Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Phones and Racks

Tuesday 3rd May
It's a while since Mike S gave us an update on his ongoing work with the GWSR communication system. We have gained a new recruit, Paul, whose background is in office phone systems - so straight away we put him to good use in the Stationmasters office at Toddington who were requesting a second, easier to reach, phone in the office. It was lucky that a cable route was seen which was nearly all on wood making the tacking much easier. Hope the staff can enjoy this new more convenient location.

The next task was in the Steam Dept signing on lobby where a new extension had been long overdue. A black  phone was chosen from stock for this as we thought the standard ivory would look a bit grubby before long!

From Left to right: Keith (Digger) Livett, Mike S, Jim Price and newbie Paul. Curly was behind the lens.

To explain the above photo, we move  to Toddington signal box locking room where four of us are struggling to lift the 3cwt PAX (Private Automatic Exchange) telephone unit to enable a fifth volunteer to slide a repaired support trolley underneath. One of the original castors had expired, so all 4 have been replaced with heavy duty castors.
The reason for having this unit movable, I hear you ask?
Well, some very important cross connections ( jumpers)  are only accessible via the back panel and the trolley allows access all round whilst the unit can be stored close to the wall. This  gives better access to the mechanical bits in the confined space.

Work also continues on the new concentrator phone system. The one for Toddington signal box will be the largest capacity 15 SPT lines, that we have built so far.
We hoped to change this during July but preferring to err on the side of caution and knowing how critical these systems can be, we may delay it until we can see at least a two day gap in the running schedules. Even if this means waiting until the winter shut down.
This will then complete a series of four installations leaving only Broadway when the time is right.
This will be a completely new install- much easier than trying to keep two systems working together.
 Each signal box will then have telephone concentrators which are similar in operation and appearance.


Finally, we erected a new set of racking up against the container in Winchcombe yard. We are going to stack 4 GWR motor point operating units on this. They are currently languishing on the ground out in the open by the MSC shed. One of these will eventually be installed at Broadway south near    Childswickham  bridge once it has been overhauled. Another job for the near future. 



  1. Mentioning telephone PAX which I suppose has electro-mechanical uniselectors and possible strowger switches, reminds me of the GPO telephone days. Also PABX (private automatic branch exchange) which were connected to the telephone network, I was a maintenance engineer (Technician) who maintained these, together with Bakelite dial telephones. I was kept busy as they required regular maintenance. These were installed in factories, offices & such. The railways had their own engineers, with same type equipment.

    1. Your right Steve,thats exactly what it is. We have 2 of them one built by Plessey, the other by AT&E of Liverpool. Based on 2000 type selrs and Type 2, I think Uni's as linefinders. My assistant Paul who is used to more modern computer systems cant get over how you can hear the progress of the call and even work out the called number by the sounds. Happy days, bank cleaning, dag oil and parquet floors.I was a Y3YC in Central London in 1965. Ended as a T.O.

  2. I trained with Post office telephone then worked for Reliance part of GEC, then Plessey joined us. We had some small PAXs of 25 extensions which were purely uniselectors in wooden cabinets, to open racks of 4000 extensions in a room of its own. My father was a T.O in Birmingham Victoria exchange and my grandfather was a linesman working on bare copper wires. If a doctors line went out of order, my father was called after hours, which was mainly a selector which had stuck in position. I sometimes went with him when I was little which
    my interest in telephone. I remember having a sickle shaped tool which you put a impregnated cotton sleeve on to clean the banks of selector connectors, which took ages and a aching wrist.