Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Pennsy Positional and Red Snake-Eyes

(Update: In Chicago, I only see Red Eyes (absolute) because they are protecting a junction: Tower A-2 and CP Morgan.)
Lawrence Smith: Speaking of signals on old Ft wayne Div., PRR had ABS signalled w/current of traffic but never had cab signals or ATS like NYC did. FWD was slated for installation of cab signals but got it deferred during WW2 and PRR avoided it thereafter, at least W of Crestline. Amazing that with the speeds achieved on the FWD they got away w/it.
Ken Durkel posted
Pennsy position light signals once numbered in the hundreds in Indiana. Today only a handful remain, such as this one at Hanna, Indiana, protecting the Chesapeake & Indiana/CF&E crossing. But even these are mere shadows of their former self. They only display clear or stop, as they do not show block occupancy on this dark line, they only indicate if the crossing is clear.
Lawrence Smith: I think that in the steam era there were track pans at hanna.
Ken Durkel: The track pans were a few miles east, I think around mile 405. This picture is at the 409.

Ken Durkel posted
Westbound, Amtrak 41, Hobart, Indiana. This section was at the time of this photo the last section of double track from here to Ft. Wayne. Taken probably in May,1986. 
The signal was the westward home signal at Bart Tower and the EJ&E Porter Branch crossing, which would be behind me. By this date the "J" Porter Branch was torn up.
The signal in the photo caught my eye. The top signal is a standard Pennsy positional signal that can display the traditional semaphore aspects of vertical, diagonal, and horizontal. The bottom signal can display only one aspect, and it is a rather abnormal "back slash" or lunar aspect.

Ken Durkel,
In a comment, Ken provided a photo of the front of that signal. Note it uses three yellow lights to display an aspect, in this case vertical. Typically, this is an "all clear" indication, which means the train can pass the signal at track speed and the next signal should not be indicating a stop. Pennsy was the only railroad that used these three yellow bulbs in a row to show aspects. The following two signals in the IRM collection show these original lighted signals.

20150627 2072
Their sign below says the lights are white, but they always look yellow to me.

Ken Durkel commented:
"Here are the snake eyes on the
eastward home signal
It seems that Pennsy evolved their "stop" aspect to take better advantage of lights to make it more distinct by leaving the center light dark for a "snake eye." Ken then caught a "stop and proceed" indication (below):

Ken Durkel commented:
"And then as soon as the train clears the EJ&E diamond,
 a 'Stop and Proceed'
Ken's posting also contains some comments about dwarf signals for the Bart Tower. But dwarf signals are beyond my interest in signalling.

Dan Ferris commented on this RailPictures photo. I thought the two red lights were a B&O signal. But Dan Sorce explained "Both of those are Pennsy PLs - these ones have received the "red eye" conversion for STOP. "

To summarize, it appears the horizontal aspect originally was three yellow lights, then the snake eye that left the middle light dark, then the red eye that used red instead of yellow for the two outside lights.

I observed that they look white and the "stop" is not a "red eye." Jack explained:
Dennis, if you enlarge the image; you will find that the signals are (amber) as they should be. The only places that the stop aspects are red on the Middle Division are at interlockings or control points.
In other words, they use red eye for absolute stop and three horizontal ambers for permissive block signals. Since I do most of my railfanning in urban areas or at junction towns, that would explain why I have not seen three horizontal lights.

Jack Stoner posted his photo
On the Famed Middle Division - Westbound stacks "on two" races through the sleepy little mountain town of Port Royal, PA on a snowy January 28, 2017.
Jack Stoner posted his photo
On the Famed Middle Division - NS 8091 leads a Norfolk Southern manifest up the Juniata River Valley just after breaking away from the Susquehanna River at Duncannon, PA. Tucked tightly against the mountainside, and difficult to get to, the 121 "Intermediate" signal is not often recorded. Most likely due to access issues, and lighting much of the year is problematic. Backlighting in this image is less than desirable. The "121" was once the "Distant" to the eastward home signal at PRR View Tower - Duncannon, PA. Photo February 11, 2017. Sadly, with the implementation of PTC; this structure will disappear.

