DFR Telecoms Diary
Diary pages provided by John Bathgate
1 January :
9 January : Sam, Martin, Ray, Charles, Peter and I were in. We spent the day starting on the big clean up of the caboosh. We have quite a pile of gear that will go to the next THG swapmeet in April. Peter and Ray checked out a Panasonic PABX which we think is going to the railway at Blaenavon.
16 January : Discussions were held about moving line plant recording from John to Martin, fault logging and lineside visit recording. I spent my day jumpering up three of the new relay sets, the transformer bridge circuit for Parkend North, followed by the two low back emf repeaters in the asterisk incoming circuits. They all worked though I did have a minor fault on one relay set where a resistor was touching the earthed frame. . Ray went over the clock circuitry with Sam. Peter and Martin had a look at the cabling in the main building Severn and Wye room. Sam and Peter carried on with altering the bench in our office in preparation for the move of the data cabinet to the corner.
19 January : I went in to reinstall the two first selectors. One had a fault which turned out to be a dis wire caused by me tugging on the U points when I pulled them out of the frame. They are both now working. I took number 4 home to demodify. I expect this one to be much more difficult as it has been more extensively modified. I came back to see Sam at Norchard. He and Roger want me to move an auto auto with regenerator relay set from Parkend to Norchard but I am pretty sure that it does not exist. It was discussed but never built. I have the relay can and regenerator at home available for the build. It's probably a good idea for both Norchard to Asterisk junctions to have regenerators as this will clean up any dial pulses from faulty dials. No chance of doing this at Parkend also, but I guess that all calls to the digital network can be connected at Norchard only. Calls from the Parkend digital network to the Strowger can be handled at Parkend without any problem as the low back EMF relay set has been built and just needs cabling in.
19 January : It is proposed to move the line plant record keeping from John Bathgate to Martin Lunn. The following points outline the procedures we intend to adopt.
20 January :
23 January : It's still a clearing up time at the railway. Rick and Martin were in the exchange sorting junk for the sale table or the skip. Charles had a look at the faulty light in the exchange but it's a LED tube in a modified fluorescent fitting so he is still thinking about it. Sam and Peter went surveying the situation at the Junction and at Parkend may have come across a BT jointer who could help with the external joint required at DP1E. I went to Parkend to reinstall the first selector I had demodified. Then I attempted to wire the two wire repeater relay sets to the IDF but was diverted by a fault in Parkend North exchange, then a fault in the U points of the relay set and faults in the cradles holding the associated incoming selectors. By the time I had sorted out what I needed to do it was time to go home.
30 January : I did nothing as the existing NCD to ASK junctions are not working. I did not want to add new untested gear to faulty junctions. Rick is tidying and sorting spares in Norchard exchange. Charles continues with his light saga. Sam tried to get the Asterisk back to health but failed. Not a very productive day. But it was freezing outside! Sam has bought a couple of Rasberry Pies using our fund in order to initially set up a demo digital system.
February 2019 :
6 February : Peter, Martin and Charles looked at records, Alan and Sam experimented with a demo asterisk system. I went to Parkend and cabled, terminated and jumpered the two wire repeaters into circuit.
13 February : Sam and Alan repaired an S&T circuit at Parkend, Rick and Martin continued to work in Norchard exchange while I went to Parkend to make a start on getting rid of the hard to reach IDF blocks.
20 February : Some records were checked first. Rick and Martin are continuing with getting Norchard overhauled. This will take a very long time as they are really going to town on getting the equipment, cleaned and properly adjusted. Sam and Ray are having a go at getting the new PA speakers connected up. I have now got all five first selectors at Parkend demodified and working as standard. I checked the junctions from Parkend to find Junction 1 to Norchard dis out and very noisy. It's been busied but needs attention next time.
27 February : Rick and Martin found the dis in Parkend Junction 3 at DP3Y. Bad connection again. They went back to maintenance at Norchard. Charles had a go at sorting the cable for sale to Bendall's and getting connectors etc cut off. I went to Parkend and got the three circuit auto auto relay set off the old IDF block and onto the new block. Much easier to jumper now.
February 2019 :
6 March : Rick and Martin are continuing to do the maintenance in Norchard. Sam and Peter checked the Lydney Junction SPTs and had to correct some line plant errors to get everything working. The PA is not working at the Junction, also probably due to line plant rearrangement errors. Ray and I worked on a fault at Parkend but found nothing conclusive, every now and then a selector drops out, but nothing is consistent. I have now cleared one of the old IDF blocks, the other has only a few miscellaneous services on it and another day should see the old IDF cleared and recovered. Then I will have to tidy all the wiring forms on the rack as they have all been cut open for wiring rearrangements.
9 March : Roger and Sam met up at Parkend, before decanting to Lydney Junction to investigate the broken PA in the station building. When we looked into the DP inside (1B), we discovered that it was significantly different than the records! We wired it to how it should be, toned out the circuits from the MDF, and soon had the Beatles pounding out across Lydney from the speakers!
