Notes on Wood Post Signals installed at Carrog Station.
To fit in with the chosen period of the Station Restoration (mid 1950s) wood post signals are necessary throughout. These were researched, materials and parts sourced and assembled by the Friends of Carrog (FOC) group.
The signals were handed over to the Railway’s S&T dept who carried out the final installations using the road-railer crane. An exception was the first signal installed (platform 2 down starter) which we hauled into position using pulley blocks and props.
As far as we know Carrog is the only ex-GWR branch line station recently restored with an authentic set of wood post signals. We consider the result to be not only perfectly in period with the rest of the restoration but also to present a set of signals which are visually far superior to the later brand of steel post signals.
The signals have proved to be one of the most interesting features of the Station Restoration and probably, for novices, the most difficult and time consuming part. This was especially the case as not one of the site team had previously given more than a passing glance to the subject let alone to the intricacies of the wood post GWR variety. Consequently the learning curve was steep and diversion of labour very considerable! Of the eight signals that were required we found the double bracket to be the most complicated and the advance starter with goods arm the most difficult to get right. Contrary to first expectation no two signals turned out to be the same, each requiring its own set of components and dimensions.
From the beginning the signals generated a great deal of interest from many sources partly because assembly was carried out with minimal equipment and in the open under the canopy of Platform 2!
Old photos of Carrog Station were studied so that the signals could be sited according to the original set-up and layout, consistent with present day and future operational requirements. Unfortunately none of these photos was of sufficient quality to provide detailed information. Moreover the one or two surviving examples of wood post signals on the line were rapidly being replaced under the Railway’s own brand of ‘modernisation’. Therefore research from various books and periodicals, other railways, GWR catalogues together with much detective work was all required to get the design as correct as possible. Owing to the position of the siding and loop points the most obvious difference from the original plan is that the up starter and bracket signals are positioned closer to the Station.
The ongoing project is financed by heritage grant aid, donations to the Friends of Carrog fund and various other sources. Components such as cast iron fittings and fabrications specific to GWR wood post signals were supplied machined ready to fit by Geoff Newton against a schedule and patterns provided by FOC.
From the start we made the decision to use bolted base plates rather than putting the posts directly into the ground. This involved considerable additional materials and fabrication. Time will tell if this decision was the right one, which is anticipated to make for easier installation and replacement and at the same time avoid the main site of rot and potential failure of wood posts, namely the part just below ground. It also saved purchasing around 10 feet more timber per post! To the same end a great deal of effort was made to re-treat drilled holes etc and apply lead flashings to all instances of exposed end grain. Rusting mild steel screws used during the installation are being progressively replaced with non-ferrous or hot dip galvanized items.
Having gone to considerable trouble to install authentic period signals a corresponding effort is needed to ensure that the adjacent line-side equipment is also in keeping. To this end we are working to relocate items such as modern telephones etc into authentic ex-GWR type enclosures.
As of early 2010 the first signals to be completed have been exposed to the elements for up to 9 years and since commissioning have performed satisfactorily subject of course to perennial maintenance.
FOC 10th Jan 2010.