Marty Bernard posted
A GG1 in PC markings with Amtrak Train 51, the James Whitcomb Riley, at Seabrook, MD on March 15, 1972.
Rodney D Zona: Old Penn Central RR NYC based passenger train and engine worked to and from Washington, DC.
Benjamin Neideigh: The GG1 design is now roughly 85 years old, but there's still no better electric locomotive anywhere. It will always be the "motor" by which electrics will be measured.
Arthur House: The UP sleepers (there’s one right behind the GG-1) began to be assigned to 50/51 when they still briefly carried the predecessor C&O numbers 1 and 2, during mid-summer 1971.

Marty Bernard shared
Benjamin Neideigh: For a design that dated back to the early-to-mid Thirties, the GG1 was certainly blessed with durability, reliability and longevity. It powered most of the trains I rode between Lancaster, PA and Philadelphia and on to/from NYC from the Fifties (my childhood) until the early Eighties. I consider it the greatest locomotive, regardless of power source, of all time.
Third photo posted by Marty Bernard 
Roger Puta's photos.
3. Conrail GP38-2 8181 at Cove, PA on November 11, 1987.

Jack Stoner posted
On the Famed Middle Division - The quintessential Middle Division image, Ridge and Valley Geological District with irrefutable Pennsylvania Railroad heritage - soon to be lost forever to the advancing PTC project. The 211 "automatic", Barree, PA 4/7/19.
Martin Stierlen The quintessential Middle Division image, Ridge and Valley, Pennsylvania. Jack Stoner, nice pic !!