13 March : Our day started with a discussion on the regular maintenance of "safety critical" telecoms gear. Even with S&T involved this did not lead to any precise definition. Sam is to write an instruction on such maintenance. I am to put together a training package on our concentrators as I have ended up being the only person who is competent to maintain them. Sam and Alan then went on to complete the annual tests of all Norchard phones and to make some necessary repairs. Martin, Rick and Charles returned to Norchard exchange maintenance. I returned to Parkend where I shifted the incoming final selectors onto the new IDF block.
20 March : The first Wednesday of the running season but we could only muster the 08 for the train. The point at Middle Forge has been damaged and has prevented the steam locos from moving out onto the line. I finished moving the circuits off the old IDF blocks at Parkend and got the blocks recovered. That makes the rack look tidier and easier to jumper on. I still have to wire up the new direct telephone relay set and connect the common services it needs. Then everything needs fully checking and when all is working all the cable forms need relacing. Sam and Charles went looking for a cable route between DPs 3a and 3E. This involved in getting under the cafe building. Martin, Ray and Alan were sorting spare stores between scrapping, keeping and selling. Peter is starting to look at how best to relieve and reorganise DP3E and Norchard box. We also have a request to provide a counter for the number of people crossing the footbridge at St Mary's, Sam will work on the bridge end and I will provide the counter in the exchange at Norchard. We have a further request to provide phones in the two new cabins at the rear of the workshop, one is a canteen and the other will be a record store.
27 March : Rick and Martin chased the faulty Parkend junction yet again. They think the fault may lie within a joint. Charles and I added an extra meter circuit to our junction call counters and jumpered it back to the redundant data pair to Lydney Junction. It is now ready for Sam to fit a counter sender at the St Mary's footbridge. Peter was in for a short time collecting information about the cables and circuits around the Norchard signal box.
April 2019 :
3 April : Sam, Peter and Charles investigated the work necessary to provide the footfall counter at the bridge. The cabinet for DP3M needs to be replaced by one of the "big" railway's telecoms cabinet in order for all the pairs and the proposed twenty pair to the signal box to be terminated. Unfortunately Sam cannot proceed too far with his counter as currently there are no mains to the bridge. Rick and Martin went back on the Norchard to Whitebrook cables trying to find the intermittent "dis" on PKD to NCD outgoing 1. By lunchtime the circuit was working again but they were not sure why. I cleared a fault on NCD to PKD outgoing 1 (no transmission, even though dialling was fine). It was a worn residual on the relay set C relay letting the relay stick on most of the time. I wired out the direct call relay set at Parkend and got the common services connected. Now it's time to find out what all the spare wires are and then get the cable forms laced back up.
10 April : Sam spent the day with a representative of the Avon Valley Railway who has been charged with the provision of signalling on his railway. Rick, Martin and Peter vanished off looking at faults in the Parkend area. They spent part of the day collating DP distances from Parkend exchange. I installed the second auto auto with regenerator relay set at Norchard and then got them jumpered to level 4 and out to the MDF. A lot of rejumpering and labelling required. The regen in the existing set was faulty and needed lubricating , general readjusting and the output speed reset. These two relay sets will provide the outgoing link to the digital network. The incoming link already exists.
14 April : Sam, Peter and I attended the THG swapmeet at Avoncroft. A profitable day for our telecoms fund. Our net profit was £208.50, however we still have some expenses to pay. A good day.
15 April : Peter met Sam at Parkend exchange as some measurements were missing for DP1 and DP1A. The missing measurements will be added to a spreadsheet which will make cable length calculation much easier for planning the cable routes for the required SPT's connected to the signal box. The only measurements now required are from DP 1H south to Whitecroft. Whilst at Parkend they also worked out an entry to the exchange from the new troughing, a tee and two straight sections are all that is required and can hopefully be delivered on Wednesday.
24 April : Alan and Peter went to the Junction to work on DP 1 at the south end of the platform. A new back board was fitted in the S+T cabinet and DP 1 is now fixed in place waiting for the provision of the new 20 Pr cable to the station building. After lunch Charles and Peter went to Parkend signal box and recovered five lengths of six wire originally destined for the S+T relay rack, this will now be replaced with a 20pr + Earth cable recovered from OP3 at Norchard. The cable will then be connected to a box conn 254. The recovered six wire cables will find a new home in Norchard signal box. Sam, Charles and Martin chased a fault on an S+T circuit at Parkend which, as usual, in the end proved to be faulty S+T equipment with the cable just fine. Sam and Martin repaired the faulty S+T indicating instrument and have presented it to S+T for refitting and testing. I continued to work at Parkend. I think all the wiring has been completed and I spent the day relacing all the cable on the main rack.
30 April : Sam and Peter met at the Jasmin cafe for lunch and to discuss the the Norchard - Asterisk gateway. Sam and Peter proceeded to the railway to get the Supermicro !U short server case from the loft. Whilst Sam was in the loft he recovered DP 10, an old fashion 4 wire cable terminated on B151 & 152. Peter recovered the MDF cabling for the scrap bin. The brand new, in the box server case, proved to be obstinate in giving up 1 of the case screws. Whilst at Norchard Peter and Sam indulged in a little retail therapy for men and surfed e-bay. They purchased a mini-itx motherboard for the new gateway, at the staggering cost of £30 including memory and an embedded CPU. They decided to go to Peter's to extract the stubborn screw. When they final removed the screw using a No 1 screwdriver in a cross point screw it revealed sadly that the SuperMicro case can only be fitted with a SuperMicro motherboard, cheapest on e-bay £229. Plan B. Peter had a dig around and came up with a couple of suitable VESA type cases, these are neat and compact and should be able to be fitted in the exchange without too much trouble.
