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Author Topic: Signals on US layouts  (Read 1792 times)

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Offline Trent

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Signals on US layouts
« on: July 21, 2015, 11:06:32 pm »
Hello all,

I recently tried to read several websites about the use of signals on American railroads, and found them completely impenetrable. I was wondering if anyone could shed light on where signals and signal towers should go.

I understand that signals create blocks of track - so as to keep train 2 out of a length of track ahead of it where train 1 currently is - but should one be placed before every set of points?

Online Mirrlees

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Re: Signals on US layouts
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2015, 12:21:42 am »
Hi

I know that the signals only protect the blocks as you say.  After that I am stumped too.

On another or CR Signals do a nice US style Searchlight signal.
Tim Hitch
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Offline Webbo

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Re: Signals on US layouts
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2015, 03:52:06 am »
Hello all,

I recently tried to read several websites about the use of signals on American railroads, and found them completely impenetrable. I was wondering if anyone could shed light on where signals and signal towers should go.

I understand that signals create blocks of track - so as to keep train 2 out of a length of track ahead of it where train 1 currently is - but should one be placed before every set of points?

I too have wrestled with signal placement on my Canadian Pacific layout. I tried researching the web and found some information on how signals were used primarily in block control, but issues such as details of signal placement were not addressed. What was useful for me was to use Google Earth to look at where signals were placed with respect to points for example on actual rail lines. In the high resolution images near major towns and cities, you can easily see the shadows of the signals and use the Google Earth measuring tool to determine the distance of the signal towers from the side of the rail and from the points. I have a passing track and determined that 3 signal towers each with twin searchlight targets were to be placed around each end, one on the approach to the passing section and one on each track leaving it. Other useful sources of information on all this stuff are photos in picture books or on the web that can be used to determine the heights of the signal targets.

Not all points have signals associated with them, and to make things more complicated some signals are dwarf signals.

Another manufacturer of high quality N scale signals is Showcase Miniatures who make kits of a number of different signal styles which can be lighted.

Good luck with it all.
Webbo


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Re: Signals on US layouts
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2015, 09:28:52 am »
These signals do look nice :)

Showcase Miniatures
Tim Hitch
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Offline Webbo

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Re: Signals on US layouts
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2015, 09:39:07 am »
Folks, in my post, I meant to use the term signal mast rather than signal tower. Tower implies something a bit more grandiose than the metal pole to which signal heads are attached.

Sorry about any confusion for those that might be interested.

Webbo

Offline mr bachmann

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Re: Signals on US layouts
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2015, 10:41:00 am »
is a signal tower a signal box ?

Offline Webbo

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Re: Signals on US layouts
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2015, 11:53:38 am »
is a signal tower a signal box ?

Yes. I believe so, but I don't think they are much used in North America nowadays.

Webbo

Offline Trent

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Re: Signals on US layouts
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2015, 10:10:55 pm »
Aha thank you! both for the signal placement advice and also I had seen those signals before but forgotten which company made them.

I have a run-around loop leading off to various sidings (well, at the moment, but it's a feature that's stayed in my fluctuating world) and it seems to make sense to have signals to keep things out - facing outwards from the run around - and to keep things in. Will also give me an excuse to do the Tichy Train Group signal tower

Offline mr magnolia

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Re: Signals on US layouts
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2015, 10:44:57 pm »
is a signal tower a signal box ?

I agree, they look lovely. Lovely looking kit elsewhere on that site too. Thanks for the link.
No idea what I would need to buy to get a working signal set though!
Donald

Offline Webbo

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Re: Signals on US layouts
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2015, 12:09:21 am »
is a signal tower a signal box ?