Jack Stoner posted
NS 6988 leads an eastbound Norfolk Southern manifest through CP Jacks in Jacks Narrows near Mt. Union, PA January 28, 2017. Left center is the PRR era dwarf signal displaying a Stop aspect guarding the exit from the ghost of Mt. Union Yards. How many thousand tons of Broad Top Field coal traversed this yard lead over many years of interchange with the magnificent East Broad Top Railroad here?
[Note the new signals are installed but turned because they have not yet been cut over into service.]
Jack Stoner posted
Deep in the bowels of the Lewistown Narrows at CP Hawstone, MP160, an area steeped in Pennsy heritage; NS 1117 hustles Intermodal east. Here the Denholm Scale track diverges for 31,680 feet to rejoin the 2 track main at CP Mifflin. Hawstone once hosted track pans to service steam locotomotives "on the fly" and Denholm hosted a massive coaling facility spanning 12 tracks during the steam era. Pennsy heritage is evidenced by the classic PRR position light signal set here. But, Darth Vader and the Evil Empire lurk in the background. Union Switch & Signal's product has governed movements at this point since the 1930's, but PTC compatible "traffic lights" await their call - (progress). Photo 4/1/17
Jack Stoner posted
On the Famed Middle Division - "Storm to the West" - NS train 15J is about to "knock the signal down" on #2 track at CP Hawstone MP160 deep in the heart of the Lewistown Narrows. Almost the quintessential Middle Division image here, steeped in PRR heritage and atypical weather of the Appalachian Mountain System as the rack train rolls west into a foreboding dark sky.
[Note the "Darth Vadar" signals turned to their side. The old Pennsy signals will soon disappear from the tracks.]
Street View   I made a copy because I wanted to catch the two tower cranes as well as the signals. 
Jack Stoner posted
Norfolk Southern Dash - 9, 9133 "cooks" the PRR position lights at Lilly, PA on a rainy May 6, 2017.
Jack Stoner posted
"Ghostly - That Legendary Port Road Fog" No wonder this was cab signal territory. Nestled snugly against the east bank of the Susquehanna River from Perryville, MD to CP Port at Creswell, PA; the Norfolk Southern Port Road Branch garners its share of foul weather conditions. C188 designates 18.8 miles to Perryville, and the tagged signal, as an "intermediate" or "automatic" between Controlled Points; in this case CP West Pilot and CP Midway. The Pennsylvania Railroad deemed the amber position light to be a superior wayside signal in less than ideal weather and fog. One would find it difficult to disagree in this instance.
Stan Carlson All of the PRR should've been cab signal territory! From a distance all we could see was a yellow dot! You had to get pretty close to make out which way they were pointed.David S. Patch And thus why they eventually adopted the "red-eyes" Stop aspect across much of the system.Robert Mike Shontz Three standing tall, sir!
Jack Stoner posted
Too many of us here in the east forget the "Hill" on the other side of Gallitzin - just as interesting and scenic. Here, a NS eastbound climbs the obvious grade at MP252 near Lilly, PA on a stormy, and cold May 6, 2017.
[Since this is a contemporary shot, there are no snake eyes because this is an intermediate (permissive) signal rather than a control (absolute) signal. Intermediate signals normally have a milepost sign on the post. I finally found the signs directly under the signal head.]
Jock Stoner posted
The now ubiquitous SD40E helper set climbs the mountain at the 2445 signal on track 3 December 2, 2017.
[Given the Dec. 2017 date and the old signal heads, it looks like Norfolk Southern is not make good progress towards implementing Positive Train Control.]
Jack Stoner posted
Eastbound NS 9620 casts a golden glow on the wet steel at Lilly, PA on a rainy February 24, 2018. The pride of Union Switch & Signal guards movement on Nos. 2 and 3 tracks in the form of the venerable PRR position light - still the finest!
[Now that I know where to look, this is milepost 254.7.]
Jack Stoner posted
NS SD70ACE 1043 hauls doublestacks east upgrade on #2 at Lilly, PA in a torrential downpour February 24,2018. Sometimes horrendous weather makes for interesting and somewhat disparate images; certainly worth a drenching to record.
[I believe the "stop" signal is being heat distorted by the exhaust from the locomotives. It appears the second one is BNSF pumpkin orange. NS does some run-through trains with BNSF all the way to Los Angles or Long Beach ports.]
Jack Stoner shared
On the Famed Middle Division - NS train 64R thunders east on #2 track as "Clear" is displayed over #1 track, Barree, PA 3/9/19. Short Mountain dominates the backdrop splendidly illustrating the stark beauty of Ridge and Valley Pennsylvania in the winter season. A patina of rust on the signal bridge and target boards contrasting with the blue sky grasps attention also. Not a huge fan of (locos only) images; I tend to bore everyone with my ,"What else there is to see" trackside impressions. (Sorry)
Dennis DeBruler I agree that shiny-sheet-metal-in-front-of-a-train photos can get rather boring.
Jack Stoner shared
On the Famed Middle Division - Here, the "Broad Way of Steel" even when shorn of tracks 3 and 4 still conveys - PRR - Standard Railroad of the World. But, not for long as the Pennsy identity will be diminished by the imminent removal of "automatic" signal 211, Barree, PA MP211 Pittsburgh Line. 3/9/19
20171122 8121, cropped
Dennis DeBruler Position Light signals in Chicago are now history. I like your mainline photos because there are no horizontal Position Light heads in Chicago. They were all Position-Color Light heads since they are at junctions and thus need absolute signals instead of permissive. Unlike the other railroads around here that installed new signal bridges, I see from a Street View that CP, Metra, and/or NS mounted the new heads on the old bridge. https://www.google.com/.../data=!3m6!1e1!3m4...
1915 - Dr. William Churchill of Corning Glass developed a pale yellow "fog-penetrating" glass, which the PRR then used in their PL signals. (3)
1915 - The Pennsylvania RR introduces (experiments) with the first version of the PL (position light) signal and it is nick-named a "tombstone" signal because the top of the signal was round and the signal resembled an old tombstone…… also, later adopted on it's affiliates the N&W and LV  (9)
 - The Pennsylvania RR changes the shape of the "tombstone" signals slightly so they do not present as much wind loading as the older style… they also used "stepped" voltages of 11, 6, and 4 volts to adjust for day, twilight, and night (and these were manual adjustments made by the signal guys) (9)

1918 - The Pennsylvania simplifies the design of their PL signals, eliminating one of the four "heads" for each aspect (9)
1921 - The Pennsylvania RR's PL's started taking the shape and configuration were are accustomed to today. (9)
Late 1940's - The Pennsylvania RR has converted 97% of their signals to position light types (9)
Mid 1950's
 - Some bright management type decided that the Pennsy PL lights should have two horizontal red lamps for the stop aspect instead of three horizontal yellow, so, now the red indication seemed to "disappear" when they had fog (8)

We take the round heads for Pennsy's Position Light Signals for granted, but the above shows it took a while to develop them. I wonder what the earlier heads looked like. Especially the original "tombstone" head.

