order. We found all the wires in the end quite easily as most of them were still being fed through the holes in the fanning strip. We made the new connections for all the circuits except the S and T wires going away to the adjacent signal. They must wait for S and T to come and reconnect them. (Subsequently I heard that Peter Wood will be in on Sunday to make these temporary connections) Sam went off to test the token. Thank goodness it worked after we found a couple of dodgy connectors. We finished with the joint covered temporarily with some strong plastic bags, not red, as that apparently can upset enginemen. Sam got the train to stop on its way back to Norchard and we loaded the damaged cabinet onto it for transport back to base. After lunch, the lads got the cabinet off the platform and down to the workshop while I returned to Parkend to check the junctions. All working it seems, hope everything else is! We had a discussion with Bob Hawker about renovating the cabinet. He is considering the best way forward, hoping to come up with a new cabinet. We also had a discussion with Peter about the extent of data work that we will undertake along with providing the Asterisk phones at Parkend.
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