1 May : Charles and Alan laid in a 10Pr + Earth cable to the S+T relay rack and left a suitable length tail ready for David Collins to provide details of where he wishes the Box Con 254 to be fitted. Once the cable was laid in Peter terminated it on the S+T part of the MDF. Sam has had a new telecoms cabinet delivered to PKD which will be installed next to the newly provided S+T cabinets at the ground frame. Alan, Charles and Peter went walk about and measured the troughing distance from the end of the station fence to the new cabinet. Martin and Rick went to check signal post 13 - reported faulty. The dropwire had been severed through in two places probably by the tamper machine. They had to renew and reroute the dropwire from signal post 13 through to DP3G. All working fine now. After a late lunch they all had an in depth discussion about DP3E.
5 May : Peter met Sam at 12:00 for lunch in the railway cafe. What no Sunday dinners, a disappointment. After lunch Peter went to the caboosh to sort out stores for up and coming projects. This consisted of finding all the necessary box connections, krone strips and strips designations. Once assembled the box conns were placed in the relevant stores container. along with the double back boxes. Faceplate and modules where possible were added to the stores boxes. Whilst we have an abundance of LJU 2/2A and RJ45 modules we have run out of LJU 2/1A modules so some will need to sourced. The majority of stores for the junction station, new Norchard DP 3E, new Norchard crew room and Whitecroft station have been picked, this is of course with the exception of new external cable which will have to be ordered from Qing's. Peter took one of the 8064 blocks home to measure it with a view to designing a new wall mounting bracket.
8 May : Ray finally put to bed the calls dropping out when a final selector was seized at Parkend,. It was an intermittent HR on final selector 4 B relay 8 and 9 contacts which provided a holding earth back through the selectors. Cleaned and checked B relay contacts and did much testing on all selectors. All OK now. Rick worked in Norchard Exchange on maintenance - mainly wipers and cords. Sam and Charles were with John Clark looking and talking about electrical safety at Norchard. The afternoon was spent tidying and cleaning our room ready for the Thomas weekend.
15 May : Peter and Allan were surveying at Lydney Junction. Rick, Ray and Charles travelled on a round trip looking for installed equipment/damage. An incorrectly labelled phone (in the No. 1 key accessed box at Parkend) had the label removed, no fault found there.
16 May : The group went to lunch at the George at St Briavels. Sam, Rick and Janet, Charles and Alison, Ray and June, John and Jean attended a very good meal.
22 May : Rick and Martin spent their day tidying the office. We actually have a bit of floor space now. Sam and I chased a fault on the PA. We decided that if the PA played music, then when 523 in the shop was rung, the ringing could be heard in the background over the music. In the end we decided the overhearing was somewhere in DP17 or the cable to it. We shifted the music to OP2 in the office and this got rid of the overhearing. Sam also moved the music controller to the back wall next to OP2. Then he was called to do Duty Officer and vanished off on the 08 going south as it replaced a failed 5541. We still need to check that music will still play.
27 May : I was called out to see why the ringer was running continually in Parkend North. Line finder 1 was locked up. Relay A was operated and this was holding not only the linefinder but the first selector in Parkend exchange. Both ringers were trying to run although the Parkend North ringer had been switched off. I could not find a line circuit switched to the line finder and even when I manually stepped the linefinder, the relay set did not release. I started to trace the holding condition when suddenly the relay set restored. I could not reproduce the condition despite giving the exchange quite a lot of test calls. All I can do now is keep an eye on things.
29 May : After visiting Parkend to update ourselves on the progress of the work at Parkend North, Martin, Ray and Rick returned to Norchard. They examined the clock and PA relay sets and decided that they both need some basic maintenance ( cleaning and lubrication ) but should be done on a non running day. Peter and Alan spent the morning pulling jumpers and checking records at Norchard MDF. Ray found a dangerously noisy handset cord on museum phone 877 and took it out of service while we had lunch. After lunch Martin assisted Peter. Ray and I searched for a replacement 3 way handset cord for 877. Eventually we had to cannibalise a spare phone for a replacement handset. We changed the handset and 877 is back in service. I have had to reduce my working time to half a day. I spent my half day at Parkend relacing the cable forms at Parkend. Parkend North is still behaving.
