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Discussion in 'Railwayana' started by Reading General, May 24, 2017.

  1. Reading General

    Reading General Part of the furniture

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    There was an auction recently in Ireland with hundreds of Irish railway items available. I bought this one, it cost a lot of dosh but is for the line that used to run behind my house , so nice to have,

    Does anyone know what machine it would have been used with? Be nice to get one of them too

    Picture won't load, I'll keep at it

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2017
  2. Reading General

    Reading General Part of the furniture

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    edited
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2017
  3. Andy Williams

    Andy Williams Member

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    Webb & Thompson.jpg

    Your item would have been released from a Webb & Thompson instrument similar to this.
     
  4. Reading General

    Reading General Part of the furniture

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    wow, I hadn't heard of Webb and Thompson, I'm guessing it would be rare ?
     
  5. Reading General

    Reading General Part of the furniture

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    would you know what it wold have looked like when new? It's very rusty but I see traces of red paint
     
  6. Andy Williams

    Andy Williams Member

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    IMG_0025.jpg

    This is one from my own collection of Irish train staffs, in the condition in which it was last used. I believe that some were painted, but all of those that I have are in a similar state to this. I don't think that paint would have lasted very long on these in general use.
     
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  7. Reading General

    Reading General Part of the furniture

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    not sure mine has brass on it....i'll clean it up, maybe black lead it.

    it actually looks like a bit of old boiler tube
     
  8. paulhitch

    paulhitch Part of the furniture

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    They were quite common but would have been rather unwieldy if exchanged at any speed. The later patterns, such as the Miniature Electric Train Staff and various tablet/token systems were lighter and could be attached to a wire hoop via a leather pouch. I have seen electric train staffs in both red and black.

    PH
     
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  9. paulhitch

    paulhitch Part of the furniture

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    Forgive me but are you sure this is not a Miniature Electric Train staff instrument rather than a Webb Thompson?

    Apologies,

    PH
     
  10. torgormaig

    torgormaig Active Member

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    I seem to recall that these were common on ex-LBSC branch lines in Sussex in my younger days. I think what is now the Bluebell Railway used them back in the day as well. I always feel it's a shame that they are not still in use there, but I'm sure there are good reasons for this.

    Peter James
     
  11. huochemi

    huochemi Active Member Friend

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    A Bluebell one is for sale at Stoneleigh in a few days' time. http://www.gcrauctions.com/sale229/lot357.html
    I assume the OP's one is Kanturk-Banteer, which is not common but has been in auction before. Definitely a W&T Large. The smaller RSC staffs, which are less common in auction, have four rings. Staff machines are expensive and are very heavy.
     
  12. Andy Williams

    Andy Williams Member

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    Paul, the photo shows a floor-standing instrument for the large W&T staffs. The ones in the machine each have an Annett's key on the end. The breeze block wall in the background of the photo can be used to get an idea of scale. The miniature train staff instruments were considerably smaller.

    Best Regards

    Andy
     
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  13. torgormaig

    torgormaig Active Member

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    The description in the auction catalogue is interesting. The line did indeed close in '58 but Sheffield Park box closed in '55 and was never reopened for the '56-'58 "sulky service", so the staff presumably dates prior to '55. However I wonder what the key was used for as I can think of no intermediate frames between the two locations. Any ideas anyone?

    Peter
     
  14. Reading General

    Reading General Part of the furniture

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    it's actually Kanturk to Newmarket. There were several Kanturk to Banteer token in the sale.
     
  15. flaman

    flaman Well-Known Member

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    The history of the development of electric train staff and token systems is interesting, though rather complicated, so I'll take my life in my hands and try to give a simple, layman's explanation. Please note, signalling experts- I don't pretend it to be comprehensive, but it seems to be a subject which many railway enthusiasts regard as a no-go area.

    The use of train staffs or tokens goes back to the early days of railways, when each train passing through a section of single line had to be accompanied by a policeman, to protect against head-on collision. Policemen, then as now, were expensive so the policeman's staff of authority, his truncheon, marked with the name of the section, was carried instead. These staffs could also be fitted with keys to open intermediate sidings. This was fine if the working was "balanced", i.e. the staff came back to its starting point on the next train, but if not someone had to walk back with it. The answer was "Staff and Ticket" working; the signalman shows the train driver the staff, then gives him a paper, or sometimes metal, "ticket", which authorises him to take the train through the section, giving the ticket to the signalman at the other end. After a maximum of three trains have been sent through with "tickets", the staff must follow and no train can be sent in the opposite direction without the staff.

