NH "Switch Lever colors" inside Tower's

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NH "Switch Lever colors" inside Tower's

EdwardStewart
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Joined: May 29th, 2011, 11:11 am

May 6th, 2018, 7:32 am #1

Just completed the "LASER kit 388" 13 lever interlocking switch machine HO scale  and the directions pertaining to lever colors  have terms like "Most RR's used or Eastern Roads, such as PRR, and Midwestern Roads used,,,,,,but I'm interested in the NH colors for the levers,, Thank you Ed
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Statkowski
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Joined: March 5th, 2003, 4:39 am

May 6th, 2018, 8:17 am #2

Lever colors were standard, more or less worldwide, in mechanical interlocking machines, which included those found in New Haven's interlocking towers (NO apostrophe!).

BLACK - Switchpoints, derails and movable-point frogs.
BLUE - Locks for switchpoints, derails and movable-point frogs.
YELLOW - Approach signals.
RED - Signals.
GREY or WHITE - Unused levers.

I do believe that most mechanical interlocking machines were built in increments of four, thus you'd have a 12-lever machine, or a 16-lever machine, etc.  Of course, if you only needed 13 levers, then 3 levers in the machine would be unused.  Interlocking plants sometimes changed over time, so occasionally in the middle of a bunch of levers you'd have an unused lever or two showing where something once was but is no more.

An electric connection, as opposed to a mechanical connection, would be reflected by a white stripe across the middle of the lever.  With the incorporation of electric signaling and track circuits, plus the outlawing of wire connections, most signals were electrically connected, thus those levers got a white stripe.  Occasionally you'd get a distant set of switchpoints electrically connected (too far for a pipe run), and they'd get a white stripe.  If a single lever controlled both the lock and switchpoints, that lever would be painted with a BLACK top half and a BLUE bottom half.
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EdwardStewart
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Joined: May 29th, 2011, 11:11 am

May 6th, 2018, 11:07 am #3

Thank you Mr. Statkowski,  I knew I came to the right place , and I'm glad I bought 2 kits now. Ed
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Statkowski
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Joined: March 5th, 2003, 4:39 am

May 6th, 2018, 12:54 pm #4

The number of levers required, of course, depends on the complexity of the interlocking plant.
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Marcus Ruef
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Joined: February 2nd, 2008, 10:47 pm

May 10th, 2018, 11:19 pm #5

Rye had green pistol grips for controlling the traffic on Tracks 1 and 2 between there and New Rochelle.
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Statkowski
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Joined: March 5th, 2003, 4:39 am

May 11th, 2018, 10:04 am #6

If Rye had pistol grips then it was a GRS electro-mechanical machine.  The corresponding traffic levers at New Rochelle were labeled, but not colored since it was an all-electric machine.  If I remember correctly, the traffic lever at Oak Point for reversing traffic on track 5 between Bungay and Oak Point was a box on the wall with a lever.

But we digress, the OP was talking about a mechanical machine with floor mounted levers.  19th Century technology at its best.
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Goffprof
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Goffprof
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Joined: February 25th, 2008, 1:05 pm

May 12th, 2018, 9:07 am #7

Statkowski wrote:If Rye had pistol grips then it was a GRS electro-mechanical machine.  The corresponding traffic levers at New Rochelle were labeled, but not colored since it was an all-electric machine.  If I remember correctly, the traffic lever at Oak Point for reversing traffic on track 5 between Bungay and Oak Point was a box on the wall with a lever.

But we digress, the OP was talking about a mechanical machine with floor mounted levers.  19th Century technology at its best.

SS-214 (Hart”) in Hartford was an early US&S mechanical interlocking machine. The interlocking levers were connected to a mechanical locking bed that required us to physically “cut locking” in the steel plates that moved laterally in the machine when we made changes. The levers has electric locks that could be “picked” (to defeat the lever lock) with a threaded rod or “lock pick” that just happened to be the same thread as the brass rod that screws into a plastic toilet bowl float. When necessary, we screwed the lock pick in, pulled up on it and released the electric lock. Picking a lock was strictly forbidden, but necessary during signal testing.

Hart was a great Interlocking for me as a young Signal Maintainer as it taught me the basics of mechanical Interlocking plants. We maintained SS-274 (Spring) which was all electric, and of course the US&S 516A code system in Tower 75 in New Haven which was, at times, a nightmare.