5 June : We started the day with a discussion on what to tackle as Sam would be away for two weeks. We mostly had a long discussion regarding the need to get on with the Asterisk work. We are all getting pretty elderly for the job of maintaining our present strowger set up and feel that it is necessary to get the digital actually serving the customer before we lose service all together. Nothing urgent had come up so it was back to the jobs we were doing. I went off to complete the tidying of the equipment at Parkend. The equipment is now much tidier and much easier to jumper etc. I cleared the floor of debris and tidied the room. It needs a vacuum, which I will tackle next week. Martin and Rick carried on with checking the cabinets and records on the Norchard to Whitecroft section. They came across the section between DP3T and DP3U which must have a joint somewhere as the colours at each end of the section do not match at all. They returned after lunch to look for the joint, which they found at the distant signal. Charles went off to do some electrical work but was surprised to find the Norchard light working behind the racking. Peter and Alan got back to checking jumpers and records regarding the pairs out to DP3A. This will be part of any job to reinforce the DPs in the signal box.
8 June : While Sam was manning the Beer Tent, Roger had a look at some of the Asterisk problems. First stop was Parkend. The Raspberry Pi that runs Asterisk and FreePBX was not working. It responded to 'pings' confirming it was powered and the network was fine. But the Pi would not serve up the FreePBX Configuration Web Page and ignored ssh remote login requests. As there is no monitor there all he could do was power cycle it. It failed to boot and looks like the SD Card had failed. Roger tried the SD card in a laptop. Initially it would not read but then sprung into life. Maybe the contacts on the SD card were dirty. The Pi has been taken back to Roger's home for investigation along with the spare Pi from Norchard.
9 June : Roger has repaired the Parkend Asterisk Raspberry Pi. The micro SD card had failed and gone into Read Only mode which meant that it could no longer function as it writes log files to the micro SD card for every phone call. At least the card was still readable so using a Windows laptop and some SD Card cloning software he could copy all the data onto a new micro SD
Card. The Raspberry Pi now boots up again and all the configuration is retained. It will be installed on site soon. As for the broken micro SD card, Roger cannot remember where it came from. It has no brand name on it so was probably cheap one that got acquired along the way.
12 June : A quiet day at the railway. Charles measured the main building for an electrical layout. Rick and Martin did their best to tidy our office. I fitted the new auto auto relay set with regenerator and tested it. All OK. I then went to Parkend to vacuum the floor. A hands and knees job due to wire ends sticking in the carpet tiles. We had an anxious half hour looking for Martin's railway keys that I had borrowed at Norchard. We did not find them so I will have to get duplicates cut. Oh dear!
15 June : Roger and Peter met at Norchard around 4:30pm to install the next phase of the Asterisk digital phone system at Norchard and to re-install the repaired Parkend Raspberry Pi that had a bad SD Card. We now have three interlinked Asterisk Digital PBX systems all talking to each other. They are "Norchard Pi", "Parkend Pi" and "Norchard Dell".
19 June : We started the day with a session configuring ATAs and SIP phones for use on the Asterisk scheme at home.
26 June : Sam, Charles and I collected up all the scrap copper and cable ends hanging round our premises. Charles and I took them to Bendall's to get £82.10 in scrap value for them. I also had a look at converting local first selectors to incoming selectors in our UAX13. It's pretty straightforward and we have more than enough local first selectors to handle our traffic. We are thinking of converting the junction from Parkend from coming to a final to coming to a first. That should give more flexibility at Parkend should one of the junctions go faulty. Rick and Martin spent the day looking for the intermittent line plant fault on the Parkend junction. It will be those darn crimps again.
3 July : Martin and Rick spent the day repairing PKD-NOR o/g 2 Jcn 4. As we suspected it was a faulty crimp at DP 3W. This was made a 10 pair crimped joint when the cable was cut two ? years ago and they have now remade the joint and replaced the crimps with screw conns. Let's hope it lasts a bit longer this time. All the junctions were tested and working ok - no alarms at Norchard so assume that pair is ok.
10 July : It's the trackside flailing season and right on cue one of our drainpipe joints has been completely demolished. John checked Parkend and Parkend North to see if anything was being held by the damage. Incoming selectors in both exchanges were held and were very hot and the ringers were running with the volts very low at Parkend North. The selectors were jacked out to give the ringers a rest and a chance for the batteries to be recharged.
11 July : Rick and Martin went back to have another go at finding the pairs. This time they had success. The pairs were put through and they got a loop from the token machines, both ways, at DP1G. Rick went back to Norchard to get a test made on the token, which proved to be satisfactory. The token was handed back to the railway. The rest of the pairs though are a hopeless task and the phone circuits remain out of order and will remain so until a proper method for repair has been agreed and actioned. A current suggestion being considered is to site a new cabinet a few yards on the Parkend side of the fault and divert the Parkend cable into it. Then provide a new cable from this cabinet to DP1G, probably about 300m away towards Whitecroft. This has the considerable merit of replacing a drain pipe joint and bypassing the two drainpipes provided when the cable was damaged by Jason. We may even have troughing provided to house the cable. Less joints hopefully means less faults? Thanks Rick and Martin.
