NEWS 2014

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During 2014 - improving our simulator

 For much of the year we were working on improving the simulator on the operating floor of the box which shows how the box worked before closure. The object of the exercise is to improve the reliabilty of the operation of the simulator. It not only involves a complete rewire of the system but new purpose-made interface circuit boards. All to be driven by a 'Raspberry Pi' computer.

The top photo on the right, taken in January, shows the initial stage where connector blocks have been mounted on the backboard supporting the track diagram, which has been made to swing out for easy access.

The bottom photo shows the stage reached in October when the new interface boards were being put in place and wired up to the connector blocks.

Other improvements include revisions to the way the lever positions are detected.

LMS Ground Signals relit

The stack of three ground disc signals at the end of the garden have been lit for
some time by 14Watt halogen lamps. Due to the distance to the box the power
has to come, all the signal lamps were rather dull due to the voltage being low.
By replacing the halogen lamps with much lower power LED lamps, the voltage
doesn't drop so much and the lamps are brighter. But there is a difference in colour
as seen uncorrected on the left-hand photo; the green has too much blue in it.
The right-hand photo shows the better green colour obtained by putting a yellow
filter just in front of the LED bulb.


New 'Level Crossing Gates' and Gate Lamp


The left-hand picture is a view of the garden from the top of the distant signal at the north end taken in July. At the far end can be seen one white gate.

The right-hand picture shows how by August both gates hand been painted white and one fitted with a newly-acquired gate lamp. Later on a red disc would be fitted to make the gates look even more like a level crossing. 

New Gradient Sign

Another gradient sign, of all-metal construction, is seen here being planted: 

Curious how these signs never seem to propagate themselves!


Signal 16 Repositioning

(a)                                              (b)                                          (c)                              (d)

Signal 16 is one of our longest-established working exhibits, having been installed in 2009.

(a) shows the station looking south in 1976 from the road bridge (before it was altered prior to electrification) and the original signal 16 can be seen between the two slow lines - the up on the left and the down on the right. It allowed trains terminating at St Albans in the Down Slow platform to be returned towards London via crossover 17 - just visible under the front of the approaching DMU. A ground-mounted colour light signal was used as there was no space available at the end of the platform for a signal on a post, and the red aspect is at the top of the signal to ensure it is as close to the driver's eyes as possible. (Our grateful thanks to Mr David Blower allowing the use of this photograph.)
(b) shows the signal as originally sited at the North end of the garden in October 2009. But over the following years plant growth rendered the signal virtually invisible from the box so that when lever 16 was operated nothing could be seen of the aspect changing in response!
(c) is a close-up of the signal as resited to the lawn during 2014; the large plant with yellow flowers in front of the right-hand signal was the principle culprit in obscuring the signal in it's original position, and was too nice to cut down.
(d) shows the signal as seen from the 1st floor of the box. Being on the lawn all we need do is trim the grass to keep it visible.

May - The St Albans Steam Fair

We attended the St Albans Steam Fair held in the grounds of Oaklands College.

The two photos show (top) a general view of our display and (bottom) a close-up of our array of lit lamps and our connected 'block bells'.




De Havilland Model Railway Club Show

As a result of attending the Chiltern Model Railway Show (see January below) we were invited to attend this show taking place at the Club's base in the Methodist church in Welwyn Garden City. On a much smaller scale than January's show, it was never-the-less another opportunity to boost our profile and sales!
Improvements to the stand as a result of January's experience in cluded a new purpose-made base on which to place our display boards and low-voltage lighting at the top of the boards.


Things that pass the box

In April we had a rare visit from one of Network Rail's inspection coaches.




Elstree Tunnel Sign

Our friends at Elstree and Borehamwood Museum moved into new premises recently and not having enough space, very kindly donated several items to us including this sign once placed at one end or the other of one of the two tunnels. It can be seen it is in several pieces and rather tatty in the top photo.

Two of our volunteers are seen in the middle photo removing many layers of old paint from the surface of the cast iron sign.

The bottom photo shows the restored sign mounted near the ground floor entrance to the box.





The Brollies arrive

A must have for sweltering summers, those rainy autumns and windy springtime days. Stylish and colourful, our new brolly is destined to be the stand-out product of the coming season


A wanderer returns

Towards the end of the regular Wednesday working party afternoon at the end of February, a carefully wrapped package was noticed up against our garden shed. To our amazement and delight, it turned out to be the 1970 track diagram that was in the box until it closed in December 1979. A note inside explained it was an anonymous donation to the Trust. The Trustees are most grateful to the donor and acknowledge the gift with our thanks. 




A shelter from the storm

To replace the lightweight shelter used in previous years to protect our welcomers and tea providers on open days, we started erecting a 'barn' type structure in late 2013. It is seen here after the addition of a Midland Railway style station canopy valance.


Chiltern Model Railway Show

This year the organisers were even more generous and gave us room to mount a display about the box and sell some of our wagons and other things. So we manned the stand and the box. Being by the show's exit, we were able to speak to most of the visitors, a number of whom visited the box either on their way to or from the exhibition.

The Railway Children in St. Albans

The Signalbox co-operated with the Company of Ten Theatre Group, with their excellent production of E. Nesbit's 'The Railway Children' at the Abbey Theatre, St. Albans, over the 2013 Christmas period. A number of artefacts were loaned for display and use in the production, and a Signalbox exhibition was sited in the foyer. Publicity shots for the production were taken at the Signalbox and the Director gathered ideas like Midland colours for the production, for which she was very grateful. The production was virtually a sell-out, and it is hoped that many of audience will visit the 'Box over the coming months.

Banners Banned

Late news ; St Albans City and District Council Planning Department threatened the trustees of the St. Albans South Signal Box Charity with statutory fines for displaying a banner promoting the production of the Railway Children (a play by E. Nesbit) - happy Christmas one and all - to hear the 3 Counties Radio Interview and take a tour of the council's promotional Christmas banners click here: .