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What kind of signal is this?

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  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,205 posts
What kind of signal is this?
Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, October 17, 2001 9:47 PM
Y'all may find this amusing but I was watching a 'Thomas' video with my three year old son and I didn't understand about the signals used in the story. In the story, there is a semaphore signal which moves up instead of down. When would you use a signal that moves up and when would you use a signal that goes down?

In another story they refer to a 'distant' signal and a 'home' signal. What is the difference in these types? In this story, the engine is happy to see the 'distant' signal because it means there is a water tank ahead.

I only know a little about signals which I read in the book 'How to Operate Your Model Railroad' by Bruce Chub. It is a great book for model railroaders. Let me know what these signals are for if you can. Thanks. - Ed
  • Member since
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  • From: US
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Posted by pgrayless on Tuesday, October 23, 2001 11:57 PM
Ed,

From what reading of English magazines and books my understanding it that a home signal shows the condition of the next block, while the distant signal shows the condition of the block after the next block. I could be wrong here, but it seems to make sense to me. As for the downward movement of a semaphore, I've not heard of this before, but it could refer to a lower quadrant signal. The upper quadrant signal would move upwards to a vertical position to indicate a clear block ahead. ?? Good luck on this one. I've seen several picture of signals from all over the British Isles, but no mention as to a movement downward to indicate a clear block. Basic signal design would not allow for this kind of movement though, as the failsafe position would normally be down to a horizontal position to indicate that the next block is occupied (i.e. a red light).

Paul
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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, October 24, 2001 11:54 AM
Paul,

Thanks for your help. I'll keep digging.

I suspected the home-distant signal relationship but I wanted more than just my thinking on this one. The upper vs. lower motion is more strange to me. Also, I notice that some semaphore blades are painted red and others black. I also recall that some blades are forked which means something special as well.

They are no more complicated than our illuminated signals. You just have to dig to find out about the rules. Thanks again. - Ed
  • Member since
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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, November 19, 2001 6:18 AM
Ed,
The Semaphore signals used in Queensland, Australia are based on English practice so I can answer a couple of your questions.
1. The semaphore arm does drop down to a 45 deg. angle to mean no restriction. In case of failure a counterweight which also contains the colored lenses lifts the arm to horizontal.
2. A distant signal provides a warning that the train is approching a station and the next signal the 'home'will be clear or stop. The distant has a yellow arm with a black stripe and a 'fishtail' end. The lens are yellow (caution) or green (procede)
3. The Home signal denotes the limit of a station or yard and controls the movement into the station/yard. The arm is red with a white stripe and the lens show Red (stop) or green (procede).

There are at least 8 other signals used with various arm lengths and colors used for communicating with the drivers (engineer) before radios. It must have been confusing sometimes approaching a major station with tracks going everywhere and numerous semaphores on a gantry especially if the weather was bad.

Darren
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,205 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, November 19, 2001 6:22 PM
Darren,

Thanks for the information. I have been curious about the colors of the semaphore blades for a while. Now I can teach my son about them. BTW, do you know why some semaphores move up and others move down?

Catch you later - Ed
  • Member since
    January 2001
  • From: Niue
  • 735 posts
Posted by thirdrail1 on Monday, November 19, 2001 8:53 PM
Ed, semaphore type signals were once extremely common in the US, and there are still a few around. The lower quadrant type had the blade pointing down 90 deg. for clear, down 45 deg. for caution, and horizontal for stop. The upper quadrant pointed up 90 deg. for clear, up 45 deg. for caution, and horizontal for stop. Over the years, most lower quadrant signals were replaced with upper quadrant ones as the signal would go to stop if the power failed. Signalling is not uniform among railroads, and with mergers, is not even uniform on any one railroad. The same applies in Great Britain, where there were once independent railways. It is possible some railroads used upper and lower quadrant signals at the same time, but their significance would only apply to that particular company.
"The public be ***ed, it's the Pennsylvania Railroad I'm competing with." - W.K.Vanderbilt

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