DFR Telecoms Diary


Diary pages provided by John Bathgate

January 2020

5 January : Posted by Sam

Welcome to 2020

Roger and Charles fight the cableSam and Charles met at Norchard to investigate the token circuit. Starting In the signal box, they used a meter and a BT301C to look up the line. This identified a high resistance short-circuit at approximately 200 m from the signal box. After a quick walk to some cabinets this was determined to not be a contributing factor in the failure. They instead put a loop on the line and went to Parkend to establish whether they could see the loop or not. The loop was not visible from Parkend. They went to Whitecroft and determined that the fault was north of the crossing, using the 301C tester they determine that it was approximately 800 m from the crossing. Moving onto DP1G they then established that it was at the flailed joint, a quick inspection of this revealed that it was rusty and seriously corroded, and open-circuit.
They then returned to Norchard, where they found Roger H. They looked at what parts we had to joint the cable and went to find a short length of cable to splice across the fault. A short length was repaired and is ready for transporting to site on Wednesday. Two drainpipe joints are proposed to cover the gap.
Roger and Sam then went to look at the Norchard to asterisk Junctions, one of which was failing. They had some issues as the relay set would not busy out when they moved the connector in the front. Instead they jacked the set out. This produced engaged tone when selected, which seems a better compromise than it simply failing.
They then went back to the office and had a discussion about how to run the clocks over a digital network. They decided to try and experiment using broadcast messages across the network to run a series of clocks from a master controller.
Finally They called in at Parkend to look at the sip phone in the signal box which was misbehaving. This was cured by a reset and they took the opportunity to fully swap the network switches over.

8 January : Posted by Martin

The Group held a meeting to discuss the programme of work for the coming year. Despite having retired, John still had one outstanding job to complete at Parkend Signal Box. He changed a faulty relay coil on relay 6K on the concentrator.

Notes of meeting of DFR Telephone Group in Norchard Seven and Wye room at 10:00 on 8th January 2020

Present: - Sam Bolingbroke, Charles Bristow, Allan Cantwell, Rick Gillingham, Martin Lunn, Peter Medcalf, Ray Willey.

1. First priority was determined to be re-establishing the cable connection between Norchard and Parkend by replacing damaged cable.
a. Complete the cable replacement between Whitecroft and Parkend.
i. New fifty pair cable. With two pipe joint connections. Considered not to be a good idea, joints only present problems in the future.
iii. Perhaps a new design of accessible pipe joint sunk into a concrete base is the best way to go here.
c. Reluctantly it was agreed to a two pipe joint, which was said could be done in 1 day.
d. It is important that all pairs should be tested and a record of wire colours recorded before joint sealed in pipe.
e. After an unsuccessful practice effort to strip the sheath off of a length of cable, the difficulty was caused of the low ambient temperature. It was said that a tent and heating would be made available.
i. Due to this difficulty it was thought jointing could take as long at 2 Ė 3 working days.
ii. After the meeting it was suggested that temporary 10 pair connection be made and the 50 pair connected when warmer weather prevailed.
iii. It was revealed that the first cable joints to be made are at DP 1E and DP1EA where new cabinets have been provided.

2. Work on the Digital system throughout the railway to be halted in favour of establishing a reliable, tried and tested system at Parkend. Digitalisation of the railways major stations and associated operational areas would take place when the system has been proved. It is possible this may take as long as three years to complete.

3. Having successfully re-established telephone cabling throughout the railway the Strowger exchanges and associated equipment can be expected to have an operational life of between 5 and 10 years or more. If and when the digital system is in a reliable working order, the service currently provided by the Norchard exchange will be gradually swapped to the Digital service.

4. Sam agreed to provide an operations plan for the rework of the digital system and keep the telecoms group up to date with developments and progress. Initial program to be provided in about two weeks, i.e. before 23rd January 2020.

5. Most of our cable problems are caused by contractors. Any costs incurred repairing such damage should be recovered from the contractor insurance. Sam is to ensure that this is the case in the future.

6. It was suggested that some form of protection from flails, tractor or diggers should be provided around DPís and any sort of cable joint.

7. It I very important that maintenance of the current cable is maintained. This should be a priority over any digital work for some years to come.