    In addition to all this, the block telegraph system, which became mandatory in 1889, was also used and Edward Tyer, a leading manufacturer of signal telegraph equipment, had the bright idea of combining the block telegraph with instruments that automatically and securely dispensed tokens. In Tyer's Electric Tablet system, the token is a disc, known as a tablet, marked with the name of the section. The instruments are in the signalboxes at either end of the section and each contains a number of tablets. The signalmen go through the normal procedure of block telegraph working and then, by both depressing their instrument's plunger together, one of them can withdraw a tablet from his instrument and give it to the train driver. Once this is done, both instruments are securely locked and no more tablets can be withdrawn until the one that has been removed has travelled through the section, been given to the signalman at the opposite end and placed in his instrument. Then the whole procedure can be repeated from either end of the section. Tyer's invention was very significant, as particularly if used with automatic token exchange apparatus, it could double the operating speeds on single lines and a number of secondary main lines which could not have justified the cost of double track were built as single track, using the Tyer's tablet system. A good example of this was the M&GN.

    Many railways purchased Tyer's equipment, some, such as the GER, quickly adopted it as standard. Some however, were less impressed; he mighty LNWR tried the Tyer's system, but thought it could do better, thus came about the Webb & Thompson Electric Train Staff Equipment. "Webb" was Francis Webb, the LNWR's CME, who probably had little to do with the development of the system, but whose exalted position allowed him to take most of the credit! The electrical side of the W&T system was basically similar to Tyer's, but it was very different mechanically. Tyer's system is a fairly complex affair, consisting of slides and latches which are prone to wear and require frequent adjustment, whereas the W&T is a relatively simple rotary system. The main advantage claimed by the LNWR and it's signalling contractor, the Railway Signal Company, was that it used a token that was similar in size and shape to the traditional train staff. Even more important, you could still fit an Annett's key in the end of the staff, whereas with Tyer's tablets all existing siding locks etc. had to be replaced with Mr. Tyer's special, expensive and allegedly inconvenient tablet locks.

    All went well until Webb & Thompson instruments began to be supplied to railways other than the LNW, whereupon Tyer claimed infringement of patents. He went to court and won, but received little benefit and the W&T system continued to be sold. There were disadvantages to both systems and the GWR, which used both Tyer's and W&T systems, encouraged Tyer to develop the Electric Key Token, which used smaller and neater tokens and instruments and used a rotary mechanical operating system. The LNWR, presumably fed up with paying compensation to employees injured during hand-exchanges of the heavy "large" staffs, got the RSC to develop the Webb & Thompson Miniature Electric Staff Equipment and, later still, the Railway Signal Co. developed the RSC Key Token system for the LMS.

    The odd thing is, that after all this competition and a certain amount of skulduggery, all these systems were still in use until the final victory of the computer at the end of the 2oth century. And of course, the earliest of all, pilotman working, is still used in emergencies, though not now with policemen.
     
  16. paulhitch

    paulhitch Part of the furniture

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    I understand the usual position was that devices patented by an employee of a company were used by that company free from royalties under the individual's terms of employment. Use by others was a different matter as with Webb's radial axleboxes. It was thus advantageous to have your own version of a successful device even if the differences to get around the patent made it inferior.

    It would not have have been "nice" to have exchanged Webb Thompson staffs at speed. Legend has it that at one
    location, firemen were wont to throw the staff into a convenient flowerbed leaving them to concentrate on the pickup. Hopefully, all soil was removed prior to insertion of the staff into the machine.

    Even at tourist railway speeds with relatively lightweight equipment, great precision is required. Seeing well trained people exchanging tokens is like observing rifle drill.

    Paul H
     
  17. paulhitch

    paulhitch Part of the furniture

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  18. Reading General

    Reading General Part of the furniture

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    that's how I am treating mine...I've cleaned off the rust and I'm thinking black metal polish or black lead for the shaft. The rings are indeed brass and I have lightly polished them and the name plates.
     

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