Signal box lever work

A lot of my work on the railway this year has been as part of a team building up all the components to make a 27-lever signal box frame. Components from two separate dismantled boxes were gathered from a variety of storage locations on the railway. Shown here are some of the segments prior to them being dismantled.

The various components are shown here placed side by side to ensure there are sufficient parts to make up the frame. Three base sections, the various segments along with segments supporting the locking trays (not shown), and the end castings were then all ready to be sent off for shot blasting.

Levers needed completely stripping down to their component parts. There were two types of lever, the differences being in the foot casting and the end of the catch rod. Each lever consists of a number of components: the foot, the lever itself, the catch rod, catch handle and pins, a spring housing and spring.

As can be seen, the shot blasting had a quite dramatic effect. Here are the levers as returned after being cleaned and primed. The two leftmost levers show the differences – each has a different type of foot and the stop for the catch rod – a square peg on one and round on the other are also different.

The spring housings, shown here on top of the cleaned and primed segments were not sent away and were cleaned by wire brush and files. New spring had to be ordered for these as the originals were mostly in a very poor state.

Assembly of the frame commenced after space was made in the workshop. We tried a few methods of assembly and in the end it proved easiest to place each lever without the catch rods or spring assembly and add those later. Despite losing a few nuts down various holes this work carried on that way.

Here, the first five levers are in place. Only 22 to go…

Assembly continued over a number of weeks, working one day a week. This photo shows the locking trays in place.

Finally, all the levers were in place fully assembled and adjusted to ensure that they moved smoothly. This proved tedious as numerous adjustments had to be made not just to the castings, but also catch rods, levers, and even some of the springs had to be shortened.

The next steps are for the frame to be marked up and dismantled. It will then be sent away for the locking to be built up before coming back to us ready for assembly in the signal box. This story is ongoing and will be continued!