22 January : Posted by Peter

Peter started the day by collecting the Netgear switch from Parkend. He then met Alan, Charles, Martin and Rick at the cycle cafe. After a coffee Alan, Charles and Peter departed for the junction, a bit of head scratching as to where they had left off. The data cables have all now been installed but need to be tested, The P.A. wiring needs to be finished. Peter took the transformer home to find suitable fixings, it will be mounted in the data cabinet making for a maintenance dream, easy access! Bit of a closet rant, for the people who do not think about maintaining equipment after it is installed in the wrong place. The test sockets at the junction all still need to be fitted so about a monthís work for Alan and Peter and then hopefully back to doing the wipe ups on the bench in readiness for re cabling the office. Gents please let me know your thoughts on this and for anyone who wishes a bit of hands on data cabling experience let me know. Whilst at the Junction Peter was notified, he had made a drop off, the bolts for fitting the earth cables to the box conn 501 in the signal box were too short, sorry about that one Charles. The bolts have only enough length to fix 1 eye there are 3 eyes to be fitted in the box conn. Charles fitted a new earthing strip to the exchange, a nice job.
Alan departed at lunch time. Back in the office at lunch time Martin raised a question about last weeks overview of the data cabling, another impromptu training session then ensued. If you chaps want some homework try browsing to your router, might be handy to know who has what. Charles, Peter can see the need for some sort of training budget, could we lever it out of the railway? Rick and Peter went to the exchange to find a suitable location to fit a data switch that has POE. It was agreed the switch can be nicely fitted below the gateway making a neat and tidy job. Hopefully this will be fitted Saturday.

February 2020

5 February : posted by Charles

This morning Ray and Martin visited Parkend to examine the Group Selector 1 Switch that Ray had busied out last week. It proved impossible to remove the switch from the rack, so Ray and Martin prodded and poked it and eventually it started to work again and dial tone was transmitted to the handset. Allan and Charles looked at the Wickham Trolley for the first time just to get a feel for a possible restoration job to help the Telecom Group move up and down the line. There are no seats but a petrol engine, fuel tank and radiator are in place. Lynne will put us in touch with the working members who are known to have had an interest in the past. Allan and Charles also considered how to address the Whitecroft/Parkend cable repairs by planning a considered approach to tools needed, cable excavation and re-dressing of the severed cable and insertion of a 5 yard (approx.) link.

12 February : posted by Rick

A meeting was held at Kaplans today with the telecoms group. Those in attendance - Rick Gillingham - Ray Willey - Martin Lunn - Peter Medcalf - Charles Bristow - Alan Cantrell
As Sam has not been contactable for 2 weeks and his last e mail said he did not want to manage the group any longer it was decided that we would have to manage ourselves. It was agreed that for the time being Rick would deal with Strowger problems, Peter and Roger would deal with Digital problems, Charles would deal with finance and the board and Martin would work on computer records. If anyone has any particular problems the group will discuss and decide what action should be taken.
Although the group is now dealing with Strowger and Digital it also agreed that we should not have demarcation within the group and also work towards a closer working relationship with S and T.
The really urgent problem that has to be dealt with asap is the lack of communication between Norchard, Whitecroft and Parkend caused by the catastrophic cable damage between Whitecroft and Parkend to which no real solution has been found in the last 6 months.
The meeting finished about 11 am.

Charles and Ray went home , Rick Martin Peter and Alan returned to Norchard . Rick and Peter spoke to Roger Phelps about new cable and he said he would look into it but no promises. Rick and Peter went to the office and spoke to Duncan to tell him what had been decided. He seemed to be aware that there was a problem with our Department and seemed happy that we had resolved it. There is a board meeting next Monday 17th February in the Severn and Wye room from 7 til 9.
After lunch we all went to look at the cable between Whitecroft and Parkend. Unfortunately there is no good news - the original damaged wires have been cut back so we will have to tone them out again - the cable from there to Parkend has also had the wires cut or disconnected in at least 3 separate places - there appears to be no good reason for someone to do this. We then went for a cup of tea to discuss the best way forward.

19 February : posted by Charles

This morning Martin, Allan and Charles met to discuss and plan the resources required to reinstate various communication services north of Whitecroft. In a wide-ranging attempt to identify best and minimal cost solutions, they took into account the not only the cabling, and the logistics of transporting it to site, but also trunking, excavation and cable jointing. The outcome will be shared with the Telecom group before returning to the DFR Operational Board. In the afternoon, Martin and Charles visited Parkend Box to identify and measure the access below the Axle Counter Panel for the installation of additional Telecom group equipment.

