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Sunday, January 3, 2016

Workin the HARRIS Tower Model 14 Machine

The Harrisburg Chapter NRHS has pulled off a minor miracle preserving the old PRR HARRIS interlocking tower on the west side of Amtrak's Harrisburg station complex.  Built around 1930, HARRIS and its 112 leverl US&S Model 14 interlocking machine would have been a huge achievement in preservation just being saved from the wrecking ball.  However the Harrisburg chapter went one step further, restoring the machine to its 1940's configuration and then restoring it to operation through the use of PLC's and Train Dispatcher 3's external interface functionality for model train layout control.

At some point I'll do up a more comprehensive writeup on the tower and its history, but for now I wanted to post a number of videos taken during some of my visits to the tower.  When the tower is open (Saturdays, May through October) the staff runs a real time schedule from the 1940's.  Power changes, commuter trains, long distance passenger jobs and freight, the simulation is so accurate the phone rings with voice cuts recorded from a PRR tower operator.

Running an interlocking machine is an operation best captured in video and HARRIS tower is probably one of the best places to do it.  To this end I have two sets of videos, one captured in 2015 with my Go Pro, which conveniently left my hands free to work the levers.  The other set was captured in 2013 with my still camera forcing me to work the machine one handed.  Thanks to the informative staff the videos don't need much external explanation.

Here in the GoPro series I am working an evening schedule.  In the first video we have some issues identifying what is locking the 96 lever.  In the second video there is a legit failure of a relay that was fixed after I stopped filming and went to lunch.

Here in the 2013 videos I'm first messing about with the machine doing various movements and moving some light engines around in the second.

In the future I'll try to produce a series of tutorial videos on working Model 14 machines and the one at HARRIS in particular.

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