Al Goff


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Statkowski
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Joined: March 5th, 2003, 4:39 am

May 12th, 2018, 9:45 am #8

Goffprof wrote:Picking a lock was strictly forbidden, but necessary during signal testing.

Hart was a great Interlocking for me as a young Signal Maintainer as it taught me the basics of mechanical Interlocking plants. We maintained SS-274 (Spring) which was all electric, and of course the US&S 516A code system in Tower 75 in New Haven which was, at times, a nightmare. 
Al,

Picking a lock was indeed strictly forbidden, by the S.S. Operator.  For a Signal Maintainer, however, the rules really didn't apply.  That being said, I did hear stories about operators picking US&S Model F electro-mechanical machines to expedite moves, such as accidentally clearing off the wrong route and immediately dropping the signal back.  Of course, if the approach circuit was already occupied then an automatic five-minute wait was involved.  If an operator had a key to open the top of the machine and knew what he was doing, what Upstairs didn't know didn't bother them.

You stated that S.S. 274, Springfield, was all electric.  I believe that tower had an electro-mechanical machine, probably a US&S Model F, but possibly a GRS pistol grip.

Henry
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Goffprof
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Goffprof
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Joined: February 25th, 2008, 1:05 pm

May 12th, 2018, 5:11 pm #9

Henry -- you are correct that SS274 (Spring) had a electro-mechanical (lever) machine, but was not pistol-grip.My comment on Spring's machine being electric was meant as a comparison with the Saxby-Farmer "armstrong" lever machine at SS214 (Hart) that was later modified by US&S. 

I just talked to my brother Bill, who was the Signal Maintainer at Spring until '71 or so. He thinks the machine was GRS and reminded me we stored replacement indicator bulbs inside the machine so they wouldn't get stolen. The Spring electro-mechanical machine had a locking bed below the lever section that we routinely uncovered and cleaned, then oiled the internal locking bed. There was a relay room downstairs (below the machine) and a small Maintainers office next to it.

For 20+ years, the 1st trick Tower Operator at Spring was Bob DeLisle.  Good guy, and great railroad man who know how to run trains and get along with the B&A and NH dispatchers.  

One note about picking locks.... for the most part, the NH Tower Operators I knew all had lock picks for the reason you mentioned. I recall seeing them run down the stairs in many towers to pick a lock due to a misroute as they had to get around the approach clock timers which were not standardized at 5 minutes, but the time release was calculated based on the length of the approach circuits. Most were at set for least 3 minutes, with some 5 or more so all hell would break loose if a mis-route wasn't "corrected". 

During PC, Conrail and even Amtrak through the 80's,we ran a lot of Hartford Line freights in addition to the passenger trains so tricky moves were often necessary to accommodate the traffic, just as with other NH towers.  The relationship between the Signal Maintainers and Tower Operators had to be good to avoid both getting fired....

I recall as a young C&S Supervisor spending a week in Tower 1 right after Amtrak assumed control in the early 80's. My boss told me to collect Lock Pics from *everybody*, even though the old air switches at that time were such a mess, rush hour traffic required some not-so-ordinary activities to keep trains moving.  We eventually replaced the (track) switches and switch machines, but I was instructed to leave one Lock Pick with the Maintainers for "testing" purposes.  

Those days make us all laugh 35+ years later, but they were certainly difficult in real time.  Nightly shootings all around the railroad in Bridgeport, movable bridge failures everywhere,  etc...

Al Goff, with historical & memory assistance from Bill Goff

(Here's a pic of Bill and I on the Poughkeepsie Bridge with his Penn Central hyrail (E-1831) in 1972.  We had just repaired a track circuit problem ahead of a freight. Notice my right foot is on the rail..!) Bill & Al Goff Poughkeepsie Brdg 1972.jpg
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Statkowski
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Joined: March 5th, 2003, 4:39 am

May 12th, 2018, 5:38 pm #10

A vertical locking bed below the machine was a GRS Style D machine.  The US&S electro-mechanical machines had horizontal locking beds, not unlike the horizontal beds on US&S/Improved Saxby & Farmer mechanical interlockings, only smaller.

I can design a Style D interlocking machine for a small interlocking plant, minus the electric locks and such, but I still have no idea how a US&S/Improved Saxby & Farmer machine works.

But, again we digress and drift off course.  The original subject was interlocking lever colors.

And if you really, really want to go nuts, here's what the Brits had:  http://www.modratec.com/mud_lev01.php (I have no idea as to what "scotches" are).

P.S.  Gotta love those 1970s haircuts.
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