A posting with examples in the comments.
Robby's posting from Racine Avenue with two Metra trains.
An album of position light signal heads. (source of link)
The proper term for a red-eye is "Position-Color Light." [RailroadSignals]

Jack Stoner shared his post
On the Famed Middle Division" - This was my last trip to the 221 "automatic", former eastward home signal for PRR Forge tower. Non stop trains in both directions, but the lingering knowledge that I would never be able to replicate this image remained present throughout my visit. Farewell old friend. Pittsburgh Line MP221 4/7/2019

Mark Hinsdale also shows that Pennsylvania is good for finding intermediate (permissive) signals. Note only is the stop aspect three horizontal lights, there are millage markers under each head.
Mark Hinsdale posted
"Trail Van East..."
A sunny, but cold December, 1979 morning finds a short, eastbound Conrail TV (Trail Van) train passing under the signal bridge at MP 332.7, near Irwin PA. This hilly ex Pennsylvania Railroad artery handled most of the TV and merchandise traffic between Pittsburgh and Johnstown PA, while the longer, but gentler graded Conemaugh Line to the north was utilized primarily for heaver bulk trains. Both routes perform in a similar fashion for successor Norfolk Southern today. December, 1979 photo by Mark Hinsdale

Mark Hinsdale shared

Mark Hinsdale posted
"Foggy Winter Day"
One of those days when the damp cold seeps through whatever clothes you're wearing and the smart money is on taking a seat by the fire someplace, rather than tromping around trackside. A westbound CSX auto rack train sails past "HO" Tower, at Hancock WV in December, 1995. Across the Potomac River, a half mile to the north, lies the actual town of Hancock, which is in Maryland. At this point, Maryland is only one mile wide, and the Mason-Dixon Line separating Maryland from Pennsylvania is only a little more than a mile north of here, on US Highway 522. December, 1995 photo by Mark Hinsdale
Dennis DeBruler: Good examples of Pennsy's "red eye" signal.

Tim Pavlic II posted three photos with the comment: "Tipton is about to go."
Joe Harbula More history in the dumpster...
Paul Alisea Reality Boys - them babies are heavy ! I mean just the signal heads are heavy in themselves. I'd like to have one but I couldn't handle it because of its weight. Some will be saved, and already HAVE been saved, but this old man couldn't handle one - maybe a single lamp unit (which I have) . Good luck to those who can get one and handle it :)


Jim Douthart So....... they rig it to the crane, put a little tension on the crane cable , cut it loose, swing it out of the way , lay it down, and finish cutting it up?Tim Pavlic II Jim Douthart pretty much. They swing it over and cut the legs off a few feet at a time. The rest is picked up later and trucked out.Jim Douthart Tim Pavlic II that makes more sense , thanks

Tim Pavlic II shared his post
04-28-2019: It was a dreary morning, appropriate for this scene. The signal bridge at milepost 225 on the old PRR Middle Division hangs in the air as work crews guide it alongside the right of way to have its legs amputated.
At about 05:30 EST, MOW crews obtained the track authorities to begin removing the last three PRR Position Light installations east of Altoona. Lost today were 225, 227, and 230, of which 225 was the sole PRR-era bridge. This brought an end to a classic railfanning location.
Focus now shifts to points west--the next PRR signal bridge to fall will be MG (one I do NOT suggest trying to access these days).

Marc Glucksman shared his post
Shoot it or lose it. Amtrak Pennsylvanian Train 43/Norfolk Southern 07T passed under the former Pennsylvania Railroad signal bridge in Tipoton, PA at 225 on the evening of Saturday, April 27, 2019 with P42DC 86 leading at just after 1900. This would be the last Amtrak train to pass under this structure, as on the morning of Sunday, April 28, 2019 it was removed as part of signal upgrades on the line. This serves as yet another reminder not to take for granted the landmarks that have surrounded these lines for decades, then disappear overnight.

Andrew Ovenden shared a Flickr with the comment:
The new signal system was cut into service today between CP-Gray (Tyrone) and CP- Antis (Altoona). The automatic block signals at 225 (Tipton - PRR era signal bridge), 227 (Fostoria - PL signals on a new bridge), and 230 (Bellwood - PL signals on a new bridge) have been retired and removed. With this cut-over, the new signal system is in service from Harrisburg to Altoona. Signal retirements and cut-overs will continue west of Altoona toward Pittsburgh and Conway very soon.

I watched this video until 2:42, but I could not see the lights in the signals. If I can't see them change, why watch?  It is a good demonstration of how focused the lights are that you can't see the light from trackside.

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