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Friday, January 31, 2014

PHOTOS: Port Road Trips - WAGO To SHOCKS

This installment of Port Road Trips is going to be a short one between it includes only the two intermediate signal locations between WAGO interlocking, discussed in the last installment, and SHOCKS interlocking located at the junction of the Enola Branch and Royalton Branch.  Unlike the automatic signals between WAGO and STELL which had been almost entirely replaced with NS type Darth Vader masts, the section between WAGO and SHOCKS exists as an island of PRR signaling with both locations getting a bit of a refresh when everything else was getting the color light treatment.

I will be showing off the signals with two sets of photos.  The first are part of the larger Port Road tour collected in 2004 by a friend of the blog and shows what things looked like before the catenary poles were removed.  The second group of photos were taken just recently in 2013.  Unlike the signals north of WAGO these were not recently renumbered by NS as they were never seen as part of the Northern Central milepost system and reflect the distance to Parkesburg, PA.

The first of the two locations is the Milepost 45 automatics.  Here in this 2004 view you can see the typical layout PRR PL automatics where there is a single catenary mast.  One signal is mast mounted to the cat pole in the typical electric territory style.  The other signal is mounted on a standard PRR ABS mast.  Back in 2004 this section of the line still played host to an out of service 138kV 25Hz power circuit and an active 6000V 100Hz signal power circuit.  Note the old school mast base/relay case next to the larger PRR relay box with the attached block phone. 


The 495W ABS signal typically displays Approach for the Stop signal at WAGO, but back in 2004 it seemed that a train was en route as WAGO was pulled up enabling the 495W to display Clear.  There is no lower head since WAGO does not provide for any non-Restricted speed diverging routes. 


 Somewhat backlit view of the 496E automatic displaying Clear with the catenary poles stretching off into the distance.


Getting to the MP 49 automatic did not require any sort of off road hiking as not only are they located adjacent to a small park road running along the Susquehanna River, but the Conrail C&S forces  took the time to build this handy dandy little stairway up to them.  Note the 6000V signal power supply.  Each place the signal power was tapped the PRR provided a isolation switch in case there was some sort of line fault.  Far above the PRR's 25Hz power supply is a modern day 3-phase 60Hz high voltage transmission line.




Here is the same view in 2013.  A bit washed out due to the overcast skies, but as you can see all the interesting bits have been cut off the catenary pole since the NS scrap crews made the rounds in 2011.


Without the cat poles the scene is much more depressing.  Note 495W is displaying its usual Approach indication and the poorly strung power supply cable.  Note that the mast has was trated to a fresh coat of silver and black paint in the 2010 refresh.


 View in the opposite direction showing the 496E automatic displaying Clear, the catenary poles having vanished.


No, you aren't seeing things.  The 496E signal was upgraded to a Safetrain type position light by Conrail sometime in the 1980's, but not repainted by NS in its refresh.  The Safetrain components are actually aluminum and do not rust like the US&S PLs.


In the ~2010 signaling refresh the old relay boxes saw a few alterations.  The old mast-base box was replaced by a sheet metal unit.  A new commercial 120V power supply was strung from the nearest utility pole and enters the relay box at the upper size.  The block phone box has been removed and finally the old buried signal cables were replaced with flexible modern replacements with the cable running to the 495W signal exiting the bottom of the box.


Angle view of the cut down cat pole mast with the old power supply and the PRR style ABS mast.  This was one of the minority of signaling locations where NS actually bothered to remove the old 100Hz signal transformer.


Just for fun here is a comparison of the US&S PL-3 position light lamps and the Safetrain lamps.  The major difference is that the US&S Lamps work with an internal parabolic reflector that allows for lower wattage bulbs for battery operation at the expense of complex internal lenses to prevent phantom indications.  The Safetran units use higher power bulbs with no internal reflectors.



Two miles to the east we encounter the Milepost 47 automatics.  These are probably the most accessible signals on the entire Port Road-Enola Branch as they are literally situated 5 feet from a major local road.  Here in the 2004 view we can see the same single pole cantilevered catenary poles that were present at the MP49 signals along with a similar signal and power arrangement including a block phone on the relay box.



The westbound signal is numbered 477W and typically displays Clear.   This was given a Safetrain upgrade by Conrail in the 1980's.





 Backlit eastbound view showing the 476E signal which serves as a distant to CP-SHOCKS and is equipped with a lower head for Approach Medium indication.  In the distance you can see a dragging equipment detector on the westbound track #1. 


2013 shot of the same subject.  Note the new pain job on 47W.


Westbound view showing the fully intact catenary pole with the old 138kV insulators.  This was not altruism on NS's part as the pole was used to mount the antennas for a wireless link back to CP-SHOCKS probably to convey track circuit information to the dispatcher via the ATCS pole line replacement. Yes. there is a new old relay box in place to handle the wireless stuff. 


Speaking of relay boxes, lets take a look at the hacked together mess that NS has provided at this signaling location.  On the far right is what I believe to be the equipment for the dragging equipment detector.  Next comes the new relay box to handle the wireless link equipment and the 60hz to 100hz power converter.  This is connected via pipe to the original relay box which has the new flexible plastic signal cable coming out of it as well as a telephony style cable that runs eastbound along the RoW on stubbed cat poles like a pole line.  It also has a small antenna sticking out of it for reasons unknown.  Finally we have a battery box which may or may not still be in use as the new center box is now marked with the hydrogen gas warning stickers that accompany battery banks.


Angle view of the 476E automatic showing the Safetrain upper PL head over an original US&S PL-3 lower vertical head for Approach Medium indications. The catenary pole mounted signal got the same "no paint for you" treatment as the MP 49 automatic.


If you are wondering why Approach Medium is needed if this is a 251 line and there is no facing point junction routes at CP-SHOCKS it is because the #2 track between SHOCKS and COLA was bi-directional 261 since the 1930's COLA CTC project. Here we see the 476E in its default state of Approach for the Stop signal at CP-SHOCKS.  Again note the DED paddle on track #1 in the background.


Looking at the other side of the 476E we can see how NS re-wired the signal back to the relay box.  The new cable first plugs into the large terminal box in the back of the Safetrain unit.  Then a second cable breaks out of this and proceeds down to the lower head where it plugs into the hub of the PL instead of the signal's original terminal box. which I guess was having issues.


The 477W signal did not appear to be having any such problems and its entire wire run from the head back to the relax box was left intact in an opposite situation as was seen at the MP 47 automatic where the cat pole signal was left untouched and the PRR mast was re-wired.


The 477W was a bit brighter than either the 476E or the 496E signals.


Here is an intact example of a signal power sectionalizing apparatus with knife type copper switches operated from ground accessible handles that were used to isolate one part of the signal power feed from another.  Signal power original came from the traction power substations located about 10 miles apart.  Signal power could be fed from either end making outage recovery a simple matter of isolating a fault.  After the overhead wire was pulled out signal power came from supplies at Perryville, Safe Harbor and Amtrak's substation at Harrisburg (and possibly Royalton).


 That's it for this week.  Next time on Port Road Trips we will explore CP-SHOCKS.

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