I agree, they look lovely. Lovely looking kit elsewhere on that site too. Thanks for the link.
No idea what I would need to buy to get a working signal set though!
Donald

I have the older fibre optic Showcase Miniature signals, but these new ones have a LED right inside the signal head. What you would need to buy to get a double head signal to operate is 1) the mast and ladder kit and 2) 2 x the LEDs that go in the targets. Quite expensive I fear. When wired up with the current limiting resistor, they operate off 12 V. The LED has a common anode and another 3 wires for the 3 colours. With my fibre optic system, I used 3 mm LEDs in a small mount I made under the baseboard. My system can be assembled at about 1/2 the price of the Showcase Miniatures new signal system, but are still nice and bright. I wired them up to indicate point direction on my passing track - a great simplification on real railway practice I know, but my signal lights will change from red to green when the points are thrown in the favourable direction.

The model of the signal itself is the same in the new and old systems as far as I can tell and is VERY nice.

Webbo




Offline mr magnolia

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Re: Signals on US layouts
« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2015, 11:54:33 pm »
Thanks for the info Webbo - its a topic I shall return to in due course...

Donald

Offline BigBoy

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Re: Signals on US layouts
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2015, 01:06:47 pm »
Dear signal placement;

I suggest you try to meet up with someone that actually worked for the railroad. Some retires are in the modelling hobby and can be tapped for advice. Try asking around at local shows or hobby shops. Nothing like getting the insight from an actual railroad man !

Offline Webbo

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Re: Signals on US layouts
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2015, 02:13:19 pm »
I've just spent the last 4 days sitting on the train between Vancouver and Toronto and have had the chance to observe lots of signals along the way. On the  CN line I saw mostly two types of  signals. The block signals which change from green to red when the  loco passes and the signals controlling the passing track sections. The block signals are spaced at intervals along the track and usually have a signal head pointing in both directions on a single mast on either the left or right hand sides of the track. The passing track signals come in groups of 3 at both ends of the passing track section. Generally, there is one double headed signal just upstream of the points on the right hand side (facing) the approaching train and there is two signals just downstream of the points facing the other direction. The main through track (straight track through points) is controlled by a double headed signal and the passing track is controlled by a dwarf signal.  At least 80% of the passing tracks had this arrangement.I have no idea whether the US railroads (or CP Rail) have a similar system, but I would guess so because the CN system seems to be very logical to me. As for what happens in stations and freight yards is beyond me as there was not much experience of these on my trip. Passing the freight yards and stations, it would seem that these are controlled mostly by dwarf signals where there are any.

As BigBoy suggests, the best bet would be to catch a retired train engineer to explain the details.

Webbo

Offline jpendle

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Re: Signals on US layouts
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2015, 08:27:57 pm »
If its any help you might not need any signals
The BNSF sub from Denver to Cheyenne is a single track line with sidings and passing loops and there are no signals at all, the entire sub is 'dark'. By way of contrast the UP single track line between the same cities is fully signaled for bidirectional running.

Regards,

John P

Offline N-Gauge-US

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Re: Signals on US layouts
« Reply #14 on: October 27, 2015, 02:54:27 pm »
They aren't as omnipresent as in Britain, no, but they do exist. I live in Asheville, North Carolina and I recently drove over to the Norfolk and Southern yard here and there is a signal tower:

 
Signal tower N&S Asheville Yard, Asheville, NC, USA
Signal tower N&S Asheville Yard, Asheville, NC, USA

Thought you might like a photo of one. :)


I also found a link to a very good description of how US signaling works and where what types are generally placed. It also has a description of periodization and some illustrations of various types. I hope it helps clear some stuff up. It is long and has a lot of detail but I didn't find it impenetrable: http://trn.trains.com/railroads/abcs-of-railroading/2006/05/railroad-signals

is a signal tower a signal box ?


Yes. I believe so, but I don't think they are much used in North America nowadays.

Webbo
« Last Edit: October 27, 2015, 03:01:05 pm by N-Gauge-US, Reason: Added a link that is (hopefully) helpful »
Check out Avondale - My heritage railway themed layout :)

http://www.ngaugeforum.co.uk/SMFN/index.php?topic=29371.0

 

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