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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Samsung Model 14

When dealing with 80-year old technology sometimes it might not be practical to make alterations using the same methods great grandfather would have.  After technology is allowed to match on for decades or centuries the need for changee may result in strange mashups or hybrids. Thanks to its highly regulated nature railroad signaling is certainly no stranger to this phenomina where the best solution is often to touch as little as possible least you suddenly find yourself staring at millions of dollars in costs and extended downtime.  Examples of this include use of LED lighting on mechanical semaphores or the remote servo-manipulation of mechanical levers, but today's example is a bit more audio-visual.

Recently CHURCH AVE interlocking on the New York City Subway's Prospect Park Line was re-signaled resulting in the retirement of the resident US&S Model 14 interlocking machine that was installed by the IND Subway System way back in 1933.  The NYC Subway is home to a good number of surviving US&S and GRS electri-mechanical power interlocking machines and even when they are replaced the NYCTA has stuck by the use of all relay logic because why fool with what works and you can fix in house.  In addition to the operators in the tower, platform dispatchers need to maintain a view of the line in order to manage headways and make platform announcements.  In some cases the tower and dispatch office are co-located.  Other times they are not.  In those cases the dispatcher is provided with a mimic model board giving the same view as the towermen.Well for whatever reason the dispatch office at the west end of the outbound platform was never fitted with such a model board.  In the years before CHURCH AVE tower (located at the east end of the outbound platform) was replaced, the Transit Authority came up with this novel solution to avoid having to graft a new model board on to the 1933 electronics.

Having trouble seeing what they did?  Here is a closer look.

They pointed a CCTV camera at the 1933 vintage model board and then piped that into a Samsung flat screen monitor in the dispatch office.  What can I say, it is certainly effective even if it is a bit of a kludge.  If you went back in time and asked one of the original signal engineers if they thought this casual use of television would be more or less likely than let say...flying cars, I wonder what their answer would be.  I mean even if such a thing were technically possible how could it ever cost less than just stringing several thousand feet of wire.  I mean aren't workers cheap?  Of course I also got some video of the model board in action.

If you are wondering why the model board doesn't seem to show all the trains properly it is because some of the track circuits (specifically those on the express tracks) have already been cut over.

Anyway if you would like some more examples of technological mashups here are a few more from the Syrian Civil War courtesy of Forgotten Weapons.

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