26 February : posted by Charles / Rick

Today the Carriage Group arranged a "Toolbox" learning session at lunch time about Health and Safety issues relating to hand tools. Charles was invited to attend what proved to be an excellent session well-paced and presented in a friendly fashion. The selection of the right tool for the job was emphasised, and then the use, maintenance, storage and disposal were discussed with hands-on examples of tools such as hammers, screwdrivers, files, chisels etc. It was a good example of a mutual improvement class, which deserves to be repeated in greater depth and breadth for the benefit of all workers in the different railway groups. Thank you Ollie!
Tea coffee and cake in our room at Norchard with Ray Martin Charles Allan and Rick. Then we went to Parkend - Ray returned to working on a recurring fault - the rest of us visited the new Signal box where we found Roger Phelps and had a meaningful discussion on what needs to be done to enable us to overcome our present problems and our future development. We then walked a short length of line to verify existing cabling. All of us returned to Norchard for lunch.
Ray then returned to Parkend to check everything was now ok ( all tickety boo ). Allan and Martin then searched Norchard site for an alleged reel of 50 pr cable without success and then moved on to Lydney Junction with the same result. Was this a wild goose chase? Rick spoke to Duncan about a pro forma to apply for urgently needed cable. Was advised not required and apply using Word !!
Also heard about developement at Norchard requiring moving our caboose - have arranged to meet Chris Bull for full info.

March 2020

4 March : posted by Rick

Just Rick Martin Charles and Allan in today. Tea and cakes as usual and a discussion about the telecom dept. Allan and Charles went off to look at a water heater, a freezer and one of the portacabins that had electric problems and then started the routine check of Norchard telephones.
Martin and Rick went to look at the SPT at the stop board at Norchard which was dead. When it was opened up it worked ok and when it was put back together it worked ok. They then went to the Signal box to check and found the battery had a low volts alarm. SPT 2Z was found to be permanently calling and was disconnected. The batteries were soon back to normal. On testing SPT 2Z a battery contact was proved out to line. As the weather had deteriorated it was decided to leave finding it until another day.
Allan and Martin went home after lunch. Charles continued with the routine checks and Rick went to Norchard exchange to clear some outstanding faults. Both left at about 15.00 hrs.

7 March : posted by John

I went to Parkend to look at the multi-level relay set being used to connect to the asterisk. I gave it as good a check as I was able with my multi meter. The pulse ratio seemed fine. However I could not disconnect the set from the asterisk as the records have not been completed. I was therefore unable to connect the set to the AT5422 to measure the pulse speed and number of digits. I did not want to have to start unsoldering wires on the back of the shelf to disconnect the asterisk. The junction should go via the S&T connectors to allow a quick disconnection for testing. The regen appeared to work well and I set the output pulse speed to be a little higher in the hope that the Grandstream ATA would be happier. The regen looked dry but there was no oil for me to use to relubricate the item. I may need to return when the digital boys are on site. I was thinking of wiring some spare level final selector outlets to the S&T connectors so that the AT5422 could "dial up" the junctions for easy testing. I may need to discuss this with Rick.

11 March : posted by Rick

Those in today Rick, Martin, Charles and Allan. Started with tea/coffee and cakes (supplied by Allan's wife) and we were joined by Steve Harris ( S & T ) for a general chat and what future work is required. Consequently it was a late start as we all went to Parkend. We removed the old cable wiring from one of the newly fitted cabinets and then tried to put the existing cable in to the cabinet but because of the cold, the cable was difficult to bend and we had to dig back until the cable could be bent sufficiently to be fitted in to the cabinet. We then visited the second cabinet and had a similar experience but did manage to fit the cable in eventually. Now we just need the new cable to be supplied and laid out along the track.
After a late lunch we returned to Parkend to look for a backboard for one of the cabinets which was in the signal box. Allan took this home to ready for fitting next week. Martin then went home while Rick and Charles returned to Norchard to have a quick look at SPT 2z as the DP records do not seem to be accurate. It looks as if it routes through DP 3R. Further time needed. A good day in some respects.

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This page was last updated on
12th March 2020