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Whistle Codes

Discussion in 'Railway Operations M.I.C' started by ruddingtonrsh56, Jan 5, 2021.

  1. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    I can't find much in our rule book to say; however, from this (somewhat old - 2006) page, I think it is a warning, not a signal:

    https://www.bluebell-railway.com/brps/signalling-bells/

    "Other bells we use are Shunting bells. Although not in place at present whilst Horsted Keynes is being re-signalled, normally when a movement is made into the down sidings at Horsted Keynes a lever in the box is pulled to strike beats on a bell situated close to the entrance to the sidings in order to warn anyone in the proximity of the movement."​

    There is a photo of the lever here: http://www.bluebell-railway.co.uk/bluebell/pti/lgepics/shuntgonglever.html From which it can be seen that it is separate to the main lever frame and therefore not in any way interlocked. I think the intention would be for anything shunting into the yard from the station to provide a warning to people working in the yard.

    Tom
     
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  2. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

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    You've raised an interesting point that we've ignored. The rulebook refers to audible signals and we are taking these to mean whistle signals and nothing else. Shunting gongs would have been relatively common and having a standard code for these makes sense. As I mentioned in an earlier post, audible signals are also in regular use on multiple units for the guard to signal to the driver. Two for go ahead (start) and three for set back. The former is probably the most used signal on the Network.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2021
  3. andrewtoplis

    andrewtoplis Member

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    The last occasion I saw whistles used was on the bluebell many years ago, when hauling the stock up into the newick. The shunter (or guard I can't remember now) had been giving hand signals until he had lost sight of the loco, at which point they continued until he was inside the signal and blew three whistles to stop. I believe he then gave come towards once the signal cleared and they rolled back into the platform.

    I'd suggest that this is the sort of thing it was used for, ie a small extension of movement. I can't see shunting being done in full darkness without any notion of where the shunter was.
     
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  4. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Possibly (see also the post from @Wenlock).

    I think if I ever reach the heady heights of driver, I'll just remember three means "stop" and any other number means "stop and go and reach a clear understanding with the whistler!"

    Tom
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2021
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  5. andrewtoplis

    andrewtoplis Member

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    I'm sure in the old days when they did these things day in, day out they were well aware what they were doing!
     
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  6. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Our rule book does explicitly say:

    "The standard code of audible signals by means of bell, gong, horn, whistle, or other appliance used for signalling to Drivers engaged in shunting operations is as follows: [snip]" (my emphasis).

    Trolling round trying to find out more about shunting gongs, I came across the following - frustratingly without giving the actual source, though the implication is a steam-era rule book.

    Standard system of gong/whistle signals given to drivers in shunting yards

    Go ahead 1 beat or blast
    Set back 2 beats or blasts
    Stop 3 beats or blasts
    Ease couplings 4 beats or blasts

    Which suggests that they were used for signalling as well as warning. I'm wondering whether in a large yard you would have a head shunter controlling all moves from a central point from which they could sound a gong; with subsidiary shunters on the ground doing the donkey work of coupling and uncoupling, pinning down brakes etc? In that situation, a locomotive could be moving from one end of the yard to another, but provided there was a common understanding of which direction meant "set back" (presumably going in the direction from away from the running line towards the yard) and which meant "go ahead" (presumably from the yard towards the running lines), there would be little confusion.

    (Apparently green was the standard lever colour for gongs after about 1920; prior to that it was yellow, with green used for distant signals, but the colours swapped, my guess is at the same time as distant signals stopped being painted red).

    Incidentally, à propos the original question and @Steve response about signals approaching junctions, the same source has a list of such codes for use when passing signal boxes indicating which direction to be taken ahead; and also for indicating such things as a needing a new engine, a line side fire etc.

    Tom
     
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  7. Wenlock

    Wenlock Member Friend

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    I am no longer a driver, but if I were then any whistle signal given without first "reaching a clear understanding" would mean stop to me, unless I can see the shunter/guard and can tell that it is only to draw my attention to a visual signal.

    Since you reference my earlier post, perhaps I should mention that KESR has "shunting bells" at Tenterden which are a means of communication between shunter/guard/fireman and the signalman. They are used for movements which require to pass the STOP boards protecting the overlap for arriving trains. Thus movements to or from the headshunt which would foul the overlap on the Up STOP boards on the loop or platform line need the signalman's permission, requested by a coded ring, permission given by repeating back the same code. The code is location specific, different codes for different sdgs. The code includes "one long ring" to mean stop all movement and contact signalman. These shunting bell codes are normally used for routine shunts at the Headcorn end of the station. There is an exception in that the loco off an arriving train in the platform line may pass the STOP board and proceed towards the headshunt without the signalman's permission, but does require the shunter's permission. The term shunter includes a guard in charge of a shunting movement or the fireman in the case of a light loco.
     
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