Stretcher Rods

Any aspect related to the structures and equipment on the Caledonian Railway Company.
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John Duffy
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Stretcher Rods

Post by John Duffy »

I have been reading with interest the topic on Point Levers and was wondering if anyone had a close-up photograph showing the stretcher rods on CR pointwork? I also noted the reference and photograph of them being boxed in. Does anyone know how long this practice lasted? For example, did it last throughout CR? Or was it stopped after grouping?

Many thanks

John
Jim Summers
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Re: Stretcher Rods

Post by Jim Summers »

John,

The covering of rodding etc is dealt with in the signalling book, now with the publisher. Basically it was more trouble than it was worth. The covering, I mean.

Strictly speaking, the term stretcher rod is not the right one for point rodding which might be covered. 'Stretchers' or 'tiebars' are terms more associated with point blades and track.

Jim S
John Duffy
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Re: Stretcher Rods

Post by John Duffy »

Ah Jim I do seem to have confused things. I was in fact referring to the stretcher bars or tiebars in my seeking of a clear image of them. I am looking for as to whether they were straight bars or were they shaped between the blades? I know we tend to generally refer to them as tie-bars (at least in modelling circles) but I noted the detail drawing in the thread called them stretcher rods, I assume because they were round in section rather than being a bar.


Many thanks

John
lindsay_g
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Re: Stretcher Rods

Post by lindsay_g »

I think this is what you're after :
Tie bars.jpg
Tie bars.jpg (36.22 KiB) Viewed 19623 times
A nice simple - and elegant - shape to model. In fact, here's a production line of them :
Lotsa tie bars.jpg
Lotsa tie bars.jpg (101.47 KiB) Viewed 19623 times
One side will be insulated by being Araldited into the blade within a wire sleeve. There's no need for the 2 part dropper if they've to be cosmetic but I'm intending to make them the turnout operating mechanism (and power supply to the blades). The stretcher itself is nickel silver but the 2 part dropper is 16g steel for strength. When installed the horizontal part of the dropper isn't visible so the stretcher looks round. Several have been installed and work but haven't been stress tested at all.

Lindsay
John Duffy
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Re: Stretcher Rods

Post by John Duffy »

Perfect - many thanks
Dave Lochrie
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Re: Stretcher Rods

Post by Dave Lochrie »

John,

Both Stretcher Bars and Tie Bars are correct in PW practice the former pushes apart and the latter retains, both of which are relevant in maintaining gauge and clearance along the length of the crossing blades. The Caledonian standard was a 3.5" "goose-necked" stretcher bar, which became a "round type back stretcher-bar" in BR PW standards. Different arrangements were used with locking bars. In fact on Lyndsay's 1905 photo the middle bar appears deeper but this may just be a shadow. What the photo does show if you pull back slightly is a moment in time when the adjacent crossing has been boxed-in but this one has not yet been "done" though the materials to do this are lying alongside, possibly even tidied for the photographer, one of GWW's staff.
CR STRETCHER BARS -naked and boxed.jpg
CR STRETCHER BARS -naked and boxed.jpg (125.76 KiB) Viewed 19616 times
CR 32ft Blades.jpg
CR 32ft Blades.jpg (54.26 KiB) Viewed 19616 times
The attached 1900 drawing shows the arrangement of stretchers on a set of standard CR 32ft blades with their throw of 3.5". The CR by the 1890's had adopted undercut switches for mainline use (which this example isn't) but note the distinctive end profile which was shown in this close-up from the point lever thread (it also shows a pair of stretcher bars between the first 2 sleepers, which are spaced wider on the drawing to allow this). This is an earlier pattern of straight-cut switch, (straight meaning in section).
Switch%20Blade%201.jpg
Switch%20Blade%201.jpg (40.28 KiB) Viewed 19616 times
This is all the kind of detail beloved by finescale modellers and the blade profile is certainly more visible in 4mm than the type of vertical cut to the blade's section.

Hope this helps.

Dave L
dumb buffer
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Re: Stretcher Rods

Post by dumb buffer »

I had always assumed that the wooden covering was associated with facing point locks only.

