Signals and 
Signal Maintenance on the 
Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad

Part 2:
Semaphores and Hi-Railing


 
Part 1
Haulers and
Crossing Signals
Part 2
Sempaphores 
and Hi-Railing
Part 3
Semaphore
Replacements
Part 4
Odds & Ends
Wig-wags
NEW Part 5 NEW
Hugo to Glendale
Replacement Project

Click on thumbnails below for larger images.
 

We pace 508 for a while until we arrive at the first semaphore signal that Rick needs to work on.  Pictured here are the helpers on 508 splitting the signals near Wilbur, Oregon.

A few notes about signal indications:  On a two bladed signal like the one to the left, both arms out as shown indicate "STOP".  If the upper blade were down and the lower one out at 90 degrees, it would indicate "APPROACH" or slow.  Both blades down indicate "CLEAR".  Single bladed signals can only show "STOP" or "CLEAR".   Look at Carsten Lundsten's North American Signalling for a comprehensive look at how Southern Pacific's Automatic Block Signal System operates.

Rick has both the top and bottom equipment cases open in the base of the semaphore as he checks the voltage of the batteries.  These signals operate on battery power with a 110v charger constantly recharging the batteries. 
The heart and soul of the inner workings of a semaphore signal are displayed here in the upper case.   It's evident from watching Rick's loving attention to this ancient machinery that he puts his own heart and soul into his work.  Several times he tripped the slot coil to drop the signal and then cleaned the commutator of the motor as it whirred away.  The term "Runs like a Swiss Watch" came to mind watching the gears, chains, arms and contacts operate. 
The bottom case on the opposite side of the track contains the relays for the signals.  This relay case is typically on the same side as the pole line.   This pole line carries communications between signals plus the 110v current to run the battery chargers.
Train 508 is well on its way back to Eugene and nothing else is due for a while.   Rick calls Dispatch and gets a track warrant to hi-rail north.  Then, he deftly maneuvers the pickup truck onto the rails and lowers the small steel wheels.  In modern railroading this type of rig has replaced the speeders of years gone by.  Perhaps it's not as romantic as speeders and their trailers, but it's definitely more efficient and convenient.
Shortly, we're on our way with a ride offering more of a rough vibration than either highway or train riding.  However, it's neither unpleasant nor is it noisy as we roll along at the posted track speed of 25 MPH.  Hi-railers are limited to the track speed in the Timetable as well as slow orders listed on the Track Bulletin.  Also, they don't activate any signals and must watch out for vehicular traffic at grade crossings.
We hi-rail a couple miles north (near Sutherlin) and stop at another pair of semaphore signals.  Rick climbs the mast of one and goes to work polishing the lenses.   "This will make it a little easier for the crews to see the light," he explained.  Semaphores are not notoriously bright, and every little bit of illumination helps in the Oregon fog.
We pause at Oakland and Rick drops both sets of signals.  This is the only pair of doubles on his territory which extends from Green (just south of Roseburg) north to Curtin.  As we hi-railed on north, there's evidence of many semaphore signals that have been removed.  Some were replaced with colored lights, but many have just been taken out as blocks were lengthened.

All Photos Copyright 1999 by Larry Tuttle


Part 1
Haulers and
Crossing Signals
Part 2
Sempaphores 
and Hi-Railing
Part 3
Semaphore
Replacements
Part 4
Odds & Ends
Wig-wags
NEW Part 5 NEW
Hugo to Glendale
Replacement Project

Special thanks to Rick Perry and the Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad

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This page first built on March 3, 1999
And last classified on December 2, 2000