14 July : I have now copied all the information I can from Paul's website to this site. This will allow Paul to let his website be recovered as and when he wishes. The information is now available via the two buttons on the opening and main index pages. The buttons are "VOIP Diary" and "VOIP Misc Info"
24 July : After Martin and Rick had sorted a 50 volt lamp out for John Metherall to use in the museum kiosk they went line side to check the records against the actual DPs 3X to 3Z. 3X was fine - 3Y needs a bit of tidying so they can verify the records - 3YA was fine so they went for lunch intending to return after. Unfortunately as they were heading back Charles informed them that 512 was faulty and could they have a look. Reception seems to be faint and a faulty handset cord was noisy. Easy enough normally except the phone was a weatherproof phone. After a search in the caboose they found a h/s cord that might do the job - but of course it had to be modified and then fitted. This was achieved eventually and the receiver inset changed. 512 was tested and seemed ok but did seem to have excessive sidetone which may be caused by the slight corrosion inside the phone - a new phone will probably be needed before too long. 3X will have to wait until next week.
26th to 30th July : The railway is relaying the long siding across the entrance to the shop area to allow the accommodation coach to be replaced among other moves. On Friday, Peter went to the railway to meet Sam with a view to planning where to lay duct and fit footway boxes. The afternoon was spent with spray paint spraying box location. Peter spent Sunday and Monday locating and marking cable routes. As the team dug the tracks up the initial marks vanished of course. Peter visited Goatfield with Mike from P Way to acquire all the usable lengths of suitable green duct. This was transported to Norchard. Peter later spoke with Adam Williams about what was required in the way of boxes and duct.
30 July :
30 July : Peter and John surveyed the duct work completed over the previous few days and decided to produce an overall plan to work to in the future. This showed that some of the duct provided already needed reinforcement. They felt that two ducts should be laid wherever we go so that generally copper could be in one duct and fibre in another. They drew a rough plan with our proposals for the long term ducting of the site. John is to produce a tidy version of the proposals. They felt that such a plan should be made available to whoever will be providing electrical services as they may like to take advantage of any trenching undertaken.
August 2019 :
14 August : Rain for most of the day so mostly we headed indoors. Sam did go off to check an SPT with a receiver not working but it was fine when he got there. Alan and Peter once again disappeared down to the junction, this time measuring lengths for a new 20/0.5 copper and fibre optic cable. 110m and 200m respectively. They also met with Sam who appeared from the train, when they discussed the ducting to be fitted into the station building. After lunch Peter met Martin and Rick at Parkend as there was some confusion with what circuits appeared where on the MDF. Basically due to moving goal posts, the strips designation are no longer correct, Peter agreed to update the strips and e-mail them to Martin for printing. Rick and Martin abandoned their remedial cable work on the Whitecroft to Parkend section and stayed indoors moving the Parkend junctions onto the new access terminations they have provided for test purposes. I tried to get a phone at Whitecroft working back to Norchard temporarily using one of the faulty junction pairs to Parkend. Nothing went well. I thought I would only have to shift a jumper in Norchard and in cabinet 1L at Whitecroft. I shifted the jumper to find the line circuit faulty. Battery but no earth. In the end it looks as though the dis is in the rack wiring. I tried a different line circuit. This provided dial tone but would not let dial pulses through to the first. A third line circuit was OK and dial tone went off to Whitecroft. At Whitecroft the tone was available in DP3Z but not at the end of the tie cable to DP1L. I met Rick at Parkend to find that he had had trouble with the tie cable and he would need to go back and sort out the pairs using his tone set.
15 August : Alan met Peter at Norchard and after collecting the new green 63mm duct from outside the office they disappeared to the junction once again. Whilst Alan dug in the duct from the north end of the platform to DP1 Peter proceeded to open out the previously drilled 8mm holes to 9mm ready to fit the cable fixings. Alan dug in the duct in record time and then started drilling holes at the opposite end of the platform. After all the holes were drilled the cable fixings all 200 of them were hammered into the wall. Once last thing, Alan wanted to see how hard the concrete in the station building is, an 8mm pilot hole was drilled in a suitable location ready to be opened out with the 87mm core for accepting the duct. An excellent days work. Next comes the final fixing of the duct into DP1.
21 August : A low turnout today. I have announced my hope to retire from weekly work by the end of the year. Sam wants me to look into a relay concentrator design using only current commercially available equipment. He is hoping to build a twenty way unit for the Blaenavon Railway, a system for Whitecroft and a spare should anything disastrous happen to any of our boxes. This raises quite lot of thoughts eg 24 volt working, what sort of transmission bridge if I cannot use a high impedance 3000 type relay, what will produce 75 volts AC for ringing, how will ring trip work with simple relays? All good stuff. I went on to install the wiring necessary at Parkend to connect power and common services to the proposed junction tester. Rick and Martin are still straightening and recording the circuits in the tie cable at Whitecroft.
4 September : Only four of us in today - Rick Ray Martin and Charles. After tea/coffee and cakes Ray went off to Parkend to check the Exchange and lubricate the switches which were very dry. Charles went off to check more of the emergency lights. Martin and Rick went to check Norchard Exchange which seemed OK. Then John Metherall asked us to check the 887 museum telephone which was NDT. This was because the 4000 type switch it was directly connected to was up and in the bank but not releasing. After some investigation it seemed that it was not receiving the release alarm earth. Then the fault became intermittent and eventually cleared itself. During lunch we discussed the fault with Ray who said he would look at the diagrams when he went home.