Allan F
Dave Lochrie
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Re: Stretcher Rods

Post by Dave Lochrie »

Allan,
There didn't seem to be a hard rule but a Facing Point would gaurantee boxing in most cases where an ordinary point might not, generally, it seems, on a main line such as this shot of Lugton East, a facing point just got a bigger box!
CR Point Rodding and Boxing.jpg
CR Point Rodding and Boxing.jpg (149.11 KiB) Viewed 19569 times
It may seem a bit OTT but it should save a fortune on etched adjusters, compensators and cranks. This photo begs the question why is there no boxing (yet) over the right angled cranks to the front left of centre, everything else that moves has been boxed?

Dave L
lindsay_g
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Re: Stretcher Rods

Post by lindsay_g »

They certainly seemed to like boxing over at Lugton - as far as the eye can see, everything is boxed over! Might the boxing-in have something to do with workmen walking along the track? The cranks would be left uncovered as no-one would walk on that line.

This is a good image for seeing the foundations for the rodding stools and cranks.

Lindsay

P.S. Boxing over must be the way to go rather than spending a lot more time manufacturing the locking gear - thankfully boxing over will be prototypical on Barnton.
John Duffy
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Re: Stretcher Rods

Post by John Duffy »

Very helpful and interesting. Does anyone know when the practice of boxing over stopped?
Dave Lochrie
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Re: Stretcher Rods

Post by Dave Lochrie »

I'd love to be enigmatic and say we will need to wait for Jim's book, but the truth is I don't know why the CR PW Department was so fond of boxing and covers, (as with all PW matters there is a degree of conformity amongst the other Scottish lines and with the NER, but the Caledonian appeared the most obsessive) Neither of my two previous reasons, safety or damp weather fully convince. Fan though I am I can't see that the chance to reduce the annual toll of linesman injuries is sufficient motive, and the though the weather protection theory is more possible surely the benefits gained are limited by problems of accessiblity, caused by the affects of the same weather on the timber boxing.
As for discontinuation, I can't give clear evidence, but it was rare post-grouping, so was either stopped by the new regime or was already dying out due to labour shortages during WW1 and never fully re-instated.
I'm trying not to provoke any other response from Jim other than "buy the book", but if you are modelling in CR days save all your plastcard or single ply offcuts as appropriate and don't buy more than one pack of etched cranks! This is another one of those features which are as much an essential part of the Caledonian as interlaced sleepers and lattice signals.

Dave L
John Duffy
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Re: Stretcher Rods

Post by John Duffy »

I rather suspect that those of us with an interest in such things are unlikely to be put off purchasing a book because one answer has appeared on a forum. The boxing in must have been a significant undertaking both in terms of man-power and cost, yet the benefit does seem a little unclear! Intriguing.
Brian Hayes
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Re: Stretcher Rods

Post by Brian Hayes »

I think today we forget how many employees walked along the track and could easily walk on rodding to avoid train movements and damage it, or in darkness suffer an injury if they were not observant. Boxing would have prevented possible damage. Stationmasters etc visiting boxes, traincrews and shunters, PW and signalling staff and others who may have operating interests would have needed to walk along operational lines. There were some designated walkways, but many of these are recent.

Brian Hayes.
IBrown
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Re: Stretcher Rods

Post by IBrown »

A bit late to the discussion; I'm not comfortable with the expression 'boxing-in' (as if to protect rods and wires) as I do not believe that was their purpose - if anything they were wooden ramps that acted as 'bridges' across rodding and wires in the cess or 4 foot and in my mind were always associated with walking routes (official or not) likely to be or regularly used by staff on or near the lineside going about their normal duties, and were installed to protect them from tripping, and snagging. They were still in use in the Mossend and Motherwell areas well into the 1970's. Two I recall vividly on walking routes at Mossend No4 Jn and Milnwood Jn boxes where the walking route passed in front of the box - the signal wires and point rodding 'exited' all along these walls.
dumb buffer
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Re: Stretcher Rods

Post by dumb buffer »

Wooden covers were commonplace in my experience and seemed to be used to provide a walking route over rodding or signal wires (whether for the benefit of the walkers or the signal fitter was not clear). They also seemed to be used to provide protection for more complex / fragile bits of equipment. I don't think I ever saw a FPL in my childhood. While acknowledging that it happened, it didn't seem to be usual to provide protective covering over the stretcher bars / tie bars in ordinary P & C work. I'd always assumed that the covering in the 4ft way was to protect the equipment from anything hanging down which might catch, such as couplings. Note that the stretcher rods / tiebars in Lindsays (and other) photographs are cranked, and lie at or under the level of the tops of the sleepers, whereas FPL's were on top of the sleepers.
In the picture of Lugton I cannot understand why the nearest covering should be so long. Actually, looking at it again, I think I see what might be a lockbar(?) against the far rail; the mechanism associated with this could be under the cover.
Won't it be boring when we can get all the answers in the book?
jimwatt2mm
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Re: Stretcher Rods

