Position Light signalling

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Fri Mar 9 20:37:12 EST 2012

All N&W rule books 1960 and before show speed signaling. 1967 book shows route signaling same as used
on NS today

Larry Evans

Original Message -----
From: NW Mailing List
To: nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Sent: Friday, March 09, 2012 1:51 PM
Subject: Re: Position Light signalling

The following may be useful to you if you "operate" your model railroad:

The signaling books/pamphlets at the NWHS commissary are imminently useful, especially the Diagrams of Signal Aspects. Nonetheless, this pamphlet shows the aspects as they appeared in 1960. As you have steam in your photo, you will need the aspects as they appeared - perhaps sometime in 1949-55. I have attached a brief diagram showing some heads/aspects as they transitioned through the years. As I recall, this was provided to the list by Ben Blevins and to him I credit it.

Unfortunately, I know of no model railroad signal manufacturer who makes N&W signals from the 1940s-53 period. Many PRR signals would be very close/passable except for N&W home signals. Custom Signals (http://www.customsignals.com/) can probably manufacture these for you, but custom work has a custom price.

Of particular note is that many N&W position lights used a single light below the main head(s) to distinguish absolute signals from permissive "stop and proceed" signals. In N&W practice, the bottom light was on for absolute "stop and stay" and off for "stop and proceed." This was the opposite of PRR (and most all others). N&W's situation being that a burned-out bulb would reveal an unintended permissive aspect.

Lastly, I don't have an N&W rulebook from the 1940s-1959 so cannot comment on whether N&W used "route" signaling somtime in the 1940s-1950s. In route signaling, aspects conveyed a route - not a speed. The engineer was responsible for knowing the track area and the required speed. Where a "speed" signal approach aspect rule might show "slow to medium speed", the corresponding "route" aspect could indicate "prepare to take diverging route." This would be a good question for the list.

I would also recommend to you Railroad Signaling by Brian Solomon. This book is available at a number of internet locations and is ISBN 0-7603-1360-1. Interestingly, the author addresses both British and U.S. railways.

I'm modeling N&W signals in 1953 so would like to see your efforts. Please contact me off-list at cherokee180moss at verizon.net

Dick Merrill, Stafford VA

On 03/07/12, NW Mailing List<nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org> wrote:

Some two masted signals supported on a single Y shaped post I though indicated where a single road split into two routes, but on further study these are positioned where no such split occurs. I also thought that signals were sighted to the right (Engineer's side) but again not always does this hold true, although those on cantilevered brackets seem to help in this way. Can anyone point me in the right direction on these matters?
Rule 337 from N&W Rules & Regulation effective 11/18/1951 - "Signals are located over or at the
right of the track they govern, unless otherwise provided." The "Y" shaped post supporting the
two signal masts was identified as a bracket. As a rule, on the Shenandoah and parts of the Radford
Division, the mast governing main track movement was taller than the mast governing movement from
the leaving end of the siding. Where there are bracket signals governing movement in either direction
on two main tracks, the brackets are of equal height . Where two main tracks converge into one, the
bracket signal would be at the leaving end of the two main tracks, not at the entering end.

I also see that the heads themselves usually only have lights for a limited number of indications to suit each individual case, the remainder of the positions having blanking plates.

Until about 1960, most aspects were displayed by three amber (yellow ? whatever!) lights in various
positions (vertical, horizontal, or diagonal) on each signal target (a.k.a. head). As color position
lights came into play, there was no need for the center light because CPL's required but two lights
per head to conform to the signal aspect. The center hole was then plugged with a plate.
Harry Bundy


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