7 September : Ray was called in by Sam as one of the back to back clocks was ten minutes fast. More likely eleven hour fifty mins slow as the armature was severely "sticking". They were unable to cure the problem by cleaning the pole face and the armature return spring was at maximum adjustment. After much struggling up steps with two clocks, the second clock also exhibited a tendency to stick. Sam is to try and source replacement mechanisms. Failing this the clocks will have to come down and have their armature return springs shortened to be able to increase tension. Both clocks are for now out of service and set at 12.00.
10 September : Sam organised a works train and some strong hired help from the lineside team, and with some pushing and shoving recovered the 50 pair from the undergrowth at Goatfield, and took it back to Norchard.
11 September : Martin and Rick went to look at Parkend DP1G. They repaired the padlock so that it works then cleaned some of the grease off the cables and decided to fit some choc blocks to connect to. They collected the connectors and screws from Norchard and fitted enough to connect the last 30 pairs. They connected pairs 20 to 40, only 10 pairs to connect next time and then they can start to test continuity between DP1L and DP1G.
18 September : Martin and Rick completed sorting the D sides at DP 1G and connected them to choc blocks. They then had a problem getting a speaker pair to work between DP1G and DP1L. Now they have sorted that, they can start to verify the pairs in between. There will probably be a delay to that as Martin is away for two weeks and then Rick will be away for a week. Charles was working in the Locking Room at Lydney Junction Signal Box. Neither of the two failed strip lights responded to known to be good tubes or starters! He has warned Duncan and Lynne of the need for new fittings, and he will get prices. In the short term he may fit temporary bulbs. Also, he had some involvement, twice (!), reuniting a dog straying onto the railway, with its owner. Ray may be in next week and will want to look at the faulty clocks and will also need some assistance.
25 September : Ray was able to get at the clocks in the passage and increase the armature return spring tension ( by physical mangling). Both armatures are snapping in and out nicely now. Charles removed the two failed fluorescent strip lights in Lydney Junction Signal Box Locking Room. Duncan and Lynne authorised the purchase of 3 replacement led strip lights which he will fit in due course.
October 2019 :
2 October : Peter Sam and Rick went to Whitecroft and toned the 50 pair cable between Parkend DP1L and DP1G - this cable passes through three pipe joints. All fifty pairs proved ok and in the correct wraps. On returning to Norchard they checked the exchange and found the museum phone 887 faulty. Phone ok but the directly connected group selector faulty. Too late today, try again tomorrow. Charles fitted one of the new led strip lights in Lydney Junction Box Locking Room. One down, one to go. I handed over the manuals for the exchanges at Lydney signal box and Parkend signal box to Rick for safe keeping. Ray and I went to Parkend to survey the work needed to move the concentrator head. The signal box keys and the spares were missing and so we were unable to gain access to the box. We also checked that the digital equipment was running and that the internet was up as it was not possible to dial out of Parkend on the Asterisk system. We looked for Sam to report the problem but could not find him and eventually we heard that it was an internet fault at Norchard.
3 October : Rick attended on Thursday - group selector A2F9 had a faulty wiper - wiper changed - test calls passed ok - 887 let back in service. There was a PG alarm - 597 s/c out - probably phone off at Whitecroft Station - no access today. Linefinder A2C3 jammed off normal - NP Spring operating lever hanging off - released switch and busied awaiting engineer.
6 October : I was called out by Sam who had an allotter running continuously at Norchard. When I arrived the dial tone was being loudly interrupted by what sounds like relay chatter. This turned out to be a group selector on rack A2, so the selector was jacked out and left for faulting at a later date. The main fault was difficult to find. It appeared to wander between line finders or group selectors on rack A1. Of course the ringer was running continuously. In the end I narrowed it down to line finder and group selector 3. The finder was sitting with an earth coming from somewhere on U point 7. Chasing the earth eventually took me to the routine test keys where I found a metal release fuse had been placed across the springs of a key. Removing the fuse took off the fault immediately. Who put a fuse there of all places? Naturally in all the testing and jacking of selectors in and out I crashed the wipers of a line finder. That also awaits a future date for repair.
9 October : Sam, Ethan Langfield, Charles and Martin met at Norchard. It was reported first thing that the phone at Whitecroft wasn’t working, so Sam and Martin set off to fix it. A quick look determined that there were no phones off the hook, however a quick look in DP1L found that the temporary joint had the pairs touching. A chocolate block was procured and put around the joints to ensure it wouldn’t happen again.
12 October :
16 October : Martin and Rick were asked by Sam to go and look at the damaged cable at Parkend with a view to jointing the two ends together as we were told the Railway was not going to buy a replacement cable. If that is what is going to be done the first thing that needs doing is the existing cable ends need to be dug back at least a couple of metres to allow the cable to be lifted up to a workable height. After lunch Martin and Rick went to check Norchard exchange. We established that there was a false calling condition which was operating the A relay in the group selector and that the fault was actually in the linefinder relay set. This fault then decided to be intermittent and we were starting to track the fault with a test lamp when Martin whispered the dreaded word "Migration". They quickly removed the u point cover and discovered that it was indeed silver migration. They found an old control set that has a faulty relay coil and are in the process of cannibalising the u points and insulators for spares to repair this switch. We will have to add a check on the linefinders to our winter maintenance schedule.