Post by jimwatt2mm »

dumb buffer wrote: In the picture of Lugton I cannot understand why the nearest covering should be so long. Actually, looking at it again, I think I see what might be a lockbar(?) against the far rail; the mechanism associated with this could be under the cover.
Definitely a detector bar there and the boarding will be to protect the mechanism for that.

Quite apart from the ramps which I too remember in the '60's-70's, the 'boxing-over' of point rodding cranks is clear in many photos in CR days. I have also seen photos of HR locations where this was done. I recall seeing a photo in an early 'True Line' of, I think, near Greenock, where a large run of rodding had one crank going off it and the whole run was boxed over in the area of the crank. I recall that some photos in the Angus Railway series of books, taken in LMS days showed these boxes in a rather dilapidated state of repair.

They certainly make life easier for we modellers of the CR period! :D

Jim W
dumb buffer
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Re: Stretcher Rods

Post by dumb buffer »

Unfortunately my memory is far from perfect these days, and I forget the proper names for things.
There was a bar which was found at platform ends and other locations where a vehicle might be forgotten. The Caley called them balanced bars, and they were simply depressed by the flanges of any vehicle standing on them, thus acting like a form of track circuit. The ones at Glasgow Central are mentioned in the 1915 Supplement (and there were still some in the Edinburgh bay at Perth the last time I looked)
The other sort of bar is this sort, where the bar is lifted and dropped whenever the FPL is moved. If a vehicle is standing on or moving over the bar it can't rise, so the points are locked. The bar needs to be longer than the wheelbase of any vehicle using the route, and this sometimes caused problems with foreign vehicles.
facing point bar4.jpg
facing point bar4.jpg (28.43 KiB) Viewed 19405 times
As I said, I can't now remember what you properly call these things, but I'm fairly sure the type illustrated is what we see at Lugton. And it would seem that any apparatus which was likely to be disrupted by careless boots or by anything dangling from a train would be worth covering in; and that's quite apart from any considerations of staff safety or convenience, which I don't think ranked high in the Company's priorities.

Allan F
Brian Hayes
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Re: Stretcher Rods

Post by Brian Hayes »

Another thought which has occurred to me that the covering of signal wires, point rodding etc gives protection from snow.

Brian Hayes.
IBrown
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Re: Stretcher Rods

Post by IBrown »

dumb buffer wrote:Unfortunately my memory is far from perfect these days, and I forget the proper names for things.
There was a bar which was found at platform ends and other locations where a vehicle might be forgotten. The Caley called them balanced bars, and they were simply depressed by the flanges of any vehicle standing on them, thus acting like a form of track circuit. The ones at Glasgow Central are mentioned in the 1915 Supplement (and there were still some in the Edinburgh bay at Perth the last time I looked)
The other sort of bar is this sort, where the bar is lifted and dropped whenever the FPL is moved. If a vehicle is standing on or moving over the bar it can't rise, so the points are locked. The bar needs to be longer than the wheelbase of any vehicle using the route, and this sometimes caused problems with foreign vehicles.
facing point bar4.jpg
As I said, I can't now remember what you properly call these things, but I'm fairly sure the type illustrated is what we see at Lugton. And it would seem that any apparatus which was likely to be disrupted by careless boots or by anything dangling from a train would be worth covering in; and that's quite apart from any considerations of staff safety or convenience, which I don't think ranked high in the Company's priorities.

