To paraphrase Vane Jones, "Knowledge is of little value until shared with others."

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Automatic Block Signals on the Chicago and Utopia Railway – Part 2

While Circuitron products have been used on my layout, there are other electrical methods to "wire-up" the electronics for block signals. You'll have to look them up yourselves. My goal was to cut through the fog of signaling and the difference between automatic block and interlocking home signals. 

Automatic block signals have a number plate on the post or just below the signal head for low signals. They have their own rules governing the meaning of the signal colors.

Walthers at one time had a number of O scale signal products. The items were well built and completely in scale. A modeler could have an operational block signaling system using the Walthers products. Below is a copy from the 1958, 2nd printing Walthers catalogue.

When Walthers dropped their O scale product line, Keil-Line Products purchased the soft metal castings part of product line. Over the years John Keil has upgraded many of Walthers castings. Today Keil-Line’s track side signals have colored plastic lenses installed with white bulbs. When looking at my signals you may notice the color of the bulbs does not always match. The lighted bulbs do not photo well.

Contact information for Keil-Line Products is: 6440 McCullom Lake Rd.; Wonder Lake, IL 60097; tel/fax815-728-0595; email   A catalogue cost $2.00. Unfortunately John does not have a web site to display his products.

Keil-Line signals are superior to the old Walthers items. However, I had a number of Walther signals, so I stuck with them. An explanation of how my signals work if they are not powered by Circuitron  DT-2 boards and why, if need be, the particular aspects (colors) were chosen.

Besides Keil-Line an other source of signals is NJ International, Inc. (NJI) and Atlas   Both NJI and Atlas products are more expensive than Keil-Line. Old unused NJI products have shown up on EBay. NJI has both old and newer styles of signals. Atlas tends to have newer signals which may not be applicable for you trolley era.

An individual who has trackside signals is the Irish Track Layer  John has interesting items.

On my layout the track side signals do not operate the trains. That is, they do not stop trains to prevent accidents. The motorman is responsible for the control of the train.

This is the drawing of my layout with a red letter next to each signal. The red letters are the key to the explanations. I’ve not placed any numbers on the white number plates on the automatic block signals. Getting the white plate on the signal was enough of a problem.

The signal heads are either 2-lights or 1-light. The colors many be red, yellow, or green. The colors mean -

  • red - stop and wait 5 minutes before proceeding at 1/2 normal speed and prepared to stop if track is occupied.
  • yellow - proceed at restricted speed usually 15 mph.
  • green - proceed at speed described in rule booklet.

  • red over red - stop and stay.
  • yellow  over red - proceed at restricted speed usually 15 mph.
  • green over red - proceed at speed described in rule booklet.

 Automatic Block Signals - Note the white number plate under the signal head(s).

Letter A – low 2-color head red and green. The low head signals were chosen since the location is on a secondary track, a siding to go onto a mainline track. The signal is “powered” by a Circuitron board.
This signal is on a large concrete base. Normally it would be a small base. It looks like a number plates needs to be installed on the base.

Letter B – ground level 2-color head, red and green. Location is between 2  main line tracks where the traffic is 2-way. Traffic on the track to the right is going away while traffic on the left is moving toward us. This signal head is normally on a mast. A ground level signal head was chosen for clearance of models. Visitors bring models to run. I don’t want them damaged. The 2 tracks are close together. The signal is “powered” by a Circuitron board.
Many modelers have used this size of signal in yards to show the direction in which traffic is routed at a turnout.

 Letter D – 2-color head on a mast, red and green. The signal is “powered” by a Circuitron board.
The sides of the signal's head have been filed off the same as on the CSS.

Letter E – two, 2-color heads on a mast, red and green, the upper head is for the main route, the lower head is for the divergent route to the left. The signals are “powered” by Circuitron boards.
This signal shows stop for the main route and the diverging route to the left. The low green light is for the turnout indication.
Letter G - two 2-color heads on a mast, the upper head red and green is for the main route to the left. The lower head of yellow and green is for the divergent route.

The red and green aspects of the upper head are “powered” by a Circuitron board. The yellow and green aspects of the lower head are controlled by the position of the turnout. A small electrical lever switch was installed next to the turnout.

The reason for choosing yellow instead of green was, the divergent route is not protected by a Circuitron board (signals). There is no way of knowing if any cars are on the track. The motorman needs to proceed at a slow speed expecting the track to be blocked.
At this location the divergent route is the track directly ahead. It is the start of a yard lead to trolley barns and open track storage.

This photo shows the small electrical lever switch which is activated by the throw bar of the turnout. Note the clutter normally seen at turnouts. The name "Kanary" is for George Kanary a fellow trolley modeler. His work is fantastic! All the areas where turnouts are located have the name of a modeler. This makes it easier to describe a location to another modeler or visitor. 
The lever switch needs to be camouflaged better.
Interlocking Home Signals

Letter C – ground level 2-color head, red and green, PLUS a fix red signal. Although this should be signal heads on a mast, the ground level signals were chosen for clearance of models. The red and green aspects of the signal are “powered” by a Circuitron board.
The round item in front of the signal is a battery vault. Keil-Line has many items which appear in and around signals.

Letter F - a 2-color head, red and green AND a fixed red signal on a mast. The red and green aspects of the signal are “powered” by a Circuitron board.

Letter H – two 3-color heads on a mast, red, yellow and green interlocking home signal. The 2nd signal is in the distant left. These 2 signals are for the foreign railroad. The red aspects are always shown.
Both signals are NJ International products.

The following photo shows the clutter found in and around signals. Like on a model layout, the prototype railroads have miles of wires for signals. Cabinets plus wiring and battery vaults are needed. When included on a model layout the scene become more real to the viewer.

Like anything on the layout, things are never done. I was unable to get the grade crossing lights to work. Also, as I was preparing to write this post the need to install 1 signal and rebuild another near the CRT station were noticed. Then, the lack of a signal showing the mainline vs. diverging routes for train traveling in a counterclockwise direction was noticed. It looks like the west bound interlocking home signal needs to be rebuilt. This drawing shows the location of the needed signal work.

With the extremely high temperatures the Chicago has been experiencing, work on the layout on the 2ndfloor of the garage can only be done for short periods of time. There is an A/C unit for the layout. But I don't want to run it continuously. This means the additional changes in the signals will happen over time.

Now I think we can get back to the AEFRE #49! I had no idea the work on the layout would consume so much time.


1 comment:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.