19 October : Sam, Ethan and Peter visited the THG swapmeet at Milton Keynes. They came away with a 24 way Key and Lamp Unit and some 8782 phones (DTMF 700 series), as well as a few bits for themselves.
20 October : Sam and Peter met up and went to Parkend to investigate why 725 and 4725 both weren't receiving dial tone. A quick glance at Parkend North exchange noted several broken wires on the line circuit outward screw terminals, on 719, 724 and 725. Once the wires were replaced all circuits were working successfully. There appears to be an outstanding fault on the exchange, where the final digit won't dial. 4725 turned out to be an even easier problem to fix, there was a test phone in the outlet socket for the ATA, once this was jumpered, it worked perfectly.
23 October : Only Sam, Martin and I turned up. In the end Martin and I sorted out some records and diagrams. I am going to get copies made of our linefinder diagram which is literally falling to pieces. We all went home early.
30 October : Those in today were Rick, Martin, Peter, Charles, Alan, Ethan and Sam. After tea and cakes (supplied by Charles) Peter, Alan and Charles went off to the Junction. Martin and Rick stayed at Norchard to repair the switch with silver migration and various other switches with wiper problems. In the afternoon they had to repair the dial on the 10 plus 50 and one of the museum phones was causing problems. Sam and Ethan were cabling the shop.
6 November : John and Sam went to Parkend Signal Box and listed all the minor jobs required on and around our rack to improve it. This has become necessary as S and T have indicated that they wish to locate a planning table very close to the rear of the rack. Allan and Peter, once again went to the junction with a view to fitting a new Box connection 301A and some 38 x 38mm trunking. The fitting of the 301A was easy and soon accomplished. The trunking proved a little more difficult as the station DPC protrudes from the wall so requires the use of a hammer and bolster along with a stanley knife and the possible fitting of some batten. A job for another day. Later Sam and Peter went to Parkend and terminated the S and T 10 pair in the location agreed by Roger Phelps. Sam also re-connected the cable between the Concentrator head and the phone. Martin and Rick finally managed to get all the linefinders working and in the right places with the can cover info correct. The rest of the day was spent tidying the workshop bench and exchange area in readiness for the start of the winter maintenance programme now that there are no trains running on Wednesday at the moment. Charles looked in the attic for Double D fluorescent tubes (as fitted at Whitecroft last week) hoping to avoid buying new ones. He found a couple and a couple of square fittings which all worked when checked. They are in the container store (caboosh?) for ease of access.
13 November : No trains running, therefore no canteen open, with our room too full for everyone we mostly moved to the Cycle Hire cafe in Parkend for our morning cuppas, though Peter and Alan moved straight off to the Junction. I went on to Parkend signal box to find it full with S and T personnel and their stores all lined up behind our rack. I had no chance so simply went home. I need to come in on Friday instead when the box will be mine. Martin, Ray and Rick had a look round Parkend North to update ourselves on what was happening. Then they checked Parkend to ensure that all was well. A bit cold so we put the heater on and passed a couple of test calls ok. They all then returned to Norchard where Ray realigned the clocks and corrected them and then went home. Martin and Rick returned to routine maintenance and found that the two linefinders that we worked on had silver migration problems - one of them very serious and they had to change the u points and the insulator. Ethan and Sam measured the distances requiring 50pr at DP1F-G and 1E-EA between Parkend and Whitecroft, before digging out a suitable length at Norchard and cutting damaged sections off. They then met Roger Phelps for a discussion about the works to be done at DP1F. After lunch, they went to Norchard and found the 50pr jointing kit in the office, before continuing work on the cable.
15 November : I dropped off the newly scrubbed up mugs at Norchard and then went on to Parkend. I removed the brackets holding the connectors for the concentrator head cable and screwed the connectors directly to the rack upright. It's somewhat tidier. I had another look at what was needed at the signal box and went to Norchard to find a headlamp, butt, test lamp and solder. I also bought the plywood for the rear cover on my way home. Peter and Sam met at Whitecroft to scope out what work was required to get enough pairs into the station building, whilst improving DP1L and putting the phone at the crossing on the north side. They then went to Lydney Junction to do some more measuring. Sam then ordered cable for Lydney Junction, plus enough to do what we need to do at Whitecroft.
17 November : Peter and Sam met with the intention of putting a wall-mounted data cabinet into the Station Master's Office on the Junction Station. This turned out to be impossible, due to the soft nature of the breeze blocks that it is constructed of (probably softer than the wooden cladding on the outside!). Instead they readied themselves with mounting batten and trunking on the walls, before recovering the existing wiring to the internal phone and re-routing the existing 20pr that runs to the Gloucester end of the platform into the ducting and trunking. They then, after pausing for a very late lunch, returned to Norchard and with the help of Ollie Day, fished the floor-mounted cabinet from the depths of the Caboosh (you can actually see the back wall now!), and re-arranged the Station-master's office to accommodate it.