Allan F
I've no direct experience of the type of bar you describe in the first instance. The other I am familiar with, it's a fouling bar, which operated in conjunction with either the lock bar or points lever (can't remember which, but would expect lock bar so that the points remained locked if there was a foul movement over them) and the fouling bar's operation was an 'up & over' motion and on the 'upward' the full length of the fouling bar rose to above rail-top level; thus if there was a train or vehicle standing over the points, the fouling bar, lock bar and lockbar lever were prevented from going through their full motions, so the points could not be moved from their pre-existing lie.
Dave Lochrie
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Re: Stretcher Rods

Post by Dave Lochrie »

As part of the research for the Aspects of the Caledonian, Trackwork article I have gone back to period publications to establish the terms in use at the time, where possible , though this may not be specific to the Caledonian (with the noteable exception of the 1912 publication Railway Signal Engineering (Mechanical) written by Leonard P Lewis of The Caledonian Railway, who's work I know Jim has refered to extensively in the research for his own book) . Period sources refer to timber covers where these provide protection for mechanical parts from trains, such as the FPL covers, these are most mostly flat topped with a "ramp" at either end. Mention is also made of boarding the primary purpose of which is to protect mechanical parts from company servants going about their business ( as Alan suspects no mention of protecting staff from the equipment) these also can appear flat-topped wth "ramps" but can also consist purely of the "ramped' parts with an apex and no flat component.
However, nowhere in contemporary sources is there any mention of the practice on the Caledonian ( also found on the NBR) of building sides and a removable lid for what was commonly refered to as the Crack or Compensator Frames (like Rodding Stools but for larger components), it is these that I have chosen to describe as boxes ( because that is an accurate a descrition ) but I concede this is not a period term. But neither Covers or Boarding are correct descriptions in this context. I apologise for using a close-up of the GWW Brechin shot for reference, but it does illustrate the 3 different types of timberwork clearly in the one location.
Boxes Boarding and Covers .jpg
Boxes Boarding and Covers .jpg (202.91 KiB) Viewed 19373 times
Running from right to left we have;
1] Covering for the mechanical parts of the trap-point, it is raised above the sleepers by a spacer but note there are no "ramps" on this example.
2] Boarding to protect the rodding from staff using the pathway which is clearly established alongside the track (safely outside the 4 foot and the 6 foot wherever possible). Could this be why there are no "ramps" in the 4 foot?
3] "Boxing" as with all other locations the purpose of going to the additional expense of building sides and a lid around each set of cranks has clearly nothing to do with protection from either rolling stock or staff as with 1] or 2], but follow the run and each set of cranks has been provided with its own neat box. They were often to a standard size with either a slot provided for the rodding or often, individually drilled holes for each rodding run. Brian's suggestion of protection from weather is the most logical explanation, at least the CR didn't resort to running it's signal wires halfway up trees like the Highland!
There is lots of other detail in this shot but focusing on the 2 rail trap-point the right hand trap rail is a standard 32ft switch rail and careful examination of the sleepers shows a degree of "interlacing" present along its length, which is not present along the same length of the standard 32ft switch (earlier in this thread), was this due to the angle of the trap?
In addition to the locking bars descrbed by Alan, the Caledonian also provided a version of it's 30ft locking bars as an alternative to trap-points, this would be provided in terminus platforms were the runaway would itself be passanger stock and would be placed before the toe-end of the pointwork, instead of the usual locking bar position at the heel-end. What is the correct term for this feature?
ECBs.jpg
ECBs.jpg (234.78 KiB) Viewed 19372 times

Dave L
dumb buffer
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Re: Stretcher Rods

Post by dumb buffer »

The bars illustrated in the Brechin picture are assuredly Balance Bars, as shewn below at Glasgow Central, probably in early BR days
balanced bar141.jpg
balanced bar141.jpg (43.88 KiB) Viewed 19329 times
The bar was held at railhead height on a pivot by a balancing beam; when any vehicle was sat on the bar it was depressed and operated an electrical switch, which in turn operated an indicator in the signal box; so they operated like track circuits. I believe they may sometimes have been used where conditions might have made conventional track circuits unreliable. Their use was covered on p64 of the 1915 "Supplement"
The attachment balanced bars139.jpg is no longer available
They were certainly in use, from my memory, and from photographs, in Central and Buchanan St Stations, but I see no reason why they wouldn't be used elsewhere where the signalman might need reminding of the presence of a train.
Allan F
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balanced bars139.jpg
balanced bars139.jpg (31.6 KiB) Viewed 19346 times
Last edited by dumb buffer on Sat Apr 19, 2014 12:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
John Duffy
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Re: Stretcher Rods

Post by John Duffy »

Its amazing what you don't see when you look at a photograph. Going back through some of my GNSR books I have started to notice the covering of signalling hardware was done quite extensively there as well, with quite a lot remaining in place even into the diesel era.

Allan F - either the image below has been posted upside down, or these balanced bars are incredible!

John
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