20 November : Following the prerequisite coffee in the morning, Rick tidied the office and Charles looked at electrical paperwork. Sam, Peter and Alan went to the Junction, and started work on drilling more holes in the platform, before inserting cable tie holders. Soon afterwards, Charles called us to say that Rick had taken delivery of the cable to run under the platform edge, Sam went to Norchard to collect this, and they started to lay it in. After lunch, Charles and Rick came along to help install the cable ties holding it onto the platform and, in a case of many hands making light work, the section from the north end of the platform to the station building was soon complete. Charles and Rick then carried on installing cable ties on the section to the south of the platform, whilst Sam cut, drilled and installed batten, trunking and backboxes in the station-master's office and Peter terminated the newly installed cable.
22 November :
27 November : At the railway Rick, Martin, Peter, Charles and I met at the Parkend Cycle cafe. After our cuppa we had a meeting about line plant records. We decided to leave our normal cabinet records as they are. Any krone based network would use the record system favoured by Peter. We went through a typical set of records and made several changes so that all present could understand the result. Peter was asked to provide a template for distribution around all staff for any further comments. This was an excellent meeting in that all of us, no matter how experienced or not, got to understand the system and make their comments. It took time but was most useful. Peter and Charles then went to Parkend exchange to look at the MDF and records and get Charles up to speed. Rick and Martin returned to Norchard for exchange maintenance. I went to Parkend North to find the fault on the uniselector final. As I suspected it turned out that the wiper assembly had moved on the axle and the wipers were no longer aligned with the bank contacts. A little adjustment, not easy, and the fault was gone. I mounted a diagram folder holder on the wall and then went to look for the records. There was only a slim folder for the concentrator on site, no exchange diagrams and no line plant records. I could not find them in Parkend exchange either. I was unable to carry on trying to find out why there was no NU on the exchange. I went home to start printing up new sets.
4 December : We had our cuppa at the Cycle Shop Cafe at Parkend. We agreed that I should convert all our diagrams to PDF form and let Sam have a copy for saving in the railway's computer system. Rick and Martin returned to maintenance at Norchard. I continued sorting out Parkend North. I cleared three faults and replaced all the straps on the rack output terminations. A good day for me.
7 December : I was called out today as a phone was continually ringing in the museum. When I arrived the phone was silent. I was told that it was extension 23 on the 10+50. Children were playing on the 10+50 and had all the cords plugged in and most of the keys thrown. James had switched off the 10+50 and this had silenced the phone. When I could get at the 10+50, I found that some ring keys remained operated after the user had released them. I assume that the cord associated with one of the stuck on keys was plugged into 23 and that this was causing the ringing. I showed James the problem and the solution he could use in the future ie restore the switchboard to normal.
8 December : Peter met Sam at the railway after lunch, Sam cleared the window side bench placing all the servers into the data cabinet Peter, armed with a pencil and a can of contact cleaner set about checking the RING and the RING BACK keys on the 10+50, the words a little TLC seems to have been an underestimated. It appeared that approximately 20 out of the 30 keys were sticking! Gallons of contact cleaner, well about a 1/3 of the tin managed to sort out all but two keys, the remain two will stick but only if pressure is applied at the side of the keys when moving them. The 10+50 is in need of some maintenance, various key indicators seem to half work and one is broken completely, along with this at least one of the cords needs a new screw for the sleeve. Also noted is the transmitter on the handset of both the 10+50 and the Santa phone are both carbon granule and beginning to get noisy.
11 December : We met at the Cycle Cafe in Parkend before dispersing. I went to Parkend signal box and fixed a cover over the back of the rack and got it painted. Looks OK. Rick and Martin continued on maintenance at Norchard. Charles spent his day separating brass from copper, and cutting the pipes into manageable lengths. In the evening we had our group Christmas Dinner at the Ugly Duckling for members and their partners. Eighteen of us attended.
11 December : Peter went to the railway today to wipe up and repair phones for Lydney Junction. He wiped up several 746s for the internal circuits and then started on the 745(type) phones required for the outside of the building. The first 745 had a faulty line cord which he replaced, and then he altered the strapping to be a new plan phone.
18 December : We met for tea at the Cycle Cafe in Parkend. Rick and Martin went back to maintenance at Norchard. Peter, Sam and Allan worked on the replacement cable distribution at Lydney Junction. Charles and I went to Parkend Signal Box to completely test the concentrator. We found a dirty key contact in the head and completed the testing. However a quick check of the lamp circuits showed a problem in line circuit six. The K relay had stopped operating and it seems likely that the coil had gone dis. By then it was lunchtime so we left the fault for me to return to at some time. Today was the last day of my being a regular on the group. I am retiring. I am eighty five and have some problems that mean that I should go. My colleagues gave me a very much appreciated bottle of Glenmorangie to celebrate my going. I am still to complete the line tester for Parkend exchange and change the K relay. I am handing the fund to Charles, reducing this website some what and sending the records held on this site to Sam and Martin. I will continue the diary for now so long as I receive the information. I finished my day by helping Rick and Martin find a fault at Lydney Junction exchange. This is possibly the last entry for 2019, so Merry Christmas and a Good New Year to our readers.
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